Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Oh my, yes.

Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby childdoll on Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:43 am

On another thread (http://www.nyclarp.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=510) an interesting subject about misinterpretation of OOC and IC motives came up. The subject matter was a bit off topic for the original thread, but I felt it was still something that deserves more discussion and examination.

Basically, a troupe member brought up the idea that girls wearing sexy perfume might be potentially inviting certain attention. This idea was met with opposition from other members who heartily disagreed and felt that there should be no room for misinterpretation of IC motives being OOC motives.
As this is a very sensitive and touchy subject for people, I will ask everyone who wishes to get involved in this discussion to please keep a level head and maintain civility. The reason I am even bringing this up is because I do honestly feel it is an important topic to discuss.

In live action role playing males and females of varied backgrounds, nationalities, races, religions, and sexual preferences come together to enjoy a single hobby. We take on different roles much like actors. We play a part. In many cases, we are playing with a group of our friends that we interact with on a regular basis, but other times we are interacting with people for the first time whether at a convention or getting involved in a new group. However, among friends or strangers misinterpretation can and will occur from time to time.

We can all intellectually distinguish the differences between OOC and IC, but sometimes the lines blur. Sometimes we pause and question IC actions – “Why is Cordelia’s character constantly attacking mine? Is she made at me? What did I do?” or “OMG, Xander’s character is flirting with mine? Is he trying to hit on me?”. As players in a game, I do feel it is our responsibility to keep OOC and IC separate. Again this doesn’t always happen though. Usually two types of responses in misinterpretation occur – transference and repulsion. For an example of transference, if Willow decides to play a seductress, wear a short red dress and perfume and starts hitting on you, that is not an OOC invitation that she wants to date you IRL. It merely means she is playing a part. Don’t allow the IC emotions to transfer into OOC assumptions. Likewise if Angel’s character decides to hit on Willow ICly, it’s her responsibility not to freak out and worry if he’s being a creeper and trying to use the character to get close to her OOCly. Don’t have a knee jerk reaction of being repulsed by something that occurs IC.

Personally, I feel the best way to avoid misinterpretation of romantic intent is to be open and honest with the group. If you are playing a character who you intend to be a flirt, then it’s best you let your gaming group know. Just take a moment to explain that you intend to play the character a certain way and that nothing you do is meant to be taken OOC, but that if you do something that makes another someone feel uncomfortable, then please let you know. That right there can eliminate any potential misinterpretation. But if you feel uncomfortable with something someone else does or says ICly, you need to speak to the person directly and be honest about how you're feeling. A clear line of communication is often the key to avoiding drama.

Any further thoughts or feelings on the subject?
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby Stressmint on Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:22 pm

Most things in life are better handled with open and honest communication, but in reference to the idea of being actors playing a role, many actors and actresses fall for each other or get involved during movies, plays, etc due to the same situations we find ourselves in. I think it's a part of human nature when close to someone, even just "pretending" there are still emotions being traded and communicated, even if those emotions are purposefully used in a way to act out a character.

It's just something that could happen, and the best way to approach such an issue, is to bring it out and discuss it before it goes too far.
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby Otsp on Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:26 pm

Dalen wrote:
There is no room for misinterpretation of intent. The intent most or all players have are to convincingly portray a fictional character in a fictional setting. So if someone is dressed sexily and smells "sexy" and is trying to flirt with another pc.. it's all in the acting. I would not assume they are trying to OOC seduce you via IC means...

Let me just say, without going into too much detail, that this is not always the case. Anyways, this discussion had strayed way off topic.

I do agree that, in the history of LARP, there have definitely been times when someone has used IC flirting to flirt with someone OOC, but that really doesn't change anything anyone else has said. If they aren't flirting with you OOC as well you really shouldn't be getting any messages from it, because if this actually was one of those rare times where IC flirting had OOC motives behind it you can be pretty certain there are going to be signs of it out of game, as well.

Also, the whole "if you smell attractive people might be attracted to you, so look out!" thing is a little grim. This may be a mega-nerd hobby, but I figure we can all probably do a pretty good job of differentiating between "Huh, [Player] is attractive; that's nice" and "Welp, time to start leering at them creepily all game and start using any excuse I can to invade their personal space while breathing heavily". I'm exaggerating, but even if somehow intentions are being misconstrued, it's only an issue if people are forgetting the basics of being decent, not being creepy, and not being obsessive. It's really not fair to put the responsibility on the person wearing something attractive instead of the person being a creep-show.
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby Snake-Apple on Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:15 am

While we're on the topic, HEADS UP:

I will be very flirtatious and sexually provocative, IC for Jackson. Thanks!

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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby Eytan on Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:08 pm

I agree that there are lines that can be avoided if people can refrain from taking their behavior to excessive levels. There's a difference between flirting and stalking. I've also seen people take this to the opposite extreme and choose not to play out emotions that they should have been playing (ie. not playing emotional links of blood bonds or rationalizing away other inter-character emotions), purely due to their feelings toward the player and not the character.

It's impossible to completely separate feelings toward players from feelings toward characters. Some players inherently evoke feelings of trustworthiness, excitement, polarity, divisiveness, drama, and so on. These will often come out in their characters, regardless of their intentions. But I think we should do our best to play characters and interact with characters, not play ourselves and interact with the other players.
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby I'm a Raptor, Really on Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:06 am

This is actually kinda a point of discomfort for me in some ways so it's kind of cool to see the topic come up. My first encounter with LARPing years and years ago actually scared me off completely because of really creepy IC/OOC stuff blending. My girlfriend at the time got invited to play in a Vampire game by this kinda-friend from school who had a huge crush on her. It sounded pretty cool and different so she decided to give it a try and I was actually pretty interested in following if she reported back positively. Turns out, the guy was a real creepazoid and basically sexually assaulted her "IC". I'm pretty sure almost all LARP groups have pretty strict "no touchie" rules... ours actually seems to be more relaxed than others (hugs, arms around shoulder buddying stuff, etc), but this group really didn't bat an eye at the fact that he shoved his tongue down her throat and she was freaking out. It took me forever to give LARP a chance and put that incident where it belongs, in the "rare and completely not accepted in this hobby behavior" category.

When I started out in Dark Ages I was still uncomfortable enough that I made it very clear to the staff that I was absolutely not interested in exploring any sort of relationship/flirtation/bad touch... nothing. Give me plotting, death, and destruction, but don't you dare wink at me. As I've settled into LARPing a bit I've relaxed about that a ton... but I'll admit I'm a lot less comfortable flirting IC with a stranger at a con than with someone I game with more regularly because of the memory of that one creepy guy.

Oh yeah, and woah nelly on the idea that wearing perfume and dressing according to your character is "inviting certain attention"... that's like a watered-down nerdy version of "She was asking for it, look at that skirt."
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby AJ on Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:12 pm

For some reason this story reminds me of a game Lauren and I went to at Ubercon a few years back... There was this one really obese man, in an evening gown, who spent half the game sitting in a corner, muttering to himself, "I'm a beautiful woman," over and over, and the rest of the time trying to make sure no one else had any fun, in an aggressive, OOC way. Very creepy guy. Not the sort of thing that's generally tolerated in this hobby, and certainly not in NYCLARP.

Come to think of it, it was at that same con that the "door story" happened.
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby sleepingmiracle on Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:46 pm

I'm a Raptor, Really wrote:Oh yeah, and woah nelly on the idea that wearing perfume and dressing according to your character is "inviting certain attention"... that's like a watered-down nerdy version of "She was asking for it, look at that skirt."

Amen to that! Regardless of gender, a player should be able to dress as one's character and leave it at that- when the game ends, I'm no longer miss miniskirt and perfume, I'm Lauren. Thanks.
"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." ~Ayn Rand
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Re: Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Postby RoseThorns on Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:16 pm

I think what we're discussing here is very different from that particular story, Aaron.

The identification of a specific issue of misinterpretation of intent and creepy and/or predatory behavior are two very different things. That clarification needs to be made right off the bat for this discussion to have any weight. For example:

a) Person A goes into a game and is attracted to Person B due to what the person is wearing, ect. and goes about acting respectfully and responsibly about it with no mistaking intent or mixing up the ROLEPLAY with the REAL PERSON. (NO ISSUE HERE - why? No actions taken, nothing done, ect. A person may become attracted to another for any particular reason of human physiology - but how they handle the situation is what counts. )
b) Person A goes into a game and is attracted to Person B due to whatever the hell reason they're attracted to someone and then makes unwanted advances, acts in a particularly creepy fashion, or mistakenly associates IC actions with RL interest and pursues that interest, to the discomfort of PERSON B. (ISSUE -The issue stands when a person takes their interest and steps it into the realm of unwanted advances. Granted, a person may become attracted to another in a game because of how a person is dressing and want to talk to them OOC. But never should the thought process become "Hey, that girl's wearing provocative stuff, she must be wanting some attention, I'm going to..." ect. That is just plain ridiculous. That person is assuming intent on the provocatively dressed/acting person's part and making assumptions... well... we know what they say about assuming.)

As for any kind of behavior that steps over the line from interest into creepy/predatory: there is no reason why that shouldn't be handled the same way you handle any sort of issues like that in a work place or school/professional environment. If it's harassment, it's harassment. That's how it goes. IE in the situation that Andrea mentioned, that was sexual harassment and assault - and that is NOT the way LARP is handled in this group. Make no mistake about that.

I also agree, however, that communication is KEY to solving these issues. If you feel comfortable enough to address a situation yourself, then do so. If not, talk to a storyteller in that game and make them aware of an uncomfortable situation in development. Why? This is a social game with a staff that is there to help make sure that the players are having fun in a positive, safe environment. Some things might come down to a simple case of misinterpretation (IE someone read some signals wrong, someone being flirty didn't get the point). We all know when things step over our comfort zone and when things get downright nasty, and that's when communication with the person or with someone on staff is key. This keeps the whole game in a healthy place.
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