Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online)


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @Roz Neither did I.

    But I think the counter-question I asked still holds merit; how do we best differentiate between a player playing an asshole from a player who is an asshole?

    If we can answer that convincingly then we can also do away with the ol' "oh, it's just IC/ICA=ICC/this is a non-consent game" excuses actual assholes use to justify themselves.

    Sadly, I think there's often less differentiation than we care to admit. I'm not meaning to call you out here of course for asserting that you like exploring some of these things, but my experience often bends toward the less positive than more when it comes to dealing with people playing these.

    Obviously there's room for villainy. Let's say you're playing the racist/sexist/whatever char. What are you getting out of this? If it's mostly enjoyment out of being a foil for other people, cool. But isn't that mostly an NPC at that point? As a player, by default, you're some sort of protagonist, at least of your own story. Most players play to succeed, and while the better ones might accept failures along the way, generally they still want an overall arc of progress and achievement. Do you set that aside when you play one of these characters?

    If not, well, OK, now you're rooting for the racist/sexist. Now you're invested in their success, now you're pushing their goals and agendas over those of other players. We all know how much IC/OOC bleedover there is.

    So these players often do make me wonder. I don't assume all of them are really what they play, but at a point you do have to consider what they're getting out of it. It's the same things with the games where the settings are overflowing with these -isms. What do they serve? If the players are able to interact with it, subvert it, etc, then it might legitimately be part of the game. If its mere 'realsim' set-dressing that doesn't get much more play, well, you start to wonder what it adds. When staff fights to preserve the theme against change and punish people who work against it, then you start to wonder if the game runner doesn't have a bit of an agenda.


  • Admin

    @kitteh said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    Obviously there's room for villainy. Let's say you're playing the racist/sexist/whatever char. What are you getting out of this? If it's mostly enjoyment out of being a foil for other people, cool. But isn't that mostly an NPC at that point? As a player, by default, you're some sort of protagonist, at least of your own story. Most players play to succeed, and while the better ones might accept failures along the way, generally they still want an overall arc of progress and achievement.

    For starters I don't enjoy this; I enjoy lots of things. My characters are flawed in many ways - some of them are losers, others are manipulative jerks. I don't want to just play one kind of character.

    But to answer your question what I get out of this is the ability to step out of my shoes a little bit. If I play a homicidal violent Werewolf it's not because I am inclined toward violence in real life - I am not, and I don't condone murder either. Likewise my last Sanctified character had very little tolerance for other religious beliefs than his own which would quite likely make him a bigot, and I enjoyed the way he felt he had to put on an act around those who drew his ire because it challenged me to stretch my portrayal to fit that - he was seething inside but the facade of civility was too important for him to sacrifice.

    I've also been known to play much more traditionally heroic characters. They are still flawed but just in different ways.

    Do you set that aside when you play one of these characters? If not, well, OK, now you're rooting for the racist/sexist. Now you're invested in their success, now you're pushing their goals and agendas over those of other players. We all know how much IC/OOC bleedover there is.

    My character's success in no way shape or form reflects how much fun I have playing him. I don't root for my characters and if I do then it doesn't matter if they are nice people or not... at that point I've already lost the game by any metric that matters. The only way I can see justifying being sad or upset is if I lost the character before his story was told - that is, if the concept was just ruined, either due to death or something major such as exile, disinheritance, etc - which made him unplayable... but that's not what we are discussing here.

    So these players often do make me wonder. I don't assume all of them are really what they play, but at a point you do have to consider what they're getting out of it.

    It's just such a risky thing trying to classify and judge people ('these players') based on a a character type that they happen to be playing.


  • Coder

    People RP something that they are not all the time, so the 'what' of whom they are playing is pretty cut-and-dried.

    I think the better questions to ask here is this:

    • Does your enjoyment of the game come from your character doing <X> to PCs?
    • Do you get just as much characterization from doing those very same things to NPCs, or to PCs off-screen?

    I personally think that, if you are going to set yourself aside and play a character, then you also have to set aside your own goals and motivations. That is the essence of what "setting yourself aside" means, to me. If you aren't doing that, you're just fooling yourself and playing a character you are really invested in emotionally and claiming that you're just playing a role. That's wrong, it's dangerous territory, and it smacks of psychological something-something.

    Maybe some would call this playing an NPC, and to that, I disagree. A Non-Player Character is someone who is a filler, an extra on the set, a non-+Sheet individual generalized in the background of a story/scene. You can play a PC who is entirely intended to be a foil for heroes. I have done it many times, making a character entirely geared toward giving someone a villain to best and take out.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @kitteh said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    Obviously there's room for villainy. Let's say you're playing the racist/sexist/whatever char. What are you getting out of this? If it's mostly enjoyment out of being a foil for other people, cool. But isn't that mostly an NPC at that point? As a player, by default, you're some sort of protagonist, at least of your own story. Most players play to succeed, and while the better ones might accept failures along the way, generally they still want an overall arc of progress and achievement.

    For starters I don't enjoy this; I enjoy lots of things. My characters are flawed in many ways - some of them are losers, others are manipulative jerks. I don't want to just play one kind of character.

    This feels defensive, so it bears repeating:

    I'm not meaning to call you out here

    This is all general, not about you as a particular player. Pronouns were meant to be general, sorry!

    But to answer your question what I get out of this is the ability to step out of my shoes a little bit. If I play a homicidal violent Werewolf it's not because I am inclined toward violence in real life - I am not, and I don't condone murder either.. Likewise my last Sanctified character had very little tolerance for other religious beliefs than his own which would quite likely make him a bigot, and I enjoyed the way he felt he had to put on an act around those who drew his ire because it challenged me to stretch my portrayal to fit that - he was seething inside but the facade of civility was too important for him to sacrifice.

    I think its not hard to understand how stepping out of your shoes into something absurd as Werewolf's level of violence is far detached from reality (for most of us as players, at least) in the way that racism or sexism are not. So I don't think this equivalency holds. Also, it's worth pointing out that even the violence in those games is something the characters are generally depicted as struggling against, and the ones that don't often see themselves banned as PC concepts (Red Talons from back in the day being an example). The same can probably said for zealots of supernatural religions. There's a clear element of fantasy, and that matters (in part because the faith of a supernatural zealot tends to be confirmed by them actually having powers)

    Do you set that aside when you play one of these characters? If not, well, OK, now you're rooting for the racist/sexist. Now you're invested in their success, now you're pushing their goals and agendas over those of other players. We all know how much IC/OOC bleedover there is.

    My character's success in no way shape or form reflects how much fun I have playing him. I don't root for my characters and if I do then it doesn't matter if they are nice people or not... at that point I've already lost the game by any metric that matters. The only way I can see justifying being sad or upset is if I lost the character before his story was told - that is, if the concept was just ruined, either due to death or something major such as exile, disinheritance, etc - which made him unplayable... but that's not what we are discussing here.

    I think this is a rarity, honestly. I'm not meaning success necessarily in grand political terms, as that's not even relevant on certain gametypes, but you get at it in the whole 'story was told' bit. What story exists to be told with these sorts of characters (in their more extreme versions; we should probably be clear that minor racism is basically universal in humans, so acknowledging that in RP is different than playing a character where 'racist' is a marquee part of the concept)? If its not their downfall, it's probably a pretty unpleasant story, and not in the escapist absurd violence way, but in the very similar to daily life way.

    So these players often do make me wonder. I don't assume all of them are really what they play, but at a point you do have to consider what they're getting out of it.

    It's just such a risky thing trying to classify and judge people ('these players') based on a a character type that they happen to be playing.

    Waitwaitwaitwaitwait.... Risky? (also, yes, 'these players', it's a plural determiner, you twit)

    But let me get this straight. You're concerned in the risk posed by being cautious (because, I'll point out, 'wondering' and 'don't assume' != instant pitchforks) in regard to people who focus on these themes? Do you think this 'risk' outweighs the concern they ought to have about reminding the people they're playing with of the real-life hardships they may well face on a daily basis? That's a hell of a weird way to balance the scale of concern.

    In my experience, I do find there's a non-insignificant correlation between people playing these characters and instances where you realize things might not be 100% IC. I'm sorry that in my caution, I might not instantly recognize your writing talents and nuanced character depictions (and instead only come to that conclusion after playing with you for a bit, because you're not actually one of these people, right?). But it's a risk I'll take, I guess!



  • Most game settings• have very real unpleasant aspects of real life in them. Almost any historical setting will, for instance, and modern day real world has plenty, no matter how much progress has been made in many ways from some of the more popular historical periods to draw from.

    This will be reflected in the characters played there, or should be to some extent -- even if this is just 'the character recognizes these negative things are real in the world they inhabit'.

    Exceptions (toward more modern real world perspectives) almost always exist in any of them, and generally speaking, PCs are very often the exceptions in this regard. IMO, this is cool. Some people don't agree and think this breaks the game experience on some level, but provided people keep in mind that these are exceptional individuals with atypical views, that's more than fine enough; if they want a more harsh take on things, they can likely find someone willing to explore that with them as well in ways both players (players, not necessarily characters) will enjoy.

    If the character exists in a world (Arx is a good example) where things are notably different, I would be more concerned with an insistence on exhibiting these traits -- because they'd be atypical.

    Looking at the kinds of characters on a modern day setting WoD M*, though, there are endless gang members, hit men, mob characters, and so on -- and I wouldn't necessarily think the majority of the players behind them are idolizing these types or even glamorizing them in some way••, or that they're somehow unusual for the game world.

    I would arch a brow a bit at the people insisting on including these things in a space where they are almost unheard of much more than a setting in which they are considered to be commonplace, where it may not give me a moment's pause or concern.

    • I know the one I was looking at certainly did; in many ways it's considerably worse than anything people encounter today. 1715: not a lovely year if you weren't white, male, and whichever flavor of Christian your area took a fancy to in most cases. It doesn't disqualify it as a valid or fascinating setting to me, and I don't feel the people who would have chosen to play there believed that's the way things should be in the world.

    •• Some do. Not something I find charming at all.


  • Politics

    @surreality said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    I adore the shit out of you, @Ganymede, but -- and this is not an insult -- this is a very different personality type from yours in many cases; you're very self-assured, confident, and willing to speak up. Not everybody is comfortable with this in the same way, or in the moment, and this is all I mean here. I can get why this seems really alien to you that people aren't just doing this in the way you're describing they should. I really do agree that people should be willing and able to speak up, but -- and this is critical -- people have different comfort zones here.

    I get what you're saying. And you're right: there are different comfort levels. But if you are not comfortable with speaking out, you can't really expect change. And I know -- I know -- this is like I'm blaming a victim, and, in some cases, that may be the case.

    So, tell someone? Anyone. If not staff, maybe another player. Please. When I've staffed, I've tried to be vigilant, but things fall through the crack. I regret decisions to not act more than decisions to act.



  • @Ganymede makes a good point. I've been that person who hasn't spoken up to staff because of past experiences with shitty reactions when trying to fix a perceived problem. I've also been that annoying person who goes stomping up to staff on behalf of others because they're too shy, or not brave enough, or have been burned one too many times and don't have the energy to make the attempt themselves.

    I'd say 9 times out of 10 when something shitty happens on a game, it is discussed. Maybe not too or with staff but it's talked about. That means it's possible to learn about it somehow. Good staffers keep their doors open and their ears to the ground because they understand that there are a thousand reasons for players to not immediately speak up, and because they understand that while some will vote with their feet, others will keep their heads down and stay, and they want to make things better for those who do.



  • @Caryatid said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    I'd say 9 times out of 10 when something shitty happens on a game, it is discussed. Maybe not too or with staff but it's talked about.

    And this means when there - inevitably about these repeat-offenders - are complaints, stories will come pouring out of the woodwork about So and So Incident that was never reported and/or only talked about in a different RP circle than the one the other incidents were talked about in. Put these motherfuckers on blast, and you'll find it was almost never just that one innocent time when the poor lamb meant no harm, really.



  • This is why I am fond of the idea of a discipline board. When complaints are made, they get posted directly to the board; those who have had similar experiences then know they can come forward because they weren't just imagining it or blowing a situation out of proportion. When complaints are resolved, the process is posted. When bannings happen, it goes up on the board with the reasons detailed. Patterns can be more easily seen in the people making complaints and those earning them. Staff are all on the same page about who's upset about what instead of things getting lost in poor communication. People can see immediately what is unacceptable on the game. Players can see that staff will be completely transparent about wrongdoing done on the game, including complaints made against them. Staff have a place to easily present their take on things and showcase their problem-solving skills and willingness to deal with the shit that comes up on games.

    Put it all out there.



  • @Caryatid I am on the fence about this one, personally. In some ways, I strenuously agree, and in others, it gets a lot more murky.

    I think @Sonder strikes a good balance with this one, from what I saw on my time on Fallcoast. If action had to be taken, it was posted with the players name, the duration of their ban (or if it was permanent, this was noted instead), and a brief note about why the action was taken.

    This strikes a good balance, from my perspective. It calls out the behavior, the offender, and handles the benefits you're describing somewhat neatly.

    The problem I see with this is this: people have to trust the evidence was there in these cases. If they don't, there's a real chance people may think action was taken capriciously, which can present a real problem. (Some of the worst problem children are really great at playing victim; see Spider for an extreme case.)

    Select evidence? Nnnngh, then it looks like cherry-picking and not 'the whole story' and that has its own pitfalls.

    All the evidence? Yeah, out the bad behavior -- but you run the risk of exposing someone who reported and exposing them to retaliation by friends of the offender, distrust among other players that they're a 'tattle-tale' or oversensitive, or potentially embarrassing them in some way, depending on what the issue involves. All of this makes me notably uncomfortable. Edit out the person's name? Then it potentially gets back to 'but was the source credible?!' and other paranoias.

    '<name> was banned <permanently/for X period of time> for <reason>' I think most people could reasonably agree on.

    From there, though, I gotta admit, it can get a lot more complicated and murky, and speaking only for myself, it really looks like 'choose the least problematic option' from a list of imperfect possibilities. :/


  • Coder

    I agree with @Caryatid here. It shouldn't be swept under a rug. And no, I don't care about ruination of characters, either. As I said before, you are responsible for your actions at all times. If that one time where you got accused and reprimanded by staff was truly a misunderstanding, then you not throwing a fit, stomping off the game, speaks positively of you. Maintain your innocence, take the incident as a warning, and move on. But if you never show up on that board again, people see and recognize that.

    It's fair to say that someone, at the beginning, will be an example. It is fair to agree that somewhere along the line, an innocent person will be reprimanded publicly. However, those with integrity (IE: the players you want to keep) will stay, hold to their innocence and eventually prove themselves.

    I am a firm believer that the truth always comes out eventually.



  • Sure, there are ways to try to game it. However if the game starts with it in place and that is the accepted, known, and understood culture, then it becomes the norm and people trying to exploit the system are not going to have shadows to hide in for very long. With good staff, attentive staff, non-defensive or burnt out staff, it creates a transparent setting. Players know that if there's something bothering them, at the very least there is a venue in which they will be heard. Staff know that there is a venue allowing them to keep track of what's been said and done so it nips staff shopping or favouring their friends in the bud. There is a place to post if new wrinkles turn up in a situation.

    Yes, there will still be players who are like "I don't knoooow, maybe this isn't worth posting", but those are the same players who usually chime in after the fact when someone else makes a complaint.

    Yes, there will be people like Spider who pick and choose their complaints for maximum effect, but with it all right out there in front of staff and players alike, the pattern can be spotted and it limits how much on the ground among the players politicking those jerkfaces can do because again... public venue, the other side /will be posted/.

    The older I get, the less tolerant I am of having staff-side/player-side behind different veils. We should be fostering and supporting empathy between the two sides because they're the same pool of players, dang it.


  • Coder

    We have a hard enough time already getting people to come forward with complaints. I envision even fewer if people know their complaint is going to be plastered all over a bbs.


  • TV & Movies

    The only thing you can do to make people complain more is take it seriously.

    And I mean in general, collectively, across all games, as a cultural shift.

    The more that staff respond seriously (and ethically, since people they know may be involved), vs. the kind of defensive hand-flailing and denials that we often see here, the more people will come forward. That is 100% the only solution.


  • Politics

    @bored said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    The only thing you can do to make people complain more is take it seriously.

    Bingo.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    We have a hard enough time already getting people to come forward with complaints. I envision even fewer if people know their complaint is going to be plastered all over a bbs.

    This. I feel like making everything from the very first complaint public will actually end with fewer complaints submitted, not more. I'm a pretty strong believer in staff confidentiality until the point of a ban. (Permanent or temporary, I guess. I've never dealt with permanent.) If you have to take serious action like that against a player, I think you absolutely need to be up-front about it. For me, that means summarizing what the bad behavior was.



  • Ultimately, how you handle banning doesn't do anything regarding -the issue that is making someone uncomfortable in the first place-.

    The punishment phase is when someone has already crossed the line. When it has been elevated to staff because it won't stop without intervention.

    If you can't foster an environment online where people are able to hold civil discourse and feel comfortable saying 'Excuse me, would you mind not doing that? It bothers me.' to each other then you are already failing your playerbase.

    That being said, there should be a clear line of what constitutes allowable interactions between players. Do you allow PvP at all? Then you need to make allowances for people getting butthurt over their PC being attacked. If you do not, then you simply say 'No attacking other players without their consent first'.

    Do you allow sexual content? Have clear outlines of what is allowed in terms of consensual/otherwise. Have a flashing red sign that says 'NO RAPE. NO PEDOPHILIA.' if that is your intent. Leave no wiggle room on the subject.

    The purpose of rules is to define the parameters we interact in, and to me, the best rules are those that allow for a clear, concise, and recognizeable dialogue between players should any issues arise with the rules only there to ensure that if someone does go over the line, and staff can find no way to make the person step down only then does the punishment phase begin.


  • Tutorialist

    I'm five pages late, and frankly, I ain't got time to go back and read them (sorry) but my thoughts for Lines/Veils.

    My +prefs code could easily be edited (and in fact I'm pretty sure I'mma do this for LA)-- so that under 'notes' there's a: 'Line' and a 'Veil' section. And then I could easily have these pulled to +finger. Or have a note in finger that says 'Lines/Veils are detailed please check +prefs <name>'.

    As for the stoplight system: You could have +Stoplight, and have it add to the room desc and emit when changed. Default being green, and then if someone feels that the scene is getting too intense but isn't there yet they could: +Stoplight/yellow-- and it would emit to the room and then change the color indicated in the room. Or if it's too intense they could +Stoplight/red, and it'd emit to the room and change the color code.


  • Pitcrew

    @Thenomain said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @surreality

    So, RP Prefs.

    This debate is confusing me. Rp Prefs have been used on a few text games that I've played on, (Some which would help you find players who enjoyed what you enjoyed by matching percentages or something).

    In discussions about what I'd want if I ever wanted to work on another game, I've been all about using a system like this, where players could rate how much they enjoyed various types of rp (political conflict, PvE mega-battles, etc,) on a scale of 1 to something, and maybe also let players add an ooc blurb on the bottom about specific things they want other players to do (Such as, I don't feel comfortable doing TS, I want to rp romantic relationships but fade to black on those details, or 'I really am freaked out by kidnapping plots and do not ever want to be exposed to them' or etc.



  • @Gingerlily If I ever pull up the droplet I had stuff set up on it would be easier to see than explain, really.

    I had everything set up so the MUX could pull data from the wiki.

    All the stuff on the wiki could be filled out with forms.

    One of the forms was to let people fill out a series of preferences, under a list of pre-defined topics. This had some of the basics like 'political' or 'combat' and some sensitive subjects people tend to have strong feelings about.

    This info would show up on the player's page on a tab, or in a collapsible section, with all of the information they typed out about what they liked, or didn't like, about anything they saw fit to make notes about. Bear in mind, this also had some really general things like 'times available' and 'pose style' and such as basics, also 'things I like to GM' for people who like to run scenes, if they had special sorts of things they liked to run or not run for others on request. This information could also be pulled up on the game.

    Each subject also had a wiki page that would list the preference entry of all the active players who had filled it out.

    Essentially, people could look at an individual player to see where they may have common interests (or indications that they would not mesh at all), or look at a page for the subject, and see the interest or lack thereof in that subject for all of the currently active players on the game.

    So if you had a category like 'crime', on the subject page, you could get a listing of what characters currently active on the game were interested in criminal RP, and what kinds -- as victims, as people who wanted to avoid it, as a specific sort of criminal, etc. If you were a GM interested in running a crime plot, you'd be able to get a general idea of who was interested in what -- and could potentially contact those players asking if they wanted to do something, or at least know that 'we have 20 people who like pickpocketing, but nobody likes assassinations, so if I'm going to run a crime plot, I'm going to get more interest and participation if it's about pickpocketing rather than assassination', etc. If absolutely no one wanted anything to do with that, you'd see that, too -- which means no time is wasted constructing a plot around it and then wondering why there weren't any nibbles.

    There was nothing percentage-based like +kinks code, or ratings like Cobalt's +prefs code; it was just a box where people could write something describing their interest in -- or strong aversion to -- a particular subject, to whatever level of detail they liked. For instance, there was a category for 'addiction'; some people find this to be great story fodder and are into it, others may be fine with alcoholism but are sensitive to drug use, others are recovering addicts RL and want nothing at all to do with this subject in their pretendy fun time.

    In allowing people to just write, it spares a lot of false positives or negatives, especially in areas like the subject above, where some things are absolutely fine, but other things under the same umbrella might be really difficult for the player to encounter. It requires the work of reading and writing, but those are requirements in this hobby already and I don't have tons of sympathy for people unwilling to do a reasonable measure of either.

    (And, obviously, people could just skip anything that there wasn't any strong feeling about in any way.)

    I liked it. It's different than what's out there now -- but I think it would have been a good communication tool. Not advocating anyone else do it, but as it is different from the other pref systems already in use, it may help ease the confusion some.


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