View Full Version : One Geek to Another - Online Gaming Courtesy

12-18-2009, 05:00 PM
610Dear One Geek,

I've noticed with the rise of the internet for online role playing games that people seem to treat it with less politeness than they do face to face gaming. Even ignoring jerks who are just plain rude, crude or otherwise socially unacceptable, many "good folks" seem not to give online games the same respect they do to "real life" ones. They will show up really late, leave early, drop out mid-session, or just not show up. We've lost a lot of players who apparently lack the common courtesy to inform the group they are part of, that they will not be making it to a game. After awhile they end up dropping off of the face of the earth without so much as a goodbye. How would you handle a situation like this?

Curious about Common Courtesy

Dear Curious,

On-line gaming can be a boon to gamers, but it also presents its own challenges. Some internet "hiccups" are unavoidable. Especially if a player has slow bandwidth or unstable service, they may have trouble logging in, or end up cutting out of games or conversations suddenly due to circumstances well beyond their control.

http://www.jesshartley.com/plugins/editors/jce/tiny_mce/plugins/article/img/trans.gifIn the short term, while it's frustrating to have other players drop out without so much as a "gotta run", it's probably best to assume that the issue is technological in nature, rather than a lapse of etiquette.

If it becomes an ongoing problem with the same player, however, you may want to politely discuss the matter with them. Calmly bring up the problem, and ask if they had trouble connecting, got knocked off line, or just signed off. If it's technological in basis, it may be a short-term problem (weather, outages, signing in from a public wi-fi spot, etc.) or ongoing, and knowing which may help you decide if you want to continue engaging this person in the online game or not.

If the issue is behavioral, on the other hand, it's well within your rights, if you're playing in an online game or MMO, to ask that they at least let you know if they're not showing up, or signing off for the night, so you don't wait for their arrival/return. If they continue to be a repeat offender, you can either adjust your expectations (ie: don't wait for them to show up/come back, and if they're penalized by their absence, that's too bad), or your engagement with them. It's possible their views of appropriate online interaction may be different than yours, and if you can't come to an acceptable common ground, they may not be someone you want to continue gaming online with.

Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Send us an email (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/sendmessage.php?do=mailmember&u=9844) and your question may get answered in one of our future "One Geek to Another" columns!

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12-21-2009, 04:31 PM
Jess, glad to see this particular article. I can say that I have had my share of this subject with my Destiny of Kings game on the P&PG Chat. Then again, I also have some current players that are the opposite and always give me a heads up if they will not be able to be present for a game session.

12-25-2009, 02:27 AM
I hate to say it but the dropping out without a word is not limited to on line gaming. I have seen it more than a few times in F2F gaming. It isn't any more polite either.

12-27-2009, 03:40 PM
I agree, i've actually encountered it more in table-top world than online. Online's just too demanding for me and i had to give it up years ago. There's a lot of people who depend on you in an online group and these groups tend to meet more often. my style of play is longer session, less often.

I have a written policy about dropping out and even not showing up - all my players have to agree to it. Its really rude in a group that does not meet as much i think, because people hold up the game start, bring food, have character interaction and play thought out/built out and the loss of one player can really hurt a session - a group if its permanent.

12-27-2009, 04:01 PM
It is less the loss as wondering if you have a loss.

05-06-2010, 10:08 PM
In my experience, if you make it clear to the players that you expect your online game to be treated with the same respect and courtesy that would be shown in a real-life game, you'll get pretty good results. I've had no issues with my current group, but in the past i had flaky players, so i just wrote up a rule to make clear what i expected, and what the consequences would be:

House Rule #3: Absent Players

a) More often than not, an absent PC will become a plot device. I prefer temporarily writing the character out over guessing what they would do.

b) Players who know they will be absent *should* warn the GM. This is really a courtesy, not so much a rule. But please, please do it. Really.

c) Either commit, or don't. Everyone misses games on occasion, and it is understandable if you require a hiatus. Please let the GM know if you need a break, and more importantly, don't overextend yourself to the point of burn-out. Again, just let a person know.


Players who are absent for more than three consecutive sessions, and make no attempt to contact the GM, will be removed from the game. Characters who are removed *may* be reintroduced at a later time, but are subject to approval as new players.