counting up to WISH 100
What’s your take on player bitching/venting: complaints intended to relieve player stress and not to actually change things in the game? When and where and to whom is it appropriate? How should players and GMs handle it?
For a long time, I’ve been something of an advocate of, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
At the very least, make constructive criticism of what it is you really care about.
So what’s with online venting and ranting? Is it the digital equivalent to graffitti? Or do people expect that venting is a call for help?
And you know, to go with three kinds of venters, there are two kinds of listeners: the solvers, and the sympathizers.
Someone a long time ago pointed out to me that most venters just want a bit of sympathy. They want friends to know that they do have their gripes, and that talking about a little one is better than dwelling on a big one.
They don’t necessarily expect you to do anything about it. In fact, proposing solutions, or making it easy for the irritant du jour to go away might just bring them back into focus on bigger problems they can’t solve.
So you haven’t done them a favor.
I’m a solver. You tell me about a problem, I start thinking of ways to solve it. My RFL told me early in our long association I was a ‘Mr. Fixit’ guy. In fact, with her help I’ve learned not to stress over ‘fixing it’ with everything that shows up in my life. Life is not supposed to be smooth.
So as a Player, I don’t vent unless I think something needs to change and I can’t do much about myself. I’ll go to friends to check myself out with my problem and see if they get something from it that I’ve missed.
Sometimes… I fall off this principle. Luckily for me it isn’t often and it hasn’t bit me in the ass yet.
As a GM…
I expect to help Players have a better game. And despite my best effort, if you aren’t and you say something about it, I go right into solve mode. I could join a twelve-step program to kick this habit, but I think of my solving as part of my optimistic view of things in general. If I can spend some effort and make things better, I’m doing it before I think too much about it.
That is something of a problem: before I think too much about it.
Do I take venting personally, as a GM? Probably. Though I will make every effort to not reflect my angst back upon the Ventor.
And if I hear that Players are slamming the game without coming to me?
Well, that’s a broken relationship. Lack of trust. Wrong communication. And I expect that gaming partnership won’t last too long.
Does it matter that none of us are experts in this hobby? That no one is getting ‘paid’ to do this and therefore there is no promise of quality or effort?
Well it does matter: to the extent that there is a promise, spoken or written or not, involved with the temporary community of a game being run.
I think that promise is: “Let’s all have some fun.”
So which part of bitching is fun?