Consent in Gaming - Free Guidebook

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Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Look, this might work great .... for you! But that's kind of the problem, innit? Setting yourself up as arbiter as to what constitutes real harm, and what doesn't? I mean, this is some 1950s stuff. Or even earlier (shell shock can't be real! man up!).
We are having a debate about a potential tool and I think it is fair for me to give my opinion. Like I said before, if you want to use it fine. But I don't want to, and I have reasons for not wanting to use it I think other people might want to pay attention to. Again, I don't like talking about personal stuff like this, but I have had PTSD and I've dealt with mental illness in my family. While tools like this might seem like a good idea. I would argue they do have a down side. And that downside is they can be used as a weapon by people who exploit their own mental illness or trauma, in order to control the terms of conversation in a group. This is something I've seen first hand with mental illness, where their reality slowly becomes the reality of those around them. I think you always need to reserve the ability debate the merits of someone saying they have a problem with X being present. Maybe I am not doing a good job of conveying my opinion here. I don't know. But I can instantly see all the problems that might arise from a checklist like this, just from my own experiences with this stuff. So I don't think it is reactionary or dismissive. It comes from a place of understanding it isn't always a good idea to bend into these things.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
This isn't a moral panic this is people's actual FRACKING LIVES, and if you took more a single moment to step OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF and LISTEN to other people you'd actually learn something for once.
I am listening to other people. I just don't always agree with what other people are saying.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
While tools like this might seem like a good idea. I would argue they do have a down side. And that downside is they can be used as a weapon by people who exploit their own mental illness or trauma, in order to control the terms of conversation in a group.
Dude. C'mon. Don't go there.

And I will say again, this is a free guide. It's a good thing for the community.

If you don't have anything positive to contribute, then you should ask yourself what you are really up to. Because I'm seeing a lot of FUD, but I'm not seeing you put forth any proposals to help tables deal with these issues.
 

Gradine

Archivist
used as a weapon by people who exploit their own mental illness or trauma,
This is probably the most offensive thing I've read in this thread. The idea that we should avoid any helpful tool for people struggling with a real illness because they can exploit it.... It's honestly making my blood boil. I get that you've had bad experiences in the past, and I'm never going to argue that mental health is ever an excuse for bad behavior, but you don't get to pass that judgment on to everybody else going through those same struggles. I've already covered the "but bad actors!" slippery slope nonsense, but to attach it specifically to mental illness is truly beyond the pale.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
So, this is a variant of the "Suck it up, buttercup," argument that many of us find ... dismissive.

Look, this might work great .... for you! But that's kind of the problem, innit? Setting yourself up as arbiter as to what constitutes real harm, and what doesn't? I mean, this is some 1950s stuff. Or even earlier (shell shock can't be real! man up!).

There are a lot of things that don't affect me, personally, because I've had a pretty good and lucky life so far. Because of that, it is incumbent on me to listen to other people because ... I am not the same as them. I have to respect what they say.

Finally, as has been repeatedly pointed out, this is just a tool for tables to use. You don't have to. But I think some of the pushback you're getting is because, instead of offering constructive dialogue or other solutions, you instead talk about ideologies, and other things that indicate that the real issue isn't really the guidebook.
At some part you have to tell them to suck it up buttercup.

They can pull an X card, my X card is booting them from the game.

Say I want to run princes of the apocalypse. Fire and water are fairly integral to the campaign. I'm not going to rewrite that adventure to remove it. In a public situation I would tell them it's an elemental themed game before session 0. If they sign up and then object after being told in advance I would be more likely to boot them as a disruptive player.

I also have started running at the FLGS, this is my first time running in public it's always been at my house or some else's house.

I did do a session 0 wrote out a players guide and included in general terms what to expect. It was an Egyptian themed game. Expectations


Desert
Insects
Anthromorphic races
Poison
Traps
Tombs
Undead
River

I also provided reading material but it's clear half the players paid little attention to it. One player didn't even read about his players home region.

I also told them the in game cultural values are not modern liberal democracy band used the example of slaves. The place was also a theocracy and the local city was ruled by a living god Queen.

For homebrew some parts are very grim, you can get the death penalty for reasonably trivial things. Having sex with the Kings sister for example (happened in medieval France).

One group I had as villains were basically the Spanish Inquisition who had been corrupted by devil's.

Other parts women can't ascend to the throne or it's difficult if they do. (think Cersei Lannister).

FR is reasonably safe but I usually do make it clear that social values might be more in line with medieval or Roman values than our ones.

Not all parts of the world are like that of course and the PCs tend to start in those areas but if the Knights of Vanya come marching bad things happen (they're the villains).

So yeah your characters can get persecute d for political views, religion, sexuality. Groups doing it are villains and in public games I tell people upfront.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
At some part you have to tell them to suck it up buttercup.

They can pull an X card, my X card is booting them from the game.

Say I want to run princes of the apocalypse. Fire and water are fairly integral to the campaign. I'm not going to rewrite that adventure to remove it. In a public situation I would tell them it's an elemental themed game before session 0. If they sign up and then object after being told in advance I would be more likely to boot them as a disruptive player.

I also have started running at the FLGS, this is my first time running in public it's always been at my house or some else's house.

I did do a session 0 wrote out a players guide and included in general terms what to expect. It was an Egyptian themed game. Expectations


Desert
Insects
Anthromorphic races
Poison
Traps
Tombs
Undead
River

I also provided reading material but it's clear half the players paid little attention to it. One player didn't even read about his players home region.

I also told them the in game cultural values are not modern liberal democracy band used the example of slaves. The place was also a theocracy and the local city was ruled by a living god Queen.

For homebrew some parts are very grim, you can get the death penalty for reasonably trivial things. Having sex with the Kings sister for example (happened in medieval France).

One group I had as villains were basically the Spanish Inquisition who had been corrupted by devil's.

Other parts women can't ascend to the throne or it's difficult if they do. (think Cersei Lannister).

FR is reasonably safe but I usually do make it clear that social values might be more in line with medieval or Roman values than our ones.

Not all parts of the world are like that of course and the PCs tend to start in those areas but if the Knights of Vanya come marching bad things happen (they're the villains).
Ok then. Bye.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
I suppose you get to disagree with the truth all you want, but it doesn't make you any less ignorant
Do you expect this sort of thing to persuade or convert anyone?

Taking you in good faith, that you want this issue to be treated seriously, why would you make it harder to agree with your position?
 

monsmord

Explorer
There has been I think broad agreement that if a person feels uncomfortable they should walk away. Certainly I have argued that I was in control of my own boundaries and I expected the same of the players.

But now we are turning the argument on its head. Because we have been told we were racists, intolerant, alt-right borderline sociopaths for not accommodating any request and not treating all requests as reasonable, and that if anyone walked away from our table because we couldn't accommodate their phobia of spiders in our Drow game, that we were morally equivalent to people who drove away people because we couldn't refrain from making sexist, racist, or otherwise hateful comments.
Nope. There is not broad agreement that a person who feels uncomfortable should walk away. If that's your choice as someone bringing a consent issue to a group, cool. You manage your boundaries your way. But others would really like to stay, and are asking for help to do that. Your position is that "no" is a perfectly acceptable answer, for reasons. I argue that it isn't, for reasons. (I suspect that each of us harbours conditional "maybes," rather than binary responses.) This doc as presented, I think, leans toward my position, as it wants very much for people to get together and play, and proposes ways to do so, but it also clearly states that leaving is an option, and also leaves room for compromise.

No one I've seen has claimed racism. Intolerance? Kinda depends on whether the default answer is "not at my table," and why, but yeah, there's been that, as recently as a dozen posts ago. Alt-right? That was banned, though some arguments have still used talking points or tools. Moral equivalencies are your own.

No one has advocated treating all requests as reasonable.

Some people have been defending the document by saying that the person gets to tell the group what to do, and that they would be monstrous not to accommodate the individual. So apparently the confusion here doesn't just extend to the detractors.
Nope. I haven't seen one person "defending the doc" saying one person gets to direct a group. Certainly not me. Certainly not the doc. And "monstrous" is your word.

A conscious choice to exclude a potential player because their consent issue runs afoul of your game - regardless of stripe - is not inclusive. An unwillingness to consider alternatives is not inclusive. A mutually arrived-at decision that the game won't be a good fit is aces. Is it unreasonable for a person to ask you to drop your game in favor of one that suits them? Not necessarily, but quite possibly, maybe probably. To insist on it? I'd say definitely (other mileage may vary). But to decide for yourself, in your head, that there is more value in your game as it exists at that moment than in that person being there to play it with you, I just don't have a positive way to spin it. That isn't strictly about social gaming "fun" anymore.

But the doc isn't just about potential players, it's about existing ones. When someone in your (anyone's) group develops, learns, or reveals an intense phobia, trauma, etc. over a game element being introduced (or planned for next time) and drops an X-card, are you going to tell your long-time group member to leave? Will you expect them to bow out on their own because it would inconvenience friends? If you're willing to change your game for someone you know, but not someone you barely know or don't know, then your sticking point really isn't consent issues or practices raised in this doc. And if you really expect a long-time member to leave because the rest of the group would really like to fight spiders, it's clear which is valued more, and no guidebook can address that.

Comparing a child's phobia but willingness to pretend to an adult's trauma or PTSD shows how great the gulf in understanding and lack of empathy are.

And someone walking away from your table for your benefit is not the same as someone being told they're not welcome due to an inconvenient personal problem.

This is all being approached as a zero-sum game, nuke from orbit stuff. Their fun or my fun. It doesn't need to be. The claims that this doc gives a single player the ability to kill or direct a game, or group, just aren't supported. And no one is advocating that. The doc doesn't advocate that, or any one approach at all, but only tries to ensure that everyone at the table is willing and able to handle a player who needs this [X] thing not happen. The take that this must end games, end fun, that this is tyrannical, is just so off the mark it boggles the mind. And that some insist that the fairest and most considerate and respectful thing for their own "fun" is for the person traumatized to bow out, is just as mind-blowing.

The counter-inclusive argument (not the criticism of this doc's approaches or application) seems grounded in (and these are my words here), "I have a right to my fun the way I want to have it, and anyone who wants to change that is the problem. I'm the real victim here." There's a kernel of truth in there that we can all here probably get behind. We want our game. But that's not what's at stake, and framing it that way is one of the things impeding inclusivity. If a person's fun in the game is derived entirely or almost entirely from the in-game content, such that changes to that content are anathema, there is a different discussion worth having elsewhere, and is hardly a defense against respecting an X-card.

No single approach or tool will meet every situation or sit well with every gamer. We can have more than one. At-home groups of friends will have a different social contract than strangers at a con, and different needs. Not everyone in the X-card rainbow will have the same requests or need the same help. Still, we can make this happen. But to just expect people with content issues to "sit this one out" instead of figuring out how to broaden our own games is the opposite of inclusivity, and to defend that choice as "but it's not fair to me, I really like [X]" or "but their trauma isn't real harm" or "they can play some other game?" The problem isn't in the doc, but in the community.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I need to take a step back from this, this BS is setting me off.
This is probably the most offensive thing I've read in this thread. The idea that we should avoid any helpful tool for people struggling with a real illness because they can exploit it.... It's honestly making my blood boil. I get that you've had bad experiences in the past, and I'm never going to argue that mental health is ever an excuse for bad behavior, but you don't get to pass that judgment on to everybody else going through those same struggles. I've already covered the "but bad actors!" slippery slope nonsense, but to attach it specifically to mental illness is truly beyond the pale.
I am not saying everyone will use it that way. I am saying the potential for misuse is there and I think given how we talk about this issue in the gaming community, it is much more likely to be exploited that way. And I am saying you always need to preserve the ability to push back against peoples concepts and ideas.

Dude. C'mon. Don't go there.

And I will say again, this is a free guide. It's a good thing for the community.

If you don't have anything positive to contribute, then you should ask yourself what you are really up to. Because I'm seeing a lot of FUD, but I'm not seeing you put forth any proposals to help tables deal with these issues.
If people find use it in great. All I was saying here is I don't want to use it, and this is my reason why. I don't have an issue with them making the guide. But I do think we are allowed to express criticisms of it.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
If people find use it in great. All I was saying here is I don't want to use it, and this is my reason why. I don't have an issue with them making the guide. But I do think we are allowed to express criticisms of it.
So given that there can be issues with public play (which I think we are familiar with), and issues with broaching sensitive subjects in a tactful and respectful manner, and given that we would be looking for a solution for tables that did not currently have one (in other words, something that could be disseminated and used by multiple people, sort of like guidelines or a checklist) ...

How would you suggest approaching the issue, other than "Not this."
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I suppose you get to disagree with the truth all you want, but it doesn't make you any less ignorant
You don't have a monopoly on the truth through. We are talking about different perspectives here. And I am absolutely going to read what people have to say. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them (even if they express their views in a compelling way).
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Nope. There is not broad agreement that a person who feels uncomfortable should walk away. If that's your choice as someone bringing a consent issue to a group, cool. You manage your boundaries your way. But others would really like to stay, and are asking for help to do that. Your position is that "no" is a perfectly acceptable answer, for reasons. I argue that it isn't, for reasons. (I suspect that each of us harbours conditional "maybes," rather than binary responses.) This doc as presented, I think, leans toward my position, as it wants very much for people to get together and play, and proposes ways to do so, but it also clearly states that leaving is an option, and also leaves room for compromise.

No one I've seen has claimed racism. Intolerance? Kinda depends on whether the default answer is "not at my table," and why, but yeah, there's been that, as recently as a dozen posts ago. Alt-right? That was banned, though some arguments have still used talking points or tools. Moral equivalencies are your own.

No one has advocated treating all requests as reasonable.



Nope. I haven't seen one person "defending the doc" saying one person gets to direct a group. Certainly not me. Certainly not the doc. And "monstrous" is your word.

A conscious choice to exclude a potential player because their consent issue runs afoul of your game - regardless of stripe - is not inclusive. An unwillingness to consider alternatives is not inclusive. A mutually arrived-at decision that the game won't be a good fit is aces. Is it unreasonable for a person to ask you to drop your game in favor of one that suits them? Not necessarily, but quite possibly, maybe probably. To insist on it? I'd say definitely (other mileage may vary). But to decide for yourself, in your head, that there is more value in your game as it exists at that moment than in that person being there to play it with you, I just don't have a positive way to spin it. That isn't strictly about social gaming "fun" anymore.

But the doc isn't just about potential players, it's about existing ones. When someone in your (anyone's) group develops, learns, or reveals an intense phobia, trauma, etc. over a game element being introduced (or planned for next time) and drops an X-card, are you going to tell your long-time group member to leave? Will you expect them to bow out on their own because it would inconvenience friends? If you're willing to change your game for someone you know, but not someone you barely know or don't know, then your sticking point really isn't consent issues or practices raised in this doc. And if you really expect a long-time member to leave because the rest of the group would really like to fight spiders, it's clear which is valued more, and no guidebook can address that.

Comparing a child's phobia but willingness to pretend to an adult's trauma or PTSD shows how great the gulf in understanding and lack of empathy are.

And someone walking away from your table for your benefit is not the same as someone being told they're not welcome due to an inconvenient personal problem.

This is all being approached as a zero-sum game, nuke from orbit stuff. Their fun or my fun. It doesn't need to be. The claims that this doc gives a single player the ability to kill or direct a game, or group, just aren't supported. And no one is advocating that. The doc doesn't advocate that, or any one approach at all, but only tries to ensure that everyone at the table is willing and able to handle a player who needs this [X] thing not happen. The take that this must end games, end fun, that this is tyrannical, is just so off the mark it boggles the mind. And that some insist that the fairest and most considerate and respectful thing for their own "fun" is for the person traumatized to bow out, is just as mind-blowing.

The counter-inclusive argument (not the criticism of this doc's approaches or application) seems grounded in (and these are my words here), "I have a right to my fun the way I want to have it, and anyone who wants to change that is the problem. I'm the real victim here." There's a kernel of truth in there that we can all here probably get behind. We want our game. But that's not what's at stake, and framing it that way is one of the things impeding inclusivity. If a person's fun in the game is derived entirely or almost entirely from the in-game content, such that changes to that content are anathema, there is a different discussion worth having elsewhere, and is hardly a defense against respecting an X-card.

No single approach or tool will meet every situation or sit well with every gamer. We can have more than one. At-home groups of friends will have a different social contract than strangers at a con, and different needs. Not everyone in the X-card rainbow will have the same requests or need the same help. Still, we can make this happen. But to just expect people with content issues to "sit this one out" instead of figuring out how to broaden our own games is the opposite of inclusivity, and to defend that choice as "but it's not fair to me, I really like [X]" or "but their trauma isn't real harm" or "they can play some other game?" The problem isn't in the doc, but in the community.
Has anyone said “I’m the real victim here”? Just as nobody has said “one person directs the group” nobody is really saying they’re the “real” victim.

Nobody “against the doc” is anti-inclusive. And nobody for the doc is demanding full editorial control over content. The conversation, for this whole thing to succeed, has to treat the grievances, problems, and fears of all parties as fundamentally legit concerns (even if some are phrased in a spiky way, like calling folks haters or whatever).

I agree though, that some in the community do have a problem and that the doc addresses it. Ham-handedly, perhaps. I believe the proper response isn’t to drop the doc in the trash though, but to take it as an opening “offer” and make a counter-proposal. Communicate more. The doc is a good start, not a final edict. And if we all proceed like that, I think we go a long way toward addressing the problem within the community.
 

S'mon

Legend
And I don't think you understand physical trauma. I get that PTSD can prompt actual physical reactions. I had horrifying physical reactions to mine. I completely understand what it is. But I also know it is different from having my arm chopped off. And I am not dismissing it. But I am saying it is also a spectrum, and it shouldn't be equated with real physical violence.
Well 'real physical violence' is a gradient too - it can be stuff like that young punk who took a swing at me on the high street one time as I walked home from work - after I blocked his blow with my arm, he and his mate cycled off in panic. I felt quite chuffed at my successful act of self defence. That was a lot less traumatic than 5 year old S'mon being called a 'twerp' by his own mother!
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
So given that there can be issues with public play (which I think we are familiar with), and issues with broaching sensitive subjects in a tactful and respectful manner, and given that we would be looking for a solution for tables that did not currently have one (in other words, something that could be disseminated and used by multiple people, sort of like guidelines or a checklist) ...

How would you suggest approaching the issue, other than "Not this."
I don't know that this is as big a problem as people think, or one that we really need to solve especially. I think most game groups are just fine. Or if they have issues, they can work them out in conversation.

That said, I think people need to find groups that fit their sensibilities. It is about navigating what groups is going to be comfortable for you. And people have to be willing to walk away if they are uncomfortable. Generally talking things through a bit at the start of a campaign is a good idea. But ultimately I think if you have a trigger, you need to be the one to bring that up. I don't think it is the groups' responsibility to solve that for you. I think they should be compassionate and not make you feel weird about it. But they are not under an obligation to adjust the game for you. We all have our issues. I do think when it comes to public play things are different. But I don't go conventions or play in public games, so I can't comment on the best way to handle that. And obviously if you are talking about gamers who are still kids things are different. I am just not going to deal with an itemized checklist as a GM. If you want to have a conversation with me, or deal with it in email that is fine. But this form is so formal, and I think would also prompt people to put down lines where they otherwise wouldn't (just like I sometimes check off "dizzy" on those symptoms forms at the doctor's office even though I am not especially dizzy). So I personally just wouldn't use it.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
It sounds like the crux of the misunderstanding is the conflation of a person with distress having ownership over their boundaries with somehow being able direct/veto the larger game. Can someone point me to the place in the document where it says a person experiencing distress can take over the game?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I don't know that this is as big a problem as people think, or one that we really need to solve especially. I think most game groups are just fine. Or if they have issues, they can work them out in conversation.

(snip)

So I personally just wouldn't use it.
So, again, you don't have to use it. I won't be using it, but that's just because I know my tables right now.

But you can't project your wants and needs on to everyone else, or assume that this is some kind of overblown issue. It can be hard for people to speak up and raise an issue, and this can be a good way to get difficult conversations started.

For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would be against that.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
It sounds like the crux of the misunderstanding is the conflation of a person with distress having ownership over their boundaries with somehow being able direct/veto the larger game. Can someone point me to the place in the document where it says a person experiencing distress can take over the game?
Nobody can.

Does that mean it can’t be a serious concern? An unintended consequence? That it shouldn’t be something we address head-on? I think it deserves more than “Well, it doesn’t SAY that, so...”

There’s no monster under my daughter’s bed, either. There can’t be! But we’re gonna at least look, right?
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
Nobody can.

Does that mean it can’t be a serious concern? An unintended consequence? That it shouldn’t be something we address head-on? I think it deserves more than “Well, it doesn’t SAY that, so...”

There’s no monster under my daughter’s bed, either. There can’t be! But we’re gonna at least look, right?
I suppose, but I think what the doc is saying is let’s respect that person’s distress at face value rather than second guess them or get defensive about our own pet campaigns. Are we really that worried about Munchausen Syndrome? Would that not be an extreme edge case that would eventually come out anyway? The argument feels like a red herring to me.
 
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