Most of us play games for the simple social pleasure. The challenge and a chance of winning are added bonuses. But for others there’s a different agenda and it usually involves ruining things for everyone else.
Here’s a short guide to some of the worst offenders, and the best way to deal with them. But beware, you’re off the edge of the board… Here Be Monsters!
The King of Poor Losers. We all know them, and they’re usually your dad.
Once inevitable defeat is assured, the board or even table goes airborne. Counters and dice fly like shrapnel amidst roars of outrage and snarling accusations of unfairness, cheating and global conspiracy.
They stomp off muttering something about “making up the bloody rules as you go along”, and leave the rest of you to clear up.
Dealing with them: Common practice is to wait until they’re out of earshot, and then erupt in a chorus of “Ooooooo” as you all mince around the room clutching imaginary handbags to your chest. Or just let the Wookie win.
Nemesis: The Gloater. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
Basically a subset of Poor Loser with enough self-control not to graduate to board-flipping.
Rather than wind up their resentment to an explosion of fury, they maintain a low-level of surliness with every set-back in the game. They’re like the teenagers of gaming.
Dealing with them: It’s tempting to recommend co-operative games, but sadly they’re as likely to mope about the actions of their compatriots. It’s better simply to humour them, or goad them into full-on board-flipping for entertainment value.
Nemesis: The Gloater. Or pretty much anyone who’s winning or making them lose.
For this despicably poor sport it’s not good enough to simply win. It’s far more important that you lose, and they’re not ashamed to hammer the point home. Repeatedly. Even if the game is an entirely luck-based exercise, they’ve won because they’re awesome and you’re not.
Dealing with them: Gang up with the other players and become what you most despise: there are few things more satisfying than gloating over a defeated Gloater. It also avoids the legal entanglements of mob justice.
Nemesis: The Board-Flipper. Karma day.
They’ve studied Magic: The Gathering for the past 20 years. They know every powerful card combo and deck build there is. They eat, sleep and breathe the game. To refer to them as nerds would be like describing Hannibal Lecter as “dangerously peckish”. They judge self-worth by mastery of the game and believes it earns them dollops of respect and cred.
But there’s nothing big or clever about turning an otherwise enjoyable game into an exercise in streamlining and efficiency. Get a life, munchkin.
Dealing with them: Adopt a devil-may-care attitude to the entire proceedings. Laugh, joke and play exceedingly badly. They’ll never play with you again. Or fluke a win for the same outcome.
Nemesis: The Socialiser. Or anyone not taking things as seriously as they do.
Usually seen in role-playing circles, this killjoy upsets the flow of play by nitpicking every die roll based on their encyclopaedic knowledge of rules, modifiers and errata in every expansion and companion ever produced.
It’s unsure whether they’re truly outraged at a perceived variance from sacred texts, or they believe their actions display a knowledge that’s worthy of merit. They’re certainly unbearable bores who screw up a nice story.
Dealing with them: Solve all rules issues with a vote among the players. There’s nothing a dictator hates more than democracy in action.
Nemesis: The Inventor. How very dare they?
We all love our games, but the Ludophile takes that affection to the extreme, stringing out a game they’re effortlessly winning, simply because they love playing it so much. Chess is rarely fun for some, but it’s never fun when someone systematically captures every one of your pieces, when they could have checkmated you half an hour ago.
Dealing with them: Simply resign the game when you estimate their enjoyment peaks.
Nemesis: The Power Gamer, or anyone playing for a quick victory rather than basking in the sheer delirious joy of the experience.
In fairness it’s not just during gaming sessions that they check their phone every two seconds for new tweets or Facebook updates. This is just how they roll.
They seem genuinely surprised, confused and a little dazed when they’re dragged back to the real world to take their turn, and have a poor grasp of the rules of any new game as they weren’t really listening when you explained them in the first place.
On a positive note they usually take their turn quickly (after you’ve explained how to… again) in order to return to the alluring glow of a screen.
Dealing with them: Just subtly exclude them from the game halfway through. They’ll never notice.
Nemesis: None. They’re in their own little world.
They know what’s best for you. You’re obviously an incompetent. It’s genuinely painful to watch you play. They’re doing you a favour really, you drooling cretin. Just sit back and leave it to the master, okay?
It’s bad enough when you’re playing a co-operative game and one player takes it upon themselves to make decisions for the entire group. But the worst kind of Alpha gamer will actually take your turn for you during any game. Every turn.
Dealing with them: Invite their partner to a gaming session. You may have to put up with The Other Half, but they often keep the megalomaniac in check.
Nemesis: The Arch Strategist. They won’t be rushed or take their hands off their playing piece, however much they’re aggressively heckled.
They know they’re good at this game. They know that you’re not. They know they’re going to win. In fact it’s going to happen in precisely two turns. And they just said all that out loud.
In mythology the power of precognition was seen as both a blessing and a curse. For the gaming Prophet it’s simply a matter of fact and fate, and there’s no use you fighting it. They’ve got this covered and you might as well just give up now to save any scrap of dignity you still possess.
Dealing with them: Devote your life to beating them. Cheat if necessary. Nothing beats wiping that smug self-assurance off their face.
Nemesis: They care not. It’s all preordained. Until it isn’t.
Most gaming groups have some house rules. Some games are held together at the seams with them. The Inventor however, insists on house rules from their college/kindergarten days, or just makes stuff up.
“Yeah, yeah… you have to stand up and spin around three times when you roll a 6. We call that a spondool. It’s in the original rules. Look it up.”
Dealing with them: Everyone should start making up their own rules in a massive anarchic free-for-all. See how much The Inventor likes it.
Nemesis: The Rules Lawyer. Obviously.
They’re only here to humour their partner. They don’t like the game. They don’t like the experience. Gaming is crap. Apart from Candy Crush Saga and Farmville of course.
You’ve never seen apathy until you’ve seen them in action. Every aspect of the game is evidently a trial to be endured, and you can expect copious amounts of sighing and tutting throughout, with an added “thank goodness that’s over” as they annoyingly win.
Dealing with them: To speed up proceedings either let then win or crush them utterly, depending on whether it’s your own partner. You can always try alcohol, but you risk turning them into The Socialiser. Divorce works.
Nemesis: The Rules Lawyer, The Arch Strategist, The Ludophile or anyone else who strings out this tortuous experience for longer than absolutely necessary.
There’s nothing more fun than waiting half an hour for someone to mull over their next move, right? Even after they’ve made a move, their hand stays on the playing piece for several more minutes. Exciting stuff.
On the bright side, if you have a good book to read or some household chores that need tackling, you’ll have plenty of time for both.
Dealing with them: Play any game that uses an egg timer, although they’ll still wait for the final grain to fall before acting.
Nemesis: The Socialiser. No distractions, please!
You’re around the table for a session of Call of Cthulhu. You’ve used sombre lighting and an atmospheric soundtrack. You’ve just read the introduction using your best Christopher Lee voice. An owl hoots outside.
You pause for dramatic effect… and a voice chimes in that their daughter has just claimed first prize in the pony club trials, did you know? And here are the photos. And the video. Great. How absolutely fascinating.
This character isn’t really a gamer at all. They’re just in it for the captive audience they can regale with tales of their exciting life, with alcohol added to ratchet up the volume.
Dealing with them: With the attention span of the average goldfish, and all the social etiquette of a drunk hyena, you’re best sticking with party games like Balderdash or Apples to Apples.
Nemesis: The Social Media Junkie. Errr, hello? I’m talking at you!
[Hope you enjoyed this! Please check out my other gaming articles and gimme a SHARE on Twitter, FB and the like. It’d mean the world!]