Abused Gamer SyndromeDecember 11, 2009
Ron Edwards has a damn good summary of the behaviors I’ve labeled Abused Gamer Syndrome in the past (also, “My Guy Syndrome”)
That viewpoint toward “play my character” is what I was referencing with the problematic term “traditional.” I’ll try to summarize it as follows, based on my own experiences.
- Play optimally concerning character survival. The game system is perfectly capable of killing your character, and at least some GMs are invested in making this happen or in not doing anything to prevent it.
- Play optimally concerning your own ego. The GM is very invested in making his story happen, and if your character needs to be overly gullible or stupid for the story to work (often the case), then the GM will take him over and make him that way, making you look stupid and basically stripping you, personally, of social and creative power at the table. Such a GM is not a player-killer like the ones I mentioned in #1, but in some ways, he’s worse!
If “play my character” is construed from these parameters, it results in the following tactics (I’ve stated them a little bit extremely):
a. Come up with as colorful a concept as possible, preferably somewhat irrational, so that you can carry out the following safety-measures from “in character” and blame the character for “making” you role-play in this way.
b. Safety-measure – treat all GM characters as hostile, treacherous, and of no emotional importance whatsoever.
c. Safety-measure – avoid rolling the dice or otherwise engaging in the resolution mechanics as much as possible.
d. Safety-measure – create as much minor strife or minor friendship for your character with the other player-characters as you can, because such interactions carry no risk, take up time
I had never really tied “wacky inappropriate character” to the defensive behaviors but it makes sense.
It’s also tied deeply to something I’ve been thinking a lot about- the kind of dysfunction that comes from a group that doesn’t agree to a common set of rules.
The GM that takes away player power over their characters is nearly always breaking agreement and the players who react defensively are already showing they didn’t have any faith in that agreement, whether or not the GM has violated the social contract.