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8 Things that ruin games

Gamer Talk

An interesting article on things that ruin games.

Which ones are ruining your games?

Which ones did they miss?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8


What they have listed:

Putting Too Much Money In It
I don't think that can ruin your game, per se, but it can certainly complicate your life in other ways. Especially if your partner refuses to let you buy more gaming stuff because you spend the food budget on the latest Kickstarter.

I think where money spending is a problem is the "but I bought these" guilt trip. You want to spend $1,000 on game books of your own volition? Fine. But you cannot come to my clearly planned and advertised core rules only game and then whine and try to put me on a guilt trip that because I'm not using the $1,000 worth of books you bought outside my sphere of influence, I'm a big meaniehead. I did not "make you" "waste money." You did that of your own accord, and your financial irresponsibility does not require me to change the parameters of my game.

And on the other hand, there is an equal and opposite problem if a GM uses a TON of books and requires their players to own their own copies of said books, they're also being unfair--you can't play in my game unless you spend $1,000 on books? No.

There's also the "Keeping Up With the Joneses" competition where two players try to out buy each other to have the biggest game collection (usually because they're trying to prove they have the biggest something else). That's not a game ruiner but it can be annoying.

Bad Location
I wouldn't call it a ruiner, but there are better game spaces than others. If a space was so bad it would "ruin" your game then hopefully you'd have the means to move to another location.

Forcing It
This is true, although it's not how I'd word it. I'd make it two separate issues:

- Burnout
- Unrealistic Scheduling

The first can kill a game, especially if the GM is the one who is burned out. But if anyone is burned out, it can bring the game down (this can become the player who doesn't give a damn, etc.).

The second is about people saying they can commit when they can't. A game certainly can and will fall apart if everyone says they can make it Friday nights then no one shows up. I don't like that the author assumes a game must be weekly either -- I'm in two groups that both meet monthly and that works for us. Would we like to meet more often? Sure, but we can realistically meet monthly so monthly it is. Unrealistic scheduling can ruin a game (and I've seen it happen many time) but what saves it is people recognizing that they're being unrealistic and adapting to a new schedule.

Never experienced that one, but I've heard stories.

That One Player Not Giving A Damn
This is true, at least until you talk to and/or kick out that one player. The player the author describes is the Griefer type, and I would actually extend it to different kinds of players. A Griefer does give a damn but only about his or her own power trip. There's also players who "don't give a damn" by which I mean they just phone in playing. It's a horrible pain when everyone's excited about the story except one person who's just sitting there saying, "Just tell me when to roll dice."

But then again--that can "ruin" a game or you can save the game through discussing the issue, and asking the player to leave if it has to come to that (in the case of the bored player, hopefully you can work out why they're bored).

Lousy GM
Of course that definitely ruins a game. You're stuck with the lousy GM or find a new one. I always advocate the latter.

Growing Old
Clearly this author is in their mid 20s and has not yet been able to figure out balancing adult responsibilities with play. ;) (Apologies to the author if this is not the case. :))

This is not a game ruiner by any stretch, given the number of gamers on this very board in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. The main issue of it is not a separate thing but what I mentioned above--being able to realistically schedule games. When you've got a lot of responsibilities, you won't be able to game as often, it is sadly true. But if you're adept at managing your time you should be able to schedule in your gaming just like you should able able to schedule in your date nights or tv nights or movie nights or what have you.

What I would add to the list is a few conditionals:

The Wrong Number Of People
I've had games that imploded because there were too many people in a group fighting for attention, or too few people to help push the action along. While I've also played in large groups that work well and small groups that fared fine, it can depend a lot on the combination of personalities working together. It can also depend on the system and how well it accommodates different size groups and power levels. You need not only the "right" number for you, whatever that is, but be sure you've got the "right" mix of personalities -- 6 boisterous attention mongering players will doom a game as will 3 quiet, let others lead types, but a tiny group of boisterous players or a larger group of a good mix of personalities can work quite well.

Rules Debates
We can hope these usually don't ruin a game, but they can happen. It's all the worse if it's because the rules themselves are poorly written. I know of a Mage the Awakening game that imploded largely because each player and GM had a dramatically different understanding of how spellcasting worked, and the entire game is about spellcasting.


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