Fact: I just don’t get many specific compliments, either while playing or facilitating. My players at home are pretty good about being appreciative. I don’t feel unappreciated, not at all. And I’ve gotten consistently high marks at conventions that have feedback forms (BigBadCon, NewMexicon specifically). So it might be that I just kind of breathe that air all the time, and I don’t really hear specific compliments because everyone’s already high-fiving me and everyone else. /humblebrag

In my perfect world, facilitators and players would get a hell of a lot more recognition, particularly on the con circuit. And maybe this is more of a thing in bigger con play communities, like Pathfinder and D&D. I wouldn’t know. I’m as guilty as anyone else: I’ll look for specific personalities at whose table I want to play, even signing up for things I kind of don’t care about just because I know they do care about it (say, Morgan Ellis running WHFRP, which is completely not my jam but Morgan is fun at any table so, sure, let’s see what he coughs up). But I won’t tell them that. I just show up and take the fun.

Good players, too, although at least in my own head I tend to conflate the two: If I know you’re a good facilitator I know you’re a good player. The reverse isn’t always true but it isn’t always not true, either. I mean, yeah, I’ve run into some rock star players who I’m pretty sure run games too, but I haven’t gotten to sit at one of their tables.

One of the best things I ever learned about the indie scene is that designers, the 1%ers who get 90% of the social credit, are frequently kind of crappy players and facilitators. No I’m not gonna name names, but they’re big names. I mean they’re never, like, socially toxic or total scene hogs. I mean they don’t have a lot to put on the table. They’re up in their own heads, particularly if they’re playing in their own game. I see tables instantly fill up when one of these big names is seen, but pro-tip for the noobs: you’re probably not gonna get as good an experience as you thought.

I do love to give unexpected compliments in games. There’s a truism about relationship maintenance that I learned at some point: don’t compliment someone about something they already know is good. Don’t tell the smart girl how smart she is. Don’t tell the strong guy how strong he is. Whatever. Gosh that’s proven true when I do a drive-by compliment in a game, too. If they’re doing a consistent accent, they probably know their accent is good so don’t just reiterate that. Compliment their, I dunno, commitment to principled characterization. Their clever combo. Their recontextualization skills.

I used to feel kind of bummed that I wasn’t getting compliments. Now the fact that I can fill a table at any event at any time to play literally anything I’ve brought is its own reward.


0 thoughts on “Attaboys/girls”

  1. Ditto on designers. I always secretly hope people don’t ask me to run Sagas: you can 100% do a better job than me, folks.
    (On the flipside, Meguey Baker running 1001 Nights was one of the most inspiring sessions I’ve played in.)

  2. Now the fact that I can fill a table at any event at any time to play literally anything I’ve brought is its own reward.

    I think I have mostly been able to do this, and it does feel good.

  3. “Now the fact that I can fill a table at any event at any time to play literally anything I’ve brought is its own reward.”

    That hit home. In general I consider myself to be a pretty mediocre (or worse) GM. But there are games I enjoy running or games I want people to be able experience. And I don’t like going to a con and not running anything at all. But looking back it’s been a long time since I’ve run something at a con and not had it fill up. So I guess I’m doing something right.

  4. In most games I run, I prefer to have each person at the table recognize some good contribution from another player at the end of each game. I find that gamers specifically tend to be less vocal about things they appreciate.

  5. I’m relatively new to running con games. My take away that I did something right was later on at the con having the rando’s come up and strike up a conversation or just to thank me in passing for a fun time. If I made a positive impression I figure I did my job. That and if they ask at the end of the session if you are running any other sessions, usually a good indicator.

  6. It’s a good reminder. My history included alot of the Cult of the Dungeon Master with alot of hero worship BS that I made a point to specifically reject. Which probably means I miss opportunities to give legit praise to legit people.

  7. Game design and running or facilitating games seem to be surprisingly orthogonal skills. I know some great game designers who are also great at running games (in view of the lack of compliments thing, I should probably name some names for this half at least, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone since I’m talking about Brits here), but equally I know some designers who aren’t so great at it, even in cases where I like their games.

    I mean, naturally I am fantastic at both…

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