Monday, January 24, 2011

The Social Contract

Does your group use one? Is it verbal or written? Is it enforced or just there just in case you need to go to it in the event someone breaks that one golden rule? What are the rules?

I have to say my group has one of these, have I seen it? Not since the notes were jotted down in our group meeting in September of 2008. Do we follow it? I do but others give it lip service or just ignore it outright. One brings it up to fuel his arguments that the group is doomed.

The just of what ours is about:
  • Start Time
  • Punctuality
  • Distractions: Kids; Breaks; in game disruptions
  • Minimum Attendance for your game
  • Games and how often they should be run
  • whining at the table. (could have fit under distractions but it was a long discussion)
  • How long a game session should be, what to do at the end time.
Not a big list really and does not address a lot of in game issues outside of breaks, and whining at the table. Like I said that was a huge issue brought up from someone who has not been in a game where it happened, but it was talked about a lot. To give the whiner credit he has gotten better and refraining from it.

Start Time and Punctuality could be rolled into one but needed to be seperate as we have start time and punctuality issues with players and DM/GM's. at the time this was leveled squarely at one person, the DM for our D&D game. He was/is/always will be late for a game, and lately it has rubbed off on me. We introduced a Gather Time and a Dice Rolling time and stuck with it for a good period of time. I tried to do this just last session a week ago and I was there super early I just let my hurt pride from allowing dice to be rolled on time because I was a bit miffed about something happening at the table. More on that later.

Distractions stemmed from an incident when I ran a demo of Mutants and Masterminds at a the GM for our Champions game. He spent most of his time away from the table making coffee and playing host instead of playing. It has also gone to be during his own D&D game, or when we play board games he is away from the table. The Kid portion was brought up because he said prior to his daughter being born it would not effect his gaming ability and one person in the group has held him to that statement ever since, even after we hashed out this contract.

We have had games not happen because someone was needed for the game and all hinged on them making it, and it was that one person with the crap schedule and so weeks would go by and no one could play. It has happened with more than one person. We chose to not let that hinder us from playing and we agreed another player would play that character for the important portion of the game. It also lead us to decide how many people minimum would you need for your game to be run at all. Outside of just a few instances where one person was really needed to be there this has not been an issue since.

One or two players have held the belief that if the game is not longer than 8 hours its a waste of a day, in fact anything that does not take a minimum of 6 hours it is not worth the effort to get together. This just can not happen in our lives anymore, in the gaming group he is in now it might be the case but we get together around 3-4pm and go until 11pm-12am or so. He will say this is not the case but when he gives his position on it, that's how it sounds to those listening. We also talked about what should we do when we hit that end time, do we keep playing or just end it? It is a case by case basis.

Now I said at the beginning "Do we follow it? I do but others give it lip service or just ignore it outright. One brings it up to fuel his arguments that the group is doomed." In most discussions we have on this I am told I follow this. I started up a Yahoo!Groups email list for us to use for the group, and recently I did the new groups thing on Facebook.

At this time I say it failed for a small percent of the group. The one who keeps bringing up issues we supposedly resolved. After we sat down and talked I felt like things were not really settled, I know I held back on bringing things up because I thought they were nit-picky of me and this was for the sake of the group. (It reminds me of the line from Stargate Universe, "For the sake of the crew) and in hindsight I should have just bitched and got it out in the open.

Why do I say this? Because I think someone did have a problem even after we talked things out and got all the issues on the table, because they still complain about things we were to have fixed. I can not be mad as I pulled my punches and held back.

It is almost a non-issue as the group does not even consider them part of the gaming group anymore. I think for the most part it helped some of us see where our issues were, we have tried to fix them. I have a new member of the group who has come in since then and he dislikes any talk about this sit down. He has read all of the old archived emails from the fallout that happened after the talks. He has laid blame where he feels it is given his tone about certain events in our groups past. So much so I cringe if an email is sent from someone bringing up the talks.

It was a huge deal, it is our Cuban missile crisis, I might get called out by the group for naming it that, some called it the Blindsided Pay Per View because they felt blindsided by the need to have a talk.

That is a topic for another day.

Is our group doomed? If it is no one told the group as we had a D&D session last week. Do people break the rules of this contract? Yeah and I could call almost everyone on infractions of it. I think the symbolism of knowing we have one keeps us strong but as far as the physical contract ever showing up I have warned it would cause problems. Luckily it has never surfaced, for others sake, not mine.


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About Me

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I am Regional Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region for D&D Adventurers League. Worked for Best Buy as a Project Team Specialist were I did store remodels, support Vendor displays and set merchandising standards for the stores in the Chicago market. He also enjoys playing games (PC, Console, Board Games, RPGs and Miniature Skirmish Games), reading, watching movies and listening to music.