Monday, July 28, 2014

Everyone at the table should be a candy machine

My first rant post!  It's pretty weak as rants go, but it's preachy, dogmatic, directed at something that annoys me, most of the people who read it will think it is self-evident, and it makes me seem oh so much better than everyone else.  So, a rant, woohoo!

Let's talk about candy.  Candy is the affirmation, the laughter, the attention, that people playing a role-playing game give to each other.  When you say something cool, and someone laughs or gasps, that's candy.  When you describe your character being awesome, and people are raptly listening to you, that's candy.  If you are playing a role-playing game, you almost certainly want candy.  Otherwise I'm not sure why you are playing.

The GM can and should be a candy machine.  Piles and piles of stuff have been written as advice to GM's, and a lot of it is about how to give out candy to players.  That's fine.  But the GM is not the ONLY candy machine.  When I GM and...
  • ...someone is talking and all the other players are not paying attention, those other players are treating me as the ONLY candy machine, and it makes me mad.  
  • ...a player only ever talks to me, describes everything to me instead of to the other players, even when that player's character is interacting with another player character, that player is treating me as the ONLY candy machine, or worse, the only candy machine whose candy he cares for.  That makes me mad.
The fact is that everyone at the table should be a candy machine!  Everyone should be handing out the candy of joy to their fellow players, not just the GM.

You want to be a candy machine, right?  When I play, I know I want to be.  So let us all join together and vow to be the candy machines we would want others to be for us.  It's the candy machine corollary to the golden rule.  Here are 7 concrete steps you and I can take to give our fellow players some candy.
  1. When we are describing what our character's are doing, we consciously look towards the non-GM players; they are our audience, not the GM.
  2. If our character is interacting with another player character, we look at that player during the interaction, not the GM.  They are our candy machine, and we are theirs.
  3. When someone else is talking, we freaking look at them, be quiet and listen.  This is like the minimal candy; it's the Starburst fruit chew of candy.
  4. We put our rule book on the floor under the table.  If we have to look at it, we always put it back under the table.  We cannot give candy while reading a rulebook.
  5. We put the *&$#^ smart phone away, at least three meters out of our reach to physically avoid temptation.  Tablets too, unless we are using them as rulebooks, in which case see point 4.  Trying to interact with someone who is looking at a phone is like anti-candy, it's like stinky asparagus (and if you reply that you like asparagus, I'm sorry, but you are just wrong).
  6. We pick the person in our group who we least want to give candy to.  We give them some candy at least once per session.
Be the candy machine.