- 1 ...Or, How to Not Be A Dick
- 1.1 Standard OOC Etiquette
- 1.2 Standard RP Etiquette
...Or, How to Not Be A Dick
Text based RPG's are a great environment for people to come together and explore a universe limited only by their imaginations. However, in a game where people come from all walks of life, bringing with them differing customs, comfort levels and backgrounds, and when text is the only form of communication, there is also a lot of potential for misunderstandings that can quickly grow disruptive and hurtful to all people involved.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these types of misunderstandings!
The primary key is respect, communication and receptiveness. So everyone take a deep breath and remember! 99% of the time, people are not coming onto these games hoping to offend or be offended, so if you ever find yourself frustrated, offended or under attack, taking a few hours off to watch a movie or go for a walk to gain some emotional distance before you respond can spare yourself a lot of trouble!
There's an excellent article here with some very good points about playing in a cooperative environment. It's written with a tabletop environment in mind, but most of the concepts still very much apply to text based RPing.
On top of that, here are some useful guidelines generally followed and understood in our game's culture:
Standard OOC Etiquette
In a text-based environment, we do not have tone, body language, facial expression nor eye contact with which to couch our statements. This can make it harder at times to communicate clearly when we speak. Even the use of smiley faces can be confusing (is :P a smiley face or a tongue-sticking-out face? Does XD mean you're grinning or winking? Depending on who you ask, you might get wildly different answers!) There are ways, however, to avoid miscommunication.
- Be direct. Many of us are taught from a young age that politeness is in passiveness. But in text, passive suggestions are much harder to infer the intended message from, which can lead to frustration to both the party speaking and the party being spoken to. You will get much more effective results simply from stating "I'm looking for RP" than you will by hinting "I'm bored." Sadly, the same can be said if you are *feeling* offended. If you do not speak up, the person that has offended you may not even know they have done so. It's hard to do, but it can nip so many problems in the bud to state it up front when you are feeling uncomfortable. (And, worst case scenario, you should save and date the log in which you say as much - staff likes to see these things when they are addressing problems!)
- Be receptive. If someone tells you OOC that they are uncomfortable, you should stop what you are doing. You do not need to understand why, you do not need to agree, you don't have to like it, but if something bothers someone OOC, you should not continue doing it. Doing so is harassment. If you are uncertain about how to handle a situation when confronted, do not argue with the other person. Save a log of the conversation and date it, and take it to staff.
- Do not badger. We all get excited sometimes, and when we're enthusiastic, we're eager to do these things that we're excited about. And in a world of RP, these things tend to rely on other people also doing them. Enthusiasm and energy is a good thing! But, hard as it may be, once you've expressed your interest, unless the other party is returning it, you may have to wait until they have the time, energy or interest. We never entirely know what is going on in another person's life, and pushing when a person doesn't have much time or energy to spare can make it *harder* to engage. And no one wants that.
- Be mindful of people's boundaries. Hugs/snuggles/kisses etc. cross many people's comfort levels; unless you know someone is comfortable with it, don't do it.
Text-based mediums leave a lot of room for misunderstandings and miscommunication. It is the nature of the medium; people communicate so much through tone and body language, without being aware of it, that when these tools are stripped away and only words are left behind, it can become very easy to misinterpret.
Because of this, we've put together a simple guide for how to effectively OOCly communicate on this server.
The most important rule is to remember that in-character communication is entirely in-character, and out-of-character communication is the same. If you find yourself puzzling over something that someone has said or done with their character, the best way to clear up that confusion is to ask, either ICly if you are positioned to do so, or OOCly if you are not. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes made on any game -- we assume that a character's actions or statements are in any way tied to the person who controls them.
The second most important rule to remember is that never in the course of human history has everyone always agreed on everything. There will be occasions when you disagree with a character or with a player. This has always happened and will always continue to happen. It's how we deal with such disagreements that matters most.
To that end, here are some guidelines on how to communicate effectively with your co-players!
Communication requires attitude, attention and feedback.
- Attitude: Attitude is crucial. Nothing shuts down communication faster than a negative attitude. All participants should maintain a positive and respectful attitude, with the mutual aim of coming to some sort of constructive conclusion. Yes, we all need to vent at times, but if it becomes a circular discussion full of negativity, nothing is going to be accomplished. This does not mean holding hands and singing Kumbaya before discussion takes place. This means viewing the other player as an equal worthy of the sort of treatment you would like to receive. Avoid using blaming language or profanity. Using "I" and "I feel" statements is more constructive (ex: I feel ignored when I ask for RP and no one answers). Also try to keep in mind the other person's point of view and remember no one is ever entirely right, no one is ever entirely wrong.
- Attention: If you have a concern or question for someone else, you need to make certain of the message you wish to convey to them. Choose your words carefully; try to strip away negative emotion from the message. Saying, "I've got a problem with you," is going to send the conversation nosediving into a fall. Saying, "I'd like to discuss something with you, I have a concern about (thing)," is much more effective and far less likely to put your conversational partner on the defensive. Likewise, the person on the other end of the equation needs to listen with careful attention and avoid inserting their own interpretation or preconceptions into the message being conveyed-- listen for its true intent, not for what you expect it to be.
- Feedback: Feedback is important because it informs both parties that they are being heard. If you aren't sure you understood something correctly, it's good to ask for clarification, rephrasing and feedback. In this stage, all participants should be looking for some sort of constructive resolution or solution to the issue.
Some of the barriers to communicating effectively include distractions, poor communication skills, attitude such as aggression or complete conflict avoidance, poor understanding or lack of feedback. None of these are insurmountable, but it's important to keep them in mind when engaging someone in dialogue.
When you want to communicate effectively, you have to commit to doing so in a mature and reasonable manner. If you aren't sure that you can, there is nothing wrong with bringing in a mediator to help with the process. If you find yourself in that situation, staff is here for you! Just contact one of them on the game via page or @mail, and they will work with you to help figure things out.
Channels are the primary form of OOC communication on X-men rEvolution. All public channels on this game are rated R in their content, as regards general language and topics. This does not, however, excuse purposely offensive messages or abusive language between Players. If in doubt, be respectful, and try to be sensitive to the fact that you do not know what personal experiences the other people on a channel have been through or would find offensive.
Please keep channel chatter to its appropriate channel. Often times, people will mute spammier channels when they are not in a situation where they can keep up with excessive chatter, but will leave on other channels for updates, new or other relevant feedback.
- ooc-general - This channel is for generalized chatting. Casual conversation goes here!
- find-rp - This channel is exclusively for seeking roleplay/organizing scenes. The majority of scenes on rEvolution are organized via channel or pages (as opposed to via hanging out in public rooms), so feel free to ping the channel if you're looking for a scene! Please keep off-topic conversation off of this channel. Keep in mind that asking for roleplay on channel indicates you are open to playing with whoever might respond. If you are looking for people to NPC for specific scene ideas, the roleplay channel can also be a good place to ask for that.
- welcome - This channel is exclusively for guests, new players, and newbie-helpers, to help people get settled in and answer questions newcomers might have.
Channels are a fun place to unwind, kill some time, make friends and share stories. If you find yourself talking a lot more than everyone else, though, you might want to take a step back and consider if you are monopolizing the conversation. A good rule of thumb is that if <your name> appears on a channel more than <everyone else>, you might be talking too much.
Additionally, bear in mind that while this is a community and we strive for a congenial atmosphere, everyone here does not have the same comfort levels or levels of closeness! We aim to be friendly, but we aren't all friends -- the public channels are just that, public; and not everyone knows each other, so keep in mind that everything you say on there is open to an audience who is not all familiar with you.
Sharing at length intimate details of your life (health concerns, family issues, anything better suited to telling your best friend or your therapist) might be better kept to private conversations where you know the people involved. Teasing & dark humor can be well-received by friends who know you well but may not come across very well with strangers who don't have the benefit of friendship and tone/context, so consider your audience before making jokes that might be perceived as insulting or offensive. As well, conversation that is very specific to offline-interactions with specific individuals might be better suited to page or offgame messaging (i.e., do not use Public channel to make your dinner plans with someone; you can do that via pm or offgame text messages.)
If you find yourself talking a lot and getting little response, it never hurts to sit back and ask yourself - What am I trying to accomplish with what I'm saying? Who is responding, when they do? Is it positive or negative? Could what I am saying be considered negative? Is this the appropriate channel to be saying this on?
Requests for help and questions are always welcome, but often times criticism and complaints (whether intended, or just perceived as) can sometimes leave the people on a channel uncomfortable and uncertain with how to respond, especially if they are not personally involved or able to help find a resolution. After all, this is a game, first and foremost - people log on to have fun, and negative or heavy commentary can make this harder for everyone to accomplish. Please take issues to staff in private - they are much better equipped to help you find solutions to your problems!
PM is the quickest way to communicate with individual Players on a game. It's a convenient way to ask questions, make plans and clarify poses. However, it is also a feature that can cause a lot of unintended problems if misused. Some people can multitask and don't mind a lot of side chatter, but it's generally safer to never /assume/. Ways to avoid common PM peeves:
- Be concise. It's tempting to only page 'Jane waves!' and then sit back and wait for a response before delving into a topic, but paging is not the same as checking for a pulse. A paged 'wave' isn't something a person even necessarily might KNOW they need to respond to. Instead, try to state the nature of what you need all in the first page. (ie: 'Jane waves! I was hoping to ask you about your lawnmower. Let me know when you have a minute!')
- Be patient. Yes, there are some situations where a person might have simply forgotten to respond to a message, or it got lost in spam, or their connection blipped and they didn't get it. But more times than not, if one message isn't responded to right away, a second will not *hasten* the speed in which a response comes. PMing 'I have a question', waiting five minutes, and then adding 'Hello? Is anyone there?' is going to come off sounding rude. Just wait. If perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes have gone by and there is no response, it might be appropriate to send a second asking a person if they received your last message. If there is still no response, you should probably assume the other person is AFK or otherwise unable to respond at the moment. And you should try again later, or wait for a response before initiating further contact.
- Many people -- including staff and guides -- prefer to keep casual conversation on the channels and use PMs for more specific purposes (planning RP, answering RP-related questions, working out plot hooks, etc.) rather than for socializing. Please be aware of the boundaries of the person you are messaging, and refrain from PMing people "just to chat" if they seem uncommunicative or have actively expressed that they would rather you didn't. The social norms are different from game to game and people not wanting pages does not mean they are rude or do not like you; socializing here just tends to happen on channel, and PMs more often utilized for things such as planning scenes or plotting.
Standard RP Etiquette
How we behave OOC is (and SHOULD be) often very different from how our characters behave IC. Keeping a strict separation between ourselves as our characters, and our feelings about other *Players* and *their* characters is an imperative part of keeping the RP environment healthy. A character's opinions expressed in a scene should never be assumed as the Player's own personal opinions. RP is, essentially, a hypothetical exploration exploring the different ways various personality types might respond in varying situations.
The foremost thing a person should remember is that RP is not meant to be taken personally. This is just a game, and if something in an RP is bothering you, take a minute to step back, go for a walk, have a snack or possibly sign off for night - anything that will help you remember that in the grand scale of things, the sordid lives of our characters in RP is pretty inconsequential as regards the rest of our lives. Most of the time, we're all generally friends here, and no one wants to actually hurt anyone's OOC feelings. Likewise, we should try to remember not to let it. If something in RP is bothering you, you are never in any way required to continue the RP. If you ever feel pressured to do so, the matter should be taken to staff.
That said, there are ways to help us all avoid stepping on toes. None of the following are rules, and not everyone cares. However, when we are RPing with people we don't know, it can be helpful to consider the following.
Finding & Joining Scenes
When looking for RP, it is common to join a scene that is already going on amongst other people. This sort of free-range coming and going makes for an interesting, organic environment similar to real life situations. Depending on various people's RP backgrounds, there are some common courtesies and conventions some people prefer regarding 'scene crashing'.
- Generally, RP happening in public rooms is considered public and joinable by anyone on the game. However, it does not hurt to ask in PM or on the Roleplay channel if you're in doubt! While adding more characters to a scene can cause an interesting new dimension to whatever is going on, there are some cases where other Players might, for whatever reason, have a limited time in which they can RP something specific, or might be trying to accomplish something time sensitive. Some people also struggle to keep up with larger crowd scenes and may or may not be able to handle more people joining.
- If someone says No, try to be objective to the reason they are saying it, rather than getting hurt or offended. It can be frustrating, but in the end, if the people in a scene can not, for whatever reason, handle another person joining, it probably wouldn't be very fun for you to have joined them anyway.
- It is often a good idea to wait a round (ie let everyone already in the scene pose first) before posing in. This can give you a chance to better understand what is currently being RPed, so that your entrance can be better tailored to suit the already established environment. An ICly disruptive entrance is one thing, but it can cause some serious surrealism if you jump-pose that your character is casually whistling as they wander into the scene, while the people currently in the scene have been RPing that a barfight is currently underway!
- Conversely, if someone is joining your scene, you generally should wait on posing to them until *after* they have actually posed in. They might be planning to pose in a manner you wouldn't have anticipated!
- If there is no RP currently underway/if you're looking for a smaller scene/if the current RP is not joinable, the Roleplay channel is your friend! Ask there so that people know you are seeking RP. If you are asking for RP on the channel, be prepared to pick a location and set a scene yourself; finding a where and why to start a scene can be an effort, and you should be willing to put that effort in if you are the one initiating the RP.
- However, do not ask for RP on the roleplay channel if you aren't willing to start a scene with whoever might answer! It is considered rather rude to ask for RP on the roleplay channel and then deny or ignore the people who answer you. Proper etiquette is to attempt to include everyone who answers requests for roleplay, even -- especially if! -- this means starting multiple scenes if a lot of people end up answering. That way, nobody gets left out.
- It's perfectly acceptable to have specific scene ideas, and if there are things you want in a scene it is best to state those up front ("I'm looking for action"; "I'd like to have a scene at Xavier's School"; "I am going to start a scene in X location if anyone would like to join"; "I'm going to be doing a scene relating to Y plot") However, if you have specific people you want to play with and not others, those scenes are better arranged through private message. If you are unwilling to make a good faith effort to accommodate the responses you may get, the public channels are not the appropriate place to arrange your scene.
- In general, asking repetitively for roleplay in a very short span of time on the RP channel is not going to be any more helpful, and tends to just get spammy. If nobody new has signed on since you last asked, this means all the people on channel are likely to have seen your request already; try waiting at least a half hour between requests to see if anyone has become free.
Using OOC notation is the best way to communicate with all of the Players specifically involved in the current scene with you. It's how we greet people and it's how we say goodbye, and everything in between.
Specific preferences vary widely from person to person, how often they should be used. But as they do cause spam and can clutter up logs, try to keep OOC commentary limited to what is relevant to the RP currently going on. Obviously, if it's just you and one other person, and they are talking back to you freely, it can be assumed that you're free to chat OOC as you like. But if you are in a *group* scene, try to be aware that not everyone is going to appreciate the spam, much less watching you and other people carrying on conversations OOC in the same window that they are trying to RP in. Try to take non-scene related conversations to pages or channels to avoid spamming the rest of the people in the room!
OOC and Off-cam Communication
Some of of -- hopefully all of us! -- do not actually sit and RP out every moment of our characters' lives on-camera. Large swaths of time in each and every character's days are left off-cam for all sorts of reasons ranging from being too trivial or boring to play to not having time to play even the important things. But with many characters' sharing living spaces, school time, teams, or having intertwining lives in a variety of ways, OOC communication can be essential both for cutting down on frustration and also for helping both everyday RP and also plots run smoothly.
At its base, OOC communication helps avoid falling into the trap of 'that didn't get RP'd, so it hasn't happened'. It is always best to assume that regardless of whether people have had time to scene, until told otherwise, people's characters have continued on their everyday lives as would be expected. This means that if your character has PC roommates, family, best friends, etc, just because they have not had on-camera scenes with them please do not RP as though they have not seen them for days, as that can be a mild form of powerplay (presuming what the other character has been up to/that they have not been around.) If you are in doubt OOCly about what has been going on between your characters due to not being able to touch base on camera -- reach out to the other player! Ask them what their character has been up to!
When it comes to the less-routine, OOC communication is great for keeping involved with plots and helping them keep going! It can at times be really hard, given people's busy lives and schedules, to always get scenes with every person and relay all necessary information on-camera that needs to be relayed. But it is both convenient and realistic to do things such as:
- Have your character send an email or a text (via PM) with pertinent information! IRL, how much of our communication happens digitally? Don't overlook that with your characters either!
- Send a player a PM if your character would have run into them (at home, at school, at a meeting, wherever); let them know if there is critical information they would have divulged and if you need a response!
Above all, do not always expect the burden of these communications to be on other people. The best way to stay active is to be proactive, and people cannot be expected to know what is going on with your character/know how to get you involved in RP and plots if you don't help keep them in the loop!
Wonderful World of Meta
'Meta' in the case of RP is that little part of our poses that gives hint that there is a Player behind the character, offering extra information or commentary to color the text. Not all meta is bad! It's a way to acknowledge absurdities and humor, to impart further details that might be common knowledge about your character or to clarify (or obscure) what physical actions your character might be taking. It's a common form of stylization and can help to set tone and tempo in writing.
However, there are some meta techniques that are rarely welcomed in most forms of RP.
- A pose should never *just* be meta. Meta information, by nature, is information that cannot be responded to in RP, and can leave your partner scratching their head as to what exactly their character is expected to respond to. If you're not sure how much meta is too much, look at your pose and ask yourself this: How much of this pose could be seen if it were being acted out in front of a camera? If there is at least half the pose that consists of things that the other characters in the scene cannot observe, it's probably too much meta -- the other players in the scene will have little to respond to.
- Unless you are in a scene with an actual /telepath/, it's best to avoid meta-ing too extensively what your character is thinking. Show rather than tell; try to find physical actions or verbal cues that can hint what a character is thinking rather than spell it all out in meta. Make PCs work to find out who your character is - meta only tells the other *Player* about them, which does nothing to further IC dynamics!
- However, if you are in a scene with an actual telepath, this is the one time thought-posing is your friend! Check in with the player of the telepath and make sure to pose thoughts appropriately.
- Heavily restrict meta-insults. While there is a time and a place for everything, meta commentary detailing out just how unimpressed your character is with someone else's character can often come off as OOCly offensive. Meta comes from the voice of the Player, not the character, and meta-ing about the failings of another person's character can sometimes sound like OOC criticism. Use with caution!
Powerplay is when you make subjective statements about other people's characters sound like facts that they are then implicitly forced to submit to, regardless of whether it actually fits the character involved.
Most commonly, powerplay happens in physical situations - picking people up, punching, taking objects from another character, hugs, kissing; unless you already know the other person and are extremely familiar with their character's habits, you should never assume that what your character intends to do to another character will be successful in execution. This can be avoided most easily by posing the action just *short* of its success.
Posing 'Jane punches Jim's teeth out and throws him down the stairs' is powerplay. However, posing 'Jane throws a punch towards Jim's face, intending very possibly to throw him down the stairs' leaves the motion hanging, and allows the other Player to *decide* if the contact will happen. Most of the time, people tend to enjoy letting their characters get knocked around and tend to go with a pose hook. But you never know what characters have actually self defense, what characters might draw away from being touched, or whether characters might take the contact passively - or do something else entirely.
There's a second form of powerplay, however, in making statements or implications about other people's characters that are skewed, biased or otherwise inaccurate, but presented as though they are fact. This variety is harder sometimes to pinpoint, but can cause a lot of confusion, aggravation or even hurt OOC. If, say, you run into a character from the Brotherhood, and you are OOCly RPing under the assumption that everyone in the Brotherhood has a sweet Brotherhood tattoo, and RP that clearly the other character must not be an important member if he doesn't have one. The other Player might not OOCly know/agree on the existence of this tattoo - but maybe their character's backstory has them being a very important figure in the Brotherhood regardless! It becomes a tricky point, because IC, it is perfectly fine for your *character* to have their information false or assumptive, but to OOCly RP that if the other person's character does not fit into your own personal definition, they are then forced to be reassigned a different character concept than the one they designed, it is powerplay. Make sure to keep OOC and IC separate!
If someone does powerplay you, it's not the end of the world. Please be patient and never assume the other person is powerplaying you on purpose - sometimes, people just get excited, misread a pose, have different comfort levels/experiences from you that make them unaware of your own position or might just be new. OOC communication is vital in these types of situations - if you feel you are cornered into RP that your character wouldn't logically be engaged in, speak up! It is very rare to find someone that will say 'tough, you have to do it anyway' -- people *like* to be informed when they've crossed a boundary; its the only way to learn and readjust so that they don't do it again.
Often times, powerplay can even be sidestepped directly through the RP. 'Jane punches Jim's teeth out and throws him down the stairs' can just as easily be responded to with 'When Jane tries, Jim ducks and backs away.' Exercise your better judgement, be open to OOC commentary and try to stay ICly realistic, and it shouldn't harm the flow of a scene overmuch. As always, however, if there is any doubt, or if powerplay continually happens with a specific person, make a dated log of it and present it to staff. (Bet you saw that coming.)
TS and Excessive Violence
Sex and violence are fun! But different players have different boundaries, and accommodating those boundaries is crucial to ensuring everyone has a fun, safe, comfortable experience. Since scenes with sex and/or violence can trigger powerful emotional responses, it's important to ensure that everyone involved in such scenes are comfortable with what's going on.
When your scene is likely to involve sex and/or violence, you should inform any parties involved beforehand to make sure they are comfortable with it. When sex and/or violence occurs unexpectedly in a scene -- and you're not 100% positive the people in that scene are okay with it -- ask! Remember, if something makes you feel OOCly uncomfortable, you are under no obligation to continue ICly. You can fade to black -- find a reason to step out of the scene -- or even have yourself 'retconned' out of the situation entirely. Also, logs with explicit (sexual or otherwise) content should be labeled at the top for the sake of readers.
A note on death and violence: While ensuring no one feels as if their boundaries have been violated is a top priority on the MUSH, there are many plotlines that carry with them a significant chance of harm toward your character. No one wants to make you uncomfortable here; however, it's important you know what you're getting into. When people tell you that a scene or plotline carries risks, please believe them. If you don't want your character to die under any circumstances, it's imperative you listen to people when they tell you that participating in a given scene carries with it a risk of character death!
If you find yourself in such a scene or RP and want out -- or if you feel as if you haven't been properly informed as to the risks -- then take a step back, talk with the people involved, and, if necessary, talk with staff about solutions. Also, if you're running such a plot yourself, please make sure everyone going in knows precisely what the risks are!
Idling and Exiting A Scene
Meatspace life crops up for everyone! Sometimes you need to go idle for a time, or to leave a scene because the offline world is calling, sometimes you need to leave just because you're not feeling the scene anymore, sometimes you need to back out because you aren't comfortable with the direction things are going -- no matter what the reason, this is a game, we're all here to have fun, and nobody should ever make you feel pressured to stay in a scene you don't have the time/energy/inclination to stay in!
That said, in scenes people tend to be waiting on your poses/characters for the scene to progress -- there are polite and impolite ways of ending scenes or stepping away from your keyboard! In general, it's impolite to simply disconnect or go idle for long stretches without an explanation. Barring actual emergencies, it's usually best practice to actually make an exit pose if you have to go -- this doesn't have to be elaborate if you are in a rush! Even a simple one-line pose with your character needing to [take a phone call|go pee|go meet a friend|whatever!] is better than disconnecting with your character ICly still standing there in the middle of things.
If you absolutely don't have the time to do this, please give the other people a heads-up OOCly, if you have to duck out! Just a quick 'Sorry, something's come up, gotta dash! Assume my character took off!' is better than disconnecting without a word, or sitting idle for half an hour without a word.
Remember that you do not owe anyone your time and nobody owes you theirs; if people need to make an exit from a scene, please do not pressure them to stay or badger them for an explanation!
There are no +votes or +applause type code on rEvolution, but it's common courtesy, when people are leaving a scene or when the scene is ending altogether, to thank the other participants for their RP -- it's an investment of time for everyone, and without each other none of us would have a game to play.