August 2018 - Adjustments!

SCHEDULE

We're tweaking the schedule based on feedback from both players and team members.

  • Saturday morning mods will go 9am-1pm
  • Heat Advisory Hours (no mods) will be 1pm-4pm
    • Cheryl is generously donating a few hours to lifeguard the lake area around the dock 2:30pm-4pm
      • (I mean, I'm gonna force AP on her, but it's still generous)
  • Sunday mods will return, but focus on story.

Post Office Hours will be:

  • Game On - 3am
  • 8am - 3am
  • 8am - Noon

If you have need of a card when the Post Office is closed and you can find an already awake Coord Marshal you can ask them to help you get the paperwork for your project. Please don't wake up a sleeping Marshal for this. I'll have to go all angry-LARP-Mom on you.

OPENING NARRATIVE/WARM-UP

After opening announcements (around 10-15 min after) we'll have a guided opening narrative. This is our version of a tool other games use to help players transition from their own headspace into the headspace of their character. They've found that having opening and closing narrative sessions can help reduce bleed.

So how does it work? We come up with a few words to encapsulate the theme of the weekend. This helps frame the phrases used during the guided narrative, which is accompanied by a heartbeat rhythm provided by those involved. It'll speed up or slow down as part of the process, but don't worry - all you have to do is follow the guide's instructions. :)

This month's theme is This is Home.

FEEDBACK FORM

The feedback form is a direct line to our inbox, and we made sure that you can omit your name and email if you feel more comfortable providing anonymous feedback - specifically because players requested that option. :) You can do this by just leaving the name and email portions of the form blank.

Well we've gone a step further and included a check-mark where you get to determine if you'd like a reply or a follow-up to your feedback. Some months we have time to go back and answer every feedback we get, and some months we don't. This is designed to let us focus on the people who are expecting a reply and just absorb the information from those who don't want to discuss it with us.

This also means that if you report misconduct (of any kind), you can decide if you want to be contacted with follow-up information or questions. Sometimes that follow-up will just be "we investigated this and issued corrective actions" - because we want to punish in private and make sure that our friends have the chance to grow from their mistakes. 

SLEEPING BEARS...ER...DIRECTORS

As the camp and our player base continues to grow, we want to seize ever opportunity to make the experience better for everyone. This summer they added a Director's Cabin just behind the Office Building we don't use (a small building across the main road from the pool house/Ops). This month Dave and I will start using that for our own sleeping.

This means that if you need a Director and can't find the one that's awake - you can find the one that's asleep. :) And despite the title, while we may be groggy we're always available for ya'll (except the bathroom, I gotta draw a line somewhere...) and won't ever be upset that you woke us. <3

We'll also be using this cabin/clearing as the rallying point for clean-up instead of the porch of J-house. This will get the crowds out of the way of those who are trying to clean up that cabin and make us a little more centrally located for clean-up time. :)

See you all in the wastes! <3
#WeAreBecauseYa'llAre 

Sexual Misconduct Policy - What Does It Look Like?

So first,

you should know that I'm a Survivor of sexual assault. This makes me super emotional about these issues. I want to see evidence because I know how emotional I am on the issue. It also means that if I find an allegation to be false I become livid beyond imagination. Because those false accusations make it harder for people to believe the true ones. Anything that causes people to doubt a Survivor makes me ridiculously angry.

Dave spent 20+ years in the military where an accusation (false or not) could ruin your entire career, and he's understandably sensitive to the repercussions of a false allegation. This means that he wants evidence before taking any action. 

You should also know that statistics show that no more than 2-8% of allegations are false. (NSVRC) Roughly for every four people, 3 never talk to anyone/report sexual harassment after they've experienced it (EEOC Report, pg. v, First paragraph). 

Second,

we are not empowered to be investigators, that is a task for officials. Our goal is always to find out if there has been a violation of our policy and then act on that knowledge. 

We are also looking to create an environment that encourages reporting and confronting unacceptable behavior. One of the top reasons that sexual harassment and assault aren't reported is fear of retaliation. To this end we're never going to reveal the identity of a complainant and we won't divulge any specifics that could identify them.  I understand this makes some people uncomfortable, but this entire topic isn't one for comfort. For us, the protection of a victim outweighs the comfort of people who are not involved or the comfort of someone who is violating the policy.

Patterns of Behavior

Typically, we won't issue a Refusal of Service (RoS) for a first time offense. Now, I'm not saying there aren't some first offenses that can be done where an RoS is our immediate response - cause there are. 

That being said, what we watch for the most are patterns of behavior, because that's typically how you spot predators. They push boundaries slowly and in small ways, testing the waters to see if they can get away with larger violations of boundaries. They also like to live in the gray areas and ask for you to explain to them where the line is. If you say that an 8 second hug is too long, they'll argue that they only did a 7.5 second hug and so weren't violating any boundaries. 

Our Process

So Dave and I receive a complaint. We speak to them and ask for any screenshots or witnesses that they can provide. If we are given evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator has committed this act - we determine what the appropriate punishment is and send them notification. We are, at it's core, a victim oriented organization and our primary goal is the safety of the community.

This is the part that a lot of people are uncomfortable with, because we're not speaking to the accused before levying punishment. We understand why that's uncomfortable. The idea that people could be found guilty without a chance to speak for themselves isn't something we're used to in America - because barring the military, that's the opposite of our court systems. So I'm going to get a bit more in the weeds than I usually like to, in hopes of giving you a glimpse of how we operate and our thoughts on these.

So Dave and I argue - and while yah, married couples argue - I mean we often end up on opposite sides on issues and we discuss and argue until we can reach a middle ground. This sounds pretty easy - but let me tell you that both of us are REALLY stubborn people. When it comes to these situations, at the first I am typically on the side of the complainant and Dave is hitting the brakes and asking for hard evidence. 

So in the end,

it comes down to trusting our judgement and knowing that we hold the safety of the community as our most important task. We will share as much as we can without risking identification of the victim. 

We won't share information publicly, although we do give a summary to the members of our Marshal Team. We do this because we know it's more likely that players will reach out to them with questions, than to us and we want them to be informed when they give ya'll answers.

New Sexual Misconduct Policy

You may have heard some of us Directors gush about how wonderful it was to have RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) make a presentation at the Director’s Retreat in June. If not, prepare to receive a small gush and also an explanation.

The presentation from RAINN included facts and statistics about sexual harassment and assault, but more importantly it gave us expert advice on how to make our communities unwelcoming for perpetrators.

To that end, the Directors for Dystopia Rising Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma put our heads together and developed a Sexual Misconduct Policy that we could all agree on. Since our communities mingle and overlap in wonderful ways, we decided our policy should reflect that.

This behavior wasn’t acceptable before we wrote this policy, however RAINN taught us that making these  policies visible does a few very important things.

  1. Showing specifically which behaviors won’t be tolerated will discourage predators  from joining or remaining in the community. Predators thrive where they can push boundaries without consequence.

  2. Outlining which behaviors are inappropriate and the procedure when misconduct is reported helps members of the community enforce standards, empowering them to help keep their community safe.

So yeah, here’s us saying that this kind of behavior is not only unacceptable in our spaces - but showing you exactly how we’ll handle it and supporting our community in creating safer spaces for gaming.

July 2018 - New Things

Heya Survivors!

This month we've got a few new things in store for you all - and one of them is trying to post more of our announcements here.

Schedule Change

Last month we tried a pretty tiring schedule where mods ran from game start on Friday night into the weeeee hours of Sunday morning. In unrelated news everyone was tired as hell and we love ya'll but we don't want to do that again. >_>

Instead this month we'll be using the following schedule:

  • Game Start, Friday 9pm
  • Quiet Hours, Saturday 4am-8am
  • Heat Adv. Hours, Saturday Noon-4pm (No mods for player safety)
  • Quiet Hours, Sunday 4am-8am
  • Game End, Sunday Noon (Also there aren't any NPCs scheduled for Sunday morning, but with Dave that doesn't always mean you're safe. >_>)

New Things from Director's Retreat

1. No more mailing policy, mail things directly to other players. If you end up receiving a Unique Item Card, you need to bring it to Dave or myself for approval before it can enter play in Arkansas. You can still send mail to us if you want it delivered by Blue Birds. 

2. Marketing photos and use of specific color palettes. We all love new players, and we know that one of the best ways to snag the attention of people who don't know us is through awesome photos. So to that end we've created a color palette and we'll work with photographers to make really good photos match that palette. We're also going to set up a small 'staged' area near the pool house where you can pose and photographers can take pictures for both you, and us, to use. To make this all nice and legal we're going to have photo waivers for everyone to sign during check-in, that way if you want to opt out of having your photos used for marketing (not everyone's job is cool with the post-apocalyptic lifestyle >_>) you can let us know in writing. 

^This also means we're gonna start using our Instagram! o.0

3. We're learning new things from other people in the industry, and the industry is larger than you think. You can expect to see us continuing to add things to our set up and experience - some of them we'll ask you to be involved in, but as always...we encourage you to opt out when you're not interested/comfortable in participating.

Opening Narrative/Warm-Up

After opening announcements (around 10-15 min after) we'll have a guided opening narrative. This is our version of a tool other games use to help players transition from their own headspace into the headspace of their character. They've found that having opening and closing narrative sessions can help reduce bleed.

So how does it work? We come up with a few words to encapsulate the theme of the weekend. This helps frame the phrases used during the guided narrative, which is accompanied by a heartbeat rhythm provided by those involved. It'll speed up or slow down as part of the process, but don't worry - all you have to do is follow the guide's instructions. :)

This month's theme is overcoming obstacles

 

See you all in the wastes! <3
#WeAreBecauseYa'llAre

Concerned?
I recommend Communication
(No one is surprised)

Well, in case you missed it there's a new Corrective Actions system that's been laid out in a pretty awesome blog post by Jeff Moxley.

So why am I writing this? Because there's still some "this part makes me nervous" - because it depends on the judgement of either Marshals, Directors or both. And that's fair, other people may not make the same decision we would - and the unknown can be nerve-wracking.

I'm a fixer though, so I'm going to offer a solution. Ask your Director. About this, about their thoughts on specific pieces. About things that aren't related. Get to know them as people - because when given one of those situations that make you nervous I bet you can tell people what your friend would do. Don't be acquaintances with the leaders of your community, offer to be their friend and be genuine about it.

I have heard before, and I believe it, that some people are wary of talking to Directors - because we sit on the lofty and precarious perch of 'Authority' (tongue in cheek!). For those people - talk to your Marshals. They see how your Directors make decisions far more regularly than just during game weekends and I promise you they'd rather talk to you than have you keep your concerns quiet and to yourself. 

As with all things requiring a new local policy, Dave and I will be discussing what we want ours to look like. This may take a bit of time, so please be patient with us. We prefer to discuss and get outside opinions on our thought process to make sure we're establishing a good policy the first time that can be fairly applied to all parties. Or, as Dave says, "If I know the policy is fair for the little shit that annoys me, then it's fair for my buddy."

As you've seen, Directors value the voices of their players - so now is a good time to engage in those discussions and help shape your local community and local policies. In the end our community is the reason we all play this game, and only we can take the steps to make it continue to be the safer space we love - and that means we have to communicate. <3

Build the Community You Want to Live In

It sounds cheesy, but we firmly believe in the idea of 'be the change you want to see'. We tell people it all the time in various ways. It comes back to the idea of leading by example.

"Krista/Dave, how do we make players more strainist?"
"Be more strainist, compliment people afterwards on their hate of X strain. Be what you want to see and then show others how much you appreciate it when they do it."

Recently some new players in Arkansas experienced something we would have said wasn't a part of our community. Their characters were attacked and had all their starter gear stolen. We don't know who was involved and honestly, at this point, We're not sure we care to know - so please don't use this to start a witch hunt. (Note: We're not giving a lot of details on purpose.)

We were a little confused when new players in August talked about the blue armbands/glow being used to target new players and we reassured them that such a thing wouldn't happen and explained how the marshals could actually better scale threats in the dark to account for new players if they wore the glow. We still firmly believe the blue system is amazing and we're going to continue to promote the heck out of it. 

We've got a few other new-player friendly things in the works that we plan to bring into play for Season 3, but the blue armband system is the key. We know we all like being able to identify new players so we can encourage them and give them good deals and really make sure they have fun. That way they'll come back and get stuck in our nerd-family forever!

So what's the point of letting everyone know about this? Let's be a little more pro-active in watching out for our new players. Let's make sure they know people they can come to if there's a problem. Sometimes the official team is intimidating (cause we're official!) - so offer to be there if they need something and make our community that much better.

Now, let us put on this Official Director Hat....
New Player is an Out-of-Character status, so if someone (in the future) attacks a new player character, depending on the circumstances it could result in Out-of-Character consequences.
Engaging in ANY Character versus Character action without a Marshal will likely result in Out-of-Character consequences.
To refresh your memory on what those are please see pg. 29 of the Survivor's Guide 2.02

As always, feel free to reach out if you're confused on any of this. 

I am because you are. <3

Comment

Some Things You Should Know - Krista Edition

I’m former military, from a military family and I married a military guy - this informs a lot of my mental framework and word choice. If you catch me using a phrase you don’t understand, please look at me like I’m silly and say “Civilian please” and I’ll have that gobsmacked look and quickly translate.

I’m a communications nerd, but more than that I often look at why people make the choices they do in communication and action, because I feel like knowing that makes everything else make sense. I firmly believe that communicating well is worth the effort and I will often call people out on lazy communication tropes such as rape/racist jokes or using hurtful terms/words because it was an easier word choice.

I am firmly of the opinion that people will make the right choice if they are given all the related facts. This means that I find manipulation to be super distasteful and if I catch you attempting such on me we’ll be less good friends than before.

I prefer direct communication, but I recognize that not everyone does and most of the time I will try to match your preferred communication style. Unless that style is passive-aggressive. I have trouble with it and if I feel you sliding into that style I’ll likely say something. Sorry - everyone has to have a hang up, this is one of my many. <3

I have PTSD from a vehicle accident during my senior year and my time overseas. If you can remember, please don't touch me from behind - even if I saw you walk back there I might swing back with an elbow and I like ya'll way too much to be okay with doing that even on accident. 

I’m also a firm believer in “I am because you are.” I plan on reading up on Ubuntu itself eventually, but in the meantime I lean on what my Drill Sergeant told me it meant. It means that the qualities I have, I have because you have them and we reflect one another. You have your qualities because I have those qualities. This means that I always want to work hard to show the qualities I admire - because I want my community to reflect those back at me, and I hope everyone else does the same.

Comment