Since we covered the various problems and obstacles that come with trying to get into a new gaming group last week, this week we are going to look at the issues faced when trying to leave a gaming group. In addition, we will be looking at some of the reasons that you probably should be looking to find some other people to play with. As difficult as it is to get yourself ingratiated with a set of people, for many gamers it can be even harder to tell those people you have been playing with that you would rather not.
There are a few reasons why you might decide that it’s time to move on from a group. Probably the most common reason is just that you want something else out of the gaming time that you have. It at times can be as simple as just not wanting to play the game that everyone else is still invested in. Other times it comes down to wanting to play in a different way such as being more focused on roleplaying elements or perhaps wanting a group that is more focused on playing at a higher level of difficulty. This concern doesn’t always necessarily require leaving a group. You can try to introduce a new game that you are interested in to see if they also want to join you or you can talk to the other players and see if they would be ok with trying to shift the focus of the game a bit.
Should it turn out that the group isn’t interested in playing the same way you want to, it might just be time to find some people that are. Thankfully, this is probably the easiest circumstances in which to leave a gaming group. There shouldn’t be much in terms of ill will between you and the other players since it’s just a difference of desire that’s causing you to look elsewhere. It is also a circumstance where you can probably still play with them from time to time. Once you’ve already broached the idea of playing another game, it’s easy enough to then let them know that you are looking to play that and you might not have time to still play in their game. Since it’s been brought up before, you can avoid any hurt feelings or misunderstanding that can come along with leaving a group.
There are, of course, much more problematic reasons for leaving a group. Sometimes it can be an individual that is just rubbing you the wrong way. I think most of us have had the experience where within a group of friends there is that one guy that is a friend of a friend and every time he shows up you try to not be around as much as possible. Maybe he’s way too focused on only one thing and will literally not stop talking about that and only that. Maybe he’s got a particularly snide sense of humor that you find insulting but your friend just says it’s “all in good fun”. Maybe, at worst, he is just a racist/sexist/homophobic/etc dick bag but other people tolerate him because they’ve known each other for so long. Whatever the reason, the main problem you have is with one other person and he is making it impossible to enjoy playing.
When it comes to this type of issue, it becomes very hard not to make it an ultimatum of “he goes or I go”. If you still want to play with the group, the best thing to do is first try talking to the problem player in question. They might not even realize that the way they are acting is a problem and could be willing to change. If you’re in something like a guild for a game, you can also voice your concerns with the guild leader and then they can talk to the person for you. Any way you go about it, there is always the risk that the other person is going to feel like they are being “attacked” for being who they are. If they are unwilling to change and the rest of the group doesn’t seem to have the problem with the person you do, it’s best to move on but try not to publicly blame the other person on the way out if you still value contact with the rest of the group. Unless they are being the aforementioned racist/sexist asshole, and then by all means call them out publicly for being an asshole.
There are a plethora of other reasons that you might walk away from a group. You might not have time to game at all anymore or maybe you find yourself just not fitting in with the social dynamic of the group or you could have a friend that wants you to come join them in some other game. Whatever the reason, the best thing you can do is to communicate with the other players if you have any inclination that you might want to remain on friendly terms with them. Letting them know why and when you are planning on leaving the group helps them to know when to look for someone else and what type of gamer they should be looking for.
One thing that is key is to not feel like you have to stay with a group. If you just aren’t having fun anymore and you view coming to the game as more of a chore than a good time, you can walk away. It’s easy to fall into a sunk cost fallacy where we view the investment we have made into a game as a reason to keep playing it. Just because you have invested a lot of time in a character or in getting a particular set of equipment or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you should continue not having fun out of a sense of obligation. It can be quite difficult when other people are depending on you, though. Say for instance you are the main tank in your guild and if you left they would no longer be able to raid. Still, the best thing you can do is tell them as early and clearly as possible that you want to leave so they can work on a replacement. Remember, that you should never have to suffer just so other people can have fun.