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An Overly Long Tangent Talking About Why Drama Appears More Common in Online RP Communities


McSpazz
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WOHHHH BOY! This one might be a doozy.

 

As has been mentioned in my previous write-ups as well as in the classes themselves, most bouts of drama in RP tend to come from breakdowns in communication or a violation of consent. This does not, however, explain why online roleplay communities in particular get a reputation for being huge vortexes of drama. While some degree of exaggeration is at play, from my own experience, there is definitely truth to this.

 

There are many factors at play here that all come together to make this the case and I want to outline my own theory as to why. I hope that by pointing out some factors that can make drama more likely, you being aware of them could help you better manage your interactions with others.

 

1. It's Online

MMO roleplay is, by its nature, an online experience. Online interaction is complicated to say the least. While the internet is capable of improving our exposure to other frames of mind and people (thus improving our ability to empathize with them), it can also dampen our empathy towards others. The latter, from my experience, is often down to the limiting nature of text based communication. Without voice and facial expression, there are a lot of assumptions that have to be made about a person's intent.

 

Basically, every issue that can arise from a community being exclusively online also applies to us here. Be it toxic people being able to more easily blend in or take on new identities or rumors spreading like wildfire, RP communities are no exception. Least of all here given we are literally playing an online game.

 

2. Who Roleplays

This is mostly coming from my own personal experience, but I find that the people most likely to enjoy roleplaying are neurodivergent, othered/outcasted by society, and/or have some aspect of their life that gives them a reason to want an escape. This is not universal, of course, but there is definitely an over representation of these kinds of people in roleplay communities.

 

What does this mean? Well, there are a ton of roleplayers that have something going on about them that can make them sensitive to certain topics or even fail to recognize a problem even exists. I am sure there are many autistic roleplayers who have stories of people getting angry at them for not picking up on "subtle" hints or trans players who worry that people will treat them differently if their status as trans became public information.

None of this is aiming to justify toxic behavior, mind you. If somebody is behaving badly, some IRL difficulty they are experiencing is an explanation and, more than likely, not an excuse. But if communication is going to be difficult as it is (as this is all text based), the number of issues a person can have IRL that goes unsaid or unnoticed which could cause an issue are numerous.

 

For example, I have pretty severe ADHD and, by extension have pretty bad anxiety and an even worse short term memory. I've caused issues in the past because I failed to inform someone that an event was going to be happening, over analyzed something someone said and thought it was the worst case scenario, the list goes on. I've also had people not respect the limitations I am working under as a result of my condition and, as a result, treated me poorly.

 

I want to emphasize that this is not intended to place blame on marginalized groups. The reason why RP communities having such a large number of people that carry with them their own considerations can yield more drama is just once again pointing to the medium we are on (the interwebs via text based chat) and how not taking a minute to ensure every concern is being communicated can make things break down pretty quickly.

 

Which can only get more intense when you consider that people that fit what I described above can have difficulty trusting people where their own condition/identity is concerned. 

 

3. Creative Minds Don't Always Think Alike

Roleplay takes a lot of heart. If you aren't someone who has stories to tell or at least a love of hearing stories, you likely aren't going to enjoy roleplay. For better or worse, people who love stories often have a lot of opinions on the stories they grow attached to. It's not hard to find instances where artists go their separate ways over "creative differences". Art requires passion...and sometimes passionate people can have some pretty severe disagreements.

 

That old joke of nerds getting into an irrational and heated fight over if Han shot first or not has a pretty firm basis in reality. When people are passionate about a story, they can really go ham on defending their outlook. In an RP setting, literally everyone has their own stories that they will without a doubt defend from detractors. No matter if it's reasonable or not, if someone is defending their concept or vision as to how things should go, things can always escalate quickly. That's why one of the most common sources of these kinds of squabbles (as far as RP goes) seems to be that not everyone made their intentions on the path forward clear. If three people all agree on a group being mercenaries but one guy wants it to be vigilantes, another wants them to be villains, and the other wants to make them edgy mercenaries with a score to settle...well, even if they agree on the core concept, eventually the implementation of the vision is going to diverge and sparks are going to fly.

 

4. The Small Town Effect

Roleplayers often create communities to make it easier to find other roleplayers. It could encompass an entire server, but it can also be as small as a discord server of a few dozen. For whatever cliques might form, there are going to be fewer degrees of separation than might exist in other communities simply because of how many roleplayers are bound to exist in an MMO in proportion to literally everybody else.

 

If you cut someone off in a city, you might get a few moments of anger thrown at you. Do that in a small town, however, and some random guy you've only spoken to twice might have the juicy details in a matter of hours. Word can travel fast and news of drama can spread like wildfire. If you take everything I mentioned above into account, this can turn a simple interpersonal squabble into something widely known. It can only get worse if the subject of the drama is also a well known member of the community since that could end up creating entire factions at war with one another over who was in the right.

 

5. Escape for Escapism's Sake

I want to thank @DrunkFlux for sharing a story in the comments below that made me realize this was something I had left out. While there are certainly sadists out there that just get a huge kick out of ruining other people's fun, the ability to indulge in escapism in roleplay is something that can lead to interpersonal conflict. Worse, if someone cares so much for their own escapism that the enjoyment of others is secondary, it can lead to absolute catastrophe.

 

As I have said in other write-up's, roleplay is a cooperative project that doesn't just require everyone's consent and communication but also requires everyone to be considered. Consideration and consent do go hand in hand, but it's entirely possible to both respect someone's consent while at the same time not giving them the "screen time" they deserve. You always need to have one metaphorical foot out the in-character door so that you are not just aware of your actions from an OOC standpoint but also aware of how they affect others.i f you only care about your escape, you'll only care about your enjoyment. People who only care if they are having fun are more likely to be toxic if not just outright break someone else's consent.

 

Since escapism is such a huge draw of roleplay, you are both going to have people that, intentionally or not, get too absorbed in their own enjoyment to recognize the faults of their own writing. Assuming they care. It's not that escapism is bad, of course! You just have to make sure that you don't go so far down the rabbit hole you forget you're supposed to be playing with other people.

 


And now some comments that were posted below that I felt were really insightful takes on the topic! Why risk them getting lost in the back and forth when they can be immortalized here in a section of the original post?

 

  1. @TwoDeeThe Narcissism of Minor Differences

  

1 hour ago, TwoDee said:

I was dancing around responding to this thread, because metadiscussion of MMORPG roleplay drama can itself be drama.  I love playing peanut gallery, but it's hard to resist the urge to just wade in and start throwing bigger projectiles than peanuts when confronted with some of the most awkward, most deviant, and most cruel behavior that roleplayers can visit upon other roleplayers.  So, I committed to not responding until I felt that I had a point that I could make.  In my hubris, I think that I've found that point in an appeal to scope and perspective.

  

 

To build off the points above -- and I recommend that folks go up and read them if they haven't, as I was just quoting the most immediately applicable passages! -- when I experience the sorts of teapot tempests that MMORPG roleplay communities inculcate, I often feel that MMORPG roleplayers suffer a lot from the Narcissism of Minor Differences.

 

Let's get the elephant out of the room: the Narcissism of Minor Differences is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept.  Freud was, in many aspects of his work, a hack and a fraud and terribly off-base, and this observation is not meant to go pop-psychology and diagnose roleplayers as pathological narcissists, nor to attempt to use roleplayers as a tool to "prove [Freud] right."  However, I think that when one familiarizes oneself with the broad strokes of the concept, a lot of social conflicts both macro and especially micro, as in roleplay feuds, make a lot of sense.

 

The pithiest summary is that most humans desire to be perceived as a unique and thinking individual that is more than just the mechanical sum of overlapping categories on a balance sheet.  Thus, we are psychologically incentivized to make qualitative differentiations between ourselves and others, because being able to point to someone else and go "I am not that" is an easy way to define the self.  In the time since Freud coined the term (to examine how the most bitter wars have historically occurred between cultures and nations that appear very similar to outsiders), the Narcissism of Minor Differences has become an ever-keener aspect of daily life.  Globalism streamlines us into an interconnected monoculture with shared media, consumer goods, and economic outcomes.  As differences between individuals become smaller and smaller, the need to define ourselves as unique and unlike everyone else continues to burn ever stronger for it, and the differences that are required to create that definition become increasingly granular.

 

Thus, the political phenomenon referred to bitterly as "The Left Eats its Own."  Thus, gender-coded shaving razors and shampoo, because you wouldn't want your curly hair to be mistaken for curly girl hair.  Thus, Playstation and XBox fans bitterly warring over whose expensive DVD player hits 60FPS.  Trekkies and Star Wars, Call of Duty and Battlefield, DC and Marvel, Leo and Gemini.  A million little festering tiny resentments based around the fundamental human envy of "I know who I am, because I'm not them," coopted by interests that can provide material signifiers to prove our uniqueness.

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but MMORPG Roleplayers, categorically, have inscrutably minor who-gives-a-shit differences that are about five steps removed from any distinction that a sane outsider could possibly make by observation:

  • 'Gamers'
    • Video Gamers (this is where your parents stop caring)
      • PC Video Gamers (this is where most people stop caring)
        • PC Role-Playing Game Players (this is where other gamers stop caring)
          • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Players (this is where anyone with anything else going for them stops caring)
            • City of Heroes Players
              • People Who Pretend To Be Their Character For Fun
                • Those Other, Bad Roleplayers Who Roleplay Wrong And Aren't Like Me Because I'm Different (you are here)

That is the level of scope we're fighting over.  That is the small town that @McSpazz described as the "small town effect."  700 players at peak hours, charitably a third of whom are roleplayers, and you bet your ass that I'm being charitable.  Even @Shadeknight's City of Roleplay Discord, which ended up as the most populous Discord for dedicated City of Heroes roleplayers by dint of being first past the post, has 1,600 members total from the entire history of Everlasting's existence, and only 30 of them are active enough to have posted in the roleplay channel in the last month (#general-chat, for discussing anything and everything, had 48).  If every topic in the Homecoming Roleplaying Forum were posted by a totally unique individual, and they sure as hell aren't, we'd still be smaller than half the size of Block Island, a Rhode Island town that looks like this:

 

image.png.d1d3837748ef5fc62129e0db9ab15038.png


We're not even a "small town;" we're not that impressive!  What we are is a middling-sized air force base, or one of those technical incorporated townships that exists only to provide a gas station on a long stretch of highway.  Or, to make for a salient comparison that ties us back into the original point, we're the size of a middle school.

 

Middle school is a terribly awkward time, and I suspect that a not-insubstantial plurality of the people in this forum remember keenly what it was like to be an ostracized teenage nerd before "nerdiness" was cool (which is yet another thing that so many of us have in common).  At no period in our lives do we feel more keenly the need to separate, to carve out our own identity, than when we barely qualify as a sapient life form and are suddenly lumped into a system of behavioral streamlining with all of the other socially maladroit tweens.  That's what creates middle and high schools' legendary cliquishness and exclusion.  Roleplaying, too, is a terribly awkward community and a terribly awkward pastime -- informed by the insufficiency of text-based communication -- and so too do we, in our transcendental awkwardness, feel that drive to set ourselves above and apart from the other roleplayers, to make a qualitative differentiation that separates this subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of video gamers into the 👿bad👿 camp and the 👼good👼 camp, the latter of which we all belong to (obviously).

 

Lest it sound like I'm placing myself into some kind of untouchable patrician overseer role by making these observations, I'm going to dime on myself, here: I talk shit about other roleplayers.  I talk mad shit.  I feel hurt or invalidated by an interaction, and then I flee to my echo chamber of like-minded friends to bitch and moan about how the other participant wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise.  I repost anonymized screenshots of ERP characters that I think are tasteless or obscene, to elicit "oh no!" reacts and gauge whether my own reaction was overzealous or appropriate from the social validation I receive.  I laugh when roleplayers who gave me a bad time once get caught in byzantine e-relationship blowups that eviscerate entire guilds with their parasocial shrapnel.  And I suspect that I'm going to get a lot of "golly, I could never!" responses to that disclosure, but I would ask in turn that who among us hasn't suffered through an interaction with an awkward creeper, or a pushy stranger at the checkout, or a bad boss, and then bitched to a spouse or friend rather than escalating it into a conflict?  Radical acceptance and love for everyone's idiosyncrasies at their face value is aspirational, but it's also a good way to build a house from broken stairs.

 

So, okay, with that grim recognition out of the way, what's actionable?  What can we do to mitigate the fallout from Drama, the inescapable Original Sin on the tiny, myopic planetoid that is MMORPG roleplay?  Personally, I think that it's just about setting reasonable expectations about what's a 'name-and-shame' or brigading offense that really, truly necessitates touching the poop, versus just thinking that somebody's kind of a jerk or Has a Wrong Opinion.  Have the presence of mind to look upon yourself from an outsider's lens, and ask "would I look like a completely unhinged fucknut pulling out my knives and escalating to total war over an incorrect interpretation of the fictitious lore of Praetoria, an alternate-history AU setting from a video game that died a decade ago?" (yes)  I personally try to remain fundamentally decent - if imperious, pretentious, and pedantic - to other players in public spaces like this one, because that sets a tone for baseline civility that most people will honor, and the rest of the drama can all be isolated and transitory.  I have a bad time, I whine and scream, I get back on the horse, and maybe next time I can have a good time.  At least in the end, most roleplay is typically fun, or we wouldn't all be here.

 


I'm sure there are other reasons, but these are the four that have stood out to me the most. In case you didn't notice, nothing in this list had anything to do with roleplayers being different than everyone else. There are other communities online that all of these things apply to and drama is also very common in. But my overly long posts are focused on the roleplay community and how we can improve ourselves. Just because other communities can in fact have the same issues as us doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it.

Did I miss something? Have an issue with my thoughts? Let me know below! I'd be interested to hear other people's takes on this.

 

This is tangentially part of a series of tutorials regarding roleplay! You can find the full list of tutorials here!

Edited by McSpazz
Added TwoDee's addition to the discussion
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Another aspect particular to RP communities is that we are often intermingling with people who RP for different reasons from ourselves. For some, roleplaying is just part of the game, a natural outgrowth of creating a character or a fun way to flavor up their activities in-game without a great deal of personal investment or attachment. For others, it can be a more personal exercise, either as a form of creative expression or as a way to safely experiment with and explore their own identity, and which lens a player views their own RP through informs their read on the intentions and motivations of others. So you get situations where the first kind of RPer quips about a comic book trope someone else's character reminds them of, but the mocked character's player being one of the other sorts may receive that as unwelcome criticism on their writing or creativity, or as a personal attack on a trait of their own they've invested in their character.

 

Coupled with the just plain "it's roleplay", which as an activity generally encourages and rewards emotional investment in and identifying with one's character, even for the less invested type of player, it's easy for small-time disagreements and minor slights to add up into simmering resentments until each next one seems more and more like an intentional attack. Plus people just seem to get more satisfaction out of kvetching about their annoyances amongst their friends than discussing any problems with the person they have them with, usually and ironically out of fear of it turning into drama.

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I have rp'ed since the 80s, but find it hard to encounter good, longstanding rp these days.  

 

First and foremost if you join a community to rp in, then you are accepting that communities rp, which usually boils down to a handful of people deciding what direction the rp goes. That is not to say that they (the leaders) are controlling all aspects of the rp, but there is usually an end result that is to be achieved (kill the dragon). So if one chooses to join a community, understand where they are going and what they expect. It is ultimately up to us what we wish to be a part of, so it was our choice to join this group. 

 

As was said by the OP, think of who is rp'ing. In many cases it is people just trying to escape. That is natural, I think that goes for most if not all, but I have dealt with so many people who wear their ooc feelings on their rp sleeves that I don't really rp much anymore. We should not rp based on our thoughts and feelings, but on the thoughts and feelings of the character. I think some, maybe many, have a problem with the separation. I had someone say she cried when she found out I was the brain behind two characters, one she loved, the other she hated. To the point that she said she took it out on the "good guy", though I never really noticed, (probably just assumed the character was crazy or just not nice). It did open my eyes to the ooc factor put into some "rp". (This was long ago, before CoH)

 

The last may have been said, but domineering rp. Meaning, I am the center of the universe, and everyone else is here to further my rp. It doesn't matter what they are saying, or how my character may develop naturally, I have an end goal and that is where my character will be and everyone must accept it. Of course we all have an end goal in mind, but to allow outside factors to change the character is quite natural, and to be honest, makes the character more real. THAT is rp! If you want a character to be exactly what you set out for them to be without anything outside of your own imagination effecting them, then write a story. I don't mean that in a snarky kind of way, I mean, write a story so you can get where you are going with the character. I DO THAT! I always have. It also gives people an idea of who your character is, and how to take them (and I get to read a cool story). However, none of us are the center of everyone else's rp. 

 

Just my 2 cents, probably not worth a dime. The fact is I think we have all done these things, without even thinking, at times. Just keep your mind open to others, and play your character, not yourself. You will enjoy it so much more! 🙂

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I admit I saw lots of drama to, and not just city of heroes homecoming, I can also think of the other game I rp in(though rarely now, due to hardly any rpers left), Star trek online, and I notice a lot of it happens with people on a power trip.  But I also noticed it happen with prudes and lack of communication.

 

In the case with STO, the worst person I met on an uncontrolled power trip made there character both very foolish yet insists they are super geniuses, stronger and faster than everyone else no matter what.  With infinite resources.  The ultimate example is the location of her personal space station that is supposed to be super hidden.

 

That space station everyone concludes is in a briar patch(not the same as the one in the beta quadrant) in the delta quadrant bordering right on borg territory...in the delta quadrant.  So that narrows it down super, super easy.  Any of my toons could find it in the snap of a finger because lo and behold process of elimination!  But no, if you point this out, the player instantly calls your character a mary sue.  How is it everyone knows where it is though?  Because his character CONSTANTLY BRAGS ABOUT IT, IT'S TYPE OF LOCATION AND THAT ITS ON THE BORDER OF BORG SPACE.  Constantly brags, even bragged about it's material makeup.  Could they give any more information?  Nope, because they just spill the beans to the max.  The old saying "Loose lips sink ships".  But they call everyone who points out the stations location a mary sue.

 

They also have major double-standards on whats allowed and not allowed in rp, like a drow-like toon?  Nope not allowed, but there own sue is allowed to date a drow-like toon.  Actually they had to insist on having a say on every toon other people made, and frequently took everything out of context, made zero effort to know the rpers they attacked ect, or make any effort for example to learn which of my own toons are my own creation(quite a few) vs those that have a loose basis on another character somewhere else. 

 

(Me and a friend actually plotted, and succeeded, in exposing them on this hypocrisy using there above perception of me, I made my own drow-like toon myself, rp'd some jokes, and boom, they exploded in local chat calling me a mary sue rper, saying I should stop copying from some anime(in actuality my toon was based on one I made HERE).  Everyone caught onto the mary sues hypocrisy and they lost a lot of friends in an instant.)  

 

(To Clarify:  They basically had a rule that any toon from another game/tabletop/anything not star trek that toon shouldn't be rp'd.  Yet they started dating a drow someone made(thus breaking there own made up rule).  This was one of a long, long list of hypocrisy in that, any rule they made up, didn't apply to them or the sue they rp'd.  We were tired of the double-standards and hypocrisy they were shoving on us constantly day after day.  So I made a drow, flew her to DS9, started interacting with someone about 30 feet away from them, my toon made some jokes about my other toons, and boom, they exploded in a verbal barrage, everyone in DS9 saw it in broad daylight, I elaborate the level of hipocracy this player was prone to in a post below.  The stunt took less than 30 minutes and they took the bait on the first try, the didn't even hesitate).

 

Then there were the other drama queens with no IC/OOC lines who couldn't separate in-character relationships with IRL relationships, me and my friends were creeped out by it, and they also went full karen on others repeatedly over it.  They proved to cause major splits though in the rp community of STO.  I'll have to make a different post about CoH rp, if I get time anyways.

Edited by DrunkFlux
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I'll make another comment on creativity:  You'll be surprised how often you may come up with an idea, people even love it, but then find you accidentally had a plot similar to a popular work somewhere.  When it comes to plotlines/stories/themes its very hard to come up with something because we as a people have come up with numerous crazy concepts in stories already.  The only thing that innovation 100% perfectly exists, is in inventions and technologies in real life, and scientific knowledges of the universe/biology ect that we learn in science.

 

City of heroes isn't the first work to visit on the concept of aliens turning humans into themselves, nore is it the last nore are the current last be the last, as an example.  Heck, one idea of mine I found ended up being a plot in a few games on accident, but me and my friends(this is in STO) joked about it and moved on, and I came up with other ideas for that same character's direction.  You know your a nerd when you recognize a plot from something right away being done, even if by accident.

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Hearing that you and a friend conspired to remove someone from rp that you didn't like because they wouldn't validate your drow in Star Trek. Is honestly alot. As someone who struggles with finding and maintaining current roleplay, this type of behavior is why I hesitate to engage with anyone in the community. 

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8 hours ago, Qualith said:

Hearing that you and a friend conspired to remove someone from rp that you didn't like because they wouldn't validate your drow in Star Trek. Is honestly alot. As someone who struggles with finding and maintaining current roleplay, this type of behavior is why I hesitate to engage with anyone in the community. 

 

I didn't need a character validated because they didn't exist, you clearly didn't read the post or took it out of context.  So I'll clarify.  Want the real reason?  Read the post about there endless bragging about a super space station and my characters bringing up how easy it is to find for it.  THAT is why I did what I did.  Accused ME of god modding when she was literally spelling out every single thing about her space station in local chat.  My character even HINTED at how sloppy she was as she was bragging quote 'well now I know what to calibrate my scanners for'.  Like a villain explaining the whole plot and how to stop it on top of that before attempting it and the hero saving the day by foiling it, just imagine the villain crying mary sue when it inevitably happens.

 

And they did that to other players a lot.

 

The person was trolling practically the entirety of the rp community, if you want I can share a screenshot of the complaints people had of the person in question.  We did that specifically to reveal the kind of person they were.  The thing was they did all that damage to themselves in how they reacted to my bait drow; they could easily have laughed off my characters shenanigans, instead they(predictably) took things so out of context that they verbally assaulted me and my friend openly.

 

The mary sue player did, in bullet points to be clear(Some was mentioned in the previous thread):

 

*Gave themselves unlimited resources without earning any of it rp.  Then gets mad at anyone who has a powerful or wealthy character.

*Put a station in a spot, bragged about it's location, it's makeup ect and then blamed everyone else for knowing where it is.

*Made there own originating faction ridiculously overpowered, and anytime anyone had anything that could be powerful they just one-upped them further.

*Made there character impossible to sneak up on or engage in any way, unbeatable in fighting ect.

*loaded up bad anime tropes.  Then got mad at anyone else who ended up with any trope.

*Bragged about boob size(Obsessively to) and then accused everyone else of having over-sized boobs(even characters with small or even flat-chested).

*Bragged about being the ultimate gambler.

*Tried to God-mode someone by murdering there toon.

*Demanded everyone only make toons she approved, rules including nothing from outside of star trek.  Yet dated a players toon that broke that rule she made up.  break her rule and she'd attack you for it, of course it didn't apply to her.

*Tried to do everything they can to get said friend of mine to defriend me and every, single other person in the RP community in an effort to isolate them from the rp community.  A common tactic narcissists do.

 

In fact, add any skill?  They claimed the toon was the ultimate at it.  Someone even joked "And you probably have Q countered huh?" to them.

 

For IRL?  They claimed to be super mercenary ex military, accused others of stolen valor(even though every story they told was to good to be true) and constantly also harassed said friend of mine.  They also spout racist stupidity and everything else.  That was on top of that last bullet point I made.  AND frequently harrassed said friend bragging about how awesome there car was in real life going over 110mph on a highway(at night no less, and they included a screenshot), pictures of 100 dollar steaks ect.  It got to a point where my friend was creeped out from it.

 

We all ultimately concluded they were a major narcissist.

 

Edit: A few edits to clarify, bunch across a few edits in fact.

 

To clarify, the drow character I made was not even a character I had in STO until we decided to pull this stunt.  I made her as part of the stunt; we knew 100% how they'd react in advance because they were especially predictable(verbally abuse players and when confronted, would be more than willing to justify it without even questioning their own actions).  And it was largely to expose their hypocrisy and bad behavior.  I actually expected to be banned at the time(they got others banned for far less).  Honestly none of it would have happened if the person wasn't so hypocritical and mean spirited.  I made the drow because they were dating a drow character while holding onto a rule that nothing from any other media from outside of STO was allowed.  And we all knew exactly how she'd react.  Any rules she made up just flat out didn't apply to her, at all.

Edited by DrunkFlux
Some clarifications
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20220224105803_1.thumb.jpg.d1538578b7d7bc1274e472bdbad8bad4.jpg

 

 

 

20220224105936_1.thumb.jpg.10dc577a5346d91444bd0350c212bb7f.jpg

 

 

Heres a pic of someones response to me.  Quote on quote:

"Unfortunately Griz94 seems to take any critique of there given RP style to which in my experience is based on his character being a Mary Sue, in that Kara seems to have unlimited capabilities at least in a military or confrontation, can't be approached stealthily, can take out dozen of aggressors single handedl, is engineered to be superior, has access ot vast arsenels, I could go on for an hour.  All of which he seems to willing to provide evidence of establishment with his own documentation."

 

"One the one hand I appreciate such an attention to detail when it comes to characters and development, but the take away has to be a certain ammount of leeway when it comes to RPing with others and Griz offers none.  I have tried to compromise in the past and was met with rebutle and lectures on why they can't change their character.  'It's already established' is what I commonly hear."

 

(mispellings included from screenshot)

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Going to post some on the entirety of @DrunkFlux's story up above (not going to quote simply because it's a LOT and right above this post. Just scroll up!)

People like this are not exactly unheard of in RP communities. Though, to be honest, you should consider yourself lucky that this individual was so blunt force with their manipulative, toxic, and downright hypocritical outlook on things. When someone acts like that and also carries enough charisma to back up their claims, things can get far more complicated and less obvious in the moment.

 

I need to expand on this in the OP, but another issue that roleplay can attract people who are almost exclusively interested in the escapism that roleplay can provide. While escapism is great and all, pouring all of your attention into it can lead to disastrous results. The ultimate reason this becomes a problem, in my opinion, is that you always need to have one foot "outside" the metaphorical door. You can't get so wrapped up in your own story that you forget there are other people around. But if all you care about is your escape, nobody else's enjoyment lands high on your priorities. Expect a full expansion on this in the OP via an edit. Thanks for the story, Flux!

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I didn't ask for clarity in regard to the story @DrunkFlux, but I do recognize you in providing it. While I agree from what your posting they were a problem player. The solution you provided of making a character just to get a rise out of them, and knowing you'd get a rise out of them. To later record that rise and have them blacklisted, Is the textbook definition of trolling. You also just shared their username across games and I'm not sure why. I'm not too familiar with STO but it also reads like you approached them in something similar to their own base. To bait a reaction that you knew would happen. Again I don't mean to be rude or insulting, I did read your full posts.

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A point of semantics. 

 

I know this is in HEAVY use, and it's probably me being old and yelling at clouds, but:

 

"Godmodding" is the WRONG TERM.

 

God-MODE'ing.  As in God Mode, wherein you assert you are the deity of the domain with all the powers to match.

 

MODDING is changing the game, adding stuff, and the like.

 

This is very much a pet peeve.  If you're going to call someone on using God Mode, please don't use "GodModding", as it just sounds stupid. 

 

Thank you, and carry on.

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AE ARC's (So Far!)

--------------------

15252 Child of the Tsoo - [SFMA] Ninjas, sorcerers, and human trafficking (Origin Story - Stick Figure/Storm Lotus)

50769 Hunt of the Eclipse - [SFMA] Finding something that was lost to Arachnos for nearly 20 years (Origin Story - Daisy Chain)

53149 Spells as a Service - [SFMA] When a young hacker makes a connection between magic and mathematics and encodes it into a computer program, chaos breaks loose!

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It's not unusual for people to create bait/hook characters to try and get a rise out of others. However to bait/hook a player that is well known for creating problems in the RP community, I can see how that might have run against the common basics of roleplaying conduct and might seem untoward. Given the circumstances that were described and the screenshots, I do believe that the cause was justified ends to the means for what they were trying to do. Outing a player that clearly has issues and refuses to acknowledge that they are problematic, so instead leaving it in the open for all to see that the problematic player in full display to the entire community first hand.

 

While that is a hugely risky move to make in regards to breaching the usual conduct for roleplaying in community's, it does in a way make the problematic player more obvious to the rest of the community as a result, especially if other players are aware and trying to get rid of the problem player. It's not entirely the best way to go about it, but if enough people are united in the effort, it could be a very successful move.

 

Just to give my own two cents, given the earlier long reads - Sometimes discussing the problem in the open, out of character, among the players you engage with the most, you can work out a solution fairly quickly between all of you. If, and I do mean a giant red neon flag *If* the player does break the code of conduct of the game, as well as the conduct expected in the RP community, then it might be more reasonable to reach out to a GM to try and nail the issue on the head rather than allow it to fester in the community itself.

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2 hours ago, MistressOhm said:

A point of semantics. 

 

I know this is in HEAVY use, and it's probably me being old and yelling at clouds, but:

 

"Godmodding" is the WRONG TERM.

 

God-MODE'ing.  As in God Mode, wherein you assert you are the deity of the domain with all the powers to match.

 

MODDING is changing the game, adding stuff, and the like.

 

This is very much a pet peeve.  If you're going to call someone on using God Mode, please don't use "GodModding", as it just sounds stupid. 

 

Thank you, and carry on.

I honestly encourage people to not get caught up in semantics as far as these terms go. There's no rulebook for roleplay and online roleplayers can shift between communities so rapidly that you could have to change up your lexicon constantly. Hell, I once apologized for ninjaing and someone was confused because we weren't in anything even close to a dungeon. I was talking about going AFK without prompting and they were thinking about claiming loot in a dungeon when you don't actually need it. 

 

It might sound stupid to you, but that's the word they've tied to the bad behavior based on the communities they've been in. Powergaming, godmodding, power playing, and RP min/max are ALL terms I have heard used to describe behavior that includes what you are describing as god-modeing. And it's not hard to see where these words can come from. Powergaming refers to the power level of a character being too high, godmodding can be short for god modification which comes with implications of someone playing god, power playing brings to mind a heavy focus on playing for the power fantasy more than anything else, and RP min/max is piggy backing off of the practice of maximizing your character as much as possible to be the best at the game (without any interest in the actual RP aspect of the RPG). 

 

What ultimately matters is that bad behavior is given a label and, thus, can be more easily communicated (even if it has to be defined once to someone new). Heck, in my consent write-up, I explicitly say as much when I start defining common means consent can be broken in RP. Getting into semantic arguments over which is the right term to use is honestly not helpful unless the term would be confusing for the pre-existing nomenclature of the community. And, to be frank, considering you understood what they meant when they said the toxic person was godmodding, it doesn't really matter that the word modding is also used in another context. It got across the meaning that was intended.

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On 10/18/2022 at 6:14 PM, DrunkFlux said:

I'll make another comment on creativity:  You'll be surprised how often you may come up with an idea, people even love it, but then find you accidentally had a plot similar to a popular work somewhere.  When it comes to plotlines/stories/themes its very hard to come up with something because we as a people have come up with numerous crazy concepts in stories already.  The only thing that innovation 100% perfectly exists, is in inventions and technologies in real life, and scientific knowledges of the universe/biology ect that we learn in science.

 

City of heroes isn't the first work to visit on the concept of aliens turning humans into themselves, nore is it the last nore are the current last be the last, as an example.  Heck, one idea of mine I found ended up being a plot in a few games on accident, but me and my friends(this is in STO) joked about it and moved on, and I came up with other ideas for that same character's direction.  You know your a nerd when you recognize a plot from something right away being done, even if by accident.

I'm late to this one, but that's something that can often cause people to butt heads because different people often have different standards for what qualifies as a creative work. Basically...

The Simpsons Did It - TV Podcast | Podchaser

 

Also, FYI, it's not even aliens turning humans into themselves. It's humans that turned themselves into aliens turning humans into aliens. CoH lore is WILD.

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15 hours ago, McSpazz said:

And, to be frank, considering you understood what they meant when they said the toxic person was godmodding, it doesn't really matter that the word modding is also used in another context. It got across the meaning that was intended.

 

Okay.  I can go with that. 

 

And yeah, I'm old, I still get ... irritated... at certain modern idioms that are in wide usage, which "back in MY day" would have earned a rap across the knuckles with a ruler.   

 

Don't get me started on the "would" contortionism in roleplay.  "So and so WOULD do X."  Put simply, if the action is complex enough that someone could indeed interrupt it, just make it simpler, rather than express a conditional.  But yet people bend themselves in knots trying to make their own actions somehow 'optional'. 

 

"No. Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

Edited by MistressOhm
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--------------------

15252 Child of the Tsoo - [SFMA] Ninjas, sorcerers, and human trafficking (Origin Story - Stick Figure/Storm Lotus)

50769 Hunt of the Eclipse - [SFMA] Finding something that was lost to Arachnos for nearly 20 years (Origin Story - Daisy Chain)

53149 Spells as a Service - [SFMA] When a young hacker makes a connection between magic and mathematics and encodes it into a computer program, chaos breaks loose!

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I was dancing around responding to this thread, because metadiscussion of MMORPG roleplay drama can itself be drama.  I love playing peanut gallery, but it's hard to resist the urge to just wade in and start throwing bigger projectiles than peanuts when confronted with some of the most awkward, most deviant, and most cruel behavior that roleplayers can visit upon other roleplayers.  So, I committed to not responding until I felt that I had a point that I could make.  In my hubris, I think that I've found that point in an appeal to scope and perspective.

  

On 10/11/2022 at 1:35 PM, McSpazz said:

1. It's Online

MMO roleplay is, by its nature, an online experience. Online interaction is complicated to say the least. While the internet is capable of improving our exposure to other frames of mind and people (thus improving our ability to empathize with them), it can also dampen our empathy towards others.


[snip]


2. Who Roleplays

This is mostly coming from my own personal experience, but I find that the people most likely to enjoy roleplaying are neurodivergent, othered/outcasted by society, and/or have some aspect of their life that gives them a reason to want an escape. This is not universal, of course, but there is definitely an over representation of these kinds of people in roleplay communities.

 

[snip]

 

I want to emphasize that this is not intended to place blame on marginalized groups. The reason why RP communities having such a large number of people that carry with them their own considerations can yield more drama is just once again pointing to the medium we are on (the interwebs via text based chat) and how not taking a minute to ensure every concern is being communicated can make things break down pretty quickly.

 

Which can only get more intense when you consider that people that fit what I described above can have difficulty trusting people where their own condition/identity is concerned. 

 

3. Creative Minds Don't Always Think Alike

Roleplay takes a lot of heart. If you aren't someone who has stories to tell or at least a love of hearing stories, you likely aren't going to enjoy roleplay. For better or worse, people who love stories often have a lot of opinions on the stories they grow attached to. It's not hard to find instances where artists go their separate ways over "creative differences". Art requires passion...and sometimes passionate people can have some pretty severe disagreements.

 

That old joke of nerds getting into an irrational and heated fight over if Han shot first or not has a pretty firm basis in reality. When people are passionate about a story, they can really go ham on defending their outlook. In an RP setting, literally everyone has their own stories that they will without a doubt defend from detractors. No matter if it's reasonable or not, if someone is defending their concept or vision as to how things should go, things can always escalate quickly. That's why one of the most common sources of these kinds of squabbles (as far as RP goes) seems to be that not everyone made their intentions on the path forward clear. If three people all agree on a group being mercenaries but one guy wants it to be vigilantes, another wants them to be villains, and the other wants to make them edgy mercenaries with a score to settle...well, even if they agree on the core concept, eventually the implementation of the vision is going to diverge and sparks are going to fly.

 

4. The Small Town Effect

Roleplayers often create communities to make it easier to find other roleplayers. It could encompass an entire server, but it can also be as small as a discord server of a few dozen. For whatever cliques might form, there are going to be fewer degrees of separation than might exist in other communities simply because of how many roleplayers are bound to exist in an MMO in proportion to literally everybody else.

 

[snip]

 

To build off the points above -- and I recommend that folks go up and read them if they haven't, as I was just quoting the most immediately applicable passages! -- when I experience the sorts of teapot tempests that MMORPG roleplay communities inculcate, I often feel that MMORPG roleplayers suffer a lot from the Narcissism of Minor Differences.

 

Let's get the elephant out of the room: the Narcissism of Minor Differences is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept.  Freud was, in many aspects of his work, a hack and a fraud and terribly off-base, and this observation is not meant to go pop-psychology and diagnose roleplayers as pathological narcissists, nor to attempt to use roleplayers as a tool to "prove [Freud] right."  However, I think that when one familiarizes oneself with the broad strokes of the concept, a lot of social conflicts both macro and especially micro, as in roleplay feuds, make a lot of sense.

 

The pithiest summary is that most humans desire to be perceived as a unique and thinking individual that is more than just the mechanical sum of overlapping categories on a balance sheet.  Thus, we are psychologically incentivized to make qualitative differentiations between ourselves and others, because being able to point to someone else and go "I am not that" is an easy way to define the self.  In the time since Freud coined the term (to examine how the most bitter wars have historically occurred between cultures and nations that appear very similar to outsiders), the Narcissism of Minor Differences has become an ever-keener aspect of daily life.  Globalism streamlines us into an interconnected monoculture with shared media, consumer goods, and economic outcomes.  As differences between individuals become smaller and smaller, the need to define ourselves as unique and unlike everyone else continues to burn ever stronger for it, and the differences that are required to create that definition become increasingly granular.

 

Thus, the political phenomenon referred to bitterly as "The Left Eats its Own."  Thus, gender-coded shaving razors and shampoo, because you wouldn't want your curly hair to be mistaken for curly girl hair.  Thus, Playstation and XBox fans bitterly warring over whose expensive DVD player hits 60FPS.  Trekkies and Star Wars, Call of Duty and Battlefield, DC and Marvel, Leo and Gemini.  A million little festering tiny resentments based around the fundamental human envy of "I know who I am, because I'm not them," coopted by interests that can provide material signifiers to prove our uniqueness.

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but MMORPG Roleplayers, categorically, have inscrutably minor who-gives-a-shit differences that are about five steps removed from any distinction that a sane outsider could possibly make by observation:

  • 'Gamers'
    • Video Gamers (this is where your parents stop caring)
      • PC Video Gamers (this is where most people stop caring)
        • PC Role-Playing Game Players (this is where other gamers stop caring)
          • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Players (this is where anyone with anything else going for them stops caring)
            • City of Heroes Players
              • People Who Pretend To Be Their Character For Fun
                • Those Other, Bad Roleplayers Who Roleplay Wrong And Aren't Like Me Because I'm Different (you are here)

That is the level of scope we're fighting over.  That is the small town that @McSpazz described as the "small town effect."  700 players at peak hours, charitably a third of whom are roleplayers, and you bet your ass that I'm being charitable.  Even @Shadeknight's City of Roleplay Discord, which ended up as the most populous Discord for dedicated City of Heroes roleplayers by dint of being first past the post, has 1,600 members total from the entire history of Everlasting's existence, and only 30 of them are active enough to have posted in the roleplay channel in the last month (#general-chat, for discussing anything and everything, had 48).  If every topic in the Homecoming Roleplaying Forum were posted by a totally unique individual, and they sure as hell aren't, we'd still be smaller than half the size of Block Island, a Rhode Island town that looks like this:

 

image.png.d1d3837748ef5fc62129e0db9ab15038.png


We're not even a "small town;" we're not that impressive!  What we are is a middling-sized air force base, or one of those technical incorporated townships that exists only to provide a gas station on a long stretch of highway.  Or, to make for a salient comparison that ties us back into the original point, we're the size of a middle school.

 

Middle school is a terribly awkward time, and I suspect that a not-insubstantial plurality of the people in this forum remember keenly what it was like to be an ostracized teenage nerd before "nerdiness" was cool (which is yet another thing that so many of us have in common).  At no period in our lives do we feel more keenly the need to separate, to carve out our own identity, than when we barely qualify as a sapient life form and are suddenly lumped into a system of behavioral streamlining with all of the other socially maladroit tweens.  That's what creates middle and high schools' legendary cliquishness and exclusion.  Roleplaying, too, is a terribly awkward community and a terribly awkward pastime -- informed by the insufficiency of text-based communication -- and so too do we, in our transcendental awkwardness, feel that drive to set ourselves above and apart from the other roleplayers, to make a qualitative differentiation that separates this subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of video gamers into the 👿bad👿 camp and the 👼good👼 camp, the latter of which we all belong to (obviously).

 

Lest it sound like I'm placing myself into some kind of untouchable patrician overseer role by making these observations, I'm going to dime on myself, here: I talk shit about other roleplayers.  I talk mad shit.  I feel hurt or invalidated by an interaction, and then I flee to my echo chamber of like-minded friends to bitch and moan about how the other participant wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise.  I repost anonymized screenshots of ERP characters that I think are tasteless or obscene, to elicit "oh no!" reacts and gauge whether my own reaction was overzealous or appropriate from the social validation I receive.  I laugh when roleplayers who gave me a bad time once get caught in byzantine e-relationship blowups that eviscerate entire guilds with their parasocial shrapnel.  And I suspect that I'm going to get a lot of "golly, I could never!" responses to that disclosure, but I would ask in turn that who among us hasn't suffered through an interaction with an awkward creeper, or a pushy stranger at the checkout, or a bad boss, and then bitched to a spouse or friend rather than escalating it into a conflict?  Radical acceptance and love for everyone's idiosyncrasies at their face value is aspirational, but it's also a good way to build a house from broken stairs.

 

So, okay, with that grim recognition out of the way, what's actionable?  What can we do to mitigate the fallout from Drama, the inescapable Original Sin on the tiny, myopic planetoid that is MMORPG roleplay?  Personally, I think that it's just about setting reasonable expectations about what's a 'name-and-shame' or brigading offense that really, truly necessitates touching the poop, versus just thinking that somebody's kind of a jerk or Has a Wrong Opinion.  Have the presence of mind to look upon yourself from an outsider's lens, and ask "would I look like a completely unhinged fucknut pulling out my knives and escalating to total war over an incorrect interpretation of the fictitious lore of Praetoria, an alternate-history AU setting from a video game that died a decade ago?" (yes)  I personally try to remain fundamentally decent - if imperious, pretentious, and pedantic - to other players in public spaces like this one, because that sets a tone for baseline civility that most people will honor, and the rest of the drama can all be isolated and transitory.  I have a bad time, I whine and scream, I get back on the horse, and maybe next time I can have a good time.  At least in the end, most roleplay is typically fun, or we wouldn't all be here.

 

 

 

Edited by TwoDee
used a word that wasn't a word
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Lead of the <New Praetorians Initiative> supergroup.  Goldside enjoyer.  Perennial RP-etiquette overthinker.

Most of my writing is SG-internal, but the following are SFMA that anybody should be able to play if you want new story-based content.

  • NPI: Duray, Duray | 25575: - The New Praetorians scramble to stop the Praetorian and Primal Virgil Durays from getting the band back together.
  • NPI: Brickstown Vice | 36729, 40648, 40803 - The New Praetorians aid Marauder in a drug bust that dredges up his past.  Branches into two paths.
  • NPI: Red Resistance | 43796 - The New Praetorians run afoul of vigilantes after a robbery gone wrong.  Crossover with <Hero Corps Founders Falls>.
  • NPI: Leucochloridium | 44863: - A wellness check on a Woodvale cleanup officer turns over unfinished, Praetorian business.
  • How Emperor Cole Saved Christmas | 45794 - A 100% authentic simulation of how Emperor Cole singlehandedly saved the holiday of Christmas!
  • Bassilisk | 51947 - Several Paragon City villain groups fight over the Rikti's dumbest entirely-canonical doomsday weapon.
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I love how you expanded on this, @TwoDee, thank you. And yeah, your right, most typical roleplaying is quite fun. There's always, and I do mean *alllllllwaaaays* going to be someone annoyed/frustrated/bored by our usual calmer storys and that's okay. No one is going to have a globally loved storyline, or character, it's kind of defeatist to even think that's possible. But there is such a thing as holding others accountable for making others uncomfortable even when they are informed by the players involved that was the case, as well as holding those that creep, or behave in ways that are unacceptable in public spaces as well as private strangers tells, to the point of scaring them off from RP all together. (Seen it happen to a few players, not too pleased with the people driving off folks like that, and I do believe it's actionable via a GM if it gets to that point of discomfort for the player targeted.)

 

I can count a number of difference instances that I was presented a situation where I was nudged to feel obligated to RP with someone that I just didn't click with, or was creeped out by, or was dealing with personal issues of my own to the point that I simply didn't have the spoons to even RP at all with everyone for days at a time. I'm not even milking it here, but making a solid point that often times the drama comes from players seeking connection and attention from people that just don't have the time, spoons, or capacity to even bother and when they pitch a fit about it, it becomes an unholy mess that ruins the persons targeteds gametime, and experiences, while also sending the wrong message about the RP community itself. Harassment is one thing, but when it comes down to people just not syncing up, or clicking as I like to call it, it can be a really messy ordeal to untangle and disconnect from.

 

Majority of the problems involving the drama that circulates within RP circles does involve miscommunication, and oft times issues that laid unaddressed and unmentioned during the scenes that hit an unseen button. Sometimes it's personal matters that should receive treatment IRL wise, and other times it's just something that connected mentally that left the player wondering where the hell they were going with their story overall. Much of the larger, broader strokes story wise do set a tone of inclusivity of the player base, but also give wiggle room for player response and reactions to the story events that took place, giving the player room to write their character thoughts and feelings without interceding the story writers own. While we are a smaller "sect" of the community, we do foster and inspire some of the changes and new content concepts through interactions with each other. Inspiration is the heartbeat of a games lifespan, whether we like to admit it or not. Small huddle in the corner, but we have clear voices and solid ideas that we often share either with each other, or with the community to drive new directions in the main story of the game itself. *eyes the Aeon content additions and the expanded ITF additions for examples.*  Not to forget mentioning the April Fools event, new additions to the holiday events this year, and further changes that brought new life to the game content itself and filled in gaps in the storyline that we often overlook for the sake of just enjoying what we have.

 

Overall, much of the issue with the drama in the community can be resolved if people just learned to open up and just talk about their issues, whether it's just a family quarrel at home and a need to step back to handle that, or a more serious issue that needs to be discussed OOC wise. There's no reason to be shy about speaking OOC to one another, just wish people understood that clarity is also a necessity so there's less misunderstandings between the players involved.

Edited by Crystal Dragon
Lettme expand on this a bit, hang on.
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1 hour ago, TwoDee said:

I was dancing around responding to this thread, because metadiscussion of MMORPG roleplay drama can itself be drama.  I love playing peanut gallery, but it's hard to resist the urge to just wade in and start throwing bigger projectiles than peanuts when confronted with some of the most awkward, most deviant, and most cruel behavior that roleplayers can visit upon other roleplayers.  So, I committed to not responding until I felt that I had a point that I could make.  In my hubris, I think that I've found that point in an appeal to scope and perspective.

  

 

To build off the points above -- and I recommend that folks go up and read them if they haven't, as I was just quoting the most immediately applicable passages! -- when I experience the sorts of teapot tempests that MMORPG roleplay communities inculcate, I often feel that MMORPG roleplayers suffer a lot from the Narcissism of Minor Differences.

 

Let's get the elephant out of the room: the Narcissism of Minor Differences is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept.  Freud was, in many aspects of his work, a hack and a fraud and terribly off-base, and this observation is not meant to go pop-psychology and diagnose roleplayers as pathological narcissists, nor to attempt to use roleplayers as a tool to "prove [Freud] right."  However, I think that when one familiarizes oneself with the broad strokes of the concept, a lot of social conflicts both macro and especially micro, as in roleplay feuds, make a lot of sense.

 

The pithiest summary is that most humans desire to be perceived as a unique and thinking individual that is more than just the mechanical sum of overlapping categories on a balance sheet.  Thus, we are psychologically incentivized to make qualitative differentiations between ourselves and others, because being able to point to someone else and go "I am not that" is an easy way to define the self.  In the time since Freud coined the term (to examine how the most bitter wars have historically occurred between cultures and nations that appear very similar to outsiders), the Narcissism of Minor Differences has become an ever-keener aspect of daily life.  Globalism streamlines us into an interconnected monoculture with shared media, consumer goods, and economic outcomes.  As differences between individuals become smaller and smaller, the need to define ourselves as unique and unlike everyone else continues to burn ever stronger for it, and the differences that are required to create that definition become increasingly granular.

 

Thus, the political phenomenon referred to bitterly as "The Left Eats its Own."  Thus, gender-coded shaving razors and shampoo, because you wouldn't want your curly hair to be mistaken for curly girl hair.  Thus, Playstation and XBox fans bitterly warring over whose expensive DVD player hits 60FPS.  Trekkies and Star Wars, Call of Duty and Battlefield, DC and Marvel, Leo and Gemini.  A million little festering tiny resentments based around the fundamental human envy of "I know who I am, because I'm not them," coopted by interests that can provide material signifiers to prove our uniqueness.

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but MMORPG Roleplayers, categorically, have inscrutably minor who-gives-a-shit differences that are about five steps removed from any distinction that a sane outsider could possibly make by observation:

  • 'Gamers'
    • Video Gamers (this is where your parents stop caring)
      • PC Video Gamers (this is where most people stop caring)
        • PC Role-Playing Game Players (this is where other gamers stop caring)
          • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Players (this is where anyone with anything else going for them stops caring)
            • City of Heroes Players
              • People Who Pretend To Be Their Character For Fun
                • Those Other, Bad Roleplayers Who Roleplay Wrong And Aren't Like Me Because I'm Different (you are here)

That is the level of scope we're fighting over.  That is the small town that @McSpazz described as the "small town effect."  700 players at peak hours, charitably a third of whom are roleplayers, and you bet your ass that I'm being charitable.  Even @Shadeknight's City of Roleplay Discord, which ended up as the most populous Discord for dedicated City of Heroes roleplayers by dint of being first past the post, has 1,600 members total from the entire history of Everlasting's existence, and only 30 of them are active enough to have posted in the roleplay channel in the last month (#general-chat, for discussing anything and everything, had 48).  If every topic in the Homecoming Roleplaying Forum were posted by a totally unique individual, and they sure as hell aren't, we'd still be smaller than half the size of Block Island, a Rhode Island town that looks like this:

 

image.png.d1d3837748ef5fc62129e0db9ab15038.png


We're not even a "small town;" we're not that impressive!  What we are is a middling-sized air force base, or one of those technical incorporated townships that exists only to provide a gas station on a long stretch of highway.  Or, to make for a salient comparison that ties us back into the original point, we're the size of a middle school.

 

Middle school is a terribly awkward time, and I suspect that a not-insubstantial plurality of the people in this forum remember keenly what it was like to be an ostracized teenage nerd before "nerdiness" was cool (which is yet another thing that so many of us have in common).  At no period in our lives do we feel more keenly the need to separate, to carve out our own identity, than when we barely qualify as a sapient life form and are suddenly lumped into a system of behavioral streamlining with all of the other socially maladroit tweens.  That's what creates middle and high schools' legendary cliquishness and exclusion.  Roleplaying, too, is a terribly awkward community and a terribly awkward pastime -- informed by the insufficiency of text-based communication -- and so too do we, in our transcendental awkwardness, feel that drive to set ourselves above and apart from the other roleplayers, to make a qualitative differentiation that separates this subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory of video gamers into the 👿bad👿 camp and the 👼good👼 camp, the latter of which we all belong to (obviously).

 

Lest it sound like I'm placing myself into some kind of untouchable patrician overseer role by making these observations, I'm going to dime on myself, here: I talk shit about other roleplayers.  I talk mad shit.  I feel hurt or invalidated by an interaction, and then I flee to my echo chamber of like-minded friends to bitch and moan about how the other participant wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise.  I repost anonymized screenshots of ERP characters that I think are tasteless or obscene, to elicit "oh no!" reacts and gauge whether my own reaction was overzealous or appropriate from the social validation I receive.  I laugh when roleplayers who gave me a bad time once get caught in byzantine e-relationship blowups that eviscerate entire guilds with their parasocial shrapnel.  And I suspect that I'm going to get a lot of "golly, I could never!" responses to that disclosure, but I would ask in turn that who among us hasn't suffered through an interaction with an awkward creeper, or a pushy stranger at the checkout, or a bad boss, and then bitched to a spouse or friend rather than escalating it into a conflict?  Radical acceptance and love for everyone's idiosyncrasies at their face value is aspirational, but it's also a good way to build a house from broken stairs.

 

So, okay, with that grim recognition out of the way, what's actionable?  What can we do to mitigate the fallout from Drama, the inescapable Original Sin on the tiny, myopic planetoid that is MMORPG roleplay?  Personally, I think that it's just about setting reasonable expectations about what's a 'name-and-shame' or brigading offense that really, truly necessitates touching the poop, versus just thinking that somebody's kind of a jerk or Has a Wrong Opinion.  Have the presence of mind to look upon yourself from an outsider's lens, and ask "would I look like a completely unhinged fucknut pulling out my knives and escalating to total war over an incorrect interpretation of the fictitious lore of Praetoria, an alternate-history AU setting from a video game that died a decade ago?" (yes)  I personally try to remain fundamentally decent - if imperious, pretentious, and pedantic - to other players in public spaces like this one, because that sets a tone for baseline civility that most people will honor, and the rest of the drama can all be isolated and transitory.  I have a bad time, I whine and scream, I get back on the horse, and maybe next time I can have a good time.  At least in the end, most roleplay is typically fun, or we wouldn't all be here.

 

 

 

You're definitely not wrong on...well, any of this. I'm even going to add a quote of it at the end of my original post for people to read. I especially related to your second to last paragraph because I myself have, at some point in my life as a roleplayer, done many of the things that I myself tell people to avoid doing. That includes starting drama over stupid bullshit, talking behind people's backs, laughing at someone else's expense, whatever. I think recognizing when a mistake we are the victim of is something we ourselves could find ourselves doing could go a long way in helping promote asking ourselves to look at it from an outsider's perspective.

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On 10/20/2022 at 2:22 PM, Qualith said:

I didn't ask for clarity in regard to the story @DrunkFlux, but I do recognize you in providing it. While I agree from what your posting they were a problem player. The solution you provided of making a character just to get a rise out of them, and knowing you'd get a rise out of them. To later record that rise and have them blacklisted, Is the textbook definition of trolling. You also just shared their username across games and I'm not sure why. I'm not too familiar with STO but it also reads like you approached them in something similar to their own base. To bait a reaction that you knew would happen. Again I don't mean to be rude or insulting, I did read your full posts.

 

Only provided clarity since you misunderstood why I trolled them, your right it was a troll move.  And perhaps I made a mistake sharing the username here, I normally wouldn't do something like that, in fact I hesitated in sharing the pics but once someone took what Iw as saying a little out of context, I felt I had to clarify.  Whether you think me crossing the line or not is up to you.  I don't truely feel that way, the god-moder was so far out of line with my friend and others we ended up feeling we had to do something :/.  It's kind of like a case like how players deal with toxic players at d&d stories in reddit I guess.

 

Would they have been banned from a report to gms?  No, they(the gms) really don't care about roleplayers or drama, and anti-rp trolls tend to get away with it.  Honestly my only hope was the mary sue player would learn there lesson, of course they didn't and continue making a fool of themselves, at this point I tend to ignore them.

Edited by DrunkFlux
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On 10/20/2022 at 6:36 PM, Crystal Dragon said:

It's not unusual for people to create bait/hook characters to try and get a rise out of others. However to bait/hook a player that is well known for creating problems in the RP community, I can see how that might have run against the common basics of roleplaying conduct and might seem untoward. Given the circumstances that were described and the screenshots, I do believe that the cause was justified ends to the means for what they were trying to do. Outing a player that clearly has issues and refuses to acknowledge that they are problematic, so instead leaving it in the open for all to see that the problematic player in full display to the entire community first hand.

 

While that is a hugely risky move to make in regards to breaching the usual conduct for roleplaying in community's, it does in a way make the problematic player more obvious to the rest of the community as a result, especially if other players are aware and trying to get rid of the problem player. It's not entirely the best way to go about it, but if enough people are united in the effort, it could be a very successful move.

 

Just to give my own two cents, given the earlier long reads - Sometimes discussing the problem in the open, out of character, among the players you engage with the most, you can work out a solution fairly quickly between all of you. If, and I do mean a giant red neon flag *If* the player does break the code of conduct of the game, as well as the conduct expected in the RP community, then it might be more reasonable to reach out to a GM to try and nail the issue on the head rather than allow it to fester in the community itself.

 

The real risk I had taken on the last part was me and my friend could in fact have been reported for it or banned, they got others banned(though those in question were especially toxic to everyone else to).  And yes, it was hugely risky of us.  The move was largely successful, largely due to a lot of the rp community also having comparable feelings about them.  It didn't get rid of them, they are still especially stubborn, but they tend to turn everyone on them in record time now.  Largely due to how off-putting they are, or how offensive they get, and others can confirm with newer people the kind of rper they are.

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My only experience with roleplay in STO was being part of a fleet that got "targeted" by Starfleet Dental, a fleet in the game that existed solely to troll, grief, and harass roleplayers.

 

My character was an Orion.   It wasn't a 'made up' race, there's even Orion ships available to purchase.  I wasn't going around in a bikini or slave girl garb, the character had the full KDF uniform, rank sash, the whole bit.  Yet "Oh you're one of those" and then the next thing I know, everywhere I went SD would show up and screw around.  

 

At that point I realized, that the only roleplaying 'safe' from the Giggly Giggety Teenager Brigade was aboard ships or on fleet space stations/planetary colonies.  Effing ridiculous.

 

(and yes, I found out that the fleet I'd joined had somewhat of a party-girl rep... which, considering they were all Orions, was perfectly in line with the lore anyway.  That's what Orions do, they're essentially galactic pirates that got picked up by the Klingon Defense Force as privateers and slavers.)

AE ARC's (So Far!)

--------------------

15252 Child of the Tsoo - [SFMA] Ninjas, sorcerers, and human trafficking (Origin Story - Stick Figure/Storm Lotus)

50769 Hunt of the Eclipse - [SFMA] Finding something that was lost to Arachnos for nearly 20 years (Origin Story - Daisy Chain)

53149 Spells as a Service - [SFMA] When a young hacker makes a connection between magic and mathematics and encodes it into a computer program, chaos breaks loose!

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On 10/23/2022 at 10:35 PM, DrunkFlux said:

 

The real risk I had taken on the last part was me and my friend could in fact have been reported for it or banned, they got others banned(though those in question were especially toxic to everyone else to).  And yes, it was hugely risky of us.  The move was largely successful, largely due to a lot of the rp community also having comparable feelings about them.  It didn't get rid of them, they are still especially stubborn, but they tend to turn everyone on them in record time now.  Largely due to how off-putting they are, or how offensive they get, and others can confirm with newer people the kind of rper they are.

Quite so, I appreciate the retrospect and candor that you shared this incident here. It's certainly a lesson to be learned from. Globally roleplayers do tend to stick together and back each other up if infractions like you described of the other individual occur. The whole rule of avoiding naming and shaming on forums, in regards to this community does hold true but there are individuals that are best to be wary of in the community and what I personally do may not be the most productive method, but it does seems to be effective in learning the ropes for beginners here.

 

Teaching the red flags and what to watch out for does help preserve and protect the community from bad actors and greifing both, and knowing we have active game masters supporting protecting the players and their stories here is something fewer still live servers has. It's what spazzy and I both do, my work focuses more in-game, teaching and assisting players one on one while helping continue the live lesson sessions through volunteer mentors in the community such as Thrain and Mulli whom both offered to take on times on the weekends we host. Sometimes I even take over general chat for a bit to discuss RP issues and problem resolution. :)

Edited by Crystal Dragon
Typonese demons on the loose again. It's okay I caged them.
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The simplest way to see why drama occurs is that everyone is the protagonist. Some people will make an effort at -not- being the protagonist, but it's safe to say that the majority acts as being the star of the show, the hero, the main man.

 

I don't say this as a put down, it's just how it is. As someone who reads a lot it's easy to notice how a book has a hierarchy and a cast of supporting characters. I usually take the series Malazan as an example. Each character is usually pretty hyped up. Paraphrasing since it's been a while I read it, but omg, super assassin who took out an entire assassin guild! Watch him being cool, watch him fight and beat unsurmountable odds! Then he goes against a demi god and can't scratch her. Later on that demi god fights against one of the big characters of the book and is trounced. Later on that big character fights against super good swordsmen and gives up by the time he fights the third best.

 

In roleplay it would not be uncommon to see the first example of the cool assassin still want to go toe to toe with the big character or even the third best swordsman and then refuse to back down or throw a hissy fit if not allowed to have a 'fair' chance.

 

This is just an example of competitive RP (the worst kind tbh, RP ought to be like writing a book which is to spin a good story, not to exert a winner) but the desire to be noticed, to be interacted with, is at the center. I know it, I want to be noticed, I want to be interacted with, so I understand it.

 

Spoiler

I still cringe at myself for making a DBZ character in a BDSM MUD and at some point rescuing a friend and destroying the evil person's tower with a kamehameha. In a BDSM themed roleplay MUD.... Ok, the theme was super flexible since it involved portals to other dimensions which means the players did whatever crazy concept they wanted much like the CoH RP playerbase. And this to 'save' someone whose player did not want to be saved because... they were in a BDSM RP place and wanted the frisson. The only saving point was that the antagonist and that friend player worked it out by the laws of the place she had to pay for the damages which eventually got her sold to that 'evil' person and they got to RP what they wanted while my character trembled in impotence and anger and etc etc. It did generate RP which was good, but it was cringe as fuck remembering it now decades later of bringing such a character to such a theme and do fight RPs.

 

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A lot of roleplayers do want to be the 'star' of the session.   And Sovera's little segue to an

Spoiler

adult-rated MUD

 

is similar to what I've found as a Second Life dominant.   Most of the 'bad' roleplaying in THAT space is also "the universe revolves around me".  That, in my mind, is exhausting to put up with - everyone you engage with, regardless of their supposed status in the scene, is convinced that it's about them.  Not the group.  Not constructing something awesome and memorable together.  THEM.  

 

 

I learned very quickly, to be truly appreciated, the best thing you can do is adapt to what others need.  And the same goes for any roleplay (adult or otherwise).  Casting yourself as a support character rather than the main one is INCREDIBLY satisfying, because a room full of support characters end up swapping the lead role with each other, and just about everyone gets their moment to shine.  And if you do end up RP'ing with a Mary Sue that somehow, thru a cosmological accident at birth, the Known Universe DOES revolve around them?  Okay... fine.  I don't have to compete with this person, I'll just roll with it and if they want to RP again, I'll be 'busy'.  🙂

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AE ARC's (So Far!)

--------------------

15252 Child of the Tsoo - [SFMA] Ninjas, sorcerers, and human trafficking (Origin Story - Stick Figure/Storm Lotus)

50769 Hunt of the Eclipse - [SFMA] Finding something that was lost to Arachnos for nearly 20 years (Origin Story - Daisy Chain)

53149 Spells as a Service - [SFMA] When a young hacker makes a connection between magic and mathematics and encodes it into a computer program, chaos breaks loose!

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  • 2 weeks later

I think even if everyone followed the 'RP Code' drama is inevitable.

 

Roleplayers, by and large, are invested and passionate about their characters and projects. That passion can cause friction between parties where passion is not reciprocated or even challenged, which leads to fallout and drama. At this point we're talking about sociology, so I'll stop there.

 

I don't see anything inherently wrong with this. It's the nature of the beast. It's upsetting for sure, but you'd sooner turn the ocean waves backwards than change it.

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Oh? You like City of Heroes?

Name every player character.

I'll be waiting in my PMs.

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