Boardgaming is a social activity. Whether you do it with friends or you do it with people you’ve just met, you are interacting with one or more people in an attempt to have fun and enjoy yourself.
Like anything in life, there are rules to live by in boardgaming that will make things go a lot easier for you, enable you to actually have fun, and make sure that the people you play with can have fun too.
If you can do that, and follow these guidelines even beyond your boardgaming session, then maybe you might have a more pleasant life as well?
It couldn’t hurt.
1) Don’t project your beliefs
This is more for your one-off gaming sessions at a convention or something like that. When you’ve joined a game group, this can be more difficult because you do end up socializing with them beyond games, during the down time when you’re just sitting around and chatting for example.
Or over good food, like in my game group.
But depending on the person, it is possible to follow this even in a game group as well.
I really dislike getting into political discussions, and so I generally avoid them. If one starts up around me, I generally stay silent.
I just don’t talk about politics.
But mainly I’m talking about the game sessions with people you’re very unlikely to ever meet again.
In those circumstances, it doesn’t matter what your political or social beliefs are. Ideally, the people you’re sitting down to a game with at a convention will never know what you truly believe about any “hot” topic. Are you an extreme left-wing social justice warrior? Are you an alt-right bigot?
If this rule is followed, nobody will ever know. All sides will get up from the table having enjoyed the game.
A game convention is no place for a political discussion.
This also applies to being a gatekeeper, which is a more subtle way of projecting your beliefs.
Don’t be a gatekeeper.
2) Don’t be afraid to get up and walk out
Again, this is more for conventions and other one-off games with people.
If you happen to sit down to a game with somebody who’s not following Rule #1, don’t be afraid to get up and walk away. There’s no need to get into a heated discussion, but there’s also no need to put up with comments that are pissing you off, either because they’re offensive or just because you vehemently disagree with them.
Are you a person of colour and somebody’s being racist? Or are you a woman and at least one of the guys at the table is making you feel uncomfortable, either because he’s gatekeeping or because he’s treating you like you don’t know anything?
There’s nothing wrong with getting up and walking away.
You’re at a convention to have fun. Don’t let some racist/sexist/otherwise idiotic asshole ruin your fun. There are plenty of people at this convention who aren’t that way, who are truly welcoming and inclusive, who will gladly play a game with you and make sure both you and they are having fun.
Or at least they’ll be following Rule #1 so you won’t know what they truly think.
3) Don’t be afraid to say a game isn’t fun, but also don’t be a jerk about it
Yes, if a game isn’t working for you and you know it’s going to be a 2+ hour slog, then don’t be afraid to say “I am really not enjoying this game. Can we play something else?”
Friends in your game group should be willing to pick up the game if one of the players isn’t having fun. Or maybe there’s a way for a player to leave it and the others can go on without them.
If it’s a 30-60 minute card game, though? Or something like that? Maybe just endure it, try to have a little fun, and don’t ruin it for everyone else? You’ll be done soon, and then you can choose to never play that game again.
Why make everybody else unhappy just because you’re not liking it? Play the game to the best of your ability and just make sure that you avoid the game from that point forward.
If I sat through two sessions of Factory Fun, you can put up with it too.
4) Treat people like you want to be treated
There’s a reason it’s called “The Golden Rule.” This should really cover almost every rule above, and it certainly covers so many cases.
Would you want to be talked down to when being taught a game, as if you have no real ability to understand it?
Of course not.
So why would you do that when a woman is among those to whom you are teaching the game?
Would you like it if somebody to whom you’ve taught a game got pissed off because you either forgot to explain a rule or they didn’t hear you when you did?
Of course not.
So why would you get pissed off when somebody teaches you a game and they forget a rule? Or they did but you just didn’t hear it?
It’s just a learning game. You’re not in it to win, necessarily. You’re there to learn it.
How you treat others comes back to you. If you’re a dick, somebody’s going to be an even bigger dick to you at some point.
Don’t be that person.
Which leads into #5…
5) Don’t cheat!
Seriously? Why are you cheating at a boardgame that’s supposed to be social and fun? It’s not like you have money riding on it.
If the stack of money beside the board is near you, don’t subtly grab a couple of coins. Don’t continually say “oh, I forgot to get income last turn.” Don’t power through your turn, doing things wrong when you taught the game and then, when you’re caught, say “oops! I forgot.”
We’re on to you.
Finally, this all leads to #6…
6) Treat people the way they deserve to be treated
You should start at a general baseline of treating people with respect. Again, make women, people of colour, people of all different genders, feel welcome and included in your game. Don’t talk down to them, make nasty comments, subtle comments, or whatever.
But that doesn’t excuse them if they aren’t following Rule #4 or #5.
If a woman is cheating, treat her the same way you would if a man were cheating. I will never play with somebody who I know is cheating. It doesn’t matter what colour/gender they are.
If a black man is acting like an asshole, treat him the same way you would if a white man was. I generally try to avoid playing with assholes, and I’m not afraid to get up and walk away if they’re being too bad.
Start at respect, but that respect must come from both sides or it all breaks down.
All people should be treated with kindness and respect (I know I’m using that word a lot, but I don’t care). It makes your life easier and it makes their life easier.
We all share a common love for board games.
Why not keep sharing that love with anybody who wants to share it with you?
Treat people with respect and they will respect you.
And if they don’t?
I refer you to good old Swayze at the top of this post (as well as Rule #6).
Let me know what you think in the comments. What rules did I miss?
What suggestions would you have for those in a game group, or just gaming at conventions or such?