Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Proprieties of Gaming

The other night I was on-line perusing the rules to Contract Bridge and I came across a section entitled "The Proprieties" of Bridge which spelled out a code of conduct for Bridge players. That got me thinking. There really should be a similar code of conduct for table-top gamers in general. So without further ado, here are my suggestions for:

The Proprieties of Gaming

1. Gaming Should Be Fun For All Participants

I imagine that most of us play games because we enjoy them. We should bear in mind that others are there to have fun too. Behavior which makes others feel unwelcome, unworthy, unwanted, or uncomfortable is unacceptable. Some people can handle a little bit of trash talk; some can't. It's YOUR responsibility to know which are which and make sure that your actions aren't spoiling the experience for those seated at your table.

2. Let Everyone Play Their Own Game - Don't Kibitz!

When I sit down to play against an opponent, I expect to be matching my skill against his (or hers); not yours. If someone asks for help, usually because they're learning the game, then by all means go ahead and help; but unless your help has been solicited, please keep your suggestions to yourself. I have been involved in too many games where someone has suggested moves for someone else. I've even been involved in games where one of the other players has all but played everyone else's entire game for them. And if I make what you think is a blunder, I don't want to hear about it until after my turn is over, and sometimes not even then. Some people seem to have an overwhelming need to prove their intelligence by critiquing everybody else's game. If you're one of those, don't expect to be made to feel very welcome at my gaming table.

3. Keep Private Information Private

If something in the game is intended to be private then you have no business sharing that information with others at the table. This is particularly true of card games and I'll admit that I've been guilty of a few minor infractions here from time to time. During a friendly card game it's very tempting to groan when you've been dealt a bad hand. Don't. Talk about the weather, your family, your friends, whatever, but don't divulge information about your hand to others, particularly in a partnership game. Likewise, if my hand should dip too low, politely remind me to conceal it. Just because I've accidentally let you see my hand doesn't give you the right to look at it.

4. Finish What You've Started

If you sit down to play a game then you had darn well better have a very good reason for leaving the table before the game is over. And being in a losing position is not a good reason for quitting early (particularly in a game involving more than two players). Think about it this way: if you were winning wouldn't you want to be allowed to finish the game? It is very poor sportsmanship indeed to deny another player the satisfaction of a well-earned victory by throwing in the towel and storming off. A true gamer enjoys the game for the sake of the competition and the company. If you're only in it for the winning then go find another table to play at, you're not welcome at mine.

5. Live With Your Mistakes

You've carefully weighed your options and reluctantly made your move. You opponent has just begun his own analysis. But wait! Now you realize that you've made a mistake! Do you ask to take it back? I sure hope not! Once your turn is done, it's done. There is no magical "way-back machine". There are no "do-overs". You've had your chance, you've made your move, now etiquette demands that you live with it. If your move turns out to have been a poor one then hopefully you've learned something. Suck it up and try and make the best of a bad situation. Above all, be a good sport and accept that we all make mistakes from time to time. If you've played with me long enough then you've no doubt reaped the benefit of one of my mistakes; now it's my turn to benefit from one of yours.

Basically it all comes down to good sportsmanship. Everything comes back to rule #1: gaming should be fun. Think about your behavior. Is everybody having fun? Good! Then let's play a game!


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