Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 23:27 on 23-08-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Yeah, the idea as such is not categorically wrong and I guess if the group in question were very much into the improvised acting bit and the situation built up organically, it's not unthinkable. But that already is a lot of ifs and surely there should be a general agreement of what people want out of the game. A very immersive experience of being someone else in a changed reality or something less serious, maybe just a fun game among friends with more interaction and acting than in other games. Assuming that there is a single better way of going about it and not taking into account what people want and are comfortable with is the problem.
permalink
at 23:00 on 23-08-2013, Arthur B
I honestly don't see an issue with it in tabletop RPGs provided that all the participants are comfortable with it happening. But apparently giving a shit about not discomforting people for the sake of a game makes you a neo-Puritan these days.
permalink
at 22:55 on 23-08-2013, Cheriola
Oh dear. And now I'm imagining how this would go in an all-het!male tabletop RPG group, where some play a female character for whatever reason. Awkward.

Though now that I think about it, sex-inclusive chat RPGs seem to be quite popular with slashers... (The co-authored 'stories' can occasionally be found in fanfic archives, usually recognisable by the ever-switching narrative tense and POV, and the bad grammar.) I assume the level of intimacy is previously agreed upon in that case. It's probably more a form of online sex with the added emotional buffer of assuming a persona, to help overcome inhibitions.
permalink
at 22:36 on 23-08-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
your interactions with them are mostly improvised (unless you're dealing with a railroady GM with a very limited and specific plan for the NPC in question).

I can only imagine how cringe inducing such sessions must be for a GM and players who are not into this sort of stuff. And not at all surprised if any and all NPCs start exploding spontaneously as the PC in question starts to lower his voice and put on a lute version of a Barry White song.
permalink
at 22:10 on 23-08-2013, Arthur B
Reading a book is also normally a solitary and private affair, not something you share with people with whom you don't have the level of comfort to talk about your sexual fetishes.

Also, the people in books aren't played by real people, and the scenarios they get into are preordained by their author, whereas in a tabletop RPG or LARP someone's playing the character you are interacting with, and your interactions with them are mostly improvised (unless you're dealing with a railroady GM with a very limited and specific plan for the NPC in question). So the book comparison doesn't work because when you're writing a book you generally don't need the OOC consent of the people playing the protagonist before you have them perform an intersection of uglies.
permalink
at 21:55 on 23-08-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Dear lord. Please tell me that wouldn't fly in Scandinavia?


I've only been involved in a few LARPs and that sort of nonsense was strictly verboten, for obvious reasons, although I know a couple who met in an event that went on over a weekend. They were both adults, but I don't think anything weird got on, they just met there.

There has been gossip though of things getting weird among hard core larpers, who approach the thing as the most extreme form of experimental theatre. And while I know that people approach it very seriously and supposedly some one could try to manipulate people that way, these things sound a bit too vague and tabloidy to say anything certain except: not cool at all. Not impossible, though.

Very, very few people seem to realise that sex-positivity also includes respecting people's right to not want it.

In this way sexuality acts like politics in many (heteronormative)circumstances. Once you've figured out what you're like, it becomes the only possible way and everybody else are either repressed or otherwise wrong. And then it's time to trot out evolutionary psychology and "common sense" to explain why some observable behaviour is more natural than other observable behaviour. Extra points for somehow connecting the assumed sexual behaviour of canines, felines or other hominidae to the issue.
permalink
at 21:26 on 23-08-2013, Cheriola
@Arthur: I know about the anti-prude motivation to write such screeds. It's just that my minority group is still fighting for basic recognition as existent, so any statement that erases us bugs me especially. Particularly because lines like "sexual desire is a basic human trait" (meaning aces are non-human, I suppose?) or "everyone wants sex" show up depressingly often on supposedly progressive feminist blogs, too. Usually in the context of arguments against slut-shaming. Very, very few people seem to realise that sex-positivity also includes respecting people's right to not want it. I know of exactly one general feminist blog aware enough to have a comment policy acknowledging that ace-erasing statements will not be tolerated any more than homophobic ones. And even that is just lip service, really.

And comparing it to a book or story written by anyone: if the story is not of an appropriate genre, the eroticism is usually very limited, as it is very rarely plot relevant, almost always a huge failure and takes time from everything else.


Reading a book is also normally a solitary and private affair, not something you share with people with whom you don't have the level of comfort to talk about your sexual fetishes. And you can skip or skim-read the sex scenes if you want. I generally don't, but I know aces who are so bored with the issue that they do that.

I sincerely hope that guy is not into LARP.


Dear lord. Please tell me that wouldn't fly in Scandinavia? Every LARP-con rulebook I've ever seen mentioned that sexual scenes are outlawed, because you can never know what the other player has been through in their life and what will trigger them. And even if you play with your personal friends, partner or spouse, there is a good chance someone else will stumble upon you, and some of them will be minors.
permalink
at 20:29 on 23-08-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Another person's discomfort is not my lord and master. Freedom of speech and of belief gives me the right to make other people uncomfortable.

It sucks to be them.


It doesn't really suck to be them. They can just express their own freedom of opinion and get the hell out to play an RPG where they actually get to have fun. Perhaps his problem is that he has this very peculiar fetish and rather than trying to find other adults to humor him, he has got into his head that this freedom thing does not mean that he has a right to have this quirk, but it means that everybody else has to participate in and encourage him in his oddities. He shouldn't really get angry when people call him out on it.
permalink
at 20:19 on 23-08-2013, Fin
Another person's discomfort is not my lord and master. Freedom of speech and of belief gives me the right to make other people uncomfortable.

It sucks to be them.


Well, at least he's honest about being an arsehole, I guess?

So people like me just don't exist in his universe, do they? Asshole.


Yeah, that part really pissed me off.
permalink
at 19:22 on 23-08-2013, Arthur B
I have been gently prodding them in the comments and seem to have inspired a follow-up blog post equating people who aren't cool with you suddenly going into detail about how you intend a sexual encounter to go with homophobes.

Nice.
permalink
at 19:15 on 23-08-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Ew. Even the most sexually liberated and confident person might want a certain privacy about the process or might just want to spend the limited amount of time they have to play to do something else than listen to someone graphically explain what their character is doing and what happens on a critical failure. That skit in community was good as comedy, but hopefully very few people want that.

And comparing it to a book or story written by anyone: if the story is not of an appropriate genre, the eroticism is usually very limited, as it is very rarely plot relevant, almost always a huge failure and takes time from everything else.

I sincerely hope that guy is not into LARP.
permalink
at 18:14 on 23-08-2013, Danielle
While the post is terrible, I'm equally disturbed by the commenter whose character's "strict although unusual" moral code allows for retributive rape of women. I'm not a moral absolutist, but wow.
permalink
at 16:21 on 23-08-2013, Melanie
It's not just that; he evidently thinks that sex (or orgasm?) is necessarily the most enjoyable thing anyone could ever experience.

With bonus surprise appearance of having kids being "the most rewarding experience and purpose that can conceivably be available", because, really, who can even imagine anything more fulfilling--regardless of their actual personality, goals, etc.--than being a parent.
permalink
at 14:36 on 23-08-2013, Alice
Ugh, that blog post. Making a serious D:< face right now.

The other bit that jumped out at me in its utter boneheaded wrongness was:

and though she's been described by a male DM, the description is compelling, just like every description of a strong female character in a book or story written by a man has been since the dawn of time.

because AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA -- no. (Seriously, dude? Seriously? )
permalink
at 14:12 on 23-08-2013, Arthur B
So people like me just don't exist in his universe, do they? Asshole.

That too. He seems very, very concerned with slamming people who disapprove of sex and thinks other people shouldn't have it or want to ban certain flavours of it, which is fair enough, but also seems utterly incapable of grasping the idea that some people a) may be disinterested in general and b) may be specifically disinterested in involving it in their pretending-to-be-an-elf time.

There are a number of gamers who base their political outlook on life on the idea that the Tipper Gores and Patricia Pullings of this world are huge killjoys and that, rather than anything else, is the big social justice issue that needs tackling, and as a consequence they're blind to the idea that "that's sexist" or "that's demeaning" or "this makes me uncomfortable" might mean something other than "I am a prude and have a moral objection to nipples and/or genitalia".
permalink
at 13:56 on 23-08-2013, Cheriola
First off, belated congratulations to Bryn!

Secondly:

such a universal recreation


So people like me just don't exist in his universe, do they? Asshole.


Robinson:

(I take it you'd recommend "Sanctuary" and "Warehouse 13" as good shows in their own right, as well?)


Surprisingly so, yes.

"Sanctuary" had a shoe-string budget, but still looks quite amazing because 90% of their sets are complete CGI, save for the chairs the characters sit on. There are some writing problems related to making their mythology up as they go, and some people may not be able to tolerate the way two objective murderers are eventually integrated into the team and that one of them even provides comic relief, but still. (The funny one is Nikola Tesla - in this show a narcissist vampire on a non-blood diet, bent on world domination and willing to kill people for that goal, even if he genuinely thinks that world peace under his rule would be the best for everyone. They make it look like he voluntarily submits to Helen's moral guidance for the time being, because he respects and loves her even more than himself, and everyone thinks that's for the best because you couldn't actually lock him up or kill him. But he still gets off scot-free for previous foiled world-domination plots. The other one is Jack the Ripper, the lead's ex-fiancé. He doesn't truly get forgiven, but his crimes are excused with a fantasy mental disorder and he gets woobiefied a bit by the narrative. I choose to read that storyline as an allegory for "My ex-boyfriend was abusive and had massive anger management issues, but that's not really his fault because he's sick. I don't ever want to be in a relationship with him again and I will keep a gun handy to protect myself, but still... I can't stop loving him and wanting to help him.") The show is sadly very white and heteronormative in the first two seasons. Later on, they make an effort to show that the Sanctuary Network is international, and the leaders of the Sanctuaries outside the US and UK are generally POC. And while there's no blatantdly queer character except for Helen and the woman crushing on her in one episode, at least the writers do embrace the slashers by inserting references into flashback episodes that Jack the Ripper and the in-universe inspiration for Sherlock Holmes probably had more than just friendly feelings for each other back in the day. Fridge Logic even lets me interpret this version of Sherlock Holmes as asexual (if bi-romantic, or in a queerplatonic relationship with both his male and female best friends), which is so rare these days that I'm pathetically grateful even for the option.

"Warehouse 13" is mostly fluff, even if the storylines can get quite dark. Like "Sanctuary", you get a sort of family feeling with the main team, but here these people aren't really related. (On "Sanctuary", the original team consists of Helen Magnus, her daughter, a young man she adopted as a boy, her new 'protégé' (whom she'd saved as a little boy and secretly kept an eye on since then), her Bigfoot butler/assistant (who later turns out to have been with her for decades, which explains his mother hen relationship with the adopted boy), and a number of Helen's ex-boyfriends floating around the edges.) On "Warehouse 13" it's more of a voluntary family, with no one being an outright jerkass to anyone and everyone being unfailingly loyal and supportive of each other. There is no will-they-won't-they or other romantic drama within the core team, which is really refreshing. And if someone gets fridged/damseled for a regular character, it's almost always a family member, not a love interest. So that's what I mean by fluff: It's emotionally comfortable, like you wish the world would be. This is the kind of show that has special Christmas episodes. Thanks to the dark storylines, the show has a thing for pushing reset buttons pretty much after every season finale cliffhanger, so if that's annoying to you, you should avoid it. Personally, I think the characters and setting are likeable enough that you're glad they rarely get killed off for real. Plus, in a show with literal magic, not saving people in creative ways would seem mean-spirited. The show has a couple of POC characters, but unfortunately they are just recurring ones (i.e. the team's boss in turn answers to a slightly scary older black woman and a group of people ususally represented by a guy of middle eastern descent). One original team member is a black woman, but she rarely gets something to do and her characterisation is shallowly "mysterious". Eventually she gets fridged and her role in the narrative replaced with a Chinese-Hawaian actress. As for queer representation, 3 seasons in the team gets a regular member who is openly gay and not stereotypical (in fact, they make a point of showing his annoyance whenever someone expects him to act stereotypically 'fabulous'). And the show's recurring anti-hero H.G. Wells is bisexual and clearly trying to charm the female lead. But the writers just don't have the guts to show these characters in on-screen romantic storylines. In fact, it's getting a little ridiculous with H.G. and Myka, because the actresses, the directors and even the wardrobe department are shipping them like FedEx and do everything they can to show their love between the lines, while the head writer refuses to actually have them get together or even openly acknowledge the UST in the dialogue. As of the last episode H.G. was in, this behind the screen struggle led to the writer delivering a script where she uncharacteristically decides to settle down with some random guy and Myka congratulates her to her happy retirement, and the actresses and director filmed that script like the end of "Casablanca", tears in their eyes and unspoken pleas to reconsider and all.
permalink
at 11:22 on 23-08-2013, Arthur B
I think he is trying to say that sex is great and anyone who doesn't like sex is a dumb jerk and this culture should be way more open about sex, which I could get behind in principle but in practice my enthusiasm for the subject wanes when dudes start openly fantasising at the gaming table about grabbing a grieving widow and fucking the bereavement out of her with their counselling penis.
permalink
at 06:49 on 23-08-2013, Melanie
For such a universal recreation; for something that undeniably offers the best feeling - however brief - that any human has a chance at obtaining, for free; and for something that yields the most rewarding experience and purpose that can conceivably be available, the insertion of life into one's family and care


What the fuck did I just read?
permalink
at 05:47 on 23-08-2013, Michal
I liked that scene better when Jayne Ann Krentz wrote it.
permalink
at 00:02 on 23-08-2013, Fin
Wowwwww, it's like he's trying to outcreepy himself with each successive paragraph.
permalink
at 23:03 on 22-08-2013, Arthur B
Dungeons & Dragons blogger tries to argue that playing through sexual encounters in detail at the gaming table isn't necessarily creepy, gives an example which is blatantly creepy.
permalink
at 20:30 on 22-08-2013, Alice
I haven't seen all of Buffy, but that sounds about right re: Xander. Didn't they also show him being somewhat uncomfortable with his lack of manly manly fighting skills?

I'd certainly agree that Rory is a good example, and I think Robinson's right to say that the logic of "this character is physically unthreatening, so when they use violence it's funny" -- which is usually applied to female characters -- seems to be at work there.

And Peeta's a good example too; as I recall, his survival (in the first book at least) depended on his getting people to like him/not see him as a threat, not to mention on his mad frosting skills; both of these characteristics of course being coded female.

I'm not really involved in fandom, but my general impression is that the fan!view of these characters is as follows:

Xander: "bit of a doofus, but aww, we like him". Rory: "omg so cute and sweet and lovely, awww, look how much he wuvs Amy". Peeta: "cute and sweet (but not as hot as Gale), awww, look how much he wuvs Katniss".

So the female-coded character trait of "offering emotional support to the main character/love interest" seems to be viewed as a positive in a male character, at least by the (largely straight, female) fan response I'm familiar with. Though perhaps it's also important for said male character to be a love interest to the female/main character: I've certainly seem more strong positive reactions to Rory and Peeta, who are love interests for more prominent female characters, than to Xander, who isn't.

Hmm. Not exactly huge amounts of progress, is it?
permalink
at 19:24 on 22-08-2013, Sister Magpie
Shimmin: Out of curiosity: can people think of examples of male characters who act within the expected female range, and how do they come across?


I don't know if it's playing the role, but we always used to talk in Bat fandom about how Dick Grayson often got put in stereotypically female positions (literally!) and situations, and he did also sometimes play the nurturing role as well.
permalink
at 12:28 on 22-08-2013, Shimmin
Xander from Buffy mostly acted within a stereotypically female role

Ah, yeah, you may have something there. And he needed a fair bit of protecting and rescuing, as I remember. I never actually saw that part of Buffy but I vaguely know about it.

I can't speak to Rory because I stopped watching Doctor Who, and I haven't read Hunger Games. But cheers nonetheless!
permalink