Enthusiastic Consent in Table Top Gaming
Nobody wants to play a game they are luke-warm on and nobody wants to be in a relationship they’re not enthusiastic about. We can learn a lot about ourselves and others if we treat tabletop gaming more similar to the ways we treat giving consent in a relationship. It is important to be introspective when it comes to the games we subject other people to and take into account their personalities, their preferences, and their limits. Consent is critical to enjoying virtually anything in life. We simply request you always ask for consent and look for an enthusiastic agreement in response, rather than simply convincing your table to say “yes.” Constructing an experience your players will enjoy is far more important than persuading them to agree to an experience they might not enjoy. If everyone at the table enjoys their time spent together, don’t we all win?
On many occasions, I have been playing a game and had choices made for me without my consent by an alpha gamer. An alpha gamer is a player who requires a dominant role or position over other players during a game. This can ruin experiences for other players and, in my case, it's not something I had been prepared for ahead of time. We, as an industry, are now more aware of what alpha gaming looks like and it’s effects on other players. We need to be aware that all consent within a game should be enthusiastic. An example,
Player 1: You should make this choice on your turn, it is what is best for you.
Player 2: oh okay. I guess I will do that.
This is where player one should ask if player two is sure about this because they didn't give enthusiastic consent. Instead of making the decision for them they could instead ask, “Would you be okay with me making a recommendation?”
Player 2 will feel more inclined to give true feelings if asked again because it is showing general care and good gamer etiquette
This example may be a small thing people overlook, but small things can change how immersed and comfortable you are in a gaming experience. No one wants to ruin anyone's game night by not allowing them to play a game the way they want. However, before you do something, simply ask and make sure to receive enthusiastic consent. Many adults have busy lives, especially if they have children or other responsibilities outside of tabletop gaming. It’s important for everyone at the table to understand this and respect how valuable everyone's limited time is. The kindest thing we can do for each other is to respect and value the time we spend together and be mindful of the other people's needs and wants.
Victoria Mann is a former Paralegal who left the devouring world of law to pursue a 7-year successful tabletop game career and currently wears many hats at White Wizard Games and is a fierce defender of justice and love. Her passions include her dogs Apollo and Athena, reading as often as possible, playing games, watching Netflix, chatting with friends or working as much as possible because she literally can't be stopped and wants to do ALL of the things.
Brittanie Boe is a writer, photographer and video producer who founded Be Bold Games in 2018. Her passions include her cat Dax, her daughter Hailey, bouldering, and going on adventures to capture the perfect photos on her camera.
She writes about her perspective as a Latinx woman in gaming and is passionate about intersectional feminism as well as queer inclusion and advocacy. When she’s not tweeting she’s off in the mountains playing ukulele and singing at the top of her tiny lungs.