Is It Unethical To Reduce Seat Capacity to Guarantee Family Members? ( Locked)
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Posted by fiddlemaster
#1

In the past, I have basically broken an unethical code by reducing the maximum number of seats available for my games to assure I have available seats for my two uncles I bring to GenCon.  I have not tried to register them event tickets because it is highly improbable to get them in (or both).

It makes it cheeky because they wind up just giving Generic Tickets, and the other players have noticed and spouted off a few times before for not being fair.

 

Posted by brotherbock
#2

Gen Con's answer is going to be that they don't want you to do this, because they have to try to put games in the right spaces, and if you downsize your game but really plan on more people, that may put you in a non-ideal location.

What size is the game? Are there usually other people also trying to get in on generics? If so, it does seem shady. Particularly if those other people ever show up first and get turned away, only for you to give your uncles seats later. Why not run the game again, separately, unticketed, for your uncles?

Posted by quarex
#3

There was an official "do not do this" from someone on staff in another thread with the same question recently, so I imagine that will be the answer coming soon.

Posted by derekguder
#4

I'm not sure we want to get into an argument about ethics or morality, but I will certainly confirm that it is against the rules and not particularly fair to the players who did get tickets. Don't do it.

The Event Host Policy is pretty clear that you are expected to run your event as submitted, so if you submitted your game for 6 players, as an example, then you should run it for 6 players.

Why? Mainly because your event was assigned space based on you only having 6 players, so there may not be sufficient space for more. Many of your players may have also picked your event specifically because it was for 6 players. They may not be interested in the same game with 7, 8, or more players.

Particularly small games can be hugely impacted by accepting more players.

As a GM who has run many, many games myself, I completely understand that urge to help incorporate everyone so more people can share in the fun, but if your game and event is not designed to accommodate it, you are likely reducing the enjoyment of some of the other players. And if your event could accommodate more players, just submit it for the correct number so that everyone knows what to expect.

I hope that answers the question.

-
Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

Posted by rutherfordr
#5

Will your uncles be able to get their tickets if they buy them like everyone else, or is it such a high-demand game that the tickets sell out as soon as they're available?

 

Posted by tinabear81
#6

Also, can you buy their tickets for them as friends/family?

Posted by brotherbock derekguder
#7

derekguder wrote:
I'm not sure we want to get into an argument about ethics or morality, but I will certainly confirm that it is against the rules and not particularly fair to the players who did get tickets. Don't do it.
The Event Host Policy is pretty clear that you are expected to run your event as submitted, so if you submitted your game for 6 players, as an example, then you should run it for 6 players.
Why? Mainly because your event was assigned space based on you only having 6 players, so there may not be sufficient space for more. Many of your players may have also picked your event specifically because it was for 6 players. They may not be interested in the same game with 7, 8, or more players.
Particularly small games can be hugely impacted by accepting more players.
As a GM who has run many, many games myself, I completely understand that urge to help incorporate everyone so more people can share in the fun, but if your game and event is not designed to accommodate it, you are likely reducing the enjoyment of some of the other players. And if your event could accommodate more players, just submit it for the correct number so that everyone knows what to expect.
I hope that answers the question.
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Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

Hey Derek--I do have a question about non-premeditated adding of players. When I came up playing and then running games at GC, it was quite common for GMs to plan the game for, and hope for, a certain number of players (back then it was 8 standard for an RPG...wow), but then also very common for a GM to make a couple of 'just in case' characters. Just in case the game filled and then two extra people showed up. It was commonly considered the mensch thing to do--at least to a certain extent. There were times when GMs would accept another 8 or more people for their game, and no one had any fun :(  But when it was a matter of going from 8 to 10, I never heard or saw a single player complain when that happened--people were actually happy to accommodate a couple more players, because they'd been in the spot of outside looking in too. Not all GMs did, but it was common. You'd go to buy a ticket, see it was filled, and you'd plan on showing up to see if they had those one or two extra characters ready.

However, that was then. And things sometimes change.

Is it officially frowned upon to have a couple of 'just in case' spots/characters, in the following conditions:


  1. When the game mechanics can handle them (i.e. not more spots than a board game has pieces for)
  2. When the other players don't mind
  3. When there is physical space for them
  4. When those spots aren't intended for specific people, but rather for whoever might show up and want to play when the game is filled

I think 2 is pretty important--and even 'back in the day' GMs often paused for a general nod of the other players about it.

But from my perspective of having started when that was the norm, it does seem considerate to have the ability to spontaneously add people. In particular--I run 25-35 player LARPs (as you know :) And I will frequently have in my back pocket a couple of possible characters who 'might show up' if I have people really wanting to play. Sometimes there's no sheet--if a player can handle it, I'll pull them aside and say "Okay, you're the butler, and your whole goal here today is to try to embarrass your employer as much as possible." The other players don't mind that we have 36 instead of 35 players. And the space for 35 people walking around talking can handle 36. To me, the ability to do that only makes everyone happier, with no downside. At the same time, I plan on a certain number of players just because that's the game that I've written--you have to stop writing characters somewhere :) So whatever that number is, I just tend to think of a couple of concepts that could be brought it easily. Because no one else is made less happy, and saying "Yeah, we can get you in here somewhere" can really make someone's day--I've seen it any number of times.

Is that sort of thing officially frowned on, in those conditions? I get why your policy is what it is, and I largely agree.

Posted by derekguder
#8

From one perspective, it is considerate to have a couple extra characters on hand to let a few more people play.

However, players may also feel really put on the spot if the decision to let someone play something they're very excited about. No one wants to appear selfish or exclusionist, even if the addition may change the dynamic at the table and (potentially) ruin much of the fun.

So stick with the parameters of the game whenever possible.

If you are able to accommodate more players than you initially submitted an event for, why didn't you submit it for the higher number? Why hold something in reserve?

A lot of this advice is for board games or RPGs where there adding even one or two players can dramatically change the table dynamic - some games just don't work for larger numbers, and it means less time for each player in the spotlight. We all know RPGs that work great at 3 or 4 but are just not something we're interested in at 7+. Or board games that are great at 3 but not so much at 4.

For some other larger events, like big card game tournaments or LARPs, the effect of adding another player may be pretty minimal, and we certainly recognize that.

Gen Con isn't monitoring each table and there are going to be situations that are perfectly reasonable exceptions to this guidance, which is why we don't have a process to audit and review events that end up going over their max players.

But in general, do not plan ahead to accommodate more players than you had originally submitted for. If you want to run the event for more players, then just submit it for more players.

Do not reserve spots at a game for friends or family members. Event submissions are not to be used for folks to find places to play with folks they already know, per se. If anyone just needs space to play with friends, they can ask any local event HQ when they are ready to play and we'll find a table for them.

Do not reserve spots in a game for walk-up players. Don't prioritize onsite attendees over those who wanted to pre-register, basically.

Make sense?

-
Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

Posted by brotherbock derekguder
#9

derekguder wrote:
From one perspective, it is considerate to have a couple extra characters on hand to let a few more people play.
However, players may also feel really put on the spot if the decision to let someone play something they're very excited about. No one wants to appear selfish or exclusionist, even if the addition may change the dynamic at the table and (potentially) ruin much of the fun.
So stick with the parameters of the game whenever possible.
If you are able to accommodate more players than you initially submitted an event for, why didn't you submit it for the higher number? Why hold something in reserve?
A lot of this advice is for board games or RPGs where there adding even one or two players can dramatically change the table dynamic - some games just don't work for larger numbers, and it means less time for each player in the spotlight. We all know RPGs that work great at 3 or 4 but are just not something we're interested in at 7+. Or board games that are great at 3 but not so much at 4.
For some other larger events, like big card game tournaments or LARPs, the effect of adding another player may be pretty minimal, and we certainly recognize that.
Gen Con isn't monitoring each table and there are going to be situations that are perfectly reasonable exceptions to this guidance, which is why we don't have a process to audit and review events that end up going over their max players.
But in general, do not plan ahead to accommodate more players than you had originally submitted for. If you want to run the event for more players, then just submit it for more players.
Do not reserve spots at a game for friends or family members. Event submissions are not to be used for folks to find places to play with folks they already know, per se. If anyone just needs space to play with friends, they can ask any local event HQ when they are ready to play and we'll find a table for them.
Do not reserve spots in a game for walk-up players. Don't prioritize onsite attendees over those who wanted to pre-register, basically.
Make sense?
-
Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

Totally makes sense. And I get what you're saying--all those years previously of players not objecting at RPG tables might easily have included some who'd like to object, but saw that everyone else was for it and didn't want to be a jerk, so...

The thing about player totals is, also as you say, different for LARPs than for tabletop RPGs. If I'm writing an RPG module, it's carefully balanced for a general range of number of players. If I plan for 4, I can probably tweak things for up to 6 without major changes. Maybe down to 2. But with dice involved, there's only so far before you're scrapping everything you created.

But writing a LARP is all about the character interactions, and there can be really as many as you feel like writing :) So here's the window into the process as we do it, just so I can explain myself. The choice to set a number of players has a lot of factors:


  • How many GMs are going to run it? One GM can handle a game up to around 24 people or so (depending on the type of game, some need more GM-Player time, others less, while the game is running). Two GMs, into the 30s. And etc. 
  • What's the setting? Stuck on a life-raft, versus in the stands at a baseball game (one setting I would love to run a game using).
  • What plots/events are you cooking up? This is the biggest factor. At some point, you look at a game and say "Okay, that's enough going on for a small midwestern town on prom night". And then you figure out how many characters are 'attached' to each plot. The plot to kill the king, as you're writing it, is a small plot. So there's a natural cap on how many characters once you put all that together.
  • And then there's just the matter of "we have to start writing at some point, we can't keep adding characters right up to the con". For our games, the characters are all interconnected. Your sheet has a list of people you know, what you know about them, etc. So formally adding a character involves changing numerous other character sheets.

So at some point early in the process, you arrive at a number. This is going to be a 30 player game, you say. You submit it, and get to the serious writing. And then along the way, ideas occur to you. Hey, there could be a butler in the game! And if you like the idea enough, maybe you formally add the character and bump up the number. If you don't like it enough, you don't write the character. Or you do, then set it aside when you realize you don't like it as much. But then even if you've bumped the number, you might see another possible character later on--there could be a street urchin too! And this keeps happening, because the ideas just keep coming :) At some point, you have to cap the game. And even then, you'll have simple concepts floating around--the lovable male prostitute, the banker, etc. Because you can't keep adding characters officially all the way up to game time, these concepts just float there. Others are concepts that you played with, and then got rid of for various reasons--maybe just wanting to keep the game a certain size, and you picked one character over the other and cut one. You aren't planning on that character anymore...but you even have them written up.

The general principle of how it works out is: If the game is set for X players, you will always have at least X+1 character ideas in your head. Just the way it goes :)

So that's why there are character ideas there in your head--and maybe even written up characters--without those characters being added as official spots, if that makes sense. You've got the characters you want to run the game with, but because you know the game so well, you know who else could be there.

And then when that player shows up who really would like to play... :) And we do read the room when we make those decisions, but you're right again about that LARP/RPG difference. It would be very strange for one of 30 people up in the Lincoln Rooms to object to a 31st player being added. Whereas going from 4 to 6 is a 50% increase, and will impact the game experience much more. For LARPs, I've honestly played in games where I didn't even know how many people were in the game. Iocane used to run a Battlestar Galactica LARP--the lights were down, sound effects were going off, people were everywhere--I can't tell you to this day how many players there were each year. 40? 50? 60? We didn't have lists of characters, didn't know who many of these people were. I wouldn't have even been able to tell you if someone was added last minute. And for our games, I never see anyone do anything other than nod when we announce "There's now a butler in the game!" I do look, and I'm observant. But no one seems upset.

So I just say that to explain. I get where you're coming from, and I appreciate the concerns you have to deal with. What it's always been for us is that we submit the game for the number we really do want to run--but when no one's experience will be made worse, and there's a player standing there wanting to play, and we have an idea there for a character who could be inserted into a game of 24, 30, 40 people without a hiccup, historically we haven't seen why not to.

But we don't hold spots or characters for people without tickets, or plan on characters being there without having a ticketed slot for them, to be clear. Whenever we've done that in the past, it's been "Well, yeah...if you really want to play, how would you like to be a sneaky butler?" and not "we've got this character we want in the game that we didn't have a ticketed slot for", and definitely not "show up without a ticket and we'll give you this character we wrote who we want in the game".

Thank you for the info and the discussion, it's much appreciated. I hope I'm not coming across as 'defiant' :) Just wanting to say why in the past sometimes we've done that. All in the end to make as many players happy as we possibly can :)

Posted by derekguder
#10

Yup, that's definitely an example of the grey area, though I would say that if you're writing the LARP and more ideas occur to you, you can always contact us to increase the capacity of the event, particularly if it's selling well.

But always keep in mind the expectations of the folks who already have tickets. As long as y'all keep that in mind, I suspect most GMs will make the appropriate decision for what is best for the game, even if that means generally telling hopeful players that the event is full.

-
Derek Guder
Senior Event & Program Manager
Gen Con LLC

Posted by emmbohnert
#11

May I gently suggest you consider a situation where somebody sees that you have an 8-player game sold out and asks you if you could fit 2 more people. You can honestly say yes, because you actively intend to fit 2 more people. Just not the people who are asking you. You in fact have two specific people who have exclusive access to those seats. Does that meet your own personal criteria for appropriateness if it was done for somebody elses benefit?

Posted by matthias9
#12

I'm curious what this game could be that it would be that hard for the 2 uncles to register (like everyone else).

But, overall, this almost seems like a rhetorical question, as I think the original poster knew the answer before posting.

Posted by quarex
#13

Call of Cthulhuncle

Posted by roganca quarex
#14

quarex wrote:
Call of Cthulhuncle

Call of Cthuncle, surely.

Posted by quarex
#15

I could not decide but now I feel that is objectively the right choice.  I think it helps that I tried to be even more cutesy and go with Call of Cthunclhu, and obviously that was wrong.

Posted by fiddlemaster
#16

It's really irrelevant what game I'm running.  By and large I have never had a game that did not sell out within the first day or two. It has nothing to do with how good the game is or what it was, it's the fact that there are 65,000 people trying to cram into as many games as they can get ahold of. And with the fantasy wish list, you wind up getting into games you might not even have wanted to.

I've been coming to Gencon since 2005, And there has not been one year where I've ran any RPG and it didn't sell out so quickly that I couldn't get my uncle's involved.

If I'm going to get them into it they would have to each login on event registration day and put my game at number one, which then puts me at a damper because my number one spot is not going to match theirs.

I only do a five-person RPG game. They take up two of the five spots, so there's always three people more than them. It's not like they're dominating or in control of the table.

But they're simply is no alternative to guarantee they can get into my game. This has nothing to do with me running it in a different day just for them. It is the fact that we go to Gen Con and it is the opportunity to get to play together as a group. If I just ran it for those two people then it would just be a two-person RPG and not much fun. If I wanted to just grab random people, then it's pointless for me to run a sanction game. I enjoy running the actual registered games, but I wish that there was a way that I could allocate two spots to my uncles, pay for event registration tickets for them, and it shows clearly in the sign up that it's a five-seater game and two of them have been taken by family members.

But that's never going to happen so I'm going to continue doing what I'm going to do. I know it's unethical, but until there is a proper solution I guess I'll continue having to be the bad person

Posted by fiddlemaster
#17

Really I wish that Gen Con would allow for a GM to reserve one or two seats for family members only. It would be displayed at the event description so everyone knew, and it allows family members to stay together during the convention.

Posted by rong
#18

It sounds like you don't want a "sanctioned" game. You want a semi-private event, one where you can reserve spots for players of your choosing. You can do that in the open gaming area. Just post the date/time/event you are running and let three more people sign up for it.

You say you don't want to "just grab random people", but that is what the Gen Con registration system is. I sign up to run an event. Random people sign up to play it.

You argue that you want a system that allows family members to stay together. They have that system. Check the box that says "only if all tickets available". By reserving seats, you are denying the family (or group of friends) of four/five a chance to play your game, the exact opposite of what you are requesting. What you appear to want is preferential treatment for GMs to choose their players, or at least some of them. That is different than the question initially posed.

You also mentioned you have never actually tried to sign them up for your game. Why not start there?

They do not need to log in on registration day. You can add them as friends in the Gen Con system and purchase the tickets for them. For an even better chance, all three of you (you and the two uncles) can each put it on your wishlist. It does not matter whether you have it as your first or twenty-first item on your wishlist. It does not matter if your number one event matches their number one event. The wish list order is simply a priority number for your own list when it is processed. If you have multiple events scheduled for the same slot, the system will try to get your the higher priority event first.

Posted by buffythecatslayer
#19

In the event creation dialog, instead of just number of players, they could add a field for number of tickets to sell.  So, you could say 6 players, but only sell 4 tickets.  In this case, the EO would be responsible for paying for the additional people who aren't buying tickets.  

They could do this, but it seems like overkill for something only a few people would use.  Unless your event is mega-popular, it seems like it would be easy for someone in your group to get two tickets on event registration day, especially if as Rong suggested, you all wishlist the event.

Posted by quarex
#20

It is pretty clear at this point that he only made this thread to brag and argue about his cool plan.

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