Arguing Effectively

funny-pictures-cat-challenges-you-to-a-fightThis is not a follow-up to my post on Conflict Resolution and Gaming. This is a response to posts I’ve seen recently and a trend I’ve noticed in gamers. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of gamers have the inability to argue effectively. Instead, they see something they don’t like and immediately label it “stupid” and will try to defend their point of view even though folks on the outside looking in can easily notice how transparent they are being and that they’re still arguing because they don’t want to admit that they are wrong or even try to accept the other point of view. Most of the time, the person who thinks it’s “stupid” just doesn’t like it but doesn’t know how to argue why they don’t like it and it’s just easier for them to shout their opinion in hopes that nobody will question it.

1. Replace “You” with “I”

People don’t like to hear things like “Your way of doing it is wrong” or “You are an idiot for doing it this way.” Instead, say things like “I don’t agree with the way you’re doing it” or “I was thinking of another way of doing it.” When you start off calling someone out, they immediately get defensive. It’s human nature. By not placing the “blame” on the other person, it’s less likely they will become defensive.

2. Don’t call people names

Seems simple, doesn’t it? For some reason, perhaps because of the anonymity or perhaps because people don’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions immediately, folks are more than willing to call other people nasty names. They never resolves anything. It only leads to hurt feelings.

3. Don’t be condescending

People don’t like being talked down to. I don’t like it and, more than likely, you don’t like it. Well if you don’t like it, why would you do it to other people?

4. Apologize if necessary

If you apologize, it doesn’t make your argument weaker. It doesn’t make you weaker. Let’s say that someone thinks you are being condescending and tells you so. If you didn’t mean to do it, apologize because you didn’t mean to. If someone misunderstands what you’ve typed, don’t say “You misunderstood me” or “Try for better reading comprehension.” Say something like “I’m sorry I wasn’t clear” and then try to explain it in a different way.

5. Don’t get personal

Remember, you’re arguing about a gaming system, not about the other person.

6. Be ready to swallow your pride

If someone makes a valid point, swallow your pride and admit they have a good point. Don’t be so prideful that you’re ready to dismiss any counter argument off-hand.

7. People are different than you

This is a big one for gamers. Some people like to game one way, some like to game a different way. That doesn’t make either group wrong or stupid. It makes them different. Both groups are having fun, so is there really a problem? For example, I don’t like 4E. I’ve tried to enjoy it but couldn’t. I’ve posted before about it and tried to be respectful because I know there are a lot of gamers who do like it. I have nothing against those folks. I’m glad they’ve found a game they enjoy and wish them all the best. I would like them to be just as respectful to me.

8. We are family (I got all my sisters with me)

As gamers, we belong to a subset of society-at-large. As long as there are gamers, regardless of whichever system they’re playing, be happy that there are gamers at all. Who else is going to listen to all your stories about your character?! 😉

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15 Responses to “Arguing Effectively”

Marcel Beaudoin January 5th, 2009 at 2:03 PM

This is an excellent, excellent post.

SuperSooga January 5th, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Marcel’s right. This should be required reading whenever someone opens up their internet browser.

SuperSooga´s last blog post..Lessons learned from Inheritance

Marcel Beaudoin January 5th, 2009 at 2:46 PM

I have posted a link to it ( in the WotC forums, and recommended it as required reading to the other VCLs on the forums…

reveal January 5th, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Wow. Thanks guys! 😀

Hammer January 5th, 2009 at 4:25 PM

You are, of course, spot on with this post.

I don’t think you’ll find many people changing their commenting style because of it unfortunately.

Those who want to contribute sensibly and engage in proper discourse tend to either do so regardless of silly people trolling, or not comment or just avoid sites where trolling occurs altogether. Whereas, those who troll with one word comments, ‘First’, insults and flaming carry on regardless because they find it entertaining.

It’s actually the main reason I started blogging about video games back in 2006 (that blog is now defunct unfortunately). I was fed up of reading sites like Joystiq and Kotaku (especially Kotaku) where comments were mindless pap and the site editors refused to take real action over it. So I started a blog where I could ban people for conduct like that. Shame I never never managed to get more then a few hundred hits per day, because it could have been a glorious paradise amongst the wealth of refuse filled sites. 😉

Either way, the day I find Games of State getting trolling comments is the day the “Ban-Hammer” comes out.

Hammer´s last blog post..Whats Cooking in 2009

reveal January 5th, 2009 at 4:34 PM

@Hammer – I don’t expect folks to change their ways simply from reading a blog post, that’s for sure. But I’m hoping to at least make people think before they post. Thanks for reading! :)

Donny_the_DM January 5th, 2009 at 4:56 PM

…But it’s the OTHER guys fault!…

…He said it first!…

…But he IS an idiot!…

…These rules only apply to morons, I am much too cool to be lumped in with THEM!…

unfortunately, these are all valid workarounds to your well reasoned post…to an idiot, anyway :)

If we had to include our phone number or address to get online, we wouldn’t have these problems.

Donny_the_DM´s last blog post..Skill Challenges – Own that @#$%!!

reveal January 5th, 2009 at 4:58 PM

@Donny – I disagree.



oldNewTimer January 5th, 2009 at 6:00 PM

This is stupid.


You would think that common courtesy would come into play in online discussion, but people just can’t seem to resist the flame throwers.

If I were to add anything to the discussion it is that wit and sarcasm are hardly ever read correctly.

reveal January 5th, 2009 at 6:08 PM

@oldNewTimer – I’ve been accused of using too many smilies at different times but I have found that they do help to infer the sarcasm a person attempts to use. :)

kaeosdad January 5th, 2009 at 7:10 PM

the thing I like about the blogosphere is that it takes a lot of balls really to be a dick on your own blog as opposed to being one on a forum. More often than not comments remains mostly civil and sometimes even become constructive.

kaeosdad´s last blog post..kaeosdad updated the wiki page Home Page

Jeffrey Horn January 5th, 2009 at 11:34 PM

The only post that could top this is one on rhetoric and common fallacies. If you want, I’ll send you a collection of common fallacies and you could adapt them for system arguments.

They include classics like:
– Straw man
– Red Herring
– Fallacy of Composition
– Fallacy of Division
– and Ad Hominem

If you call in the next 30 minutes, we’ll double your order!

reveal January 6th, 2009 at 11:49 AM

@Jeffrey – That’s a really good idea. I know of a few sites that have fallacies explained. I may have to delve deeper into them. :)

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