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Consent in Gaming - Free Guidebook

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Hussar

Legend
Note: Prioritizing X over Y does not mean that Y is not important. Just that X is more.

Frankly I don't see what the issue is. I remember years ago playing in a game where another player and I wound up playing out a romance between our two characters. Now, it was 100% PG. The other player did absolutely nothing wrong. But, it was making me VERY uncomfortable. Why it was making me uncomfortable is no one's business at all.

Having an X card or something like that, I could have just tapped out and we move on. The game wouldn't be ruined, and a good time would still be had by all.

To me, that's how something like an X card would be used most of the time. All the Whaddaboutitis and pointing to malicious use just highlights other table issues. It's a symptom of a larger problem at your table, not the problem itself.
 

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Campbell

Legend
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.

I do not think that people who use more informal techniques care about people less. I think everyone should do what is best for their game. I personally do not understand why more people being aware of and practicing more formal techniques is like a problem though. I am personally not really sold on a curated checklist that happens before play. I prefer a more ongoing discussion of lines and veils starting from the first session because I would rather not set things in stone like that or create the idea that discussing these things is like a special occasion. That's also why I do not really do a Session Zero.

While I think there are definitely people who do not want people to speak up and take more of a like it or leave it approach I do not think everyone who prefers more informal approaches is like that. There's a reason why most of these sorts of tools originated in indie games. In most indie games there is a more distributed nature to both content introduction and over what content is acceptable. Both are largely up to the group as whole. If almost all content that matters is coming from the GM it becomes relatively easy to speak with them privately about something that is making you uncomfortable. However if the game is more about the individual and intersecting stories of the player characters having ways to address the whole group become much more important. It also frees up the GM from having to be group parent - something I am not a fan of.

Right now there is a bit of culture clash going on because more and more traditional games seem to be moving towards more group oriented models when it comes to content introduction and acceptance. I totally get preferring more traditional authority models. No one should be saying you have to change. I am definitely not saying it. However, I do not see what is so wrong about providing tools for different approaches to those who want them.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
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.

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.

I think he's being very clear that that's exactly what he means.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
Well, considering something like this:



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.

And for me, a response like evileeyore's results in an immediate autoignore. Celebrim may not be far behind, because my troll-o-meter is starting to ring pretty damn loudly.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
"It's fine for you to not care about people" doesn't come across very well!

Frankly, both evileyore and Celebrim's characterization of people with mental issues as 'problem players' sound exactly like 'they don't care about people.' After all, that person is the same as someone who "cheats, tells other people how to play their character, or holds abusive tirades." They fall into the "source of disruption" bucket. Let's call a spade, a spade shall we?
 

Hussar

Legend
See, @Wolfpack48, I disagree. I completely do not judge anyone for not wanting to play with someone else. We are playing a game. If I don't want to play with you, I shouldn't have to justify it and no one has the right to tell me that I should play with you when I don't want to, regardless of my reasons for not wanting to play with you.

If you or anyone else doesn't want to play with someone, THAT'S OK. That's 100% okay. We're playing a game. I am not responsible for helping anyone, nor am I required to. Particularly in my free time. I just want to play a game and I am not interested in dealing with someone else's drama is 100% fine.

If someone comes up with that list and says, "Hey, can we not have X" and the DM turns to them and says, "I'm sorry, but, no", no one has done anything wrong. Nor should anyone be judged for saying no. That is absolutely their right to say no. Consent works both ways. You don't get to bludgeon people over the head with it, nor guilt them into accepting your requirements. By the same token, if someone says, "Hey can we not have X?" and the DM agrees, and then does a bait and switch and does it anyway, THEN we have a jerk DM.

But, no one is a jerk for not wanting to deal with someone else's issues.
 

macd21

Adventurer
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?

No, it does not become unreasonable for it to be taken off the table if a player has a problem with it. I don’t understand why this is so hard to grasp. It seems blatantly obvious to me: if one of your players has a problem with something, you don’t include it in your game.

If you came to my table and told me you have a problem with depictions of rape, I wouldn’t include rape in my game. If you said you had a problem with severe weather, I wouldn’t include severe weather. If you said you had a problem with the colour purple, I wouldn’t include purple. I wouldn’t think of asking you to explain why you had a problem with it, and I certainly wouldn’t debate it with you.

I would consider the above to be basic decency on my part. The idea that I would try to pressure a player into accepting these things strikes me as arrogant, inconsiderate, even cruel.

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.

No, it’s not normal for us to approach gaming this way. That’s the point! People tend to approach gaming with the assumption that everyone else at the table will be fine with the same elements as them. And even people who try to be considerate or to avoid darker topics probably wouldn’t think twice about including a ‘dying of heat in a desert’ challenge in the next session, right up until someone bursts into tears, or is suddenly enraged, or ups and leaves the table (‘oh Steve served in Iraq, yeah, sorry, I probably should have mentioned that...’).
 

No, it does not become unreasonable for it to be taken off the table if a player has a problem with it. I don’t understand why this is so hard to grasp. It seems blatantly obvious to me: if one of your players has a problem with something, you don’t include it in your game.

If you came to my table and told me you have a problem with depictions of rape, I wouldn’t include rape in my game. If you said you had a problem with severe weather, I wouldn’t include severe weather. If you said you had a problem with the colour purple, I wouldn’t include purple. I wouldn’t think of asking you to explain why you had a problem with it, and I certainly wouldn’t debate it with you.

I would consider the above to be basic decency on my part. The idea that I would try to pressure a player into accepting these things strikes me as arrogant, inconsiderate, even cruel.



No, it’s not normal for us to approach gaming this way. That’s the point! People tend to approach gaming with the assumption that everyone else at the table will be fine with the same elements as them. And even people who try to be considerate or to avoid darker topics probably wouldn’t think twice about including a ‘dying of heat in a desert’ challenge in the next session, right up until someone bursts into tears, or is suddenly enraged, or ups and leaves the table (‘oh Steve served in Iraq, yeah, sorry, I probably should have mentioned that...’).

Again, there are reasonable requests and there are less reasonable requests. It is obviously going to be situational and depend on the context. Rape is something I don't include or allow in my games. Like I said, some things on those lists are going to be issues most people would want off the table or would want a discussion about. Those are reasonable concerns. But there are a lot of unreasonable concerns on the checklist and I don't think a group has to bend its style or the content of its game because one person desires something (whatever the reason). Something like severe weather, is going to be on the table. If that sets someone off, I'd explain it is going to come up and they probably shouldn't play in the game if they find it upsetting. I use weather tables and overland travel matters a lot in my campaigns. I can't see running a game with severe weather not being part of it at times. I understand a person might have a good reason for being upset about that kind of weather. I won't make fun of them. I will just honestly tell them the game is likely to have it. But this level of acquiescence to every single potential concern just strikes me as madness. We shouldn't be allowing that to control the content of every gaming group. The person is perfectly free to find another group. There is nothing wrong with people wanting something in their game and keeping it in their game.

This is exactly the kind of problem I was pointing to with a list like this. I am not troubled by it if groups are voluntarily using it. But if the PDF and the list is used to force game groups to abide by every player's concerns, then it starts impacting what people can actually do. You have to give people the room to say "this game might not be for you". That isn't the end of the world. You can still be friends with that person.
 

MGibster

Legend
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.

How about we characterize it another way? You care more about what one player wants than you do about what the other five or six players want. You're prioritizing the needs of one person over the needs of everyone else involved in the game. Does that sounds about right?
 

MGibster

Legend
This is so situational that it's difficult to make blanket statements. I've certainly compromised with players in the past over something they found difficult to deal with. In that case it was easy to tone down the descriptions of giant spiders and then avoid using them for the rest of the campaign. But if I had made spider themed villains the protagonist for the campaign it's going to be much more difficult to accommodate the request.

I still maintain that I'm not a therapist, I don't engage in group therapy, and it is not my responsibility to provide anyone at the table with a safe space. If someone knows a particular subject causes them distress it is their responsibility to bring it up. It isn't my responsibility to make sure they never see something which causes them discomfort.
 

Hussar

Legend
You have to give people the room to say "this game might not be for you"
And absolutely NO ONE is questioning that. Nor is the pdf questioning that. Bringing a list to the game is not an attempt to force anyone to do anything.

You talk about rape. Well, here's a f'rinstance. I ran an SF game a few years back where in that setting you had luddite colonies that refused higher technology. I designed a scenario (based on an excellent short story that I had read) where a high tech individual posed as an angel and impregnated numerous women. The babies were genetically modified so that the big genetic changes that came with transhumanism wouldn't express until several generations down the line. The only real immediate effect was a slightly healthier baby who was predisposed to having lots of children.

The idea was, several generations down the line, the genes would suddenly express across the planet and everyone would be uplifted in the same generation.

Now, here's the rub. All these women were essentially raped. The technology of the "angel" was such that he could more or less do mind control against those with no protection. The PC's come into the situation AFTER he has impregnated numerous women. And the PC's are sworn to protect the Luddite colonies from exactly this sort of thing. And so the scenario begins.

Thinking about it now, I had a group that I knew very well and were all groovy with what I had brought to the table. But, I could easily see any number of things I just did triggering all sorts of issues with people. Could totally see it. Now, since the scenario is largely self contained, should a player not feel comfortable enough to come to me and ask me to change things? Is it a bad person or disruptive player for saying, "Yeah, I like the game but, just not this one scenario. Do we have to do it?"

I certainly don't think so. And if I was running that same scenario for strangers, a list like that pdf would tell me beforehand that maybe this idea can go back on the shelf and I'll do something else today.

But, that's me. For others, I get that they don't want to do that. And that's TOTALLY FAIR. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to dump a pile of work for that one person. It's your free time and your fun time. It's YOURS. And that's groovy.

But, the idea that someone bringing this list to a game means that some DM's (which have expressly stated that they would in this thread) will eject them from the game shows that yeah, more conversation is probably a good thing. Make sure everyone's on the same page.
 

Hussar

Legend
How about we characterize it another way? You care more about what one player wants than you do about what the other five or six players want. You're prioritizing the needs of one person over the needs of everyone else involved in the game. Does that sounds about right?

Yup. Totally fair. I care more about the feelings of my friends than about my game. Totally cop to that. And, frankly, my five or six players would probably agree with me. We have ALWAYS prioritized the needs of one person over the needs of everyone else involved in the game.

When on player doesn't want to do something, we shrug and move on to something else.

But, that's us. That's how we play. It does not mean in any way, shape or form that you should do the same thing.
 

And absolutely NO ONE is questioning that. Nor is the pdf questioning that. Bringing a list to the game is not an attempt to force anyone to do anything.

First I understand what the PDF says. Two, I was responding to a poster who was questioning that and basically said if a player has an issue with an item I have to cater to them. I have seen a lot of people saying this sort of thing over the past several days, and they are using the existence of things like PTSD to force people to acquiesce to anything checked off on the list.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
How about we characterize it another way? You care more about what one player wants than you do about what the other five or six players want. You're prioritizing the needs of one person over the needs of everyone else involved in the game. Does that sounds about right?

Yup. Because one person's real world problem is more important than six players' imaginary fun. Or, I don't give a rat's ass about your real world problem, we have a game to play - hit the road.
 

Yup. Because one person's real world problem is more important than six players' imaginary fun.

This is the point where the checklist becomes unreasonable. Because you are saying people must do what one player says. The problem is, you are not there. You don’t know anything about this group. You don’t know what the dynamics are and if this is an established group that has regularly featured spiders, rats and hurricanes in their game, and this is a new player suddenly expecting the whole group to accommodate them. You don’t know if the player with the issue has been in the group for a long time and is friends with everyone. Like another poster said, we are not saying we’d never compromise. But we are saying it is very situational. We are saying we don’t have to. And we are saying the checklist isn’t equipped to handle those kinds of nuances. When you say items on the list must be removed from play if they are checked off, then you are straight jacketing groups and trying to control what they do for their own entertainment. What is next are you going to tell people they must not see a movie if one of their friends has a problem with it? People can sit out a movie or game. They can find other people to play with
 

jasper

Rotten DM
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?
Hmm some heavy hints at page 3
The default answer is “no. and
It doesn’t matter why consent wasn’t given

If I running Season 3 which has demons as the main theme, and wolfpak 48 drops into the open game and tells me NO. And wouldn't give me a reason. That ONE WAY the doc could be read.

 

jasper

Rotten DM
Yup. Totally fair. I care more about the feelings of my friends than about my game. Totally cop to that. ...

...
Dude, some us don't play with just friends. We play with friends of friends, people who we only know from the hobby, and even some Alabama Football fans. Hey once I played with a fan of that EVIL GAME CALLED SOCCER.
I care about my friends Hussar, Simon, and Wolfpack. I not give a beep about Wolfpacf best bud Bedrockgames or his feelings. Also while I do care about your feelings Hussar, if me Simon and Wolfpack decide to go get Chinese and this is fifth time you voted down this month. We going to go get Chinese and we see you at the pub at 9 PM.
You are coming across as the group must cater to (and this bad way to say it but) player with problems.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
This is the point where the checklist becomes unreasonable. Because you are saying people must do what one player says. The problem is, you are not there. You don’t know anything about this group. You don’t know what the dynamics are and if this is an established group that has regularly featured spiders, rats and hurricanes in their game, and this is a new player suddenly expecting the whole group to accommodate them. You don’t know if the player with the issue has been in the group for a long time and is friends with everyone. Like another poster said, we are not saying we’d never compromise. But we are saying it is very situational. We are saying we don’t have to. And we are saying the checklist isn’t equipped to handle those kinds of nuances. When you say items on the list must be removed from play if they are checked off, then you are straight jacketing groups and trying to control what they do for their own entertainment. What is next are you going to tell people they must not see a movie if one of their friends has a problem with it? People can sit out a movie or game. They can find other people to play with

Not unreasonable if the result is a conversation where the parties work things out and come to the decision mutually. You keep reverting back to the individual controlling the game. All they control is their own boundaries so that a conversation can result and a decision be made.
 

Wolfpack48

Explorer
Hmm some heavy hints at page 3
The default answer is “no. and
It doesn’t matter why consent wasn’t given

If I running Season 3 which has demons as the main theme, and wolfpak 48 drops into the open game and tells me NO. And wouldn't give me a reason. That ONE WAY the doc could be read.

The default is no for their own boundaries, not the ultimate direction of the game. The default is no and no one can make that individual play through the issue or ask them to “toughen up”. It’s not a call to control the game, but to have a conversation. Agree it could be more clearly expressed in the doc.
 

Not unreasonable if the result is a conversation where the parties work things out and come to the decision mutually.

The point is they don't have to do anything you want them to do. They don't have to have a conversation. They can simply say No, we are going to have that in the game. It doesn't have to be mutual either. If someone new shows up and asks me not to include something, I don't have to get their permission to tell them the game isn[t for them. The group gets to decide who joins and what changes are made. My issue here is people are trying to control how private groups conduct themselves around issues of content and who they take in as players. Barring groups that are still in school, we are adults here and adults can figure this stuff out on their own without there being some kind of code, rule or formula to it. Something that I find distasteful about where a lot of this conversation is leading is it seems like we are all back in nursery school. I can't tell you what the situation is going to be like if someone comes in and asks me to do something for the game. It is always going to be situational. I don't know how polite or confrontational someone is going to be. I don't know how well I am going to know them. I don't know if their reasons are going to add up or if they are just going to be jerks trying to start debates over their pet issues. There are all kinds of factors that are going to impact how I respond and how my group responds. This isn't something you can decide before the situation arises. And the result might not be a mutual agreement. They could keep insisting we allow them to play and that we change the content. If someone pesters me like that, I don't have to give into them.
 

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