Consent in Gaming


  • Pitcrew

    I don't know how widely this has been shared, but Monte Cook gaming just put out a very nice free-to-download PDF about Consent in Gaming (https://www.montecookgames.com/consent-in-gaming/). It's aimed at tabletop RPGs, but I think there's a lot of crossover with MUs. I haven't gotten in-depth yet, but there's discussion of tactics that many people here have decided don't really work in MUs (the X-Card), tactics that have been on some MUs for years (preferences cards), and others. There are also thoughts about how to recover from consent slip-ups, aftercare & check-ups, dealing with character-player bleed, and other interesting topics.

    What else from the doc do people think would or would not work well on a MU?



  • @Seraphim73 said in Consent in Gaming:

    aftercare

    MUs are BDSM?


  • Pitcrew Banned

    This post is deleted!


  • @Auspice said in Consent in Gaming:

    @Seraphim73 said in Consent in Gaming:

    aftercare

    MUs are BDSM?

    Duh. We're all masochists, otherwise why else are we still here?



  • That said. Aftercare is exceptionally important, especially for those running plots or scenes. We all like dramatic situations and peril and all of that sort of thing, but it can come at the cost of our wellbeing or our desire to keep playing. Looking in on your players after the fact, going over things with them, and helping them deal with some of their frustration is vital for anyone seriously looking into running plots that aren't all fluffy bunnies.



  • Here's the summary. This content is © 2019 Monte Cook Games, LLC, so if anyone from Monte Cook Games wants me to take this down, sure.

    THE BASICS

    • You decide what’s safe for you.
    • The default answer is “no.”
    • It doesn’t matter why consent wasn’t given.
    • Nobody has to explain why they’re not consenting.
    • There may not be a reason why they’re not consenting.
    • There’s a spectrum for each topic.
    • It’s not up for debate.
    • They can always change their mind about what they are or aren’t consenting to.
    • Anyone is allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation at any time.

    RECOVERING FROM CONSENT MISTAKES

    • Someone recognizes that the conversation moved to a non-consent topic.
    • One person should call out that it happened.
    • The person who made the error should apologize to the group.
    • Everyone in the group should agree to be more careful about it.
    • The GM should make sure that everyone feels comfortable, without singling out anyone.

    AFTERCARE & CHECKING IN

    • Be aware of bleed.
    • Be aware of your own feelings.
    • Become aware of others’ feelings.
    • If possible, end on a positive note.

    THE CONSENT CHECKLIST

    • For this one, you'll want to download the PDF. It's a checklist of topics and possible responses, including "bugs", "torture", "romance", "real-world religion", and "sex".
    • As well as what "movie rating" and theme you think the game is/should be.
    • If you remember 'RP Prefs', this is a similar thing.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES



  • @Thenomain said in Consent in Gaming:

    Be aware of bleed.
    Be aware of your own feelings.
    Become aware of others’ feelings.

    honestly I feel like this is all we need 95% of the time.

    That said:
    The concept of 'consent' is sometimes a battle. Because some people wanna use it to escape consequences and then it can easily become a dirty word because that leaves everyone else feeling abused.

    The approach SGM has taken is: you can step out of anything at any time, but it does not equal escaping IC outcomes. It just means no one can ever make you RP it out.

    Don't feel comfortable RPing your character getting arrested after they stabbed someone in front of a cop? Okay. Cool. You don't have to. It happened off-camera. But you can't say 'No' to dealing with the consequences of your decisions.

    (Now, obviously, players forcing bad shit on other players is a different story and covered under our 'no harassment' policy. But this is largely for 'consent to plot' so that's what I'm focusing on.)


  • Tutorialist

    skims. makes a face

    Yeah, I don't agree with some of that in the context of a MU. Especially the parts where it essentially seems to imply that I have some manner of duty to ensure the mental health and well-being of someone else.

    No, I don't. And I know for a fact that I am not the only person in this hobby that has expressed that opinion before. "I am not here to be your therapist" was a rallying cry not even a year ago, and now we're presented with material that says we're essentially responsible for making sure that others can handle stories?

    Nope. I am not opening that door. I mentioned in another thread that if players don't like the content of something, they have the option of removing themselves from it. The game should give clear enough guidelines on what's about to come down the pipe, and players can decide for themselves whether that's something that they're cool with.

    I am absolutely not going to chase down players and make sure that they're ok after the fact when they have given their agreement to continue in the story by continuing in the story and not saying anything to the contrary, because that opens a ton of doors that lead to uncomfortable places and dependencies and strange, weird relationships that we've been decrying for a decade or more.

    You are responsible for you. Period. I'm responsible for making sure you know what's there. How you handle that is not on me.



  • Instead of checklists and aftercare and all the things listed above couldn't all of this be resolved with just having open and honest lines of communication?

    I run a private game that deals with some gruesome stuff(it's a horror game set in the 80s) and most of the players on there are new to both RPing and MUSHing. When a plot is starting we've always been very open about what it involves and sometimes that has involved players coming to us and saying "Hey, mind toning this or that down" or asking how involved something else might be. We've always been able to work with players to find middle ground just by, you know, talking. I think some of the stuff mentioned is a bit heavy-handed and kind of intrusive.

    As for aftercare, I cannot imagine a world where a plot runner goes to every player after a scene to make sure they're okay. I can see making sure staff is open to post-scene feedback(even mid-scene feedback) but, again, I think we're venturing into an odd area of making people uncomfortable by the methods we use to make sure that they're comfortable...



  • @Derp The 'a gaming group is not a replacement for therapy and shouldn't be used as such' is actually in that pdf.

    "An RPG is not supposed to be a therapy session where people work out their real-life trauma (that's an unfair burden to everyone at the table, who probably aren't qualified to be therapists)." (p.3 sidebar)

    The responsibility for well-being they're talking about is 'don't disregard the comfort of your players', not 'take on their emotional baggage as a replacement for therapy'.

    The former is important. The latter we shouldn't be doing.



  • @ZombieGenesis said in Consent in Gaming:

    I can see making sure staff is open to post-scene feedback(even mid-scene feedback)

    This is something @Paradox and I have absolutely been encouraging on SGM.

    I've also (and I will probably do this once a month) put up a Google feedback form. The one right now is about schedules and 'what sort of plot do you want to see?'

    The next one might be things like 'Are there any theme files you think are missing?' 'What have we been doing right in the plot? What can we do better?'

    But you and @Derp are both right: STs should not be expected to ever, ever chase people down and ask them 'was that okay?' We already have a hard enough time getting people to ST. Expecting them to play therapist to people as well would cut that number even further.

    Should STs be open to feedback. Shit like 'hey, I'm not really comfortable with X - if you have it in a plot again, can you let me know up front or tone it back?' should be something people are free to do. Staff should definitely take feedback like this into consideration and player STs could always say 'I'm sorry, but my next plot is going to feature X so you might want to sit it out.'


  • Pitcrew

    @Derp said in Consent in Gaming:

    No, I don't. And I know for a fact that I am not the only person in this hobby that has expressed that opinion before. "I am not here to be your therapist" was a rallying cry not even a year ago, and now we're presented with material that says we're essentially responsible for making sure that others can handle stories?

    I agree that I don't have a responsibility (nor the qualifications) to be someone's therapist and I don't provide advice, but I can as a friend and fellow person sitting at the RP table we’re together at make sure I’m not an asshole trying to pierce our shared fantasy and affect them in real life. It takes hardly any time to note there may be some triggers or content that can be off-putting or slightly ramped up on an adult theme, and if someone raises it to my attention or I notice that they're affected/upset, I pause or adjust the scene/responses and work out a resolution that helps our stories move forward without losing a player at the table. After an act in any PRP, I seek out player feedback; I want to make the story fun and grow their character, not to be some random fire to put out or something that really upsets them in real life.

    We're supposed to be having fun together. That's the whole point of this. Even players I share a mutual significant dislike I wouldn't want to push from the RP table.


  • Pitcrew

    @Derp I agree with a lot of what you're saying -- the document is definitely tailored to the more intimate setting of tabletop RP. On a MU, I don't think it's as critical to be as active in forming that relationship with everyone on the game that allows you to make sure that they're comfortable with everything going on. But at the same time, I do think that there's some valuable information/thoughts in there that could be adapted to MUing.

    Plus it's a free download that touches on some of the recent conversations here.

    @ZombieGenesis I think that checklists and aftercare and the like are a shortcut for those who haven't built up open and honest lines of communication yet. It sounds like you're doing a less formal version of what the document describes anyhow -- being open to people coming to you and asking for changes based on their comfort. Some people aren't comfortable doing that, though, so in a larger, less familiar setting than your game, it might be important to have some more formal methods of communication. As for aftercare, I certainly wouldn't do it after every scene, but if there was a scene that edged up against someone's comfort zone and I knew it, I would certainly check in with them afterwards.



  • I was in the middle of writing a reply when I noticed that @Seraphim73 covered all of it.

    The book isn't a how-to, it's a self-help guide, no different than Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads and any other "how to run or play in an RPG" book or article ever written by anyone ever.

    c.f., This entire web site.

    I can't imagine that anyone at Monte Cook Games cares if you disagree with it, but there's a nontrivial movement in the RPG community about emotional self-care. Monte Cook Games has at least one game where the emotional stakes can can get pretty high. This document is probative to his consumer base.

    What I'm saying is that each table does its own thing, but making sure that the table is comfortable playing a game is important.

    That said, if anyone wants to read the opinions of a man who has written many (kill kittens for satan) RPGs (dogs in the vinyard) about (poison'd) being (in a wicked age) assholes (apocalypse world), then here is David Vincent Baker's blogforum, anyway and the more forum-y Barf Forth Apocalyptica.

    For the people negatively reacting to the "wouldn't it be nice if we everyone were nice" nature of MCG's Consent in Gaming, go there. The man knows what he is doing.



  • @Thenomain said in Consent in Gaming:

    For the people negatively reacting to the "wouldn't it be nice if we everyone were nice" nature

    I think this part, everyone can agree on.

    What had people concerned is the concept of following up with every player after every game to make sure they're 'okay.' That does lean a bit into 'therapy' territory.



  • THAT SAID, here's what I think of Consent In Gaming in relation to this hobby.

    It's alright.

    That is, it's not bad.

    It can help some people figure out what they want out of a game and how to communicate that. It can help some staff how to create their policy. If it does this, great. If not, whatever.

    I do believe a few things that coincide with this text. Communication of expectations is key. Period, full-stop. What that communication is can be different, but I think all people should be understanding and respectful of where other people come from. I agree that people need to be self-aware. I think the text infers the idea that it's staff's responsibility as staff to facilitate interaction and wherever possible of enjoyment of the game.

    I think the text is too short and a little disingenuous, but I can't really fault it because it states its thesis up front: This is a text about dealing with consent issues. Period. Full stop. I feel that it promises much more than it delivers, but that's just, like, my opinion, man. It sprinkles a few ideas, links to a few others, but doesn't really dive into it. The text is an academic essay or thoughtful blog post.

    That is, it's alright. It's fine. If it can help some people in the hobby, great. If not, I don't think reading it is time wasted.



  • @Auspice said in Consent in Gaming:

    What had people concerned is the concept of following up with every player after every game to make sure they're 'okay.' That does lean a bit into 'therapy' territory.

    If by "people" you mean the two posters and the 10 total upvotes they illicited, sure.

    I think @Derp especially is over-reacting, though I don't natively disagree with his point. The text we're reading is meant for tabletop, and for tabletop I largely agree with it.

    FOR TABLETOP.

    One of the dumbest things we have ever done in this hobby is take tabletop role-playing and translated it directly to online persistent role-playing systems.

    The same goes for this text.

    I will start a fight, however: Any staff who doesn't care about their player-base is a shitty staffer.

    I'm not talking therapy, I'm talking about caring.
    I'm not talking about caring deeply, I'm talking about caring at all.
    I'm not talking about individuals, I'm talking about all the individuals that make up the game.

    Anyone who thinks that caring about the mental health of their game is delving in to therapy is an idiot.



  • I want to say that consent in gaming is important, but I feel like it would be almost trite or taken as a duh. I have to say, "It's important!" I can give tabletop AND MU* examples.

    Tabletop: I was young and playing with a group of friends. Our GM decided that I, the female of our group, should be put in a semi-sexualized situation that required me to use electricity on someone in a not so nice way to get free. I stared at him for a full three rounds, beet red in the face with everyone else getting uncomfortable because I couldn't bring myself to stammer out the obvious solution and I was too shy to speak up for myself. So cringeworthy for everyone even the GM, who wasn't being malicious, just oblivious. Better to ask someone if they wanna play that sort of game.

    I'm not going to name names or people for this MU*, because I don't bear the game ill will, I'm just really disheartened by what happened and wish it had played out differently. People can consent to adult situations like torture in the game, which I was fine with if the role played situation called for such. I don't mind playing the underdog in a given situation, especially if there is a good reason for it.

    I consented to two scenes of torture with another player that was in a position of power over mine in this game. I was in contact with the GMs of the time, stating that I was confused why it was happening and that I wished that I could tell this other player that I enjoyed their playstyle, but I wished they would find someone else to 'focus on'. I was having a difficult time physically removing my character from the situation and wanted this player to either slay my character or stop making my playtimes miserable. The third time this player had their character hurt mine, no consent was asked for by them or given by me. I asked for the situation to be looked into and was told that unless my character was horrifically maimed in the incident, consent wasn't required.

    I will clarify here. The third injury my character was given was the equivalent of a cigarette burn to the face. I was roleplaying with the other character in question and so surprised at what was happening that I went along with it in the moment before I realized the rule breach. I was kind of panicked and trying to explain why they shouldn't do what they were about to do ICly. It was the responsibility of the person initiating the violence of the scene to ask permission if they wanted to do it and if they had, I would have refused to roleplay it out. The end result would likely have still happened, but maybe the refusal would have gotten across that I didn't want to play that way anymore and it would have been a FTB scene. My character already had two disfiguring injuries from the other character and I was annoyed at the possibility of RP'ing a third.

    The official response that I could play off a what amounts to a cigarette burn to the face and that the act is NOT a torture tactic, so the other player was in the clear made me stare at my screen in shock. I lost faith in the game that day, ended up not playing that character anymore and though I really wanted and tried to come back from it, other examples of that mindset made me give up on it overall. I wasn't a good fit.

    Consent is important. Ask and ask again. Take complaints seriously. If you are antagonist or even a hero, don't go after the same person time and time again - if they are a great victim/foe, GREAT! Let them be a great victim/foe LATER unless you are actively trying to harass them away from your game. Which may have been the case for me, I dunno. I've stopped even wanting to play MU*'s seriously anymore, though I'm hoping that love comes back.



  • @Trix said in Consent in Gaming:

    I want to say that consent in gaming is important, but I feel like it would be almost trite or taken as a duh.

    For me, it's a duh.

    Every game I have ever played has some measure of consent involved. If you play Monopoly, you are consenting to its rules; you are also consenting to following those rules in good faith. If you played a World of Darkness game, you consent to the system it uses. If you play World of Warcraft, you consent to certain codes of conduct, a breach of which may lead to your account's suspension. And so on.

    When I was younger, I used to differentiate consent from non-consent games. Now I see that there's really no difference because, no matter which game you are playing, you are consenting to a set of rules and code of behavior. If you consent to a World of Darkness game, then you also consent to having situations resolved by dice where warranted or desired. That's just a part of the rule-set.



  • @Ganymede
    alt text
    I have a habit of essaying, and I was trying to change my opening to look less like a topic sentence. If I start scrolling screens, +smack me (is that a thing?) and I'll hush for a bit.

    Otherwise, yeah. The rules of a game should be clear and if a person follows them, they generally won't cause or have friction. It's no different in either type of game because there would be a rule that there are no rules save for code (as you stated), or that a person has to ask before initiating code or before roleplaying something out that could be against stated policy otherwise. If that were done as a start regularly, respected and enforced I would be overjoyed.


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