Last Wednesday was game night at my house. We had a good turnout of six people: half gamers, half non-gamers. The larger group size meant I had to rule out a couple of previously planned games straight away, and being that there were a number of non-gamers, I wanted something that was easy to learn and would get them excited. With those goals in mind I made a last minute choice of The Resistance for us to play. So far so good. Except it wasn’t so good.
One of my good friends and regular gaming buddy was at the game night. I’ve played all sorts of games with him in the past and spent many a long night playing Race for the Galaxy and Android Netrunner. This guy is a really good friend of mine. He’s a little geeky and awkward, but which of us isn’t? When it came to playing The Resistance though I quickly picked up that he just didn’t seem comfortable with the social dynamics of the game. I’ve played The Resistance with all sorts of people, including really shy players and strategic, thoughtful players (of which my friend in question is both). This is the first time I came up against someone who looked actually uncomfortable to be playing the game. It was really surprising to me and I didn’t know what I should do. I was put in a difficult position because the rest of the group were loving it. Energy levels were high and it would have felt jarring to just switch it out for a different game (especially one that I’d have to teach to all the non-gamers), and so we carried on playing. As the organiser of the night though, I was left with a real sense of responsibility that my friend had not had a good time.
The evening ended with mixed feelings for me. I’d really enjoyed playing such a fun game with some new people, and I always love introducing new people to the hobby. At the same time, I felt bad that a good friend of mine had made the effort to come over to my house and had been faced with quite a socially awkward experience. I’ve learned from putting on game nights that it’s always worth taking risks in what games you bring to the table, otherwise you can get stuck playing gateway games every week. That said, the next time I’m putting on a game night I’ll try to be more sensitive to the needs of all the players and maybe take a bit more time to consider what games we play.