Wednesday, February 19, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge -- First Gamer who annoyed the hell out of me

To me this is a post about gaming being a social activity and how we navigate an often prickly issue of individual behavior, personality and character.  So I'm approaching it from that standpoint.

So being annoyed by fellow gamers ... hmm ...

Of course I have been.  Haven't we all?

For example I've been to conventions where you get in the elevator with THAT GUY who doesn't apparently understand how to take a shower and/or use soap.  I've been in many RPG groups with THAT GUY who is an abusive jerk of a power gamer whose sole intent in life seems to be just to break the game and make the GM physically attack him.  Hell I've even had a thief in my home gaming group who absconded with about $300.00 in games workshop bitz (and it was a bits by the gram order no less meaning that it was probably more like $500-$800 worth of stuff).  I could go on, but we've all probably had these sorts of experiences in one form or another.

But rather than cast blame on others let me elaborate on why I'm probably annoying at times ..

I am a grumpy guy at times.  I get tired and punchy late at night and my patience wears thin and at those times if we are playing some sort of involved game and someone starts up with some rules equivocation or something I have been known to blow my stack.  I would say my most annoying trait is probably my occasional "Donald Duck" episode.  Now mind you I do not normally have a short temper, but under the right circumstances it happens.

Really in all but the case of the thief, I have tried to look past people's shortcomings and see that people come to gaming for many reasons.  Many people do it because they struggle in life somehow, many people do it for social activity, for camaraderie.  We are all human.  No one is perfect.  A person who steals just cannot be trusted in your home so you have to boot that person, a guy with utterly repulsive body odor would be another case of nope not going to deal with that (fortunately that has never been an issue really in any game group I was with ... well we had a guy in the Las Vegas gaming club I was in who would show up to club meetings occasionally ... but that wasn't very often), but quirky and very mildly annoying behaviors I think are par for the course with geeks in general.  Lots of know-it-all types, lots of folks who have mildly anti-social tendencies, and I can over look those traits if they aren't extreme and if those people are genuinely friendly, nice, dependable people I happily overlook minor personality flaws and focus on what we all have in common.  But even then for me to really want to have someone in my own home gaming group I need to have enough in common with the person that we can have a good conversation and get along.  Because to me gaming is as much about socializing as anything and if we can't socialize why in the world would we want to be in a gaming group together that meets regularly.  I don't do gaming to build my self esteem or to self actualize, I do it to relax and just have a fun pass time so the people I choose to game ideally have a somewhat shared philosophy.

Now all that said I have had several people over the years I have just not gelled with in terms of gaming.  One is a great friend of mine who is just an abusive power gamer and has some mad Jekyll and Hyde thing going on when he games. Everyone we gamed with back in the day disliked him.  But you get the guy out of the game, invite him over for dinner and the reaction would be just opposite people really like him, find him witty, kind hearted and really funny.  He is not a bad guy at all, not generally a selfish person, he is a liberal so at least in principal he cares about his fellow man, etc. etc. yet you get him on a table with a 40K army, or running a character in a D&D game and he goes nuts and gets way too competitive, he clams up, he won't have friendly conversations, he just becomes obsessed with winning and not just winning, kicking his opponents ass as hard as he can.  That might be a great way to be in competitive sports, back when I played college football that was how I was.

So more on my inner "Donald" to this day I don't take to any sort of trash talk at all.  I honestly don't know why.  The only thing I can really think of is it must stem to my time in competitive sports during my youth. I do recall as a defensive lineman/linebacker that stuff fueled my inner rage and I channeled it into smashing the shit out of my opponent.  All these years later, a big old beer be-gutted gamer dad that I am now, and I guess at times I still have that inner linebacker that is just waiting to use the trash talk rage to plant my opponent on their backside.  Problem is, naturally, that doesn't mix well with a friendly game of something.  So I always warn my friends when I game, don't trash talk me, please, I'll get ticked fast.  I am not a poor loser though generally, and I can handle some light ribbing or teasing, but if someone starts to really get in with the "yo-mamma" and "that was a stupid move" kind of comments that's when I just have to step away from the table.  Fortunately in my gaming groups it has never been a problem as I've been blessed with mostly laid back gamers who are just there for generally casual play, fun, socializing and having a good time.

I guess the bottom line is I don't like focusing on the negative in other people unless they just stand right in my pathway and force me to confront it.  Otherwise I try to give people wide latitude and have a live and let live attitude.  One of my favorite holiday/comedies of all time is Planes, Trains and Automobiles and I find much in common with the plot of that film and many gamers out there.  John Candy's character is THAT GUY yet he has an endearing side too.  I think that even THAT GUY usually has some redeeming quality and for me it just comes down to ... legitimately ... do those redeeming qualities truly outweigh the bad stuff.  For some people the answer is yes, for others no.
Anyway ramble over ...

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