Thursday, 19 April 2012

Patience and Perseverance

Thursday Theories



[thee-uh-ree, theer-ee] 
noun, plural the·o·ries.
1.  a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. principle, law, doctrine.
2.  a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.
3.  Mathematics. a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
4.   the branch of a science or art that deals with it's principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.

5.  a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.

Welcome to the first of, what i hope, will be an ongoing Thursday series about my (many) theories about Roleplaying, Wargaming and Gaming in general. In Thursday Theories I plan on discussing various ideas and concepts that I've come across, read about and put into action, to hopefully help people in their gaming. I plan, in the future, to be able to sit down with other GM's and players i've met over the years and get their views on certain concepts or ideas that they have to running solid roleplaying sessions or tournaments or what-have-you for the various gaming types (Wargaming, Roleplaying, boardgaming, etc.) and to garner their tips and tricks for succeeding over the years.

AAAAAAnyways, today I want to talk about the single most important topic when it concerns gaming with others.... After the break



1.  the quality of being patient,  as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2.  an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay:  to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

(Really, are any of you (one or two people who have stumbled upon this site) surprised?)

Now I'm not going to sermonize about how everything in the world would be better with patience. I'm not your mother. What I AM going to do is explain why I think patience is the single most important attribute to have when playing games with others. Simply put: Recruitment.
How many times have you gone out to learn something new and, whilst trying to figure it out for the first time, messed it up?
If you are being at least half truthful the answer is, A LOT.
And how many times has your teacher, compatriot, whoever, that's showing you how to do it, lost their patience or been patronizing and even downright punishing for not getting it right?
Again, I'd imagine, A LOT.
And (last rhetorical question for the time being) How many times has this turned you off of the activity, never to look back or only grudgingly do it once again?
Probably, quite a few times.

What I'm getting at is, when the person lost their patience (or didn't have it to begin with), everyone learning the activity, looses interest and see it as a chore, All because the teacher was having a crap day (or was an asshat, or didn't like the color teal that day {don't ask}, or whatever). And the funny thing is, odds are, this activity is something that the person genuinely enjoys and is trying to show you how to do it as well so that you, AS A GROUP, can enjoy it together.
 It all comes down to patience. Time and again, I've found myself off-put by some game or activity *cough cough* WARZONE *cough cough* because the person showing me how to play was being an uptight dickwad. Curiously, despite all of that, I find I enjoy the game again some time later, 99% of the time being when I sit down with like-minded people who just want to enjoy the game and don't care how much we screw up to start with and just "see where this goes". And that boils down to Patience from a couple people, and perseverance  to see the learning process through.

 I have another example for you, this time from my days working as a Manager at Games Workshop (shut up, it was awesome).
As a GW retail employee, 99% of our job was customer service, and of THAT 99% was recruitment. Our job was, effectively, to play games and paint with people all day long and make sure they enjoyed the games they played (and so that mommy and daddy would come in for Christmas and spend upwards of $600 PER CHILD each year.... but, again, that's another story). To play demo games with people walking into the store for the first time, to show them how much fun these games were.How awesome is that?
WELL, for some reason, many of my staff saw demo games as a chore, something they had to get over with as quickly as possible so they could get back to talking to the guys that hung out in my store all day painting and playing. Which of course  also meant that they would be terse and dickish to the kids that came in to try the games out. From a business perspective, this is pure, unacceptable, BULLSHIT. From a personal perspective, I couldn't figure it out. I was flabbergasted.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON that hung out in the store, ended up coming back because they enjoyed themselves when they played that first game. And unless they were incredibly astute, MOST had learned the game by coming into a store, and having an awesome time throwing dice around, making KERPOW and PEW!PEW! noises when things blew up and generally having an awesome time (or learned the game from someone who had done as such previously). And here I was with a staff who would make fun of the "N00BZ" and bullshit their way through demo's so they could get back to the guys that were interested in the game already (and generally didn't spend money *cough cough*). AAAAAND these were guys who absolutely LOVED the game. they lived and breathed GW games. It's all they talked about... but they didn't have the PATIENCE to spend 20 minutes playing something they loved so much with people who genuinely wanted to try the game out... and bring more awesome people into the store to play with and joke with.

I hummed and hawed about it. I asked other managers. I asked my staff why they hated demo games. I couldn't figure it out (though the reasons were obvious) why they didn't want MORE people to play against and test themselves against in games. Until it became clear to me...
They didn't SEE the demo games as recruiting more people to play against and be friends with. They saw them as a necessary evil of the job (like cleaning the toilet), to be done and dusted off in time to finish their conversations with full on gamers. They didn't want to invest their time in kids who might not come back. They didn't have the PATIENCE to teach and bring someone up to their level of gaming, so they dismissed EVERYONE that came in . Now obviously an 8 year old isn't going to be much of a gamer to start with, and, being in a mall, we got a LOT of kids.... But those 20 year olds and 40 year olds were dismissed even faster, because the staff would need to explain everything and show everything and teach the painting side of the hobby and more... and the Staff DIDN'T want to invest that kind of time. They were AFRAID.

But here's the funny thing. Once I got them to take responsibility, and show some patience with these new guys (kids and adults alike). Teach them to paint, to play, to enjoy the game... Well these "N00BZ" because some of the best guys we had in our stores... some even became staff at the store. And all because, in the end, my staff showed PATIENCE to these people and let their love of the game shine through.

Well... that was rather long winded... and not very precise... but I think I got my concepts through. So the next time you try something new, Show some patience with the new guy, even when he mixes your black paint into your white, or spills Dr.Pepper on your brand new D&D book. Because who knows, they may end up being someone that you game with every weekend for the next 20 years.

Until Next time,
Like Axel rose once sang:
"All we need is just a little patience"

Bean out~

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