WISH 97: Bitch Bitch Bitch

Ginger’s latest WISH is about bitching…
What�s your take on player bitching/venting: complaints intended to relieve player stress and not to actually change things in the game? When and where and to whom is it appropriate? How should players and GMs handle it?

I admit, right off, that I don’t take player bitching in my games very well at all. It is probably no surprise to anyone who reads this Blog that it pushes one of my buttons hard, and I internalize it.
I have a lamentable tendency to take every player venting as a complaint, and a request to change things in the game. It’s much like Ginger and Arref have already said. If its a real complaint, that’s one thing. But regular venting at me is something I handle badly.
I’ve had trouble distinguishing when someone is venting and when someone really has a problem. I treat the former as the latter, and, although I know its not always the case, I treat it as my fault and problem to fix.
I take my gaming seriously. I play hard, and when my players are not having fun, I want to see that they do…with a large side order of beating myself up in the process for letting the situation occur in the first place.
Now, as a player, I generally don’t like to bitch or vent about a game if at all humanly possible. Again, mainly because I consider many faults or problems ultimately originate with myself. Why would I complain and bitch to Ginger about, say, Bridgette’s game, if I think that the problem lies with me in the first place?
As far as my own relations to fellow players bitching about a game, I tend more toward sympathy than solution. A conversation I had with Jim the other night highlighted this…instead of pablum sympathy, I explained to him why I thought he often provoked strong reactions in people.
Maybe I am learning to handle and work it better. But, I have much more to do so.