Problem Players 3: The Videogame Character
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Welcome to part three of my series on Problem Players and how to deal with them.

Bluntness warning!

Let me preface this by saying that none of this is personal toward anyone in particular. This is just based on information gathered during my career as a Dungeon Master.

There are a few primary types of problem players you will get. In no particular order, you have the following primary types:

  • The Special Little Snowflake
  • The Butthurt Avenger
  • The Whinebag
  • The Brick Wall
  • The Overcompensator
  • The Flake
  • The Exit Finder
  • The Overzealous A-hole
  • The Power-hungry Douche
  • The Hoarder
  • The Collector
  • The Silent Type
  • The Videogame Character
  • The "Everyone's an NPC!" Guy
  • The "Wrong Rules, Asshole!" Guy

Each one of these, and possibly more, will get their own blog entries in no particular order, and now I will discuss…

The Videogame Character!

Quick definition: cRPG, to me, means RPGs played on either Console or Personal Computer.

Do you enjoy playing videogames? Do you wish you could play videogames while you're not playing videogames? Do you wish to make everything like a videogame? If you answered "yes" to at least two of these, then you're The Videogame Character player.

This type of player is most commonly found amongst newer players who aren't used to the idea of the true freedom that PnP RPGs bring to the table. Most newer players of this current era come from the worlds of The Elder Scrolls, World of Warcrap, Legend of Zelda, GTA1, and so on. They're not familiar with complete character creation features, and I'm sorry, but there is no way in fuck that cRPGs will ever match the level of complexity and freedom that PnP RPGs have. Take The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for example:

You create your character, choose its race, sex, some physical attributes, generate its stats, choose and generate its class, and give it a name. Does it matter? Nope, because you're still seeing the same fucking cinematic you'll have to sit through each and every time you start a new game! Does your class mean shit? No, because we can't have such minor things like a character's chosen profession getting in the way of the totally awesome gameplay! Plus, as I mentioned in Part Two of my short series on Perceived Inconsequentiality, it further doesn't matter, because the game doesn't unfold in real-time. Paarthurnax isn't going to leave the mountain, and Alduin isn't going to attack Solitude2. We wouldn't want the Player to feel like they're not making a difference in the world! The Player Character is the Dragonborn3, after all!

In D&D, however, every little thing matters! The "cinematics" aren't bound by a studio's time, budget constraints, and lack of creativity. The "cinematics" of a D&D game are bound solely by everyone's imagination!

That rant aside, the Videogame Character player will focus more on stat building, EXP farming, achievement hunting, cool-shit collecting, perk gaining, and so on whilst simultaneously pushing against the notion that there is a coherent story trying to unfold in real-time. They expect:

  • quests to stand and wait for them to go off into the woods and punch boars or whatever
  • every quest to yield EXP or awesome weapons
  • every quest to resolve cleanly with a tiny red ribbon across it
  • every Player Character to be equal
  • to know every stat for every monster
  • to breeze through every battle
  • all the perks
  • all the feats
  • to be the hero
  • to not die

What they don't expect:

  • that they will inevitably be mislead
  • that sometimes they won't get a reward for a mission
  • to have their asses handed to them on a silver platter
  • that sometimes they aren't the hero
  • that sometimes they fall for obvious traps
  • permadeath

Don't get me wrong, reader! I'm not saying that this type of player has ill intent or malicious desires against the Party! Quite the opposite, in fact, because the Videogame Character player doesn't actually know any better! Read that again — This player doesn't know! So, to punish this player for not knowing is a bit harsh if it goes anywhere beyond the normal ass-whupping the Party gets on a regular basis. It can get bad if the player doesn't learn that there's a clear delineation between Videogames and PnP RPGs, though, because it can exacerbate the problem further than it needs to be and will frustrate the more experienced players.

There are a few things what can be done in helping the Videogame Character player:

  1. Have a clear, frank discussion with that player about the differences between videogames and PnP RPGs such as the complete freedom aspect.
    • Tell them that they completely write the backstory for their character which helps to determine the future of the game!
    • Be excited about this, too. Don't half-ass it!
  2. If this is a prospective player, have them sit in on a session to get an understanding of how this works.
  3. Clearly state that information in certain reading materials will contain spoilers and, thus, will ruin their fun.
  4. Also clearly state:
    • that every action has consequences
    • that death is permanent
    • that rewards are sparse but worth it
    • and other important things related to PnP RPGs
  5. Run them through a brief test session to acclimate them to rolling dice

There's usually no reason to boot this player, and it should be fairly obvious to spot this sort of player.

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