You probably think this article is about you…. Don’t you? Don’t you?

If you spend enough time within any gaming group you will eventually run into that guy… you know the one I’m talking about.

“Dude, Most kills again. #Winningatlife”

Gaming of all types, be it PC, console, tabletop or RPG is both a solitary pursuit and a group pursuit all at once. Unlike traditional hobbies, sports or pastimes like fishing, individual personal victories within a group effort are part of the fun and glory. You may be in a party, but you want the best gear for you character or the most XP. You might be playing an arena in Halo with a team of buds, but you want the most kills. There are trillions of combinations I could list here but I’m sure you see my point.

Unlike football, which attracts group oriented team-workers, or golf, which attracts solitary achievers, gaming attracts all types of personalities. Individual achievers and group players are thrust together into a community… and it doesn’t always work well.

God I hate this gorgeous bastard. He’s my “That Guy.” So chiseled.

I’m gonna talk about some strategies that can help you avoid being the solitary loner that folks in your local community whisper about, and how to avoid creating a clique where outsiders are verbally and emotionally punished for daring to take part. I’ll not take a high horse and speak down to you either… because I have done both in equal measure. It’s not something I’m proud of but I am proud that I have learned from it.

Manners, Hygiene, Courtesy and Sharing… Dammit, my Grandma told me it would be helpful someday…

It sounds crazy, loopy even. “Tim we all know this.” Do we?

I’ve seen it many times. A shy guy shuffling his feet at the door of a rental hall. Looking hopeful that someone might say hello. Ask him what he plays. Invite him for a game. Mostly these people are harmless newbies who just want a friend. They are not treated that way very often.

Sometimes its that guy who just won’t stop using his mic to talk about that one time he got in the helicopter on Battlefield.

I like… omg I can’t do it.

This is how communities are, and being cruel, excessively dominant or rude and driving people away damages the people… and the community as a whole. Human beings thrive on group activities and socializing. No matter how much of a “lone wolf” you claim to be, if your at a gaming club or buying the latest CoD for the multi-player arenas, YOU thrive on it too!

So be friendly and polite. It seems crazy but people don’t learn how to operate in a social group unless they are allowed to be in a social group. It is a catch 22. You can’t improve your social skills and learn how to make friends unless you make friends with someone and practice your social skills. This applies to both the insider shunning the newb and the fresh face twiddling his thumbs at the entrance.

Dude, you wasted all the Mountain Dew

Also guys… just wash before you go to your club. If you’re at home on your PC or console, get up from time to time and at least wipe up some of your crotch sweat. It’s not hard. Water won’t hurt you. It’s one of the ingredients in Mountain Dew, so it’s definitely fit for human use.

Understanding, try having some for others… really Grandma, What about what you said about poor people the other day…

Was it a light socket that did that. Can beards grow that way normally?

You can see him there, in the corner. Eye twitching. There’s a gleam in his pale wild eyes that pierces through his scruffy hair and unkempt beard. You can tell that he is gonna tell you about the “aliens” again.

This guy needs company too. In fact he probably needs more than the average Joe. The best way to deal with the “Crazy Gamer” online and in real life is to simply engage him in the thing your doing.

Don’t discuss politics or how  much pressure it takes to drive a cold steel blade through the back of someone’s skull. Just play the game you are all there to play. That’s why you are there. That’s why they are there. Do what nature intended. Capture some new Pokémon and level them up to fight that stupid powerful Growler at the Gym near your work.

Yeah this Garfieldocat can kill a Growler right?

Everybody needs a little understanding. Think about every time you ended up saying or doing something dickish, awful, scary or plain crazy to someone. We all have our troubles and a little understanding and empathy can go a long way. Just have an easy friendly approach. You’re playing mandollies, or pew pew on the computer; don’t complicate it with your life philosophy.

Girls can play too, they like this stuff too. I’ll be honest, my Grandma never said that… she was pretty racist and  old fashioned…

She also swilled gin and talked about the good ole days a lot.

Although she did know how to fly a Tiger Moth. So I suppose that proves my point.

A little while back I found myself attending a club and there were lots of people there. There was also a girl. She was playing a wargame I’m not familiar with. I uttered a sentence I am still ashamed of to this day.

Wow Dad, your Xbox achievements list is pretty disappointing.

It started speculation in our little group. Some comments and furtive glances later we had all purged ourselves of the “OMG a girl wargamer” syndrome. It was brief and quiet, but it definitely wasn’t right… and it was my fault.

I made this kind of mistake before, but since the birth of my daughter I have become so much more aware of what I’m doing. She is going to live in a house filled with Star Wars, LoTR, Transformers, Computer Games, DnD and miniatures… so many piles of miniatures. She will be out in a community that has a pretty horrendous track record with that kind of thing.

I don’t understand why this doesn’t appeal to her…

There’s a good chance she will be into that kind of stuff. It is a new millennium, tons of people are. It is a shocking concept, but women can contribute to this community. ATGN and PPN have some amazing contributors that don’t share my pants jewelry. You can check some of their contributions out HERE and HERE.

Now I cringe at all the times I told a girl she had a sexy voice while playing WoW. There was the time I kept asking a girl in a gaming store why she played Chaos instead of something girlie like Elves. I sweet twist of irony because I played and still play Elves.

I know not all of us do it. However it’s something to be aware of and to embrace the problem and improve upon it. If you’re guilty of it like me the solution is simple. Next time you’re about to interact with a gamer of a differing gender… take a moment and think about your opening line. “Hey baby, do you wanna cyber?” just isn’t cutting it anymore.

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