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My safe word is “Apples”

When I first created Zoe I wanted a character that gave me the freedom to step outside of my comfort zone and try something different. She was meant to be the polar opposite of my main character, and me, the player on the other side of the screen.

She burst onto the RP scene, strutting into The Horned Goat and packing more attitude than a classroom full of teenagers. She was brash, abrasive, and at times downright abusive.

Over time, and as her story took shape and molded her more, she mellowed. Only a little, mind you. But there is still that harsh undertone to her, that fiesty temper that can result in her going into attack mode.

Chances are if you’ve rped with her or follow her on Twitter, you’ve seen it, or maybe even experienced it firsthand.

There are other characters out there who are very similar to Zoe. Who, when engaged with, are itching to pick a fight, or get personal. Words fly, and at times it can get ugly.

Role playing can be a deeply personal experience, and as such, when these types of confrontations happen, it can be easy for the player behind the character to get hurt. Sometimes that’s a result of the wrong thing being said or someone going too far. Sometimes it just a case of bad timing, as the other player may have things going on in their personal life that others are not aware of.

But what is too far? We’re playing in a world full of make believe people dealing with the supernatural. Conflict is a natural part of the world, and even more so here. So what’s wrong with going in, all guns blazing, your toon spotting venomous words like bullets?

Well, at the end of the day this is just a game. People come here to have fun and relax, not be stressed out by interactions with others. And whilst I believe playing out conflict can be one of the great parts of role playing, there is a very important factor that needs to be considered first.

Consent.

No, this post didn’t just turn into a sex ed lesson, but it’s not far off, in some respects. All parties involved in an rp need to be in agreement with what can and can’t be done.

What if things start before both parties are on the same page though, you may ask? Reach out to the other player as soon as you can and check up on them, and make sure they understand you and your characters motivations. Even ask the player if they are OK after a heated engagement.

It’s for this very reason that those of you on the receiving end of Zoe’s barbed tongue have either has the interaction discussed with them beforehand, or receive a DM either profusely apologising and making sure you’re OK, or asking if I’ve gone too far. I’ll also make sure people know that if I do go too far, all they have to do is say and it stops straight away.

Gaining consent and setting the ground rules for these types of interactions means all parties can participate fully and with the confidence they will be safe and have a good time. And that’s what this game is all about – having fun.

Watching a brutal, heated in character argument between two people can be exciting, and a great way to tell a story. It’s even better when you know both players are on the same page. Just remember, behind the pixels, computer screens and mobile phones, there’s still a regular person sitting there, and you have no idea what their life is like, or what has happened to them that day. So let’s play nice, and get consent when we want to take things to another level. Hey, maybe even set up a safe word that can be used. Mine is ‘Apples’.


a1nq6tSeZoe Prue has been playing TSW on and off since 2012 and now RPs mostly on Twitter and Google Docs. You can find her on Twitter @zoezotprue

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