2012 BPA Survey Results—Player Behavior
Jan. 12, 2013

There are only three requirements to play in a WBC tournament; have a current badge, be on time, and bring a copy of the game. That last one is often forgiven if enough copies can be scrounged up by others but is nonetheless the reason many people are turned away. If our survey is to be believed, only 5% of you fail to bring at least one game to WBC while 26% of you bring 20 or more games. And ’20’ was the most common response with 125 of you citing that number in your travelling repertoire.

What You’d Like to See… What You Want Not to Change How I See It…
Bringing Games 1: I would like more people to be expected to bring games for an event. In recent years with attendance reaching higher amounts, even multiplayer events are running into situations where there aren’t enough games.   We expect everyone to bring the games they will play. At least that’s what we tell people at every opportunity, be it program, newsletter or website. But that doesn’t make it happen. Obviously, folks who fly or use other forms of public transit can’t be expected to bring much in the way of games with them, but if all those who drove did so, there would be no shortage. Usually enough games are present—albeit back in the hotel room.
Tournament Jumping 1: Less tournament-jumping from players (dropping out without informing the Tournament Director)   Everyone’s level of conduct and good manners is different, but as many participants use tournaments as a form of scheduled Open Gaming as opposed to real tournaments, this behavior is regretably to be expected—especially in the opening rounds.
Collusion 1: It was clear in at least two events that multiple members of the same extended family were playing in cooperation such that they were distorting the fair play of those events. In some cases there were more family members playing in a round than unrelated players and the family members were cooperating to eliminate the non-related players. This should not be tolerated.   A good GM would discourage such behavior and take pains to separate family members as long as possible. Not all GMs are as concerned about such things as they should be. But the bottom line is that when you play multi-player games you are subject to the kingmaker effect and a player can ally with whomever they want. Most players frown on such tactics and attack fellow family/team members with glee but not everybody has the same set of values.
Alcohol 1: Twice I had bad experiences with players either in the game I was playing or at a neighboring table who were clearly intoxicated and belligerent neither of which behaviors should be condoned.   I agree. The first step is to point it out to the GM and ask him to follow through by disqualifying the player. If in Open Gaming, report it to a monitor and ask him to report it to hotel security. Nothing happens until it is reported.
Personal Hygiene 1: I know this is unenforceable, but I would like BPA to enforce a more rigorous dress code for events. I’m not suggesting shirts and ties, but I do not think it would be overbearing for the association to suggest that all gamers where shirts and shoes while gaming. Also, BPA should stress the positive values of personal hygiene and cleanliness while gaming.   Terrific! I’m already a “badge nazi” just for asking people to wear badges and now I have to administer the sniff test? Are you trying to get me killed?
Cheating 2: Start actually aggressively dealing with cases of cheating, and/or abusive or inappropriate behavior; the WBC’s reputation for great competition is second only to it’s reputation as a refuge for markedly unpleasant people to play with. I know y’all like to talk a good game about how great the people and culture of the WBC are, but reality is sadly different. Take the blinders off, please. For “outsiders", even hard-core gamers, the particular (unsanctioned!) unpleasantness of a number of the “regulars” is way more than a little off-putting. / I have heard more and more stories about cheating going on at WBC. That trend is really worrying, especially as the hobby draws more and more new players. Can we find some truly draconian way to stop it? For example, if someone is caught cheating, rescind their membership for the year and don’t let them back the next year. Maybe even take away any wood that they may have “earned" from other tournaments that year? Call them “tainted" victories or maybe even “Armstrongs.” While WBC remains committed to competition with “wood” as the primary goal, cheating will likely continue and expand. Renewing Friendships 14: I like the comaraderie of fellow boardgamers who I often only see once a year. / I love how friendly everyone (generally) is. I love how folks are happy to play/teach games with folks they don’t know. There is a community here at WBC. I like being able to play games with the publishers themselves. I like meeting certain people year after year, when this is the only time and place our paths cross. I like how everyone comes together to play games.

Whenever you open a conference to thousands of people as opposed to an “invitation only” convention, you’re going to attract a few bad apples. It is part of the price you pay for an “Open” convention. Does WBC attract some people with the wrong priorities? Absolutely. People are people and the ones who come to WBC are no different than those who frequent other gaming conventions. Does cheating and bad behavior occur? I’d be surprised if it didn’t, but I would also be surprised if it occurred with any more frequency than it does elsewhere. The vast amount of comments in this survey about the friendliness and sportsmanship demonstrated at WBC would seem at odds with your observation. All in all, I believe the suspicion of cheating in some quarters borders on paranoia spread more by rumor than fact and actual proof of misdeeds is far harder to come by.

That said, we have evicted some individuals and revoked their memberships over the years due to poor conduct. But in the final analysis, the line has to be drawn by the GMs. Understandably, not all are equally willing to take on the unpleasant task of dealing with such behavior, and although I encourage being proactive in this, it is not an easy thing to do or to be everywhere at once to observe it occuring. Even so, I believe the presence of a GM with power to disqualify offenders gives such players more pause than they would have elsewhere. But the problem is made worse by those who suffer in silence or make accusations without the courage to name offenders. As if I am supposed to use my pyschic powers to ferret out the evil doer. If those with such suspicions are not willing to name names, there is little I or any GM can do.

In the final analysis everyone will judge this issue based on their own observations and react accordingly. I cannnot fault you for your opinion if you feel you’ve experienced such behavior at WBC. However, I do fault those who repeat idle gossip to reinforce their own preconceived notions. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard someone get their revenge by labelling an opponent a jerk (or worse) from the safety of the internet, only to discover with investigation that the accused was more the victim than the accuser. Being the first to yell foul does not make you right. Just because someone says X cheated, does not make it so. And even if it were—I can guarantee you that story will be repeated more times than the hundreds of friendly games played without incident.

Bad things happen in the world. I’ve witnessed countless acts of hooliganism at ballgames and seen fans abused both verbally and physically for no other offense than wearing an opposing team’s cap. My own frail, 70-year old father was the victim of such. Stadium officials did nothing to intervene when I complained. He never went to another ballgame. That doesn’t mean I won’t go to any more baseball games. But neither will I wear a sports cap while doing so. To tar all competitive gaming for the misdeeds of a few is nearly as bad an act as cheating. If someone thinks competition is the root of all evil, they msy exercise their right not to participate, but why must they rain on someone else’s parade and deny them an activity they enjoy? How are they being harmed?

Complaining about the rumored actions of a few unnamed individuals tars the reputations of hundreds of others with the same brush. For such a bloodthirsty “win-at-all-costs" environment, we generally get along pretty well.

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