Not Dealing with a Problem Player and the Hard Lesson Learned

Yes. We all know that the simple answer for dealing with problem players is to just kick them out of the game. That isn’t as easy it sounds. Most advice concerning problem players treats it like some abstract conundrum that exists as a series of facts that can be set in proper order with an “if that, then this” kind of simple solution. The human dynamic makes it harder to do kick out another person from anything. Most of the time, the people we game with are friends, or at least close acquaintances. Even if they aren’t, it’s not easy to essentially tell someone, “You suck. Get lost.” (Good for you, if you can.) Being the odd person out is something most of us in the tabletop gaming hobby have experienced a great deal in our lives. We know what it feels like, and it sucks putting someone else out in that situation. Sometimes it has to be done, and not doing it can be very costly.

I’ll skip the long backstory about what happened. What’s important is that the problem player was a manipulative control freak who feigned his friendship with us to get in good with the group, and get his way by playing us like puppets so we didn’t call him out on his crap. Early on he was fine, and even seemed like a true friend, but he slowly began to jerk us around. He passed off much of his bad, in-game behavior as “playing in character,” but it grew worse bit by bit over the months. What sucks is that when we finally figured out what he was really up to, we didn’t do anything to stop it; not until it was too late anyway.

For over a decade before this guy showed, our group had been rather blessed with an amazing level of stability. He was our first truly problem player. Sure, there have been a couple of weirdoes pass through. At worst they were a little annoying sometimes, but the game itself never really suffered. Being patient and letting them muddle through whatever issue they were dealing with worked fine. The problem always solved itself.

The End Result
Two really good and dedicated players quit the hobby because they were so upset and disheartened from the frustration and conflict he had brought to the table. Neither of these people were fragile little snowflakes who never had to cope with anything bad in life; quite the contrary. The problem player just took that much fun out of the game for them; permanently. One of them did play a couple of more times, but only fleetingly, and then she was gone for good. Who knows? Maybe the ebb and flow of life would have eventually made them both give up the dice anyway. But at least they would have been able to leave happy.

When the problem player was finally called out for his BS, he did a total rage quit. He wasn’t getting his way, and couldn’t stand the loss of control. And it turns out we weren’t alone. He had burned several other groups over the years, just like he did us. It was a hard lesson learned. Hopefully, there will not be a next time with a genuine problem player, but if there is, they’ll be gone a lot sooner.

Enjoy Your Imagination,
Kell Myers