DyingLight community update

Changes in Organization:

People Who Left the org:

The following people have recently left the Org. This has left positions that will need to be filled in order for the Org to continue on. 

Chumlee

Marshall

Mikaela

 

Cultural changes needed

The root of my personal ideology is Compassion. It has informed many decisions I have made about and surrounding the community. My desire to see the best in people, to believe that we are all “Doing the best we can, with the tools we have”, have at times clouded my vision from seeing the truth of reality. At times I have given the benefit of the doubt towards situations, in the hope that it was just a small mis-step, that there wasn’t a malicious intent driving them.

 

So, what’s the problem?  

 

To be direct, I’ve become aware of an underlying ‘hookup’ culture present in our community. This ties into over sexualization as well as a lack of respect and understanding of what consent really is. Newer members of our community have left due to being “hit on” or having sexual comments directed at them.  

Sadly, we aren’t alone in this. LARP’s in the PNW have had trouble with this for a long time. 

There’s a lot of influences that come into play, a lot of different things get blamed for causing or supporting a hookup culture. I never wanted to be head of an organization that was contributing to it, however I admit that some of my past behavior may have done just that. It can be hard to see from the inside of a community. 

But that’s why we need to address it.

 

As I’ve personally grown, I could see how my actions had caused harm to others. Causing me to work to change my behavior, and to make amends as best I could. This is what makes me believe that you and the community can also grow from having a light shined on this.

 

Respect and Consent

Respect –

A way of treating or thinking about something or someone. If you respect your teacher, you admire her and treat her well.

We usually think of respect as something we show to others. After all, the golden rule is “Treat others as you wish to be treated.”.

I prefer what’s called the platinum rule “Teach others as -they- wish to be treated”.

We need to apply this principle to each other, and perhaps most crucially towards new members of our community. Particularly those belonging to minority groups. Persons of Color, Trans in specific but the whole spectrum of LGBTQ+, and Alter-abled are all groups that we don’t see often in Larping because of a lack of respect, understanding, and friendship that someone needs to really feel like they are part of the group.

 

Now, how about respecting ourselves? It can be a difficult idea, daunting even, to look at respect this way. Truly reflect on how you treat yourself, is this how you want to be treated? Are you treating yourself well, respecting yourself?

This can get even harder when we have outside influences. Are others treating you well, respecting you? Will you say something if someone disrespects you? Will you do something about it?

For myself, the answer has too often been “No”. It’s something I struggle with and I feel it’s something many of us do as well. It’s hard, it hurts, it’s frightening to do so. 

But that’s where Respect best blossoms. Having respect for yourself allows you to better have respect for those around you, and perhaps most importantly, gives you the ability to truly give consent.

 

Consent-

 Is permission that can be given or taken away.

It’s a pretty simple definition.

It’s just a “Yes” or “No” right?

It is, but there’s so much more to it.

And that’s where we as a community seem to be struggling. We need to dip into some of the abstract parts of consent, and the ethics involved. There’s “Coercion” and “Consent”, and how a lot of unspoken or unwitting “Coercion” can look like “Consent”.

Consent can only be truly given if the party giving it is in full knowledge of what’s being asked, and holds a similar power balance with the person asking. Anything less is coercion. This may sound harsh, but that needs to be our truth. There should be no risk of reprisal from denying consent at any time, otherwise it again is Coercion.

Full knowledge, means that there is no confusion between the parties of what’s being sought.. In practical application this means that the Asker needs to make sure the Asked can repeat back what’s being asked. This can clear up a lot of confusion up front. As new information becomes available the Asked should feel safe in withdrawing consent.

So far so good right? This is stuff that we’ve talked about at game. But I believe it’s important to think of what full knowledge means in the context of coercion, and in particular context to the power dynamic present.

The second half of the equation here is the power dynamic. This is the most common source of coercion, and it can often be due to ignorance.

The power dynamic between two parties is complex. Social standing, physical or intellectual ability, knowledge and experience (of which age doesn’t always predicate), environment, and financial assets all come into play to determine the dynamic present.

For instance, an established or well-loved player will have significantly more social capital than someone that’s new to the group. A gathering of people magnifies the social disparity, and can apply pressure (aka coercion) to either party. Though doing so usually puts the asked party at a disadvantage.

Someone who is respectful both to themselves and others will take a moment, to further consider these factors, in order to determine if consent is even possible. If there is no way for both parties to be in full knowledge and having a similar power dynamic, then permission won’t be asked. Seeking permission regardless of any disparities is coercion. Plain and simple.

 

How do you ask consent?

  • Determine if there is a power disparity that affects the permission sought. 
  • Fully inform the other party. Have them repeat back their interpretation. Open the table for further discussion until both are satisfied with understanding the permission being sought.
  • Explicitly ask for permission.
  • If permission is denied at any point. Drop it and move on. 

 

Challenges

The above behavior is not a hypothetical. We’ve had folks, who were being vulnerable in opening themselves to joining a new community, be turned away because they weren’t shown respect or were sexualized or hit on. This is a very real problem that has actively lost our group members, when we pride ourselves on being an open and friendly community.

 

I want to believe that everyone has good in them. I also believe that people will behave in ways that the culture approves of. We want to think that we are “Right”, that our actions are justified. 

 

The best “villains” are written with a backstory that explains why they believe that they are righteous in  their actions. We relate to them, because we are them.

 

Consequently, when a behavior is not challenged you are by proxy endorsing that behavior. By not challenging the behavior you are consenting to that behavior being applied to you.

 

That’s the hardest part of this kind of change, is that we have to be ready, willing and able to actively challenge behavior that is contrary to these ideals. Then and only then can we grow as a community into one that focuses on helping and lifting each other up. Providing a truly safe space to explore yourself by becoming another person.

 

To be clear, those who do not behave in accordance with this community standard will be ousted from the community.

Exemplifying and enforcing cultural transition

Those of us with the most power MUST exemplify the culture that we must turn towards. We must stand up and challenge each other. Using our power to push the community in healthy ways. 

 

This demands introspection, patience, and mindfulness. I know it’s a lot but anyone who holds power over others must use it wisely. 

 

That is why I will be requiring those who are granted power by position meet our community standards. They are standard bearers, and help by being the guideposts for the community at large.

Replacing Operations staff

With Chumlee and Marshall stepping away from DyingLight we will need two new people to step into that role. Kris is able to and willing to continue is his agreed roles as an Op member and head of rules.

The Op team is three or more people who are responsible for making the event happen. Scheduling, team head assignment, financials, and material transportation are all parts of the job. The Op team doesn’t have to perform any of the work themselves, but they need to make sure it gets done.

It’s more of an oversight committee. They can do the work, or assign it out to other people.

They have to be capable and dependable.

 

The Op members don’t already have to be experienced in the role, just willing to step into it and learn.

Replacing leader positions

Head’s of Plot, Logistics, Disciplinary, Site Safety, and Mental Health are all currently empty.

The time table and future of DL

With the continued state of the pandemic it is unclear as to when DL can have an in person event again. This means that it gives us time to determine what the future of DL holds.

 

The first thing that needs to be determined, is if this initiative is something that the community will embrace. 

Second, the head of Plot and the Op team positions need to be filled. Without those, games simply can’t happen.

The rest can come afterwards, so long as it’s before the first physical event is scheduled.

To be very clear, if these roles can’t be filled, and these challenges met then the game will fold. We’ve got till the end of the year to determine what will be the future of DL.

 

As for OASIS, if there is interest, I’m willing to continue handling the paperwork and such for the NPO, and allowing people to operate their own games under it. Certain criteria will have to be met of course, but this an option. If there is no interest, then I will terminate the Nonprofit.

 

In closing, I believe that the community is capable of growth, of change. But it will require constant work, constant diligence to make it happen. The members that want to be part of this vision will need to band together and become the Hero’s that have always had in them.