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Guide: Bleed and Bleed Management Tools
A Set of Techniques to Reduce Bleed(Long Post)

So, we as players, dedicate large amounts of time and mental energy to the role of our characters.

This presents a few possible complications.The largest of which is commonly referred to in the RPG community as bleed.

I'm going to detail the types of bleed really quickly, but to be certain. Bleed is expressed as your characters feelings affecting change on you as a person, or vice versa. Bleed isn't inherently bad, but it can be disruptive. Both to play and to formation of character. And it is generally bad to not recognize when bleed is occurring. But you generally can't stop yourself from feeling feelings... That's part of being human... I think.

Anyway.

There is Bleed In, this is bleed which occurs from your own desires, what have you are bleeding into your character.

Say you RP with your wife, or husband. You out of character have a predilection to being nicer to that person typically. But that isn't fair to other players. And it's an example of Bleed In... Your love for your spouse, bleeding in on your characters desires and motivations.

There is also bleed out. What started my journey on researching bleed was a moment about 2-3 weeks ago, where I was paranoidly raving at X-HELP that another player was cheating, and that I had logs that showed them getting back online within 10 minutes of an event occurring and then starting aggression on my character. And it was just... All too convenient, but it was a case of bleed out, my character's opinions about this character, bleeding out onto my desires, fears, and emotions about the player and the character. And I took a step back a few hours later and realized that I had done myself no help in this paranoid raving. Bleed out can often have the most negative of consequences for you within Sindome. As it can turn the spirit of cooperative competition into competitive dickery.

There's also something called Ego bleed, this refers to personality or even syntactical elements leaking in and out of character. When people talk about saying say before sentences out of character, or talk about having used Sindome slang IRL, this is one of the types of bleed, that is actually relatively harmless until it reaches a certain degree.

I'm going to detail a couple techniques here for dealing with Bleed. Not preventing it, because often it's not something that should be prevented, or even can be prevented.

But a tool for managing it when it occurs, so that it does not impact you in your real life. Or in your interactions with others on OOC channels. My goal is too by the time you're done with this guide and the associated reference materials, have given you a few ideas on tools for mitigating bleed, if you have it... Or to provide some effective management tools to suggest, if you don't.

The primary one I will recommend as it is the easiest, or at least least time consuming... This is called Immersion in other experiences. If you have played a stressful session, filled with plotting, crying, tears, work, stress, killing, torture, being tortured, what have you... Don't just leave it there, don't just go to bed, or go to your work in that amped stressed out state. Take a small amount of time, immerse yourself in something else for about 20 minutes. It could be doodling, it could be another video game. Just palette cleanse. Take some time, and focus yourself on something tangentially related at the closest... And then get up and carry about your every day life.

The next tool I want to talk about.. Is a heavy one. Demasking/De-roleing, is something that take a little more effort, and is harder to do in Sindomes context. But it will eventually help in spades. It will involve spending an hour or so after stressful events in game, writing it out, writing out the feelings, speaking them out works too, the important part is just getting them out there. Expressing them to the lampshades and potential people around you works, but is very close to rules violations. So I don't recommend it. But as you do it... You should take something that you associate with your character, and kind of... Discard it in some fashion. I actually went out and acquired a specific type of tea to drink that I'm working on associating with my character in my mind. And when I log off for the night I have been writing out some things... Like what I did well, what I did poorly, what I need to do more of, tasks for tomorrow, and so on, just something to get my feelings out about the day. And sipping that tea, so that when the glass of tea is done, I'm done for the day with my character.

Some other methods I know of or used in the past, like signalling, or debriefing, aren't allowed by Sindome's rules. So I won't detail them here.

I'm going to list my sources down here, so that you all can read through them. But they are relatively short, as this is somewhat of a niche topic. Even within the RP spheres.

https://nordiclarp.org/2015/03/02/bleed-the-spillover-between-player-and-character/

https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Aftercare

https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Bleed

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3yq12w0ygfhj5h9/2014 Wyrd Academic Book.pdf?dl=0

(Specifically the essays about the magic circle, and pulling the trigger.)

http://www.gwid.se/2006/the-character-the-player-and-their-shared-body/

I think these are all important things to consider and that researching and discussing bleed is a good idea. Though as a warning, do try and keep anonymous or keep OOC any information you post here if you post any at all. And keep the subject material on Bleed itself. Not on any specific events, characters, moments of bleed, etc.

Part of learning to be a better RPer is learning to mitigate and/or manage bleed in an effective fashion so that it's channeled properly.

Time heals all wounds. Or some of the wounds. Sometimes... time slightly heals some wounds. But yeah, the ultimate tool to combat bleed is to step away for however long you need. It's that simple. Not always, not in ALL player circumstances by any means. But stepping back from the screen goes a long way in making things seem less personal.
Another technique I forgot to mention. But is one I feel should be more common.

When you update, write down a few key words that describe your characters state.

When you wake up in the vats after that... Look over log there, and make sure you are ready to re-enter that state of mind and frame of reference.

If you can't. Stop, take a break, and come back when you can.

You will prevent a lot of mistakes this way.

Top Anti-bleed rules: Log off, limit your play time, give yourself times off if you are too emotionally distraught.

A good RPer knows how to detach and compartmentalize themselves from their characters, when the line is blurry (bad RP) that's when things start to bleed.

Even admins have mandatory breaks to maintain the health of their sanity.

If someone reaches the point of needing PTSD journaling to deal with IC events, or requiring ritual behaviours to detach themselves from their IC persona, they should probably stop playing altogether.
Anyone who aims that kind of rude hostility at another player for any reason at all, but especially one who's sharing in the spirit of helpfulness and from a position of vulnerable honesty, is a real "rotten apple" in this community and is hereby invited to stop playing altogether.
As someone who has struggled with bleed in both directions, this is helpful. I wish I had done some of these things in the past, and will try to practice some of them in the future.

0x1mm, that's not a very nice thing to say, and I wish you would have considered being kind in your response to this well intended thread. People have baggage in life, and it isn't always easy for people to put themselves into roles as extreme as the ones in Sindome. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try, if they get enjoyment out of it.

There's no hostility in my post. I'd a strong and long-time advocate for players to stop when the game is negatively impacting them, and a critic of negative views towards stopping.

I don't doubt the honesty and openness of the post. I am not criticizing players for using tools to cope with negative emotions, nor am I criticizing the tools themselves.

However if any player feels like they need emotional tools to cope with a game they should be playing for fun, and that otherwise they are being negatively effected in their personal lives, then I have to think removing the negative triggers are preferable to papering over them. This is not a failure on the part of the player, and should be recognized as positive.

Sindome can be highly addictive, and there is an widespread cultural view here of players who stop as not being up for the challenge, or that they were quitters, or they didn't roll with the punches, et cetera, ad infinitu -- which I think can make some players feel like they need to keep going even if they're being negatively impacted. I don't think this view is a good one.

Tools used to deal with negative emotions are important coping skills when dealing with things a person cannot easily avoid or change, their work life, their home life, their identity -- but Sindome is a game, and should be treated as one.

Logging off is always an option. Taking long breaks or quitting is always an option.

@0x1mm I accept your criticism, and would ask something of you, if that's alright?

I'm going to continue because this is the internet and we're on a forum, and long form communication should be the rule here.

First: Where did I imply that extremity of a situation? Bleed comes in forms large and small. And one cannot really help the emotions one may feel at times. Accepting and overcoming those emotions. Rather than bottling up the aggression, depression, and all the other essions, is far more healthy than avoiding them. Learning tools to deal with it as it occurs, is better than just leaving it bubbling in the pot, so that the next time one returns, it happens just as bad.

Beyond that it's less about separating yourself from the character, in it's entirety and more about separating yourself from it's influences for something like Sindome.

Telling someone, "Just go away," is actually one of the more unhealthy and rather gate keepery things to do.

Let's try this. Let's rephrase your post to how it may sound, to someone who is struggling with feeling too strongly as they play, whether that is bleed or otherwise.

Boiling it down.

"Your emotions are invalid, go away."

Does that sound like something you would want to say to someone who is otherwise enjoying the game?

Does that sound like something that is healthy for that person to hear at that moment?

Or is giving them tools, reference materials, and the ability to maybe overcome those feelings, process them, and put them in a space where it is acceptable, better?

Regards.

0x1mm, your more recent post explains in better terms what it is you were getting at, and I appreciate the clarification. The first one didn't really offer anything except for "Leave if you have difficulty with bleed issues." That's why others got the impression it was intended negatively.

With that being said, I agree with Rhea in that offering tools to help people enjoy the game despite a common issue (bleed) is preferable to just telling them to stop playing. Sometimes, that is absolutely a valid tactic, and I've taken time off from the game lots of times. It is still helpful to know of other ways that can assist before it gets to that point, though.

Well. I think "bleed" is ambiguous, and can range from simple reactions to serious emotional strife, so I will clarify I am only referring to situations where a player, in their daily life outside the game, is being negatively impacted in an emotional way by the game itself.

I think "bleed" in the sense of being annoyed at someone IC for something OOC, or the contrary, is normal to experience and dealing with that is unproblematic.

However Sindome is sometimes framed as something players must learn to cope with, must learn to adapt themselves to, and any negative emotional consequences on the player are that player's responsibility to deal with so they can continue playing. Must continue playing.

I consider all of these views to be harmful.

Sindome in many ways attracts emotionally vulnerable people. I think we need to be careful about creating an environment where remaining locked-in and simply coping is considered the norm.

If anyone experiences that level of negative emotional impact in their daily life from the game, I think it is to their benefit to stop playing. Not any one specific player in this forum, just in general. That is not an attack on those players, or a criticism of their feelings -- which are not only valid, but vital.

@0x1mm

You are trying to be helpful, but you are coming across as toxic.

A few months ago you did something similar in response to a post of mine. I was making the suggestion that some elements Sindome make it a survival game and that new players would do well to adopt strategies to surviving in a harsh environment that involves betray and people taking advantage of them.

Your response was along the lines of, "If you think that interacting with the game like an abusive relationship, then you probably shouldn't be playing here."

At the time, I was willing to ignore it and let it go.

In light of what you wrote here, I'm going to encourage you to look into why you feel the need to advocate for people to step away from the game to protect their mental health.

Have you had to do that in the past?

I'm picking up on some projection here that might be more about you, than the people who are offering help to each other.

That said, I should probably not have framed those tools as being things only for serious emotional issues, since they can be used to deal with everyday annoyances as well.

So I retract that: The emotional tools a player uses are not themselves any indication of what that player may be feeling.

Let me re-phrase that if any player feels serious emotional impact in their daily lives from the game, regardless of how they do or do not manage that, they should consider stepping away.

I recognize there is sometimes a hostile element of: If you can't hack it, go away -- but this is not what I am saying. Rather I think that players should not feel like they have to do anything, but should safeguard their own emotional states above whatever pressures they might feel regarding the game itself.

I don't think it's toxic at all to take the stance that no one should have to be in a position of rationalize away their negative emotions stemming from the game, or should feel like they need to develop coping skills to deal with their engagement with it.

Some players may feel the need to do this, and I'm not criticizing them for it, but I am advocating for the view that this should not be normalized, and that it should not be encouraged that players should feel this is somehow necessary to their enjoyment.

As I say, I think there is a very prevalent cultural view of players who quit, or step away from the game, as losing or not being able to handle it, with the implied subtext that if they had someone been better, or smarter, or more capable, they would still be playing.

I don't think this is true, and I don't think it's healthy. I don't think the original post here is advocating for that view necessarily, but I do see it as a by-product of encouraging players to continue on when they themselves recognize they are being negatively impacted, sometimes in a serious way.

Great post, thanks for sharing.
I am curious as to where the belief comes from that players have to stick around and soldier through 'bleed' or other toxic elements of the community.

In my own case I have taken a couple of breaks from the MOO. The last one started as an indefinite leave of absence and lasted two, almost three months.

Both times staff have been extremely supportive and understanding.

A couple of weeks ago I had a long string of bad events happen to my character. There was obvious bleed involved and I wrote an @note or two about it. Staff reached out to me and we had a good conversation about it.

I think that one of the strengths of Sindome is staff awareness of bleed. The sense of loss that comes from playing the game, and the emotions that come from a belief that being unable to bounce back from a loss can be extremely intense. Those emotions are especially strong in new players who have not been through a few up and down cycles.

If information on bleed is not a prominent part of newbie information, it should be. Much like what @Rhea put together here, it is important to be aware of the information and the tools BEFORE you need them. Because once you do need them, it is going to be too late to figure them out.

Found another good article. Still digesting it but it's a good one. And explains more about types of bleed and how they express.

https://nordiclarp.org/2019/01/25/investigating-types-of-bleed-in-larp-emotional-procedural-and-memetic/

I actually do wonder why there's this perceived pressure to stick with the game and soldier on, despite OOC encouragements to take breaks. I was victim to this too, and while I came to think of it being mostly me making my own demons, this seems to be awfully common where newbie players would become more and more invested in the game until they reach a crescendo, have a mental breakdown, booth, then leave the game, at least from my own impression.

I'm thinking this might be due to the IC tendency to poke fun of people when they take a hiatus, or even just good-natured questions of concerns about if somebody was "out of Central" if they didn't log in for only a few days.

This is probably peripheral to the discussion of bleed, but I think that something is shaming some of the more easily influenced players (like me) into forcing themselves to play the game, and OOC encouragements to take breaks don't really cut it if you still get made fun of on SIC for taking a "cryo nap".

Citing the IC and OOC divide doesn't seem right for this situation either, because it's usually really a thoughtless comment that doesn't actually add anything. Even in situations where a player's activity is actually pertinent, such as if they're a fixer, or if they're a SICripped ghost who doesn't use the Grid and can only be contacted by calling a burner number at an exact time in a particular day of the week, I just think that we as the playerbase should be more mindful of what may come across as harmless ribbing at first.

Some people just won't take the break they need if they get shamed every time they do so. If you want to character assasinate someone, cite their cannibalistic murder cults and the number of people they've cained on. Don't cite the fact that they practise self care.

Well, people will make fun of anything.
I know that, I'm just saying that this particular topic can be a bit of a slap to the face of the player behind the character, while being a little strange to say ICly. There are dozens of other ways to ridicule a character without being OOCly mean, and I like to think that we make fun of people ICly for RP and not because we like to make people suffer for no reasons.
It sounds like you're OOCly feeling guilty for not showing up due to IC actions? That's bleed.

Suggestion: If someone ICly complains that your character is very sleepy, maybe try asking how your character would react to that, not yourself.

Some ideas:

- "Eff off, been flippin gear in South."

- "You miss me that much, huh?"

- "Shut up. What I miss?"

Etc.

Hope that helps. 😊

+1 ynk.

And "reach a crescendo, have a mental breakdown, booth, then leave the game" - You did say that it's only according to your impression, but I don't know how you'd have any idea at all whether they left the game or not, without some form of IC/OOC boundary crossing.

Can I just say.

The power play here is to partner with a character of the type who already has access to "the knockout juice" and pay them well to suborn your victim's trust.

Ask me how I know.

omfg how did that happen, wrong topic
The biggest single change I made to help with bleed was doing my @notes in the third rather than the first person. It's a small but important reminder that in game events are happening to your character, not to you.
Speaking of notes, I've developed a style where I write things I'm a factual manner, but then save my personal thoughts for parenthesis.

Completely abricated example:

- Jess heard talk about someone coming up to Gold to shoot her, but she felt fine. She'd only be outside for a few seconds.

- Jess got shot by Jimbo (disguised?) on Gold right after updating. Passed out on New Light.

- Jess woke up at WEC, gave details as best she could remember to Derek and Jerry.

- (I can't stand Jerry personally, but Jess is cool with him, so that's why no conflict erupted.)

- They said it sounded like it was Rubio but he's been permed for 5 months now.

- (I feel so dumb for walking in to that. But if Rubio is back, omg this is exciting. Love where this is going!)

Maybe it could help others to separate character thoughts and player thoughts in a way like that?

I've started dividing notes into...

Summary

IC perspective

OOC perspective

That's really helped me to distance things.

That's a good idea.