Respecting Time

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

GMs, particularly for long-term campaigns, usually put a lot of time and effort into prep-work for their games. Players, particularly players who have never tried to run a long-term campaign, often lack this perspective, treating the weekly game as a casual, drop-in event, able to be canceled at the last minute without it being rude. “Just a game.” Right?

This is a problematic perception. It disrespects the GM’s time and effort, and it disrespects the time set-aside by the other players at the table.

Let’s be clear: while respect is the key word of importance here, we are not talking about the kind of toxic respect involved in the perception of the GM being top dog and of central importance. We’re talking about the kind of normal, natural, human respect involved in another person showing they care about the time and work another person has invested into something, especially something they have agreed to do for that other person. Basic decency.

For players, this is very simple: don’t be a flop. Don’t fail to show up to game night without warning, and without good reason. When you join a game, you’ve made a commitment, a promise to other people–not just to the GM, but to everyone who has put that time aside in their schedule. Stick to it, or don’t make that promise in the first place. This is not difficult.

Inspired by real events, this has become my Rule #7 for gaming, both on my Discord server and in my face-to-face games:

“7. Game preparation takes up a good deal of the day. Please respect this time investment by the GM. Please respect the time the other players have set aside for the game and be on time. While we all understand that emergencies happen, if you can’t make a session or will be late, please give a heads up before the game: the earlier, the better. Habitually not showing up or showing up late? Just don’t be that person.”

I wrote this rule specifically because I had a group where a member kept not showing up, without notice, and so the entire group began to ‘just call it’ every week to go do other things. This also meant I would lose a good chunk of my day every week to game prep I hadn’t needed to do. Eventually, I stopped bothering to prep (correctly presuming 90% of the time that the game would simply end up cancelled again).

When I had finally had enough of wasting entire days on games that were going to be called last minute–and it took me much longer than it should have for me to reach that point–I asked the group if we wanted to keep trying to play together, or just put a pause on getting together until we all had more time.

Only one of them had the respect and integrity to let me know what was going on and respond to my question, and the rest ghosted. (Don’t be those people, either.) But the answer was very clear: we weren’t getting together to game again.

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