Sunday, October 04, 2015

Snakes in the Garden

You could be a kind, caring, loving god. You might have gotten most of your old testament tendencies out of your system a long time ago. Your Eden could be a masterwork of equal parts carefully designed chaos and effortless swiss precision order. Your world could be peopled by your finest creations, the beauty of the earth, the paragons of animals. And you could invite players from far flung corners of the globe to come and play in your Persistent Java-Chat paradise based on reputation and awesome game-play you personally witnessed.
And yet, good games to this very day are still such fragile propositions because somebody eventually comes along who just doesn’t get it. You might even go to the length of being completely willing to have a Java-Chat game that only has 20 players or so because you keep it more secret than a nun’s tramp stamp.
And yet, someone will always find their way in.
Most jerks are easy to spot. They make characters designed generally to blow a hole in your game, or failing that, in the tone you want to establish.
“This game is about the subtle shades of grey we find in our dark world and how we intend to navigate and try to keep some portion of our souls unsullied by the exigencies of our horrifying society.”
“COOL. I want to play a schizophrenic circus clown...”
These guys are easy to thwart, but they proliferate like whack-a-mole.
Some are a bit more stealthy, leaving their ambitions to fuck up everyone’s day off their sheets somehow and yet, when it comes to public gatherings In-Character, these guys switch on like the robo-narcissists they are, and everything in the game becomes about dealing with them and their shit.
True sociopaths and Narcissistic personalities eventually do SOMETHING that causes them to run afoul of the law, and in a great heaving sigh of relief, The Game Master is able to task his NPC’s with running the asshole down like a dog and meting out harsh justice to them.
And then there are those piss bastards who carefully go over the sites “Code of Conduct” with a fine tooth comb, and manage to stay inside the law in character, and just barely so, out of character. Those people seem to find ruining everyone’s good time, is their idea of fun. The only real solution is to finally lose patience and ban the asshole regardless of your own guidelines. And once you done THAT, well it’s hard to trust that you won’t do it again. Granted, banning assholes isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But once you’ve opened the door to ignoring your own rules, it’s hard to close it again.
Organizations have a hard time protecting themselves from people who don’t truly want to belong to them and aren’t interested in allowing them to thrive and because of the 5 geek social fallacies, Internet communities have an especially hard time preventing people from joining them for nefarious ends.
The worst part is, no matter how vile a douchbag the offender is, there are going to be people, who will rise to his defense. “Dude...You need to lighten up, he was just being funny.”
(Sidebar: If you have to get rid of someone in your game, and he has friends who remain behind, you need to watch those people.)
Please understand I am not against people playing Characters who are jerks. I have played a couple. I know many other players who have played a few. I have seen a number of players who said and did things that so riled up the body politic that people were twitching and foaming at the mouth. I got no kick against a character who is a jerk. But there’s a fine line between playing a jerk, and BEING a jerk while playing a character.
Part of what helps is to communicate with other players, and let them know that you KNOW that what you’re doing might just get you killed, but you’re doing it to generate plot, and maybe a bit of gossip, and not to generate agita and maybe Lulz. This goes a long way to defusing a bunch of OOC drama that might occur because people might want you dead for various reasons.
I mean, if you’re a serial killer or something like that, you have to expect that some people are going to take issue with your activities. Maybe saying so in the foyer, or via PM might help people realize that you’re not just doing it to be a douche.
So yeah, there are going to be problem players, and the way you deal with them is a very public and open thing that demonstrates how you handle problems. As a result, you have to be very cautious.
The other end of favoritism is to be sunk so deep into siege mentality, that you assume that everyone is an asshole and out to get you. And as much as you would like to lend you tacit approval to players for the removal of the jerk in question, you really have to be Switzerland on this one.
It is ethically right, that a person that you may not like, can still come and have fun in your game, even if you and he/she don’t necessarily hit it off right away. But even if you loathe a player somewhat, they should still be able to play, and yes, even have a good time. Who knows, they may learn a thing or two, It’s possible that they can straighten up and fly right and make useful chaos in your game if given a chance or are allowed to make informed choices.
This is not to say you should allow abuse, or disrespect, or anything that is an active detriment to the game and the culture you are trying to cultivate. You can boot people, but you have to very upfront about the why’s of the booting and transparent about the decision making process. Evidence that you can post in the forum certainly helps. "Dude! He wasn't being racist!"
"Um, I'm pretty sure the statement in the foyer, "Asians kinda smell funny" is pretty much fucking TEXTBOOK racist."
Many times, if a player is a total nimrod, the players will rise up against him, and if THAT happens, oh well. You might take the post-demise time to sit down with the player and explain why you think the players decided that he no longer needed to be clinging to the skin of their world.
The one thing you cannot do however, is conspire against the character on the basis of his jerkitude UNLESS he breaks the law or deliberately triggers his own social demise. You can’t even allow the other PC’s to use an NPC as part of a plan to destroy him. If the PC is within the law and within propriety, YOU can’t really touch him ethically. If the player is within the code of conduct, then same deal.
Because, if you stoop to his level, and you don’t do so as a direct result of overt game sabotage, He wins.
You don’t want that guy to win.
You certainly don’t want him being able to tell other people about how he won without someone piping up and saying, “Bullshit! That’s not how it happened at all!”
Because expunging a troll from your game and your community should be a righteous thing. Your heart should not be clouded. Your motive should not be questioned. When you bounce them, there should be no question that what you have done was right, and meet, and proper.


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