Thursday, September 07, 2006

Combating Board Gamer Bashfulness Disorder

Recent session reports indicate we're still having periodic outbreaks of the dreaded board gamer bashfulness disorder. For those not familiar with this malevolent malady, symptoms include:

  • Multiple gamers sitting around the table, unable to decide what to play
  • Uncomfortable shifting in seats with eyes wandering around the room
  • A distinct lack of games being played

To help prevent further occurrences of this pernicious pestilence, I've compiled a few helpful recommendations on how to behave to avoid becoming infected:

  • Fortune favors the bold. Don't worry about speaking your mind about what you want (or don't want) to play. It is always better to speak up rather than get sucked into a game you really don't feel like playing. Or, worse, if everyone is too shy to speak their mind, then the group flounders with indecision.
  • Bring your baby to the fight. Try to bring at least one game you'd really enjoy playing. Chances are someone else will want to play it as well. Don't be shy about slapping it down on the table for play.
  • Something for everyone. If possible, bring a few games that might accomodate a variety of player numbers and interests. If everyone does this, we should be covered.
  • Divide and conquer. Don't be afraid to split the group into two or more subgroups. If you try to find a single game that will enable 5, 6, 7, or even 8+ people to play, you're probably going to arrive at an experience not everyone is going to enjoy anyway.
  • Early birds rule. Don't hold up the many to accomodate the tardiness of the few. If people show up late, they can just catch up on the next game or pair up with other late-comers.
  • Be prepared. Advance planning and scheduling of games helps everyone. Rules get read in advance and people come ready to play.

Okay, my brainstorming just ran dry.... Any other thoughts, comments, or ideas?


At 5:41 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I agree with most of what you said, especially the divide and conquer part, but I had some problems with a few of your suggestions:

The Bold. I don't like slapping down a game without a consensus or having a game slapped down on me that I'd rather not play. Usually when this happens the dreaded "Meh" sound can be heard in collective unison. -Nothing worse than that in my book. If everyone were clearer on their choices/preferences during a lull or if we held pseudo votes more often, this would become a non issue.

Early Birds Rule. I strongly disagree here unless the game is half to 2/3's done. I don't mind peeling away from rules explanation in a full compliment game to play some 2p stuff with a straggler, especially if it’s a long game and no one else is or will be available. Trust me, it sucks when that happens (extremely avoidable as well, just be considerate and unselfish). I don’t even mind starting over a game if it just began to accommodate one more gamer. No reason why those who can't show up three hours early should be punished when we usually all have a vague idea of our approximate arrival times and schedules.

-Just my two cents. I think last Monday was a fluke by the way, caused by board game burnout from the recent all day sessions coupled with fading titles that are beginning to lose their luster after repeated plays.

At 6:34 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Good comments. All of the suggestions should be taken in the context that we should, above all, always behave in a friendly, generous, and gentlemanly manner. I'd never advocate trying to force a game on others or turning a cold shoulder to a solo late arrival.

Regarding "The Bold": The bigger the group, the tougher it is to get consensus (obviously). If you have a 2-player game you really want to play, I'd say just slap it down, see who bites, and don't worry so much about larger group consensus. If everyone says "Meh", don't sweat it. Just slap down another. I think part of the problem is not enough slapping and too much worry about "Meh". :)

At 8:12 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Simon, yeah, I noticed the burnout when you guys decided to go to your place to play ~4 more games.

Ben, before pointing out solutions like you did, I think it's interesting to point out the underlying problem.

I think it all comes down to what Simon said... We all have different tastes. We are more likely to play what we like than what we don't. None of us in the group share exactly the same gaming interests, and that is what to me affects what gets played and what doesn't the most. At the same time, I think there are also two other elements that come into play:

1. flexibility to play a game we are not very fond off.
2. willingness to repeat play.

Again, we all have different degrees in one direction or the other, of the above. And these differences will sometimes lead to stalemates (tug-o-wars if you will), with everyone pulling towards the game the prefer to play.

Now the solution.... well, there's no easy solution. These 3 things are inherent in our personalities, and can't be changed.

My proposal: We could Nazi-size the system to the point where we assign 2-3 gamers for the night that have priority selecting games. The rest just agrees to play those. Any other games that spring up would be cool too like any other night, but the "chosen ones's" games HAVE priority.

Example for any given night:
1. Ben: "I want to play WOTR third age because I got it months ago and still haven't played it"
2. Chad: "Sorry guys for the screw up. Lets try Mykerinos again".
3. Rob: "Lets play Caribbean!".

I think we've done this to some degree at different points on different game days: Dune (Ben), Formula De (Dennis), etc.

My Fascist ideas may not be practical for various reasons, but there is some hidden democracy in there.

At 8:58 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Burnouts still need their fix, too... ;)

Plus, I was pinin' for some Loopin' (my fault for not bringing it to the DL). Anyway, I think our “system” or lack there of works as it is now - aka laissez faire. I've already requested Prophecy and Runebound in another thread and Ben happily agreed to bring them next session, all without any formal fascist tendencies. Voila!

Ben, I think I'm the same the page with you now after that second post and Rob...there's no way I'm playing Caribbean again! Hehe, just kidding... (Or am I?)

At 10:08 AM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Heh. Bashful. Great choice of pic as always, Ben.

Like Simon, I dread the 'Meh', so I'm reluctant to propose a game.

We often seem to be reluctant to split the group, even though we know there are very few games that play well with eight, but tons that play well with four.

Planning ahead always seems to work really well. So, what do we want to play on Monday? (Or Friday if you can make it to Brian's (I can't)) I'm up for any of the Alea big-box games, PowerGrid, RRT, Caylus, La Citta, Scotland Yard ... pretty much any heavy Euro, I guess.

At 11:09 AM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Again, my thoughts above in a nutshell... we have different tastes. That's why you'll hear Meh's. But me, I'm willing to play a game for an SABG bud just because I know he's dying to play it, even if it's a Meh in my book. Some are more willing to do this than others, and that's cool too.

With my new Fascist system, for only $19.95, you can make hundreds, even thousands of doll.... oh wait, wrong ad.
With it everyone will get to play that game they want to play, but are afraid to bring to the table because it may get Meh'ed.

At 12:23 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I have yet to have a game I've wanted to play that there hasn't been at least on SABGer willing to play. The Meh's are usually momentary or restricted to a few people. Our gaming group rocks!

I can think of only a few games (which I won't mention so as not to hurt any feelings), (cough) (cough) (Flux) (cough), I hope I never play again, and even then I'd probably play if someone asked me with puppy dog eyes.

At 2:01 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

What is this?! Fluxx suxx?! I'm so...incredibly hurt! It's my favoritist game ever, how dare you!

*locks self in bathroom crying*

*accidentally flushes said favoritist game ever down toilet*

Oh well, no loss...


Post a Comment

<< Home