Unfortunately, for a hobby that amounts to big kids playing with toys, there are a lot of people who seem bent on sucking the fun out of board games. It’s almost like a job for them. They’re constantly on the lookout for something to complain about or someone to bash. Whereas many prefer to enjoy games and focus on good times with friends, fun-suckers are intent on turning a session into an ordeal that must be survived rather than enjoyed.
You probably know some of these people, or at least have encountered some of them on BGG or at your local game store:
- Sore losers and bad winners.
- People who take everything too seriously, over-analyzing everything from the art to the components to the “deeper meaning” behind the games ad nauseam until the rest of the table begs for mercy.
- People who spend a lot of time criticizing other people’s collections and taste in games.
- Game groups/communities that are more toxic than fun with too much gossip, backstabbing, and cattiness.
- Game snobs who refuse to play anything they consider “beneath” them (whether in weight, length, theme, or age range), or who bash new gamers because they still prefer to play mass-market games.
- Sexist/ageist/racist jerks who believe that certain groups have no place in gaming and nothing valuable to contribute to the hobby.
- Game bullies and alpha gamers who try to dictate how other players should move and then roll their eyes or make snarky comments when a player makes a move different from what they dictated.
There are many more and you probably have your own list of offenders, but you get where I’m coming from. There are a lot of people who work really hard at ruining the gaming experience for everyone around them, as well as themselves. Sure, there are other things that can suck the fun out of gaming. Bad games are the biggest one. But even a bad game can be a bit of fun if your group is willing to play it in good spirits and just go with the flow. There are a lot of people who can’t manage that. I’ve been playing games for a long time and I’ve concluded that 99% of my bad gaming experiences have resulted from human-related causes, not the games themselves.
This is sad when you think about it. Games are supposed to be fun. There’s a reason we refer to games as play and not work, depression, misery, anger, or pain. Games are supposed to be the antidote for depression misery, anger, and pain, not the cause. Too many people seem to have lost that notion altogether, or confused it with some form of superiority. “If I criticize everything and everyone involved in this hobby, then I am a better gamer with a deeper understanding of the hobby. Therefore, I am above the peons.” You may be, but you sure aren’t any fun to play with.
Well, I’ve reached a point in my gaming life where I refuse to deal with those who would suck the fun out of my gaming time. My gaming time is finite, as I’m sure is the case for most people, and I’m no longer willing to spend it with jerks. I’ve done that too much in the past. “Go along to get along” has been my motto for years. I’ve sucked it up and put up with every form of fun-sucker on the list above. I’m older now and I’ve reached the end of my tolerance. (Get off my lawn!)
Now I’m on a quest to find the fun in gaming again. Since gaming is purely elective, this should be pretty easy. It’s not like work, where I have no say in who I must associate with or how much BS I must put up with. I can choose to make my gaming time as fun as a I want it to be and cut out all of the non-fun people and aspects of the hobby. Here’s my plan:
- Stop reading negative threads on BGG. It’s too easy to get sucked into the train wreck threads where someone is complaining bitterly about something gaming related. Maybe they have a valid complaint but by the time the thread is through, the whole thing has become bitter and nasty, and that attitude sometimes rubs off on me. I’m refusing to even read these threads anymore. It’s not entertainment for me. It’s depressing.
- Choose my gaming groups more carefully. I’m in a place now where I game mostly with my husband. However, I’m looking for new groups and I’m going to choose more carefully than in times past. I’ve made the mistake of joining a group just to get more gaming time, but I’ve discovered that no amount of extra time is worth it if the group is full of fun-suckers.
- Refuse to engage in negativity toward other gamers. I’ll admit that I haven’t always been the nicest person, either. Sometimes I’ve picked on another gamer’s taste in games, joined in on a bashing thread on BGG, or been a sore loser and/or bad winner. Mostly that was when I was much younger, but when I’m tempted to be a pill these days, I remind myself that I don’t want to be a fun-sucker.
- Ignore the jerks. In the past I’ve tried to help the jerks out by gently pointing out their jerky tendencies. But I’ve discovered that jerks don’t want to be reformed. They want to keep their prejudices and my attempts at reform have only left me feeling bitter and sad. My new policy is just to ignore them. They’ll always be there, but I don’t have to let their narrow-mindedness color how I feel about gaming.
- Play anything, with anybody, as long as they want to have fun doing it. I don’t have any problem playing Monopoly, or Battleship, or LIFE with anyone, as long as they want to have fun playing. If you want to sit there and make fun of a game, or complain about how bad it is, I’m not your gaming partner. But if you just want to pass an hour rolling some dice and having some fun, then I’m all in. And if you want to play something more challenging, I’ll happily teach you.
- Don’t be afraid to give someone the boot. You can’t do this in a public store since it’s the managers who have to kick out the bad apples. But in your own home, you can ask anyone to leave anytime you feel like it. I’ve always been afraid to kick people out, but if you’re doing nothing but bringing the misery, then I have the right to ask you to leave. Politely, of course. I’m not a monster.
Gaming is supposed to be fun. Yes, there is a place for some analysis of games or the industry, or a few complaints here and there. But when it becomes a chronic disease, you’re not fun to game with anymore. All you’re doing by bringing your misery to the gaming table is ruining the experience for everyone else. I choose happiness and fun, instead. Goodbye, fun suckers! You won’t be missed.