Saturday, July 4, 2009

and if you think that I'm different, just ever so slightly, then you're right

A few too few words on roleplay.

I spent some few hours in Kingdom Park in the City of Enoch. Lovely people there, every Tuesday there's an evening dance to whatever the DJ feels like playing (PG sim, so PG music as much as possible). We were celebrating Independence Day in America, Canada Day in Canada, and anything anyone wanted to throw in. Then little Abigail showed up:

[13:17] Abigail Artful: dis is a bwig pawty

I was suddenly clouted by revelation. I knew exactly the problem many adults have with adults roleplaying children on the grid. And it's not Prokovy Neva's assertion that "they're just creepy"; that's not it, actually.

It comes down to the roleplay.

Case in point, me. (Me, the person behind Em, the typist, the deva, the lady behind the screen, pick your term.) When I was a child, I lisped. (It's true. I had to have surgery to stop the lisping, and let me tell you, having the frenum snipped and the solution of mercury painted on? STUNG LIKE HELL.) But, after an in-office procedure, and a bit of speech therapy, I stopped lisping.

So, okay, what does that have to do with kids on the grid? It's simple: read that sentence aloud.

"Dis"--okay, fine. It's common to contract dipthongs, change their tones, especially with children: it happens.

"Pawty"--that's common, too. I've heard kids say "pawty", actually; I've also heard them say "poddy" or "potty" or "pahdy", depending on inflection. So that's okay, it happens. (Though I grant you, the kid that says "potty" in public is going to be led to one, in my experience.)

"Bwig"--and here's where people's brains melt down. No child replaces letters like that. NO child does. It's bad roleplay. It's the mark of someone who wants to be a kid, but hasn't studied kid behavior. It pulls listeners out of the roleplay.

That's not creepy, that's just bad acting. Granted, it's a little thing. But it's enough to jar the adult brain, who's looking at a child body, into that moment of dissonance between what is heard and what is seen--or, in the case of text 'speaking', what is read in chat and what is seen in SL at large.

That's still not creepy, per se. But it is enough to pull adults back from full interaction with perceived children in SL, because they just don't 'sound right'. And those adults are right--children like this, for all they look like children, will never sound right unless they think more on how little kids really speak.

Now, the second bit that happened:

[14:21] MystiTool HUD 1.3.1: Entering chat range: Nogad Ay (19m)
[14:21] MystiTool HUD 1.3.1: Entering chat range: Merc Ryba (19m)
[14:21] Nogad Ay: ok im looking for a star gate near here
[14:21] Emilly Orr: Hmm
[14:22] Barbara Collazo: Don't know of any.
[14:22] Emilly Orr: Don't honestly know if the City's equipped with a StarGate
[14:22] Valentine Janus: Not aware of one near here
[14:22] Barbara Collazo: Lots of terrestrial vehicles but no stargate.
[14:22] Valentine Janus: There used to be one about three sims over
[14:22] Emilly Orr: I know Fhtagn has one, I know Rivula used to have one
[14:22] Jaffee Gaffer: I have a star and a gate, but not a stargate....
[14:22] Nogad Ay: i got a apointment with a crazyed mastermind and i don't want to be late
[14:23] Mitsu Figaro: i haven't explored the 'gate system in some time.
[14:23] Emilly Orr: Then you just might have to port. :p

At this point, I think we all thought they were just asking for directions. Even with the "crazyed mastermind" thrown in (and really, who doesn't know a crazed mastermind in Caledon? It's like asking for the nearest mad scientist. People are likely to smile and respond "Yes, might I assist you?"). We really didn't think they were serious.

The pure fact is, the City of Enoch isn't a roleplay sim. They're just living there, they have places of worship, they build homes, they build parks, they hold councils, they discuss genealogy--pretty much what normal Latter-Day Saints do of a week, they do in the City. And, while many of the people outside of the AoA group of sims understand roleplay, as it happens around SL--many of us don't come from places where roleplay is enforced. Therefore, it is always our choice whether to 'play along' or to noncommittally 'step back'.

These two did not seem to grasp this oh-so-subtle difference.

Plus they couldn't spell.

[14:23] Nogad Ay: we atempted to requestion a vessle to no avail
[14:23] Emilly Orr: Ah.
[14:23] Emilly Orr: Hmm. Have you asked around for a ship's captain?
[14:23] Nogad Ay: tell me
[14:24] Nogad Ay: what do you know about the...neko's
[14:24] Emilly Orr: Pity the Clockwinder isn't still here, he has airships aplenty
[14:24] Malookus Kalnoky: 'Transport City' here had a 'time amchine' at the border I recall.
[14:24] Emilly Orr raises an eyebrow
[14:24] Emilly Orr: I take it you do not favor nekos?
[14:24] Valentine Janus: Fairly little, although my sister markets to them.
[14:24] Merc Ryba: All that i know is FILE NOT FOUND
[14:25] Jaffee Gaffer: lol
[14:25] Barbara Collazo: lol
[14:25] Emilly Orr: You should try to track down Temenos Island
[14:25] Nogad Ay: thanks

Some were taking this as joking. Many--as this was the first more-fur-than-human event I'd attended in Kingdom Park--were not, and in fact, had stopped responding. I'd have taken the hint and moseyed on to another sim, They seemed determined to press their point.

[14:25] Nogad Ay: btw
[14:25] Nogad Ay: this here is my merc his name...merc
[14:25] Emilly Orr: We gathered that earlier.
[14:25] Barbara Collazo: k
[14:25] Valentine Janus: Descriptive.
[14:25] Nogad Ay: hes trained to kill in 5 diffrent ways
[14:25] Merc Ryba: a pleasure to meet you my name is FILE NOT FOUND
[14:26] Nogad Ay: 4 of witch involve dismemberment
[14:26] Emilly Orr: I don't think killing will be required, this is a dance.
[14:26] Nogad Ay: other then killing he dosen't do much else..apart from being an awsom builder

First of all, you don't know me, you don't get to tell me he's an "awsome builder" and expect me to react in any positive fashion. I know some truly awesome builders, people who create things from their hands, minds and hearts that just stun me, looking at them; amazing, impossible structures that delight and enrapture.

Tall lanky guy in a Union soldier uniform who hadn't strung more than a few words together and had been identified as lethal first, builder second? There was a lot of respect to be gained here. One way would have been for both of them to shut the hell up. Another would have been to apologize for interrupting the dance, or maybe even dance along and engage in civil conversation.

Nothing in any of the ways possible to mend the growing breech led to continuing to intrude in unpleasant and irritating ways.

[14:26] Emilly Orr: Also, dismembering dancers is rather rude.
[14:26] Nogad Ay: not if they are deamed...sub human
[14:27] Emilly Orr stares at Nogad
[14:27] Merc Ryba: but bio prothetics are so much more flexable
[14:27] Nogad Ay: but none of you mean that quality
[14:27] Emilly Orr: Define...subhuman
[14:27] Emilly Orr: Because there are furs here.
[14:27] Nogad Ay: not quite furry and not quite human
[14:27] Barbara Collazo: I daresay we're all human under the skin.
[14:27] Nogad Ay: something...else
[14:27] Emilly Orr is soooo tempted to change into cat ears, but will refrain.
[14:28] Jaffee Gaffer: I have a poem called "Abort, Retry, Ignore" based upon Poe's The Raven

They seemed to sense that tolerance for their roleplay was at an end. Most of us had stopped talking entirely. Most of us were ignoring most of what they said at this point.

[14:28] Nogad Ay: well thank you for the infomation
[14:28] Nogad Ay: we best be off
[14:28] Merc Ryba: good bye
[14:28] Emilly Orr: Farewell!
[14:28] Nogad Ay: Good day

And they walked out of sight. I waited a heartbeat, watching my radar until I was sure they were out of range. Then I asked what I felt I had to ask:

[14:29] Emilly Orr: All right, was it just me, or were those two unbearably rude?
[14:29] Barbara Collazo: I certainly thought so.
[14:29] Mitsu Figaro: it wasn't you.
[14:29] Mitsu Figaro: i was going to point them to Vid's gate in Cymryu but decided not
[14:29] Emilly Orr: Well, then.
[14:29] Emilly Orr giggles
[14:29] Emilly Orr: Oh, you should have!

I can imagine it now: two incompetent, unintelligent roleplay-crippled men, out carousing for "subhumans" to kill, in the hands of Lord Cymru, Viderian Vollmar, the Black Unicorn himself. Oh, I would have sold tickets to that.

[14:29] Mitsu Figaro: true *grin* well if they come back, i'll lead them merrily into that trap
[14:30] Emilly Orr: "He's an anthropomorphic horse, will that bother you?"
[14:30] Mitsu Figaro giggles
[14:30] Emilly Orr: Or a unicorn. Depending on the day. :)

I have to wonder why they pressed the point; I guess, if you're committed to sounding like an idiot around strangers, you just have to keep going; but also, the type of roleplay bothered me. Maybe I just haven't hung out with that many roleplayers whose main form of play is to hate another type of roleplayer; I mean, rivalries rise and fall, but if I'm against, say, vampires (this has happened, I know, me against vampires, it seems baffling), if I'm not in that sim I'm not on the lookout. Even more, if I meet one of the roleplayers outside the sim, then I'm able to grasp they aren't that character outside the roleplay.

Is it just me?

Moreover, this isn't the first stirrings of anti-neko action of late; this was just the most obvious case of it. But I've been hearing mumbling around the grid, not one sim, not ten, and no specific "type" I can point to--just mutterings.

It's unnerving, just a bit, trying to figure out why.

On roleplay, though...I don't think it's ever rude not to play along, as long as it's done politely. I don't think it's rude to play along, as long as what you do isn't invasive. The minute it becomes invasive, or the minute more people are not wanting to play than want to...relocate. Remove the play. Start it up later, or just leave.

I'm not saying this happens a lot in Caledon; most of us are content to carry what we feel capable of carrying, and at the least, we enjoy playing along on the edges. But I'm talking about other places--especially places like the City of Enoch, which oddly, feels very much like they've tried to reproduce actual reality on the grid, not grid-influenced reality (and there is a difference). I'd even hazard good odds they would have banned flight, save I see the occasional person fly by (generally newcomers to the sim, though).

It was just a sharp, jarring note in an otherwise brisk march, and it's lingered, this jarring note. It has made me more curious about these two inept travelers, and what their intentions are towards..."subhumans".

I think I'm taking that a bit personally.


Dio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dio said...

Criky Hon, that one had its scary aspects to it.

At first, as I read through your description of the encounter, it was marginally in the comic relief zone--kinda like the time I was helping a friend with a scenario where a young woman with a baby was going to die in a blizzard, so my friend could "rescue" the woman's baby and raise it as her own, and for the role I had put on this young woman avie with a jolly nice rack, and lo & behold while waiting for my cue, some no-neck Gorean guy wanders into the sim, asks me what I am doing, and I make the mistake of telling him.

Then he starts chasing me around, going on about how I shouldn't have to die in a blizzard, because he will "rescue" me and take me to a better place (Utah I assume). That one WAS funny because this guy, bless his heart, was trying to be chivalrous in his own lumpy way. But I had a blizzard to die in, and there he was chasing me around the vendor area, trying to rescue me from an rp role I had volunatrily taken on. Oy veh.

Amyhow, at the time, It was funny. Actually it still is, when I re-read the transcript of it.

But your encounter with these two didn't turn out so funny, particularly after the term "subhuman" was thrown out. And it seems to have been said in such a casual fashion, as though it wasn't a spectacularly horrific thing to say. I mean, holy dog shit on dry white toast Batman, when one thinks of the ways that the term "subhuman" has been applied in the course of human history -- to people who are mentally or physically challenged, to people of color, to members of certain faiths -- and that what was DONE to those who were given that label...gaaaa!

I found that chilling. It really makes me wonder just what the fuck kind of storyline these goobers were pursuing. And you can't ponder on that thought too long, because your stomach turns and your heart freezes.

I am impressed by the forbearance that was shown by the folks who were present -- it is astonishing to me that these guys weren't simply blasted into their component particulates as soon as the phrase "not unless they are deamed (sic) ...subhuman" was typed.

But I was also kind of surprised that someone didn't just say, "hey guys, you gotta know that kind of crap is not acceptable, and here's why...."

As much fun as steering them to Vid's realm would have been, they probably would not have learned anything from the experience. But then, I have to ask, can someone who is disposed to think like that -- even as a part of a "game"-- is there any hope of getting them to understand?

Emilly Orr said...

(Just to clear anything up--she double-sent the post. Which is why the first got removed. Not for great startling controversy.)

But to answer the question, yeah--I mean, yes, I know, there's prejudice in any world. Some furs don't like humans, some humans don't like furs, some folks don't like Jaegers, and the Jaegers don't like it much when they can't eat the tiny furry animals that happen to talk. :)

But this goes a bit above and beyond. And the big question I had was--why? Why come all the way out to a Mormon sim to raise this kind of ruckus? It's not like the Mormons haven't owned their share of controversy, but they at least put in good faith efforts--over the past few decades--to at least make the attempt to improve things.

These guys? I honestly don't know them when they're not roleplaying sadistic assassins, so I can't tell if they're friendly affable sorts who volunteer down at the soup bank three times a week and help newbies on NCI the rest of the time.

All I know is, they likely would have been bounced had the owner of the sim not crashed right before they came in.

(And that bit of you having to avoid being rescued? Does sound funny.)

Anonymous said...

"Pawty"--that's common, too. I've heard kids say "pawty", actually; I've also heard them say "poddy" or "potty" or "pahdy", depending on inflection. So that's okay, it happens.

Heh. I've heard *adults* say it. You just need to live in a non-rhotic area. You know, "Pahk my cah in Hahvahd Yahd" sort of thing!

I find military/militia/cop RPers who just kind of wander around loose to be creepy whether they're being rude or not.

Dale Innis said...

On the incorrectly-lisping kids: omg yes! Not all people with kid AVs do that (see the people who post on the SL Children weblog for instance), but enough do that owch. Sadly I think it's sort of expected in certain kid subcultures: "Insert W's at random to be part of the ingroup!".

When I'm a kid, I talk just like a grownup, just a little simpler and a little more brash. But then I'm being like twelve, not six or whatever...

On the rude ppls: From the "stargate" part, I'd guess that they had some obsolete list of stargate locations, and it listed one around there somewhere. Or one in some region spelled vaguely the same way. :)

I don't think you should let them chill your blood; in my experience, vaguely-military vaguely-RP people (of the sort who belong to the "military organizations" that can't seem to decide whether they're RPing or actually being "anti-griefer security companies" or whatever) often think it's macho to be somewhat rude. Especially the ones who don't bother to spell.

I'd guess they're hoping some controversy will ensue, that they can show their toughness during. Which is entirely proper in some circles; assuming that it's proper with people that you don't know at all is the mark of a jerk...

Dio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dio said...

sorry about that, I am having the damnedest time with comments working right this weekend for some reason..anyhow...


hey Dale,

I understand what you're trying to say about the "stargate guys"...but I want to make it clear it ain't about them being rude. There are lots of rude people in the world, and some of them are pretty darn entertaining. In fact when you read the convo from these guys they were superficially being far more polite than your average garden variety feckless gits, saying "thank you" "good day."

The main reason for my over the top reaction was the casual introduction of the idea that it is ok to designate certain people as "less than human" and shape your behavior to act out on the that opinion.

Emilly made the very reasonable comment "I think I'm taking that a bit personally" and I guess what I was trying to say is that it is not surprising that a lot of us would take it personally, because dammit, at some point or other, a hell of a lot of different people have been labeled "subhuman" including Blacks, Irish, Italians, Japanese, Slavs, Jews, Gypsies, Germans, rednecks, Native Americans, Mexicans, lawyers, coal miners, and people who shop at Wal Mart.

So I guess it comes down to just sharing and understanding Emilly's reaction, even though I don't happen to ever take on the persona an physical nature of the particular group that these two ridiculous pukes think of as "subhuman."

So it ain't just you, Emilly. And she was saying that the "mutterings" of recreational hating that she has detected of late are "unnerving" and she was trying to figure out why. I'm saying, yes it is damn unnerving and I was exploring some of the reasons why we would have a gut reaction to focused hatred of a particular group as a form of "fun."

Yeah, it's probably the reasonable thing to do, to just shrug and write this kind of attitude off as being a "jerk" or "trying to be tough," but I guess I'm not in the mood to be reasonable about knuckle-draggers today.

Emilly Orr said...

Otenth: sure, absolutely, but there's a difference (IMO) between regional dialects and child subversions of language. By and large, most language subversions, adult or child, take place for specific reasions: "New Orleans" (Noo Or-Lee-Ahns) to "New Orleans" (Nawlens) for example, or "Taliaferro" (Tah-lee-ah-ferr-oh) to "Taliaferro" (Tah-lih-verr) just to condense excess syllables, and it becomes accepted pattern.

Conversely, for children, they're mostly just reproducing what they hear, inexpertly. Filling in the blanks. And, since they don't have full language facility yet, they contract, they occasionally add sounds, they rough up words on the edges, because they're still getting the ropes of speaking that language.

But it's still reasonably consistence. "Aw yoo goin' to da pawk? Can I go wif you?" I've actually heard in conversation. Whereas it would jar if the same child said "Aw you gwoin to dwa pwark?" the mind would have that moment of jar.

*grins* I will grant that I'm overthinking this, but I do think this is part of that step-back from child avatars, and for once, it has nothing to do with presumed ageplay.

Emilly Orr said...

Dale: Mostly what Dio said. But I'd also add that, by and large, I'm easygoing. I have a knee-jerk reaction to people in casual conversation saying "Dude, that's so gay"; I have a similar from the term "fur fags". Conversely, though, I've been building in the FurNation sandbox, and forgot I was a fox last build, and human this one, and been hassled *endlessly* by furry idjits who can't see past the smooth skin. So it happens on both sides.

I honestly don't know if they were after controversy or the expected "oh my how horrid, you take that back!" level of reaction. I do know I have problems in this area: when I am on my own, I react as I deem fit; when I am hosting, my goal is harmony, not controversy.

So, were they likely just jerks pushing for fun? Yeah, maybe--though to be fair, most jerks looking for specific reactions wouldn't be polite at all. But did it still strike most of us as weird, at the least, and seriously unnerving, at best? Yeah.

It wasn't so much the military-yahoo thing as it was the dispassion. "Hy, this is my friend, he can kill you with a soup spoon" is NOT what you normally hear at a dance. To have his friend then follow up with "Hello, my name's FILE NOT FOUND--"; well, that just added to the creep factor.

Emilly Orr said...

Dio: yep, pretty much. My thing is mainly, I get that SL isn't a game to some people, and it's not entirely a game to me. But, when it comes right down to it, for the most part, give me a choice between a movie out and a night on the comp? Bring on the popcorn, let's go!

Pair that with, I, myself, don't get why it's ever fun to hate recreationally. I get the fur loathing, a bit--I asked a friend once who was big on it why, and after the usual silly reasons were dealt with, he said he couldn't read the face of a fur, it just struck him as big eyes and big teeth. And I get that--I may not agree, but I understand.

This seemed to blur the lines of acceptable behavior in all directions, though. "Excuse me, I need transport to meet with a crazed mastermind." What? "You haven't seen any of them subhumans about, have you?" What? "Hey, this is my friend, he dismembers people for fun." WHAT?!?

And all of this was at a dance, mind, not advancing the storyline in an rp sim. This was at a dance in a non-rp environment, which made it odder.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Hiya Emilly,

Kids and Jagers: I've decided to read what they say, parse the meaning and forget the rest as it seems to be the cause of some right old ball ache at the mo :-D

Rude RPers: That tale put me in mind of a (loooong) post I had in drafts for ages that I eventually deleted as I decided that it was actually wrong to post it - it was too nasty and left a bad taste. The gist was a transcript of an open chat between 3 or 4 SL army types on the ANWR Primrig. I'd dropped in to sort inventory and the such (usually nice and quiet there) only to find these guys discussing their army/navy faction and how they'd split from their leader (a man called Steve) and how they were going to make his SL & RL hell and cyber with his wife. There was a lot more, all as unpleasant and nasty (they tried provoking me, looking for a fight, but I was non-phys by this point so no dice). They were really quite sickening people - I pictured them as those weird American jocks you see in films who beat up the hero/nerd in front of the sensitive-but-trapped girlfriend - a stereotype yes, but for a thumbnail sketch it's one that covers them well.

Gah, 'orrible little people.

Emilly Orr said...

HBA: Well, ask around, I'm not the thuggishly defensive American, I'm generally the one who gets baffled at the vagaries of our culture, compared to the rest of the world. And I'd tend to agree, that is part of what gives roleplay a bad reputation in SL--well, that and how many people just concentrate on sex, not story, but that may go back to my perpetual complaint about porn with plot, and that's a WHOLE separate rant--as well as tarnishing certain 'types' of players in general--the 'steroid warriors', I tend to call them, fellows who have completely embraced thug-rap culture, with the bling, the tattoos, the huge beefy weightlifter arms, the whole thing.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Steroid Warriors - I like, good name for them :-)

Emilly Orr said...

I admit, it appeals. I don't cover the foibles of male fashion as often as I cover female, but on occasion, I have to post them, and nine times out of ten, it's one of this exact type. :)

Magdalena Kamenev said...

"Bwig"--and here's where people's brains melt down. No child replaces letters like that. NO child does.

Hah. Yes.

Great comments here. My own nonsensical add-on is that while many children may lisp, it's easy to forget how one lisped (yes, I was a child lisper, and I still mumble - my theory is that I spoke through my front teeth. Speech therapy helped, but I suspect singing in the church choir helped more).

So if people aren't trying to conjure up how actual children sound when lisping, what are they basing it on? Perhaps a source of lisping many children of several generations heard ...

That's right, Elmer Fudd.

Then again, translating verbal accents and dialects into the written word can be quite dicey. My mother had a book of "Negro" humor and jokes written in the 1940s, and I hereby affirm it took poor little me YEARS to figure out some of the words in those lame jokes. "Gwine" mean "going", for instance. Seriously.

And then there was the government document that was mistaken for veiled commentary on the Ebonics movement of the late 1990s.

The two rpers looking for subhumans ... I cannot contemplate this for too long. Must file under "stupid random folderol" until forced to confront this later.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Kamenev: Elmer Fudd and other cartoon characters--where the accenting is deliberately broad, and mostly non-accurate, linguistically.

There's a family story--I won't go into the whole thing because it's a "heard", not a "typed"--but the main thrust of the tale was in directions given--"gowan day-own ta tha bahng coh-nah" translated to "you go on down to the bank corner", in reference to a turn. My mother's non-Southern ears could not make heads or tails of the accent, and, when she finally got it, what he was saying, the man giving her the directions laughed out loud. She asked why and he said she must be from "Californee"--and when she asked why again, she was told "Behcaws y'all tahk sa funneh". :)