One couple, two perspectives, tons of geekery

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Romantic Misinterpretation in Gaming

Truer words were never spoken...

A while back, someone in our local gaming group mentioned that girls shouldn’t wear “sexy perfume” to a game if they do not want to be hit on, because it sends the “wrong” signals. Obviously, this stirred up a rather large debate among the players, male and female alike. Though this occurred some time ago, the Princess and the Warlock feel it is quite relevant to discuss.

In role playing games males and females of varied backgrounds, nationalities, races, religions, and sexual preferences come together to enjoy a single hobby. We take on different roles much like actors. We play a part. In many cases, we are playing with a group of our friends that we interact with on a regular basis, but other times we are interacting with people for the first time whether at a convention or getting involved in a new group. However, among friends or strangers misinterpretation can and will occur from time to time.

We can all intellectually distinguish the differences between OOC and IC, but sometimes the lines blur. Especially when you are throwing emotions into the mix. Sometimes we pause and question IC actions – “Why is Cordelia’s character constantly attacking mine? Is she made at me? What did I do?” or “OMG, Xander’s character is flirting with mine? Is he trying to hit on me?”.  As players in a game, it is our responsibility to keep OOC and IC separate. Again this doesn’t always happen though. Usually two types of responses in misinterpretation occur – transference and repulsion.

For an example of transference, if Willow decides to play a seductress, wear a short red dress and perfume and starts hitting on you, that is not an OOC invitation that she wants to date you IRL. It merely means she is playing a part. Don’t allow the IC emotions to transfer into OOC assumptions. Likewise if Angel’s character decides to hit on Willow ICly, it’s her responsibility not to freak out and worry if he’s being a creeper and trying to use the character to get close to her OOCly. Don’t have a knee jerk reaction of being repulsed by something that occurs IC.

One of the best ways to avoid misinterpretation of romantic intent is to be open and honest with the group. If you are playing a character who you intend to be a flirt, then it is best you let your gaming group know. Just take a moment to explain that you intend to play the character a certain way and that nothing you do is meant to be taken OOC, but that if you do something that makes another someone feel uncomfortable, then please let you know. That right there can eliminate any potential misinterpretation. But if you feel uncomfortable with something someone else does or says ICly, you need to speak to the person directly and be honest about how you're feeling. A clear line of communication is often the key to avoiding drama.

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