Friday, 17 March 2017

We Need To Talk

I haven’t posted anything in a while. I have things written – quite a few things. I’ve got things I need to get off my chest, things I simply want to write about and things that are just ideas I feel I should throw into the great aether of the internet – they might help someone, or get lost forever, but that’s for others to decide, not me.

Partly, I’ve had a lot a real-life stuff to deal with that hasn’t been great, partly there’s been some relief of not reliving the same memories over and over – why do I torture myself? – and partly it’s been the things that I want to write and talk about that’s been the issue.

Because, in the LARP community, there’s just things you don’t talk about. Not because they’re racist, or homophobic or whatever, not like that. Something, I think, is much darker than that.

LARPers don’t want you to make them look bad.

Why do I say that and not ‘LARPers don’t want you to make LARP look bad’? For the simplest reason of all – LARP is a hobby that one spends a lot of time, money and socialising invested in – as a person only has so much time spare, socialising itself is a capital along with time, meaning that outside of work and some personal issues at home, for many LARPers, their life revolves around LARP.

For LARPers then, any part of the community and its lifestyle is very, very personal. Any slight taken against a game that a LARPer plays at, minor criticism of a game, of a person in the community, of an aspect of the culture gets take too literal, too deep and as ‘offensive’ without really seeing the bigger picture or the intent behind it (see some previous posts about people takign everything to heart!)

I’ve been a bit lucky really the past couple of years – I joined a game system that I wrote an article about, and the game organisers didn’t shun me for it, but the opposite, they embraced it and made minor changes to the game that’s made it visibly better (I will write another article about it) and ask for my opinion at times. In my experience, this isn’t what normally happens at LARP.

I’ll give you an example: look at this article written by LARP Guide member Leah Tardivel (yes, we’re back to looking at this, but they’re one of the few article machines out there that talk openly).
A LARP Guide team member that’s never played the Lorien Trust game system attended and wrote a review on her experience.

The first and third comments on the article are direct attacks. Not justifications, not counter-points (as I countered about ‘That Event is Too Expensive’ – even though my counter was very critical and inflammatory, it didn’t attack), not even ‘yeah, I see what you mean… but...’ or ‘come back and have another go’.

No. Leah was struck with ‘your fault, you didn’t get involved’ and ‘you didn’t use maps’ and ‘well, that’s just your experience’.

First – I’m glad Leah got to experience LT that way, and the snobbish replies afterwards. Leah saying about the difficulties she had, what she perceived of the game and the replies she got were exactly what new players get to large system - particularly those new to LARP.

Leah might be surprised to learn that she criticised the exact areas of the game that I had problems with when I started CP - and she's a CP lover.

Being ‘new’ no-one wants to talk to you much – you get pushed to the edge where you see the crappier costumes. You must find your way around, and there certainly wasn’t a lot of maps handy at CP when I started around 15 years back. Sure, the guide had a map at the back – but if you were new you didn’t have a guide, and not knowing a lot of people, you don’t always want to ask, especially when someone points out that it’s something OOC ‘ruining IC immersion’.

New players struggle to get plot – or indeed, anything or anywhere – new players struggle to find out what’s going on. Of course, this isn’t true for all new players, but the majority, certainly. Many long-term LARPers won’t notice this, however, as, even if they’ve never played CP before, they’ll have friends they can go see and talk to. They’ll set an IC excuse as to why people that have never met before are best friends, so they can hang around their OOC friends without worry.

And those veterans LARPers that do notice these problems know that – at least for them – it won’t last long as they’ll find their own way into the game, know the general steps to take etc. Even though learning this takes years. Unless you have a friend willing to guide you, LARP generally leaves you out in the cold.

And that’s exactly my point. The two commenters didn’t want ‘their’ game looking bad – Leah didn’t realise that the exact things she criticised are also in her game. 

LARP doesn’t want to talk about its problems.

A friend posted on Facebook something about people saying ‘you shouldn’t hold grudges’ and being bullied, and then, of course not wanting to be friends with that person again, because well, you were bullied by them (duh?)

I lost a friendship around this time last year – because I had dared criticise a friend of a friend. I was explaining to my friend that this guys had recently joined the small parlour LARP I attend, seemingly because he knows I attend it. This guy used to send quite abusive emails and messages on Facebook to me.

At the time, when I pointed it out to people I was told to keep it under wraps – we didn’t want to upset others do we?

This time, it was almost like I was the one abusing my friend – how dare I say such nasty thing about his friend? If you read ‘5 Geek Social Fallacies’, you’ll see why – my friends have to also be friends. No one can not get along.

Another friend I know has recently posted up about the sexual abuse she suffered from someone she met at LARP that has scarred her for life – and how another LARP friend has been bullying her into going to a game where this guy is known to attend.

My friend has spent 6 or 7 posts trying to justify why she doesn’t want to go, and that she shouldn’t put herself in an abusive situation again.

6 posts. At least.

What a loading of utter fucking bollocks!

If she doesn’t want to go, she shouldn’t have to defend herself, or justify herself. It’s her choice! Leave it at that!

LARP doesn’t want to talk about its problems.

“Wait, yes it does! I’ve seen loads of articles about dealing with abuse at LARP!”

The article mentions all the things that can happen at LARP – without directly asserting that they do, in fact, happen, except in a round-about ‘it happens in the macrocosm, therefore it happens in the microcosm’ spurious kind of way. It mentions all the bad things that can happen, and the pledges we must pro-actively strive to include to make sure these things don’t happen.

I have a couple of major issues with this article that I’d like to deal with in another article, but mainly, whilst I praise the article for its candour and for being empowering and honest, it doesn’t resolve anything. It doesn’t mean anything. You can pledge all kinds of things you want, but when the worst happens, you’re going to need to know how to make it better.

LARP doesn’t. It sweeps it under the proverbial carpet. ALL LARPs should make the pledges mentioned in this article – and once again, I despair that such things must written out for people – and yet, the community still struggles with the basic principle of policing itself in a humane manner.

LARP doesn’t want to talk about its problems – the community will says that maybe there is some, so it looks like its talking about its problems – but it isn’t.

Recently, another friend of mine was telling me about how his friend at CP is suffering from harassment from another player couple, and how she’s possibly having to move factions because of it. Apparently, not all of it has been by messenger either – some of it has been by constant texts and telephone calls, by threats and even to her face.

What would you do? In a normal, everyday situation? At work? What would you do?

You’d complain to a higher manager, wouldn’t you? You’d go to an employment law adviser, wouldn’t you? You’d save it all up and go to the police, wouldn’t you?

Wouldn’t you?

There’s no such recourse in LARP. It’s worse if the person in question has influential friends in nthe LARP community. It’s worse if the person in question is friends with the ref team. It’s worse when they are the referee team.

I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to speak about the messages and grief I used to get from players. I can only imagine the situation this young lady is trapped in, no one to speak to, no way to sort it out other than change her life.

When I said to my friend that maybe what she should do is publish the texts and messages she receives, my friend said “well, no she can’t do that…”
“Why not?”
“She’d get lots of people upset”

Hang on. She’s being abused emotionally and she isn’t allowed to say anything? She isn’t ‘allowed’ to stand up for herself? In the article, it mentions Missing Stairs – players simply avoiding the issue, moving to another location or another game, whatever. Skirting around it.

That’s exactly what this woman is expected to do – but it’s not coming from her. It’s coming from the community. Others are expecting her to not speak out.

LARP doesn’t want to talk about its problems – it knows it has them, but doesn’t want to admit it.

A friend posted another article to me: Remember, The Party is Under No Obligation to Adventure With You. This is accurate and right – though again, I’d like to express more in another article.

The issue here is though – is it’s not being dealt with. It’s pushing it to one side.

In the LARP community, this is often the way certain people are ‘dealt’ with. Look on most forums, for example, players will often say cheaters are ‘ignored’ or ‘avoided’. I know one cheat that was ignored so much he became a referee.

LARP doesn’t want to talk about its problems.

But it needs to. And it needs to sort them out.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Alchemy over Essence?

I remember that when I ran Thracia a few players that bought the Alchemy skill complained that it ‘never worked’, was ‘broken’ or was ‘too complicated’.

There were a number of reasons for these complaints – but, the most common was players ignorance and bitching.

Now, I’m not going to blame the players here. A few failings on behalf of the Game Team:

  1. Complaints were never dealt with. I wasn't 'allowed' to approach players because then I was “being a bully, telling them what to do” and the other referees dismissed players concerns as “they’re just being stupid
  2. The process should have been presented and described to players. I was told this would lead them to “cheating based on OOC knowledge". I was also told this was a bad idea because “LARP and magic shouldn’t be number crunching” – despite the fact this is exactly what I had been planning with Alchemy; magical maths!
  3. I should have described the process in the rulebook – see the above negative comments
  4. There needed to be a blog-like post issued which handled the concerns and addressed issues – so there was an official response to worries and people had a frame of reference. I was told it “would only upset everyone. People would moan about it
  5. Players needed official feedback so they could see what they needed to do better – I was told any feedback was “fuel for the bitching fire
  6. Clearer indications of how powerful something was, was needed. I was told that “players prefer being in the dark because then there’s more exploration” – the nature of “game” and “risk” being entirely ignored by the referees

However, players began to neither listened to, nor attempted to understand the rules for Alchemy – which is understandable, as the Game Team had effectively let them down just one too many times.

I remember one player left to play Aftermath because he thought the Game Team was out to get him and was trying to cheat him – when I approached him about it he cited the last 7 times his Alchemy ‘failed’.

The thing was, his Alchemy hadn’t failed on any of those times. They’d done exactly what he requested, exactly what he wanted, each time. What was wrong was he was expecting the Game Team to “you know what I meant” and “be able to get the gist of the way I wanted it”. He was also expecting Alchemy to be like other spell-casting (a ‘point and click’ approach) which it wasn’t. Alchemy was not battle magic; it was a tool and should have been used as such and not twisted to meet his own subjective interpretations we desperately had to guess at.

Alchemy was a process of points. To link two objects via Alchemy was 1 point. From there, the second object could be manipulated through second – it was a ‘sympathetic’ link.

For example, if I had 2 twigs, I could sympathetically link them for 1 point. A further 1 point could be expended for the second twig to empathetically respond to the first when I set the first on fire. The second twig would then also burst aflame.

I could do this from 1 twig to 2 others for a further 1 point – 1 more sympathetic link.

Where it got a little weirder was if the second object wasn’t like the first – say, if the second was a stone. Well, I’d have to expend more points to heat the stone, simply because the twig wasn’t like the stone.


Well, the first object – the ‘focus’ was given a mark out of 5 by the referee – 1 being “not at all like the target” and 5 being “the same thing as the target”. This was added to the player’s points total.

Then it was divided by 3. This gave the spell a ‘Rank’.

All spells in the game were listed by Rank. The equivalent of Level 1 spells in CP (‘Confusion’, ‘Mend’, ‘Lesser Healing’) were Ranks 1-3. The equivalent of Level 2 spells in CP (‘Greater Healing’, ‘Magic Missile’) were Ranks 5-6.

Following the example above:

  • 2 metal armours, linked – 1 point
  • 1st armour is like the 2nd (same material, same shape and size) – 5 points
  • Total: 6 points
  • Divide 3:  Rank 2
  • Effect: Equivalent to a Level 1 (Ranks 1-3) spell – i.e. break the first armour = reduce the second armour by 1 point

  • 1 twig, 1 stone
  • Stone in circle, not like the twig – 1 point
  • Total: 2 points
  • Divide 3: 0.3, No Rank
  • Effect: set light to the twig, nothing happens

The only real thing the players needed to worry about was the wording – players had to tell us what they wanted the spell to do – and this is exactly the same for any other magic, anywhere. The problem was exactly what I just said – the player waved their hands vaguely and used to tell us that “well, I wanna… you know… with…. That…. And them over there…. And… yeah”

Finding him bitching to another game system about our rules not working and putting off potentially new players due to his lack of effort and understanding was… disappointing.

Age of Essence is a LARP that has spell-casting rules developed from the Alchemy rules from Thracia. Luke Still, the creator of Age of Essence was a Thracia player – one that for 3 years described my game as “the best system he has ever played”.

I remember talking to him about possibly changing Alchemy so it was a system of beads of ‘crystallised magic’ that could be drawn from a variety of sources.

We discussed a player possibly being able to draw only from certain materials to start, and as they progressed, the skill expanded to allow drawing magic from other sources. The idea became that crystallised magic – a things “essence” – were exchangeable and tradeable by Alchemists, who then used the beads to fuel Alchemy.

The beads would be a physical reminder of the power you’re using. I was also suggesting that herbal and crafting material cards have numbers on them which would also be their value for affecting the Alchemy. The rules would otherwise be the same.

I then also had the idea of having all the beads as white, and introducing red and blue beads to the mix – red was ‘corrupted’ essence and blue was ‘crystal faith’. If you drew a number of red or blue this became a secondary effect to the Alchemy – the number drawn being the Rank, rather than divisible by 3. This would be the inherently unstable nature of Alchemy – red meaning the caster possibly suffers the blow-back event.

Luke developed this idea onto the colours being from ‘elements’ and Alchemy becoming spell-casting.

I see Luke has since developed a system from this that allows for some interesting spells, and interesting magic – it works, and that’s good. I do think it’s a bit DnD, and lacks the investigative, explorative and dangerous (read: exciting) nature of what I had in mind, however. Its is also, unfortunately, ridiculously complicated to the point that I'm not sure how playable it actually is in practice - seen by the numerous changes that have occurred to it, and still are occurring.

I also think that his dividing it into ‘Lawful’ and ‘Chaos’ was developed from my idea of the red and blue beads somehow creating additional effects, which along with the way Thracia was set up (like LT) with ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ alliances, strengthened to  imply that sides were ‘good’ and ‘evil’, like any good’ol fashioned RPG. It's not my taste, and it's way too restrictive for the clever uses that could be gained from a more neutral perspective, but if that's the way it's working for him, cool.

Maybe one day I’ll get to play around with my original idea and see how well it worked or didn’t. I’m pretty confident it’d work quite well, and I reckon it’d be fun where the beads could else be used – Rituals? Forged into armour and weapons?

Anyway, I’m glad someone got some good use out of it and that it’s going well.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Open Letter to Our Landlords

Dear Marlon and Joana,

First, before I begin truly, I would like to highlight – once again, for the… 6th? …time – that, had to you talked to us politely, met with us in reasonable manner as I suggested, this whole mess can be avoided.

But no – you had to send nasty texts and messages to my partner, you had to be aggressive – you had to start pointing fingers, try to intimidate us – my partner in particular. This type of behaviour is that of bullies – I find your conduct to be the conduct of the worse, vile kind. You try to attack someone you perceive as weaker and less capable of you. It’s the very worst kind of abuse. 

You’ve also been incredibly childish. I knocked on your door and gave you my number and said:
“Please do call me some point later this week. I’m normally home after 6:30, so that would be a good time to call.”
You said: “why not talk now?”
I said: “Because it’s impolite to talk in the street.”
You then send my partner several text messages and 5 phone calls in around 20-30 minutes. OOOOO – SOMEONE GOT BUTTHURT! 

And then you have a go at my partner – “why didn’t you answer my calls?” Why the fuck would he? Why would he want to answer the phone to violent, egomaniacal harridan you become all because I dared to approach you myself?

Now, even with all this behaviour, let’s actually talk about what the problem is – and we’ll take it from both perspectives. 

And, I’ll end off with a handy guide of bullet points of the laws of the for you – since, not only do you not have any clue, but you seem to think they’re exactly the same as whatever back-water part of the Phillipines you crawled out of. I say back-water because you clearly demonstrate on a number of occasions that you can’t even behave in a reasonable manner – going so far as to wait 3 hours for my partner to leave the flat – after barging into our room uninvited – so you can accost him in the street. That’s more than a little be suspicious, and the act of savages.

The Problem As Perceived By You

You are upset because – according to you – I moved in with my partner over a year ago and neither of us told you. This has caused you an increase in bills, meaning less “profit” for you. In understand the predicament for you – but:
  • We did tell you. I was there when my partner called to tell you. You gave us permission. I asked my partner to get it in writing and, unfortunately, he never did
  • If I’ve been there as long as you’ve said – how the fuck have you not noticed? Landlords are meant to carry out periodic checks on the property – to make sure it’s secure, safe and sound for the tenant and to make sure the tenant’s behaving. You haven’t done this. Ever. You lost money because you didn’t know I was there? Get over it. It’s your loss. I’m sorry I’m being callous here – but, with how you’ve acted, I can’t really see how you expect me to care
  • You have a verbal agreement with my partner. It’s informal. Thereby, you should expect your tenant to take a relaxed view. You want it done properly? Get it in writing
  • You can’t prove anything – you haven’t performed checks. Any evidence you possibly have is way after the time you told us you’re increasing the rent to cover me being there – which implies that you agree to be there. And – seriously?! – you have a statement from the tenant across the hall from us that I’ve been here that long? You mean that other tenant we’ve got on so well with, right? It’s your word against ours. Let it go already

Neither I nor my partner are attempting to get something for nothing. We’re not trying to deceive you. 

Our Perspective
If anything, your behaviour shows it’s completely the other way around. We’ve never hidden anything from you – but now we’re talking about leaving, you’re trying to claim that “the rent should have been higher since the beginning” and “we said it’s for one person”, and want to claim “back pay”.

No. You want more money for whatever reason, and you’ve come up with an excuse. 

Practicably, we do understand that “bills have gone up” – but seriously, since it’s Multiple Occupancy Housing, there’s no way to show a significant increase in bills.

The very fact you’ve been pursuing my move in date with my partner show that actually, you can’t tell if there was an increase or not. So it’s clearly not about “increased bills” really is it? You know we’re thinking of moving out and you’re trying to get more out of us. 

However, we appreciate that there’s extra wear-and-tear and the like – and not being unreasonable people – we agree to a rent increase.

Which, you’ve already suggested.

And we paid.

The Law
  • As an informal agreement, my partner doesn’t actually need to tell you when I moved in, or even if we’re thinking about it, or I have. There’s you have no proof of anything that specifically exists to exclude:
    1. A partner in general
    2. Me in specific
  • The rent increase bears with it the implication that I’m allowed to be here. Thanks for that, by the way
  • You cannot legally evict me – I am not your tenant. My partner is. You need to speak to him
  • The number and manner of your messages and phone calls is constant enough that my partner and I could reasonably say it’s harassment. This is a criminal offence
  • You can’t legally charge back-pay. So I’m certainly not paying. If my partner does then he’s a gullible fool
  • My partner paid you a deposit. He’s never had anything in writing to say it’s in a protected scheme, so we assume it’s not. When we move out, we can legally start proceedings against you to get that money back. The Courts can also issue you with a fine of up to 3 times the amount of the deposit
  • My partner’s tenancy is legally classified as an “Assured Shorthold Tenancy” (AST). As an AST, because the deposit is not in the legally required scheme, you cannot evict my partner. At all
  • Also, as he didn’t receive a written agreement (the law says no longer than 2 months after he moves in) then the above ruling applies. So that’s 2 things to sort out
  • You’ve turned up to the flat many times and simply let yourself in. Last night, you forced your way into our room uninvited. Every single incidence of that is illegal. If you want to enter the property, you should give at least 24-hours written notice. Yeah. Bothersome, right?
  • You’ve never provided an energy efficiency document for the flat – nor have you ever provided a certificate to show the gas here is safe, or the electricity and wiring is safe. For all we know, we’re living on a time bomb
  • There’s multiple cases of repair in this flat – from the open-topped power shower, to the broken gas hobs, to the wires sticking out of the only working lighting fixture in the hallway, to the mould-covered, wood-worm infested bathroom because the extractor fan is too small. Guess who’s responsible for all this? Give you a clue – it’s not your tenant’s…

So there you have it. My statement.

I suggest you get yourself a solicitor if you want to do anything beyond shutting up and taking our money.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

When LARP Goes Right: The Catharsis of Generous Play

I’ve been musing for a while on what to write, not merely because I have so much I want to talk about, get out of my system (the vile I have for bad attitudes burns – and as we all know, it can come out in horrific ways; I want to use this blog as a way of exorcising it), praise, bemoan and rejoice at.

To be honest, I sometimes feel that no one would want to hear my thoughts in any case, as my posts and thoughts tend to be of a critical nature – I feel I must point out that this I think is just my nature; I’m an analyser. Some people don’t start or do anything for fear of failure or success. I, on the other hand, tend to do and then look back and be critical. I’m as highly critical of myself as I am of others.

So people tend to see this as a bad thing as I’m “always moaning” or “never happy” or “think that other people are stupid” – all of which are as far from the truth as possible. If anything, the biggest reason behind my social anxiety is self-criticism. It’s as much my problem as it is yours.

The thing is, I see it as a positive thing. Without feedback, without criticism, we do not improve. We don’t grow and change. If it weren’t for a dramatic change in circumstance, we would never change. I have always been, and will always be, open to criticism and debate, open to changing my mind and seeing another perspective – as someone that places an emphasis on science in life, on evidence and logic, there can be nothing grander than emulating scientific thought, constantly re-evaluating and determining a new resolution if the evidence or logic shows me as wrong.

For this reason, yes, I do point out flaws where I see them and they affect me, friends, family – even people I don’t know when I see racism, homophobia, misogyny. Without this, how will things get better?

But this month, we’re going to move away from the gloom – into the realms of what goes right.

My local LARP is Player versus Player. I get the impression most players wouldn’t want PvP (especially in the UK?) as LARP has a seriously bad reputation for back-stabbing, bitching, griefing and down-right abusiveness. There’s a reason for that – because it does happen, A LOT, and LARP as a whole tends to neglect its responsibility to eliminate these things. I mean, com’on – even Empire has decidedly moved away from at least physical PvP

Worse, I would say LARP as a community specifically enables such behaviour and to a degree encourages it. I will happily present my thoughts to people that would argue otherwise or wish to hear my reasoning. I will also happily suggest ways this situation may be changed – I might not be totally right on all my ideas, but I know none of them are wrong.

I found this post a while ago by Mirror’s Song: In defence of PvP at larp

I’m thinking it’s a bit ridiculous that PvP needs to be defended, on three grounds:
  • If you don’t like PvP, don’t play it
  • PvP can be fun – the problem is therefore decidedly NOT PvP that is the problem, but the way people approach it
  • Remember, play to have fun – no matter whether you PvP, PvE or anything else, if you focus on the fun, why would it turn nasty? If you’re not playing to have fun and bring fun to others, you don’t deserve to be playing in the first place

I can totally understand why some people get upset with In Character conflict at a LARP, and I can also get that some people feel upset when their character dies and the one person they thought would help them, won’t – or worse (shock! Horror!) is the person behind it!

The problem is that the person being upset knew they were walking into a PvP situation, and didn’t get any fun out of it. Why? Did they want to win and got upset about being wrong? Maybe they suffered a set-back they thought was unfair?

These issues need to be talked to with the referees, who need to give a clear, concise response – preferably in writing so that when questioned they can show others: “see? This is what happened”. It’s especially true for referees and game organisers – because then, if they’re wrong, you can point out to them where they went wrong and why, and they can then respond to it properly and maturely.

As you see, this also links back to my earlier paragraphs about criticism and feedback.

The biggest problem with any game, I think, is when the goals and aims of players to organisers, organisers to players and players to players don’t match (not necessarily ‘disagree’) – are you creating stories, or gunning for achievements?

I think this needs to be stated by the game organisers as a guideline: creating stories means weakening someone rather than outright destroying them as this weaves interesting drama. Gunning for achievement would require you to destroy them, so they don’t overtake you again.

I think for my local LARP the first instance is better, even preferable because there’ always a way back, if you want it. You just have to be willing to fight hard enough – that and the drama is fun! People pointed out to me on my 3rd game or so that when another player kills your character it can be quite fun because it creates a story that is emotional. Last time I talked PvP I mentioned the execution.

One player mentioned to me that’s is actually more fun when you get killed by a friend. This is brilliantly true – you walk over to them, shake their hand and say “well done, mate. Nice one. Glad it was you” and that it’s been a good game of chess between you because you wove a drama together.

Your IC should never affect your OOC – so why the hell does PvP need to be “defended?”

At the last game I saw proof of it: two characters got so angry at one another there was shouting, bloodshed and one stormed away in anger. That player later approached his rival and said “excellent, dude, loved it. Good role-play”.

The thing is, the player that was telling me it’s better to die from a friend? Yeah, he used to play at the LARP I used to run.

I remember that once, his character was possessed by a powerful spirit that made his say vile things to the other characters – verbal violence as his brief was “short of actually harming them”. I remember that a few players got really pissed at him for this – they were taking IC to OOC – even my referees were saying he was showing his “true colours” by his behaviour. I defended him, stating the IC =/= OOC principle; eventually I gave up arguing, and he was later asked not to return after numerous incidents where grew increasingly agitated at the game, me and my refs.

I totally understand his position in this, and I admit I failed him: I should have argued more on his behalf and put my voice to his, giving him a chance to speak out. To be honest, my game should have ended there – my referees were clearly corrupt enough to spoil the game for people they didn’t like. People, that, professionally speaking, they shouldn’t have opinions over.

I’ve heard before that people say that LARP can be cathartic and healing for the soul. In 12 years of gaming I cannot say that is true. But I can say I experienced it at my local game at the last day event.

Before, LARP for me was CP, once LT and a couple of others. Those LARPs are competitive, achievement-based games – PvP in these games can certainly be aggressive, harsh, and players can easily get upset with it because it can be quite cold and uncaring. My referees and other players came from such games, too – it’s easy to see why they didn’t feel comfortable with PvP in my game.

It’s also because of this that I’ve come to realise I’ve never been too comfortable at LARP; it’s always been competitive, and the back-stabbing and bitching just made it worse. Competition can be great, but it only takes a bitch to make it unfair and miserable.

I finally understood the healing at the last game. You know there’s others out to get you, you know there’s conflict and schemes – but you also know you have friends.

I realised my character has friends IC with character played by people that I don’t speak to often OOC. I realised that OOC I have friends that support by brattish ways IC (I’m sure Michael will forgive me at some point!) and I realised I have friends that I could argue with, be annoyed at, kill and betray IC and we’d still be friends afterwards OOC. This sense helped be relax a great deal: I realised I have friends – on either IC and OOC sides – specifically because we help each other to have fun through telling stories. Friends that see the drama (say it in your campest voice!) of IC, not the bitching of OOC, friends that want everyone – me, you, themselves – to have fun, and not purely out to “do one better” and “screw over the other guy” in the process.

This, then, is the catharsis.

One of the biggest problems in any RPG game played in a group is when there’s a conflict on the perception on the nature of the game, or where goals conflict. This is, sometimes, down to a certain player or group of players having different goals from others, creating conflict – mostly caused because that player is trying to “get one over” on others, to “screw the other guy over” – it’s easy to see how this bleeds from IC to OOC.

It’s partly because the group members don’t listen to one another, treat each other with respect. And don’t say “respect is earned, not given”. Bollocks. We all deserve a certain amount of respect, because we’re all people, with feelings and emotions all that jazz.

But it’s mainly because there’s a difference of opinion on sharing fun – when the goal is less or more than simply about being fun.

But isn’t that what we play games for? To have fun?

When that’s the case, catharsis begins.

Even in PvP.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

‘Preaching the Gay’

Recently, I had to block someone on Facebook for a completely different reason than I’ve ever had to do before.

I’ve had bullying on Facebook before, and back-biting, which has caused me to block people. But I’ve never had to block someone because of this before. It was weird.

I admit, I’d put up a post that was none too pleasant. I’d tagged some people in it, telling them I didn’t want to have their religion thrust at me any more – I realised I was beginning to post increasingly aggressive atheist posts mocking religion and didn’t want to end up with bad emotions between myself and my new friends. Why was I putting up these posts? Because I was getting defensive about my lack of belief – I was feeling that I had to defend my view point.

So, I’d like to take to a quote from Everyday Feminism on Political Correctness:

That quote can be applied to a lot of other things as well – in this instance I’m referring to the way said friends now have to engage conversation with me.

Before, I was getting told I should have joined in on prayer. I was continually asked to read from the Bible, to join in Bible and religious discussion. They were bigoted against my own lack of belief.

Now they stop to think, and in stopping, have realised their mistake. I’ve been asked recently if it’s ok to tell me “bless you” when I sneeze, which I think is rather silly question – in that, of course it’s only; it’s a common saying, it’s not offensive at all (it’s actually kinda nice because it says that the person is thinking of you) – but the fact I was asked meant that they realised and wanted to know how to do better. This makes them some of the best people I know – the willingness to change, in turn, showing compassion.

The point is that they now are a little egg-shell walking because they now understand that before, they would say, ask or tell me something bigoted, but now they stop and think – and realised that some things can be better left unsaid.

I think in these circumstances where you realise that you’re stepping on eggshells, you have 3 options:
  • Change your behaviour – you might be upsetting someone and not realise
  • Ignore them – in which case, I would say that you definitely are bigoted, simply because it ignores the harm you may be causing
  • Realise that you might be the one in the abusive relationship – you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells all the time – there’s other signs as well and maybe you should look for them

 The thing is, I’d realised I was the one walking on eggshells to begin with.

Through school and college I experimented with religions because I was finding it difficult to swallow all the lies and logical fallacies all religions inherently have. The closest I came was paganism as it was the only big religion I’d tried that didn’t have some manipulative doctrine behind it. Even then, to me magick was about changing psychology, not about balls of burning gas millions of lightyears away influencing your life (which I have always thought was pretty arrogant to be honest).

I read the God Delusion and came to conclusion everything I’d been told about atheism is wrong – it’s not a religious viewpoint, it’s not a belief in its own right. It doesn’t have these things at all, in fact.

I’d realised that I’d been expected to conform, to have a belief because others do.

After a while, I started sharing funny pictures and articles I found funny, and scientific thoughts, that kind of thing. I’d discuss science and beliefs with friends, trying to figure out what they think and feel and compare them to my own, try to understand why clinging to a belief or trying to convert others is so important – unfortunately, I never did understand because all I ever got told were various forms of garbage.

One of my brother’s Christian friends had already taken it upon himself to try to “save” me, what with my sexuality. Now that I’d given up religion, he saw it was the excuse he needed to pile on more crap at me. And, yes, I do say crap – until you can provide evidence, if you’re trying to convert or convince someone of some facet of religion, then you’re doing nothing but manipulating and using potentially harmful lies.

It seemed that having another religion just meant I was misguided but still had the potential of finding God, so it’s fine. Not having anything at all was a big, big deal that needed correcting right away.

For the next 5 years, no matter what happened, whenever I saw this friend, God would come up in discussion and the next thing I knew I’d get a “whenever I needed help, I prayed to God…” speech. Without fail. Every. Single. Time.

I was later met with scorn by my brother and his friends because, clearly, it was me that was the problem – I’d goaded him into everything. Presumably, merely by telling him I don’t have beliefs – it’s like people assumed the correct response to this is “do you want some?” not “cool”.

I admit I took the piss out of his silly beliefs. Is it unfair to say ‘silly’ when it’s a belief? Of course not, but didn’t stop my brother and his friends getting ‘offended’ because I’d decided not to take this guy’s belief of dinosaurs living at the same time as humans and lived in peace with Man or “that being gay is a choice and they’re not ‘made’ that way” seriously. I feel I must point out that this guy also is a fundamentalist – denies evolution, believes forgiving is forgetting, faith fixes all and that God granted him a car when he prayed for one.

In mocking such blatantly redundant beliefs, however, it was decided by everyone that clearly, I deserved someone else’s (misguided – seriously, I was being told homophobia is ok because “love the sinner, hate the sin” bullshit) opinions shoved at me, because I’d obviously been asking for them.

I was being facetious, mocking and eventually dismissive of this guy and his opinions because I was, in essence, being attacked.

I suppose I should take some of the blame, as I should have been mature and just walked away every time. Thing is, that’s really, really difficult to do when this guy is your brother’s friend, tells the entire family about his ‘conversations’ with God every time he visits just for your benefit and will actively pursue you when you walk away or bring it up in every conversation that has a possible opening to it.

So when my boyfriend’s friends started to do similar things – ask me at least 3 time every evening of a Bible reading to join in; tell me off for not joining in prayers before meals; wait for me to arrive before Bible study starts, so I can ‘benefit’ from the teachings – I started to once again post defensive, mocking posts out of old habit.

Originally, I was very quiet when asked about what my beliefs were and didn’t draw attention to it because I was ‘walking on eggshells’ – at one point I was worried about going because I was worried about the oncoming onslaught of opinionated nonsense. I was mostly worried about potentially upsetting them as well.

As it was, by not making a big deal out of it I’d invited them to try to give me beliefs – they, instead of seeing having no belief as legitimate position, took it as a challenge. I reacted badly because of my past, for which I’m very sorry.

I don’t think my response is completely unjustified, however.

For some reason, we still, thousands of years later, hold up religious opinions – i.e. something based on any fact or evidence – as beyond reproach. Which is blatantly absurd.

However, this invariably leads to the idiots who think that:
  • It’s ok to criticise a situation they know nothing about
  • Think it’s ok to attack criticism – especially that of firmly held beliefs, which is just utter nonsense
  • It’s ok to attack criticism because I’m clearly a hypocrite as I “preach” in my own way – which is entirely wrong, as I’ll explain

To begin with, I had a couple of comments from a guy who – whilst he says he’s also an atheist – thought it’s ok to judge the situation I was without even knowing what it was. What was implicit behind his comments was two major notions: that commenting on or refuting a religious idea is bad because “that’s also preaching” (which in turn implicitly meant to me “sit down and shut up”), and that secondly, as he was also an atheist, that I should agree with him because otherwise we’d give atheists a “bad name”. This included in the part where he says he joins in prayers before meals. He also attacked a straw man of his design saying that people were free to post what they like on Facebook and I shouldn’t be trying to stop them.

I don’t think I was out of order in my post. Perhaps I should have spoken to them face-to-face but seeing how being face-to-face with them lead to multiple attempts to get me to “join in” I didn’t think that was going to go anywhere. If I upset them out of embarrassment or shame publically on Facebook, so be it – they needed to be called out. You’d do exactly the same with any other unfair treatment. To attack without knowing the details though, that’s bullying in its own right.

Just because you’re also an atheist, doesn’t mean I have to agree with you, or do what you say or even what every other atheist apart from me does. I’m me, not some bloody label I should conform to. On top of that – what, leave nothing unchallenged? Nothing at all? If nothing is challenged, nothing changes. I absolutely must question everything and criticise everything; that’s how good knowledge works.

And preaching? How does one preach atheism, by the way? Oh I put up a lot of atheist posts do I? That’s not preaching – if you’ve got me on your newsfeed that means you want to look at my posts. Also, you came here to make your comments. You didn’t have to.

Ah, so preaching atheism is telling someone a fact? Correcting their definition of evolution because they don’t believe in it? No. I have facts – I’m not pushing a “belief” or “opinion” on you when I tell you about evolution – I’m giving you facts that perhaps you don’t know. There’s a big difference. I can’t preach for one clear reason – I can’t tell you about something I don’t have. I can, however, correct you when you tell other people lies – something a few people have got annoyed at in the past. “Why can’t I post homeopathy treatments to a friend’s illness? Waaaagh!” Because it doesn’t work, dumbass. Because it’s a lie, and telling people it will cure cancer only harms them.

Look at point 5 here if that’s any help:

Lastly, I wasn’t saying that they shouldn’t be able to post whatever they like – in their own profile. It’s their fucking Facebook. They can post whatever they damn well please – but thanks for creating a straw man to attack – a slightly flailing attempt to make me look bad, well done. It’s when they post on my profile, assert their opinions onto me or others that I get really angry.

He also then defined me as a “bigot” – using the dictionary definition of bigot to include “ideas and beliefs”.

Yes, absolutely I’m bigoted towards certain idea or beliefs. But then again, so is any morally thinking person: ladies, and gentlemen, I present to you the Ku Klux Klan…

Your comments to me are nothing short of the same defamation you accuse me of – though I easily did not make or say anything defamatory. In future, if you’re offended by something you see, keep it to yourself, yeah? Rather than coming over here, being a dick…

 But then that took another turn. And this is where I blocked someone… after accusing me for something I’ve never been accused of before.

A friend commented by saying that she thinks I am a bigot – as if somehow that was a bad thing, see above – and that also I’m argumentative and “closed minded”. She said that I shouldn’t be allowed to call anyone out over shoving their religion down my throat because I myself do exactly the same thing by “preaching the gay”.

Now, first – I don’t care if you think I’m a bigot. I am – to racism, homophobia, sexism and lots of other forms of discrimination. Just as I’m bigoted against Social Darwinism and Eugenics. As I said, any right-minded person would be. Fine. Call me one.

Second – closed minded? Seriously? Fuck off back to your hell-hole for not knowing how logic and rational thinking work. I’ve been accused oft his many times – and every single time by some “god-fearing” Christian or snake-oil “mystic” for not agreeing with their ludicrous ideas. I’ll repeat what every atheist everywhere says: prove it and I’ll change my mind. The problem is you can’t. Just because a person is a “mild” believer, doesn’t mean their beliefs are any less stupid/crazy.

But the last one? Preaching the gay? What the fuck does that mean? I’m not even sure but I guess it’s because I shared a few posts about equal treatment for gays – I stubbornly refuse to say “gay marriage”; it’s marriage, but until everyone has it, privileged to straights – about freedom of choice, and have a rainbow as my profile pic and cover.

OMG! I’m like, totally offensive! How dare I share posts about equality on an issue close to my heart!

As I said with my atheist posts – if you don’t want to see it, you can filter it out. That’s your responsibility to filter it, not mine to stop talking about it. Freedom of speech applies to me too.

But what exactly is preaching the gay? Oh, yeah I want to convert everyone to being gay, like it’s a choice? I know – it’s the famous gay agenda!

This is another thing I’ve been accused of before – but I’ve never seen it put to me that way before.

Apparently, I want to make everyone gay. I’ve been asked before if I’ve had any kind of sexual contact with people who’d say their straight. Yes, I have. I get hit on by straights, too. It happens more than you think to all sexual spectrums.

I think I’d like, possibly, to discuss my thoughts on sexuality in another post.

But when someone who was a friend started asking me about this, and I responded that people might ‘say’ they’re ‘straight’ but really are bi or gay behind closed doors, doesn’t mean I’ve “converted” them. It means that what happened between me and whoever is precisely between me and them and no one else. And no one should feel ashamed for sharing any kind of moment – intimate, sexual, close or otherwise.

His girlfriend then apparently went on a rant behind my back about because of this discussion.

Again, first off, if he wanted to do anything with me, maybe you should evaluate your relationship. Second, if it did happen, he could still say he’s straight, but behind closed doors, then maybe it’s another matter. But third – no. Eww. I’m not touching your sweaty, pot-bellied, snuggle-toothed troll of a boyfriend.

Yes, I know he’s straight. Clearly, being gay I have to fancy him cos he’s straight. Yeah….. No. Fuck you.

So yeah. Thanks for setting up something I have no part in, and linking it to me. Thanks for showing me to others as something that’s not what I’m about.

Maybe next time, learn the situation first? Use reason and logic instead of just throwing your opinions around like some spoilt brat? Maybe get to know me a bit?