Author Topic: Horror: How Far is Too Far?  (Read 21424 times)

bidoof

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2013, 01:15:15 AM »
So I've been thinking about how I want to respond for a few days.  I guess first of all I want to say that this might come out kind of harsh because it's an emotional topic for me but I want to make it clear that I think Caleb is really cool!  He seems like a good guy and I don't think he thinks rape is okay or anything. Second I can't really comment on Lover in the Ice too specifically, since I don't remember the actual play clearly enough for critique (besides THAT PARROT) and was too unemployed to back the kickstarter enough for the PDF.  Third I'd like to state that I have been raped before and that obviously is the source of a lot of what I am writing here.
When rape shows up in fiction, especially if it isn't handled sensitively, I am reminded of being raped.  It isn't a gigantic panic attack thing but it makes me feel uncomfortable and sad and sick and I am immediately taken out of whatever story for a while. It is worse in games for a couple reasons: Games are improvisational things, so it's harder to have things happen in a tasteful way.  You usually identify more with a character you control than a character in a book (players say "I slap the mayor", not "Doris, champion of Pelor slaps the mayor").
The argument against that being important would be something like "That sucks for you, but you can't expect the world to change for you."  But I don't think reactions like mine are rare.  Most of the other survivors I know have similar feelings, and a lot of people have been raped.  One of six U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.  Even if only, say, half of those people are really uncomfortable reading about rape that still feels like a lot of people to shut out. And 90% of the people who are effected are women, so it seems sort of extra bad to me to do something that mostly hurts a minority. 
So why is murder less offensive?  Well, rape happens a lot more.  To be blunt, murder victims aren't around to be offended.  Death is something everyone has to deal with eventually, too.  The biggest thing is the different ways our culture deals with rape and murder, though.  You can die in an awesome way!  You can be brave or honorable and be awarded a posthumous medal.  You can tell people someone you knew died.  Even something as bad as torture has movie scenes where the hero is badass for getting through it.  If you're raped, at best you get pity and at worst you are blamed.
So should rape never be a thing in stories?  Well, no.  But I think using it just to make things more grim or scary is kind of tasteless.  I guess to be honest it kind of bothers me that it shows up so often in your writing.  Like, the Know Evil episode where the women were being forcibly impregnated was way too hard for me to deal with (and it kind of bothered me that the only thing people wrote about it in the comments was along the lines of "haha, pretty grimdark"), it kind of sucked to not hear Thad as Hunter S. Thompson because I figured out that scenario was related to Lover in the Ice and stopped listening.  There was a game Drew ran where your character was threatening to rape someone's wife, and it kind of sucks hearing someone you like say those kind of things.  It's like hearing your sweet old grandma be really racist or something.  I guess one thing about the Amante in particular is that "men rape because they just get so frustrated and can't help themselves" is a myth that people actually use to justify rape. 
I guess what I want is:  If you're going to include rape, have a really good understanding of what it is and how it might effect readers, and label it so people who need to can avoid it.  Also you've done some good things with handling the subject!  You portray it as a horrible scary thing, never make it "sexy", and it was really great how you didn't make SAIROC almost getting date raped a joke or anything.  Also you're a lot better about it than a lot of RPG writers I've seen. (fucking Cthulhutech, oh my god)
Extra things:  The deep ones didn't rape people, they bribed them with gold basically.  The horror in the Lovecraft story was basically a metaphor for white people having sex with other races because he was pretty racist.
Also I've heard "It's a horror game, you should feel as uncomfortable as possible" and that's silly.  It's a game you're playing for fun with your friends, not a tribal manhood ritual. You're not a worse gamer because you have limits.
Sorry this was ranty and kind of disconnected!

clockworkjoe

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2013, 03:46:48 AM »
Thank you for your insight!I really appreciate hearing a new perspective on this issue.

Gorkamorka

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2013, 05:55:31 AM »
I have been thinking about throwing my two cents in  and now having read Bidoofs experience I feel like I'm coming to the party to late.  How does one follow an intimate expression like that.  :)  But I'm going to.  What is the internet for if not shouting out your opinions into the crowd.

The thing about horror is that different things are horrible to different people.  And some things are to horrible for some people to consider them fun.  I think the current English word for it is 'a trigger'.  Lover in the ice and Lover before the ice have some strong sex/rape triggers.  Caleb, you might want to put in a little boxed text in the beginning of those two saying something like "This scenario has some strong sexual elements to it.  Without giving away the surprise you might want to discuss with your player what type of horror they DON'T want to deal with". 

Personally I think that this conversation should happen before any group sits down to play for the first time.  Even a simple DnD scenario can become very uncomfortable for someone with a trigger reaction that no one expects.  Say someone with a strong phobia of spiders ending up playing s scenario full of drow.  I know for me the trigger is violence against children.  I put down game of thrones after reading for about an hour because a kid got thrown out a window.  Haven't picked it up again.  And it's not even because of personal experience with violence.  It's just because I have kids.
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Cthuluzord

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2013, 11:33:24 AM »
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I guess first of all I want to say that this might come out kind of harsh because it's an emotional topic for me but I want to make it clear that I think Caleb is really cool!  He seems like a good guy and I don't think he thinks rape is okay or anything.

Thank you for starting with this. Your response makes me feel like a pretty big tool, but it certainly helps to know that you aren't hating me from afar.

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When rape shows up in fiction, especially if it isn't handled sensitively, I am reminded of being raped.  It isn't a gigantic panic attack thing but it makes me feel uncomfortable and sad and sick and I am immediately taken out of whatever story for a while.

I cannot express how sorry I am for this. That was never, ever my intention. I apologize.

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It is worse in games for a couple reasons: Games are improvisational things, so it's harder to have things happen in a tasteful way.  You usually identify more with a character you control than a character in a book (players say "I slap the mayor", not "Doris, champion of Pelor slaps the mayor").


This seems to be one of the general themes of this discussion, and it might be my take away from the experience. I'm unwilling to say these subjects can't be dealt with in fiction at all, but maybe the collaborative and improvisational experience of an RPG can't exert enough control over the story to handle the topic well.

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The argument against that being important would be something like "That sucks for you, but you can't expect the world to change for you."  But I don't think reactions like mine are rare.

I would never, ever say something like that.

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So why is murder less offensive?  Well, rape happens a lot more.  To be blunt, murder victims aren't around to be offended.

I don't think it's less offensive at all. I agree that it's less common. But the victims of a violent crime aren't just the deceased: they're the parents and children and brothers and sisters and friends. I agree with you that the frequency (which is just depressing as shit to think about) makes rape a more sensitive topic statistically, but if something triggers someone personally I don't think the degree would be lessened any by violence.

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If you're raped, at best you get pity and at worst you are blamed.

Rape culture sucks. I agree that it is an issue that American culture has not yet symbolically "redeemed" one for suffering such a crime, false as such redemption may be. For instance, I don't think there is such of a thing as "a blaze of glory," and no on holds out under torture. But this is about the perception, and you're absolutely right on that front.

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I guess to be honest it kind of bothers me that it shows up so often in your writing.

Again, I'm sorry. I don't write to bother people, especially to this degree.

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Like, the Know Evil episode where the women were being forcibly impregnated was way too hard for me to deal with (and it kind of bothered me that the only thing people wrote about it in the comments was along the lines of "haha, pretty grimdark"), it kind of sucked to not hear Thad as Hunter S. Thompson because I figured out that scenario was related to Lover in the Ice and stopped listening.

Okay, I guess here is where I try to "defend" myself, though I no point am I saying bidoof is in anyway wrong to have these feelings.

In my mind, I don't separate rape from violence. It is sexual in nature because of it's location on the body and the cultural shame brought with it; the act itself is pure, unjustifiable violence. When I included the rape in the pirate stronghold, I did so because a) I'd read about it as a tactic of Somalian Pirate communities and wanted to ground the adventure in something real and b) according the setting, I couldn't figure out how a bunch of flats still existed in EP. Or for that matter, people that steal physical goods. I couldn't figure out how any of those villains could exist in a universe of exo-wombs, and I thought the inclusion of that detail would place horror in a scenario from an unexpected direction (the horror of what humans can do to each other rather than the horror of TITANS).

In the case of Lover Before the Ice, much like Lover in the Ice, no one is actually raped. . The humans merely use sex as a lure, then they kill people, every time. Unless you count the Amanta as a human (it's not), the act is symbolic. I'll admit the symbolism was an intentional attempt to invoke that body horror, but its also a very good reason to kill something with fire. Furthermore, the brothel in the prequel actually existed, just as Altamira and the TransAmazonica actually existed. There just weren't alien parasites to blame for the violence that no doubt occurred there.

All of that very well may have been in bad taste, and I'm sorry it made people feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to unpack my thinking and make sure everyone knows it didn't come from an intentionally harmful place. I was trying to add realism and create worthy antagonists, but I should have thought longer about how do to it in a less offensive way.

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There was a game Drew ran where your character was threatening to rape someone's wife, and it kind of sucks hearing someone you like say those kind of things.  It's like hearing your sweet old grandma be really racist or something.

I don't even remember saying this. I don't even remember Drew ever running a game. I'm not saying you're lying; what would possibly be the motivation for that? I'm just deeply ashamed that I would do something like this and horrified to think I could do so without realizing it. I'm so, so very sorry.

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I guess what I want is:  If you're going to include rape, have a really good understanding of what it is and how it might effect readers, and label it so people who need to can avoid it.

I will make more of an effort to label such things in the future. As far as understanding though, I don't think it's possible. If I'm being honest, I knew that any mention of rape at all, in any context, could trigger negative emotions in some people that underwent such an experience. I knew that when I wrote the scenarios, but underestimated the scope and scale of the interaction. I understand that rape is an awful, terrible thing. I understand it is an act of violence, and perhaps the single most common act of violence in our world. I understand it needs to stop, as well as the culture that's shaming its victims, and as such I put it in a place where murderhobos could shoot at it.

But that's as far as my understanding is ever going to extend as a person lucky enough to have avoided such an experience. And I'm not sure that's every going to be enough. Does that mean we can't ever talk about it in fiction? Like issues of race and religion and all that other touchy stuff? For me, dealing with those topics in games and stories is more productive than talking about the bald, offensive facts...but that's coming from my limited understanding.

What I'm saying is that I feel irresponsible just ignoring the possibility of sexual violence as conflict at all. Turning all characters in every setting into neutered Ken dolls that murder neutered Kobolts feels offensive to me in its silence and denial. But the level of understanding required to deal with the situation tastefully is (thankfully) forever beyond me, so I feel like it's my only choice.

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Also I've heard "It's a horror game, you should feel as uncomfortable as possible" and that's silly.  It's a game you're playing for fun with your friends, not a tribal manhood ritual. You're not a worse gamer because you have limits.

I wouldn't make this argument. "Too far" is implied as a possibility in the title.

Thank you for your thoughtful and brave response bidoof. You've given me a lot to think about. Again, I'm sorry for any pain my writing or playing may have caused, and I'll endeavor to do better in the future.

bidoof

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2013, 12:45:31 PM »
Aaaugh I really didn't want anyone to feel bad!  I guess to clarify a lot of what I said was more preemptive arguments against things I've seen in other places on the internet.  The Drew game I was talking about was the one with the moonrocks: http://actualplay.roleplayingpublicradio.com/2013/03/systems/call-of-cthulhu/call-of-cthulhu-delta-green-tiamat/

Cthuluzord

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2013, 02:18:55 PM »
You're fine. It just brought some things to my awareness. That's what the thread was for.

geekyogrt

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2013, 07:27:44 AM »
bidoof -

Some really interesting points. 

Not asking this in a rude way, but what traumatic events are okay to cover?  Not saying it is on par with rape, but infidelity affects drastically more people than rape (again not equating, however there can be life altering shifts in personality, choices, etc).  It also occurs as a regular theme in entertainment, so folks affected are exposed constantly.

Is that okay to include in fiction / entertainment? 

Caleb's previous mention of mental illness is similar.

Is it only okay to include a traumatic event if it didn't affect the reader or it only affects a certain % of the population?  Why is one pain okay and another not? 

Is it up to the consumer to avoid sensitive material for their triggers vs the author to censor?  Should the author have to pre-disclose content of a sensitive nature i.e. movie ratings?

Again, curious vs. confrontational.

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2013, 07:24:57 PM »
That's really up to the individual gamers in a group, geekyogrt, and it's easier to come up with a list of what's not cool.  For example, a game I run for my group has a hard 'No violence against children' rule and it's because I don't wanna see that shit.  Even with that in mind, I'd never tell someone that scenarios shouldn't be written if they include things that I may find distasteful or distressing.  Writers simply need to remember that some players will reject scenarios out of hand if they do include those sort of things. 

That's not something an author should feel a need to necessarily apologize for but it's the reality of the marketplace.  I know some of Cormac McCarthy's material features children in horrible, violent situations so I won't be buying his books but I don't need an apology from him.  It also doesn't necessarily mean that I automatically judge stories that include such distasteful things to be bad or poorly written.  There are parts of the video game The Last Of Us that include violence against children but I thought it had a well-written narrative.  It made me overly emotional and put me off replaying it but I'm still glad I experienced the story.

Jadzia Katarzyna

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2013, 03:19:05 PM »
Firstly, polite apologies for possibly resurrecting a topic that was considered closed. Also, for if this gets too introspective and rambly. It's 4am for me on a rainy night, perfect for thinking the deep thoughts we reject in the daylight hours.

I want to start by stating I am a rape survivor, not for pity, empathy and only a little for understanding. You see, I don't get to say that in my flesh and blood life. It is painful for my loved ones to hear and I spend the majority of my social time with my fellow geeks. I love our subculture dearly. It's clever, creative, fantastic and can be marvellous fun. However, I often feel like it doesn't love me very much.  I slowly slipped out of my role playing group because, despite being normally fairly empathic individuals (which included my boss, a coworker and the man who would become my partner), there was something about the gaming environment that brought out the rape jokes. The night that was set aside for me to relax and enjoy a game with my friends quickly turned into lessons of control. Could I stop my hands from shaking?  Could I pass off the dread settled in my gut as a reaction to too much pizza?  It was easier to give up something I enjoy than explain to my friends that they were hurting me.

So, given the above, I believe there is a need for all members of the group, be they player or GM, to foster an environment where any one person can feel confident in saying, this is my line.

I don't believe that rape can never be used. The thing I hear most survivors asking for is consideration. For some, that's including a trigger warning. For others, it's not seeing the same old tropes. I know I personally am extraordinarily tired of seeing the 'women gain strength through rape' trope. I fall into both of the above categories from time to time, but most important to me is seeing the thought process.

Caleb, you are doing everything I personally ask from someone dealing with this content. You are thinking about what you are writing (perhaps a little retrospectively in this case) and you are open to comments. Lover in the Ice is one of my favourites of the Actual Plays. I drew the rape analogy fairly quickly but for me, it was almost cathartic to hear my horror reflected by other voices in a safe space. I will note that the pirates left me cold, I was glad I had spoiled myself by reading the comments on that one.

I guess that is what makes it hard. The experiences of one survivor don't always match the experiences of another. All we can really do is ask ourselves 'does this serve a purpose or am I merely throwing it in for 'grimdark' purposes.  There is a little more sensitivity going around at the moment, due to our struggle dealing with the gaming use of the word. (One day, I'll snap at the fourteen year old who compares character death to the complete erasure of my personal autonomy. I'll be fired but it would be worth it).

Hopefully, somewhere in the above I've answered your question. I'd like to finish by thanking all the RPPR crew. You are my vicarious entry into a world I love and you do it in a way that is safe for me. I know that triggering topics may be touched on but you all appear to approach it from a respectful position and I can trust that I'll be able to get to the other side of it.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2013, 02:06:39 AM »
Thanks for giving us your insight into the topic. It's good to hear we're on the right track. I almost never edit our APs but I do occasionally worry if we ever go too far in some of them. They're meant to be entertaining. The last thing I want is to cause real stress or anxiety in any of our listeners. 

Firstly, polite apologies for possibly resurrecting a topic that was considered closed. Also, for if this gets too introspective and rambly. It's 4am for me on a rainy night, perfect for thinking the deep thoughts we reject in the daylight hours.

I want to start by stating I am a rape survivor, not for pity, empathy and only a little for understanding. You see, I don't get to say that in my flesh and blood life. It is painful for my loved ones to hear and I spend the majority of my social time with my fellow geeks. I love our subculture dearly. It's clever, creative, fantastic and can be marvellous fun. However, I often feel like it doesn't love me very much.  I slowly slipped out of my role playing group because, despite being normally fairly empathic individuals (which included my boss, a coworker and the man who would become my partner), there was something about the gaming environment that brought out the rape jokes. The night that was set aside for me to relax and enjoy a game with my friends quickly turned into lessons of control. Could I stop my hands from shaking?  Could I pass off the dread settled in my gut as a reaction to too much pizza?  It was easier to give up something I enjoy than explain to my friends that they were hurting me.

So, given the above, I believe there is a need for all members of the group, be they player or GM, to foster an environment where any one person can feel confident in saying, this is my line.

I don't believe that rape can never be used. The thing I hear most survivors asking for is consideration. For some, that's including a trigger warning. For others, it's not seeing the same old tropes. I know I personally am extraordinarily tired of seeing the 'women gain strength through rape' trope. I fall into both of the above categories from time to time, but most important to me is seeing the thought process.

Caleb, you are doing everything I personally ask from someone dealing with this content. You are thinking about what you are writing (perhaps a little retrospectively in this case) and you are open to comments. Lover in the Ice is one of my favourites of the Actual Plays. I drew the rape analogy fairly quickly but for me, it was almost cathartic to hear my horror reflected by other voices in a safe space. I will note that the pirates left me cold, I was glad I had spoiled myself by reading the comments on that one.

I guess that is what makes it hard. The experiences of one survivor don't always match the experiences of another. All we can really do is ask ourselves 'does this serve a purpose or am I merely throwing it in for 'grimdark' purposes.  There is a little more sensitivity going around at the moment, due to our struggle dealing with the gaming use of the word. (One day, I'll snap at the fourteen year old who compares character death to the complete erasure of my personal autonomy. I'll be fired but it would be worth it).

Hopefully, somewhere in the above I've answered your question. I'd like to finish by thanking all the RPPR crew. You are my vicarious entry into a world I love and you do it in a way that is safe for me. I know that triggering topics may be touched on but you all appear to approach it from a respectful position and I can trust that I'll be able to get to the other side of it.

Jadzia Katarzyna

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2013, 12:12:41 PM »
Thanks for the response. Sharing is always a little nerve wracking so it's nice to know it helped. I try to discuss and create dialogue when I have the energy for it to break the culture of silence and shame that exists around it. I believe dealing in these topics in game spaces can help shift ideas and create discussion, though preferably it's approached in a thoughtful way.

Triggers are so individual and personal that it's impossible not to trip someones somewhere along the line. It doesn't help that western culture has shaped the narrative of rape into stranger danger and victim blaming, despite the vast majority of cases being perpetrated by a close contact. If I can fall into student social scientist mode, I think most listeners are aware that you are operating under your own social contract/group norms so the actions and reactions will be shaped by that. Ultimately, we listeners are almost like eavesdroppers into your great games.

I guess mostly it's just refreshing not to see people follow Crystal Dynamics path of disaster in how to address worries.

I just wanted to reiterate that my experience and opinions may not be reflective of other survivors. I'm ten years into healing and still have some journey to go so change is always inevitable. I certainly would have reacted differently at the start of this.

There are some wonderful discussions along these topics coming out of the video gaming world as it hits its growing pains for further reading if time permits.

metalwhisper

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2013, 11:51:04 AM »
Jadzia and bidoof,
First, I also want to thank you both for having the courage to share your thoughts and personal experiences with the rest of us. It must definitely not have been easy, but it's added depth to an already important conversation, one that I feel we should keep having. Violence in gaming is something I think a lot about. While I rabidly enjoy gaming and horror, I do feel that Caleb asks a very important question in "How far is too far?"

Around the gaming table, I think it's as you point out Jadzia: each group of players operates with their own social contract. I agree with Gorkamorka, that topic should be discussed among all player before the game begins, so that the lines of what can and can't be crossed are well established.

With publishing adventures, games, etc. it must become trickier though, since the material can potentially be read by anyone, and there's not really a time when the author is discussing with that individual person which of those lines are okay to cross for him or her. True, you can have a rating for the material, or a warning on the cover, something along those lines. And also, if it's a horror scenario, one purchases and reads it knowing it's probably not going to be pretty. People go into a R rated horror movie knowing that they're going to be made uncomfortable. They go into a R rated action movie knowing they're going to see violence. If they don't want to, they just don't buy the ticket.

But, if they do buy the ticket, or purchase the scenario, they can be relatively okay with a lot of the content that's presented, but something might be too much. Something might take them by surprise, and they can be severely offended, or it can call up very painful memories if they had themselves been through a similar circumstance.

How to handle content like that in a game becomes a delicate issue, then. And a difficult one. Horror is horror because it makes us uncomfortable to one degree or another. I'd guess we're fans of the genre because of this, to an extent. And part of what makes us uncomfortable in our culture is sex and violence. Really, how often does Lovecraft refer to "blasphemous" and "unnameable" rites, etc? Clearly, it's impossible to not offend anyone all the time with such content, but especially when dealing with more touchy subjects, such as sexual violence, I think the difficulty increases exponentially.

What's the solution? I don't think there really is a specific one. The easiest would be not to broach these subjects at all. I hesitate to say that, since I don't want to advocate any form of censorship. If the goal is to avoid offending anyone, however, that is simply the route to go.

Another way is to address these subjects, but to do so in a careful way that is respectful, but also addresses the seriousness of the subject, and hopefully causes the gaming group, or audience, to think about it and relate it with their own and others humanity. That takes a high degree of maturity from both the audience, and also the author. I do believe that Caleb in his scenarios, addresses these issues well, and I think the fact that he is questioning himself in the first place is very reflective of that.

Ultimately, I don't know that there is an answer. I guess that's not very helpful, but really it comes down to what the author is willing to risk, and what the audience is able to tolerate.
For my own part, I've played a lot, a whole lot, of violent video games. I've also watched a whole lot of violent movies, and read a whole lot of horror. In my rl job, I've seen the results of violence relatively often. There is a world of separation between rl violence and fictional violence usually. So I like to think I high have a high tolerance for the portrayal of violence in media. Even so, I know on a few occasions where it was a little too much even for me. As a recent example, let me point out a line that I can't cross.

I really like heist movies. They're cool. There is something about them that, as a gamer, translates very well to rpgs and video games. You have a group of specialists after a certain goal. Each has their own skill set. They are trying to break into a bank, corporate building, whatever(essentially modern day "dungeons"). There are cool gadgets and weaponry. So on. I could go on.

Recently, Payday 2 was released. Part of me really wants to play this game. It's a heist game. It's a cooperative game, my favorite kind of shooter. But I can't get myself to get it. Why? Well, the fact that it involves shooting  down waves upon waves of police officers.

Not zombies. Not robots. Not aliens. Not even sociopathic criminals, or even oppressive guards of some dystopian fascist state. They're just cops. For whatever reason, playing a game where I'm killing them indiscriminately makes me very uncomfortable. I can't do it.

It's just a game. I don't believe for a second anyone(or at least the vast majority) playing it has anything against law enforcement, or wants to rob a bank, and so on. I'm sure it's a very fun game. But I just can't cross that line. I can in other games, but not that one. Not sure what that says about me, but there's an example of my own particular limit.
Anyway, I went off into a ramble there. I do tend to do that sometimes. Again, very interesting, and important discussion.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 06:50:17 PM by metalwhisper »

Jadzia Katarzyna

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2013, 04:17:08 PM »
Thank you for your thoughtful response and your own self-disclosure, Metalwhisper. I also spend a lot of time with video games, as I'm working in video game retail while I study my degree. Apologies if I get rambly, I've been buried in academic writing of personality theory for the last two days.

With respect to avoiding triggers in published works, I actually think that is easier as a consumer. There are rating systems, reviews, trailers and word of mouth to draw on. I see the few surprise triggers as inevitable in life. You can't avoid all of them and sometimes something that is a trigger one day won't be on another. That's where the personal responsibility of healing and coping mechanisms comes into it. For example, when I'm low on energy, be it a stressful day or just lack of sleep, loud, primarily male, voices can trigger a flashback for me. That usually means a freeze reaction and then a rush of anger that my body has determined as the best response to remove me from the perceived danger. I've developed the coping response of then grounding myself by getting to a friendly voice, often a phone call to my mother or partner, which lets me ride through the last of the effects.

It frustrates me a little that so often this discussion turns to talk of censorship in the places it occurs. The majority of the discussion I see are requests for respect in the handling of these topics, not the complete erasure. I want to acknowledge that I don't think that is what you are doing here, it's just a general trend I see. It shifts the power away from survivors again, treating us as oppressors, silencing us by accusing us of trying to stifle others voices.

Like I said before, I don't think it's possible to never offend anyone. We're all different, it's part of the joy of living (people and their stories are kind of my passion). I don't know that it's necessarily even desirable. After all, we learn by challenging ourselves and our beliefs. For me, desired intent would be the intent to be respectful, to use problematic content for more than gratuitous shock and have the class to apologise and listen to criticism of this use.

It's feels strange to talk about a rape scene done right but there are so many ones done wrong that I like to give a example that reflects my idea of one. I can't remember the exact episode but I think it was in season one of The Closer, the lead character successfully fights off a rape attempt. The aspect that makes it work for me is not that she succeeded in stopping her assailant but there was none of the framing of her body in a way that dehumanised. She was always a person in those moments, no emphasis drawn to her breasts or loving tracing of her face. In contrast, I've never been able to watch Game of Thrones, with the way the wedding night was shot, casting the woman as an object to be consumed.

There absolutely is a difference between fictional violence and real life violence but I do think it can desensitise us, not to actual in the moment violence because I'm a humanist at heart, but within our ability to engage with empathy in our discussions of violence. I also think there is not a lot of personal responsibility to interactions with this medium. I live in Australia so we're just starting to deal with the R rated games but just look at the behaviour that occurred with regards to the Saints Row 4 saga. It was refused classification due to the direct reward link with drugs giving you super powers, something that is expressly stated in the classification guidelines as something that can not be classified under an R rating. I had work colleagues throwing temper tantrums about being denied their game without researching why, just written off as the old fuddie duddies and pearl clutching mothers.  I can't count the number of parents who have bought GTA 4 for their 7 yr old kids because 'they just play them at their friends house anyway' or how many are fine with drugs, violence and swearing but balk at prostitutes.

Apologies, went on a slight work rant there.  The example I wandered from was that during the R rating petition process there were people leaving death threats on the door of the major Attorney-General blocking it's path. Traditionally, we learnt our morals and codes through story telling and I don't believe we've evolved to the point where our subconscious knows when something isn't a lesson. The casual treatment of violence creates a disconnect with the reality of that violence.

I play and enjoy most games, though I tend to avoid GTA (no real interest in playing a gang member) or the COD/Battlefields (all respect to Americans but I find them a little too much military propaganda and toxic community for my tastes). This doesn't mean I don't think these games should exist but it'd be nice to see a bit more diversity in choices.

I'm really grateful that everyone here has been very respectful and welcoming. I spend a lot if my time reading gaming discussions, particularly around gender (as I still have people asking to speak to a man when the come into the store or automatically assume I'm not senior staff) and it can be a terrifyingly toxic space. I enjoy discussing ideas as I like to constantly challenge my own (self-reflection and integrity of self are kind of a big deal in my chosen career path, plus I figure I have to live with myself at the end of the day) and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from you all as well.  No one has all the answers after all.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2013, 01:03:20 AM »
What's interesting in these discussions of controversial media sources is the split between "I don't want the media I like to be censored or restricted" versus "those people/kids shouldn't have access to that media" - everyone draws the line somewhere but the thing is, if you say that certain media should not be consumed/viewed by certain people then you admit it can influence people. But, of course, you're reasonable and no violent movie or video game is going to corrupt you, right?

Jadzia Katarzyna

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Re: Horror: How Far is Too Far?
« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2013, 03:11:20 AM »
Yeah, I hit that a lot in these discussions, that somehow we are completely rational beings that can chose every facet that influences us.  It's really boggling for me, considering how very little we still know about how the brain functions and personality is determined.  My favourite example was when I was discussing Mad Men with a coworker.  He uttered "Yeah, it has the sexism of the times.  You feel really sorry for the poor bitches" and it took me looking at him with a raised eyebrow before even realised what he said.  This from a guy that has confronted the manager about his sexist behaviour when he wouldn't listen to the women working for him.  So I think it's a little ridiculous to think these things exist in a vacuum or that somehow we choose or are above it's influence.

With my example with the GTA parents, for me, it's less that they are buying it for their kid and more that they are waiving their responsibility towards knowing what their child is consuming.  When I hit a few parents that jokingly say "you must think I'm awful buying this for my kid", my response is always "You know your child better than I ever could.  I'm just here to give you the information to make up your own mind."

It's why I like classifications.  Not everyone has the time to research a product so having a snapshot of the expected content within that allows you to decide whether that is appropriate or not is awesome..  Chances are with the above GTA parents, there won't be discussions about the context the game exists in.  I'm not sure I agree with the stance that video games are inherently more influential by being interactive media as, being completely unscientific, my brother and I were equally likely to rough-house after our favourite Jackie Chan flick than after playing Marvel vs Capcom.  There isn't a lot of unbiased research into the subject yet which is a shame.

It's a discussion that gets complicated very quickly, as well as reactive because it's one that hits a lot of people's hidden buttons by it's very nature.  My solution is always going to be provide more information and respect someones ability to chose for themselves.

Edit: because apparently my fingers decided that walking and working totally is the same word.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 03:15:46 AM by Jadzia Katarzyna »