This is a response to one of Don Mappin’s posts over on Gnome Stew — a guy I quasi know from the old Star Trek gaming BBS. In the post he had a series of tips, hints, etc. for gamers from a GM (himself) that has been at it thirty years. One of those rules that caught my eye was:

Gaming Group Romances
Don’t. Just don’t. :)

My initial response was something, “Oh, come on…I’ve met plenty a girlfriend through gaming…” and was ready to pass this off. then I thought about my own experiences in gaming groups, or near others, with players that got involved with each other.

Most of the time player romances lead to you losing one or both of the players; usually the woman. This happens because the happy couple move on to other things — they go out on game night, they get married, have kids, go on a crime spree and drive their car into the Grand Canyon. Maybe not the last one. Most of the time, however, they date for a while, something happens to make one or both jealous, upset, or they just break up and to avoid the other person, one or both stop coming. Sometimes it’s another player that is jealous of the relationship — they were interested in Steve or Serena, or whomever…they drop out from frustration to masturbate, sulk over some of their badly written poetry, or go on a crime spree and drive their car into the Grand Canyon. (More likely, but still improbable.)

So I thought about all the examples of gaming group romances — which go right, which don’t…

In college (the first go ’round), the gaming group was pretty big — 6 or 8 people, depending, and all couples. There wasn’t a whole lot of jealousy, or shenanigans. But personal issues between one of the female players and a male player meant there was a lot of tension between the girl and her boyfriend, and the other player. This colored play pretty much all the time. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your significant other to game; just realize that people sometimes don’t get on so well. (This is why I like to meet prospective players first…so we can avoid to strong a personality clash.)

Another group in Philadelphia pretty much revolved around everyone’s interest in the female player (and if you saw her you’d say, “Well, duh!”) She flirted with them all, started getting to be more than that with one of us. Then started playing one off against the other, causing a row. She left the group, others were less happy, but it held together until I moved out of the city.

Similarly, two gamers in a later group were interested in a woman not part of the group, but married to another player. Ugliness, as they say, ensued. That’s probably the worst example. Infidelity, sorry to say, does not seem to be in short supply in the various gaming groups I’ve seen — it was particularly bad in the LARP that was running here in Albuquerque. I’m not a LARPer, but friends were, so I went to observe a few times to see what the fuss was about. It was a Vampire game (of course) and the purpose appeared to be for everyone to flirt/hook up with everyone else…or kill their character. I came away with a very dark opinion of the community and returned to the table. During my military years there was a thinly disguised threesome going on in the group between one couple and the wife of another player. Didn’t end well, when the woman in question finally caved under guilt and the group shattered.

I met my first wife in a game group, and despite the interest of others, won her. She was the object of affection for one of my gamers for 18 years…and everyone, me included, knew. It never caused trouble until our divorce — he bailed on the group with her. No happy ending there, I’m led to believe.

Overall, looking back on it, gaming gave me a wife, three girlfriends, and a plethora of opportunities to fool around. I can’t quite bring myself to endorse the “Don’t…Just don’t…” advice of Don, despite seeing his point. Gaming’s a hobby for me, and one I love…but if it’s between gaming or the chance for romance? I’d say go for it.