21
April 2018

Author Archives Shoshana Kessock

About Shoshana Kessock

Shoshana Kessock is a game designer and writer who has worked on over a dozen larps over the years. She is the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions, an independent tabletop and larp publication and production house, and a full-time storyteller at Dystopia Rising New Jersey. When she isn't writing for LARPing.org she is getting her masters degree at NYU in Game Design, working on several theater LARPs including The Unofficial Dresden Files LARP and writing both fiction and tabletop RPGs. She lives in New York.

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There is an old saying: it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Whenever I think about the issue of griefing at a LARP, I like to change that saying to ‘It’s all fun and games until someone threatens you out of game with character death.’ Okay, so that’s not quite as snappy, but the point still stands. Any good LARP experience can be marred by the presence of game harassment known as griefing, so let’s break down the practice in its many forms.

A griefer is defined as a player who intentionally spoils a game for other players.While that might seem too wide a description, in many roleplaying communities it has become a term for players who use their character’s capabilities to seek to kill other player characters to either show off their character’s superiority, to loot for in-game goods or gear, or to act out some out-of-character vendetta against another player. The term is used heavily in online games like MMORPGs where griefers might be players who camp out at respawn points to murder newly returned and weak players, or higher level players that camp out in low-level areas to harass the new players or extort them for loot. This kind of player versus player (PVP) action is segregated to certain areas in many online games to allow players who just want player versus environment (PVE) adventures to play in peace. Still, that is not the case in every online game, and in LARP that kind of segregation of player population is nigh impossible. Unless a game outlaws PVP altogether, the issue of griefing can occur.

Each of the ways in which griefing expresses itself can have vastly different consequences and reasons behind it. The first kind of griefing can occur when a player just wants to show off the strength of their character. To gain attention, they’ll take on other players and push a player versus player agenda into their character just to get the opportunity to kill others. This is perhaps the least insidious form of griefing because at its core it is pretty blatant as to the motivations. Player A wants to feel powerful while playing his character, so he’ll target other players to rack up a kill count. Usually it is easy to identify this kind of griefing because the actions the player takes with their character will often not match up with plot or storyline, and the player will probably go out of their way to kill another character ‘just because’.

The next form of griefing is what I like to think of as mercenary griefing. Since most games have an in-game economy that player characters participate in, the quest for resources can put people into competition with one another. If a player wants that new piece of armor, or a better weapon, they’d better have the gold for it; sometimes there just aren’t enough enemies dropping loot to get everyone what they need. The impulse can then turn to treating fellow player characters just like you’d treat NPC enemies, and kill them for their gear, goods, or gold. This kind of behavior can have lots of causes, but I postulate that it might stem from identifying the self as the sole important part of the game and everyone else as background characters to the individual player’s ‘success.’

griefingThe third kind of griefing is far more insidious. Griefer has also come to mean someone who threatens to or kills another player’s character due to out of character reasons. That out of character reason might be personal (‘I don’t like Jimmy, so I’m going to kill Jimmy’s character Ferrox the Unholy’) or it might sadly be more ideological (‘I don’t like Jimmy because he is ______ so Ferrox has to go’). Still other times it can come from more unfortunate inter-game conflicts in which players may try to dissuade someone from playing in multiple games at once. Most LARP communities have at least one instance of inter-game feuds that they can reference from their history. Two games occur near one another, jealousy over player base sizes can occur, and somewhere along the line pressure is put upon players to decide where to go.

Regardless of the reason behind the griefing, when a player begins to see killing a person’s character as retribution, that’s when the unfortunate out of character/in character line is crossed. While all three ways to grief another player can be harmful to player experience, this last one is the most troubling. It steps outside the in-game exercise of player versus player into a meta-game that can be straight harassment. Many games include anti-harassment policies that include considerations about vendetta actions like these and may be consider such actions as subject to punishment.

So where does the impulse to grief come from? The behavior might be tracked back to a number of factors. To start with, what some may see as griefing can be seen by other players as simple competitive exercise within the game’s rules. In that mindset, player versus player battle is only another way to engage with the environment, as they treat other players the same as they’d treat an NPC without consideration for the out of character feelings of the killed player. It is that last part that turns PvP into something more than just two players vying against one another and turns it into what might become an uncomfortable situation; a PvP situation isn’t griefing until it steps over the line into spoiling the game for someone else. In the end, it really is all fun and games until someone gets killed in-game for making someone angry out of character. Then, it’s just a giant, painful mess.

What do you think? Is griefing such a huge problem, or merely an exercise in differences of opinion? What kind of griefing do you think is the most problematic? Share your experiences and let’s break down this phenomenon a little more.комплексная поисковая оптимизация сайтовtopodсайткак взломать пароль в одноклассниках бесплатноаквалоо ценыбыстрые займы онлайн круглосуточноjuegos de casino gratis para bajardubai escorts high classbetsafe online casinonetbet casinoдешевый тур в африкуклубные танцы марьино

Aug 28, 2013

LARPzombie1

There are few topics in gaming today quite as hot as that of gender in games. Questions of gender equality, representation, and fair treatment have been rampant throughout the geek community. Within LARP, however, these topics represent a challenge to designers and game organizers who must keep in mind the complexity of gender when creating game plots, modules, and NPCs for their worlds. Organizers have to consider a lot of questions to provide gender-friendly plots that will make players feel comfortable while on their fictional adventures.

What does it mean to write gender-friendly plots for your games? The key comes down to creating and managing player expectations about how gender will be represented.

 

Who is your game written for?

Each LARP is helmed by a game organizer whose job it is to not only set the tone for the in-game world, but whose choices set the tone for the way gender is perceived in their game world. A LARP organizer has a difficult task of deciding how gender is defined and accepted in character in the fictional world they want to create. While this task might seem like a no-brainer on the outset, there are a lot of tricky pitfalls that come with accepted gender norms that a designer can build in out of simple subconscious habit.

GenderImage1The first question that is often taken for granted is whether gender in-game is only a biological factor or a question of gender identification, i.e. whether or not the game world has transgender characters. This often runs hand in hand with the question of whether or not transgender players are welcome in a game, a fact that sadly is not a universal in all LARPs. While that question is more out-of-character, if a world does not have a place for transgender characters, then the designers are making a frank statement about their consideration of what is and is not male and female. That can signal to a player that, even though transgender players may be welcome in the game, transgender characters (and by extension their players) don’t have a place in that game universe to tell their stories.

A second question when considering your game audience is the way in which characters are treated based on their gender. Are all of the characters who are powerful NPCs male? Are the women expected to portray themselves in a particular manner, such as those of submissive to the man? What about the way in which male NPCs are constructed and perceived? The main fact to consider is whether or not the portrayal of genders in the game world adheres to a stereotype that might pigeonhole players into a particular portrayal without room for diversity of expression. If that is the case, players whose values, ideas, and identity out of character do not line up with your design might find your game world restrictive, stifling, or just unwelcoming.

The third question is the often attached but separate and complex issue of sexuality, which can come hand in hand with gender representation. In a modern day, it shouldn’t have to be asked whether or not gay characters are allowed at a game, but if players identify that all of the NPCs and plots are designed towards male-female relationship lines, then that will also inform the way in which relationships are considered the game.

Bottom line: whatever gender decisions you make when creating your world will be mirrored back in what players perceive as acceptable or ‘in genre’ for your setting. The organizers, as in all things, set the tone.

 

Be Prepared To Be Held Accountable

It’s important to note at this juncture a very troubling and difficult idea: some games will choose to represent gender in a way that might be considered problematic. Game designers have the right to choose to represent gender in their games in a way that might establish ideas about men and women that do not conform to what an individual player, or even a section of players, feel comfortable with or want. As difficult as that may be to accept, that is the game designer’s right. An organizer has the right to choose to make a game world that does not allow transgender characters, or that establishes women in a place of ‘traditional roles’ that excludes women from positions of power. What an organizer must realize, then, is the kind of message that sends not only about the world they design, but the kind of community of players they want to cultivate. By making these design choices, an organizer is signaling that they want to tell stories that will include this content, whether to reinforce those ideas or to challenge them. Those design choices will then tell players to expect certain treatment of gender in game and will signal to a player whether or not the game is right for them. Organizers then, as cultivators of their community, must be prepared to be held accountable for those choices when they are questioned if a player does feel excluded. If a player approaches a designer and asks, for example, “Is your game welcoming to transgender characters? Why or why not?”, you should be able to answer this question. After all, as a designer, you should have made that choice for a reason.

 

How To Continue Managing Expectations

Once the game organizer has fleshed out how gender is treated in their setting, these established design choices must continue to be mirrored throughout plot implementation. If players are to feel comfortable with the ongoing treatment of gender in the game, they need to see the trends set at the beginning of the game continued through ongoing plot and new hooks that enter game.

This game had a queen: does yours? Okay, so it's Felicia Day on Supernatural in a LARP. That was a gender choice.

This game had a queen: does yours? Okay, so it’s Felicia Day on Supernatural in a LARP. That was a gender choice.

When plots are introduced by game organizers, they may force players into situations where they must conform to gender ideas outside of their character design. This may put said players in uncomfortable situations. A typical example that can come up is the introduction of an NPC that makes romantic advances towards characters. Do the NPCs only hit on the opposite gender, or are same-sex relationships a possibility? Are you accidentally assuming when writing NPCs that all the characters they might interact with are straight? In fact, are you assuming all your NPCs would also be straight? Similarly is the issue of genderizing plots that are put out in the first place; When someone comes running into town looking for help to rescue their kidnapped children, are they automatically a distraught mother? More importantly, do they always look for the male fighters to save the day? That kind of implied bias in NPCs can set a standard for gender expectations in play that will be mirrored back by the player community. If your sexy succubi in game are always women out to enslave men with their sexuality and you don’t consider putting in male incubi too, you’re reinforcing stereotypes with your ongoing design and you’re signaling that that trope (and what it can say about women in general) has a home at your game.

An even more insidious example comes when any game has mechanics which take away player choice in relation to genderized activities. Love potions and mind control are typical dicey plot points, as they take away a player’s right to choose not to engage with romance or a sexual element being introduced. This kind of mechanical removal of player agency is problematic to begin with for removing a player’s choice, but it becomes doubly so if it puts players in a situation that violates their character’s gender or sexuality choices.

 

Maintain The Player Trust

If whatever gender choices were established by the organizers are not upheld by the in-play hierarchy and ongoing story, then the game has effectively pulled a bait and switch on players. It established cues in the design which are not then provided to the player base. At that point, the organizers have committed a cardinal rules violation: messing with player expectations. Players come into games trusting that the rules established by the organizers will be respected, even by the organizers, and rules established about the treatment of gender are no different. Should they be changed during gameplay without a good reason, both in and out of character, then the basic trust between organizer and player has been violated. Players have a right to speak up and to require explanations as to why their trust has been misused. If things are not resolved to their satisfaction, they then also have the right to vote with their feet – and dollars as might be the case – and seek a game where their game expectations will be met.

These problems can be headed off by a simple application of forward design thinking and clear communication with your player base. In a time when so many gamers are taking a critical look at representation in gaming, it will save a lot of time and turmoil in the long run if designers make sure they’re doing the same.aracer.mobiпродвижениераскруткапрограмма для взлома вай фай сетичехол клавиатура для ipad airкредитные карты с 20 лет без справокcasino online us playersescort dubai high classcasino makine oyunlar?Big computer deskпутевки на майские ярославлядетский фитнес в марьино

Aug 06, 2013

AntiMetazombie

Metagaming.

The term is practically a dirty word in some larp circles. By definition, metagaming means the utilization of out-of-game information to affect in-character play. While in some forms of games metagaming is a neutral idea, within larp communities the term has a lot more baggage. The word conjures up images of confrontations between players over misused knowledge and hard feelings over player cheating. However when examining the concept of what it means to metagame, it becomes clear that the complex issue comes down to a question of player intent rather than a hard and fast rule.

In many forms of games, metagaming is a regular part of play. Players in sports or board games such as chess may study not only the rules of the game, but the strategies that have developed around game play. They bring that information to their sessions to optimize their strategy. This meta information is not considered in any way negative, but instead proves that the player has prepared to bring their best to the game space. In these games, the player is themselves both in and out of game and shares knowledge without a separation. If someone is playing chess, they aren’t taking on the character of another person to play, and therefore their knowledge is their own. The nature of roleplaying games makes the issue of the metagame different because of the different persona a player takes on when they are in the game.  Inside the world of a roleplaying game, a player is meant to be separate from the character they play and therefore, theoretically, some of their knowledge is meant to remain separate. Metagaming in a larp means using information that your character wouldn’t normally be able to access to impact the in character course of events. This is usually done to present the player who is metagaming with an advantage over other players or the game itself. In many larps, it is considered a form of cheating.

2104744Examples of metagaming can be broken down into a few different categories:

Story knowledge: The first occurs when a player uses a piece of information they overheard out of character while in character, thereby providing their character with some knowledge they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This is the most controversial and generally discouraged type of metagaming. A player might be looking for an advantage in the game and, instead of roleplaying through a scene, reacts to knowledge they shouldn’t have in character, thereby changing the gameplay in their favor. In most games, this kind of metagaming is frowned upon for the sake of fairness. If everyone were to utilize metagame knowledge in their roleplaying, good storytelling could break down; story secrets and hidden knowledge could no longer be safe. Additionally, it shows a focus by the player on their individual achievement versus the enjoyment of the community of players as a whole.

Mechanical knowledge: A second example of metagaming involves a player making decisions for their character based on their knowledge of the rules system, such as deciding whether or not to take on an enemy based on their out-of-character knowledge of how much health they have or how deadly the enemy can be. This kind of strategic thinking is a grey area for many players, since it does straddle the line between performing in-game as their character and playing the game as an out-of-character gamer. Information on a character’s sheet, for example, is not in-character knowledge in the sense that the character doesn’t know how many points it has to spend on experience, or how many health points it has before it does.

metagaming

To engage with the rules of the game, a player has to step outside of the in-character headspace at least a little to fight enemies and calculate their damage. That breach of roleplaying into the out-of-character headspace can lead to players making decisions for their character based on their knowledge of out-of-character information, but it may be considered less severe. After all, it lets a player fully engage with the rules system that adjudicates game challenges.

Safety: This third kind of metagaming conjures up less issues of unfairness or misbehavior. Within any game, a player may engage with something that makes them uncomfortable or unhappy, even something that makes them fear for their physical or psychological safety. A player may choose to react to that situation from an out-of-character feeling of discomfort, choosing to remove themselves or to address the problem with game staff and other players, rather than engaging with it on an in-character level. This reaction, by definition, could still be considered metagaming. However, due to the fact that it involves a player taking consideration for their own safety and well-being, it doesn’t come with the same baggage. The fact that this kind of self-care in game is still technically considered  metagaming points to the fact that engaging in metagaming is not always a bad thing; it just depends on the context.

The decision about whether metagaming is considered a cheating offense and how severely it is dealt with largely relies on how stiff the barrier is between being in character and out of character. Games that focus on keeping a strict boundary between in character persona and out-of-character player may have strict rules against metagaming and levy consequences against players that are caught. In games where the separation is more lax, the consequences might be less serious. Still other games, like many Nordic style larps, break down this boundary completely by encouraging players to play ‘close to home’; that is, to build characters that are very much like themselves. They also include techniques within the game that allow players to break character and explore their feelings, thoughts, and decisions with other players out of character before scenes are played. This style of play focuses on metagaming as yet another technique for telling a rich story while stripping away hidden information in play.

By examining the different ways metagaming is used, avoided, or punished, we can see that information can and does spill over from the out-of-character realm into a player’s character. Metagaming can not only sometimes be helpful in a game, sometimes it might be necessary for the safety and well-being of players. It comes down, then, to the intent behind the metagaming and whether or not the game allows for the free exchange of information over the in character/out of character line.

What’s been your experience with metagaming? Share your experiences with us about the issue!araceraracer.mobideeo.ruпрограмма для взлома архивов rar скачать бесплатночехлы iphone 6заявление на получение кредита сбербанкbingo gratis para jugar en lineahigh priced hookerscasino oyunlar? pokerBest slots bonusesтур франция майбокс для девушек в москве

Jul 31, 2013
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