Ask yourself the following questions. When you sit down at a table, are your attitude and contributions warm, appreciative and thankful? Do you express gratitude during the event? Would your presence and performance be considered agreeable, welcoming and/or refreshing?
Don’t let me lose you on the touchy feelies, here! I’m not asking if you participate in a group hug prior to initiative nor asking that everyone sings an epic Gregorian chant while handholding after a beloved PC meets their ultimate fate (though, after typing this, I kinda want to experience that!). I’m asking… are you showing gratitude at the table?
Let’s discuss a few ways to check your Player Privilege and see if you are, indeed, a Grateful Gamer.
Think of your absolute favorite sourcebook! The one that you’ve poured over, played, run and devoured with a passion. Have you written a review online of this sourcebook? Have you left a rating? Have you supported the creator by publicly demonstrating your appreciation? Ratings, reviews, referrals, and engaging feedback helps boost their visibility, y’know. If not, ask yourself why not?
When you sit down to play a game, are you intentional about supporting both the GM and the story that you’re all there to create? Are you engaged, asking questions and making an attempt to support the experience? Or… are you on your phone, sleeping, intentionally trying to derail the game, or otherwise showing disinterest and disrespect to both the GM and the table?
Side note! When you sleep at the table, are more interested in your phone than the game or attempt to derail the experience, it’s primarily the GM that has to navigate that stress, insecurity and nuisance. We begin to think… Am I not doing enough? Is my story that bad? Am I not engaging them?
Players are human, too. I get that. So, if you’re exhausted, do everyone the courtesy of taking care of yourself and get some rest. Unless you’re on call or expecting an important phone call, minimize the table phone use. Don’t derail the story for giggles. Doing so hurts the GM, inconveniences your fellow players and really paints you in an unfavorable light.
Stawwwp, I get it! Not every game is a 10/10. Not every GM is top shelf. We’ve played convention games. We all have stories. However, I’m not asking you to check the quality of your GM, the strength of the table, nor the value of the story. Those items are out of your control. What IS in your control, is YOUR attitude towards the situation. Choose to be a Grateful Gamer.
You know that GM who fumbled table management and storytelling? Are you aware of the time they spent preparing for this game? Can you imagine the anxiety and panic that swelled in their chest prior to sitting down at the table (trust me, more GMs feel this than you may know)? Are you aware of the costs that they accrued purchasing sourcebooks, dice, paper, handouts, miniatures, subscription fees, etc.? Do you realize that they’ve juggled jobs, families, friends, and their own mental struggles just to be present… for you? Have you considered that they might be a novice?
GMs provide a service. No, the service may not be perfect. No, the service may not be ideal. However, they are there, for the love of a shared hobby, to provide a service to you… the player. I guarantee you, none of us GMs are sitting on a dragon’s horde worth of gold and GameStop stocks by running games for you. It’s not about the money.
Becoming a Grateful Gamer
Heeeeey you experienced GMs and players!!! When you find yourself seated to play a game that you’re familiar with, how about asking the GM (prior to start) if they’re in need of additional support? “Hey GM, I run this system all of the time. I love it. Is there any way that I can support you as a player?”
There is music in my soul when I hear this inquiry. Some GMs may say, “no, thanks.” That’s cool. Me? I’m all over it. I may be insecure about my rule knowledge and recall. It’s a comfort to look across the table and ask, “Hey, what check would you call for here?” I’ve utilized this offer to assist new players navigate their sheets by pairing them up with a Grateful Gamer so that I could keep the story pace. My absolute favorite use of this inquiry? Someone offered me support on the day that I had a family member joining the table who had never tried a TTRPG before. I asked the inquiring player to take care of my cousin, in game, and to help keep him engaged. My cousin had a blast because an experienced player and Grateful Gamer took him under her wing, roleplayed with him, and encouraged him.
Tell your GM that you love their style. Already did that? Great! Now, tell them again! Show that gratitude and offer that recognition. As Erykah Badu once said, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” GMs leave themselves vulnerable and exposed when they run games. It’s the cost of providing this service. So, if they did great, share that with them!
What if there’s room for improvement? Don’t be that Privileged Player who believes that just because you paid for the event that your experience should be beyond reproach. Ask that GM, privately, if they’re open to feedback. Don’t just lay it on them. If the GM is not open to constructive criticism, then go and vent to your home group and friends. If they are open to feedback, lead with a positive, and then be tactful and supportive about the feedback. Giving constructive feedback is a form of exemplifying a Grateful Gamer. Your willingness to lend both your time and experience to help another GM grow shows gratitude.
Add some positive energy to the gaming experience. People love to be recognized. If the GM stirs you to passion with a riveting speech, inspires you with a colorful combat or haunts you with a terrifying description, tell them. Tell them right that moment. Compliment their delivery. Annnnd don’t stop at the GM. Players have epic moments, brilliant descriptions, clever ideas and fantastic rolls. A quick, “whoa, great kill,” or, “well done,” goes a long way. I promise.
You know that eternal GM that always, always runs for your group? Step back and ask yourself, and them, if they’re interested in playing while you, or someone else runs. The opportunity might come as a relief to them. Whether they accept or decline, you showed gratitude by offering them an opportunity to step out from behind the screen. If you’re able and comfortable, offer to host. If you have discretionary income, comment your CashApp below so that I may beg for money, and then consider ordering food or a custom GM gift off of Etsy for your favorite GM or the other players. A player did this once for our home group! He purchased each player at the table a mug with their name and the campaign name on it. I cherish that thing!
Is your GM on social media or associated with a company or club? Follow them on social media. Engage with their posts. Like, comment, share. We see that. It matters. Have you purchased a product that you love? Leave a review. Drop a rating, even if it’s a Ninja Rating (throwing stars in silence, absent words). Join in on the discussions. Refer your friends! Oftentimes, it’s that very energy that motivates, inspires and fuels us. Sometimes, it’s a desperately needed reminder that we are appreciated.
Lastly, even when confronting a GM, a fellow player, or deciding to leave a table, you are still capable of showing gratitude. Address your concerns in a sincere, succinct, brief and factual method. Try using, “I feel statements,” versus direct accusations. For example, instead of saying, “I think this game sucks,” try saying, “I feel like this game could be better if we tried this,” or, “I feel like your GM style and my play style don’t mesh.” Don’t attack, blame, or provoke. Oh, and for the loathe of critical failures, please don’t jump down your GM’s throat. We’re human. None of us woke up this morning with the intention of ruining your day. Ultimately, if you’re in a toxic gaming situation, show your gratitude by confronting the situation and/or removing yourself. In order to be a Grateful Gamer, you have to show yourself some grace and gratitude, too.
Practice showing gratitude in everything that you do on and off the table. Be grateful. You can’t control the GM. You can’t control the players. You can only control how you react. It may not feel like it, but your attitude can greatly impact the enjoyment of the game, even if it’s not up to your usual epic standards. Remember, “it’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”
What are some other ways that you can be a Grateful Gamer?
What’s your favorite method of showing gratitude at the table?
Let us know in the comments!