"The pure, unfiltered escapism offered by role-playing games is like booze to a drunkard. Anti-socials are addicts of a kind. Addicted to getting their own way on everything. Addicted to breaking off sociality at a whim with little-to-no consequence. Addicted to being the star of their own play."
This morning I had found myself thinking how much this sounds like this ongoing debate of the last ten years, the 'internet generation': The Entitlement Creed. (Warning: it is a fairly condescending vid, but it speaks to the exhaustion of management).
Because really, the people Carl describes and the people these employers are tired of dealing with are the same people.
So with that in mind, if you are over 25, here are some things you should be looking for if you want players in your world that won't act like a bunch of dweeby self-interest gits. I have to make it clear that I'm speaking mostly to people who should be well past the difficulties that arise with youth. People don't always come from good circumstances, and it can take a while to overcome both a financial hole AND a disastrous emotional upbringing. I don't want to be seen as being unreasonable . . . so the first twenty five years are free.
However, after that, players without the following should be treated suspiciously.
Employment. I know that an unemployed player sounds like a real dream, in that they always have enough time to show up for your games, but there's a dark side. The unemployed player is also likely to be sponging off you and your other players for silly things like food, rent money, a couch to surf on and self-esteem. These are going to be people who haven't yet figured out how to get a job, keep a job, or encourage anyone else to believe they're reliable, except the friends they've chosen to role-play with. The same friends who have already lent this player upwards of $1,000 altogether, and who are now having to deal with this same player's barbarian fighter demanding the massive diamond gem because of all the work they've done for the party.
Confession: I spent a lot of time unemployed between the ages of 20 and 40. During that time I worked something like 40 jobs, between writing gigs and performance gigs in the theatre. I did surf a few couches. Somehow, I always managed to get a new job within a week or two, when I wanted one, and I preferred to borrow money from my parents. Since most of that time was spent running the game, and not as a player, I still managed to run sessions on my own table and in my own kitchen/living room. So there are exceptions to the employment rule. So take it with a grain of salt.
Education. It isn't so much that I would expect a player to have a professional degree. Thinking about it, and remembering my own experiences in university, I knew a few 'professionals' who managed to squeak by in their classes, who didn't get work in their fields after university and who never respected their education in the least degree. What you really need to look for are people who don't equate education to 'job,' but who actually respect 'book-larnin' as an activity that bears merit. Your better players will read books. Actual books, where the words differ from page to page, as opposed to trash, and which might impress upon the reader some kind of knowledge. If your player disdains reading, or books, then you are dealing with someone who thinks they already know all they need to know. That is going to be a problem for your world.
Confession: I didn't start university until I was 21. I spent three years working in various statistical clerk jobs that I got because those were the days when you could take a test to see if you had enough education to start. I spent seven years at university, on a student loan, on the understanding that I wouldn't have to pay it back so long as I kept going to school. So the late 80s and early 90s were spent as a professional student, with time to do theatre gigs and a lot of writing for the university paper. Ah, those were the days. I spent a hell of a lot of time in the university library, though, during my off hours, because I was building a D&D world. So I admit. I'm an educated snob.
Family. Now, like I said, not everyone starts with the best family. I went to junior high school with a girl who worked the hooker stroll downtown because her family needed the money, and my daughter knew a girl who was not allowed into any part of her parent's house but the basement because her parents were running a drug cartel out of the upstairs. Family can really suck. Moreover, I haven't noted that ancestors have much to do with a role-player's cred, so just throw the progenitors out of the picture, huh? What I'm talking about is their perspective on every having a family. Do they know children exist? Do they think well of them? Because if you have a player in your world who despises the very idea that there are children, or the idea of having them, then you are dealing with someone who is still an infant. Take my word on that.
Confession: Hm. I gained my daughter at 24. I had always wanted children. My first wife, my daughter's mother, passed away now, had multiple sclerosis, so I felt it was really up to her if she wanted children, but it worked out and we had one. I don't find merit in the statement, "she is the most important thing in the world to me," because my present wife is also important, my writing is important, world peace is important, the improvement of role-playing is important and so on. I don't like to rank things. I just work hard to keep everyone happy as best I can.
I really haven't got a fourth one. Believe me, if you can manage ALL of the first three with your players, you're going to have a solid group of reliable, smart players. Even if they haven't got the job they want, even if they haven't finished their education, of if they haven't any children, they have aspirations. They understand sacrifice and reward. They perceive the world does not revolve around them. They grasp that if things are going to get better, they are going to have to work at it.
They will bring that exact same quality to your world. So look for those people.