Don’t Underestimate “New” Players
In yesterday’s #RPGChat Twitter conversation, someone brought up the idea that novice players can’t handle certain things. I see this time and time again, and it pisses me off.
Some of the best games I’ve played have been with people who were new to the hobby.
When I see toxic pseudo-advice about how to treat new players, about how new players can’t handle certain topics — including heavy mechanics (which many can), playing our narrative arc (which many can), portraying a strong sense of character (which many can), fostering interesting interactions and relationships with other PCs (which many can), etc. — I want to throttle those people and expel them from my hobby so they may not ruin it further.
And yes, such people ruin it. They treat new people entering our hobby as lesser beings, to be coddled and to be underestimated. (And fuck-forbid that new person be a woman — I have heard more than a few stories about a woman’s first time playing being entirely undermined.) They tell people to go away from our hobby, not to embrace it.
So if I hear you talking about such bullshit “new players aren’t good with X,” I will call you on the carpet. And I will view you as nothing more than someone who hates my hobby.
Now, maybe you mean “shy players,” which there’s some overlap between shy and new. Some advice that people spout for new players is actually about shyness — smoothly bringing in engagement and characterization. Some of the pseudoadvice is about players who don’t care about mechanics, and showed up for the story (or vice versa). And yes, mastery of a game is also an issue — but there are plenty of people who have played games for months who still lack mastery of it. (That’s the case for me & the Burning Wheel system.)
Finally, new players come with something really fucking amazing: a lack of baggage around this hobby. I cherish that. I loathe to sunder it early.
Next time you pop off the mouth about “new players” or “novice players,” stop, consider what sort of person you’re actually talking about, and say that. And if you can’t come up with anything better, then I hope I won’t hear it lest I consider you a “novice” at being a decent and thoughtful human.
 Granted, in 140-character land, that’s what was said. I’m sure it would have more nuance and context if it was a real conversation, so to whoever said that if you’re reading this, I’m casting on aspersions on you.