In the past, I've talked a lot about playstyles and group fit. Currently, I'm undergoing some stress in my regular gaming group because I've been disregarding my own style preferences, and the rest of the group is starting to really grate on my nerves with the addition of a few new players who want a very different type of game, and with the GM falling back into old bad habits. For me, this topic feels personally significant at the moment, so I think it's worth talking about in the interest of helping others to identify similar issues and resolve them, much as I intend to do.
I'll start by addressing the issue I'm facing personally. I don't like tight structure. As a player, I don't like being handed down the plot of the game from the GM and treating it like a holy text. In the game I'm currently playing in, the GM wants everything to stay on the rails, and the party is largely complicit in this. If there's any pause in progressing the plot or question of in-character motives for doing so, the rest of the players largely just force it through and go to "keep the game moving." And in those rare instances when the other players do humor me, the GM makes certain that the plot finds us, usually in the form of semi-random hit men who have been tailing the party for their involvement in the plot. For me, this is quite chafing. I strongly prefer player-driven story. I like for the players to decide what choices they want to make and what sort of adventures to pursue. In short, I like for player choices to matter beyond simply how to handle an encounter.
Some people though enjoy this level of structure, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. I also tend to prefer roleplaying and in-character interactions as opposed to lots of out of character chatting, or emphasis on combat. I like puzzles, exploration, and social encounters. Some don't. This is all okay.
What becomes a problem is when these styles clash, and allowances aren't made for players of different tastes. It's possible for a good GM to balance the needs and desires of all of the players in the group, but many will simply play to their own tastes or pander to the majority of their players, leaving those in the minority to be left feeling dissatisfied.
In these cases, you as a player need to have a chat with your GM and your fellow players about whether or not these differences can be reconciled. if so, try to posit some ways to make this happen. If your Gm isn't giving you enough combat, try to get them to incorporate more. if your GM doesn't give you enough freedoms as a player, ask for more. Take honest steps to make this happen, and be understanding that changes may take time if agreed on.
But above all, don't be afraid to be firm with your GM and yourself. If your needs aren't being met, be kind to yourself and don't stay in a game you aren't enjoying. At the end of the day, games are there to have fun, and if you aren't, you're probably better off not playing at all. It's a lot like relationships. Having a toxic friendship or partner will upset you and leave you unsatisfied, often leading to feelings of resentment and unhappiness. The same can be said of a toxic gaming relationship. if your needs and desires aren't being met at your table, you'll likely be unhappy with those you're playing with, and it might sour your relationship with roleplaying games as a whole.
I hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the content by Digital & Dice. Until next time…Game on Internets!
- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.