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Consent of the Gamers

January 26th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Let’s talk about responsibility.

There are very few things in life we have to do, and they mostly include automatic responses from our nervous system. That being said, there are things we should do, and we largely lump these things together in a category of things we call “being responsible”. These involve getting a job, paying your taxes, treating other humans with respect and courtesy, and generally being a productive member of society. Responsibility is sometimes given a bad break, because it’s tedious, and mostly doesn’t make us feel great. While the end result is sometimes a positive feeling, or even pride at having accomplished something important, the tasks we undertake while being responsible are arduous, time consuming, and most often, and this is the important part kids, not fun. Which often means things we consider to be fun should be devoid of responsibility.

This however, is not the case. It shouldn’t be. There are some great examples of a lot of fun to be had, particularly fun with other people, that need to be pursued responsibly. Driving is one. You don’t drive a car without a seat belt and without regard for your passengers’ safety and the other drivers on the road, even if you’re going really fast. Especially if you’re going really fast. Same thing with sex: you work out with your partner ahead of time what is acceptable behavior, and you stick to it. You don’t deviate outside of the guidelines you’ve set up without a lot of unacceptable risk. Amusement rides are full of safety precautions that you have to meet before you can enjoy responsibly. Speaking of enjoying responsibly, did anyone mention alcohol? In essence, responsibility when it comes to having fun is about meeting the demands of everyone, and creating the most happiness for those involved. It also means, perhaps explicitly, not raining down on someone else’s parade.

Thus, our responsibility while having fun is clear. There are plenty of good examples of what are bad ideas, and when not to do them. Gaming should be no different. Much like sex however, what is acceptable differs from person to person, and group to group. There are perhaps a few commonly accepted rules, which I believe can be addressed as common fare, but given the large scopes of kinds of gamers as I addressed in my last post, what is understood as necessary by one group may be totally superfluous for another. Let’s start with the basics then.

1. People should be ready to game. This means that, whoever you should be, you should be wherever you need to be, whenever you need to be there, with whatever you need to game. I wanted to fit however into this, but why ever for?

In essence, be punctual and prepared. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in someone’s face about them showing up 5 to 10 minutes late, but let’s not waste people’s time here. When you’re going to be 15, 20, 30 minutes late, that’s definitely when you should be telling people, at the very least. Have whatever you need with you too: dice, character sheets, books, laptop… whatever you need to be ready to throw down and kick some goblin’s ass. In line with being prepared with the mechanical pieces of the game, be prepared by knowing the mechanical essence of the game.

2.Know the system. This doesn’t necessarily mean game the system, or abuse it (and it’s important for DMs to know when the system is being abused), but know what you need to know for the game you’re in, and your character in particular. If you’re playing a combative character, be prepared to be able to throw down some dice and say what you hit with. If you’ve got to know how to cast a spell, or do some occult research, know your pools.

This is important for DMs and MMO gamers as well. DMs need to be even more well versed than players with the mechanics of the game, but by the same token, don’t abuse it and make the game unfair for your players. You have to be aware of what they’re capable of, as well as what the obstacles that lie in their way are. Tangentially, if you’re playing a MMO like WoW, know what your role is (Tank, Healer, Damage) and be prepared to know the mechanics of it. If you’re playing a Feral Druid for example, you should know that contemporary theory says that because you should be crit immune, you should stack Stamina and shouldn’t pick up a lick of defense gear.

Most importantly comes the synthesis of rules 1 and 2.

3.Don’t be a dick. I hate to steal Wheaton’s Law, but its elegance is amazing, and works into the discussion like this: Don’t do anything that ruins someone’s enjoyment of a game. Whether that’s being 45 minutes to an hour late and wasting people’s time and energy, or harping on someone’s choice of mechanics without a grounded reason. Most importantly, don’t be cruel about it. Someone can make a decision for a lot of reasons, and if you’re a dick about it, you’re only going to agitate and disturb what should be a fun activity.

What this all means is that you should, when you game, lay down certain ground rules about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Players gonna miss a few games? That might be okay, or it might not fly. Prot Warrior’s thinking of respeccing to a slightly different build? Make sure that the raid leader and Warrior Class Lead (if such a person exists) know about it, and do what they need to do about it. Or just let him go wily-nilly. If people in your group are deviating from what others in the group think they should, it’s important to correct the small deviations before they grow into large ones, and make what was once something awesome into something resembling a burden. Playing well together’s important, but the fun’s the thing.

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  1. Joseph T Yull
    January 26th, 2010 at 02:04 | #1

    Nice to see someone laying it down.

  2. Rob
    January 26th, 2010 at 10:43 | #2

    Are you ready for this? Cause it’s gonna blow your mind.


    I totally agree with everything you have said here.

    The big point – and I’m glad you emphasized this – is that there is not one “right” way to play. It does not, in fact, matter WHAT the rules are, so long as they are known and followed by all.

  3. January 27th, 2010 at 10:10 | #3

    Hey, this is kind of an odd question for Tabor, but does your guild have any real use for a well geared warrior tank? You can check me out on Armory, I’m the only level 80 Urgror, and considering a realm hop.

  4. February 3rd, 2010 at 09:37 | #4

    Can’t hurt. Talk to Sal.

  5. Elegbara
    February 4th, 2010 at 05:42 | #5


    Ok, Im not sure who Sal is, but I have a character on QD if you can put me in touch with them.

  6. February 4th, 2010 at 07:40 | #6

    Pssht. No idea, he says. Salitheion. AKA Chris. :D

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