OOC: Consent in RP
IC does not equal OOC. We say that all the time. We hear it bandied about like a mantra.
The problem with that is it does not encapsulate the full spectrum that is roleplay. When we watch a movie or read a book or see a play, there are some subjects that make us feel emotions. It’s not any more real than roleplaying. However, it does affect each person differently.
Roleplaying touches our emotions. The feelings that are sparked by roleplay are real, and it is a natural inclination to value your character as an extension of yourself. When someone does something to your character that you don’t like, they’re doing something to you.
This is why consent is so important.
Why is consent necessary?
The people roleplaying with you are human beings on the other side of the screen. No two people have had the same experiences in their life. Everyone reacts differently to their experiences. Traumatic things in real life take some people years to recover.
“It’s not real” is not good enough. Roleplay is personal. Making sure you are being a good RP partner means recognizing the things that can upset someone. It means not crossing the line into something that will bring up old hurts.
What are the things I should get consent for?
There is no magic list, because what upsets me may not upset the next person. But in a general sense, if it is taboo or illegal in the real world, you should ask OOC permission before doing it.
Let’s define Consent:
In simple terms, it means to permit, to approve, to agree, to comply or to yield.
It is the act of giving approval for an action to be taken. It is making sure that what you are about to write will be acceptable to those reading it.
So what does that mean for RP?
In roleplay especially, it is agreeing with the content within the scene and the actions being taken upon your character.
How do I get consent?
In a one on one situation, that is very easy. You say “hey, are you okay with doing X, with participating in X, with seeing X happen.” Whichever of those fit your situation. And then you wait for the other person to decide if they are okay and agree.
What about big events?
In a public setting, it is a little more difficult to gain consent. But it can be done! An OOC warning during the advertising of your event is one way. Another is at the start of your event to give an OOC and an IC warning that the subjects discussed or being roleplayed out might upset people.
What if I didn’t think about consent before I did something?
Okay, mistakes happen. You thought you were going to shock and awe, but instead you got angry or upset people. You probably should have gotten consent. Learn from this mistake and think more about what you are doing the next time.
“It’s just rp, man.” Again that is not good enough. Be considerate of the people around you. Just because you think it’s no big deal does not mean it isn’t for others. “Grow a thicker skin.” Not good enough. Some trauma there is no thicker skin to protect you.
Things to think about:
Communicate: Talk to your partner or the group OOC. Whispers, raid chat, party chat or OOC bracket your information. “But I want to surprise them” okay surprises are great, for birthdays. Not so much when what you are surprising the person with is something that will upset them. When in doubt, ask.
Consider your setting: If you are roleplaying in a public space, there are guards. Doing something that would get you arrested in real life in that sort of area would result in your character being arrested. Just skip doing what you are thinking about doing. Its not adding to anyone’s story.
Respect other people: Just because someone has “Dark RP” in their TRP does not mean necessarily that it’s okay just do whatever you like to them. You would ask someone if it was okay to kill them, you ask if it’s okay to do that taboo thing too.
No is an option: You can say no. You have the right to decline anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Be explicit in your NO: So the person has not OOCly asked permission, but they are emoting things around you that make you uncomfortable. Be clear by whispering or OOC bracketing to them and say “NO”. Be polite and tell them “I”m uncomfortable with that sort of RP”. Don’t emote back in a manner that could be construed as you consenting to the RP, take it to OOC communication immediately.
Respect the other player: Just because you don’t like the sort of RP the person is trying to do with you does not mean that they are bad people. Respect that not everyone likes the same things. Be polite, be gracious and then go find someone else or another topic to RP about.
No means no: Respect that on both sides. If either partner says no, the rp needs to stop. You can get a call on a comm and excuse yourself or you can just say OOCly “I have to go.” In either case, once No is said the actions that were going on before need to stop.
Rescuing or “White Knights”: Sometimes people want bad things to happen to move their character’s story along. If they are doing this in semi-public space (or a public one) asking if you can intervene is important. Maybe they don’t want you to stop them from having their arm broken or worse. Communication again is key. If its in a private location and you OOCly overhear, well that is metagaming and really you should just move along. You may want to whisper and let them know they are within earshot of others OOCly because maybe the didn’t realize and will take it to party. But consent is important before you try to “rescue” someone just as much as it is important before you harm someone.
Communication is key. And being silent about something that upsets you is only hurting you. Speak up. The other person will respect you. And if they don’t well there are ways to handle that too.
Respect each other.