Feelings of not being wanted...

  • I've come across a number of players, both on forum and in game, who don't feel wanted or feel ignored. I've had some incidents in games that have made me feel the same way, but sometimes, looking back, I feel like maybe the reason I felt wanted wasn't because of what was happening on the game, but instead more my perception of what was happening. Maybe I misjudged? Maybe my emotions got in the way? Every now and then I can't help but feel like some of these cries of being ignored are more the player's internal hangups and that some of the accusations of cliques or rp is hard to get into can be misjudgments or self fulfilling prophecies.

    Anyway, here's the topic:

    How far do you think other players and staff should go to make a player feel wanted? What do you do when a player, no matter how hard other players or staff try, still claims cliques and exclusivity when you simply don't agree with their perception?

    I'll show mine first:

    I was on Mass Effect: Alpha/Omega. This was a @Roz game, who I tend to speak highly of. Roz and the crew involved are very tight, and they've been roleplaying together a long time. They have plenty of characters who interact with each other, but they are always very good about including others and making sure as many people as possible get involved if they want to. HOWEVER, before having to leave the game due to RLsplosion and stress, I started to feel like I wasn't part of the core demographic, which looking back on it, it wasn't true, but my RL stress had me tangled up in these nothing matters anyway type emotions. Now, I'm not the type to scream on WORA or whatnot, but had I been that person, I could have screamed and yelled about cliques or not being wanted. Looking back, I think I might have been a little intimidated by how good that group is. They pick up on each other's queues and roleplay like a pack of hunting raptors. It was impressive, but to stressed or timid or players with low self esteem they might generate some of those awkward feelings of intimidating, exclusivity, or better than thou.

    In the end, I'm glad I got the time there that I did, and I feel like I learned something about the way my heartmeats work.


    EDIT: And no, I'm sure @Roz can attest, I never actually did reach out to staff to share my feelings at the time. I felt it would feel like whining, so I didn't, which is my own personal hangup. So I didn't seek a solution. So What do you think your responsibility is as a player to overcome these feelings of not being wanted?

  • Pitcrew

    Wow, that is very nice of you to say those things about my game! We -- that is, me, @Tez, @saosmash, and a few others -- have been RPing and staffing together for a long time, and we also have players who tend to follow us to our new games that we've known for a long time as well, so we're really conscious of the fact that this can be intimidating for some new players for the exact reasons you described: the feeling of coming into a party that everyone already knows each other in.

    I don't tend to run into this as much as a player, because I tend to only check out games where I already know people, and I'm just not as prone to feeling that kind of stress on games in general. I've run into it as a staffer, though. You're right that you didn't chat with us about it, but we definitely have had players actually bring issues to us.

    Here's what I think staff's responsibility is: do their best to make a game that is inclusive and welcoming. My co-staffers and I consider it our staff responsibility to look for a good percentage of our RP publicly and openly to balance any planned RP with friends.

    You're right that a lot of this is perception. Sometimes players feel left out because they get silence when asking for RP, and they remember that and not so much the fact that other players also get silence plenty of times. Like, whenever I have a day where it's just quiet and I ask for RP multiple times over the day and no one's around or interested, I always want to be like I'M RECORDING THIS FOR NEXT TIME SOMEONE TRIES TO SAY THEY'RE THE ONLY PLAYER THIS HAPPENS TO. Because that's never the case. We've also, like -- literally made spreadsheets recording what character combos are RPing the most, and players that might get accused of being the most insular are actually playing with the widest variety of characters. Or players are frustrated at not getting RP, yet they almost never ask anyone for RP.

    There's a certain extent where this is really hard to fix with a player, just because so much of it is perception-based. I mean, like -- we could share raw numbers and try to prove their perception wrong, I guess? I think sometimes when players talk to us they probably just want to be heard for half an hour, and we've done that.

    But here's the truth: sometimes a player's RP is just not as well-liked by the rest of the playerbase and others just aren't as interested in RPing with them. It sucks, but that's just a fact of the hobby. Some people are more fun than others. But as staff, I can't make someone RP with a player they don't want to RP with, nor should I. That isn't my responsibility. We shouldn't punish players for RPing with who they want to RP with.

    Anyways, it's a tough problem.

  • @Roz thanks for the well worded reply. Appreciate it. :)

  • Ditto Roz, thank you for saying nice things about our game. It's ended now but it had a good run, and I was glad we had you when we had you. Sorry it didn't work out for you for longer.

    I think your point about self-fulfilling prophecy is a good one, too. I've had players on a new game I'm running now (because oh God there are now two what is wrong with me) who, instead of asking for RP, sit around complaining about how there's nothing going on and no one wants to RP with them: this RAPIDLY becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because when they finally do ask for RP, other players look at the history of complaints and go ehhhh maybe I don't have the energy to deal with that. Edit because I don't want people reading this and thinking I'm bitching about my current players I'M NOT the player I'm thinking of left the game already because we weren't the game for them (clearly).

    I mean as a staffer I can encourage people to RP with each other in as many ways I can think of (including repeatedly abducting PCs and putting them into cages with each other and forcing them to fight like gladiators), but in the end @roz is right: people will RP with who they want to RP with.

    I sympathize though, I really do. Especially on a new game I can find it very intimidating and difficult to get into RP because I'm used to playing on small games when everyone already knows who I am, so I go to a new place and have to do all this work of making RP happen for myself and I'm like, wait but ... wait. This is hard. Why is this hard? Why isn't it just falling into my lap? I almost fell off a game one of my best friends was running because it was so hard to get over myself to RP. I mean. I get super anxious sometimes and I can tell I'm being stupid but that doesn't make it less stupid when I do it.

    This cuts both ways. It's a player's responsibility to put effort into finding their own story. It's a staffer's responsibility to develop a world that is encouraging to players to develop hooks with each other and with the theme. I think they're connected issues.

  • I'm a big believer in fostering grid roleplay and open events since I think it greatly reduces the feelings of exclusion, and time permitting it's fun to try to reach out and make RP for new people and hope it works out, but it can be pretty easy to get burned on doing it.

    A lot of the people I've met who were the most vocal about it was strictly because their form of RP was extremely self-absorbed and wasn't a whole hell of a lot of fun for other people, and they weren't particularly interested in hearing the most politely worded nudges of how they might tweak their style. Worse, the really vocal and needy have a way of trying to dominate every open RP and make it about them... which reinforces cliquish behavior by other RPers to exclude them, and in turn actually does create the kind of alienation that makes the more just quiet and shy types feel really left out. So it's important for activity generators to keep being open for the latter group, while hoping staff sorts out the former, rather than letting things drift to an unfortunate logical conclusion.

  • Admin

    Many people online, especially in our hobby, haven't had the best record of being socially accepted or included. On top of it it's exactly those same kinds of people who often seek the sanctuary of us-versus-them cliques (I dislike the term but it'll do), since after all if there's an 'us' then at least I belong!

    The issue is further compounded by the fact when you first go to a game you're generally not known. Our gaming identities are a very fluid thing - you may be well known and respected in one game, then you go to another and you're no one at all. It's not an easy transition, especially when harboring a sensitive ego or thin skin.

    My personal inclusion tool of choice is the +event command where such exists. I can run plot - that's being included, valued even. And if I'm not feeling the ST thing I can usually find something I can sign and show up for and it's that thing's ST's job to figure out how I fit in there. Usually that's the toughest part - getting in through the door - after which things become smoother since you actually get to meet folks, have something to talk about, etc.

    I do agree though that ultimately it's each player's responsibility, no matter what staff or other players do. If I log on and sit in a room staring at who, ignore requests for RP over channels because they're not right enough for me and it's not exactly what I wanted to do... then that's no one else's fault.

  • I think what might be more effective than just generic asking for RP is asking by page if anyone wants to participate in an encounter of some sort, like a mini PrP. I've been able to generate RP on otherwise slow days just by joining people in public spaces and having something odd happening that can trigger conversation. I'll even just use a random NPC rather than my charbit if that works for the better. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't, but I've had much more success doing that than asking on channels. But I find having a premise for a scene is more important than a general desire to play.

    One of my favourite ones that I can remember is having my character find an old DMG for some roleplaying game in an estate sale and breaking it open in the starbucks where some people idle. Seeing all the mystic symbols and gory pictures, my character suspected it might have been an encoded spellbook of some sort. This was fun and goofy enough to break the ice with a couple of other characters and we had a nice afternoon of RP around it. Doesn't all have to be shootin stuff.

  • Realistically, there are players that are either hard to gel with (one line poses, TS hounds, not playing in-genre, poor grammar), or characters that are hard to work with (disruptive to scene, uninvited, sends of trolling chills). I'll be the first to admit, there have been sometimes where I've been banging my head against a keyboard because I'm RPing with someone who is a pain in my ass. It kills the vibe. It kills my escape, right?

    And I think that, knowing that this is a reality, people are very sensitive to the worry that they might be on this unspoken list of people who others don't want to RP with. I recently had the pleasure of getting IM after IM from someone I used to RP with about how she wasn't gonna RP with this person or that simply based on what was on their wiki page. People can be cunts, but there really, REALLY is an element of maintaining your MushRep(tm). I can absolutely empathize with people who worry or feel like they've been blacklisted, because people simply do not confront people as to why they are avoiding a player. It can be like Amish shunning. I've seen it happen, so when things get quiet...how do you know you aren't on that list?

    I empathize, which is why I try to be really up front about how I feel or what I'm expecting from people, even if it's CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

    My only suggestion, based off of my experiences, is to not be afraid to speak up, even if you're feeling vulnerable, and if you are asked by said shunned-feeling roleplayer, to provide helpful support and not be afraid to introduce player to other players.

    Shit, I would totally page someone with something like "Hey, this is X, she's feeling like she's having trouble breaking into the rp, could you show X around a bit in these scenes and help get them involved?"

  • Pitcrew

    As a player I try to be open to RPing with new people but those new to the game and those that are just new to me.
    I think a bit part of the issue is lack of tone available in text. We can't tell from the typed words, I can't rp right now., weather that person is exhausted and means it or if we are getting a brush off. We can't always tell in person but at least then we are given over double the information and a lot of that extra info we read subconsciously.
    for me feeling included usually comes from forming IC bonds between my characters and others. There are many ways of doing this but I completely thumbs up the suggestion to run encounters, and not just combatty stuff I have started IC friendships over things like lost keys, cars breaking down all sorts of things, throw a problem into the scene just about any problem can work and that gives the characters a reason to forge a relationship.

  • On RfK, Shavalyoth had a 'meet your match' event. Each week she'd pair up people who had to meet for RP and post it as a list. All you had to do was hook up and play. It was good, and led to some amazing RP with people that might never normally think to meet because they were outside their usual circle. For new people, it offered immediate opportunities to be integrated.

  • On @Roz @Tez and @saosmash games, they also have this neat code for looking for RP that will grab a players name that is on, a subject, a location(IIRC) and basically helps people find RP fodder. I dug that. It won't help everybody, but for the people twiddling their thumbs, it's a potential solution, which is better than nothing.

  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost said:

    On @Roz @Tez and @saosmash games, they also have this neat code for looking for RP that will grab a players name that is on, a subject, a location(IIRC) and basically helps people find RP fodder. I dug that. It won't help everybody, but for the people twiddling their thumbs, it's a potential solution, which is better than nothing.

    Credit where credit is due, Tat totally stole the idea for that from Schmitt on the now-closed Second Pass. She had several really neat code tools like that. (Tat did code it herself -- we didn't steal the code! We wouldn't have been able to, anyways, since we were on MOO at the time.)

  • I'm pretty blunt, both IRL and online (as I mention probably too often, I used to be a reporter IRL, and if nothing else this made me pretty unself-conscious about approaching strangers and badgering them until they play with me), but I try to keep in mind I'm in an environment with a lot of other players who aren't like that. I'll admit this is sometimes hard for me (I'm sure I sometimes steam-roll people without meaning to, sorry), but if someone can meet me half-way, that's usually all it takes to make me happy.

    MU*s are fundamentally social games. This is obvious, but I don't think a lot of players really stop and think about this enough. I do think this means you have to throw yourself out there if you're going to enjoy them. I realize this is hard for a lot of people, but I think you just have to suck it up after a certain point. Other players absolutely should help you, especially if you're new (I think pretty much everyone should go out of their way to RP with newbs, and I like to think I try to). It just needs to be a two-way street. I think we owe everybody one or two times of hand-holding, but if it's every time something needs to change.

    @Roz said:

    But here's the truth: sometimes a player's RP is just not as well-liked by the rest of the playerbase and others just aren't as interested in RPing with them. It sucks, but that's just a fact of the hobby. Some people are more fun than others. But as staff, I can't make someone RP with a player they don't want to RP with, nor should I. That isn't my responsibility. We shouldn't punish players for RPing with who they want to RP with.

    I think the best way someone can remedy this if somebody feels like maybe this is happening to them is make an effort to RP ABOUT other people if you're in a scene, rather than themselves. Like, ask about somebody's IC job or how they feel about that thing that happened ICly or whatever. I feel like this also helps in the being inclusive thing. I don't mind people who pose less-than-perfectly, as long as they're engaging with me and not expecting it to be All About Them 100% of the time.

  • Admin

    But is this either a new thing or exclusive to MU*?

    Look, I don't play multiplayer FPS. The reason is that I suck at them; my twitch reflexes are just slow enough for assorted teenagers across the globe to effortlessly shoot me in the head. There's nothing wrong with the games themselves, I'm just not that good at them. I can see why someone might not want me on their team - unless they need a guy whose head is effortlessly shot, I'm not their guy. It's not a personal rejection of me and all that I stand for.

    I am however a pretty damn good healer on MMORPGs. I'm experienced, attentive, learn the mechanics, I make quick decisions on the fly. People do pick me for their arena teams because of this and I'm invited to raids.

    The same thing applies to any number of other team games from sports to trivia, we pick people who can play them well unless we have a reason not to. That usually means they're friends of ours, or they're entertaining regardless (or because of) their weaknesses or we all suck anyway so that's the baseline or whatever.

    So when it comes to roleplaying... well, same stuff really. Text is our medium so if I can't spell worth a damn I won't be deemed good at it by any group which doesn't want me around for reasons similar to the above ones (maybe they can't spell either!).

    There's nothing exceptional about our particular hobby, it's still only gaming and as such people are judged based on the merit of their game-related strengths and weaknesses. The guy who can't spell might be an awesome person iRL but so what? Unless we are RL buddies it's irrelevant on a MU* just like it'd be on an FPS or a MMORPG.

  • @Arkandel While I agree, the obvious win conditions and competitive nature of the former makes it easier for people to go, 'Well, as much as I like Bob, he really sucks at mashing buttons and if we take him we'll lose, so sorry Bob' where it feels way more personal to say, 'Jim sucks at roleplaying characters and everything he makes is trite and annoying, so please don't invite Jim'. The former is easier to justify from a, 'well sorry we have to do this' perspective while the latter has a more nebulous feel that doesn't invoke a feeling of necessity.

  • I'm fairly happy with how this thread is progressing, because I really do believe that this topic is the root of all butthurt forum posts, gamesplosions, and inter-player shadow warfare that plagues nearly every game.

  • Admin

    @Apos - it depends. For starters it's fairly rare (in my experience at least) for someone to be told directly 'hey, you're not good enough for me'. That's probably because it actually makes whoever goes ahead and say it sound like a total douche. :) What is being done instead is that such a person is merely passively avoided - which on its own isn't that bad, right? I mean theoretically that'd let that iffy roleplayer either find no scenes and move on thinking this game is dead/cliquish/whatever - we're very good at being blind to our own faults around here after all. Isn't that better since there are no hurt feelings?

    Yeah, nope.

    The problem here is when you're being 'passively avoided' - say, you asked on a channel and no one said anything - you don't necessarily know what the problem is! Is it you? Are people avoiding you or are they just busy? Or AFK? Or maybe it's your specific character concept which isn't that popular and if you just rolled something else it'd be fine? Or is it that they don't like you as a player despite or regardless of your roleplaying skill? Is it something you said taken the wrong way? Maybe someone's badmouthing you behind your back?

    But you won't find out because there is no one specifically you can confront and ask what the reason was they didn't respond when you offered RP and they didn't answer.

  • I think people will have a relatively good idea how they will be accepted within a week of logging on, but it has to do not with the players but with the characters. The latter is why we still have the infinitely annoying question/response of "What should I play"/"Whatever you want". This is obviously not true, but we usuallydon't have a better answer.

    The games with good social binding seem to have two things going on from them. First is that there is little to no antipathy among staff. If there is stress in staff, players will feel it, usually because staff has friends in the player base and it will get out, but also because a stressed staff works differently than a relaxed staff. For one, a relaxed staff is more into the game, and nothing helps a game more than staff being interested in it, and nothing kills a game like staff losing interest even if they are still going through the motions.

    The second is that all new players are introduced to the game. I want to mention the AetherMUX quiz and casual newbie channel again. They also had reccs read by other players, so everyone had a chance to see everyone saying good things about everyone else. The game did not just expect a positive atmosphere, it created one.

    It was also easy to make a character. It was easy going from idea to grid. There was no wrong character stat (except maybe the Sylvan race, and we spent a lot of time trying to come up with ways to fix that). The grid was small enough that everyone could gravitate toward a scene, and the culture of the game's setting were not exclusionary.

    I was a dark and brooding bastard when I coded here, but today my heart years to return to this, for people to make games with a focus on drawing people into telling stories. Not just open-world RPG systems with rooms.

  • Pitcrew

    The problem too with passive avoidance is that I think its well intended from the avoiders, too. Too often, there have been experiences that go like this:

    Avoidee: I keep asking for RP and no one responds. I used to be more involved in plots but I'm no longer included. Do you know why?
    Avoider: Uh... wellllll.....
    Avoidee: Tell me! Please! What did I do wrong?!
    Avoider: Your PC seems to have trouble integrating into RP of x nature/You have a habit of doing x thing and it's made other people uncomfortable/Some other reason delivered as honestly but kindly as possible
    Avoidee: <Massive Freakout Melt Down Butthurt Drama Explosion>

    It's tough because no one wants to be told they're not fitting in even if the reasons are valid and fixable. It's tough because no one wants to be the one to do the telling especially when you don't know this player and you have no idea how they'll take it and then if you do, you get shot at as the messenger so you're not anxious to repeat that experience either.

    A good number of people in our hobby probably struggled with feeling included and socially accepted IRL growing up or even now. They didn't have or don't have the social skills in their offline lives to cultivate a sense of feeling included or popular or accepted and/or they were bullied a lot by other individuals who sensed some sort of 'apart of the herd' quality and went after these individuals, often pretty brutally. So I think now as a adults and as a community we're really reluctant to participate in dynamics that do this to other people in really obvious and on the nose ways, because the line between addressing something constructively and destructively tearing someone down is often very blurry and the topic is just so loaded.

    So the person who has alienated themselves continues to do so without understanding how or why and a lot of us understand the how or the why but don't feel like telling this person will actually empower the situation and unfortunately too often bitch amongst ourselves.

    So it just gets weirder and divisive as time goes on.

  • I think @Three-Eyed-Crow hit something important, too. It always helps to incorporate the other players into your interests. A player can tell when someone doesn't give a shit about them in favor of meeting their RP needs. Players who tend to ignore other people's poses or follow the flow of a scene tend to make others feel like they're really just roleplaying around someone, rather than with them. It's very important to gauge how active or passive you intend to be in a scene, and to always remember to share the stage.

    Another point? It's sometimes very hard to incorporate new players into RP when their character designs don't fit the feel of emotional gravitas of a scene/game. A bubbly, pacifist cartoon fan who fails to notice there's even a war going on, on a genocidal Battlestar game, might leave players feeling like they're being distracted from the energy they're trying to capture in a scene.

    So before you chargen a character who has no interest in dramatic scenes, combat, roleplaying around sad characters, or wanting to follow military protocol might not be the right fit for the game, and that's not anyone else on the game's fault that it doesn't mix. You have got to ask yourself, during cgen, how the character will fit. It's for your own good.

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