What keeps uninterested players showing up each session?

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I think you can lead to a follow up question on this topic. Why do GMs put up with it? I think a lot of the same answers will come forward. They want to socialize with their favorite people to socialize with. Just so happens those peeps are not as into the game as they are.

Forming groups isnt easy. I mean, forming an equally invested group across a myriad of criteria isnt easy. Pretty much every group ive been in has had a mix of enthusiasm, rules proficiency, and social cohesion. So, often times just keeping any group going is rewarding enough to stay with it. YMMV.
 

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TiQuinn

Registered User
This game was full of all of that. I was one of five players at the table, and there were three players filling in over Discord voice chat. I was honestly a little surprised how stacked it was, considering the DM was out shopping for more players.
Having a split of players in person and online has always been a weird experience for me as a player. It’s like playing with a cardboard cutout. That’d have an impact on me for sure.
 

nevin

Hero
Sure. But at some point you have to recognize that's literally saying, "If only you'd pay more attention to the tedious thing it would be less tedious." They're not paying attention in the first place because it's tedious. Their not paying attention makes it more tedious, it's not the origin of the tedium. Again, "30 minutes of fun packed into 4 hours."

There's a real push and pull between "pay attention despite this thing being boring" and "make the game less boring."

I honestly think that's one reason the OSR is doing better than ever lately. People come in with 5E get bored and burnt out, then discover lighter, faster games in the OSR and jump ship.

All kinds of other games do not have this problem. Lighter games and just about anything that doesn't emphasize combat as much as D&D, and/or doesn't have such heavy rules for combat that make thi

I think you can lead to a follow up question on this topic. Why do GMs put up with it? I think a lot of the same answers will come forward. They want to socialize with their favorite people to socialize with. Just so happens those peeps are not as into the game as they are.

Forming groups isnt easy. I mean, forming an equally invested group across a myriad of criteria isnt easy. Pretty much every group ive been in has had a mix of enthusiasm, rules proficiency, and social cohesion. So, often times just keeping any group going is rewarding enough to stay with it. YMMV.
a lot of it is always going to rely on context. I've been lucky enough to play some years long campaigns and run some years long campaigns. I"ve had months where I personally had non buy in, didn't like the story or any of the hooks and was just going along to let other party members get thier stuff done. I can't say I was the most focused or engaged player in those times. I tried to make sure I did my part but when you get stuck in a thread you just don't like and you are doing things that your character argued against and didn't want to do it's really hard to give it even 85%. Sometimes in a long campaign you end up with sections that are just work you do because of your friends.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
a lot of it is always going to rely on context. I've been lucky enough to play some years long campaigns and run some years long campaigns. I"ve had months where I personally had non buy in, didn't like the story or any of the hooks and was just going along to let other party members get thier stuff done. I can't say I was the most focused or engaged player in those times. I tried to make sure I did my part but when you get stuck in a thread you just don't like and you are doing things that your character argued against and didn't want to do it's really hard to give it even 85%. Sometimes in a long campaign you end up with sections that are just work you do because of your friends.
Sure, if there is a goes around comes around. I'll entertain things im not crazy about if I get my turn. I wont sit through a campaign I have no interest in any longer though. My time and their time is worth more than that.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I’m lucky that for the most part as GM I been blessed to have groups that were focused on the game at hand and pay attention even when something is not directly involving them because we all have a stake in the outcome (to varying degrees). This has not always been the case when I was a player in a group, where in one case someone was often on their tablet playing another game but then wasn’t ready to go when things came around to them. I was glad when that person’s character died and they chose not to return. I don’t care if other people are distracted as long as their distraction does not distract others and they know what is going on. If not, that is a reason to part ways in my book.

My current in-person group are all people I socialize with outside of D&D and our spouses are all friends too, so when we gather for game night we are focused on the game nearly exclusively even if in general not every player is as deeply into it outside of the 4 to 5 hour session.
 

aco175

Legend
I think there are different levels of excitement and participation. D&D is a type of game that goes on and on unlike other games where you play for an hour and then done. There is a reason people come back to this. Some depends on where they are on why they play.

Some play to powergame or min/max, while others play to gather with others or just to be part of a group. I think they all like the game, but vary in why.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Sure, if there is a goes around comes around. I'll entertain things im not crazy about if I get my turn. I wont sit through a campaign I have no interest in any longer though. My time and their time is worth more than that.

A possibly-interesting side issue I've had in the past was a group I had that I just couldn't get a campaign idea put together that strongly interested the majority of them; I could manage one that everyone was okay with, but ones that actively grabbed some put off some of the others. There were probably ideas they'd all have engaged with, but they weren't things I was interested in running every other week.

(A related issue on this is that on two occasions I did work on campaigns without really checking to see if there was enough interest, to the extent of doing considerable mechanical and background work only to find out neither of my groups was consistently enough onboard them to make them want to commit to them. That's a mistake I'll never make again).
 

bloodtide

Legend
Has anyone ever been one of these players? Or do you perhaps have some insight into this mindset? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Oh yes, very often. Yes I do.

A lot of people that show up to play a game are just there to be social. They just want to hang out, chat with others and have a good time. They see the 'game" as just a social get together. The next big group are just the casual gamers. They think the game is fun and want to play it. The same way they would play any group card or board game. So loads of social fun, and oh yea, remember to 'play' the game occasionally. For a lot of people the idea of playing a "game" for more then an hour is a crazy idea and they just won't do it.

A fair number of people are just tagging along. Someone else wants to play the game...and they tag along. they have nothing to do and/or refuses to let their someone do anything fun alone...so they are there.

The next big group of players do what to play the game, but only adventure and really only combat. They see the RPG as a only combat game. Endless combat. Nearly anything else is boring. They might want a little story, but not much beyond "the combat is over there".

And, for a lot of the players, just playing the game is hard. Learning and remembering the rules is hard. And to top that off, they don't get to play much. They only have a couple hours of actual game play...and it might not be the best of quality game play. So no matter how long they have been a player, they don't really know how to play the game.

I've been doing this for about 40 years. At literally no point in that entire time of playing regularly has a single referee utterly captured my attention and held it for the entirety of a game session. Snippets here and there, absolutely. This scene is engaging or that NPC is engaging or this little piece of an otherwise boring combat is engaging. The entire session? Literally never. It's not possible to begin with and people should not expect it to be the standard. It's not a job. You could not pay me enough to pretend to be constantly engaged and interested.
I will just note it is possible. Sure if you have a game made up of random players...even if they are your best friends...your unlikely to get a very immersed and focused game. After all, you do have 4-7 random people that each want something specific or something vague or don't care then you won't get a very focused game.

Of course, the key is to pick the players. If the DM wants a very immersed and focused, they can pick players that share that idea.

One of my houserules is you get three seconds to say your characters action for any adventure or combat action...if you don't, your character stands confused for the round. It is harsh, and it is made that way. But it makes my game move blazingling fast. And yes, out of every five players...four will walk away....but one will stay. And maybe one of the four will look back and see it is not "so bad". I can game with that number.
 

I hate those players, and purge them when I identify them, keeping in mind that everyone has a zombie night.

But the key, IMO, is your choice of system. 5e, where the PCs are not likely to lose, and its just a matter of attrition, is inclined towards disinterest between your turn.

But using a brutal system where party survival hangs in the balance, and teamwork is essential will do a lot to keep players focused.
 

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