Bait & Switch – really?

October 8, 2011

There’s an entire thread on Bait & Switch gaming.

Let’s think about the fact that you’re asking 3-5 of your friends to take several hours out of their time, to come play a game with you, on a regular basis. There’s a level of commitment folks need to do to get that going. They’re coming because they’re excited to play a game, and then you change the game on them.

What does that do for the trust levels in the group? Is that a respectful response to people putting together time to come play with you?

Time to quote myself:

Games work because the people playing want to play this game. Implicit in this agreement is that we’re all actually interested in this game, we want it to work, we want it to be fun. It’s really easy because we’re all working together to make it happen.

If my friends are playing Poker and I want to play Hearts, I have two choices: Play Poker and get whatever I get from it, or play with them another time when my mood and their game matches.

What isn’t a functional choice is for me to play half-assed, or worse, sabotage the game. It’s also not ok for me to suddenly start trying to play Hearts in the middle of their game. That’s me breaking the agreement to play the game in the first place.

On the flip side, if I was told we’re going to play Hearts and suddenly we’re playing Poker, the agreement about what game we’re playing got broken going the other way.

At the core of both of these behaviors is a lack of trust.

“I don’t trust you enough to tell you how I feel about what I find fun” and “I don’t trust you enough to tell you the truth to make your own decisions about what you find fun”.

That’s a terrible place from which to try to build any activity of fun. For it all being “just a game” that’s a lot of distrust and dishonesty.

If you can’t honestly talk about the game, something is wrong.

Fun is reliably had when people are doing what they want to do- not because they’re tolerating it to please their friends, not because they’re secretly hoping for another activity, not because someone else is trying to “show” or “convince” them.

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