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FF Sparks (Casual)


This is a totally immature vent on things that probably don't matter to many people, so I'm lj-cutting to spare most people. :)

So, most people who read my friends list probably know what MUSHing is. For those few who don't, it's basically a collaborative text medium; an interactive text environment where you have characters and rooms, and tell a story by effectively improvisational storytelling from a specific character's viewpoint and interacting with others. What's known as 'role-playing', or RPing. IC, or 'in-character', refers to the interactions within the context of the story, between characters. OOC, or 'out-of-character', refers to interactions between the players of the characters. There...that out of the way.

Lately, I'm having a lot less fun on MU* in general. Admittedly, this is in large part due to a specific situation; an IC situation involving the primary character I play on one game arose, which was very ICly emotionally charged and ICly politically dangerous and generally caused a huge mess to arise. Good story. Some of the consequences of that created more very intense IC situations and good RP. But the entire situation also ended up becoming very OOCly charged emotionally, and it's made people progressively more unhappy. And I spent a lot of time trying to make things OOCly right, as well as dealing with IC things. And it's just become progressively more and more stressful.

The IC things on the game, I don't care about. That's characters; it's like reading a book. I might read a book and my favorite character in the book dies, and I'll be unhappy...but it doesn't stress me. I might /write/ a book and find my viewpoint character in a bad place, but that won't stress me out. Sure, I may get caught up in IC events, but generally I don't let myself lose sleep or feel ill over IC interactions.

But the OOC unhappiness on the part of a number of people I like /as people/ is stressful. Part of me blames myself; as the central player ICly in this conflict, perhaps I could've done something more to try and keep the OOC stress levels down. Maybe I should've ignored IC motives in favor of keeping the peace OOCly, though that sort of compromises the story. But really, I already tried pretty hard; I suppose when it comes down to it, trying 'pretty hard' wasn't enough. All I know is that right now, /everyone/ involved is unhappy as players, not as characters. Including me.

And what makes it hardest is that it feels like such a dumb thing, on the surface, to get stressed about. It's just a game, after all, right? It seems stupid to get stressed over...obsessive, really. Especially when there are so many other much more sensible things to worry about; my younger brother may be getting shipped out to Iraq, and everyone in the family is worried about that. All my older relatives are dying off in the past five years...my one remaining grandfather to heart failure, one uncle to lung cancer, my psuedo-great-uncle to Alzheimers, another uncle to his body just literally falling apart inside, my great-aunt to simple age, and my psuedo-great-aunt to a brain cancer just last week. Shouldn't I find way to spend time back East to visit them and spend time with remaining relatives while they're still around? ESPECIALLY my grandmother; find the entry last week about Aunt Louise's death to also find about how much my grandmother means to me. Why am I stressing over this, when I have all that to stress about?

When I think about that, I'm sometimes briefly tempted to just give up and go back to writing and stage acting and other things. But then I realize that won't help; it's not the MU* itself that's stressing me. It's being caught in the middle of a dispute between people. When it's an OOC dispute, I can't distance myself as I can with IC disputes. And leaving MU*ing would be like deciding because friends were arguing, you drop those friends and stop going to the same hangouts they are often at; that's just a stupid overreaction.

But I wish I knew how to fix it.


Well, to be honest, IRL if people around you are acting like complete spazzoids, you stop hanging out with them. Simple.

You choose your friends and associates. Hopefully you choose people who make you happy, whom you like and who are good company. That's the beauty of friends -- if they're hard to be around, annoying, difficult, and/or generally make your life more difficult instead of a better experience, you DON'T HAVE TO KEEP HANGING OUT WITH THEM.

That's why they're friends. They're optional.

If they weren't, they'd be family. And those, I am sad to inform, you are stuck with.
See, I'm not the sort that tends to take that route, Jen. I'd rather work things out...just because several friends are at odds with each other doesn't mean you cut all the friendships free.
I never said you did. It's not an 'all or nothing' thing. But at the same time, if you're supposed recreation and fun is being continually blackened by the inconsiderate bickering of others, you should feel no innate obligation to remain involved simply because they're your 'friends'. Friends do not intentionally cause each other emotional trauma, kid, and if they're doing it unintentionally then they should stop as soon as they're made aware of it.

And frankly, this has been going on for months now, and it's not getting better, and it's making you tense and irritable and generally unhappy. So in my opinion you need to find a way to resolve it. We only have so much time on the earth, and it's precious and small enough that it shouldn't be wasted by staying in a fruitless, painful situation. If that means having an intervention and talking it out, @pagelocking people, or leaving it all entirely -- do it. Seize happiness, hunt joy, make your world and life something that you can look at and go: Damn. Today I had a great day, and made myself happy, and did something I'm pleased with.

Every day should be like that, and if it's not, it shouldn't be for lack of trying.
Well, I wish I had anything meaningful to add, seeing as I am one person in this neverending conflict situation, if I read things right. Yes, it's been going on for months, and there were moments in it that I was so OOCly stressed over it that it was no longer funny. At the same time most of my stress came up in the period that my SO left to go back to the US and I suddenly took all things to a new emotional level that has made me intensely unhappy. I am very much resolved to keep things IC and just leave all the OOC stuff that goes along with it to the side.

I appreciate that you've stuck with it all the time and I think shadowfey's attempt at mediation might be worth-while to have this resolved. It's not as if I bear anyone involved ill will and am waiting for a chance to sling mud. Online I basically want my peace, have a good story, that's about it. There are no needs for OOC disputes about IC situations. I can do this without stressing anymore. At least I am resolved to try. It's just necessary that everyone does that. I can't putter along, trying my best to keep things IC but later hear that I am definitely being badmouthed OOC to create certain IC situations.

My apologies that I've not always made it easy, there were moments when I seriously freaked out when I shouldn't have. But just like my character I think I am learning from mistakes.
Like I said, I'm not angry at anyone involved. Just very...very...tired.
It's difficult for empathic folk like us to distance ourselves, but it's a painful lesson that needs to be learned in order to avoid emotional burnout. It's also a lesson that continually needs to be learned, simply because people have different personalities and different ways of handling conflicts and stress in their lives and there's no one catchall solution.

Saying 'it's just a game' and treating it as such isn't easy for most people. It's simply impossible to shut off the emotions involved in a game - and its players - as easily as shutting off your computer, because the entire game exists only as long as its players do ... and many of those players become your friends. You do need to sort out, though, who is a true friend, as opposed to a shallow friend or a user. And it often takes years of trials and tribulations, tears and laughter, to really delve into another person's mind via online and get to know the 'real' person and form a lasting bond of friendship. Only you can decide how much time to invest in this search, and how much time to invest in dealing with their game-related angst.

One of the best ways to deal with all this is to not say 'it's only a game', but to put things into perspective. I am often aghast at some of the petty whining that goes on; maybe it's because I've had to deal with too much death RL in my life, and it's made me all too aware of how precious life is. We only go around in this life once, and how we go is up to us. Once a day slips away, we can't capture it again. Do you want to be standing on the threshhold of death one day and mourn, "If only I had ... "?

Carpe diem, Sparks ... live life for YOU. Your way.
I know very little about the situation, so take my advice with a grain of salt. :)

I've had a lot of OOC tension about the game, mostly resulting from the few fairly horrible acts my character has had to commit. Needless to say, I /know/ it stressed out those involved. Also, evidently because I did not warn them in advance of what I was going to do, one of those people is no longer speaking to me. That's the consequence of playing on a game where anything goes, and there is no 'consent'. You cannot always handle these things perfectly because you are not a mind-reader. Someone will always find a reason to stress about it.

I've made more friends than I've lost by playing, and though it's a somewhat brutal way of looking at things, it's the reason I use to justify my continued existence on the game.
I'm going to guess that this is about Firan. (Just because I know you and dpassmor both play there). It's just a game, yes, but it's also something you (and many people) put a lot of time and energy into and devote a lot of them, and so stress ensues.

I, however, won't be going back to Firan. I got spoiled by playing Solgarik as my first character, and a previous player screwed the character over apparantly, and staff don't want him coming back. *shrug* Ah well, I don't have time for all the same places or not.



The responsibility is with no one person

When RP situations get too crazy, I've always tried to remember that the point of the game is to be able to say (out of character) that 'A good time was had by all'. I also think that responsbility for the enjoyability of an RP event is shared among all the participants.

So while it probably feels natural to say 'I'm in the middle of the situation, it's turning stressy, and so it's my job to fix it', it's also asking too much of yourself. Everyone involved has their own part to play, IC and OOC, and it's not any one person's job to do something about the OOC problems. If the rest of the participants are more interested in grinding axes than in doing something fun (or at least interesting), then it's not your responsibility to change their minds.

Walking away doesn't mean that you can't come back (most of the time, anyway), and if you're feeling the call of Real Life, then perhaps the best thing to do is unplug and let the game attend to itself for a while. The other people who are involved will have a chance to cool off and work it out for themselves.