I want my fellow gamers to feel free to make fun of me, trash talk with me and feel free to have more interesting conversations than the weather and what we all do for a living.
I know that we have, as a species, built some social rules about how we engage with the people around us. There are stages we go through in order to get to know one another and get a comfort level. Over the course of time we get to a point were one of the participants in a “budding friendship” will get brave and attempt to pick on or make fun of the other.
This is always a weird moment because it marks a declaration point in a friendship. You are essentially telling the other person that you are comfortable enough to make fun of them. You are never sure how the other person is going to react and what are you supposed to do when the other person reacts in the way you did not intend? The potential for this situation to go bad are really uncomfortable. Most people would rather take it slow, be really polite, stick to small talk and let time work its magic. Or just avoid the situation all together…
I get this all the time at my meet up game night group. There are some people there that I could easily be friends with outside of games. I don’t know what their other hobbies are but as far as them being decent people that seem to have similar interests as I do, I think I could be friends with them. We get to a point where one of us makes a joke at the other’s expense and the inevitable “I’m Joking” needs to pronounced.
I hate this.
I am writing this open letter to my fellow gamers to tell you all that I want you to make fun of me. I want you to trash talk me when we are playing games and I want you to trash talk me about the games we are going to play in the future. I want you to feel comfortable to have more interesting conversation that is more meaningful than the small talk we all force ourselves through every thanksgiving when we run into the “once a year relative” and we have to be pleasant and talk about work and home and blah blah blah for a few hours until you are released to go back to our regular lives.
I understand that not everyone likes to communicate in a way that includes banter, trash talk or arguing for fun, I get it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the books we are reading, the games we want to play, why we want to play that game, game design….etc. The great thing about games is that there is a TON of built in conversational material around the games we play.
I also understand that there is a natural amount of time required for people to get comfortable with one another and people need to build a natural cadence when it comes to talking to one another. Think about the first time you try and get off the phone with a new friend or friend to be vs when you get off the phone with your spouse or parent or high school friend. There is a flow and a pattern to getting off the phone with the people you know. There is a weird “how do we get off the phone” when talking to someone new.
I am not foolish enough to think that I, or anyone else, could force people to be friends or make people banter with each other.
What I do believe, is that I can facilitate the process by telling all of you, my gaming friends, that I want to get to know you as quickly and openly as possible. I want you to feel free to make fun….I will take it as a joke. If making fun is not your thing, don’t be afraid to ask me whatever abnormal or philosophical question. We may or may not have the same likes and dislikes, but I want to remove the walls before we have to go through the social dance of getting around them.
I don’t expect to be best friends with everyone I meet in the board game world, but I want to have the chance to engage on a level where we know information can flow freely and without the worry that the attempt of sharing a laugh at my expense will be the cause of any hard feelings.