Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Not Everyone Can Be Saved

I think if there is any harder lesson to learn in life, it is this.
most of us start out pretty innocent. Some of us even start out with an extra helping of smart, or even kind.
And as we grow we see a world where transcendent beauty and viscera-curdling horror live cheek-by-jowl with one another, like Kentucky weather.
If there is one thing, that I could change about Chat-games. If there is one thing out there that i could extol and expand upon, it is the desire to make the online chat world into a much stronger community.
I would wish that the Online chat community could be something that was so strong that it could weather the storms of human behavior. That you could play a character and have fun, but also have a place to go where you have people who don't hassle you because you're weird. Because when you're weird the FIRST thing you need in your life is a place to go where they don't hassle you for it.
We are all ages. kinds, creeds, religions or lack thereof, Sexes, or lack thereof, and orientations. If we share one thing in common, it is a desire to pretend, and that gives us more in common with one another than many of us share with our own damn families. We ought to be sharply aware of how important that is, in the lives of some people. It may be that the person on the other end of the net is struggling with gender identity, or addiction, or any number of problems. On any given night they may desperately need to talk to someone. You may, without even realizing it, have saved a life or two. Maybe you sat and talked to someone in PM's until the wee small hours. Or maybe your character said something to them that put the finger right on the problem they were having. You may never know.
And if you, like me, are an open-hearted individual, you can hopefully understand how a good game brings people together and how collaborative art can be the most healthy and therapeutic thing in the world. Not that that's what it's designed for. But hey, helpful hack? I'll take it. Games, especially games among friends, or even potential friends ought to be, by their very nature, a safe haven for people.
You may even come to a point where you realize that people don't always even have the same definition of "Fun" as you. You may enjoy dealing with the horrible consequences of a character's loss of control and desperately trying to handle the aftermath. Another player may enjoy playing his character as if it were a Gundam suit made of paper and dots. Neither of you are WRONG about what constitutes "Fun" and once we can see THAT clearly, we can make in-roads to understanding one another and building games where all sorts of types of "Fun" are possible. I like to delve into the dark corners of my character psyche, but I also can enjoy blowing shit up. Variety is the spice of life.
And you know, there ARE people who can be turned aside from doing wrong in a chat game. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to come along and say, "Dude. Not Cool."
Other times it takes a "Come to Jesus" talk where it gets explained, that maybe your actions or language was a little bit racist. Or sexist. or triggery to someone else. And maybe all it takes is the phrase, "I'm sorry. but that behavior is unacceptable and if you're intent on continuing to play here, I expect it to change."
Some people can be turned aside from that. if they see that the power players are responsible adults and that the culture of the game is the same way, then sometimes, that's all it takes. If you give someone a chance, they can surprise you.
I am a believer in the idea that people, on balance, can be good. Not everyone is a potential saint mind you, but even the crabbiest people may yet have hidden reserves of tenderness and compassion. Someday, i'd like for the Online Chat community to be the sort of place that a person can feel safe in being a good person…even as they play horrible despicable monsters. 
No. I haven't missed the irony of that.
But as much as I want these things. I know, in my heart, that there will always be a segment of the gaming community that is pure troll.
There's a fine line in playing a douchebag, and playing your character while BEING a douchebag. Sadly, most who do the later, don't even see the line. My god, the stories I could tell. Hell…I bet each of you have some horror story of players you've had to deal with in some way. And feel free to share them below. Remember rule one: No NAMES!
I am all for compassion. For second chances. I am for trying to help. I am for trying to be an example. And I don't get het up over people who offer offense by accident. That doesn't sweat me.
But if you're actually working pretty hard to offend me, then you go on the shit-list. and very few people come back from the shit-list.
Just because I desire peace, and fun, and all that good-happiness-stuff does NOT allow me to abrogate my responsibility to protect myself, to protect the people I care about, and protect the community. In fact, it strengthens my responsibility. Because the good parts of the community aren't possible without it.
I don't think there's anybody here who is a troll, or sexual harrasser, or a racist, or any of that. So if you would be so kind, carry this message to them when you meet them:
"Hi. You don't know me, but that's alright. If things have worked the way they are supposed to work, you've been given many chances to amend your behavior and if I'm speaking to you, it means that perhaps those chances have failed. That's sad.
We'd like it a lot if you'd straighten up and fly right, but most of us have given up hope that that may happen. Also, very sad.
Unfortunately for you, We've reached a point where you cannot be allowed to damage the community any further. Odds are good this will mean a ban.
I'm sure, a person like you will find a means to sneak back in and try and cause more trouble. We'll be on the lookout for that. If it mean banning an IP range. Then that may have to occur.
If it means banning the entirety of Des Moines, Iowa. in order to keep you from coming round. Then that will occur.
If it means contacting your local ISP and telling them you are abusing their terms of service. Then that will be done.
If it means contacting your local police and making a harassment complaint or reporting terroristic threatening. That will be done.
If it means we need to take up a collection, purchase a plane ticket, have someone fly out to where you are. locate you, and then punch you repeatedly in the throat. Then that will be done.
We are kind.
We are compassionate.
But even we know that not everyone can be saved."


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