It has been 7 months since my last set of sociological observation notes.
In February of 2019, I listed some broad social dynamics that I routinely observe as a role-player, dynamics that I believe have a significant impact on how online RP (role-playing) culture, specifically situated around Discord, is socially constructed. You can find those sets of observations here.
In those notes, I focused on the social group that is Discord with concepts that are more oriented towards society in the techno role-playing community. The focus of the comments that follow will be the individual Role Player, his or her emotional experiences, player character death, and how power shapes gaming experiences on selected Conan Exiles servers.
First “emotions” and “emotional experiences” — there is a term for the experience that I have almost every time my character is in a role-play where strong emotions are also in play. That term is “emotional bleeding”.
A Google search of the term provided the following references:
It follows that the more “skilled” and/or “experienced” role-players have more skill in separating “character emotions” from “player emotions”, and are able to control the bleed.
Although I have observed several OOC (out of character) arguments, in-game and out of game, bleed is often effectively governed (or regulated) by server rules, peer pressure, and admin intervention.
My own experience with bleed has been painful and instructive. Painful because I have been surprised and troubled by the intensity of the emotions that I have experienced as a player. Most, if not all, of these highly charged emotional events, have been fantasies of my own construction, based on very little information, and full of wild-eyed madness.
And so I hypothesis that any serious role-player will experience bleed as a normal phenomenological experience that all must past through and process.
Phenomenology, the study of consciousness as experienced first-person, is an excellent way to understand the player experience of emotional bleed. I say this because, in the case of emotions felt by the player, the player most often has very little to no information about other players in real terms. Instead what each individual player has is a composite of information about the persons they are playing with that is based on role-playing experiences, character biographies, consent sheets, and OOC interaction in-game and on Discord.
This means that emotional content is highly first person oriented and based on symbolic interpersonal relationships, past experiences with others, or some other material content that has shaped their PC (Player Character).
I sense that there are other observations to be made about the role of emotionality in techno-roleplaying communities, but bleed is the central concept.
I’ll cover death in the next post.