ROLEPLAYING POLICY OF THE SILK & STEEL
We at the S&S fully understand that "playing" is basic human nature and that a certain amount of it is not only inevitable, but healthy for the psyche. Portraying a "role" in a game is a form of play, and it can be quite fun. In and of itself, playing is not harmful, even when it involves roleplaying.
The harm comes when other people don't understand that it is just a game and, more importantly, when someone intentionally preys upon that lack of understanding and chooses to practice and maintain deception.
We believe that offline tabletop roleplaying games, single-player computer or console-based roleplaying games, and even multi-player computer roleplaying games are essentially harmless... provided these games are played in moderation, and provided that all participants and observers understand that what is occurring is strictly a game, for amusement purposes only.
We believe that in certain cases online chat and avatar-based roleplaying can be harmful for the following reason:
- Individuals involved in virtual interaction can be falsely subjected to the rules and protocols of such games against their will or without their knowledge.
- Individuals involved in virtual interaction who take part in such games can and do easily deceive others regarding their actual offline identities and motives.
Further, we believe that Gor-themed roleplaying, be it online or offline, can be particularly detrimental to practitioners of an extrapolated Gorean philosophy for the following reason:
Such gaming confuses the issue of identity and blurs the lines between serious and devoted adherents to the Gorean philosophy and lifestyle versus those only interested in Gorean interaction under the assumed guise of artificial "character" identities for game-based recreation.
The anonymity that makes virtual landscape arenas and Internet chat media so enjoyable also enables deception on a grand scale. As long as one knows it is just a game and doesn't take it seriously, then one can ignore instances of gross foolishness and have a good time. But some people take things quite seriously and they do not understand nor expect that others are not equally serious. There are real emotions and real people behind the screen, and that brings ethics into the mix.
We see no problem in the practice of adopting "use names" while interacting online in a properly Gorean manner. There is a Gorean precedent for that practice.
We see no problem with fanciful descriptions or graphical interfaces depicting one's virtual surroundings, or of one's virtual actions, when used simply as a means to add a bit of "color" or "flavor" to the virtual online environment-- provided one does NOT turn such activity into a competitive, rules-based pretend game played by people posing as characters other than who they are.
Our original criticism of Gorean-themed roleplaying occurred simply because other people did it poorly and incorrectly, due to misinformation about Gorean customs, practices, and places as depicted in John Norman's Chronicles of Gor. To the more knowledgeable Gorean aficionado, the resulting mish-mash of pseudo-Gorean fantasy dreck was worthy of nothing other than contempt and ridicule.
The S&S has since evolved into a group of people who are dedicated to living life according to Gorean principles. We do not stop being Gorean when we log off. That does not mean that we must be perpetually serious, overly strict, overbearing individuals. We laugh and love and cry the same as all other human beings. And we like to play. As long as all concerned understand what is play and what is not, and we do not practice deception, then nothing we do is harmful.
Engaging in game play in such traditional tabletop RPG games as Dungeons & Dragons and the like: no problem, in moderation.
World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc.: fine, in moderation.
Interactive virtual worlds such as Second Life, etc.: fine, as long as no purposeful deception is intended.
Membership in, and participation in, live action roleplaying organizations and historical reenactment activities wherein an assumed "role" is portrayed as part of the fun, provided said role or adopted persona is freely admitted to be artificial and to exist only within the purview of the live-action roleplaying environment or historical reenactment: fine, within moderation and providing no untoward damage is done to the lives of the participants.
Running around online "in character" claiming to be Gorean offline and pretending to do things one could not, or would not, ever actually do offline... adopting an artificial "persona" while interacting online in specifically non-roleplaying Gorean venues... or any other means of using Gorean interaction to purposely deceive other people into believing that you are, offline, something you actually are not: BAD.
In ALL cases, the ultimate arbiter of whether or not an interaction is to be considered "deceptive roleplaying" is based upon the following definition:
"Deceptive roleplaying" occurs whenever a person assumes an invented "character" identity and behaves in a manner inconsistent with his own natural identity and personality. In such cases, such roleplaying must be considered deliberately deceptive UNLESS THE ROLEPLAYER FREELY AND PUBLICLY ADMITS THAT THE ASSUMED IDENTITY IS A FALSE ONE AND SUCH A GAME IS BEING PLAYED when so asked.
The worst such offenders adopt one or more artificial "real life" identities whom they portray online, deliberately lying to all with whom they interact and claiming to be, offline, a fictionalized or idealized version of themselves... and refuse to admit otherwise when questioned or caught lying.
Our ultimate rule about such online gaming is: The more deceptive and misleading it is, the less tolerable we find it to be.