What keeps uninterested players showing up each session?

aco175

Legend
I see a bit of analogy to my golf game here. I play golf and enjoy it enough to become a member at the local club. I have been playing 3 times a week and manage to go a 4th time to just practice putting. I watch videos of how to improve and even watch professionals on TV playing. I study what I am doing and try to get better.

I play on Friday with a league where some only pull their clubs out of the car on Friday when they show up. A few of them go to the practice range and hit a few balls and some will practice putting for 5 minutes before playing. Some will sit at the bar and have a few drinks before play and wonder why they never get better.

They all show up each Friday though. They like playing at varied levels.
 

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Theory of Games

Disaffected Game Warrior
This weekend I jumped at the chance to play some D&D. I'm part of a LFG type Facebook group and someone posted that they had some players drop out, and were looking to fill spots. I said YOLO and shot him a DM. We got to talking and decided we'd be a good fit and he told me to make a level 7 character and show up at game time, so I did.

We read a lot of horror stories online about players not paying attention, and playing on their phones or goofing off at the table. The trope of players not knowing their class/characters and expecting the DM to know how their stuff works is so pervasive that it's a meme at this point. ("Players don't read the PHB")

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. It started to make sense however as we played. Myself and one other player were really the only ones driving the session. It seems like everyone else was just there to roll dice and loot treasure. I think that mindset is fine, I'm happy to do some dungeon crawling.. But if that is your only goal, shouldn't you at least know how your character works? I corrected the level 8 bard twice, letting him know that his Vicious Mockery was 2d4 instead of 1d4, and that his Bardic Inspiration had gone up from 1d6 to 1d8. We had a several minute long discussion with the level 8 Rogue about how sneak attack works, and why the +2 great ax was a cool weapon, but probably didn't make sense for him.

Near the end of the session there was a point where the DM was suggesting one of the players could go talk to a particular NPC to further his personal quest, and he refused to do it. Not like outright saying "No, I don't want to do that" but each time it was brought up he just ignored it or moved on to something else like upgrading his gear.

Then of course there was the off table issues. Playing on phones instead of paying attention, building dice towers, fiddling with minis, and two of the guys playing remotely went off on a ten minute tangent about movies in the middle of the someone else's turn.

I'm not trying to disparage these guys. I actually had fun, and they invited me back, so I'll probably go. But I've just never understood what motivates people who are so seemingly disinterested in the game to keep showing up? Just a commitment they feel obligated to uphold? The second the session wrapped the players who were struggling to pay attention were all pretty quick to skedaddle. It reminded me of being in high-school where everyone seems like a zombie who instantly jumps back to life as soon as the bell rings.

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.
Hey! I get to toot the horn again: Different players can have different playstyles.

Some people like combat. Some like social interaction. Some like puzzles. Some like saving bystanders from danger. Some just like hanging out with friends. So many flame wars and BS arguments originate with somebody being unable to tolerate another's play style. But arguing and complaining IME only makes things worse.

Learn to accept your fellow gamers for how they play because no playstyle is superior to any other. ALSO. Usually you need to fish around the community testing tables until you find a group that fits your playstyle. IME I've never met a group that was perfect but I did learn very quickly to accept how other gamers play which helps me fit in at just about any table.

full
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I honestly wonder if any research has been done on D&D and rates of ADHD. Anecdotally, it seems a much higher percentage of gamers than the general population identify or are diagnosed with ADHD. I wonder if that reflects something true, and if so what that says (if anything) about ADHD and/or D&D.

On topic: Neurotypical or otherwise, if people don't fit at the table, they don't get invited back. That isn't to be mean or to be exclusionary, but as the saying goes "no gaming is better than bad gaming" and a table full of people that don't fit what the GM is offering is bad gaming. It is better if everyone finds a table that fits and supports them.
 

damiller

Adventurer
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.
Yea I wondered that too for myself for a long time as a GM.

Then I just decided what I would put up with, and started letting players go who didn't meet those criteria.

I run games online, i know players will be doing other things. heck I am sometimes doing other things. But if I have to remind a player more than a couple of times what is going on in the game. They are going to be shown the door. I am here to play, and I want players who "pay attention" and will not create extra work for me.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I see a bit of analogy to my golf game here. I play golf and enjoy it enough to become a member at the local club. I have been playing 3 times a week and manage to go a 4th time to just practice putting. I watch videos of how to improve and even watch professionals on TV playing. I study what I am doing and try to get better.

I play on Friday with a league where some only pull their clubs out of the car on Friday when they show up. A few of them go to the practice range and hit a few balls and some will practice putting for 5 minutes before playing. Some will sit at the bar and have a few drinks before play and wonder why they never get better.

They all show up each Friday though. They like playing at varied levels.
My old man was really into sports. Not just watching, but playing them. He did competitive fast pitch softball for decades. He is in the state hall of fame. These guys take the game very seriously. Metal cleats, top of the line equipment, practice etc.. A lot of leagues out there are just for folks to what to socialize, get a little sun, maybe some exercise. They use slow pitch and have a casual approach. The old man's league wouldnt take a casual player, but occasionally my old man would play in a casual league.

Me, im a biker. I love to get my miles in whenever I can. One thing I learned when I first started and could barely get up a hill, was that there is always somebody faster and always somebody slower. Folks are at different speeds and abilities and sometimes they get better, and sometimes they stay exactly the same.

Hey! I get to toot the horn again: Different players can have different playstyles.

Some people like combat. Some like social interaction. Some like puzzles. Some like saving bystanders from danger. Some just like hanging out with friends. So many flame wars and BS arguments originate with somebody being unable to tolerate another's play style. But arguing and complaining IME only makes things worse.

Learn to accept your fellow gamers for how they play because no playstyle is superior to any other. ALSO. Usually you need to fish around the community testing tables until you find a group that fits your playstyle. IME I've never met a group that was perfect but I did learn very quickly to accept how other gamers play which helps me fit in at just about any table.

full
Yes and no. I do agree that most groups are a mix of interests. Sometimes thats functional, sometimes its not. If Bob is a often tardy inattentive beer and pretzels player, you gotta learn to except it. Temper your expectations. If you cant, my advice is to politely excuse yourself. I dont feel any duty to suffer every gamer I come across, but im not a jerk about it either.

Yea I wondered that too for myself for a long time as a GM.

Then I just decided what I would put up with, and started letting players go who didn't meet those criteria.

I run games online, i know players will be doing other things. heck I am sometimes doing other things. But if I have to remind a player more than a couple of times what is going on in the game. They are going to be shown the door. I am here to play, and I want players who "pay attention" and will not create extra work for me.
Yeah I stopped joining pick up groups awhile back. I found a motley assortment of players with no other bond but enjoying RPGs is not enough. I want a curated group that enjoys the same play style, setting, system, etc.. So, I start with finding my ideal group. Usually, that a combination of organized play, one shots, cons, etc.. Meet people, have dicussions, see how it shakes out. Eventually, I find a solid group. I will play with friends and more casual players, but I know to temper my expectations. I usually dont join these unless my first needs are met. Then, I'll join up for the social aspect and enjoy the game for what it is.
 



nyvinter

Adventurer
I honestly wonder if any research has been done on D&D and rates of ADHD. Anecdotally, it seems a much higher percentage of gamers than the general population identify or are diagnosed with ADHD. I wonder if that reflects something true, and if so what that says (if anything) about ADHD and/or D&D.
Which leads to the question about phones earlier and there has been players who have their phones up and they have been keeping up far better than the neurotypical player that keeps notes.

If things are a distraction, asking them to limit their use is good but it might also be a tool to keep them focused.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I honestly wonder if any research has been done on D&D and rates of ADHD. Anecdotally, it seems a much higher percentage of gamers than the general population identify or are diagnosed with ADHD. I wonder if that reflects something true, and if so what that says (if anything) about ADHD and/or D&D.
At a guess the rates of neurodiversity among gamers is higher than the general population. ADHD and Autism are the most common in my experience.
 

Many people need something physical to do to keep their hands busy and minds free. One of my players crochets or needlepoints, another rolls three d20s in their hands. I have had players read their phone to look up rules, pass the time until their turn, focus on something concrete to shut out the sensory overload of other players.

You can't expect people to give you all their attention all of the time, but if they get all the details and focus when it is their turn without 5 minutes of catchup conversation, it's all good.

More to the point, some people just want to hang out with their friends and this is what their friends do. My wife plays, but she's mostly there to visit with friends, stab bad guys and cook for everyone.
 

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