Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

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Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:32 pm

Here's the situation:  Every Friday my friends and I get together (usually at my place) to play our weekly Pathfinder game.  Lately, one member of our group has often been walking away from the table either to lay down on my bed or because he's distracted by his girlfriend (who does not play but will often come over and hang out for part of the session).  It came to a head a few weeks ago when one of my other players got fed up with it and left - and he deflected most of the responsibility for it.  Now just this last week there was stress at the table because the rest of the group was trying to make a decision and take his opinion into account, which again was difficult because he wasn't at the table with the rest of the players.  One of the other players told me it was really starting to negatively impact his enjoyment of the game.  

Once is an incident, two is a pattern, so I really need to talk to him about this.  Of course, due to Minnesota Nice, Geek Social Fallacies, and my general non-confrontational personality, I'm struggling to do this.  I mostly know what I have to say, I just have to build up the resolve to say it.  I am still wondering a couple of things though:

1.  What method should I use to talk to him?  I feel like this should be a face to face meeting, but I don't know if I'll be able to meet with him privately before Friday and I want to have taken some action before then.
2.  How should I approach the situation with his girlfriend?  I don't want to have to uninvite her (even though I never invited her to begin with; she just started showing up once the became a couple), because as far as I'm concern it's his responsibility to keep himself from getting distracted.  But if having her around means he's constantly going to be away from the table then, frankly, I don't want her around.
2A.  I don't mind an occasional distraction - it's not like I expect them to completely avoid each other - but it pisses me off when I can hear them making out in the other room because as far as I'm concerned that's fucking rude.  I'm half of mind to tell him that if he wants to make out with his girlfriend then they should just go back to their place where they can make out or fuck or do whatever.  

Blarg, why does this stuff have to happen to my table?? No

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:13 pm

So, just to start out, can you clarify whether he's going to lie down on your bed only when his girlfriend is around, or is he also going off to do that when it's just the group of you there? The first signals distraction with the girlfriend, but also maybe that he's trying to find a compromise between spending Friday nights and/or enough time generally with his girlfriend and staying in the group. The second suggests that he might be either bored with the game or stressed out by some of its dynamics.

1. If you can't meet him in person, I think you might want to call him on the phone, assuming he's not completely allergic to that style of communication. I suspect there may be some back and forth in this conversation when you have it, especially if you want to be non-confrontational, and phone is often a bit better for picking up nuances. It also has the benefit of not leaving a written record for him to look back at if he's unhappy or wants to show someone else the conversation - it can be pretty easy to nitpick a series of texts.

2. A less confrontational way to start the conversation might be something like, "I notice you've been distracted a lot during our games. Can we talk a bit about what's going on?" and then check in to see if the game is becoming incompatible with his relationship and (if applicable) he's generally happy with the way the game is going and its dynamics? I don't play Pathfinder, so this bit's hard, but I would say the next step would be to give him a couple of options. Can you and would you want to accommodate him if it turns out the Friday night gaming sessions just aren't working for him anymore? Some possibilities that come to mind would be: shorter game sessions, moving the sessions to a different night, some campaign tweaks (if the problem is lack of engagement with the game rather than need to spend time with the girlfriend), having him finish out this campaign but letting him skip the next one and be a variable participant from then on, or just having him leave the group but assuring him you guys will hang out with him sometimes in other ways. I'd try to offer at least one of these possibilities alongside a request that while he is gaming, he not bring his girlfriend over and refrain from taking long breaks.

2A. If you want to be more polite about it, I'd say something more like, "When you and Girlfriend go to hang out in my bedroom, it makes me and the other players uncomfortable. I can understand she might be bored or feel neglected, but I'm going to have to ask you guys to figure out some other arrangement for Friday nights besides her coming over here and watching the game if you're going to stay in the group." I urge understanding of your player's situation, but this is a place I think you can comfortably put your foot down. Having people make out (in your bed?) while you can hear them is awkward. Hell, even having someone bring along one person who's not participating in the activity or very engaged in it can be pretty awkward, especially if they're the only extra person there and have no one to talk to.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:51 pm

He'll wander away from the table when his girlfriend isn't around, though not as much. Personally I think he is getting bored with the game - at least part of the game, since he mostly wanders off during the heavy RP portions and comes back for combat. The thing is, I've brought it up before but he denies it, so I it's not like I can press him further on the issue.

Switching days would not work. Friday's the only day everyone's free to get together.

(No, not on my bed; the guest bed in the other room. I'd probably yell at them and throw them out if they went upstairs and made out on my bed.)





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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by eselle28 on Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:04 am

Xexyz wrote:He'll wander away from the table when his girlfriend isn't around, though not as much.  Personally I think he is getting bored with the game - at least part of the game, since he mostly wanders off during the heavy RP portions and comes back for combat.  The thing is, I've brought it up before but he denies it, so I it's not like I can press him further on the issue.

Ah, gotcha. I think it's good to make an attempt to figure out what the problem is and fix it when you're dealing with friends, but it sounds like it's fairly clear what it is and like he's not up for acknowledging it in a way that could lead to a solution.

I'd suggest a script then, maybe something like this: "So, friend, you've been taking a lot of breaks from the game lately. That makes it tough for the rest of us to play the game, and the group has been getting pretty frustrated. It also makes people uncomfortable when you and Girlfriend go off into the guest bedroom. From now on, I'm going to ask that the game be for players only, and that Girlfriend and anyone else who isn't playing not come over during game time. I'm also going to ask that you stick with the party at the table for the whole game so we can all have more fun."

If he tries to do some weaseling by saying his girlfriend will come over but there won't be any making out, I would revert back to something like, "Sorry, but I'm only hosting the game for players from now on," and stick to that. He's already shown that he's not very respectful of boundaries, so I don't think he'll keep to any middle solutions if his girlfriend is over.

Are the campaigns in this game long term or more medium? You might want to consider softly dropping him from the Pathfinder group when there's time for a change, and then maybe breaking it up every so often and having a Friday where you all do some one night campaign for some game that's more combat oriented? I think you may be able to get good behavior from him for awhile, but I'm not sure if this can work long term if he's bored with RP in an RP-heavy game and also not willing to disguise his boredom.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:31 am

Give grillfriend temporary NPCs to play to rope him into the roleplaying, otherwise tell him to dick around with his smartphone or whatever during the RP parts as long as he stays in the room. In-game penalties for doing otherwise that build up but aren't unmendable.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:42 pm

So, I chickened out and didn't say anything to him (bad Xexyz!). Last Friday however he spent the entire session at the table which was good. We'll see if things continue to stay better or if not.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:42 pm

So, kind of a new problem:  Other player in the game also has recently gotten a girlfriend, and now she's coming over every session and hangs out.  This is seriously impacting my enjoyment, and now my living room is starting to feel crowded.  I frankly don't want either of them around during my game nights.  

I'm starting to feel like my group is being GSF #5, which is frustrating.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Wondering on Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:58 pm

Can you just say, "It's my house, I'm hosting, and I don't want non-players here," but, you know, nicer? Smile

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:17 pm

If your friends are aware of the Geek Social Fallacies, you could bring it up that way, or if they're not you could send them the link and bring it up.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:50 pm

It's distracting you if they're not involved, so character up or GTFO?

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:59 pm

Wondering wrote:Can you just say, "It's my house, I'm hosting, and I don't want non-players here," but, you know, nicer? Smile

This the problem. I can't think of a "nice" - that is, a way that will not be misconstrued as judgment - way to say that. Here's a script I have in my head to email to my players, but I'm afraid it will be taken the wrong way:

Hey guys, going forward I'd prefer if it was only the seven of us that got together for gaming on Fridays. When there are extra people around I feel like people get distracted and aren't focusing on the game. Also, I personally feel that seven is the limit for my living room and beyond that things start to get crowded.

#1 fear I have with this is that one of my players will suggest that we then start playing at his house - three of my players share a house and are roommates - and I'll feel compelled to relent. Everyone knows I prefer to play at my place and it will look bad if I continue this preference while wanting to exclude people from coming over. I have not problems playing at his place when he runs - we alternate between running my game and running his - but don't like running there because of space issues.

BasedBuzzed wrote:It's distracting you if they're not involved, so character up or GTFO?

Not a workable solution. I limit the size of my games and am currently at that limit.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Enail on Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:12 pm

Xexyz wrote:
BasedBuzzed wrote:It's distracting you if they're not involved, so character up or GTFO?

Not a workable solution.  I limit the size of my games and am currently at that limit.

Could you give them a role as your aide? Playing NPCs or tracking something? It doesn't help the crowd problem, of course, but at least it could keep things more on track.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:41 pm

Enail wrote:
Xexyz wrote:
BasedBuzzed wrote:It's distracting you if they're not involved, so character up or GTFO?

Not a workable solution.  I limit the size of my games and am currently at that limit.

Could you give them a role as your aide? Playing NPCs or tracking something? It doesn't help the crowd problem, of course, but at least it could keep things more on track.

This isn't something I'm comfortable with.  To put it plainly, I'm running a homebrew campaign (as opposed to a published adventure) and creating everything (the setting, NPCs, plot, etc.) myself; I consider it My Story and am unwilling to share telling it with anyone else.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by eselle28 on Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:58 pm

Xexyz wrote:
Wondering wrote:Can you just say, "It's my house, I'm hosting, and I don't want non-players here," but, you know, nicer? Smile

This the problem.  I can't think of a "nice" - that is, a way that will not be misconstrued as judgment - way to say that.  Here's a script I have in my head to email to my players, but I'm afraid it will be taken the wrong way:

Hey guys, going forward I'd prefer if it was only the seven of us that got together for gaming on Fridays.  When there are extra people around I feel like people get distracted and aren't focusing on the game.  Also, I personally feel that seven is the limit for my living room and beyond that things start to get crowded.

#1 fear I have with this is that one of my players will suggest that we then start playing at his house - three of my players share a house and are roommates - and I'll feel compelled to relent.  Everyone knows I prefer to play at my place and it will look bad if I continue this preference while wanting to exclude people from coming over.  I have not problems playing at his place when he runs - we alternate between running my game and running his - but don't like running there because of space issues.

I would then recommend that you just say this: "Hey guys, going forward I'd prefer if it was only the seven of us that got together for gaming on Fridays.  When there are extra people around I feel like people get distracted and aren't focusing on the game." Don't even mention the space considerations.

It might look bad, or at least annoy some of your friends, but I don't see any other solution. You want to run your game your way at your place and exclude non-players from coming over. I think the only way to do that is to state your preference and then deal with other people's reaction to that preference.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Wondering on Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:13 pm

I agree with eselle. Don't mention the space issues, then. The more explaining you do, the more room people have to offer solutions or argue. That statement doesn't allow too much room for disagreement.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:37 pm

Good point on the space issue. I'll take that out.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:07 pm

Well, I sent out my email to everyone, and lo, drama! Apparently my email triggered an 'airing of grievances & complaints' discussion among my players, so hopefully I still have a gaming group when all is said and done. *sigh*


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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by reboundstudent on Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:35 pm

Xexyz wrote:Well, I sent out my email to everyone, and lo, drama!  Apparently my email triggered an 'airing of grievances & complaints' discussion among my players, so hopefully I still have a gaming group when all is said and done.  *sigh*




Kidding aside, sorry to hear that loosing a small pebble unleashed an avalanche. My experience suggests that's just how things go with nerds sometime. Good luck!
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by reboot on Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:41 pm

In my experience if all it takes is an email to unleash grievances, that drama bomb was going to go off at some point anyway. It was just waiting for a trigger.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:56 pm

I agree with the others. It sounds like there already were tensions in several directions in the group. Eventually someone was going to get fed up enough to address things. Although people in geeky groups often get blamed for "starting drama," sometimes it's best to deal with these conflicts while people are still able to deal with them somewhat rationally.
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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:24 pm

eselle28 wrote:I agree with the others. It sounds like there already were tensions in several directions in the group. Eventually someone was going to get fed up enough to address things. Although people in geeky groups often get blamed for "starting drama," sometimes it's best to deal with these conflicts while people are still able to deal with them somewhat rationally.

This is my hope. It looks like we're going to have a big discussion about everything on Friday. We'll see what happens.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Wondering on Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:13 pm

Stand your ground! Don't let them talk you out of what you want to happen for your game in your house. Good luck!

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Tennessee Ed on Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:38 pm

You're the GM, you have the power. If they jump ship, you'll be able to find willing players more easily than they'll find another good GM. Probably ones who accept your hospitality more graciously.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Perlandra on Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:24 am

Sending good thoughts and strength your way for the discussion, and since it is your home, and your game, yes, you have the final say, although it's worth listening to their input.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

Post by Xexyz on Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:10 am

It looks like everything is going to work out. I somehow totally forgot that one of my players has a dedicated gaming space (despite the fact I've played in said gaming space countless times) at his house and he's offered to host, which will pretty much satisfy everyone's concerns. I just hope he's gotten some comfy chairs since the last time I've gamed there.

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Re: Have to talk to a friend about his recent behavior

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