Consent in Gaming - Free Guidebook

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Zardnaar

Hero
And, as a perfect, textbook example of what I just talked about, we have this.

Here is a 100% clear example of a DM for whom the game is more important than the players at the table. Again, totally fair. It's his game, he can run it however he likes. But, the point of this PDF is when you have DM's like this, for whom the game is more important than the players, the players can use something like their X card or their list to quickly realize that this game is not for them.

Everyone's happy. The player doesn't have to deal with stuff coming up at the table, and the DM doesn't have to compromise. Done.

Surplus of players, shortage of DMs. I've discovered over the years its not worth trying to accommodate everyone some players you just can't reach. Sometimes its just incompatible playstyles.

I booted 3 players not so long ago, tried speaking to them but they just played CN stupid and pissed the other 3 off. They got spoken to, kept doing it got booted. 2 of them (a couple) went to another game and ended up getting booted from that. They tried Pathfinder as well and once again got booted. Last I heard they approached the gamestore owner about wanting to run GURPs or something but no one wanted to play with them.

There is something going on there, they have issues but multiple people have tried to help but they just don't fit in anywhere. I warned them (twice even) but when they think fireballing their own party and deliberately set of traps as playing a CN kender type Gnome is fun and don't change ever. Their default approach to combat was also run away or stay as far back as possible and throw stuff at disadvantage.

Harmony of the group, social cohesion and no disruptive players are my main goals in running a group. I don't really care if players have issues whatever they may be but they got told upfront, warned twice and then got the boot.

They can play an X card all they like, they can insist on no debate if they want, my X card trumps theirs. The right to have fun playing D&D trumps a player right to be a moron. Gamestore owner has a list of players wanting games, he does veto anything obvious he picks up so he is already filtering out problem players using his own X card and then the individual DMs can filter the players again, he'll back the DMs call pretty much every time.

Every group has female players, one has a female DM and several female players. So he is creating a safe space for everyone else.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Regardless of the tools utilized what I ultimately want is a GM is to create an environment where people feel safe to express when something is bothering them. If someone is unhappy with the way things are going for any reason I want them to be able to tell the rest of us without fear of reprisal. I want this for emotional issues, but I want it for creative issues as well. I want everyone at the table to feel like they can speak up and everyone else will care. I also expect that everyone also values everyone else as people more than they value the game and will work with each other so the game can be as good as possible for everyone at the table.

Regardless of the tools used if that is not the case we have no business gaming together.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Umm, a few years ago nearly 20000 people died in the country I live in to "severe weather". ((Granted it was a tsunami from an earthquake, but, similar issue) Several million were directly affected. I have students who have lost family or know people who lost family to the tsunami and I live in an area that was totally unaffected, directly, by it.

The notion that "severe weather" can't be something that triggers people is a bit dismissive.

And, see, that's the point of the list. Just because you think it's "ridiculous" means that it would be extremely difficult for a player to come to you and talk to you about it for fear of being ridiculed. You don't get to decide what triggers other people. That's why they add in the caveat that you don't discuss it. It gets brought up and that's the end of the conversation, not the beginning.

Because, for people with trauma, "it's ridiculous" is far, far too often the response they have to face from everyone around them.
Okay but does it not become unreasonable at a certain point to expect very common features of stories like severe weather to be announced from the get go, or taken off the table? I understand someone can have this problem. I don't know that including it on a checklist like this is a good solution to that problem. And I definitely don't think it is normal for us to approach gaming in this way, at all.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
My opinion is that if someone is a bad actor regardless of how your group handles things they either need to learn to value the other people at the table or be asked to leave. They cannot be controlled through authoritarian measures. They will find a way to express their self centered desires regardless of the environment.
 

Hussar

Legend
Surplus of players, shortage of DMs. I've discovered over the years its not worth trying to accommodate everyone some players you just can't reach. Sometimes its just incompatible playstyles.
And that is 100%, absolutely, perfectly fair. There is absolutely nothing compellning you to play or run a game for anyone. You can decide who you want to play with and you don't need to justify anything. It's your free time. Absolutely.

Now, because you prioritize your game over the people (shortage of players), someone who maybe has some trauma triggers probably shouldn't play at your table. Their issues are not your priority. And, again, there's zero judgement there. You are 100% justified here. These are their issues and you are under no compulsion at all to have to deal with their issues.

But, the point here is that a list like in the PDF reveals that up front and everyone gets to walk away with no harm, no foul. No one can complain later that you weren't clear up front and you can't complain that the player wasn't up front either.

I see it as a win/win either way.

Okay but does it not become unreasonable at a certain point to expect very common features of stories like severe weather to be announced from the get go, or taken off the table? I understand someone can have this problem. I don't know that including it on a checklist like this is a good solution to that problem. And I definitely don't think it is normal for us to approach gaming in this way, at all.
Is it normal? Probably not. Not too many people would be triggered by severe weather after all. It's probably a very small number. But, having something like this list means that if that rare case does come up, it's clearly brought up and everyone then gets to make the informed choice - you can either change your game to accommodate the player or not, as the case may be, and the player can choose to sit at the table or not based on your choice.

Isn't having clear communication, without being told, perhaps indirectly by reading it on a message board maybe, that my personal issues are "ridiculous", a better solution? Wouldn't you rather that your players were up front with you rather than being made to feel ashamed of their issues and then having them blow up during or after a session?

What's the alternative here?
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Isn't having clear communication, without being told, perhaps indirectly by reading it on a message board maybe, that my personal issues are "ridiculous", a better solution? Wouldn't you rather that your players were up front with you rather than being made to feel ashamed of their issues and then having them blow up during or after a session?

What's the alternative here?
I am not saying a persons personal issues are ridiculous, I am saying filling out a consent form with all these different items on it for an RPG is ridiculous. If someone has a serious enough problem with severe weather, that mentioning it in the game could set them off, I would want them to bring it up with me, or try to sort the problem out before they join the group. If you are in a bad mental state, you can't control what comes your way in the world. If severe weather sets you off, you might see it in movies, you might read it in books, you might see art of severe weather or catch a news cast of severe weather. I don't know why we are treating an RPG table as any different from other places in the real world. You wouldn't demand a consent form for a film, a comedy show or a play.

The alternative is for people to communicate about things in conversation and figure out what accommodations can be made if there is a serious enough problem. But I don't think 'there is going to be a serious problem' should be the default assumption.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
I suppose the elephant in the room is that many roleplayers have experienced trauma of one kind or another. I think it’s a major reason people roleplay, because it’s a safe and creative hobby that involves socializing without the pressure of the real world. Most everyone I have gamed with has had something terrible in their lives. Acknowledging and respecting that can only be a good thing.
I just call that life. Take any random group of people and you'll find that many of them have suffered a traumatic experience of one kind or another. I don't believe those of us who enjoy role playing games are more likely to have suffered trauma than anyone else.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
And that is 100%, absolutely, perfectly fair. There is absolutely nothing compellning you to play or run a game for anyone. You can decide who you want to play with and you don't need to justify anything. It's your free time. Absolutely.

Now, because you prioritize your game over the people (shortage of players), someone who maybe has some trauma triggers probably shouldn't play at your table. Their issues are not your priority. And, again, there's zero judgement there. You are 100% justified here. These are their issues and you are under no compulsion at all to have to deal with their issues.

But, the point here is that a list like in the PDF reveals that up front and everyone gets to walk away with no harm, no foul. No one can complain later that you weren't clear up front and you can't complain that the player wasn't up front either.

I see it as a win/win either way.



Is it normal? Probably not. Not too many people would be triggered by severe weather after all. It's probably a very small number. But, having something like this list means that if that rare case does come up, it's clearly brought up and everyone then gets to make the informed choice - you can either change your game to accommodate the player or not, as the case may be, and the player can choose to sit at the table or not based on your choice.

Isn't having clear communication, without being told, perhaps indirectly by reading it on a message board maybe, that my personal issues are "ridiculous", a better solution? Wouldn't you rather that your players were up front with you rather than being made to feel ashamed of their issues and then having them blow up during or after a session?

What's the alternative here?
Previously I wouldn't need a checklist I've only played with friends.

A month ago I started a somewhat public game with 3 new players and laid down the law, but those players picked the world and theme before session 0 on messenger. Session 0 I had a printed players guide and covered most disruptive situations.

To get to that point.
1. They have been vetted by the gamestore owner then myself/close friends.

2. We communicated on messenger where they got to pick the world and theme from a list of what I was comfortable running. Greyhawk, FR, Midgard pick one. Vikings, Egypt, Vampires, Faerie pick one.

3. Session 0 printed players guide and basic information on the campaign provided and what to expect.

4. Verbal list of acceptable behaviour. Swearing is fine along with mother in law jokes level of political correctness. No racism, sexism, bullying, chaotic stupid etc.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I just call that life. Take any random group of people and you'll find that many of them have suffered a traumatic experience of one kind or another. I don't believe those of us who enjoy role playing games are more likely to have suffered trauma than anyone else.
This I definitely agree with. The idea that we are somehow special or different from the general population is something I really do not agree with.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What is more important to you? The game or the people at the table playing that game? Because that's what it boils down to. "Oh, I can't change my game" means that the game is more important than that person.
I think that this is indeed the heart of it, and we are still having this conversation even though SKR indicated this wasn't his intention.

But you know what, it's still a ridiculous statement. Because I'm not choosing the game versus a person however much you want to keep pounding on that. I'm choosing gaming with this group of people over gaming with that person, often because I was gaming with those people first, and often because that person has become a problem that is detracting from everyone else's fun. It could be any number of reasons. We could just get tired of his cheating. We could get tired of his profanity. We could get tired of his abusive tirades on other players. We could get tired of him trying to play other people's characters for them. We could get tired of his antagonistic play habits where he is always working against party goals. We could get tired of the fact that he's always on the phone and not paying attention, or never shows up. And yes, we could get tired of the fact that he is always insisting everyone else accommodate his style of play and his preferences. Whatever the reason, we don't have to play 'that guy' anymore. We may still like that guy. We may even still be friends with that guy. We may see that guy at work and say, "Hey, how's it going." But for whatever reason, the whole RPing with 'that guy' thing isn't working out.

This never has actually happened to me BTW. I've never had to boot any of my players, although it has happened to people I know and they often had really good reasons for booting 'that guy'.

(Incidentally, 'that guy' could be female, but I figured if I used female pronouns about people would think I was negatively stereotyping. Again, in point of fact, every 'that guy' I've heard of has been male, though I believe in equality - I'm sure there are female players that are 'that guy' as well.)

No one here is saying that if it came down to the game or letting 'that guy' burn in a fire, we'd keep rolling the dice. We're just saying we really don't have to play with people we don't want to play with, and often we have good reasons for it. And we really don't particularly like being told that we are 'choosing a game over a person', or being accused of being racist or sexist or whateverist because we don't want to play with 'that guy'. For one thing, we suspect that while you are making those sort of accusations, you are totally and completely hypocrites, and if you were playing with 'that guy' you'd not want to play with him either.

OTOH, if you approach the hobby from the perspective that the people at the table are more important than the game, then, well, it would make perfect sense to change the game to accommodate someone's issues.
And again, this is dishonest. Because this has never been an argument between people who would make accommodations and those that wouldn't. This has never been an argument between people who don't have friends with problems or who push all the feelings of their friends aside, and a bunch of really generous thoughtful people who graciously accommodate everything. Plenty of people who don't like the document have and often are right now making accommodations to the preferences and needs of other people in their group.

The real argument, the real heart of it, is over whether request for accommodation is reasonable (or even possible), and if not reasonable, whether you are under some pressure to act like it is reasonable.

I mean seriously, we have people here saying, "Of course if you are at a convention and someone asks for an accommodation you can just toss out all your plans and wing something." Not hardly. And if you think you can, remind me not sign up at your tables, because I don't want to waste my time.
 
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Hussar

Legend
And we really don't particularly like being told that we are 'choosing a game over a person', or being accused of being racist or sexist or whateverist because we don't want to play with 'that guy'. For one thing, we suspect that while you are making those sort of accusations, you are totally and completely hypocrites, and if you were playing with 'that guy' you'd not want to play with him either.
Bwuh? Where did I accuse you of anything @Celebrim? You keep painting with this very broad brush, but, I REPEATEDLY stated that it was perfectly fine for you not to game with whoever you don't want to game with.

I'd appreciate it if you'd leave the comments of hypocrisy at the door if you're going to reply to me.
 

Hussar

Legend
However, that being said, I'm rather curious why you lump in all sorts of bad behavior like this:

We could just get tired of his cheating. We could get tired of his profanity. We could get tired of his abusive tirades on other players. We could get tired of him trying to play other people's characters for them. We could get tired of his antagonistic play habits where he is always working against party goals. We could get tired of the fact that he's always on the phone and not paying attention, or never shows up. And yes, we could get tired of the fact that he is always insisting everyone else accommodate his style of play and his preferences
with someone suffering from trauma who is asking you to remove an element from your game that triggers said trauma.

It almost looks like you are equating bad behavior with people who are suffering from mental health issues.

Now, I KNOW that's not what you mean, but, considering you went on for several sentences, it really does look like it. So, perhaps, just perhaps, you might want to step back a tiny bit.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Now, I KNOW that's not what you mean, but, considering you went on for several sentences, it really does look like it. So, perhaps, just perhaps, you might want to step back a tiny bit.
But if you know that isn't what he means, why would he need to back it up?
 

monsmord

Explorer
I humbly submit for your consideration that not all games are meant for all players. We all agree that it's acceptable to bow out of a game when someone dislikes or are uncomfortable with the content. It's also okay for others to say they do like the content and would prefer to continue having it in the game.
I agree, and not (quelle surprise).

But I've said my peace, like waaay said it, and have nothing new or more productive to add to the discussion. I don't find much in the way of opinions on consent issues being swayed here (including mine), and there's no doubt that even where folks agree there's a need for some sort of guidelines, there's not much (and won't be) grand agreement with this particular doc's usefulness for the many games and gamers out there. I hope we can agree that such a doc is worth considering, if for its premise alone, and that much of the advice is worth keeping whether or not one adopts forms or X-cards. It would be nice if most people agreed that ensuring emotionally safe games is a boon, not a burden. I also hope that as hobby enthusiasts we can be working toward growing the base by being open and accepting of folks with differing boundaries, as social hobby enthusiasts we can all learn to be better at the social part, and that as humans we can develop a greater empathy and compassion for those marginalized, at least when the nature of that marginalization is as terrifying, painful, and isolating as PTSD, trauma, et al.
 

evileeyore

Mrrrph
However, that being said, I'm rather curious why you lump in all sorts of bad behavior like this:

with someone suffering from trauma who is asking you to remove an element from your game that triggers said trauma.
If they're being disruptive, they're being disruptive. And I don't much care about the why, either way they know where the door is.
 

S'mon

Legend
Been reading the thread from the beginning and I think this tidbit gets to the heart of things.
What is more important to you? The game or the people at the table playing that game?
I don't agree with this language. It implies people don't care about people. Say I had told my friend Jelly, about to GM Out of the Abyss, about my claustrophobia, and she had said something like "I don't think you'll enjoy this game, but we can still play other stuff together"

That wouldn't mean she didn't care about me!

Obviously I care more about the welfare of the people at the game table with me, including strangers I've just met, than I care about the game. It's not an either/or.
 

S'mon

Legend
Bwuh? Where did I accuse you of anything @Celebrim? You keep painting with this very broad brush, but, I REPEATEDLY stated that it was perfectly fine for you not to game with whoever you don't want to game with.
"It's fine for you to not care about people" doesn't come across very well!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've only read the last few pages of the thread, but I have to wonder why someone so easily traumatized by violence would play a violent game like D&D. I have a fear of heights and I guarantee you that you won't see me scaling a cliff. It seems to me that people would avoid things that are likely to trigger their traumas.
 

Hussar

Legend
"It's fine for you to not care about people" doesn't come across very well!
Well, considering something like this:

If they're being disruptive, they're being disruptive. And I don't much care about the why, either way they know where the door is.
I'd say that I'm not too terribly far off. @evileeyore is being pretty clear here that he/she does not care why the player is having issues, just that the player can take those issues, pack up and leave. End of discussion.

Characterizing it as caring more about the game than the people isn't all that unfair, methinks. If you're unwilling to compromise your game when you learn that one of your players really isn't going to enjoy whatever element you refuse to compromise about, then you are prioritizing your game ahead of that person's feelings. Which, is absolutely your right to do. But, let's not pretend that it's something that it's not.

You are reading in value judgements that I am not making. In fact I've repeatedly stated that I have zero issue with someone doing this. You are under NO compulsion to game with anyone. Absolutely none. If removing that element will ruin the game for you, then, sure, don't game together. Cool.

The problem I see is that the narrative that's being put forth is the "problem player" is trying to destroy the game. OTOH, most of the time it might be something as simple as just not running that particular adventure or even that particular scene. All having the list does is open up the conversation without having to have the conversation in the middle of the game where it gets that much harder to resolve.
 
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