Umbrie Shadowsong in the Savage Worlds G+ community was asking about power gamers and what people really think about them. Here was my response (slightly modified).

I found this picture with Google images. It was done by Shawn Gaston who also does the excellent Clockworks web comic.

Power Gamers

I have GM’d numerous power gamers. Maybe I’ve been lucky but most of them have also made a point to make their characters thematic. My brother is one of the biggest power gamers I’ve ever played with. He spends hours building each character. For him, power gaming is the easy part. He spends all that time making sure he builds a character with a distinct personality and incredible amounts of detail. In doing that, he makes the entire campaign richer for everyone playing.

Having said that, his power gaming makes the mechanical part of GM’ing a bear to deal with. On top of that, since we’ve gamed together for over 30 years, he knows all my tells and isn’t afraid to take advantage of them when the chips are down. I have chastised him for “meta-gaming the GM” on numerous occasions which made everybody laugh.

The one time I asked him to tone down the power gaming his response was, “I’m not sure what you want me to do. Am I supposed to be less smart or do you want me to play the game badly on purpose?” His response wasn’t confrontational, it was him sincerely trying to figure out how to make things easier on me. For him, power gaming is as much a responsibility as building all the other rich details. It simply means using all available options, to make the best possible character, so he can contribute more to everyone’s fun. He was right and I never asked it again.

I think it comes down to good players and bad players. You get power gamers on both sides. It can make the good players even better but it usually makes the bad players much worse.

There is another side to this. Some people are just jerks. They try to break the game system and they try to break your campaign. The simple solution is this, don’t play with those people. It just isn’t worth it. It’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun.