Saturday, June 27, 2009

How do you make roleplaying work in Second Life? ...and why bother?

There's been a good bit of discussion lately about RP and what works and what doesn't in different communities within SL, including some very rational sharing of thoughts on two blogs I follow pretty regularly, Hibernia on the Skids and Backpacking Burro. Much of the recent back and forth has been set in motion by a kerfuffle in the steampunk sims that appears to have settled down for the most part.

Here's the latest commentary about it on Hotspur's blog

It seems to have gotten pretty intense there. But you know, every place gets its share of drama -- after all, self inflicted angst is one of the ways we as humans entertain ourselves. And, I think, in the virtual context, both manufactured and naturally occurring conflicts of a minor and relatively unimportant nature provide us with a distraction from the Truly Awful Shit that is out there lurking in our real lives.

I think the key question here is how do we best nurture and manage the "manufactured" conflict that is often at the heart of much RP? In essence how do we create positive conflict for our entertainment and edification?

Here on Headburro's blog, I direct your attention to a general discussion of some of these larger issues with RP:

Not everyone likes RP or even agrees on what it is or how it is best carried out. And that's just jim-fuckin-dandy with me. The expression of diverse viewpoints is a great participatory sport.

But obviously, looking at it from my own wacky perspective, RP does have a potentially positive place in life for many of us. And I think SL can be a useful tool for augmenting and enhancing the RP playground of the imagination, as we individually and collectively create or recreate worlds and realities different from our own and tell stories within those contexts. RP is in many ways a viable, enjoyable and structured means by which we can inflict drama upon ourselves in a controlled way, so that we can have that distraction from real life's TAS, and sometimes connect with other folks in some real fun ways. Sometimes those other players we connect with are of a like mind to our own, and sometimes they are coming from a wildly different perspective than our own, but goddammit, that's part of the wonder and beauty of it.

That said, I do note from the on-going discussions that there does seem to be a tendency to have a tidier form of rp in the sims that have a very focused theme -- Gorean realms , or historical sims like Versailles and Deadwood, or certain science fiction environments -- where you have things like rules, and guidelines and clear expectations of what is going to happen and how it is going to play out.

And please notice that I say "tidier" not "better."

I think there is a great deal to be said for a a more flexible form of rp experimentation, such as what you typically have going on in some of the steampunk sims. Yeah, it ain't always tidy, it ain't always pretty, but goddamn it sure is interesting and you never know what the hell people are going to throw into that history/fantasy/sci fi/militant tiny mashup, which is sure as shit exciting.

But it's not for everyone.

Just like going back to a relatively literal recreation of the historical Black Hills in the 1870s ain't for everyone.

But then as I have often said, it's a big goddam grid. And if it can't accommodate everyone someplace, then the folks who ain't being accommodated have the ability to get off their asses and create their own lil' playground of the imagination and try to draw in like-minded -- at least compatibly minded -- fellow players.

Still, there is much to be said for the idea expressed by some of the commentators on O'Toole's blog that it might be useful and interesting --at the very least entertaining -- to find a neutral space and bring together people who have different views on RP. Then we could see if we can step out of character and kick around ways we might facilitate a collective form of RP that could serve as an alternative to the complete balkanization of the larger RP communities, until we only end up with each one of us rp'ng with one other guy (who is most likely your own alt anyway).

I'd be interested in being a part of that discussion.


  1. I think I'd be interested in that chinwag too - not entirely sure what would come out of it, but that's a good enough reason to have it I think.

    I've only stroked the edges of RP's mane in SL - I have no idea what will happen once I get nearer to the lion's mouth itself. Drama awaits wherever you go in-world because it's full of people and they are such messy, full, loud things :)

  2. You know what? Maybe nothing tangible at all would come out of it whatsoever. Still, it would be valuable just the same, to see opposing points of view expressed calmly. Almost the first thing I hear in defense of 24/7 roleplaying speak is "if you just understood".. or "if you just read the source material", etc. (in the case of the Gorians, they are going to have to come up with a batter argument than that..). The first step, as Dio so cogently states, is to step back from the dimestore dramatics, and admit we're all in the same space and should take steps to better understand each other. Getting people to accept the fact that people outside the sphere of their own sacred cow might have some expectations, too, would be a giant first step.


  3. See? that's why I read what these gents say. Nice guys, reasonable guys. And funny, both of 'em.

    And I think that's one of the things that could help us in trying to appreciate each other and what we do a bit more: if we came at it with a little sense of humor, particularly about ourselves and our own favorite ways of playing.

    After all, one man's sacred cow is another man's platter of heavenly meatballs.

    And yes, as O'Toole says, maybe nothing would come out of in the big cosmic sense of things, but even if it just got a few folks as individuals to look at each other with a bit more openness, it seems like it would be worth the attempt. Maybe it even might lead to a little bit of cross-fertilization and a learning from each other.

    Like I say, one of the things I love about the platform, and why I think even a bad day in SL is better than...oh...say, an evening spent sitting by yourself drinking cheap beer and watching scrambled porn on cable, is that you get the chance to connect with other people from wildly diverse places and backgrounds. And even if we connect only briefly or in sorta shallow ways (and hell, deep down inside aren't we all kinda shallow?), it's still a remarkable thing that is worth trying.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. hey Lunar,

    Thanks for stopping by and expressing how you feel about things.

    And I tell you what, I'm feelin for ye, pard. I can tell you got a heavy heart.

    I mean hell, it has got to be frustrating for you, being as yer the man (fey) who works his balls off creating and managing a space that you open up for a lot of different kinds of people to have fun in. All you want is for people tohave fun, and what you're getting is people bumpin' heads and thumpin' their chests and gruntin' at each other like overly territorial knuckle-draggin' primates. And to me it sounds like you ain't gettin' to have much fun yourself.

    But hey, if I had a choice between taking on the admirable but difficult task that you have embarked upon, and something like...oh, maybe shoving a sharp stick in my freakin' eye, over and over and over...I'd be looking at the sharp stick with some relative enthusiasm.

    Seriously, though, speaking as an outsider who has only caught some of the sturm und drang in a tangential way, I think what you seem to have goin' on there is a situation where the inherent untidiness of the back and forth has been exacerbated by the passage of time and the evolution of some history and emotional baggage. And then it's probably further complicated by some of the personalities involved, and the nature of the characters they choose to play.

    Maybe the idea of trying to get various flavors of rp folks to step out of character and sit down and have a little parley could start in your neck of the woods. The process could begin with your one community, and see if--maybe with some mediation from neutral parties--you could try to get your constituents to better understand each other and at least be able to play parallel to each other, even if they can't play nice together. Then with that as a model, maybe we start trying the idea on a more global scale to bring people from even more disparate backgrounds and communities together and try to get'em to communicate and not be peckerheads unto one another.

    Worse that can happen is that well, I guess they could end up trying to kill one another and it would degenerate into the final scene from "The Wild Bunch"...I don't suppose you'd care to look on it as an opportunity to thin the herd, would you?

  6. @Hotspur: Totally understand where you are coming from - Dio also expresses it later in her reply to Lunar - people need to get around a table and talk, OOC, about what is and isn't working and then, in a spirit of open collaberation, work to make it better.

    I can't say I'm as interested in the workings of people, SL & roleplay as you obviously are - I think it's more a vested interest with me. I want a better rolepley experience from SL but have yet to figure out what that is or how to get it. I think some form of general dialogue would be a great starting place, although some form of goal would help to keep things on track unless the idea was to have a 'chat in the pub' feel to it.

    @Lunar Wow I feel for you too! Way back in the mists of time, I ran a Play by Email Call of Cthulhu game - it ran for 3 years and was, it has to be said, bloody hard work. But I enjoyed it because I got to play all the other characters - from old Bill at the slateyard to the eeire Reverand in the Welsh village it was set in, I actually had the opportunity to play along too, albeit in a meta-role. I think that without that chance to express myself and join in I would have given the whole thing up 2 months in. So to hear you run the place but never get to play, well it makes me sad for you. I hope you find a way to get in there, a way that leaves your burdens behind even for a short while.

  7. What boundaries do we consider beyond each other's tolerance? Why are we intolerant of people who speak with a heavy accent?

    @Lunar For starters, I suggest you don't use the word intolerance. It's not quite as bad a 'racist', as recent experience has taught a mutual acquaintance of ours, but it is indeed ascribing a strong motive on the actions of another person. As I've said again and again, we can't ever know what the other person is thinking in Second Life. This technology isn't immersive enough for that. We can only infer certain things from what is spoken and what is done in world. I certainly don't consider myself intolerant, and would be offended to be characterized as such. However, I do choose not to participate in other people's roleplaying experience if I find it not to be of my liking. I concede that the people indulging in roleplay have *every* right to do so, and don't wish for them to stop on my account. I just don't wish for it to intrude upon my Second Life experience, which I paid for. Surprisingly, I find a lot of people agree with that statement-- whether the RP genres is steampunk, geegee, gorean, wild west, fantasy, or what have you. FWIW, I don't consider the recent action I journaled on (where mute was used on a certain group) to be intolerant, just an expression of personal choice.

    Also, FWIW, I do admire your own sense of tolerance and patience with dealing with the hodgepodge of folk that have taken over Steelhead with their various RPs. Recent events (I'm thinking of last month's scandal, not this month's) would tax my patience beyond boundaries of decorum, and you handled it with the patience of Job. I grant you it can't be easy-- but think on it for a second. By being as open and non-theme enforced as it is, doesn't Steelhead set itself up for this contention? Mind you, I wouldn't want it any other way.

    @HBA: Well, you get enough schoolin' under your belt and you start seeing these classic case study problems you learned about in Organizational Theory 101 and Industrial Psychology 202 rearing their ugly head, time after time after time. And nobody talks about it! Anywhere! Sure, this stuff fascinates me, partly because I'm part of it at times. My actual RP demands out of SL are pretty minor... some pretty visuals to photograph, some nice props, maybe a little time to write.. and I'm good!

  8. @Hotspur: I have to say, my RP demands are coming in at about the same level - where we differ is opportunity. You are part of a cummunity where RP happens and are therefore more likely to find partners with whom to write. I think I need to move to the same - I've been too long out on my own and it may be time to find a home where I can make those linkages too.

    But what style of home do I want, that is the question? One only I can I answer, I realise, but one I cannot answer at the same time...

  9. /me wishes he'd spell checked that last comment...

  10. If there is a commentary, count me in


  11. HB, I think there is a lot to be said for not going it alone -- though I do admire your heroric effots to tell good stories in which you're generating almost all the voices like you do.

    For me, some of the my favoritre story arcs from DW invovled two or three writers, taking the charcters and situations that had been developed in the course of in-world rp and then extending them into time and space beyond the sim, playing off each other as we went.

    There is a lot to be said for having a mix of storytellers, and a mix of stoytelling systems at your disposal.

    In a way it's kind of a version of what Hotspur is doing with his stories that involve combat scenarios and picture taking in-world, and then the actual narrative being generated in text form on blogs. Even if he's doing most or all of the writing, he's drawing on other characters of other people he interacts with in-world, and undoubtedly they contribute a sense of depth to his stories as the pesonalities of other people's characters permeate the stoylines.

    And that kind of brings me back to my main point in all this -- while yes, it is tidier and in some ways more efficient to focus on interacting with like-minded people who approach rp in a similar way to your own, we run the danger of chanelling our imaginations and our play into little self-imposed creative ghettos.

    It's like the mute option that has been repeatedly suggested as a means to deal with people who simply rub you the wrong way or who you find annoying because they look "too different" to your eyes or because of odd speech patterns or contrived dialects (which I think is different from using it when you are employing it to shut off the noise from someone who is being an absolute flaming douchebag on dry white toast).

    Yeah, muste is a viable option and I am sure Hotspur and others are right that sometimes it's the best way to deal with some situations. But it would be a shame to use it too easily, becuase sometimes even annoying folks have something to say that we can benefit from hearing.

    Like Hotspur says, one of the glorious and special things about a place like Steelhead is that you do get so much wild-ass diversity. Why go to a place like that unless you WANT to be surprised and revel in the bubbling cauldron of the unexpected and the incongruous?

  12. Mr. Antfarm: I got a kick out of that misspelling, so not all was lost.

    Miss Dio: was that parenthetical "who is most like your own alt anyway" or "most likely your own alt anyway"? *wink*

  13. yes Hon ye caught one o' m' famous typos. I meant to say "who is most likely your own alt" in one of my typically feeble attempts at humor.

    By the way, this is probbly a good place to explain that my supposed 19th century rural southern dialect is actually not a theatrical contrivance -- it is in fact, primarily the result of my dreadful shitty typing skills.

    I have gone back and belatedly corrected the mistake. Thanks for pointing it out, you hawk-eyed cutie.

  14. Well I'm going to make it my task to find a community of writers to jam with :)

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Hey Lunar...


    aw Hon.

    Sometimes it's not an issue of stepping away, but stepping back. Just a bit, and maybe for just a moment.

    As I said before, you've taken on an admirable but difficult task. And that was without knowing some of the aspects of it that you have just expressed.

    And it was very brave of you to do so, by the way. Often those of us who have always been the "fixers," and the ones "who take in strays," we're the ones who have the hardest time accepting the idea that sometimes we need to be fixed ourselves.

    As for the question of kicking someone out to make someone else happy -- I think you already have the answer to that one. Doing so would make them satisfied only briefly, and it wouldn't really make them happy. And it would cause you far more pain than the outcome would be worth.

    You know you can't do that.

    Maybe the people who are asking you to do things they should know you can't do, they need to step back as well and look at it with different eyes. Maybe they need to ask themselves how they could fix it, instead of looking to you to do so in this case. And probably a whole lot of other cases as well.

    And as for healing yourself -- you know, you write beautifully. The written word can be a useful tool in lightening the heart. Perhaps you could try to find the company of some fellow travlers and write together, cooperatively.

    Which brings me back to HB, looking for a community of fellow writers to share in the creative process... Hon, just a thought, but maybe instead of looking for one -- for something that might not even yet exist -- perhaps you could consider assembling such a community yourself? I know of a couple of good writers you might recruit.

  17. sounds like the start of a community to me.

  18. Dio: Wise words, as always x

    Lunar: You need to look after number one for a while my friend - the avs you selflessly care for will just have to step up to the plate and fix their own messes for a bit. Call it a holiday from stress - you sound like you need it in spades!

    As for writing, I'd be honoured to discuss some plotlines we could work up. I'm in the UK so generally SLT+8hrs, which isn't always that great for meeting my American friends online - but you can reach me via my blog (, Twitter (@hbahimself) or via email (headburroantfarm at gmail dot com).

    Now that The Lost Journal has finished, I'm planning to reboot my main story arc which is about my search for certain items of power that will allow me to stop a great multi-dimensional war breaking out. The tale so far is at ( but it really needs a reboot as it had lost its way. I'm currently rewriting several draft posts to get me to a point where I can start the search for the first item. I'm basing the items and themes on Celtic mythology as that's something I've always been interested in, but I also want to widen it out and take a more abstract or left-field view of these myths.

    These rebooted posts will lead to the point where The Lost Journal started and then I can pick up where it has just finished in Eugenia Burton's house in Steelhead - that could be a good place to pick up together?

    Timescale wise, I'm looking getting to that point by late July before taking a break in August for a long family holiday. I'd be planning to restart in September. I'm looking at changing jobs around then (if all goes well) but that shouldn't affect my availability too much, especially if we are emailing rather than relying on in-world meetings. Drop me a line if this sounds interesting and doable :)

  19. Okay, I have to post a comment even before I have read all of the other comments.

    My problem with people who take issues with those who decide to use accents is this:
    It is as if they are invalidating that person's choice of persona. Some people don't login to SL to be out-of-character. Heck, it has taken -me- a very long time to be less 'in character'. I like hiding behind a mask. No one usually takes exception with me because my persona is usually expressed via appearance only.

    Some people also choose to use an accent with their persona. I don't think that is bad. What bothers me is when someone tells another person using an accent to 'Stop that and talk right'. Basically, it makes me feel that person is telling the accented one that the persona they have adopted isn't valid in some way. It makes me feel the way that I used to feel when people made fun of me in school for the simple fact of my existence.

    "Oh, you're welcome here so long as you drop everything you came here to be for a moment and act 'normal'."

    "Oh, I'm sorry - you aren't invited to my pool party because you're fat."

    Either way, it is a 'we don't want you here.'

  20. I posted something on my own journal, but I don't think many people read it. It is at:

  21. I have to say, outside of areas where anything other than a certain apperance would break the RP (so human in Deadwood for example) I think that limiting how people lok and speak is a poor show given this is a world where we can do just about anything. I've been to Lusk as a human and always been welcomed (although not my potty mouth - but than it is PG - but then DO NOT get me started on PG and swearing - grown man can't say fuck in front of other grown men and women, christ!). In fact the only place I've had my half-gazelle look questioned was a wild west place (might have been Deadwood thinking about it) in 07 and even then the chaps were nice about it and RPed it up.

    p.s. I read your blog :) In my experience, more people read than will ever comment.

  22. Genie - just been to your blog post but can't comment as Anonymous & Open ID aren't enabled. I prefer Anon as work make it hard to log in & validate an OpenID.

  23. As I've said many times, I don't have a problem with people with accents pursuing whatever it is they came into Second Life to do. It simply isn't what I choose to do in Second Life, and I have a difficult time interacting with it-- there are times when I am certainly NOT joking when I ask "what did he or she say?". At the heart of it, I think I'm more of a storyteller than a "live action roleplayer" who is in character 24/7. I find it annoying to have to mentally translate into another person's universe all the time, and I don't feel that I have to. That's part of the (sometimes cantankerous) real me speaking. It's not sanctioning a group or being "intolerant" or "faux racist"-- it's making an active choice not to be playing the same game as someone else. I suspect there's no way to communicate the notion that "I don't have to play your roleplay" to people without them being offended in some way-- but I at least feel that I have been ethically and morally consistent about my personal position. Why should I pay to play something I don't like?

    It might interest people to know the amount of Jaegers I have ever muted. Zero. It's true. I *do* tease them from time to time, and will turn off a chat session featuring enough accents to fill a vaudeville theater, but really, most of them are affable enough when they are speaking in (( Brackets )) or out of character.


  24. This should be fixed now, HBA. I hope. I didn't realize it was like that.

  25. Hotspur, what I don't understand is - how is your reading someone speaking with an accent making you part of their roleplay? What do you do when you encounter someone with an accent IRL? Look at how Lumi types - she says she talks pretty much like that IRL without the mewing. Do you consider -that- roleplay even though it is rather like a typed accent?

    I guess I just don't get it.

  26. I have to say, I'm quite good at accents in RL where as my dear old dad still can't understand a thing Rab C Nessbit says on the telly (old UK sitcom about a drunk from Glasgow) - he just can't get accents at all and I guess he'd take Hotspur's view of "not for me". I tend to think of it as flashing out the character, although I don'y do it for 2 reasons - 1) HBA doesn't warrant it as he is me, me is he; and 2) I'm crap at it :) I present these as evidence:


  27. Hotspur, what I don't understand is - how is your reading someone speaking with an accent making you part of their roleplay?

    I become part of someone's SL roleplay inadvertently when they create a condition I can't choose *not* to participate in. I can always choose not to go to a Gorean sim. Since the vaudeville accent takes place in the commons that I share with other people, it's almost impossible to avoid. My choices have become 1) Turn off public chat all the time or 2) selectively mute people who RP 24/7, 3) Grin and nod a lot, hoping things will change, or 4) move elsewhere. To be honest, I've considered all of these, but they all have drawbacks. I don't hold anything personal against the chaps that want to do what they want to do in Second Life-- but it's not for me, so the best I can do is to tease and act cantankerous. It's my way of indirectly telling people I don't play in certain RPs.

  28. Hotspur, one of the things that I respect about how you approach this overall issue is that you are up-front about not wanting to be drawn into every rp situation, but that you are an extremely good sport about things like accents and affected speech patterns when you are invited to have a role in a particular scenario, and given the choice to take part or not.

    In fact, I recollect a certain Irish "gentleman" who was asked to play the part of a sea captain at the christening of an Elizabethan merchant galleon (though we all knew once she took on her guns at Greenwich, the circumstances under which she would be "seeking cargo" might be somewhat less than orthodox *wink wink, nudge*).

    Anyway, that certain "gentleman" did comport himself in a manner which was most pleasing to his Queen, and We did put our greatest confidnce in him, in spite of such trifles as beng an Irishman...and, yes, technically a Catholic (but know you this, your Queen values Our seadogs for their enterprise, loyalty and seamanship, and not their pedigree--and after all, 'tis not against Our laws to be catholic--tis illegal merely to practice it, or to convert for purposes of rebellion...)

    You were charming, you played the part splendidly, and I hope you had fun. But of course it was something that was not imposed--it was by invitation and you were gracious enough to take it on.

    I think this might be part of how people might try approaching the type of conflicts that have caused so much debate lately. Might we find some means to encourage those involved to make a greater effort to incorporate more of that "invitation" element to the ebb and flow of 24/7 rp situations that one finds in places like a flexibly-themed steampunk sim?

    It can extend to very simple interactions. Perhaps, let's say should a gentleman of a non-rp'ing or limited rp nature come upon a group of oh, let's say, some jeagers in the throes of conversation, should not the expectation be that they would greet him civilly, and ask soemthing like "Howdeedoo, mein gute Herr, vee vere chust discussink azpects uf der design uf torpedoes, vud chu care to choin us?" This approach would thereby give him the opportunity to either agree or politely decline, with some explanation such as he has to go off and "wash and wax his water buffaloes." Or if he is planning on staying in the same locale, he might reply, "Kind of you to ask, but no thank you gentlemen, I have committed to an earnest and important conversation over here with Miss Swizzlestick."

    And then if this gentleman needs to go ahead and mute so as to be able to focus on the conversation with Miss Swizzlestick -- well so be it.

    The simple fact of the matter is that no one, irl or in-world is going to be found amusing, engaging, and interesting by everyone they encounter. But we need to also encourage people to handle that reality in a kindly fashion. As Eugenia points out, the personas we create are very much a form of self expression, and to feel they are being rejected out of hand can be painful.

    which kind of brings us to the issue of how we address muting...

  29. On the subject of muting...

    I have been unclear if what was being recommended in some quarters was to do so, accompanied by loudly announcing in grand theatrical tones, "oh by the way, my dear Von Blowenchunk, I am muting you because (insert marginally witty faux Oscar Wildesque remark here). This of course is the best approach if one is rp'ing a character who is something of a self-important , tin-plated narcissistic oaf whose shtick is focused upon deriving delight from getting any kind of reaction from those around him/her. However, it is not perhaps the best approach if one is trying to participate in the give-and-take of ensemble rp without distracting from the sense of environment that others are attempting to facilitate.

    I understand that there are those, including Hotspur, who recommended the far more tactful approach of simply muting the people that are proving a distraction. This makes a great deal of sense, especially if one is concerned about the idea that you not only want to enjoy the environment yourself and in your own way, but you recognize the rights of others to enjoy it in their way as well. But in your civilized world view, as I understand it, muting someone doesn't have to be a huge stage production.

    At the same time, I know there are people who feel that it is not entirely honest to simply mute someone else without letting them know--and I suppose I can see the validity of that point of view.

    However, carrying it out still does not have to be made into a gooey kablooie. If one was feeling utterly compelled to mute someone AND let them know you are doing so, would it not make sense to notify them privately--with a polite IM, something along the lines of, "Say pard, nothing personal, but I am trying to focus on some stuff that is going on here, and I need to cut down the noise ration a bit--I'm going to mute you for now, so if you need to get my attention for something crucial, can you send me a note?" or something like that.

    I've gotten used to this kind of approach in Deadwood. A great many things are worked out in private IM's (in fact it is pretty much verboten to deal with non-1870's issues in open chat because it breaks the sense of being immersed in another time and place for the rest of those present.

    This has a practical application: let's say someone has been "injured" and I have been called to help with their rp because "I know something about doctorin' an' the regular sawbones is off drunked-up somewhere." I'll send the "injured party" an IM asking them if they want me to attend to the wound, and if so, how badly are they hurt and where. That way I don't have to guess what's wrong and possibly break the mood or create an issue, say, by telling them their pecker is about to fall off, when in fact they were bitten on the nose by a rabid woodchuck.

    The value of the IM in facilitating rp takes on an even greater role in situations where it is required to head off action of an even more cosmic nature. For example, in the rp community I usually live in, if you don't wish to rp with someone, you have every right to IM them and say, "hey, I'd rather not be shot right now, thank you very much." And they are obligated to respect that, and if they give you guff about it, they get a friendly little talking-to from an admin.

    I know there are rp communities where this is not done and if someone comes up and wants to attack or sexually assualt your character, the rules say you gotta go with the flow. And that's fine, for those communities. They have the right to do it that way, but it just doesn't fit with the kind of storytelling the people in my community are trying to do. I'm just saying that in certain types of communities, a more collaborative approach--that utilizes "out of character" communication IN PRIVATE--works very well and perhaps some of that kind of non-confrontational interaction could help in some of these situations that have been so thoroughly discussed of late.

  30. See my LJ for more of my feelings on this issue. The 8th response to the accent post is the one that I mean.

  31. I'd post it here, too, but I can't seem to paste!

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. hey Lunar,

    Good luck with your proposed regular discussion of broader issues. And the idea of RP classes holds merit too -- we have periodically had 'how-to" classes on subjects like basic rp, and how to be a better bad guy in Deadwood, and I think people benefit from the discussion. RP is like many aspects of SL, it can be kind of intimidating to folks who haven't tried it yet.

  35. I have been unclear if what was being recommended in some quarters was to do so, accompanied by loudly announcing in grand theatrical tones, "oh by the way, my dear Von Blowenchunk, I am muting you because (insert marginally witty faux Oscar Wildesque remark here). This of course is the best approach if one is rp'ing a character who is something of a self-important , tin-plated narcissistic oaf whose shtick is focused upon deriving delight from getting any kind of reaction from those around him/her. However, it is not perhaps the best approach if one is trying to participate in the give-and-take of ensemble rp without distracting from the sense of environment that others are attempting to facilitate.

    Let us consider a part of the equation that we don't seem to talk about-- how the community at large benefits. I have long-term muted a grand total of perhaps two individuals in my entire Second Life. These are people I find it extremely unpleasant to be around, and it usually leads to trouble when I am. A muting in this case is my own way of saying "Hotspur, old chum, don't drag your feelings for this poltroon out in public; the community does not wish to see this, you don't want the stress of more bickering with said individual, and besides, you're paying (lots) to have this good time, why expose yourself to something that is like a trigger for you?" I thought, at first, this action would lead to loads of discord and strife.. but you know what, it didn't. Second Life became calmer. I became calmer and a lot more good-natured. The petty bickering becomes less important. As for the conversations I might have had with said individuals, they weren't that important anyway.. and if need be I'm findable by email.

    The flip side to this is you don't publish this information. You don't rub it in the person's face. You don't even send the person a polite note informing of the slight. Why should you? It will only cause trouble. You know that. Even if life is better for ALL concerned, some people don't like the notion of rejection. I understand this. Speaking for me, if I irritate you so much, PLEASE MUTE ME! I'll pick up on it eventually and not bother you any more, and the world will be a better place, I promise.

    The other mutes I do are temporary chat-clowns that just like to talk and talk and talk and talk on chat channels blah blah blah blah the weather, pizza, my job today, etc. I mute them in chat but unmute in person. 'Tis a temporary notion.

    Glad you started this thread, Dio. I talk about RP quite a bit on Hibernia but don't get a lot of comments because there are usually some hostile folks out there. This is like common ground for discussions. :-D

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Lunar,
    There is no need to apologize for taking up space on my blog with a discussion like this, if what you want to discuss is important or interesting to you, or feels like it needs to be said.

    That's why we've got comment sections: so people can have some give and take and try to understand one another better. Problem is, I am not sure that everyone in this discussion is actually understanding each other any better as this has gone along.

    For example, it seemed like Hotspur threw out an almost parenthetical off-hand comment about the use of the term "intolerant," and that kinda triggered a response from you that went in another direction that sorta triggered a response from Hotspur that makes me think maybe y'all need to step back and maybe start over.

    I think you both share common ground and need to reflect on where that is.

    And hey Lunar, Hotspur isn't a direct factor in what is making life unpleasant for you in Steelhead.

    He's a good guy, a decent guy, and he has been more honest and up front about his feelings and opinions than a lot of folks seem to be. I may not agree with some of his his personal opinions about some things like wacky accents, but damn, I respect him for being up front about it, but not in an obnoxious self-aggrandizing way.

    As far as I know, he's not one of the folks who are being polite to somebody in person, and who will then send the sim owner a nasty "kick this guy out" IM, or who talks on their blog about how that same person needs to be shot, cut into small pieces and then buried in multiple steamer trunks out behind the railroad tracks.

    He's just been saying that if someone's brand or quantity of chat is a distraction, then you really don't need to go for the small caliber solution -- just go ahead and quietly mute them, and you don't even have to let them know--even privately--that you did so, because doing so stands a good chance of creating unnecessary tension.

    And Hotspur, you know Lunar is trying awful hard to foster an environment that other people can enjoy and benefit from--all he wants to do is make a good place for people to have fun -- but he is just frustrated and not having much fun himself. And a lot of what is getting to him is obviously having an effect on how he reacts to things.

    Our state of mind can turn something as simple as as an off-hand comment into a "trigger" -- and before we know it, we have lost sight of the common ground we were starting from.

    And my original thought with this thread was that I hoped that people would try to talk to each other, that they would be honest with each other and listen with respect and empathy, and maybe that could help us all enjoy our lives in-world a little more.

    Obviously it's important to us--the way this thread has gotten some very impassioned and thoughtful responses suggests to me that this OP touched on some big issues that are weighing heavily on people's minds and hearts these days.

    Yeah, Lunar is absolutely right, it's hard out there in rl at present. I think we all are dealing with a lot of uncertainty and pain--and yes, even under the best of circumstance,s let's face it, we're all walking wounded. You don't get very far in life without having TAS happen, and that is true for all of us. Period. So then doesn't it behoove us even more so to try to make a positive and congenial experience out of our collective journeys through this malleable world in which so many things are possible?

    Let's not give up on trying to communicate just yet.

  40. Can I pinch your cheeks?

    You're cute.

    - Lunar

  41. I realized that there is one person who should never have an opinion, and that is me.

    Long life to you milady you are wise beyond your years.

    Though... I still want to pinch your cheeks.

    - TotalLunar Eclipse

  42. Everyone is allowed an opinion Lunar, even the boss. It's just that the boss always has to struggle to reach higher ground whereas the rest of the folks can pretty much say what they like without the same responsibilities to consider first.

    I hope you guys can find that common ground and diffuse the situation. I think that the muting of accented players (and then the various responses to it) has probably hurt people's feelings more than was evident at first. To be told "I'm not listening to you because you are annoying" must be hard to hear for anyone - similarly for the muter to then have an angry crowd at the door can't be a bag of giggles either.

    Maybe the muting of players can be handled a little more sensitively - and hopefully the mutees will, free of a feeling of a value judgement being placed upon them, accept this.

    As was mentioned, it costs real money to take part, play and enjoy this world and fights only ruin that enjoyment – and that‘s true for half-gazelle, elves, jagers and humans :)

  43. I like the storytelling style myself, formal rp always seems so forced. There was an interesting discussion in New Babbage recently, which I chose to do in public to take a civic snapshot of how our residents approached rp. Read here:

  44. "Pinch m' cheeks," indeed.

    Humph. Just goes to show how much I have mellowed in recent memory.

    Not all that dreadful long ago, if a feller had tried that I woulda' undoubtedly cut his heart out an fed it t' the coyotes.

    Now it just seems kind of endearing...tho' mind you, the actual cheek pinchin' thing? It still ain't happenin'.

    Serioulsy though, Lu, of course your opinion matters, and of course you, like all the rest of us, are allowed to have one. And please remember, even if you express your opinions and no one says, "oh ok, now we understand how you feel and in the future we'll make sure we take that into consideration," it does not mean your opinion is not making a difference.

    When you put your feelings out there, they soak in--other folks will have what you have said somewhere in the back of their minds as they make choices about how to act or what to say. Even if it is only done on an almost subconsicisou level, your opinion is being taken into consdieration.

    Our heartfelt opinions, once expressed, have an impact, subtle though it may be.

  45. Hi Galactic - what a brilliant link - really is an eye-opener, thanks for posting it.

  46. Hey Mr. Baroque,

    Thanks for senidng the link --that was a real interesting read. Certainly highlights two things for me:

    First, it is a happy reminder that there are an astonishing variety of ways to approach creating stories in SL. I am intrigued by this concept of New Bababge as a focal point for "storytelling rp" and how the city is in many ways a character in those stories as much the individual residents and guests can be, if they so choose. The more I learn about how the New Babbage folks approach their storytelling, the more intriguing I find it.

    Second, it struck me that while New Babbage utilizes a very different approach from someplace like Deadwood, some very similar kinds of issues still arise, as they do in all the places where stories are made. And yes, I do think that ultimately that all the rp and storytelling, and storytelling rp sims are places where people enjoy creating stories. It's just that the kinds of stories that are produced, and in some cases literally acted out for each other, come in as many different flavors as one could hope for. That said, everyone shares in dealing with certain issues.

    Like how to incorporate newcomers into the process after a community has been going for a while.

    Like the challenge of accommodating "bad guys" in a community.

    Or like the issue of accommodating the needs of a community's merchants in a storytelling environment.

    But ultimately the key thing that we all share is the fact that all these different approaches, from a combat-rich gangster city, to the regulated improv theater of a place like Deadwood, to the writers' collective of a place like New Babbage, are all valid approaches for the community that adopts them. We all find a place that works for what we want to do, but by damn, we all need to fuckin' respect what the other folks are doing when they take a different approach to storytelling from our own preference.

    The guy who goes into someone else's sim and says "that's not how to rp!" or "no one is going to tell ME how to rp," needs to do two things. Number one, as grandma used to say, he needs to go shit in his hat, pull it down over his ears and call himself Mary Pickford. Number Two, he then needs to either give a try to the approach that predominates in that particular sim, OR go find a place that is suited to his own world view. Or hell, maybe he oughtta get off his puckered, pale basement-dwelling ass and start his own community. All things are possible in-world.

  47. When my opinions hurt other's feelings and drive people to leave... its best left unsaid at least by me. Its not my war, my aim was to show both sides of the fence not take a side but even the best intentions are... never how they are.

    I won't pinch you're cheek but I still think you're cute. Your words are always well taken and thank you again.

    - Lunar

  48. I still want to know which set of cheeks he is wanting to pinch!

  49. I ain't sure Hon, but he's gotta be mindful o the consequences if he don't choose wisely.