Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Contributor: Trust is Not Transferable

by Maggie

Trust is vital to any roleplaying experience. You might not need much of it, if the situation is light, and you might need a lot more, if the topic is heavy and dark. If I'm meeting an NPC, and they're leading my group on a module, I don't need much trust at all. I just need to know that yes, they're NPCing, and have the basic faith that whatever they're running has been okayed by staff. This is a trust pretty inherent when an NPC comes up to talk to you about going to do something.

However, if a situation is somewhat intimate, highly emotional, or involves some sort of risky physical challenge, it's important to have a lot more trust in that person. Sometimes, you can take a leap of faith and discover you really like roleplaying/gaming with that person, and sometimes your trust is mislaid, and it turns out to be something you didn't want to get involved with.

My primary example happened many years ago in a game I was PCing.*

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tempering Toxicity

Toxicity, which I define as a special brand of negativity, can be a large problem in LARPs. I'm curious as to how readers understand gamecentric toxicity, and how they counter it. So, I'm going to give you my operative definition of "toxicity," and then ask a few questions that I feel are productive for bettering game environment.

"Toxicity" is, technically speaking, the extent to which a substance can cause damage to an organism-- in other words, the extent to which something is poisonous. In larp terms, I understand this as negativity, coming from individuals and groups, which spreads throughout the player base, and proceeds to damage a game. While every single player experiences negativity-- and can be negativity-- toxicity, to me, is that negativity channeled in a way that is detrimental to the larger community. Toxicity can hurt a game's reputation, damage staff relationships with players, damage players' relationships with one another, and drive talented people-- staff or pc-- away from the game. It has many causes, and can originate in things like valid complaints, justified interpersonal problems, and/or plain, old dysfunction. Some questions (answer some, all, or make up your own)...

1) What sorts of things cause toxicity? What are some of the most frequent causes of toxicity?
2) When does negativity (dissatisfaction with a game, either momentary or continuous) transition into toxicity?
3) How can toxicity be avoided (understanding that everyone is going to have bad events, from time to time)? How, once it starts can it be fixed?
4) Have you had any experiences with a toxic game environment? (No need to name names, if uncomfortable with doing so-- if you think it's productive, feel free. But, again, constructive work and productivity are the goals of this blog.)
5) Negativity can often be productive for games (it generates, for instance, constructive criticism). How do you channel negativity into something constructive?