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Gamer Etiquette? - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
lost_angel
lost_angel
Gamer Etiquette?
When you're part of a subculture, you can single out your unknown brethren, pick them out of the crowd, smell the Mountain Dew on their breath, see the oppression and fear of discovery on their faces, and make sense of their cryptic discussions.

I can spot other gamers, but I like to think they can't smell it on me. I'm a casual, intermittent gamer cloaked in good manners, eloquence, and worldliness. I've enjoyed games of many varieties, though I prefer the kind that involve paint, pvc, and bodices. But gaming is only one of the MANY MANY things, both normal and aberrant, that I enjoy doing. Given the option, I'd always choose good conversation and a porch swing or street music and a beer over dice, dungeons maps, and dexterity checks. But variety is my preferred spice, so there's very little I won't try once.

As with most things that vie for my time, I'm picky. Snotty. Elitist. If you want me to stick around for a many-month dice-bag campaign, it had better be a phenomenal game with an engaging story, unique characters, and minimal dice-rolling. Come to think of it, the game is probably my least favorite part: the story and the interaction are what keep me coming back.

So, to the etiquette question: I was standing in line at Kroger, listening to the cashier and the bag-boys throwing gamer insults at each other. I asked which one was the WoW addict and which was the DnD'er. I was enveloped into the banter, but within seconds the DnD guy behind the register asked me what DnD character I'm playing.

Me: "You mean, ever? It depends on the year and the campaign. I've played a lot of different things."
Him: "No, I mean right now. What character are you playing?"
Me (assuming at this point he means what class I'm playing): I'm not in any campaign at present. The last tabletop I ran was a very short-lived Feng Shui game."
[more discussion 3.5 and 4th ed, explaining what Feng Shui is]
Him: "I'd love to play in a game. How often do you play?"
Me: "Not much lately."
[more pointed questions by him and attempts by me to distance the conversation]
Him (handing me paper with his name, number, email, and myspace page): "I'd rather play, but I'll run a game for you. I play with no less than three players, no more than six. I only run in Ravenloft."
Me: Have you tried the gaming group on [Ole Miss] campus? They meet once a week and drum up all sorts of games. I've heard it's a good group.
Him: "No, I haven't heard of that. Remember, Ravenloft only, three min, six max."
Me: "Ok, thanks, I'll tell some of my friends."

The conversation had switched quickly from a fun, casual, "Ping! I'm a gamer, too!" to "Hey, hey, totally come over to my house and game." I don't know why, but I am always a little unnerved by that. It happens a lot, and every time it stops being friendly and starts seeming awkward. Perhaps it was the air of desperation or the subtle hint of dice-jockey-mook that stuck in my nostrils.

Perhaps there is something wrong with me that I am weirded out by someone merely asking about starting a game. If it had been an invitation to a party or a bar or out for coffee, I would have considered going. It would have seemed like someone simply trying to make a new friend. But an invitation to tabletop, even though I DO tabletop, came across as desperate.

I am considerably more comfortable gaming with strangers in a larp setting than I am in a table-top. This is partially because I prefer larping, but I also think it's due to the larger player base of larps. If someone is particularly annoying, there are dozens more people to hang out with. No sole person is responsible for keeping the game interesting. I don't want to table-top with a stranger; it's almost too intimate. A table-top group is so small (and it has to be) that it is imperative that each person is witty, dynamic, and creative. Since there are fewer people, each person has to pull more weight to keep the game entertaining.

So, I think from now on I will keep my discussions with strangers about gaming to a minimum until I've gotten to know them better. I don't want to hang out with someone just because they're a gamer; nor do I want them to hang out with me for that single reason. Maybe if I never say anything about the gaming we have in common, I won't have to sidestep desperate pleas for gaming nights.

Tags:
Current Location: Water Valley, MS
mood: resisting toasted coconut

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Comments
amazingmrparker From: amazingmrparker Date: May 13th, 2008 01:26 pm (UTC) (link)
Yeah, I'm right there with you - that turn in the conversation would have probably weirded me out too. I think his distribution of his contact information indicates a certain level of desperation that you can really only find in, well, lonely gamers that don't presently have a campaign. The fact that you're a pretty girl and a gamer doesn't help - I'd have thrown in something like "I haven't played in a while, but the last campaign I ran was blahblahblah with my boyfriend and some friends." :)

heh heh..."smell the Mountain Dew on their breath"...it's so true...!

These kinds of random encounters CAN sometimes end up bearing fruit, however. Back when I worked at the leasing office of an apartment complex, I was on casual "hey, what's up?" terms with our courtesy officer, Ken. I heard that his wife Kathy was a massage therapist, and for Katie's (the girlfriend-at-the-time) birthday, I arranged a house-call massage for her. Kathy noticed and commented on our D&D stuff that was still strewn about the living room - as it turns out, she and Ken were DragonCon regulars, used to play EverQuest together, and Ken had been playing D&D for 20 years but hadn't found a game since they moved to Atlanta. The next day at the office, Ken comes up to me like a kid at Christmas, "Oh man, are you running a D&D game?! Can I...just come and watch until you have an open spot?!" I worked him in the following week, and he's been a regular in every game that I run for the last three years (he's loads of fun, despite the fact that every character he plays, regardless of race or campaign setting, is fundamentally a Neutral Evil Human Thief).
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: May 14th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC) (link)
I am glad you had a good experience gaming with your former boss. I'm sure it helped that you a) knew him already for non-gaming reasons (although if the new gaming interaction hadn't gone well, it might have made work very uncomfortable), b) he seemed like a really swell guy, and c) the way in which he approached you was in a supplicating, less aggressive manner.

every character he plays, regardless of race or campaign setting, is fundamentally a Neutral Evil Human Thief).

Wow, I have to fight the tendency myself not to let this personality trait come out in all my characters (true neutral or neutral good human thief). Gah, this makes me want to larp so badly if only to challenge myself to play a loyal, headstrong character I've been pondering lately rather than the (usually) self-serving ones I've played in the past.
alcamar From: alcamar Date: May 13th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC) (link)
I think mr parker is right, pretty girl combined with gaming geekness, with the desire to play....I think he probably made a mess right there.
I didn't really get full on into gaming(dnd style) until I had sorta broken outta my shell. Before that was computer, and that was pretty much my life for a while.

As far as comfort level, I do understand that. Pretty much the only reason I went to Memphis to game back in the day was because Andy C was going. Eventually we got another friend going up there occasionally, and I kinda started enjoying most of the guy's company for the most part. But still, any interaction with them was left mostly on a restricted basis.
But pretty much, the only reason I went was because it was with Andy. The only reason I kept going is because he went too. There were a few times I went by myself, but that was because he wasn't able to go and we had an ongoing campaign. If he had just stopped going, I would have completely stopped as well.

And no, I don't think you really portray yourself as a gamer, but I don't think that's a bad thing :)
sxyblkmn From: sxyblkmn Date: May 13th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC) (link)
When you're part of a subculture, you can single out your unknown brethren, pick them out of the crowd, smell the Mountain Dew on their breath, see the oppression and fear of discovery on their faces, and make sense of their cryptic discussions.

LOL!

and very very true :)
everraven From: everraven Date: May 13th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC) (link)
Yeah - I second the "Gaming Girl" phenom. I used to get asked to all kinds of games when I'd show up to Gun Dog - be it the one in Tupelo, Jackson or Starkpatch. I actually attended one a DM invited me too, with a good male friend in tow. One of the players attempted to rape my character about 15 minutes in - and the DM just screamed at him "HEY ASSHOLE - THIS IS WHY WE CAN"T GET GIRLS TO PLAY THIS GAME." He then kicked him out of the house. VERY educational ;)

but here is the warning sign you need to run from...

I only run in Ravenloft.

RUN - RUN LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW!

Any GM that refuses to run anything but the worst angst filled piece of garbage emo bullshit set of jackball crap that TSR ever put out (and that didn't even get a half decent 3.5 update) you should RUN LIKE THE WIND from him. RUN! NEVER TURN BACK.

Seriously, this is the sign of someone that has very bad gaming habits - and someone you probably want to avoid ;)

Edited at 2008-05-13 07:28 pm (UTC)
k_may_li From: k_may_li Date: May 13th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC) (link)
Amen.
mandis13 From: mandis13 Date: May 13th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC) (link)
Ravenloft is where creativity goes to die.
wyldkyss From: wyldkyss Date: May 14th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC) (link)
It's funny if everyone tries (and fails) to act like Oscar Wilde... but in a train wreck sort of way.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: May 14th, 2008 05:59 am (UTC) (link)
Any GM that refuses to run anything but the worst angst filled piece of garbage emo bullshit set of jackball crap that TSR ever put out (and that didn't even get a half decent 3.5 update) you should RUN LIKE THE WIND from him. RUN! NEVER TURN BACK.

This is the exact impression I got just by speaking with him. I've never played in Ravenloft and don't know a whole lot about it, but I had to fight the image of this guy in Brandon Lee's The Crow make-up, a weepy-eyed goth girl clinging to his side, and carrying viles of each others' blood. I didn't want to stereotype (he was totally NOT goth), but I knew I did not want to game with this guy.
wyldkyss From: wyldkyss Date: May 14th, 2008 03:45 am (UTC) (link)
I'm always amazed when guys have enough self confidence to even invite a girl to game with them (and not dating them) to start with :P

It's cute, but won't win him brownie points with that social awkwardness.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: May 14th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC) (link)
If he'd just been a little nervous or even uncomfortable on his part, I think I would have responded more positively. I didn't feel hit on or anything like that. I just felt like I'd opened a door that I couldn't close again, kinda like when someone unwanted shows up at your house and you can't get rid of them.

But my concern is that I totally overreacted and wasn't fair to him. I don't want to prejudge people.
11 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft