onegeeklogo6Dear One Geek,

I’ve noticed with the rise of the internet for online role playing games that people seem to treat it with less politeness than they do face to face gaming. Even ignoring jerks who are just plain rude, crude or otherwise socially unacceptable, many “good folks” seem not to give online games the same respect they do to “real life” ones. They will show up really late, leave early,  drop out mid-session, or just not show up. We’ve lost a lot of players who apparently  lack the  common courtesy to inform the group they are part of, that they will not be making it to a game. After awhile they end up dropping off of the face of the earth without so much as a goodbye. How would you handle a situation like this?


Curious about Common Courtesy

Dear Curious,

On-line gaming can be a boon to gamers, but it also presents its own challenges. Some internet “hiccups” are unavoidable. Especially if a player has slow bandwidth or unstable service, they may have trouble logging in, or end up cutting out of games or conversations suddenly due to circumstances well beyond their control.

In the short term, while it’s frustrating to have other players drop out without so much as a “gotta run”, it’s probably best to assume that the issue is technological in nature, rather than a lapse of etiquette.

If it becomes an ongoing problem with the same player, however, you may want to politely discuss the matter with them. Calmly bring up the problem, and ask if they had trouble connecting, got knocked off line, or just signed off. If it’s technological in basis, it may be a short-term problem (weather, outages, signing in from a public wi-fi spot, etc.) or ongoing, and knowing which may help you decide if you want to continue engaging this person in the online game or not.

If the issue is behavioral, on the other hand, it’s well within your rights, if you’re playing in an online game or MMO, to ask that they at least let you know if they’re not showing up, or signing off for the night, so you don’t wait for their arrival/return. If they continue to be a repeat offender, you can either adjust your expectations (ie: don’t wait for them to show up/come back, and if they’re penalized by their absence, that’s too bad), or your engagement with them. It’s possible their views of appropriate online interaction may be different than yours, and if you can’t come to an acceptable common ground, they may not be someone you want to continue gaming online with.

Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Write us at and your question may get answered in one of our future One Geek to Another columns!

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