For some of us, these are just situations that happen. Things to be dealt with, and which we warn other people who don't know about them. The same way you'd let someone about to walk down a flight of stairs know, "hey, be careful, the third step from the bottom is broken."
|Thanks for the warning... I guess...|
So instead of warning new players away from problem players and storytellers, why don't we repair those problems so there's no warning necessary?
A Hard Look at a Common Problem
I've been thinking about this issue thanks to a post on Nordic LARP titled 19 Truths About Harassment, Missing Stairs, and Safety in LARP Communities. The post covers a lot of interesting topics, including how real-world norms seep into our games, toxic masculinity in geek culture, and the age-old trick of covering one's own repugnant behavior by claiming it was just what their character would do. It's a long list, but these truths can act as red flags for any game you attend, whether it's at a table, in a LARP venue, or even online.
|I don't care how great your friend says this game is, I'm not staying.|
There are two important things I want to reiterate, though, other than suggesting that we all read that article. The first is that in the gaming community we should all strive to work out our issues, to be open and honest with each other, and to genuinely try to make our community a better place. We're all here to have fun, and as such we should have a big table with room for everyone's dice whenever we can manage it.
The other, which is something I mentioned in my earlier post Want To Have More Fun At Your Table? Stop Playing With Jerks! is simple. Sometimes, even if you come at an issue with the best of intentions, you are going to find people and venues who cannot be reformed. It doesn't matter how many times you tell Simon he makes other players uncomfortable by invading their personal space, or how many times you make reports about harassment in some venues. No change is going to happen, because those people and places do not want to be changed. They might apologize, and claim this won't happen again, but when it does, the cycle cannot be allowed to just start over again.
The first step is identifying there is a problem with a player, storyteller, or venue. The problem, or problems, have to be laid out clearly, and they need to be understood. Once you know what's wrong, make it known somehow. If possible, talk to the person you have the issue with, and make it clear their behavior is not something you are willing to tolerate. If that isn't possible, perhaps because you feel unsafe confronting the individual in question, tell someone else. Tell a friend, tell the DM, or make a report to someone in a position to step in and handle the issue.
And, I am going to repeat myself here, if this problem cannot be fixed, don't be afraid to drop the ax.
By that, I mean that we should learn how to recognize our own problems within the gaming community. Maybe Jeff is a great guy outside of game, and you've known him for years. But if he cannot keep a rein on his temper, and his outbursts make other players feel unsafe, do not let him play. No matter how great Louis is as a storyteller, if he has a string of reports from players that say he sexually harassed them, kick him off the staff, and ban him from the venue. And if the entire staff has been told about an issue, and they see no reason to address the stair that's broken so many ankles already? That's when you leave. You leave, and you bring as many friends with you when you go. Because if that's the only stairway to the place you want to go, it's time to make you own. One with safe stairs, where players don't have to worry about that third one from the bottom tipping its trilby and catcalling them as they go by.
Hopefully, if enough of us decide that broken stairs aren't something we're willing to put up with as a whole, those staircases will either reform, or fade away as newer, safer options rise to prominence.
That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Next week, something a little more upbeat... probably. If you want to make sure you don't miss any of my posts, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to support Improved Initiative, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. All you need to do is pledge at least $1 a month to buy my everlasting gratitude, and to get yourself some sweet swag, too!