Monday, June 6, 2011

Group Dynamics

Yesterday Christian had a lousy time during his game session.  Christian and two other gamers in the group were not happy with the way the GM was running things.  Christian tried to solve the problem via email, but nothing changed.  So he voiced his displeasure at the game table...

I don't know how close of a relationship he and his DM had, but in the blog Christian said he considers the GM a friend.  Of course there are friends that hang with and there are friends that you share your life with.  His blog made me consider the dynamics in our group.  It will be the National Enquirer Edition of our group.

Our main group consists of 4 guys.  Dwayne (Gamer's Closet) I've been friends with for 33 years no.  Oh my god, I shouldn't have done the math.  Rob (Bat in the Attic) I've been friends with for 25 years.  And Rusty (formerly of the Rusty Battle Axe) is the newb of the group and I can safely say I've been friends with him for 2 years now.  I give you this background to give a bit of perspective of the longevity of our group.

Rob is our main GM and so he gets most of our abuse.  Because we've gamed for so long together I have no problem telling Rob or Dwayne what I am not liking.  The one example I can give is last campaign Rob ran a handful of canned modules and they got boring.  I told Rob I didn't like them and the fact that we sorta knew them by heart didn't help.  You just don't run White Plume Mountain will old gamers without changing it around.  And here's a very good thing about Rob, he take criticism very well.  He doesn't take it too personal and he'll often ask for suggestions. 

If Dwayne has done something I'm not too fond of I will let him know.  Again, he is good at taking suggestions.  There may be times when arguments occur and they do between Rob and Dwayne, but no matter what, on Monday night we will be sitting around the computer playing a game together.  We've gotten to a point in our lives that we realize how important it is to dedicate a small time of each week to one another.  It is so easy to let gaming slide and before you know a couple of years have past.  I don't schedule anything on Monday nights because to me it belongs to my gaming group. 

The interesting thing is Rusty being our new guy to the group, it feels like he's been there all along.  I don't think he got through the first night before we started making fun of him.  And he got in a few good shots himself.  But I also feel if I didn't like something Rusty was doing I would have no problem telling him.

All this is good and great, but what happens if you run into a situation like Christian where the GM wants to run the game his way despite the players not liking it.  In my group we know each others style and can pretty much guess what to expect.  In his situation if Rob was running a campaign I didn't like I would sit it out.  And I've done that.  Nothing against Rob or the GM, just not my style. 

And the entire group knows they can be honest with me.  I have no problem changing things up if the majority of them are not having fun.  I see it as a challenge not an insult.  I've read this blog through and not sure if I made my point or not.  I guess the important thing it to work it out (no shit, eh?), make the game important because it is. We have our differences and at times when we are not nice, but Monday Nights are sacred.  All disputes are put aside so we can roll some dice. 


  1. I think the key is "know your relationship." That clues you into what would be the best way to approach a person with a problem. I've gamed with some folks who I could easily have expressed displeasure in the game, and some that had to be handled with kidgloves with almost everything.

  2. Hmm...I think the point is, different groups result in different group dynamics. Your relationship with the people at your table is different from the the one I have with my table-mates.

    Boy is it ever!

    And because of that, helpful suggestions or input we provide to fellow blog-o-sphere people may have different degrees of mileage. "Work it out" is good advice for any conflict situation, but may not be helpful depending on a person's particular group dynamics. If I've only been coming to a guy's game for 3 weeks, and he's been running it for 10 years, and I take umbrage with how he runs his game, he may not be particularly open to my criticism...constructive or not. Such is not the case for your group...but what works for YOUR group may not work for others.

    Hmm...maybe that wasn't your point, but that's what I took from your post.
    ; )

  3. JB> Yeah you said it better than me.

    Trey> Yeah its always a liquid situation.

  4. I think you've just got to know your group, and be relaxed enough that if folks are not happy with something, you can change it. Our group has a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. I would never suggest running a cyberpunk game, as I know we've got to include everyone's views.

  5. I can't imagine being any part of a game where not everybody is having fun. That really speaks more to personal life stubbornness and (dare I say) selfishness of the "I'm running it the way I want, I don't care if you don't like it" school of thought. What's up with that?

    Who wants to play a game with a guy who doesn't care if you're having fun?

  6. I have, in recent years, had to deal with the spectre of people getting upset enough in-game to let it affect friendships. I sincerely hope your group can work it out.

  7. You like me! You really like me!

    All seriousness aside. Some people simply are incompatible at the gaming table (and in life) and that is okay. Honesty, if handled with compassion is usually preferred to dishonesty and unhappy gaming.

    As far as Mondays go. It is about the friendship, first and foremost. But the gaming is also serious and the friendship supports the gaming and the gaming supports the friendship. I actually appreciate being challenged, because I know it comes from a friend and I know I can say "how would you do it differently" and we both profit by a better gaming experience and a stronger friendship.

    As the newbie to the group and the most casual gamer of the four, the hardcore passion for gaming comes through but I know that the friendship matters more (unless I haven't seen the worst of it yet ha ha ha...I do have legal counsel on retainer, just in case).