Having successfully completed the 4 day gauntlet that is a board game convention with some of the best people I could possibly imagine playing with, I was inspired to write some words about how to be a good gamer.
What does it even mean to be a good gamer? A good gamer is someone that people want to play with. A good gamer gets the most fun and satisfaction out of the time they have to game. A good gamer makes playing games more fun for other people.
A good gamer feels like family.
Being a good gamer starts before you even leave the house. Coming prepared for the event will go a long way towards improving your experience. If it’s just a regular game night at a friend’s house then probably just a snack and a game will suffice. When going to an all day affair or even a convention, a little more may be required. Consider the following:
- Dry erase marker (because one is always dry, and you’ll look like the hero when you pull one out)
- A small box light/quick game (there are always times when people are ready to play but don’t have the time or the space to play a full game, but having Insider or Cockroach Poker in your bag can really make a dull moment into a gaming one.
- Phone charger
Of course these aren’t all requirements but good things to consider.
What’s more important than what you bring with you is what you bring to the table. Everyone loves to play games but not everyone loves setting them up or tearing them down. Do your part and pitch in, even during the game, be active in moving things along by passing pieces and the other bookkeeping that almost all modern games have.
Beyond this there is a lot that goes into the attitude of a good gamer. I had some thoughts written on this topic, but then someone posted on Reddit and said it much better than I ever could.
Being present (putting phones and other distractions away)
Being patient (especially with new gamers)
Being engaged (even if they're losing, they stay in it till the end)
Being cheerful (they're there to have fun, win or lose)
Being curious (willing to try new things)
Being passionate (get INTO IT!)
Being supportive (help others out, contribute to the atmosphere)
benbernards comments on What gaming mannerisms do you most enjoy playing with?
The only thing that I can think to add to that list is recognize the contributions other people make to create the experience you’re enjoying. If someone brought a game from home, taught a game they might not want to play(or even if they do), brought a great snack, or maybe they are just fun to play with. If you recognize the ways that other players are contributing to your experience and thank them for it, then you are making it a better experience for them and they will probably continue with or even increase their efforts.
One convention specific thing I’d like to note is the issue of other people’s stuff. Conventions are usually pretty safe spaces and people will usually leave things lying around in the area you’re playing in. This is usually fine, but anytime the group moves to a different area it’s important to be aware of who owns what and make sure to help keep track of the groups belongings.
Lastly I’d like to cover the hardest situation at game days and conventions. The dreaded “What are we going to play” game, especially when you have a group that is larger than one game. While scientists are hard at work looking for a solution to this problem, there are a number of things that a good gamer can do that will make this situation easier for everyone.
First of all, if you have any limitations, whether then be time restrictions or your brain is mush and you can only play very light games; it is your duty to make those known right away. Nothing is worse than deciding on a game only to find out that someone has to leave in an hour and the game you picked is an hour and half at best.
Next it’s important to bring up and genre in time range preferences you have so that the group can agree on that. Also, if you came into this situation with a specific game in mind but there are too many people for that game, try to think of other games that you would like to play if you couldn’t play your first pick. Thinking of the problem as an “I split, you choose” scenario should be helpful.
A common situation is having 6 people and not being able to decide on two 3 player games. I encourage you to exercise your right to play a two player game. Two player games offer an experience that higher player count games can’t match and some of the best games out there only work(or work best) with two players.
Most important thing a good gamer can do in this situation is communicate and be decisive!