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Guided Discussion : Last 3 months
The OOC comms elephant in the room

I hope that it is okay to create a new topic to consolidate ideas and talking points.

I don't think the IRL timing for the discussion is going to let me participate. I hope that it is a good and thought provoking one.

I am including my ideas here.

Essentially my perspective boils down to this. The game has stagnated over the last 3 months due to a large number of active players being banned for OOC comms.

Given that, it's worth looking into WHY people who really enjoy playing this game broke the rules.

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The game in the second half of this year and more specifically the last three months seems to be much less active than it was a year ago.

I think that there should be some acknowledgement that the players who were banned for OOC communication were likely some of the more / most active players.

It makes some sense. Without going too deep into broad generalities, it stands to reason that people who are passionate about a game and are willing to spend significant time every day playing that game are also likely to "cheat" at the game. This does not mean that everyone who plays a game a lot will cheat. It does not mean that cheaters only come from a group of people who play a game a lot.

I hope that we collectively as a community can dig into WHY the people who communicated OOCly did so.

I further hope that once we have a better understanding of the WHY it happened, we can come up with some ideas to address the perfectly human behaviors behind the WHYs.

I will give an example of what I am thinking about. I do not think that this is a good example, or necessarily a valid one. It is just a simple example that I think everyone can understand.

"I cheated at the game because the IC communication mechanisms in the game were too difficult or challenging to use. It was easier for me to just talk to people on (Discord / Kik / random OOC chat app)."

If this were the case, as a community we could look into the comms systems. Phones. SIC. Radios. Grid mail. We could collectively dialogue and perhaps come up with ways to make IC comms less burdensome.

Without having any data about why people communicated OOCly, all I can do is think about reasons why I would personally do it.

The most "valid" one in my eyes would be a distrust of staff. It took me a long time to start noting some of my more nefarious and long term plans in @notes. I was not comfortable with ALL staff reading ALL @notes. I have had some really bad experiences in the past (over 20 years ago at this point) with staff in a M* game not being neutral. I eventually got over it and have been impressed by the staff on Sindome. I have not had any of my schemes or ideas foiled by a rogue admin PC.

Given what I have read over the years about distrust of staff on Sindome, I could see people using OOC communication methods to avoid having staff be aware of their schemes. That lack of trust is toxic and will tear a community appear. I have no idea what Sindome was like when Cerebrus and others were staffing here. I just know that there still seems to be a bunch of bad blood and that might lead to people using OOC comms.

Another thing is the cliquish nature of a game like Sindome. (It has been my experience that ALL M* games have cliques. They are inevitable.) That combined with one faction being the "top" faction could lead some people to want to stay in touch with members of that faction across characters. "Nobody" wants to be the one ganger in that gang that nobody is in. Nobody wants to be that one corporate in the corporation that nobody else is in. That leads to OOC comms.

This one can be somewhat mitigated by staff intervention to keep one faction from being dominant too long. It could be further mitigated by a larger playerbase so that a few active players do not all flock together and end up tipping the scales too far in one direction.

Another thing is the general human nature of wanting to play with people who you are familiar with, comfortable with or who have similar styles. Anyone who has played M* games for a while realizes that roleplayers and writers span the entire spectrum. There are those who poses are so short and take so long to get out that it's like pulling teeth and an exercise in patience to do even the simplest things with them. On the other end there are those who poses and characters are so alive and awe inspiring that you're eagerly awaiting their next pose while hoping the story never ends.

Beyond that there are those who think big. They always have something going on. They always have room for one more character in their schemes.

It is normal to want to remain in contact with those people when you find them. It's frustrating to lose a character and be effectively walled off from whatever that character was involved in. OOC comms are a way to stay connected with people who you can rely on for a great RP experience.

The last reason I can think of is general human nature and loneliness. Players connect with other players. It happens. Anytime you spend lots of time with someone else doing something that you both enjoy, it is natural for bonds to form. You aren't going to find the same shared interest of Sindome without people IRL, outside of Sindome. If you're spending multiple hours a day on Sindome, well, it's normal to want to share other parts of your life with people who you share your Sindome time with.

For the staff, do you ever conduct "exit interviews" with people who are banned? Would there be any value in sending out an email to some of the people who have been banned over the years for OOC communication to get their input on the WHY they did it?

I have a few ideas on how to address some of the normal human behaviors that lead to OOC communication. I will save them for after the guided discussion though. I feel like all too often I present the questions and what I believe the answers should / could be. I am not going to do that this time.