Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bad to Good 1: The Game Store

I've been part of a lot of communities over the years, I've had many a hobby and I always try to meet up with others who enjoy the same things. I play video games, I airsoft, I even went to anime conventions for a while, and to contrast, went to plenty of football tailgates with my dad. I've seen just about every social scene imaginable, and while I avoid most college parties like the filthy pits they are, I will say something about those frat boys: they at least know how to socialize.

It's a sad fact that a lot of people just don't get along in our hobby. I don't think that that's because we have irreconcilable differences, or that having a different approach to playing the game means that we can't be friends. I think it's because we are, essentially, bad at communicating with each other.

I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me at the game store, and I'm willing to bet it's happened to you: you're hanging out, looking to play, (or just looking at games) and some guys walks up to you. He either starts blurting out advice you don't want or starts telling you stories about something awesome he did in game X. This always rubbed me the wrong way, after all, who is this arrogant gentleman who gets off on telling me all this? I think you're probably all picturing your own personal person like this by now, after all, it's incredibly common in the game store. What you have to realize is that these people are actually just trying to be friendly. There's no motivation behind this to prove their gaming dominance, they're trying to impress you with their gaming knowledge. They just don't know how to start a conversation with you and make friends.

Once I realized this, I adjusted my expectations and have had a much more pleasant time at the game store. Though it may seem like the place is full of win-at-all-costs abrasive maniacs, I assure you that is not the case. People don't go to the game store just to play with their friends, people go to meet new people and expand their game and gaming social circle.

There are a few things you can do to maximize your gaming experience. I've already covered one, which is to simply realize that everyone is at the store for the same reasons. Here's a few more that will help you not only to get the most out of gaming, but to help you build a good reputation in your community.

First, before you even go, prepare yourself. Take a shower. Wear deodorant. Seriously, I don't care if you don't think you smell, you do, so wear deodorant. The smell of game stores is not only a problem for all the gamers that already go there, I remain convinced it is one of the major obstacles that prevent women from joining our hobby! Don't be part of the problem. You can wear whatever you want, of course, but it shouldn't be anything. Wearing an old Iron Man shirt is fine. Wearing one that's covered in food stains is not, it's disgusting. We all joke about how gross game stores are, but those same people who are causing the problem don't realize they're part of it. Take a serious critical look at yourself, it's not that hard to be clean.

Next, simply come in with a positive attitude. Make eye contact and keep it. This was something that I personally had to work on for a long time. Creating and holding eye contact can be very difficult if you're not used to it, it can seem aggressive and uncomfortable. Be assured that it is not. Holding eye contact shows major respect and attentiveness, and draws you into the conversation. It's hard to like anyone when you don't even look at them!

When you actually have a conversation, be patient and listen. People have different flows when they are talking, and it can take some getting used to. Try to never interrupt, and do your best to pay attention. You may even find yourself enjoying it.

Finding a game is very, very easy at most stores, but finding an enjoyable one can be difficult. The best way is to be entirely forthcoming in your expectations. Tell your opponent exactly what you want out of the game, if you want to play a casual game, or against a very patient opponent with a soft list, make that known! Otherwise, you're simply setting yourself up for disappointment. No one's going to be upset if you ask for a certain kind of game.

During the game, just try to stay happy. It can be easy to fall into a foul mood when the dice don't roll your way or when game fatigue sets it. Turning it around can be as easy as blurting out a “BLEARGH” whenever one of your men dies. It's not in anyones blood to lose, and no one's happy getting beaten down, but you can at least take it in good humor. Remember, the popular people at the game store aren't that way because they're they best at the game, they're just the most fun to play against.

When you're watching other games, never backseat general. Someone standing by the side of the table telling the players what to do is the height of annoyance.

After the game, always, ALWAYS debrief. I can't stress this enough. Don't just let your opponent walk away, if you can help it. Ask what they think of your list. Ask what you could have done, and if there were any major mistakes you made during the game. Talk to them about it for as long as you can, the conversations you have at the end of games will teach you more about 40k than ANY other source. It's critical to be patient and milk it for all it's worth.

Finally, never be rude about people's army. It doesn't matter how badly the paint job or conversion seems to you, someone worked on that. A lot of players who feel insecure about their paint jobs will even say “Oh, I didn't work very hard on that, I just dipped it and...” That is often a lie, they are trying but they don't really know how and they feel uncomfortable comparing their models to well-painted ones. If you can't think of anything nice to say, simply say “You have a very nice army.” It's simple and it puts you in peoples good graces.

This may all seem simple, but having a bit of a plan before going into the store can really help maximize your experience. Get in, converse, play, debrief, make friends. If you're just a little conscious of your behavior, you can make yourself loved in no time, not to mention much better at this game!

So, side note: I was wrong when I told you to send me lists. So wrong. Oh god. If you already sent one, don't worry about it, but no more for now please. I'm still very interested in your 40k stories and article ideas, but I can't afford to email back everyone who sends me stuff, and do school, and write articles. Sorry. =( Still, I wuv you all. =) Get10 a day then complain :P. I did and I admit I am not as big and powerful as Kirby.

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