The Care and Feeding of Your Gaming Group

I like to cook.

Scratch that. I like to cook a lot. I like to cook big meals to boot. I like to cook all sorts of things. I love Asian flavors specifically but I branch out whenever possible. I own several cookbooks, and I recently upgraded my kitchen appliances with the same passion I applied to choosing the new video card and monitor for my computer.

This becomes a problem. When we used to run a different game at my place, I cooked before every game. Apparently this didn’t fly with my gaming group. They actively resented my good-deeds (that I did without being asked, happily and without complaint) and when that game closed, these players said straight out said to my then-boyfriend-later-husband that they would no longer game at my house because I ‘forced’ them to eat.

Note that they couldn’t tell this to me. I was intensely offended when I was told about this exchange months later, but nobody apologized or even acknowledged that I was aware of this rudeness. Life goes on, though. My husband and I married, and his house and my house became the same house. He was running his Shadowrun game, and by God, he was running it in his own home. When he moved, the game moved. Nobody could argue with that logic — he wasn’t carting his books across the valley just because they didn’t want to be inconvenienced with my hostessing.

So the snubbing began. I’d let them know that I was preparing a large meal and they were welcome to join. They’d arrive, maybe one would partake but the rest would feed themselves before or after the game rather then take my freely offered, no strings attached food. No money or supplies were requested. They brought drinks and snacks of their own volition. But my efforts were routinely snubbed, to the point that they’d show up late after eating out and a top it, brought desert from a restaurant despite that I had made a full meal and desert for them and told them ahead of time I was doing so.

I very nearly threw them out that night, but behaved myself as best I could in the face of this insult. However, this is pretty much the only gaming group we have, and so we put up with these sorts of shenanigans and blatant disrespect. It was things like that that we had to warn folks about when our newest player asked about joining our group. They had decided they didn’t want to play at a decent hour, they wanted to come over at 10:30. They didn’t want to eat with us. They basically wanted to do things only on their time schedule, at their whim, and nothing else.

Our new player, however, has none of these bad habits. He is courteous, gracious and a very genteel man. We had him and his girlfriend over for pre-game dinner, and enjoyed ourselves. When I mention I’d like to make something, he’s the first to volunteer a side. His presence is actually a moderating influence, it seems, on some of the bad habits of our gaming group. This week when I said that I’d be making shrimp creole before game, they were all quick to let me know they’d be happy eat with us and brought sodas. I admit, we also used his schedule– and our need to take him home as he and his girlfriend only have one car– to leverage an earlier starting time! Yes, the GAME MASTER had to leverage against his own player group, because they had decided that starting at 10 was what they did for all the other games, and they’d do it for this one, regardless of what he wanted.

This means I’m very grateful for our new player, and enjoy his presence for more then just what he brings to the table not only as a player but as a nice person and a calming presence. I am also pleasantly surprised that being ‘good’ in front of the newbie has made them less of a pack of dicks. I mean, it’s not all that bad. We wouldn’t hang out with them if they didn’t have redeeming qualities. It just seems that a lot of the time, they’re just Big Boys who don’t want a Mommy, and I suppose that’s what they see my efforts to feed them as, though I can’t imagine why– I’m hardly matronly.

But I like to cook, and I like to game, and I don’t see why the two shouldn’t meet regularly. I don’t try and cook for game that’s not at my house — so why should sitting down for a meal with friends and then grabbing the dice bags be such a crime?

Boys. Can’t live with ’em, can’t feed ’em. What can you do with ’em?

9 responses

  1. pym93

    I was boggling as I read about your experience. Who in their right mind would turn their nose up at free food with friends? Insanity! Did you ever determine really why they felt that way, or just let it go?


    April 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

  2. That is so rude! I would be absolutely made up to be offered a meal alongside a game. I can’t see why anyone would turn such a generous offer down.
    Do you think they were doing it specifically to make you feel awkward or unwelcome in the gaming group?
    I’m glad you’ve found better people to play with!


    April 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

  3. Slythe

    That is very strange, I’ve been trying to think of reasons why. I can kinda understand that serving properly prepared food could be seen as a distraction from gaming, of course that’s no excuse for being rude! It sounds a bit more “psychological” than that though. I wonder if it wasn’t connected to one of the guys really hating being made to eat healthily by his mother, and resenting being forced to endure non-junk food. I can see one guy leading the others astray, though it doesn’t reflect well on any of them.


    April 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

  4. What… the… fuck…

    Who doesn’t like decent, proper food? Food’s always been tied into our gaming and we’ve done things like club together for a buffet, share the cost of takeout or cooked for each other for ages. Doc Savage’s (real name) non-gaming spouse always sends him out with cake for the group.

    The only thing I can think of is that they like gaming night as an excuse to get some junk food that they otherwise don’t get to eat, still…


    April 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  5. Rebecca

    I’ve met the occasional gamer who uses the game as an excuse to eat all-junk all-the-time. They’ve been reluctant to eat my cooking. Others have balked because they don’t want me to work so hard before the game. In both cases I’ve taken the hint – made simpler meals for myself and offered to share. Some folks partake, some don’t. I try really hard never to be upset at comments (constructive or otherwise) and just let it go.

    If you’re having fun cooking – keep it up. If folks want to show up later (having already eaten), so be it. But don’t put up with them being rude. That’s just wrong.


    April 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

  6. Fucking Jackasses! I’ve cooked for our gaming group and have never had a single person turn down my food. What gamer doesn’t like free food.

    In general though, sounds like you need a new group cause these guys sound like pricks. The GM shouldn’t have to leverage the start time. It’s a group, not just them. GRRR

    See now I’m all angry on your behalf. :o)


    April 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  7. Amanda

    Some background:

    These men are mostly my husband’s friends (with the exception of New Player, who was an internet pal of mine who moved to my state and wanted to get into a gaming group and make some friends of his own beyond Girlfriend’s Friends). He went to high school with some of them. Others joined the group little by little through mutual interest.

    They’re okay to hang out with. They live in a bachelor pad that one of them owns, and the rest rent from. My husband used to be one of their roommates, till we bought a house, moved in and got married.

    The junk food is not an issue; they are welcome to bring treats and I supply some of my own on a regular basis– in fact, sometimes when we game at their place, if we don’t bring treats, there ARE none; they forget or they don’t care or whatever. They are constantly eating junk, though, so I can’t imagine that it’s that — when they’re not eating junk, they’re going out to fairly nice places to eat. When they’re not, it’s Del Taco, the local waffle house, or what have you.

    I also have to caveat that I am NOT A BAD COOK. I wasn’t great when I started, but I have never been BAD. I supply good, large meals with lots in them. I do not always ‘adhere’ to certain tastes (one won’t eat celery, the other won’t eat mushrooms– they’re welcome to pick them out if they’re in a dish) but on the other hand, in dealing with someone who ate Kosher (She’s no longer around) we tried to be accomodating. It’s not HARD, people.

    But overwhelmingly, I wonder what’s wrong with them because of responses like this. When I tell people how they behave over getting a free meal, people genuinely boggle. I know people who work for gaming companies who have told me outright I game with ingrates and should stop. People have said that they wish I lived in their state because of what I do for my gamers.

    As for the leverage — well, that’s just their self-centeredness. It’s gotten progressively worse since the Husband and I hooked up (I think some of it’s risidual bitterness; my ex is part of the group, though he’s one of the best behaved of the bunch otherwise but is one of the most vocal about no cooking) and one player simply arrives in his own time regardless of who is running the game, ever. It’s simply accepted that he runs on His Time and always has.

    It’s basically trying to ask a bunch of bachelor gamers to behave like grown adults and unfortunately, most of them fail that particular dice roll– but neither do we want to wade into the mire to find another group and hope that it will be better. They all have issues; hell, my last D&D group dissolved because of the fiancée of the GM’s propensity to pitch fits and drama llama about the gaming table till she got her way, and my longest running group fell apart because the over-arching storyteller couldn’t keep his nose– or other parts of his anatomy — out of people’s business, one way or the other.

    So comparatively, this is all pretty mild. I mean, we have fun once the dice are rolling, but the resentment on my side is there and my husband constantly wonders about quitting and not dealing with this shit. But in the end, we sort of wonder if this is the only way they know how to socialize and how to handle that — we don’t want to sit and watch anime for eight hours a day with them, so this is it, this is how we get to see our friends.

    I guess we need more friends. So, which of you ladies is moving to Utah to start our new gaming group, huh?


    April 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

  8. Chiiana

    I’m also in shock that they are turning down a good meal. If anything, maybe you can sortof meet them half way, ya. Instead of making a big, wonderful meal, what about creating a meal out of finger foods?

    They might be more inclined to partake if it’s a plate of things they can just grab and eat as the night goes on instead of a sit-down full-blown meal.


    April 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm

  9. Amanda

    My meals for game tend to be one-pot affairs; stews, stirfries, the like — for just that sort of ease. Just take some, put it in a bowl, eat it while we play! So I’m not sure the finger food would work (and I wouldn’t know where to begin with it, either).


    April 21, 2010 at 12:34 am

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