OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Starbase 118’s guide to sexism in simming

ignorant prick saying girls suck at math

Hopefully sexism is a thing of the past, but unfortunately it still pervails enough for Starbase 118 (a Star Trek roleplaying club) to have written a guide which helps to ensure the roleplaying community is welcoming for all. Here’s how they describe the need for the guide:

“What happens In Character stays In Character.” It’s a nice thought, but it isn’t always true and using that defense as a shield can have harmful effects on our other players.

Unlike normal fiction, the characters in our universe are represented by real people who can be hurt when sexism and other forms of discrimination are used callously toward characters, or in a way that creates a hostile simming environment. That’s why it’s so important that everyone understand what sexism is, how it can affect others, and how we can sim in interesting and dramatic ways which are sensitive and considerate to other players.

Our Captains Council has drafted a new tutorial, which can be found in the Tutorial Library, that defines and explains sexism, demonstrates it is manifested harmfully in simming, and how you can avoid it while still using discrimination In Character for dramatic purpose.

Tristan Wolf

You can see their guide here. It’s written for their own community, but applies to every community.

  • Andy Locke

    it’s depressing that some people still need this stuff explaining to them in this day and age

  • Jaxx

    I think it will only get worse as we dumb down the education bar for kids. Kids have to much dependence on technology and a big lack of resourcefulness.

    • But what has a dependence on technology got to do with not being respectful to others?

      • Jaxx

        As a substitute teacher I see it a lot. Since many parents are exposing their kids to technology at a young age the kids are adapting to finding their answers without actually developing their critical thinking skills and memorization skills. Without the computers or smart phones the IQ of the kids drops drastically and they get agitated. By the time they become highschoolers they see their smart phones their source of life and are on it so much they try to charge them in the class room instead of doing their work. Though the school has a rule about cell phone usage it is rarely enforced since the kids cry to their parents or fight with the teachers. It is sad to see the kids act like a crack fiend when their phone is not working or taken away. It also effect their social skills since I often see two kids sitting next to each texting each other instead of talking. So basically by putting their technology ahead of education and social skills they tend to treat others poorly and expect to be treated like a star.

  • Tristan Wolf

    Thanks for passing this on! We had some very long conversations about how to make this tutorial work, because it can be really difficult for some people, who’ve never been confronted with the idea that they engage in sexist behaviors, to understand how their behavior can be harmful.

    There was more conversation about this on our forums:

    • Vitamin K

      “What happens In Character stays In Character.” It’s a nice thought, but it isn’t always true and using that defense as a shield can have harmful effects on our other players.

      Should I take this to mean that we shouldn’t be playing characters with sexist tendencies? Aren’t flaws (despicable or otherwise) part of the RP “texture”?

      • Tristan Wolf

        Our tutorial does go quite in depth on that question, so I encourage you to read on.

        That said, we don’t feel that exceedingly sexist characters have a place in our particular game because we’re in the Star Trek genre, which doesn’t really reflect that type of discrimination in the canon. But more generally, the point is that — as we say in the tutorial — “Discrimination is an important part of fiction,” but that it needs to be done in the right way to avoid hurting other players. This means careful deliberation and planning, conferring with other players, and so-forth. What we’re trying to avoid is the casual, off-the-cuff type behavior that comes off as ignorant and unkind. But there are ways in which sexism can be used for character growth, it just has to involve the planning and forethought of more than one player making everyone else uncomfortable.

        • Vitamin K

          I suppose that’s fair enough, given the context. I read the article as applying to simming in general, since this blog isn’t sb118 specific.

          That said, I think, in a healthy RP community, I should be able to play an utterly depraved monster without my fellow players imagining that any of what my character is doing IC has any connection to my OOC feelings. If that divide is lacking, then I feel the community is veering off in an unhelpful direction.

          • Tristan Wolf

            We’re definitely not saying that villains have no place. But it’s not just as simple as “Well, it’s my character and not me!”

            I think a lot of what the tutorial says on this subject applies more broadly, in terms of being careful, being respectful to other players, and making sure that everyone is on the same page. It just becomes a question of whether what you’re doing is creating a hostile environment for other players which discourages them from having fun, as well.

          • Vitamin K

            I think “being on the same page” is the key, and is also indicative of trusting that the people that you RP with are mature and responsible individuals whose goal (like yours) is to see a good story told, and not to have their characters “win”. If you lack confidence in the players themselves, you’re in the wrong game.

          • Tristan Wolf

            We welcome new players to our game every week, hence the reason why we have the tutorial in the first place. 🙂

    • Oh dear, 2nd comment…

      “since women do not have that power, they cannot be sexists, reverse or otherwise, towards men”

      I haven’t seen the full discussion, so I’m sure this all ended in a good place with everyone happy but I can imagine this comment provoked a lot of people!

      • Tristan Wolf

        It did, but I stand by it. (If you continue reading, maybe in that comment or below, there are a couple interesting sources that back up the sentiment, and are worth a read.)

      • Tristan Wolf

        And I think this is a particularly important point: “Our goal is not to be equitable, but to be preferential to the fairest environment we can create.” Regardless of whether you agree or disagree that women can be sexist toward men, the bottom line is that it’s not our goal to just create equality in this regard. It’s to create the fairest environment we can, so that women feel like they are welcomed, included, and valued in the simming environment.