I saw a post today which I am pretty sure is the result of someone being “mad as hell” and unwilling to take it anymore. Basically, his problem was that players were not bothering to take responsibility for making or understanding their characters as well as the issues of players not even knowing the rules of the game they were playing.
The unclear part is whether those players were unwilling to do so or just had chosen not to. It’s a small distinction but one that merits some thought when you are confronted with it. If a player is unwilling to take ownership of their stake in the game table, then yeah, they are probably a dick. But if they just haven’t committed to it yet, then maybe that’s something else. Maybe that player just needs some encouragement to get with it. Maybe they don’t understand something and aren’t willing to ask because they are afraid it will make them look stupid. Maybe lots of things. It is also possible they are just a dick.
I’m of two minds about this though. I have a problem that when I go into a game, I’m usually pretty gung-ho. Gaming is my favorite thing to do in the world so I don’t always remember that other gamers might be in it more for the social aspect. I’m likely to jump to the conclusion that someone doesn’t care or isn’t engaged if they aren’t as engaged as I am. It’s something I try to fight against but I frequently fail.
It’s also the case that I usually try to reserve judgment for a few sessions. I mean, it’s possible – especially if playing a new system – that a player may just be dabbling and not willing to commit until they’ve seen the system and the group in action for a few sessions. This makes sense. Again, I try to respect this without always succeeding. But I try.
Here’s where I gotta agree with the thought of the original poster though… If you are joining a game, take ownership of your part. You don’t have to memorize all the rules chapter and verse, but take the time to be familiar with the ones that involve your character. If you don’t understand something, please ask. I’d rather you get it and have fun than not get it, suffer in silence, and then quit the game three sessions in.
And even though you may not understand everything in a game, once you are more than 10-12 sessions into a game, it’s time to start thinking about investing a little into the game. Consider getting your own copy of the core rules, make sure you understand the action/interaction systems (like combat, social skills, action structure). This is a minimum commitment that should not be too much to ask once you know that you are playing a game fairly long term.
Most of all though, don’t put your GM or fellow players in a situation where they have to be the jerks because they have to call you out. Don’t be lazy. Yes, it’s a game. But it’s also a time commitment, a social engagement, and something that everyone is agreeing to do in lieu of literally everything else they could be doing with that time. So be in the moment, take some ownership of your engagement, and contribute to the fun.
In other words, don’t be a dick.