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Pondering on the RPer psyche

What causes roleplayers to take a request to modify (or a rejection of) our characters or roleplaying approach (preferred mood and style, posting conventions, what have you) as some sort of personal insult?

I've seen this sort of thing happen a number of times, both as a player and a GM. I'm not absolving myself of doing it, either (because goodness knows I have).

Could it be that some of us have been rejected too many times in the past (by "mainstream" society) that we automatically go on the defensive when we're "rejected" yet again? Is there an unspoken law in the geek community that a GM *has* to accept characters and approaches as is?

Or are these just the random meanderings of someone who hasn't had breakfast yet? :)

Comments

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bonusparts
May. 25th, 2007 01:36 pm (UTC)
It depends on a lot of different variables, I think.

If you're talking about online RPGs, it can be *very* difficult for people to both "get" and "send" the right tone in text only. What I imply as sarcasm, you may infer as hostility. Neither one of us is wrong, necessarily - we just interpret the same phrase in different ways, based on our personal variables.

In face-to-face roleplaying, it is easier to identify what someone is trying to convey by their words because we can see and hear that person. Still, though, I've seen more than one argument erupt even in this environment. And both parties involved walk away later wondering what went wrong and how.

So, there's a non-answer for you.
efbq
May. 25th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
I agree with bonusparts that communication (or lack thereof) can create a lot of the problem. ESPECIALLY online.

There's also the 'rejection' process you've alluded to. A lot of us are lacking in the social skills needed to request a change and not project an attack. There's also the fact that, quite often, we invest a lot of creative energy to role playing concepts, and naturally get attached to our ideas. When our ideas are rejected, we tend to overpersonalize it.
kaith_rustaz
May. 25th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC)
Role playing falls into 2 ideas. The "Actor" and the "Player"

The actor, fits a part in a GM's play. The GM here will carefully craft a story, and seek to fit the players into it. Things outside the script will frustrate the GM, as will players who seek to do things other than planned. Scriptwriter GM's get rather frustrated by players who seek to bring along hand grenades on a fishing party, or who attack a locked wooden door with axes when it's an important side quest to find the key.

The player will play out a character in an adventure setting, with the godlike GM weighing out the effects of their actions on the overall setting. Character flaws and poor planning on players parts will effect things as the game progresses. The overseer GM will allow the unusual idea of using torches and oil flasks to burn down the locked door...but may inflict smoke damage on the party, or add modifiers to increase the chance of discovery and attack for example.

Of course, I lean towards being a player, and have frustrated more than one scriptwriter in my days. Best one was when I played a dwarf, and built a mini-forge to burn through an locked wood door in a dungeon. :)

We won't even get into fighting Klingons in the Temple of Elemental Evil. :D
bonusparts
May. 25th, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
The analogy of the player being an actor in a GM's play is an interesting one. In many ways, the two *are* quite similar. The main difference between being an actor and a player, though, is that the actor (if he or she has done the proper homework) has read through the script and knows the job that is required of him or her. In short, the ending and all of the steps along the way have already been revealed; the actor just brings the presence to the role assigned.

A player, meanwhile, often has *no* clue where the story is going. At least, I think it works best this way. In such circumstances, it should be forgivable that a rough-and-ready axe-wielder will take the weapon of choice and bash down a troublesome door, and to hell with the GM's plan for a key side quest.

I've been in more than one campaign that's fallen to pieces because a GM stuck too closely to a script, and the players just could not get back to it. Logic simply did not dictate taking the course of action he wanted us to take, and so our story collapsed. (Not a big deal, since we weren't that interested in the story anyway. But I digress....)

I think that it might be more apt to say that both the GM and the player (or players) are involved in a "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" type of game. The GM is sort of like the host - she or he has an idea of where things are going, can see the backgrounds, knows what's on the mystery cards, etc. The players in this analogy are the contestants: they have to improvise or even simply react to what's thrown in front of them, be it a mysterious line of dialogue or a giant balloon animal. The GM and player both have to roll with the flow of things; it's just that the GM has a slightly better idea of how things should progress.
eseme
May. 25th, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
Mmmmmmmmmmmm, breakfast.

We're a bunch of people who often (but not always) have some social issues. This means someone can react badly to any sort of situation. On the plus side, outside of gaming, I've found that gamers often have a greater tollerance of those with social flaws than most "mainstream" people.

And I'd agree that in any creative endeavor (which gaming is, from both the GM and player perspective) one can get very attatched to one's creations. A little bit of you goes into that idea, and someone requesting changes can be seen as requesting changes in you. Which goes back to that social awkwardness, and gamers have heard many "you need to change how you act" statements from others, so hearing something that some little p[art of your brain sees as a similar statement about a character... results in a hostile reaction.

That's my take anyway.
waiwode
May. 25th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)
I really think that this has nothing to do with Geek Social Fallacies, for once, and a lot more to do with human nature.

One advantage "Jocks" have over bookish types; they play more sports. Sports teaches us that it doesn't matter how good you are, and you may be very good indeed, only one team can win. So they understand losing, even if their sub-culture teaches them to abhore it.

However no one want to be told that the way they played sucks.

The players (or GM) in question was probably "bringing their A game" to the campaign. To have their endeavors critiqued, with no positive reinforcement, is a blow to the ego.

In the Army we are continually assessed. As a result, we tend to take critiques in the manner they were intended: to allow us to pursue improvement. However critiques are couched in careful language: "We need you to change this, but we all really appreciate how you do that." Lay out the smack-down, and then give them a boost back. (It can be reversed if you want to knock them down a peg or two).

It isn't a perfect solution, but it works with people carrying loaded rifles, so it can't be all that bad.
ramius_rathorne
May. 25th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
I design characters that I would enjoy playing. These characters are reflections of who I wish to be or what I wish I could do, and thus are reflections of my personality. If I'm told to change said character, I'm being told that this reflection of my personality shows something you don't like about me. (subtract points from self-esteem)

My play style is a reflection of who I am and how I define myself (my personality) through how I choose to have fun. If I am told that my play style does not fit in with the group, I'm being told that I don't fit in with the group because of who I am. (subtract points from self-esteem)

How I react to these things depends on my self-esteem. If my self-esteem is low, I will take it personally, as you've effectively kicked me when I'm down (even if you didn't mean to). If my self-esteem is high, I can shrug it off, as my self-esteem can take the hit.

And that is Pop Psych 101 for gamers.
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sarahgilly
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This LJ chronicles my experiences in geekdom. Feel free to read, but beware of falling dice!

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