Consent

meaning and definition

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    What is consent?

    In the context of roleplaying, consent refers to the agreement between players regarding what can and cannot happen to their characters within the game.

    The concept of consent is important for ensuring that all participants feel safe, respected, and comfortable with the game’s events and outcomes.

    Consent covers a range of actions, from character development to plot twists and interpersonal dynamics. In text-based roleplaying games, establishing consent helps maintain a positive and collaborative gaming environment.

    Consent in roleplaying has evolved as part of the broader movement towards safer and more inclusive gaming spaces. It originated from the need to address personal boundaries and ensure that all players enjoy the gaming experience without discomfort or distress.


    Consent FAQs

    How is consent typically established in a roleplaying game?

    Consent is usually established through pre-game discussions, ongoing communication, and sometimes formal agreements or consent forms. Players discuss their boundaries, triggers, and expectations before the game begins and agree on mechanisms for pausing or altering the game if needed (such as using a safe word).

    Can consent be withdrawn in a roleplaying game?

    Yes, consent can be withdrawn at any time in games that require consent. If a player becomes uncomfortable with how the scene is progressing, they have the right to express their discomfort and request a change. This flexibility is essential to maintaining a safer and enjoyable gaming environment.

    However, keep in mind that not all games require consent from players or may only require consent for certain things, such as acting out scenes of an intimate nature.

    What is mutual consent?

    Mutual consent is when both players have given their consent for a specific activity or scenario.

    What happens if someone violates consent in a roleplay?

    If consent is violated, the game should be paused and the situation addressed immediately. This may involve discussing the breach, ensuring the affected player feels safe, and deciding on how to proceed. Repeated or severe violations can lead to a player being removed from the game with a ban.

    Are there tools or mechanisms that help manage consent in roleplaying?

    Yes, there are several tools and mechanisms designed to help manage consent. These include safety tools like the X-Card, script change tools, and session zero discussions where players establish boundaries and discuss game expectations. Some games may have built-in commands or established safe words, as well.

    How does consent differ between tabletop and text-based roleplaying games?

    While the core concept of consent remains the same, the methods of communication and enforcement can differ. Text-based games often rely more on written agreements and explicit consent due to the absence of physical cues and real-time feedback (as in a play-by-post game).

    Myths about consent

    One common myth is that discussing consent will limit creativity and spontaneity in the game. In reality, setting clear boundaries often enhances the gaming experience by ensuring all players feel comfortable and engaged.

    Another misconception is that consent is only necessary for games with mature or sensitive content. However, consent can be a powerful tool for promoting responsibility and respect among players in a variety of games, whether or not they’re explicitly focused on mature themes.

    See: Erotic roleplay (ERP) and consent in games.

    Consent examples

    • Before starting a MUSH, players fill out a consent form detailing what content they are comfortable with and what is off-limits for their character.
    • In a play-by-post game, a player writes a private message to another, asking if their characters can develop a romantic relationship or have an erotic scene.
    • During a MUD session, a player uses a pre-agreed safe word to indicate they are uncomfortable with the current storyline, prompting a pause for discussion.
    • In a chatroom-based game, the moderator asks for explicit consent from all players before introducing a new, potentially triggering plot twist.

    Related terms

    • CNC RP
    • ERP
    • safe word
    • session zero
    • trigger warning

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."