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Anonymous

 Membership A matter of perspective?

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I had one of those dilemmas where something small turned out to be something huge.

 

A member on my board messages me in a state of upset. We'll call this member Jamie. Jamie was angry at a post that someone (who we'll call Leslie) had put up for them, as it made claims in the narration of her post about Jamie's character that were not accurate (according to the Jamie). When Jamie talked to Leslie about it, Leslie explained that it was a difference of "character perception" and refused to make the change.

 

And this was all over a three-word reference to how present Jamie's character was in the social sphere of the IC community. Jamie believed their character to be very visible and popular, while Leslie's character had never met Jamie's character, and used that as a reason. When I read the offending post, I assumed that Leslie's post was a reflection on their character's perception of the social scene.

 

However, because it wasn't clearly stated as character perception, this was a big no-no to Jamie.

 

In a collaborative writing situation, where we each only write our own characters---and I do not expect members to read up and study other characters before threading---I take the view that anything, including narrative statements, are influenced and coloured by the character's knowledge and perception. I feel this gives members leeway to make mistakes and blame it on dumb characters being dumb characters, or to discuss with each other and create an understanding that works for both players.

 

If I went through and weeded out all of the "inaccurate" statements in OOC narrative portions of posts, I'd do nothing else. I would literally need to police every single post for accuracy and I am not up for that. We had that level of policing once and it created an environment so hostile that I was afraid to post on my own  board

 

When I explained my rationale to Jamie, I was told that my approach was a "deal-breaker". That it allowed other players to "hijack the narrative" and "create inaccurate impressions of the character". There was a strong sense that I was supposed to, at that point, give in and say "okay, anything in posts that is not speech MUST be 100% accurate and objective".

 

But I didn't, and so the member left this morning. 

 

Am I wrong here? I find most people just accept that it's all IC and subject to inaccuracies, but... this very vehement reaction puzzled me. 

Anonymous poster hash: 6a688...398

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I agree with you. It is a matter of character's perspective, which can be flawed. And there are people who can't accept that their characters aren't the bee's knees for everyone :( that there are people who might not like them or have a wrong impression about them.

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I don't think this is even about inaccuracy in that post. Popular and visible are really subjective, it depends on where Leslie's character was looking, how much attention they were paying, and depends a lot on chance as well! If this really is a big thing for Jamie's character, it could have been used to develop the character or the relationship between the two of them. How come she hadn't seen him before? Is Leslie's character living under a rock? Does Jamie's character think she is? Should Jamie's character branch out a bit more because apparently there are more people out there to meet? That's what role-playing is. Confronting your characters with an external world and seeing what happens! 

 

I think you did the right thing. This wasn't godmodding, this wasn't even not objective. This was Leslie's character objective perception of a set of qualities that can only be perceived relatively! These differences in perceptions are a very interesting thing to explore in characters interaction, and acting in any way regarding this situation would just open this weird precedent on your site. 

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Quote

What I told you was true... from a certain point of view...you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. 

                                                                    ~Obi-wan Kenobi


You're completely right in that it's about the relative nature of truth. The unreliable narrator is a basic and common idea and tool in fiction. RP Characters are unreliable narrators. Jamie is, quite frankly, off their nut if they honestly think that individual character narratives must be 100% factual. Especially when the "facts" are based on another character's personal narrative. You're 100% better off without a player like this.

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I just can't even? I'm going to react to Jamie and Leslie In character from a few characters here just for the benefit of roleplaying and because I think it will amuse you anonymous.

 

Elizabeth:

Quote

Jamie is being a bitch. She sounds like the *spins finger in circle around ear* type and I normally like 'em fucking nuts but seriously? I call men by boys names and call them pussies... out loud, not even in my head. Do you really think that affects their "perception"? Yeah.... yeah.


Leslie lets hook up. I like a strong woman. Hell I like women.

 

Charlotte:

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Well ya gotta see it from both perspective's. I mean on one hand the character may clearly be in the social world but on the other the social world is a vast thing and being in it may not be enough to be noticed. Really I think both people need to take a step back and think about it because really?

 

Is roleplaying just about words.... and perception? I'm perceived as strong and cute but my author calls me sweet, weak and mousy so who really actually knows how the other character sees you?

 

Violet:

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Get over yourself.

 

I could do more, and will do so if asked but just a few examples of character perception.

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I feel Jamie is the kind of person who can't stand not being the center of attention (either herself or her characters) and is throwing a fit because, well, she just learned that her character is not the center of everyone's words, or even on everyone's radar. I may be wrong, but that's what it looks like from where I'm standing.

 

And if that's really the case... I agree that you're better off without Jamie.

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I should probably add:

Jamie and I also had a thread together prior to this. My character is younger and basically hero-worshipped hers, which was hella cute to play. Throughout that thread there were tonnes of statements in narrative clearly based on my character's perception (but not explicitly noted as such) that were not 100% accurate.

 

But there was no issue with those.

 

When I pointed that out, Jamie said that it was "different" because that was "clearly hyperbole" and "obviously the character's opinion".

 

The only difference (to me) between the example that was an issue is that what I wrote was overwhelmingly and cringingly adoring, and what Leslie wrote was... kind of mundane? It wasn't even negative. It was just "this character tended to fly under the radar a bit".

Anonymous poster hash: 6a688...398

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2 minutes ago, Anonymous said:

I should probably add:

Jamie and I also had a thread together prior to this. My character is younger and basically hero-worshipped hers, which was hella cute to play. Throughout that thread there were tonnes of statements in narrative clearly based on my character's perception (but not explicitly noted as such) that were not 100% accurate.

 

But there was no issue with those.

 

When I pointed that out, Jamie said that it was "different" because that was "clearly hyperbole" and "obviously the character's opinion".

 

The only difference (to me) between the example that was an issue is that what I wrote was overwhelmingly and cringingly adoring, and what Leslie wrote was... kind of mundane? It wasn't even negative. It was just "this character tended to fly under the radar a bit".

Anonymous poster hash: 6a688...398

 

There you have it. Inaccurate statements are okay when they're to Jamie's character's benefit. When they make her character seem ordinary, they're not okay. I think that tells you what Jamie is all about. Them leaving might cause some minor bumps in the road, but I'd say it will be for the betterment of the experience, if that's how they're gonna react every time someone doesn't think their character is the best thing since sliced bread.

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1 hour ago, Shades said:

 

There you have it. Inaccurate statements are okay when they're to Jamie's character's benefit. When they make her character seem ordinary, they're not okay. I think that tells you what Jamie is all about. Them leaving might cause some minor bumps in the road, but I'd say it will be for the betterment of the experience, if that's how they're gonna react every time someone doesn't think their character is the best thing since sliced bread.

 

Truth be told (hehehe) this kind of thing is also a common symptom of self insertion and a blurring of the IC/OOC line. Jamie likely sees the character in question as some kind of RP extension/version of themselves and therefore, can't handle that character being seen as anything other than awesome.

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I think you did the right thing. 

 

That said, I think this is what signatures are really for imho: one line or two lines of information. If you have someone famous, tell people in your signature that you play give or take Obama. 

 

"This character's name and appearance are known in most households"

 

(In case there are Jamie's wandering through this thread. That's how you make sure your narrative never gets confused.)

Edited by Thyme
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I find it strange to react in that way because it's only a small thing, tbh. One of my characters makes a living by making crafty things at home - mainly jewellery, woolen blankets and embroidery. She is a mother of a young child and breeds dogs, so she has lots of responsibilities that tie her to her home, and as a result, this is why she works there, taking commissions and stuff from people who want things made or repaired. One rper thought that she worked in a shop and made her stuff there (very inaccurate as to what I had in mind for the character, perhaps more so than this example.) I just went with it because as the character was on twitter, there wasn't a lot of space to put this stuff really, but I considered it to be a major inaccuracy of what my character actually did.

 

I have known people to not like it if you take a disliking to their character but loved it when everyone else fluttered around them like butterflies attracted to a flower and take it as a dislike of them personally (eventually, though, that comes to pass because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.) Their reaction was over the top.

 

Even if you did police everyone's posts so that they were 'accurate' wouldn't it be exhausting and draining for you as admin (and your staff) to do so? Just how much policing would they expect you to do? A site with a policy like that would be seen as overly controlling to members and an headache for the staff implementing it. (And a good environment for gaslighters to flourish because if accuracy means everyone's characters has to perceive a character in the same way that the writer does, what's to stop the writer from constantly changing their character so that no-one's 'perception' of the character is 'accurate?')

Edited by Icewolf
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There are a couple things to consider.

 

The first is narrative styles. I always use a very third person limited, which means that my narration directly reflects my characters' thoughts and perspectives. Nothing is objective. But not everyone does this. Moreover, not everyone writes using a consistent narrative style, sometimes accidentally shifting within individual posts without realizing it. Sometimes they access information that the character wouldn't normally know, such as who is popular and the like. It could be that Jamie didn't realize that some people don't include this outside knowledge because, in my experience at least, most people don't stick to a consistent, limited narrative.

 

The second is that it's hard to play a popular character. When we write novels, we get to choose how every single character reacts to every other character, so we don't need to worry about having characters who disagree or have a different opinion unless we set it up that way. Not so in roleplay. We can have people who laugh in the face of our popular character even though that character is well respected. Sometimes it's completely unreasonable. Once I had a mean, nasty killer monster character, but I wasn't allowed to kill any characters without member approval. So nobody saw my character for the mean, nasty monster he was. It was incredibly frustrating when people would taunt him and there was nothing I could do, even if my character would have killed them in a heartbeat. Although it's not quite the same as Jamie's situation, I can understand that it's really hard to have people not respect the reputation that you've built up for the character, especially when it can't be enforced.

 

I believe that Anonymous did the right thing, and I agree that Jamie blew things out of proportion. But I also think we need to keep in mind that we don't have the full story and should not be quick to laugh at Jamie. I, personally, see it as a miscommunication rather than Jamie having a big RP flaw because I can understand that a few tiny details different may change the situation entirely. (Though with the information given, I still agree with the decision made.)

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In my opinion, Jamie was the tip of an iceberg of trouble! I agree with what @Pancakes said. It sounds as if their character was them and not just an imaginary character. Their self-image was tied to the character's. Never a good thing.

 

In real life, people rarely view us the same way that we view ourselves. So what? winking face

 

In character writing needs to be totally 100% in character. The thoughts, opinions, words - it all needs to be the character's perspective. This means the character views a character with only his or her knowledge of them, not with what the writer might or might not know. A character should build objective and subjective opinions and points of view based on what they have interacted with in the RPG's world.

 

It was probably for the best that "Jamie" chose to leave the game. Based on the information provided, like you, I'd have had to take "Leslie's" side in the issue. 

Edited by Stormwolfe
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6 hours ago, Uaithne said:

Once I had a mean, nasty killer monster character, but I wasn't allowed to kill any characters without member approval. So nobody saw my character for the mean, nasty monster he was. It was incredibly frustrating when people would taunt him and there was nothing I could do, even if my character would have killed them in a heartbeat.

 

I once tried to write a pretty mundane character with specific character flaws. One character had the perception that my character was the stuck up, popular type. Not what I had originally envisioned, but that's one person's opinion so I went on with my writing. However, eventually other players began to follow suit and having their characters "perceive" my character in the same way. At that point, it didn't matter what I wrote this character doing, because every other character considered them to be this particular type. This character could have been saving orphans from a rat-invested building during a category 7 earthquake, and the other characters would have been like "wow they are stuck up". We won't even get into the debate of how exactly this character could even be popular when none of the other characters wanted to be their friend because they were... wait for it... popular and stuck up. I continued writing the character and eventually learned to love the direction that story grew in, but I understand the frustration at being peg-holed into a character type that I hadn't intended to write.

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