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Reference The RPF Rules Discussion - Now Discussing: Writing Violence

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by Imperial_Hammer, Apr 14, 2008.

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  1. Mitth_Fisto Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 6
  2. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    I think it was SirakRomar who mentioned our need to talk about violence in the LOVECHAT over in the Comms. Dunno if that leads to this discussions, but it lead to one in a café in Eppendorf, for sure. She wanted to approach Mods for an official policy anyway, because a few weeks ago she and LordT had not one but two scenes in a small amount of time I had to Veto as their GM in SotS. One was obviously too explicit sexually, the other was obviously too cruel and violent (second was written by LordT but approved by Sirak).

    I gave it some thought back then and I gave it a lot of thought yesterday when I saw this thread coming up. And my results surprise nobody more than myself. I am far less hardcore than I thought.

    First, I do not like the approach of FanFic. Artistic freedom on all honors, but it´s kind of a weak argument when it is used violate other obligations and interests people have. It is okay for the FFs to do it that way, because nobody is forced to read their stories. In a game other players might be forced to know what´s going on with your storyline. So, we face a more shared experience in games. This is a different premise and approach and I think it makes it more necessary to see the freedom of those involved not writing it more serious.

    Also the discussion here shows actually one . . . rather disturbing idea. That players are the torturer. The only scenes of torture I ever played I allowed the tortured to write. I think it is much less offensive (and from a storytelling aspect the only effective thing to do -> identification).

    So, I think we have several possible situations here. And no matter how much I think about it, I can´t convince me they should be treated the same.

    I want to add that people run around here who would not be allowed to watch movies or read books with too explicit mentioning of torture. We should assume someone had a reason for that.

    We should also consider some people would turn their back on us, should we begin to throw out torture porn, therefore we need rules who do not make THAT possible.

    1. The Player as the tortured

    I think if a player wants to play the tortured for reasons of character development, I see his artistic reasoning. You can hardly simulate the experience of being a victim to something like this without at least hinting what it was. I talk about hinting, not explicit pages of gore and blood. I also talk about psychological effects written and not pages of fantasy of what a guy did to another . . . I think we can work here with a certain limit given through example and put into words.

    I totally agree the number games won´t work.

    2. The Player as the torturer

    So, I am as surprised as you guys. But I think the real depiction of torture from the perspective of the torturer should be banned and forbidden, if the scene consists of only torture. If it is embedded in a scene about characters and development it must make sure torture and the "fun of it" is not the main topic. It also must be a consent between players to describe it. Graphic torture of NPCs? Nope. Banned. No need to create "torture dolls" on a PG-15 thread, no matter how artistic this is done or how important it is for your character. Why do I think so?
    First, I think we should not give people under 18 the artistic freedom to play with content they are legally not allowed to play with. Second, I don´t believe in the necessity to describe how you torture someone, an indirect reference is as effective (most often more) and does the trick without leading into the "mature content" area. Third, I see any opening we leave as rather dangerous we will have to deal with situations more extreme.

    You see I argue a lot with people being 15+ here. But this is my major case. The protection of youth outranks the artistic freedom in any existing form of law. For a good reason. We allow 15 years olds to read our games, therefore we must make sure we only post content there they are allowed to read. It is the idea we base our game on. There are gory 18+ boards out there. You get sex and torture
  3. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    I think two things I totally agree with. And before I amke another lengthy observation iwth my point on it, I would like to say:

    We should stop testing the borders of "okay" but embrace that we are not an adult-board. It´s a good thing about us. And if it needs we can do a little less torture-porn, so be it.

    And we should probably use GMs as not to be underestimated ressource. They usually take the obligations to see board-rules enforced. So, that is what we should consider. It´s not players and Mods. We have three levels.

    Therefore I like the exception rule. If someone feels that it is THAT important, he can go it that way. I recently submitted a very tough scene to my GM and he said "Nope, T. No freaking way you gonna post that. It´s awesome but NO, NO, NO." I had to live with it, rewrote it, rearranged it and what came out is actually a lot better, I believe.
    Reactions indicated it also did the trick I intended to do. Artistic is about doing things. Not about doing them one special way. We do not restrict what people can do here, just how to get it to their readers. And if someone can make his character an evil torturer ONLY by writing how he rips out fingernails, I´d say . . . work on your writing skills.



    I also think we should begin talk about droids, once we have covered the bases on all the fields we actually play on. So a little more concrete example of creepy torture-like scenes around here. Born of the ill fated ~Beyond~ that never happened . . .

    An example of being terrible creepy without doing anything, really.


    So anybody thinks this scene gets better by setting this poor guy on fire and watching him burn? Or beating him up before that? Or cutting him? Obviously we got a psychopathic villai/>/>/>/>
  4. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    No one's forced to read anything in an RP. Stating that there's a difference in what FF and the RPF can say/do is a false dichotomy - absolutely everything one does on the internet is optional. If a younger poster or their parent is uncomfortable with something, they don't have to read it.

    Disturbing, but it comes up, and needs to be addressed, not swept under the rug of "Well, you should probably stay away from..."

    Absolutely no one is advocating a loosening of restrictions on how gore-filled torture should be allowed to be. It's already against the rules.

    It's not a great idea, but soft limits are a worse one. Mods can't be everywhere at once, occasionally a poster has to have some idea of what's acceptable/not acceptable on their own. Hard numbers make it more obvious.

    So, what, the GM is allowed to torture but players aren't? Because that seems to be what you're advocating here, which just tramples all over player rights. You either ban torture outright or you go with the extremely restrictive FanFic "Less is more approach", you can't approach this from a GM can/player can't angle, that distinction is abhorrent. Again, I stress that no one is advocating that we make it okay to talk about all the particular nuances involved in sticking bamboo rods up fingernails, we're not going to descend into a bad text version of Hostel.

    No real disagreements regarding psychology, violence, and rape, so I'll just fast forward a bit...

    Shoving too much decision making onto the mods is bad for the users and, really, bad for the mods. They're busy enough as is without us having to run every little thing regarding torture by them.

    I actually like this idea, but again, there should be some kind of "hard" rule framework it would continue to o
  5. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    LordT - the violence should never be the focal point of the post. The cited examples, both yours and the one Xan showed, are both on the same level in my mind. Neither is "more" violent than the other.

    Fins - I'm sorry, but I find the argument that people are using artistic license to deliberately push the envelope to be completely ludicrous. Like Ramza said, no one is forced to read our games. Everything is optional. There's a difference between following the TOS and board rules and out-and-out censorship, something I will not defend by any means.
  6. Kahn_Iceay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    I have to say I agree with Peng and Ramza's points.
  7. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Very quickly, as I'm short on time at the moment -

    0) Remember: debate the ideas, not the people.

    1) Nobody's advocating censorship here. It would be a nightmare to enforce. [ETA: However, we must be 'family friendly' - this comes from the top and is non-negotiable, for better or for worse.] What we're discussing are ways to modify Fanfic's guidelines to the RPF - keeping the spirit of the rules while adapting the letter, as it were. As we have GMs and they do not, having an extra level of "GM Approval" in the evaluation process might make sense in some cases. It bears thinking about.

    2) I see Fins' point about being forced to read something - yes, everything is optional on the internet, but say UserA and UserB are in a RP storyline together, and UserA decides to have their character torture UserB's character. Say also that this is perfectly IC for UserA's character and there is no way for UserB's character to get out of it without godmoding - so if UserB is uncomfortable with reading torture, there will be no recourse. That's not to say we should ban torture entirely, just that I think we should consider this scenario.
  8. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    The only way to theoretically avoid this scenario is outright censorship - that is, a blanket ban on all torture. That's just no okay in my book, as it gives us less breathing room than Fan Fic.
  9. Kahn_Iceay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    I do believe there could/should be a stipulation regarding both parties, the person playing the Torturer, and the one playing the Tortured having a consensus about it being preformed. In order avoid situations like Xani mentioned. We, as RPers, can find ways around the issue if need be, i'm sure.
  10. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Yes, I think requiring player consent (and possibly GM consent, if we're having a limit of torture scenes per game) is the way to go.

    But to maintain IC freedom this consent should only extend to the actual depiction of torture, not the act itself - so you can have offscreen torture scenes a'la Leia's interrogation in ANH as often as justifiable, but not the long series of torture scenes as in Traitor. How does that sound? This seems to be in line with Fanfic's current policy.
  11. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    1. Everything is free will, nobody has to read others posts . . .

    Well, how do you guys keep track of whats happening in games? No matter how important it is for you, you never feel it´s a good idea to read? Like another player revealing all your plans under torture? You wouldn´t read it?

    I am not doing a free will argument (but I can, being a feverish Niz in that matter) but point out the differences between the two forms. We are no Fanfic. If you want to play, you need to read relevant stuff.

    Second, arguing that we can do torture because other players can leave makes no sense at all too me. Because we can also ban torture, so nobody ever has to leave and dadaaaah, it´s my argument. [face_laugh] Doesn´t take us anywhere.

    2. PG-15

    Are you all agreeing on this part or do you all consider this to be unimportant. Because your American laws makes torture a problem here, not the more liberal european ones . . . we decide everything case by case . . .

  12. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Perhaps I was unclear, because this really isn't what my argument was - rather, I was observing how it's silly to say one doesn't have to read a fan fic but has to read an RP - unless they're in the game, no, they do not. And if they are in the game, and something that is permissible within the current rules comes up that they aren't comfortable with, they're free to leave. Nobody's "forced" to do a damn thing.

    As for banning torture - Fan Fic allows it, therefore we should not ban it. It's that easy.

    I am 99.87% sure we all agree on this point, and have no idea how American laws could possibly have any bearing on what is or is not permissible to type barring outright pornography. Yay First Amendment.
  13. Sinrebirth SWC and EUC Forum Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2004
    star 7
    I could chime in with something legalese, but Fin will probably say it at some point anyway. Long and short; the boards are governed by American law, probably a specific state, but anything you type (or access) has the capacity to be judged under your own law. Thus a person who founded a gambling website in Europe gets arrested under gambling law when he visits Texas. Beautiful legal logic, there. [face_laugh]

    Yay, nay, Fin?
  14. Kahn_Iceay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    Now see, I quite frequently don't read all of what goes on in an RP. Often I only read directly whats associated with my character. E.x. I read Sarge's, Solo's, and the others who are currently at Kuat. I do read Matt's updates for the rest of the game. Nobody has to read anything. If I come across a post with something I find dull, or even offensive, or I just don't wanna read, I skip it, or at least the part in question.

    Nobody is forcing anybody to read anything. We've even discussed a stipulation where both parties (and maybe the GM) have to be in agreement on the torture happening, thus, no character or player is forced into being torture. Banning the issue is nowhere near a solution either, you don't sweep things under the rug if you don't like the subject. Painful as it is I don't stick my finger in my ears and go 'lalalalala' when my doctor tells me how bad my health is. You don't ignore the issue, you try and find a way to fix it.
  15. MarcusDade Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2006
    star 4
    Personally I think since this is a PG-13 board (Or PG15 as some call it) then anything allowed in a PG-13 movie or a T-rated video game or a TV-14 rated TV show, etc should be allowed here and judged on that merit.

    On the subject of torture, I think torture should be allowed if 3 conditions are met:

    1:- The scene and post in question fits into the category of being allowed in a PG-13 movie, T-rated game, etc.

    2:- If it is a solo scene of a player character torturing himself or torturing an NPC, that it serve the purpose of character development and be necessary for that character development, not just a device used to shock the audience (like some torture-porn movie ala Hostel).

    3:- If it is a torture scene between two or more player characters, that the scene be consented to by all parties involved, and the final post be approved by all parties involved.

    That's just my thoughts on the matter.
  16. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Exactly. Worst thing is, you can even be held responsible under individual law. Nothing protecting you from that. But we won´t escape U.S. law.


    Well, as I said I am not advocating a ban, but do not want to rule it out. But the consent-idea seems to be the solution. As we can hardly violate anybodys rights if they agree. And we don´t swamp mods with it cause a player can plead to his GM and pointing out the rule if things go to far . . .


    I like that. I like that a lot. It is a workable solution.


    Especially 3. actually galvanizes the idea of consent that seems to be all our middle ground. Combined with 1 & 2 we got all bases I can think of covered. And as I said before, if all agree who can be offended? It is the most elegant solution. And it underlines that torture is a special case not been taken too lightly.

    I throw my voice behind that Dade-Draft. It seems to be what most people have agreed upon from both sides of the argument. And it leaves nothing to be desired from my point of view.
  17. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    Keep in mind one can do a lot in a PG-13 movie and still be perfectly fine.

    For example, you're allowed one F-bomb at the PG-13 level.

    So maybe, you know, just maybe, we should stop throwing around the term PG-13 and start using the words "adheres to the TOS" or "doesn't break the rules."

    With regards to "more liberal European laws," I think that's an unfair generalization. If you want to go into details about that, by all means, we can discuss it amicably via PM. :)

    Dade brought up a very nice point (his second) but I'd have to add that defining character development isn't quite so easy. If we're still continuing to stick to the PG-13 definition, then we cover a lot of ground already and we really can't do a better job than we are already.

  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Except we're not talking about gambling, we're talking about the... semi-written word. So while I don't know how well we'd fair under copyright evaluations, we're probably good to go content wise even if we were to loosen restrictions on violence. I'm not advocating that we ease up on violence restrictions (I think they're about right), but where we stand the freaking FCC could get away with what we type.:p

    That said, this is crazy off-topic, so on-topic: I like Dade's idea and think it'd be the ideal way to implement a policy.
  19. Kahn_Iceay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    I also put my weight behind the Dade-Draft it seems to be the best way to start implementing this sorta thing.
  20. Mitth_Fisto Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 6
    I to must back this suggestion of the Dade-Draft,

    Although I would add that use of torture must be approved by the GM first, even if just an NPC is the one being tortured instead of leaving it a multi-player party necessity before getting the GM involved.

    Edit -- This is of course only if I am misunderstanding that the current wording requires multiple players.
  21. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Dade-draft looks like a decent policy to me. For myself, I tended to follow the rule of thumb that "If it was in the OT, you could get away with it in the RPF", and this is not far outside that boundary.
  22. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    Change the term "PG-13" and you're set.
  23. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Based on what we allow, TV-14 is probably the optimal descriptor, but seeing as no one knows or cares about television ratings, PG-13 provides a sort of mental image that I think is more immediately recognizable.
  24. Kahn_Iceay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 5
    To alleviate some confusion as to what PG 13 is... Peng actually linked to it but having it in the thread is better I think



    A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category. The theme of the motion picture by itself will not result in a rating greater than PG-13, although depictions of activities related to a mature theme may result in a restricted rating for the motion picture. Any drug use will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. More than brief nudity will require at least a PG-13 rating, but such nudity in a PG-13 rated motion picture generally will not be sexually oriented. There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A motion picture?s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context.


    And for TV-14...


    Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children of any age watch unattended. This rating may be accompanied by any of the following sub-ratings:

    * D for intensely suggestive dialogue
    * L for strong coarse language
    * S for intense sexual situations
    * V for intense violence

    Many programs that air after 9:00 pm are rated TV-14, including late-night staples like The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. Certain PG-13 or R-rated feature films are rated TV-14 when edited for broadcast. Adult-oriented cartoons, such as South Park(when edited), and Family Guy have been given the TV-14 rating. Anime series Bleach and Inuyasha alternatively switch betweeen a TV-PG and TV-14 rating.

    Live programming like televised awards ceremonies, concerts, and some specials are sometimes issued a general TV-14 rating, because of the possibility that profanity or suggestive dialogue may occur.

  25. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Alright alright ...

    1) As has already be noted, we are not a PG-## board. Those are MPAA ratings and, while they act as general guidelines for a lot of places, it would be more correct to refer to the JC as a 'family friendly' board. We are also not, as a practical rule, limited by any country's laws when it comes to rating content - we follow COPPA and ban child porn and the like, but I don't believe American law has or ever has had a stipulation of a maximum N amount of torture scenes in a fanfic, so that line of reasoning is moot.

    2) I appreciate the sentiment, but you don't have to try and say what us mods should and shouldn't have time for, guys. :p Deciding on how to handle our workload is part and parcel of moderating. All the rules in the world will ultimately end with "If in doubt, PM a moderator for clarification" anyway.

    Look, the bottom line is this: we're not going to ban torture altogether (that would be censorship) and we're also not going to allow people to write as many instances of graphic torture as they like (that would be against the family-friendly principle). What we are thus aiming for is a nice middle ground, like Fanfic's "3 instances per story" rule, except one that can be enforced on the RPF. Dade's proposal is an excellent middle ground, save for the PG-13 stipulation, which we can replace with Saint's OT rule of thumb.

    So far, we have:

    Sexual depictions and references
    As stipulated in the FF FAQ.

    Violence
    As stipulated in the FF FAQ.

    Mature Themes
    Tweaked from the FF FAQ:

    [Illegal] drug use should not be shown in great detail and certainly should not be glorified under any circumstances. It should not be used for humorous purposes. Alcohol does not count as an illegal drug.

    Torture

    1) Torture should be alluded to, rather then actually shown. Its use in a story should also be limited. As a general rule, torture scenes akin to those shown in the OT (Leia in ANH, Han in ESB) are allowed, that is, the bulk of the damage happens offscreen.

    2) All 'on-screen' instances of torture must be first approved by the GM. GMs are also advised not to abuse this power - excessive amounts of torture in a game, no matter how 'justified', will be frowned upon by the moderators.
    -- 2a) If it is a solo scene of a player character torturing himself or torturing an NPC, that it serve the purpose of character development and be necessary for that character development, not just a device used to shock the audience (like some torture-porn movie ala Hostel).
    -- 2b) If it is a torture scene between two or more player characters, that the scene be consented to by all parties involved, and the final post be approved by all parties involved. As in (2a), the scene must also be necessary for character development and not just be a device to shock the audience.

    3) Any torture sequence that goes on for more than two screens of text is going to get an automatic request to edit. Within that limit, extremely graphic depictions (which go beyond the excerpt [in FF FAQ]) may also be asked for an edit.

    4) Purely mental/psychological torture is permitted, but if it makes the player being tortured uncomfortable, it must stop. Illusory torture (the character is trapped in a nightmare where they imagine they are being physically tortured, etc) counts as torture under rule (2).

    Anything not covered under the above rules must first be PMed to the mods for approval.

    How's that sound to everyone?


    [Edited to add an extra stipulation regarding GM powers of approval. Addendum in midnightblue.]
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