I’m sick of all those positive energy pissing contests and helpful advice regurgitation-fests that get candied on every screen, page and billboard, trying to improve the way we look, sound, perform, or seem. Those washboard-abs, white teeth, unicorn shit ads make the rest of us look bad, and for those with a conscience, I hear that they feel pretty broke up about it too. That’s why I’ve decided to do the gaming world a favor. I’ve compiled a list of 4 ways that anyone can become a worse gamer. You’ll be happy to note that this list is, well, shorter than most, and if nothing else, I promise it’ll be far easier to achieve than those ubiquitous positive, self-help listicles.
1. Be fashionably late
Nothing gets under the skin of punctual people like being that gal (or guy) who stumbles into your dimly lit, antediluvian, geek cave 15-20 minutes after the bones have started to roll. Sure, your sun-shy sidekicks will understand the odd bout of tardiness- I mean traffic and life happens. But if you want to be a worse gamer, make a habit out of being slothful. A few side effects to note with this approach are that your amigos may start to make some pointed passive aggressive remarks at your expense. Further, you’d be surprised at how quickly “out of game” habits affect “in game” shenanigans. As the min-maxer saw goes: “character-knowledge and player-knowledge are meant to be blended”.
What do you mean the party voted while I was gone for Percival the Unwilling to distract the landshark?
2. Ask for experience points constantly
This is a great one for interrupting the flow of a gaming session. Sure, you could wait until the end of the gaming session to ask, but if you want to be a worse gamer, ask for (and assume you should get) experience points just about every time you do something in-character. You can make casual comments about how many bandits you intimidated off the road, how well you thought you role played getting beds for the night, or wonder aloud how many XP should come from swatting all the damned mosquitos in the swamp. Gamers at the table are suspending their disbelief to play a fantasy game together for a few hours, and bringing up self-serving mechanics helps bring everyone crashing back to the real world, and become aware (again) of the classical conditioning your DM is constantly subjecting you all to.
Ring, ring goes the bell…who’s hungry?
3. Focus on electronics instead of the game
Playing the latest web-based game, or updating your status on your phone or tablet reminds everyone else at the table just how little you care about their characters and the story (outside of your narcissistic contributions, of course) and how paradoxically shallow, yet full (of self-importance) you can be. I want to be clear that I’m not talking about the odd text message, phone call or any other electronic event that can happen in the time it takes for clearing the latest barrage of last night’s enchiladas out of the ol’ system. Life happens, and my girl/boyfriends/wives/ husbands/bosses/clan members can get pissy if you leave them hanging, waiting on your answer. However, in order to be a worse gamer, you need to practice a sustained, 10-minutes-or-longer-screen-stare-of-no-real-life-application with the odd glance up to make eye contact with the DM and state what your character does. You’ll know you’re doing it right when people start to make comments such as: “are you’re even playing with us?” or “can you put that away?” (Actually, this could be a great way to get back at the tardy boy/ girl in #2) One thing to mention with this little chestnut though- if you want to go next level, you simply justify your continued digital obsession as though your need for constant and instant gratification isn’t the problem. This ensures a special kind of self-enforced isolation that not only ostracizes you from the group, but also entertains you while doing so!
Being a hermit isn’t all that hard once you reach level 7
4. Make it all about you
That’s the reason we role-play, right? We develop an artificial character to respond to fantastical situations, do heroic deeds, save the day, and all the rest. If you want to be a worse gamer, you need to assume that the character you developed is more complex, layered, interesting, inherently powerful, and useful for developing the plot than anyone else’s. Even if they are those things, to truly be the worst, you need to share that message with the world. Sing it from the mountaintops! Talk over others as though their attempts at role-playing are “cute”. Feel free to tell the table how much better your character is than theirs, and (if they don’t kill him in his sleep), they just may start to forget to care and nod blankly. Keep this up long enough, and pretty soon you can start your own player/DM solo campaign. Good luck!
Fortunately for me, my characters are always the most layered, interesting and powerful! Right guys? ….Guys?
So there you have it, good reader. Follow the above advice and you will be on your way to devolving into a worse gamer. I can’t guarantee it will make you popular, or even that you’ll be invited back to gaming sessions, but I can guarantee that others will find your new habits annoying.
Until next time, keep up the temper tantrums.
Dustinopolis is actually a fairly nice villain. He enjoys walks on sharp-rocked beaches, eating rare and disgusting things, and traveling the world on a budget. You shouldn’t follow him on twitter (@devourcheese) as his posts really aren’t that interesting, and following him will only serve to inflate his ego.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.