|becky has a neg 4 to stealth checks (clank) wrote,|
@ 2018-11-22 20:37:00
|Entry tags:||essay, rp writing|
The Five Dysfunctions of a Game
Becky misuses a business book for RP.
I had other essays about RP I wanted to write, but after being in journal RP games for over ten years now, I see a lot of the same kind of dynamic and social break downs that can make gaming feel toxic. What are mods to do? What are players to do? WELL, to give you an idea I'm going to turn to a book that incorporates two things I absolutely hate: business and touchy feely bullshit.
Except, when implemented correctly, it really isn't. I am a huge cynic but The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni has really won me over. Let me show you how this business book written for corporate and management teams can apply to gaming groups.
Okay, so let's define what an absence of trust is and why it's so important to have trust among players and mods. Essentially, if people do not feel like they can be vulnerable with one another and bring up problems, they aren't going to. Things will fester and get worse.
If I have a problem with another player but feel like they're just going to bite my head off or blame me for bringing it up to them, then there is an absence of trust in that relationship. Communication won't happen, and RP will probably stop happening as those who don't trust each other will start to avoid one another.
That's bad, right?
Actually, it could get a lot worse. Harassment and bullying isn't new to RP, and without a baseline of trust, players could be afraid to open up to talk to each other at all for fear of abuse. Players who make themselves invulnerable by not talking to one another cut each other off from creating cool plot together.
So how do RP games build trust among players? Well, it's pretty simple and kinda weird. Players need to talk and socialize on an OOC level. It's a bit different in a business setting in the book, where coworkers may never talk about their personal or family life. Typically there is some socializing aince IJ games tend to have a social element, so some thoughts on modifying that in order to build trust...
Players need to socialize in a space where they feel safe to do so. Now discord chatrooms and the like don't always foster this sharing and openness. Sometimes players get anxious trying to socialize in a chat or won't always message one another.
So what can mods do? I think posting some fun, OOC memes and questionaires on the game's OOC board can help build trust. Something light hearted, where players are encouraged to open up OOCly about their thought process for their characters. It's gives players a safe space to be a little vulnerable with their writing insights and encourages players to talk to each other when that might not happen otherwise.
If you feel like there might be an absence of trust in your game and players aren't coming forward with their problems, try to use your OOC board to foster some light hearted sharing. Think of other ways to give your players safe spaces to open up and talk OOCly.
Some players would rather just have an artificial harmony rather than risk an argument or debate. Other players can be super aggressive and not afraid to get into fights with other players at all. OOC Conflict is healthy in a game. While it requires trust to do so, players shouldn't be afraid to come forward to other players that they have a problem with. Otherwise? You get negative back bitey lame shit like rpvents. (Sorry, not sorry, I think rpvents is pretty shitty.)
Do you have to argue with every player you don't agree with? No.
Do you have to bring up everything other players do wrong RP-wise? Please don't. Other people have different interpretations of characters and RP aesthetics.
But do you have to put up with players making you feel uncomfortable? Absolutely not. But those players who are making you miserable aren't going to get any better if you don't give them a heads up. And if someone comes to you with a problem and they're upset with you? A smart player might thank them for bringing it to their attention, listen, and figure out what needs to happen so you both can move forward.
What can mods do to help foster conflict? Sometimes asking players to talk to each other isn't enough. Remember, players have different tolerances of conflict. You know what might be helpful in order to give players the tools to engage with conflict with one another? Ask them on the OOC board to describe their relationship with conflict. "Are you afraid to bring up problems with other players? What would make you feel more comfortable? How can other players help you have those uncomfortable conversations with them?" Put it out there and see what your players have to say. Maybe your players can help each other out and being aware of other player's conflict styles can't hurt.
Okay, here is where the book gets more businessy, but I'll try to better apply it to RP. According to Lencioni, "feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization."
But what he's getting at is when a business has to make a decision, if employees don't trust another they won't open up, if they avoid conflict they won't engage and give you ideas, and if they don't feel heard, they won't commit to the game or go along with mod decisions they don't agree with.
Players are going to go up to mods all the time asking if their characters can do Y or Z. Often times they just see it as doing something super fun and cool. But a mod, looking over the entirety of the game and trying to keep plot balanced and being fair to other players might mistake that enthusiasm for someone just being a power hungry gamer.
Mods have to make decisions all the time. But as long as players feel heard and understood, they're going to be okay with if the mods say no and be committed to the direction of the game and making it work. I personally pitch things to players all the time, and as long as I feel heard and understood, I'm still happy to pitch all kinds of plot ideas as long as they seem receptive and appreciative, even if they decided not to go with the idea I came up with.
You can have disagreements, you can say no, just make sure to listen to one another. If you have a good group of players who trust and engage in healthy conflict with one another, chances are they will also trust the mod to make call needed to keep the game going when they aren't able to resolve a problem themselves.
If the first three things are ironed out, then players will be accountable for their behavior and activity. Counterproductive behavior can be addressed and ironed out.
Mods typically have rules in place to keep players accountable, including activity checks. If you feel like players aren't being held accountable for their actions, take a look at the rules section. Does it address the unproductive behavior and are there consequences?
**I'll likely have more to add and say about this later.
In RP terms, this is the health of the game. Are people writing and having fun and interacting? Does it have the number of players it needs and characters in order to have the kinds of stories and plots you want to tell at that speed needed for the game? Everything listed below feeds into this.
Another way to look at this is are players invested in the whole of the game and other players, or do they mostly use your sandbox to PSL their ship in public? Fostering a game group with open communication, trust, willingness to engage in conflict, etc, can help minimize the number of non-engaged players who only care about their characters get to do.
**I'll likely have more to add to this later.
For mods, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Leadership Guide, isn't a bad read. Just keep in mind you're reading a business book, not an RP guide book, and adjust as necessary. The regular Five Dysfunctions is a fable that's not a terrible read but may or may not be very helpful.
Here's another link to a PDF for those of you who are more visual, but this is in business terms so creative application may need to be applied.
Another note, I'm a strict ass mod when I do mod. If I have to email a player three times about player complaints and bad behavior, I kick them out. I have heard from a lot of mods, "Well, what they did wasn't technically against the rules." Don't be afraid to shitcan people causing strife and drama in your game. It is your sandbox, you get to decide who plays in it.
But admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for bullshit. Your mileage may vary.