View From the Wet Coast – Bad Behavior

Humans are social creatures. They interact with other people in a variety of ways, such as discussing politics, helping each other learn something, or (and most relevant to this site) playing some games.

Each of these social situations has its own mores, rules of conduct that will make it so we avoid looking like a grade-A jerk, unpleasant to be around.

Sadly, not everybody follows these rules.

When you go to your regular board-gaming night, or attend a gaming convention, or wherever else you may play games, what are some things you might do that would annoy (and that’s putting it mildly at times) your fellow players?

I'm sure these guys are models of gaming behavior (thanks to Wikimedia Commons)
I’m sure these guys are models of gaming behavior (thanks to Wikimedia Commons)

Here are three of them that I have experienced this year. There are many more as well, so feel free to leave a comment with some other ideas.

1) Say that you are eager to learn a game, but then make no effort to actually learn it.

The first time I played Eclipse at the table (as opposed to the iOS version), I was really looking forward to it. I’d heard so many great things about it, and since I had an inkling of how the game worked from playing the app, I figured that it would be awesome to finally play it “for real.”

There were two other new people who also sounded like they really wanted to learn the game. Unfortunately, one of them was apparently lying.

We get the game set up and start playing. Every time we get to this guy’s turn, the first thing he says is “What should I do?”

Not “Would it be a good thing to explore here?” which would at least show that he’s thinking about the game itself.

No, he basically wanted us to play it for him. He took no responsbility for moving his resource markers or keeping an eye on his influence disks or anything like that.

I don’t know about my fellow players, but he ruined the experience for me, even more so because he was right next to me and ended up blocking my ability to expand.

It’s ok to ask if you’re not sure what your best option is. It’s your first time playing, so you may be missing the nuance of whether it’s a good idea to do research now or later, to get another sector on the table, or whatever. But you should at least ask the question as if you know what your options are.

This guy clearly didn’t.

2) Cheat (or play so sloppily that it looks like you’re cheating)

We’re all occasionally guilty of moving too fast and missing a step in the process of whatever we’re doing. If we’re playing a game, maybe I might forget that something is prohibiting me from moving to that hex, for example

The occasional misstep is understandable.

Doing it all the time, in my opinion, shows a lack of attention to detail that can make playing games with you very irritating rather than fun.

If you continually miss rules like that, it begins to look like you’re trying to cheat and seeing if anyone will notice. If it truly is unintentional, then please slow down and make sure of what you’re doing before actually doing it.

Being sloppy can adversely affect you as well. Most of us gamers are aware and polite enough to notice if you forgot to do something (e.g. moving your score counter when you’ve gained some points). They will point it out to you on the occasional times that you miss it.

However, if it becomes a habit and they see you forgetting that all the time, they very well might say “screw it, let him suffer” and stop reminding you. Then where will you be?

Wondering why you don’t have any points, probably.

3) Treat board game night as a speed dating event.

This was the most annoying for me, though that could be because it’s the most recent.

This particular game night, we actually had a fair number of women there (ten people in all, five women). One was quite attractive, both in looks and because she was from Wales (I love all varieties of United Kingdom accents).

However, remembering why we were there that night (and also because I’m already married, of course), I just noticed the attractiveness and moved on to the actual game-playing.

Hopefully she's not from Wales (thanks for Wikimedia Commons)
Hopefully she’s not from Wales (thanks to Wikimedia Commons)

Not so one of the other guys who was playing with us.

He proceeded to chat her up, engaging her in conversation and actually hitting on her.

I’m not making this up. He used the following cringe-worthy lines that gave my eyes a lot of exercise in rolling around:
“Has anybody ever told you that you look like…that woman from Titanic. Oh yeah, Kate Winslet?”

“You have the face of an angel.”

Needless to say, this was distracting from the game, even more so because he was one of the more experienced gamers there. She was new to the group and to gaming, so she had never played the game. The other guy playing was a gamer too, so he learned fast.

This guy? He picked the game up really quickly too, but we had to keep reminding him that it was his turn, and he certainly wasn’t paying attention to us while it was our turn.

Casual conversation over a board game can be a great thing. Gaming is a social event.

But when you’re playing the game, play the game! You can chat her up after the game is over. I sincerely hope that he didn’t drive her away from coming back.

What about you? Do you have any game night horror stories of bad behaviour you’d like to share?

Leave them in the comments.

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