by Roy Rogers
To some, my title might seem like an obvious statement of fact, a cliched axiom of common sense, but I’ve found over my years of organizing events (both personal and professional), being a jerk to people really doesn’t get you very far. Being a jerk is flashy, sometimes fun, occasionally cathartic, but at the end of the day, being a jerk doesn’t do much for you. I’ve had much more success by making people feel welcome – even if I think they’re jerks, even if I disagree with them – which leads to more people coming back the next time I host a party, run a seminar, or hold a tournament.
One of the things I’ve come to love over the course of my time as a player of this game is the maturity of the Thrones community.
I mean this in two senses: most Thrones players skew older than many competitive gamers. Sometimes maturity is manifest in a raw number of years (gray beards, like myself). However, often, I find that the Thrones community exhibits maturity of the soul. I spend much of my professional time around children and young adults; so, naturally, I prefer to spend my spare time around people with a sense of perspective, folks that know that Thrones, even if it is the only game that matters, it is still just a game. There’s another, perhaps less perceptible form of maturity, though: the freedom to be ridiculous among friends at the appropriate time (for instance, when you’re playing a card game) – the freedom to curse, to crack a joke, to have beer or two (or more), to give your friends a hard time, to stay out until three in the morning singing karaoke in some foreign city. I’m talking about the sort of banter you hear from Aaron in most The White Book episodes (particularly the ones where he’s drunk) or the back-and-forth in the aptly named Banter Behind the Throne.
This maturity cuts another way, which is to say a truly mature person knows the limit – that there is a moment when a joke stops being a joke, if it even was one in the first place. A truly mature person knows the difference between humor that brings people together, makes them feel part of the community and part of the joke, and the sort of humor that marks people as different. The great thing of about Thrones is how this game, which is about murdering people and has a source material filled with incest and Victarion Greyjoy, brings people from so many perspectives together – liberal and conservative; Lannister and Stark; queer and straight; Star Wars and Star Trek; men and women. And I’m protective of that feeling, that togetherness.
Whenever I host an event, TO a tournament, travel to another meta’s store championship, or even show up at my weekly play-night I always try to keep in mind that this experience could be (and with 2.0 so new likely is) someone’s first with Thrones (and, by extension, the community), so I try to act accordingly. When I post on CardGameDB or the AGoT 2.0 Facebook group or when I’m lucky enough to appear on The White Book, I do the same. Maturity is about knowing that there is a time for shots for plots, shipping me with Patrick Haynes, or cursing when Heads on Spikes pulls Jaime out of your hand on turn one and that there is a time when that shit doesn’t fly. Maturity is about knowing that a joke may sound like a joke or good fun to you but is really neither fun nor comical. It may make you feel bigger, smarter, or cleverer, but it makes others feel smaller, worthless, excluded.
If the New York City meta had been a jerk to me when I showed on that first day – playing the neutral Knight of Flowers in Baratheon deck, of all things – I would have never come back. Instead these Thrones players – some of whom were like me, some of whom were a bit like me, and others nothing like me at all – were kind to me, tolerant of my ignorance, and willing to help me learn and get better. That acceptance and sense of welcome is something I’ve tried to take with me into this second edition with the influx of new players.
The tl;dr: If you want to build your meta beyond your group of like-minded friends, being a jerk, being exclusionary, being an asshole is not going to get you far.