thread: 2012-11-21 : Positioning: Some Looly Pooly Groundwork

On 2012-11-22, Ben Lehman wrote:

So it's actually a pretty short observation.

"Mutual consent" means a lot of different things. It's totally possible to have a game where your only nod to mutual consent is any player can say "fuck you I'm not playing this I'm leaving." Even that might get complicated by real-world concerns such as bus schedules or whatever.

So, for instance, a classic rule zero-only freeform game has one rule: the GM says what happens. A non-GM player, disagreeing with what the GM says, doesn't really have an option to negotiate with part of that and keep playing the game (or, rather, you can, but it's breaking the rules: poor form.) Consent in this case is reactive and binary, and only exists inasmuch as it can be revoked.

On the other far end, we have structures of unanimous assent. I do this sometimes for PTA pitch sessions: if someone introduces an idea, and anyone has a problem with any part of it, we throw out the whole thing and start over.

Player 1: "I want to do a romance show."
Player 2: "You know, I'm kinda not interested in romance, maybe we could..."
Me: No, we're trashing that idea. No caveats. How about we do a military show?

In this case, negotiation is also anathema, but from a collective rather than singular case.

I feel like Care-Baker often leads people down a false path of believing that all roleplaying is about negotiated consensus on every point, as such:
GM: The dragon hits you. Take 9 damage.
Player: Yeah, I don't think I'm okay with that. How about 5 damage?
GM: 7.
Player: I'm holding out at 5.
GM: 6 final offer.
Player: Done.

This is not actually the case, though. Games and rules are both socially enforced, so in some groups the above play might be acceptable and in other groups it will make people look at you like you've just pissed in the oatmeal. Establishing these social dynamics is a huge part of any group activity, and seeking them out is a huge part of joining any social group.

So here's things that matter, and vary, and are worth thinking about:

1) What is the "unit of consent?" This can vary from "the whole game" to "any particular game event / outcome / detail" to anything in between.

2) Is consent negotiated, binary, or structured in some other way? (Polaris plays w/ this a lot).

3) Is it negatively defined (consent, which is assumed until revoked) or positively defined (assent, which is absent until given)?

A theme of this series has been digging into the details. They matter, here, a great deal.



This makes BL go "Parallels to sex and kink in particular"
Are left as an exercise for the reader.

This makes ET go "So glad Ben Lehman is in on this conversation!"

This makes...
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