This week was another bust for gaming. One friend is still settling in over in Texas, another two are on the road, and a third player decided that they weren’t able to come to the sessions anymore. It’s discouraging, especially as I’ve been lucky enough to have a stable core group for over a decade until recently. The one reliable gamer left was supposed to come by to do some playtesting of the Atomic Robo RPG but Sandia Labs was locked down due to some incident on the air force base, and by the time I had gone to pick him up and bring him back (he’d missed the connecting bus) we’d have had no time, really. So I rode my Thruxton down to his end of town for drinks and a discussion on our recruitment plans for new gamers.

One of his comments — that people don’t say “good-bye” anymore; they just simply stop showing up — got me thinking. Partly, I think this trend is a function of where we are: the Southwest is very lackadaisical about social niceties, and in particular matters of reliability or time. There’s a mythic “Indian time”, as in “When will you be here?” “Tuesday” To a person from the East Coast, that means the upcoming Tuesday…to the Southwesterner that could be Tuesday three weeks from now. Indian time. “I be there at six” means they’ll leave for your place at six…even if you are an hour’s drive away. Several of the players have been somewhat wishy-washy on their goodbyes. They talk about coming back, but they don’t mean it. It’s just words. Hopeful ephemera.

But it got me thinking about etiquette for this hobby which attracts a lot folks with, to be honest, weak social skills. I’m not talking the stereotypical, troll in mom’s basement sorts, but perfectly functioning human beings that don’t seem to notice their actions affect othersSo here are a few things to remember when being part of a group (gaming or otherwise):

If you can’t commit to a bit of time, don’t commit: That doesn’t mean you’re locked into a period of indenture. Everyone knows life happens. Sometimes you have work or school, or emergencies. Everyone gets that. I’m talking about having committed to be at a place and time (like say babysitting), and you continually find another thing to do, instead. It’s rude, primarily because you aren’t the only one affected by your choice to blow off your group to see a movie, or sit at home playing Skyrim.

If you find you can’t do it, tell them why: One of the most annoying things of having a player bail is when they lie about why…and not well. You’re uncomfortable with the group. Say so. Maybe you’d rather do video games and teamspeak — cool. Say so. Maybe your wife doesn’t get gaming and doesn’t like you do it. (This is a whole different issue on your end…) Say so. Maybe you just can’t commit to a weekly, biweekly, or annual game. Say so. Honesty is better than prevarication. In other words, say “goodbye.”

You’re not the only one: Remember the guy or gal running the game? How much work do you think they put into the story line you’re currently not running? Remember how they might have even made a concerted effort to make you the central character of the plotline for that adventure? Now you’ve dicked the whole thing up not just for him, but the others playing. If you commit, at the very least stick out the adventure, or early on let the GM know you aren’t going to be reliable so they don’t focus on you. (Then don’t bitch you don’t get as important a role in the game.)