Expected levels of engagement and interest

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
#81
I mean one thing I have noticed here is that nobody has suggested that the players who are sitting around chatting or on their phones are not participating in the hobby. The presumable implication is that this behaviour is, in fact, part of what roleplaying is?
It's part of what it is in the sense that it's an incredibly broad category, and what some people do can look like that. It's hardly an intrinsic part of it, and I can say that I find it really irritating at the table, though thankfully none of my current players are anywhere near that. There's a lot of different approaches to what RPGs look like in practice, many of which are mutually exclusive.

As for your tennis analogy, that's a bit narrow. You've got the specific court, the specific game with rules, etc. A better analogy would be something like hiking - which, just sticking to nearby trails from a few parks can range from a 0.8 mile loop around a lake at moderate elevation (admittedly a mile and a half, but I live in a mountain state) to a 26 mile hike up and down a particularly nasty 14er. The hobby extends past that on either end, and the people going on a quarter mile hike through flat terrain in a lowland forest are generally not looking for the same sort of thing as people planning month long treks through mountains. If you're in either of those groups, yes, the other is technically part of what hiking is. That doesn't make them welcome in your personal hiking group, let alone if you're the poor sap expecting a tiny hike in a forest and showing up at some base camp somewhere where everyone else is expecting a multi-day hike and packed accordingly.
 

Carlos Ferrer

Registered User
Validated User
#82
I think that the question underneath is "is it normal?", "is it all what i can expect?". Not at all. As many pointed out, it is just one of the attitudes you can find in the hobby. For some players the game itself is not so important, it is rather like the football match you gather around for being with friends. For others tbe game is really the main expectation and tbey enjoy intrrpreting, following the story, interacting with other characters and so on. It looks like ypu want to play with people in this second category.

That's why I advice you to join other groups of players focused in more narration oriented RPGs. This way, in my opinion, you are going to enjoy the roleplaying the way it seems you prefer. And probably you will see ways of gamemastering or conceiving the game experience that you can later apply to the games with your long time players.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
#83
Sure. But then that really wouldn't be to the detriment of the group activity. It would be rude if your not paying attention meant that the group activity suffered or stalled.

As for the phone thing...I completely get how for many people phones and laptops are integral. And that's fine. The focus is still on the game and people are still engaged.
Okay. I can't argue with that. I've just seen people--and I want to say in this thread--who's position is "if you aren't paying attention 100% of the time, you're a terrible player and should go to outer darkness, including no electronics ever." And I have real trouble not rolling my eyes about that. Objecting when people can't stay caught up or are otherwise disruptive (and I'll admit being far from perfect here--I often refer to myself as kind of a bad player, which is why I GM much more) I think it far more legitimate a critique IMO.
 

Kagejin

Registered User
Validated User
#84
As to the OP's key question of what's "normal" for an rpg group, the simple answer is that it varies group to group.

In my not quite 40 years experience, most players pay good, general attention to what's going on. However, there are always breaks from needing to use the restroom or get a beverage or snack, to flipping through a rulebook, to needlepoint, knitting, or some other craft project, to full on web surfing. I've had all of these happen in my games. Out of character comments, jokes, and discussions of out of game topics also occur.

The key bit for me is about how much the group's enjoyment is disrupted. As long as the player remains aware of the important stuff, and I don't have to recap everything that's happened since their last turn, it's all good. However, if every time the player's attention is drawn back to the game, the first thing they say is some variant on "So, what's goin' on?" that's a problem as it disrupts my enjoyment of the game as GM, if nothing else, and there will be a discussion.

Of course, occasionally a player needs a recap, especially in theatre of the mind style play where not everyone gets the same mental picture from the descriptions given.

So, as long as everyone's having fun, each player gets to pick their level of participation.
 

ChalkLine

Rogue Conformist
Validated User
#85
Many people 'play' RPGs just because they don't want to be alone and don't have any other social outlets. Often you'll see them develop some other social outlet and simply disappear.
 

ChalkLine

Rogue Conformist
Validated User
#86
Also, engagement is a varying thing.
A certain amount of disengagement is permissible and understandable. No one minds this. No one demands 100% attention all game. And no one expects the attention to be the same all game.

My special and personal gripe is The Dreaded Pizza Call. Just as I'm getting into it someone gets hungry and play stops for up to an hour. It's incredibly annoying to me, but that's OCD me.

However I fully understand that a player will stop being engaged at some point, perhaps want to check something up in a rules-book or similar. However if they are playing a game on the phone (the ultimate insult - you're there to play the game but you consider it less enjoyable than fucking Candy Crush), facebooking or reading for pleasure then you are throwing the game in the GM's face. The GM has a life as well and dragging along 'zombies' who can only be bothered utter combat instructions and otherwise be a distraction. That's simply rude and the GM could have spent their time enjoying themselves in other ways than trying to bring a living, breathing and exciting world to someone who disrespects the effort.
 
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Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
#87
Last few games I was a player in got stalled over and over again due to a few people taking repeated smoke breaks. Then there were the phone people who would demand a recap during the rare and baffled moments they looked up from their screen.

I voted with my feet.
 

Altheus

Not a nice person
Validated User
#88
After I've finished my current game I'll give people at my gaming group a list of things to choose from that I'm interested in running.

Anyone who responds with "I'll play whatever" will not be welcome at my table. I would like at least a little enthusiasm from my players.
 

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
#89
But it is weird that people are so cagey about this type of thing.
At this point, we've had forty years of argument about what role-playing games are and how they should be played, with the consensus being that we should just try to keep the arguments friendly.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
#90
After I've finished my current game I'll give people at my gaming group a list of things to choose from that I'm interested in running.

Anyone who responds with "I'll play whatever" will not be welcome at my table. I would like at least a little enthusiasm from my players.
If you can get enthusiasm from the whole group for any one thing, you're a fortunate man. I was happy to get two out of five and only one mildly dragging his feet (I could have likely found one with no one dragging their feet--but no sign of particular enthusiasm, either. I've concluded that's worse than what I managed this time).
 
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