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As a host (and as a guest) to a gaming session, I like to help make the experience as gratifying for as many people as possible. I sometimes run into certain types of people or behaviors that are sometimes, but never always, anticipated.

Sore Loser Crankiness: gets increasingly irritable as the certainty of his failure to win approaches.

Self-Pitying: repeatedly moping sadly and verbally over how desperate, pathetic and impossible his situation is.

Vendetta-bound: out for blood beyond any intra- or inter-meta-game statistics or standing reason. Spouses, Significant others, Politically mis-aligned players, someone who took the last pizza roll.

There are more, and I listed these as behaviors, not so much as 'types of people', although we probably all know various people who tend to repeatedly show these behaviors. Some might be "tolerate" and others might be "kick to the curb", but do people have good approaches that help address these issues and in the end make their gaming sessions and gaming groups stronger?

I'd also like to add that I'm more interested in courses of action during the ongoing game session or social event (excluding something like pulling the person aside for a word). I feel there are various common carefully thought out ways to confront or appeal to people after the fact and that these approaches (in person, calling, email, tone of appeal/confrontation) could easily be another question/topic.

I've edited the original question to specify adults as interacting with children adds in a whole extra complexity of boundaries especially when they aren't your children and you're then thinking about how to interact around or with the parents.

  • This is a broad question, but I think it could be answered well from a boardgamer's perspective. – Joe May 29 '15 at 19:09
  • I agree that the question is a little too broad to ask about like this here. – CrystalBlue May 29 '15 at 19:34
  • Any suggestions on improving the question? I'm driving at how people divert, lighten, intervene, or do whatever to increase the general enjoyment or reduce the potential awkwardness. I admit, maybe these answers would have nothing to do with gaming but perhaps they do involve how you handle the proceedings of the game session? I'm not certain. – Joey May 29 '15 at 19:36
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    @Joey For what it's worth, it seems okay to me. This is a specific enough situation, and while there are surely multiple possible answers, that doesn't necessarily mean it's too broad. The biggest improvements I can think of are avoiding the word "broader", and rephrasing to ask more clearly about general approaches, since the current formulation sounds like you might be asking for stories. – Cascabel May 30 '15 at 0:03
  • Great edit, I did not recognize your initial question until I read the revision history. You have my vote! – freekvd Jun 1 '15 at 13:03
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It's usually easier to prevent these things than it is to fix them.

Set the mood
Make sure everyone's doing alright. Put on some music, get some food and drinks on the table (or a lot of drinks, if you really want to be sure).

Pick the right game
The type of games can also make a big difference. Some games are really harsh on those who fall behind. There's nothing that says 'get grumpy' like sitting at 3-5 VP during a 90 minute game of Settlers. If the skill levels in your game group are miles apart, try to level the playing field by picking games that require less skill, like Yahtzee or Pictionary.
Even when the whole group settles on a complex and long game, I find that it helps to throw short and simple games in between.

Invite the right people
The harshest truth is that some people just don't fit well with the rest of the group. You can't please everyone.

  • Thanks, perhaps an quiet assessment, informal vote, or formal vote as to the game can shed some light on what works well for certain people and some choices can simply be avoided, maybe even steered clear after realizing how things are progressing in game 1. We're gamers, dynamically adjusting to the situation is our strength, right? I like the reminder of the importance of music, food and drinks. – Joey Jun 1 '15 at 19:45
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    @Joey I would suggest that as the host, it's your responsibility to set the mood (picking the game, the players). I think that's a key part of being a good gamer, is collecting the right games appropriate for the right situation. – dwjohnston Jun 2 '15 at 3:03
  • Agreed @dwjohnston, I'm hoping some of the ideas that surface will help deal with the situations where we don't know players' preferences or tendencies (as with guests of guests or simply newer invitees). Maybe having a game or two that fits certain fallback situations is a good idea, i.e. dial down the competitiveness, dial up the lightheartedness, steer clear of potential situations that lead to favoritism, etc. – Joey Jun 2 '15 at 5:31
  • I have hosted lots of board games for events and things, and I find myself in situations where I can't control who will show up, or even their skill/interest level. As you have less control you need to pick board games which are easy to learn, less skill-based, or even purposefully lowering the difficult by handicapping experienced players. If you want a challenge host your own events and make it clear you want those who are very interested. If you want to entertain, then several concessions on your part as a host need to be made to keep everyone happy. – kurtzbot Jun 2 '15 at 16:40
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Generally speaking, My preferred approach is to first make it clear to the "problem player" that the behavior can cause an unpleasant experience for other players.

If they present a potentially legitimate complaint, such as complaints that the game is unfairly difficult(perhaps specifically for them) or "impossible", I will generally offer to explain how the situation could have turned out differently or been handled differently.

If the behavior is habitual or repeated, I typically warn that there will be some kind of consequences of continuing it, depending on how much of a problem it is causing.

Edit: Fair points, I was approaching this from more of a long-term fix perspective than a short-term salvaging of the immediate atmosphere.

I would still suggest SOME form of alerting the problem player that they are causing a problem, because catering to their complaints or troublesome behavior just encourages more, in the long run.

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    I feel like once there has to be a confrontation, "the fun is over", so it becomes damage control and can spiral into an unpleasant (even if justifiable) result. I'd rather find ways around this and, if possible, delay such a conversation until after the social event and when it can be done privately with the appropriate distance. Some people respond better to emails where they have some distance, others maybe a face to face. My main interest, though, is what to do to best salvage the event itself. – Joey Jun 1 '15 at 17:17

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