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Rule 6.A, recordings and evidence

I realize this is an uncomfortable subject to broach and discuss, and not necessarily a popular one either, but it very much bears discussing now as new systems start to be rolled out, along with other systems in planning, that I think will require strong policies in advance of their use.

There were changes made to the rules regarding prohibitions and allowances for sexual content. Relevant to the discussion here was the change to 6.A which clarified it was permitted for characters to slander each other with false allegations about, among many other possibilities, sexual misconduct; if it didn't fall explicitly afoul of 6.B.

Now this is something that I think is dangerous to codify and allow for on its own, because it's been repeatedly shown that these types of allegations being made (even entirely without evidence or corroboration) will very readily hop the player-character boundary and spread outside the game and impact those players themselves, and also because it essentially gamifies the callout of abusive behavior which can muddy the waters on identifying real problems in the community.

However this policy is made even more dangerous by the potential future introduction of systems (SimSense and other types of editable 'recording' devices) which would allow for the creation of entirely manufactured roleplay by someone else without their consent, that is technically 6.B abiding but nonetheless extremely harmful towards its intended victim. I think the potential for abuse of these systems by bad actors and others is basically limitless because, again, this type of content has been shown to not remain purely IC. Questions about character behaviors have just in the past year alone repeatedly turned into accusations of misconduct against their players, something that would only be more damaging if the tools were available to essentially create false evidence to implicate players, even former players who would really have no means to protect themselves.

I don't think this is alarmist, these types of things have already happened and are happening. Accusations of misconduct against current and former players and staff are just some of the common problems, along with RW stalking and harassment, doxxing and other types of threats, all of them arising from what was supposed to remain IC. Players in this sort of hostile environment need more protections than the average game, not less. And something like SimSense, which appears like it could wholly fabricate entire roleplay scenes from scratch, would be reckless to introduce under the current ruleset, in the current climate, and in the context of the greater community of current and former players of Sindome.

If these types of 'reality editing tools' are to be introduced, I believe the fabrication of sexual content depicting non-consenting characters must be prohibited by an amendment to 6.A. This would still allow for the callout of behaviors, even if those callouts were not truthful, as long as it didn't involve the manufacture of evidence to make them true.

I don't think simsense is a priority or something we will necessarily be receiving without the previous coder but I think it would be a good use of this thread to talk about the inevitable erotic audible fan fiction which will arise.
I think any sexual forgery/impersonation should be off the table and a hard 'don't do this' rule in the OOC rules.

I think all other impersonations should be okay.

But sex is different. There's people who ERP and those who don't. And those who don't sometimes do for any number of reasons, from it just not being their thing, having a partner outside the game and them not feeling comfortable in that happening in a text medium while in a relationship, being here for other reasons than ERP, people with histories of sexual violence or assault against them.

The list goes on and on. And by having someone impersonate their character possibly doing that stuff and being recorded doing it is something that's not good for them or the community, I feel.

I don't care about any other kind of impersonations, I think those are fun things to do and to investigate and see if real or not. But not the sex stuff.

I think this adds a disadvantage to the ERP people. I've been in situations on past characters where, despite being business partners, they were betrayed due to some new ERP partner the business partner had, leaving my character out good RP with little to no recourse, just because they wanted to get their rocks off IC. Which is fine because cain your friend and stuff, but this is a great way to hit back at people who use sex as a weapon, which is VERY THEMELY I might add.

I don't understand the cognitive dissonance at play. We torture, murder, and betray people in all kinds of horrible ways, and then there are people getting pissy over things that aren't even in the same universe, as far as severity is concerned? Come on...

Which is the same type of stubborn false equivalency that people made to argue against rape and sexual violence being prohibited, but make-believe murder is not the same thing and there is plenty of evidence that players are effected by it differently and that non-consenting engagement in sexual roleplay and content (both IC and OOC) can be harmful to players.

This should come as a surprise or news to no one. Attacks made against players have already jumped the IC/OOC barrier, it is already the basis for other rules of conduct that forced sexual roleplay and sexual harassment (even if it's text) can harm players. The game had positioned itself in the past as a bad behavior anything goes simulator to the detriment of everyone but the most predacious or mercenary audience of trolls and bad actors, and the @rules have been backsliding towards that again. More change is required to stop that that trying nothing and claiming we're out of ideas.

Six A was changed for a very specific reason.

Calling someone creepy or scummy or scuzzy does not accurately convey the fact that they've done sexually predatory behavior.

The problem with the old rule is, if you attempted, in any way, to describe the behavior that HAD ALREADY BEEN DONE ICLY after the fact, you faced rules infractions, suspensions, and bans.

I am not going to say that Sindome has a sexual assault problem today as it did in the past. However, there have occasionally been players who will put others in specific situations or duress to request sexual favors. Or players who want to push the envelope of things that are flat out not allowed in the game.

When you don't allow people--characters or players for that matter--to talk about or express things that may have already taken place then all you do is foster an environment where sexual predator types flourish.

To be clear, I'm not a fan of promoting overly salacious RP, and certainly not a fan of people gushing about bedroom talk and whatnot publicly. I think making up accusations of this sort to besmirch and smear people is reprehensible. But we can't simply obfuscate and cover up things that take place in the game and deny that they ever existed or happened. Especially when some players in the past have seemed to very deliberately get their rocks off playing in the gray areas of ANY of rule six.

It wasn't the only reason it was changed though. It was also changed to deliberately sanction false sexual accusations as central political gameplay, in particular in regards to the (at the time) run up to SimSense being added which would have allowed for re-writing roleplay. This raised the question of to what lengths this could go, and hence the changes. Plural.

There is nothing at all that says calling out characters for being sex pests MUST also allow for the deliberate fabrication of false evidence. The argument was made at the time that these had to go together as some sort of compromise, which I find a little absurd and ringing very false.

Prohibiting knowing false fabrication of sexual evidence doesn't close the door on calling out Missing Stairs, nor does it block taking someone down for their disreputable Mixer liaisons. All those things can co-exist in a unified ruleset, and I think the rules we have now did much more harm than good by muddying the waters on what was real harm by making non-consent fabrication and false accusations a whole gameplay element.

The staff are currently focused on reviewing some of the other rules of the game, but the rules around this are something we've started to discuss on our end at Staff Meetings. I think we will definitely roll-out a change here. What that change is remains to be seen-- and we'll be focused on some other rule changes first (some have already been rolled out).

Please keep the conversation going, and weigh in with how we might approach it ICly/OOCly, and I will definitely circle back here when we start really looking at this rule.

Awesome to hear!!

Just to clarify my own position on this: I don't think there's any problem whatsoever with using what a character does against them, if someone wants to ERP their way through every sector and back, they can deal with that being weaponized. Likewise I don't see any problem with false or misleading accusations against a character within the @rules, or presenting evidence that is framed as something it isn't (like a photograph of two character asleep in the same pad to support a claim of a romantic liaison). The problem as I see it with knowing fabrication of evidence of sexual roleplay (ie. creating false recordings, staging character actions with disguise) are two-fold:

1. This has already been shown to be a weapon of choice for disgruntled players making attacks against other players, on the knowledge that accusations of IC sexual misconduct will be viewed by some other players as a community concern and will hop the IC/OOC boundary. Having the tools and allowances for this type of gameplay seems almost certain to me to cross the line into tarnishing players themselves for something they didn't do.

2. And related; having this sort of fabrication enshrined as gameplay under the rules and also enabled by IC tools will muddy the waters as to when character impropriety has crossed over into actual player impropriety and become a community concern. If a player is actually having issues with chronic boundary pushing in a way that might be a community concern, those issues could be confused and obfuscated by questions about IC fabrication that may have no answers.

While prohibiting the wholesale knowing fabrication of false sexual evidence doesn't eliminate the tendency for bad actors and others to wield out-of-game accusations, or eliminate the risk of player impropriety or misconduct going hidden or unnoticed or confused for valid IC gameplay, I do think that such a rule change would eliminate a lot of potential future problems and potential player and community harm at what amounted to very little lost; since all kinds of equally damaging in-character evidence (of fraud, espionage, theft, betrayal, murder, neglect) could still be fabricated to get someone fired/ostracized, but with considerably less concern that those fabrications could hop the IC/OOC barrier to become a player or community problem.

And I'm sure many players would argue they don't care about this, and no rules need to exist, just as there are many players who wouldn't care at all if @rule 6 didn't exist at all in its entirety, and still others players besides who would prefer it didn't exist to begin with.

However I think it's important both that it exists and that it be expanded upon to protect players from the worst elements of the sometimes very toxic community that surrounds both this game and text gaming in general. There are many, many examples of what a cesspit games become when high community standards are enforced on acceptable content.

These modifications are a tiny ask and would effect very few players, but would I believe pay dividends in terms of players trusting one another and trusting staff to act in good faith towards one another.

I agree with 0x1mm.

There's one area in game which requires clear line, no budging consent from a fellow player: sex.

Like 0x1mm, I don't mind rumors being spread, misinterpreting/lying about photographs, etc, etc. Anyone who does sexual content in-game knows there's a chance they aren't alone. And it's all good people creating sexual content for distribution on their own. But with the introduction of new in-game tech (the digital recorder) and with hopes for future similar but bigger types (SimSense), all which are great roleplay utilizers, comes the ability to create recorded fabricated content impersonating others.

Which takes the consent out of those players' hands. Some people don't opt-in to sexual roleplay. It's not for them for reasons I listed in an above post, IIRC. Not only would we take the consent out of their hands if we allowed fabrication/impersonation of actual sexual content of other characters, but we enter a realm where we force other players to have to view this content. Why? Because corporate security, the WJF, investigators, etc will be brought this fabrication to watch with claims of fraud, harassment, etc. Which is then forcing other people to watch this content because of the malicious nature of it and needing to find who did such. Those people may not want to watch explicit sexual content either or engage in sexual roleplay.

There's a former player who once joked in xooc when SimSense was in early development that they would create a SimSense recording of sexual content surrounding some other stuff that would need to force my character to watch it. Now, this was just a joke - but stuff like that will happen if we allow fabrication/impersonation of people in the tech that opens up those possibilities.

Because by allowing it, it in essence becomes Sindome's version of revenge porn. Except even worse, because it's then Sindome's version of deep-faked revenge porn.

Sexual content of any kind done without the enthusiastic consent of all parties involved makes me very uncomfortable, even if my character isn't involved. I don't want to engage or even see content like that.

When I first joined Sindome, I was overjoyed at how strict the sex rules were, but I've since learned that they're not strict enough for my comfort level, and the loosening of these rules showed signs of things going in the wrong direction.

I'm hopeful for positive change to come from this discussion.

Would you mind sharing some examples of rules you would like to see @alittlelonger?
Not at all. Here are four.

1) In rooms where sexual RP is NOT a central focus (e.g. NOT in nightclubs or KMB), check in OOCly to ensure that all other players in the room are comfortable with sexual RP, regardless of the intent behind the sexual RP, be it erotic, humorous, or otherwise. Nudity without any sexual connotation does not constitute sexual RP. If a character enters a room with sexual RP in progress, give them an OOC notification that sexual RP is happening and allow them a chance to leave or consent.

Why this rule? I really do not like being surprised with sexual content. A simple OOC of, "Hey, are you happy with X happening?" is going to make me infinitely more likely to say yes and more comfortable playing Sindome than if someone just whips out their IC junk and goes to town.

I never realized how uplifting it feels to be asked in advance until it happened to me.

2) For physical sexual RP, the target must give enthusiastic consent OOCly before physical sexual RP may be initiated.

Why this rule? I don't like that characters are able to initiate physical sexual content on my character and it's my responsibility to say no and risk facing OOC retaliation. Regardless of how real that risk is, the fear is still there, and it's very uncomfortable either way.

3) Keep vivid sexual comments about characters to a minimum over public channels.

Why this rule? I think PCs do a good job at curtailing this behavior ICly, but it should still be a rule. There was one period in time where it was absolutely unbearable to have pubSIC on due to all the sexual insults being thrown around for weeks on end.

4) Do not fabricate sexual RP, either via IC or OOC means.

Why this rule? The concept of someone creating fake sexual activity of my character IC is so repulsive, that I've spent plently of idle nights over the past months with thoughts of logging on when nobody else is around and stealth-perming my character, for no reason other than to ensure that fake sexual activity of my character doesn't happen. Within the rules of Sindome, this is the most vile, sickening thing that could ever happen. No matter how tame or "in good humor" it intends to be, it's a huge breach of trust. It shows a clear lack of respect for me as a fellow player.

I would love to play this game where we torture and mutilate each other for fun, while retaining my agency over sexual content involving my character.

Doesn't this make characters who use seduction even more powerful?
I would love to play this game where we torture and mutilate each other for fun, while retaining my agency over sexual content involving my character.

Totally understand and these examples are are great. Thank you!

#1) This is a bit tricky but and I'm not sure is really viable from a design/coding standpoint without being a bit cumbersome but I'm curious about others feedback. Sexism of all types is fairly common in Sindome, and we have lines that shouldn't be crossed but accommodating every players varying threshold here will be difficult.

#2) This is largely covered in 6a but is Opt-Out vs Opt-In with obvious more heinous stuff covered in 'help forbidden'. I think the key here is knowing your audience and avoiding 'god posing' i.e. You may attempt to kiss someone on the cheek but it is up to them whether you succeed.

#3) I agree with this conceptually but think its best handled ICly and with a bit of yellow text if someone gets out of hand. I find these type of comments largely interpretative based on context but as the colloquialism goes "I know it when I see it.

#4) This is covered in Rule 6.B. but whether or not that needs to be expanded is exactly what we're discussing here.

As for Wulf comment of, Doesn't this make characters who use education even more powerful?

I'm not sure it does. I think one of the major misconceptions about seduction and relationship role-play is it doesn't have to lead to ERP. Fading to black is great and so is just taking it slow. For example, you can pop in and out of another PCs life, stick to "1st base", and be largely viewed as a couple by others and said individual yet still reap devastating thematic consequences while telling a great story.