Monday, September 16, 2019

Consent in Gaming (If You Haven't Downloaded This Book Yet, You Really Should)

If you have an Internet connection and you've been paying attention to any gaming-related groups on social media recently, then you've no doubt seen people losing their minds over the recently released Consent in Gaming supplement from Monte Cook Games. This supplement is, in short, reminding us all of a very basic, very important truth when it comes to our games; we all have to opt-in to the experience being presented. We need to do so enthusiastically, we need to give our consent, and we need to make sure we discuss what we want and what we expect out of our game. And we need to be able to trust each other, and to acknowledge when we have done something that has hurt feelings at the table in order to move forward.

This supplement is free, and there's no reason not to get it.
Absolutely nothing between these pages should come as a surprise to you... and that is why it should be required reading for anyone who tries to run a game. Ever.

An Ounce of Prevention, and a Pound of Cure

I'm not going to launch into the same BDSM-themed metaphor I used in "Edgy" Games Require Trust to make my point here (even though it still works), because this supplement renders such additional illustration unnecessary. It explains important points that a lot of gamers have probably never had spelled out before, such as how you should always assume the answer is "no" until you've asked, how you need to talk about what people are and aren't comfortable with beforehand, and how it doesn't matter if there's just one holdout; either everyone's on-board, or you don't do the thing.


Yes, everyone, this isn't a Senate vote. You need to be unanimous!
One thing that makes this supplement unique (aside from discussion of actual tactics like the X-Card, and resources like the consent sheet at the end of the booklet) is that it also talks about how to step back and smooth things over with your group when things go wrong. Because things are going to go wrong, no matter how hard you try. It's an inevitable. This quote, I think, illustrates the point:

"Some people find it hard to apologize because people in general are discouraged from admitting they’re wrong. But here’s the thing: you’re a roleplayer. If you can pretend to be an elf or a cyborg, if you can insult the king to his face or stand your ground against a horde of charging orcs, if you can accept that you killed the entire party with a fireball or take credit for killing a dragon with a critical hit, then you can apologize to your friends for saying something that made someone uncomfortable."

Friendships can be tough to manage, and sometimes emotions run high at your game. You can be as careful as possible, screening everyone's sensitivities and opening dialogue, but you're going to step on a mine eventually. Rather than wasting time and energy getting mad at someone because they couldn't handle something, focus on moving forward. Acknowledge what happened, apologize, and try to move on. Don't try to shame someone for opting out, or demand an explanation; the why doesn't matter, because the important thing is they wanted out.

We're all here to have fun, and we should all feel included and comfortable while we're doing that. Even if we're pretending to be a debauched cabal of baby-eating vampires, or the chosen warriors of the fell powers, those of us around the table still have things we'd rather not have thrown at our faces while we're trying to enjoy ourselves. And the better our communication on issues like this, the better our games will become!

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That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday. Hopefully you enjoyed, and if you've used run these kinds of games before, leave us a comment to let us know what worked for you!

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  1. Sad some people feel they need books to tell them what is appropriate and common sense. This mentality is ruining the hobby. Ic your offended by common events in a game, then it's not cor you. If you run the game and include concepts that are inappropriate to most audiences, ou shouldn't be running the game. Plain and simple. We have not had to have this kind of book in 45+ years of table top roleplaying. sad.

  2. This is about control. You said it yourself: "how it doesn't matter if there's just one holdout; either everyone's on-board, or you don't do the thing.
    Period "
    So now the game is controlled by any individual who wants to. All they have to do is be "upset".
    This is the opposite to consent and is wide open to abuse.

  3. Just to be clear. In a game where this system is in use. A person who thinks the game is going badly for them and thinks the next challenge will be a threat can simply drop an x card and it's all over. Its a great way to cheat.

  4. Useful for certain groups, or in particular gaming situations, fair enough. It's not something I'm getting worked up about, but I don't believe it's "required reading for anyone who tries to run a game. Ever" though, many people have been happily running games where they consider the make-up of their group and aren't being d*cks for years before this supplement, and I'm sure many will do so without the use of the book.

    That said, I'm sure the book will be useful to some people.

  5. I see this as important for people running games in public spaces such as conventions.

  6. I'm not exactly if this is useful for convention games. Most games that are ran at cons are prewritten and are usually designed to last a specific time and touch certain aspects of the game they are for. Using this with the players filling out forms the GM has to read all the form and make any adjustments on the fly. This cuts into the allotted time and what the adventure is supposed to touch on.

    Myself, I am terrible at coming up with material off the cuff. When I run games I use at least a rough outline of what I plan on doing. Having to make completely unforeseen changes could set the game back even longer and the added stress makes it less fun for me, and we are ALL supposed to have fun.

    My thought is that a reverse of this form would work better. The GM fills it out with what the game will touch on and the players can then view that when signing up for games. This way they can avoid anything that may be a problem.

    Again this is my thoughts for games at conventions, not anywhere else.

  7. Everyone seems to be assuming this is something that ruins an ongoing game. I feel like this is so you are aware the players will be comfortable engaging beforehand and finding players comfortable with the content. If they are not you would want to know and you would want them to know before they commit to a game they would not enjoy.... Right?