A while back I was playing in a game where almost all of us were in our mid-20s to late-30s. The sole exception was a gamer in his 50s, whom many of us hadn’t met before this particular campaign. No one had any problem with someone one or two decades older than us joining the campaign.
A few sessions in our host (not the GM) wanted to let his son join the game. His son was about 12 at the time and it was fairly obvious that the host was going to let him play regardless of the group’s opinion (hey, his house, his rules, right?).
When the GM informed me of this he was obviously agitated. After I talked him out of moving the game to another location I asked him what the big deal was. Most of us, after all, had gotten our start around the same age. His response was that he didn’t want to water down his “adult game,” and told the host so. It didn’t matter that we weren’t doing anything particularly “adult.”
I’m happy to report that the boy joined without any real problems other than the usual “newbie” growing pains. He’s now joined the ranks of regular GMs in my gaming circles.
Still, my GM buddy had a point. He was comfortable gaming with a certain age group and wanted it to stay that way. I’ve seen similar comments on various RPG boards. I’ve also seen at least one GM post that he views gaming as a “poker night with the guys” and doesn’t want women in the group. On the player side, I know a gamer that refuses to play in any campaign where the host has children. I also know people that refuse to game with an ex-lover or with anyone connected to him or her.
In addition to one’s comfort level, there are also social concerns when joining a gaming group. I certainly don’t want to be the forty-something guy explaining to the nice officer why I regularly invite a teen girl or two to roleplay in my basement with a group of guys my age (props to the EN World forum comment that inspired that one-wish I could credit it properly). I’ve been the teenaged boy trying to explain to my parents why I should be allowed to hang out with a bunch of twenty-something guys until 3 in the morning.
So today’s Hot Button is this: Do you draw a line when it comes to prospective players? What players aren’t welcome at your table? Have you played in a group where that line made you a bit uncomfortable? Have you ever left a group over its exclusivity or because they lacked a line?