Embracing Rejection



  • We're just on a roll for game theory lately. I love it.
    Something I'd like to discuss: the role of Staff and players alike in handling app rejections.

    I think we all suffer a measure of anxiety when we see our app was rejected. Even though I've had plenty of times where the rejection is Staff helping me tighten up or giving me insight on how I can improve where my character fits into the game, I still fret before reading it in a flash of 'oh god they hate me.'

    And as app staff, I sometimes wring my hands before hitting enter on a rejection in a: 'oh god they're gonna think I hate them.'

    As I said: I've had app rejections help me improve my character. Unfortunately, I've also had ones that were nothing but negativity.

    Which comes to those 'roles' I was talking about.

    I think it's the role of Staff to... make sure you start out the rejection response with what you liked. Paradox and I strive to always do this. (Between his being a teacher and my experience in corporate-level training, we're both familiar with the concept of feedback-with-compliments) 'We really like your concept of...' 'We love what you wrote in your background about...'

    And the rejections/recommendations should always be made with a mind of what's best for the game. You might have a really cool app, but if it'd be a conflict for the game or turn out to be really difficult to play on the game, I'm going to deny it (as a hypothetical: someone could come in and give me the coolest app ever for a bartender in Colorado Springs, but I'd have to reject it because the person in question would get almost no RP).

    Staff should also look for ways they can help players in the approval process. I don't mean 'page people while CGing to tell them what to do.' I mean if you look at an app (FS3 in this example) and they've spent only 38 of the 40 starting points and they have just a Competent in Athletics when you think their BG justifies a Great... tell them. I 100% have rejected more than one app on SGM just to say 'Hey, I think your character needs a higher score in <skill>.' Don't let someone hobble themselves out of the gate.

    I think it's the role of Players to... gracefully accept a rejection. Approach it with the understanding that Staff is looking out for what's best for both you and the game. Respect their vision and go in with the (polite) expectation that they'll respect yours. It may require some meeting in the middle and you may give up a bit more ground than them, but in the end: it's their game.

    Players should also understand that a rejection of their app isn't a rejection of them. It's not a 'you're bad and you should feel bad.' It's looking out for you to have the best experience possible. So yeah, feel bummed for a few minutes that your initial app wasn't approved, but then sit back, read over what they said, and try to apply it.

    There's also nothing wrong with feeling a need to defend an idea. Maybe it just wasn't clear enough on the first time. If you absolutely feel your character needs that 3 in Basketweaving: say so. But for each thing you 'take,' there should be some 'give.' If you want Staff to give in to you, be willing to give in to them. 'Yeah, I see your point about my Legendary in Composure when I have an RP hook about having anger management issues. But I do feel that I need to be an expert in underwater basketweaving because of the years in Tibet learning from a monk. I've written more in my BG to expand on that.'

    Players have a responsibility to make a character that fits into the game and approaches Staff's vision for the game.
    Staff has a responsibility to help players make that character, while respecting the player's vision for the character.

    And both have a responsibility to treat one another with respect.


  • Admin

    The first week or two on a new game with staff I'm unfamiliar with are a trial for everyone involved.

    Staff get to see my application which happens to be the first hint of what they can expect from me. How well do I understand the basics of the game's theme? What kind of character am I making, is he a special snowflake? Is he a munchin? Do I like to write and invest time into thinking (or overthinking) things out for my PC or is he a blank slate going in? And how pushy am I? Is my application full of requests for special, restricted merits, talents or concepts? Or do I seem to know the mechanics enough to finish CGen properly or are there actual issues with the numbers on that +sheet?

    Then from my end I get to see how likely staff are to micromanage me. Do they nitpick? Are they taking forever? If they ask me to clarify, change or discard something is it with a "yes, but..." or with a "no"? Do they take the time to read and offer helpful suggestions that make my character actually better and more fun to play? Do they get their hands dirty on the grid, running impromptu PrPs during the critical first few weeks, curating theme, answering questions on public channels in a constructive way? Are they friendly? Professional? Rowdy?

    Look, it takes a while for trust to be built. I'd accept criticism or 'rejection' from some of you on MSB very gladly because I know the spirit in which it is provided is a positive one, and that your goal is to make me actually have more fun, so I'd come play in your games and give it a shot every time. Others I simply don't agree with on how games ought to be ran - that's not even a mark against you. We're just not a good fit. It's fine! I wouldn't shadow your virtual doorstep which is (in my opinion) better for everyone involved.

    But there is a gray no-man's land in the middle where we're strangers, and 'rejection' can either lead to trust or very rapidly detract from it.



  • @Arkandel said in Embracing Rejection:

    But there is a gray no-man's land in the middle where we're strangers, and 'rejection' can either lead to trust or very rapidly detract from it.

    At the same time, if you go into an unknown game and assume the worst of staff: that trust will never occur.

    Which is partly what I'm speaking to. When we are players, we need to extend at least a modicum of trust until/unless it is broken. Because when I am Staff and someone comes in right off the bat being aggressive and treating me as if I'm just an obstacle to be overcome... it hurts my trust.

    And that's why I brought up the respect component. There needs to be respect of Staff and Staff needs to show respect to players.


  • Admin

    @Auspice said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Arkandel said in Embracing Rejection:

    But there is a gray no-man's land in the middle where we're strangers, and 'rejection' can either lead to trust or very rapidly detract from it.

    At the same time, if you go into an unknown game and assume the worst of staff: that trust will never occur.

    It's a give and take (which was my original point).

    Players shouldn't go to games, whether they've been 'burned before' or not, assuming staff are corrupt, authoritative, playing favorites, etc.

    Staff shouldn't open their games by expecting players will try to 'get away with it' whether they've seen it happen before, get overly defensive to the point of treating players with suspicion or allow the appearance of feedback coming from a bad place.

    Trust is the ultimate commodity. It's an amazing currency. When you have some built it can be spent to get buy-in, and buy-in is just fucking magic in games. But it needs to be earned the hard way.



  • For myself, I think trust is built by doing the following:

    Stating Expectations
    Following through on Expectations
    Owning Mistakes when Expectations aren't Met
    Owning Responsibilities when Expectations aren't Set

    I think when we do the above, it is very difficult for people to not at least understand the perspective. On SGM I've handled a fair share of app rejections and I always am very honest with the individual. I'll state the things I like about the app and things I don't like along with the reason's why. The player may disagree (and they might be right to disagree) but I also make the expectation clear. For example, we aren't looking for swiss army knives, we want people who are good at a job. I'll tell people we need them to be focused on a job and in the end, if that's not something they're ok with then it probably isn't a good fit.

    Staff and Players are in a relationship, and we know relationships need trust. Why start off a relationship with misconceptions? Why tell players you accept their concept when in reality you don't? You tolerate their behavior when you don't? At the same token, if the players don't know what you expect, you can't hold them accountable for that (within reason obviously) and should take ownership of that gap of knowledge when applicable. That helps build trust. I've been on far to many games where Staff act like all knowing deities and won't own their mistakes, that certainly doesn't build trust.

    When you build trust, you can be honest and it stops being a rejection and turns into a collaboration.


  • Pitcrew

    As a player, the only time I have a problem with app rejections is when they feel just arbitrary, rather than actually serving a purpose.

    More than one MU I've been on has had a lot of 'unstated rules' about their applications that end up being endlessly frustrating. Stuff like, 'Hey, you compared your character's attributes to existing characters in the fiction that are literally used as attribute benchmarks IN THE FICTION, we don't allow that. And no, we didn't tell you that ahead of time. Rewrite everything.'

    Or 'Um, I personally don't like character type X and think it's overdone. No, it's not on the banned or restricted list, I just feel like I need to make a stand on YOUR app, as opposed to anybody else's. And no we don't need to update the banned or restricted policies, I'm just talking to you.'

    Or 'Your character is a little too political.' With 'political' being a euphemism for 'character type based on a group that makes me uncomfortable in real life'. In a modern game. (Note, I'm not talking about making a Nazi character here, just somebody who was a mutant rights activist, on a game about Marvel mutants.)

    When the rejection makes sense and doesn't feel arbitrary, I'm fine with it. But with no offense intended to staffers out there, sometimes people get very, very micro-managerial about other people's creative process.


  • Pitcrew

    Personally, I consider it a benchmark of my development as a gamer and a person when, after having an app restricted for reasons I felt were bad, I started saying "this doesn't seem to be a fit for me, I should look for fun elsewhere" rather than "they are WRONG and I am going to TAKE A STAND."



  • @Bad-at-Lurking said in Embracing Rejection:

    When the rejection makes sense and doesn't feel arbitrary, I'm fine with it. But with no offense intended to staffers out there, sometimes people get very, very micro-managerial about other people's creative process.

    there's also consistency, which is something that's ultra important and basically just non existent some places

    like, depending on who you're friends w or NOT friends w and what char you're going for, sentry might get away w "Sentry literally possesses the power of one million exploding suns." as his entire power trait but paste pot pete is gonna get rejected for not having paid enough attention in organic chem to give a detailed write up of the molecular peculiarities of his glue gun adhesive

    if you wanna go, like, BnB detail required across the board then thats fine but its just totally nuts when theres no standard actually being upheld


  • Pitcrew

    This interaction with the new character joining through creation is soo fuckin important. That's a one on one golden opportunity to make a good impression on both sides as staff and player. When the ST/Admin has constructive feedback without sounding like a prissy possessive prick I feel eagerly excited to play.



  • @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    if you wanna go, like, BnB detail

    [flashback intensifies]



  • @Auspice said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    if you wanna go, like, BnB detail

    [flashback intensifies]

    yeah, i still have most of a moondragon app i wrote for somewhere that's done in, like, basically clinical writing and has a bunch of page-length traits



  • @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Auspice said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    if you wanna go, like, BnB detail

    [flashback intensifies]

    yeah, i still have most of a moondragon app i wrote for somewhere that's done in, like, basically clinical writing and has a bunch of page-length traits

    I spent like 3 weeks working on an OC and then never actually played because the app process burned me out so bad


  • Pitcrew

    @Auspice said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Auspice said in Embracing Rejection:

    @Prototart said in Embracing Rejection:

    if you wanna go, like, BnB detail

    [flashback intensifies]

    yeah, i still have most of a moondragon app i wrote for somewhere that's done in, like, basically clinical writing and has a bunch of page-length traits

    I spent like 3 weeks working on an OC and then never actually played because the app process burned me out so bad

    I have been there so many times. Write, apply, revise, revise, revise, approval and ... by that time my passion is dead so I'll find some trivial reason to just not play there.


  • Pitcrew

    @Bad-at-Lurking So I am, or have been this staffer. I'm not really proud of it, I'm opinionated as heck, but the lines between my opinions and the game used to get blurred a lot. I mean at the time I would deny it, but yeah. FWIW, I'm looking to do better in the future, but for anyone who went through that shit with me, I am sorry.


  • Pitcrew

    I totally jumped to the wrong conclusion about what this thread is about and I immediately came here to post:

    If someone rejects me, even if it's my best effort, I view it as a sign that I should definitely not spend my time with that person and sigh in relief because I don't need to add people to my schedule.

    But after reading.... the same response is mostly applicable. If I apply as a character that I want to play and it just doesn't fit theme, or it's too over the top, or the staffers don't know me well enough to know that I'm not going to go FULL SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE on them then that's a sign to me that what I want to do isn't going to be right for the game and I appreciate that in advance.

    As a staffer? It's harder, because I swear some people make trolly applications just to troll.


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