What are the roleplay barriers between us? The ones I put there.
This social media meme going around: “What are the roleplay barriers between us? How can I prevent them?” It doesn’t sit entirely right with me. I understand the sentiment: how can I help build a more inclusive community? That’s an awesome sentiment, one that is mostly positive from what I’ve read, and I support that––to a certain extent. To the extent of a player’s emotional and mental health.
There are barriers and there are boundaries.
Barriers are blockades that physically stop you from going somewhere and doing something. Boundaries are defined as lines rather than physical objects, so someone can cross them.
Barriers seem to have a negative connotation while boundaries are seen as emotionally intelligent. This is quite black and white thinking, because not all barriers are bad. Society uses barriers to stop people from swimming in shark-infested waters or walking onto freeways. Those are good barriers––and there are also good personal and roleplay barriers.
Here is the difference for me:
Boundaries are lines that I will not let most people cross. Here’s an example: I’m not interested in romantic roleplay, but for certain friends who continuously maintain my trust, I will remove this line.
Barriers are for things I will never engage in. No, I won’t be involved in any form of pretend rape. I have no interest in extreme Tarantino-like violence. I will never watch Episodes I, II, and III.
I have no interest in removing my barriers to create “more inclusive play.” Boundaries or barriers, they are established to keep me safe and comfortable, and this is completely acceptable no matter what. I love that people want to break down certain barriers, like being perceived as too-cool-for-school, or mean. But I also want to remind you there are good barriers that are far stricter than boundaries at your disposal and for your own comfort. Those barriers are erected for great reasons. There are so many people in larp that engage in things that I do not want in my life, and realistically I owe none of them an explanation for not giving them access to me. Most likely I won’t bother to tell you though, because if you fit into the below list, it’s established that you are not interested or capable of having an adult conversation about your shitty behavior. And frankly, I’ve got way cooler things to do than deal with you.
However, it’s always good to give others examples of what I consider barrier-erecting behavior, so here are a few:
- You have a pattern of using roleplay to intimidate, degrade, and/or harass others.
- You’re continually juvenile (at best) when it comes to conflict, respecting others’ opinions and emotions, and their time.
- You want my attention ALL OF THE TIME and I can’t escape you because you track me down via every form of social media and DEMAND my focus.
- You have a history of exploiting and manipulating women into fictional-yet-compromising sexual situations to gratify your lusts.
- You’re self-centered and you have no interest in anyone’s story except your own.
- You’re just a fucking cheater, man. Lame.
- You’re rigid and uncompromising both in and out of character, showing no interest in collaboration or providing positive roleplay experiences.
- Your only interest is in winning.
- You’re a user and an abuser of people, in and out of roleplaying communities.
- Your only motive for engaging me is to get something from me (attention, sex, association, perks from my job, cool points, feel better about yourself).
- You have a history of sexual harassment.
- Your MO is being drunken and disorderly.
- You constantly say terrible things to and about other people, spread rumors, and paint yourself a victim.
- Honestly? You’re just a jerk, and I don’t want to associate with you.
If you feel like you made this very un-illustrious list, I’m not interested in any sort of come to Jesus talk or being your therapist. Go see a real psychologist and address your problems with a trained professional. If you do want to change your fucking atrocious behavior, I present unto you some serious props for trying to fix yourself and your reputation within your community.
And for everyone else who’s cool as fuck and just trying to have fun, focus on your own boundaries and barriers. Establishing and enforcing those are what will keep you safe and happy while larping.