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EPI Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on AOL’s Players Assisting Players circa 2004.

I must preface this post with a little background before I begin… Throughout my FFRP experience I have been besieged by many who seem to reflect a common issue concerning their time spent in the RDI.  They feel “ignored”, “blown off”, “disrespected”, “under appreciated”, “overlooked”.  Mostly?  They are frustrated…  They don’t feel that they are getting what they think they want… However… they seem to think that I get what they think they want.  That I have some… position of power.  I am uncomfortable with this way of thinking and wish to nix it in the butt right here and now.

There are many definitions to power and many perceptions that color what we think.  The kind of power I am talking about in this post is:

  1. A person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others, or
  2. The might of a nation, political organization, or similar group

Let us look back to when I first started playing online…  The year was 1992; AOL was an hourly fee of $2.95, and the group who claimed control believed they held all the power with the right to dictate what the rest of us would take from them. I don’t pretend to know what criteria this pecking order was built upon but assume it was length of time the character(s) or player(s) had been in the community.

I clearly recall how the “powerful” abused their perceived positions. Back then they didn’t put it in a blurb on their profile like some do today, a blurb that reads something akin to this: “By playing, (i.e. interacting), with me you give my character the right to do anything to yours.”  Mind you, this behavior was prevalent back then but it was a one way street… Just because they had that right over you, you most certainly didn’t have that right over them.  If they wanted to kill your character off, you were just supposed to take it without arguing and rush off to delete your sn.  Oh, and be pleased as punch because they “played with” you!  That’s how they wallowed in their power, that’s how they showed it off, by the number of deleted sns they had to their credit and how many were literally willing to die for the chance to be recognized IC by them.

Power… Where did they get it?  How do you get it?

Fact is… No one character, no matter if they are a God-like creation, holds any more power over the others, this is basic principle, a founding block so to speak, of Free Form Role Play.  Each of us has the right to decide what we will allow to happen to our own characters.  Today, no one character, or group, wields any more control or power over anyone else, unless… you allow them to.  This is true of when I first came online as well, all of us who allowed the perceived powerful to dictate to us made them into what they were.  This is perceived power, the power we allow you or your character(s) to have over ours.  It’s not real, folks, it’s all an illusion… the “powerful elite” were only as “powerful” as we let them be.

No one player or group has The Power, unless you give it to them.  Popularity doesn’t mean the players have The Power, they have just garnered attention by what it is they do.  The amount of attention one gets doesn’t really equate to power, unless..  again.. you assign it to them.

Online power is perceived, each of us create it inside our own minds.

It is we who perpetuate it, we who feed and nurture it and it is we who have the ability to destroy it.  Everything we create we can just as easily “unmake”.  Why do you think the “Powerful Elite” of 1992 aren’t still here playing those same games today?  Because the player base, (i.e. us, the community), no longer felt they had to take what the “powerful elite” wanted to dictate.  Unable to abuse the community as they desired any longer they slunk away rather than adapt and learn to play with others respectfully.  Well, nearly all, because there are a few still around who like to rewrite history, like to think that they retain that power they once held, like to believe they have the right to lay claim over the rest of us.  Thankfully times have changed, we no longer face the same adversities as we did in 1992, today there is a clearer understanding of our rights as players.

Back then; being the compulsive obsessive freak I am, I stood up against the “powerful elite” at the injustice I felt I saw.  Respect and consideration aren’t open for debate in my mind.  They are the basic foundations not of free-form rp alone, but of life.  You offer them to me and I will gladly extend the same to you.  You refuse them to me, and I turn my back on you.  Simple.  Direct.  Straight to the point.  Before the handy-dandy ignore tools, we still held the power to ignore.  This brought me more than my fair share of grief, but that’s another story…

Today I feel the urge to stand up again… to put before you this simple little fact:

We are all trying to create an IC illusion together.

Each of us holds the power, not one or two, or a group over there, Every Single One of Us holds the power to create and/or destroy the IC shared illusion that we collectively are attempting to build.

Forget about the OOC popularity contests, there really aren’t any… forget about whose character has the most power because… fact is, there is no one character who holds all the power, no one has the right to dictate anything to the rest of ours.  It’s about the roleplaying, the stories, the fun we’re supposed to be having, that’s why we are here, yes?

It is not my intention to set what behaviors are abusive, because, let’s face it, we’ve discussed them all in detail before…  besides… we then run into the topics of play styles and personally defined levels of where a player draws the line about what they deem is acceptable or not.  It is my intent to show you, the players, that you have The Power, not me, not some other perceived popular character or player or storyline…but You.

How you choose to play, what ethics you employ?  You chose them; they are not dictated to you. What you choose to play is also yours to decide. In fact everything you do online you get to control… except… others reactions to you, IC and OOC.  Your behavior, IC and OOC, will impact how you are perceived, what you do will be how you are judged.

When we work together as a team we can create magic. If we allow the other players’ illusions to influence ours, be considerate of what they are attempting to create and use it to enhance our own illusions, we all benefit, we all have fun.  When we do not allow their illusion to mingle with ours we destroy. Whether right or wrong, players’ feelings do get hurt and the players frustrated.  (I am not debating if this is a good or bad thing; I am stating what tends to happen.)

I have read so many excellent threads on this board; I should cite them all because they teach handy tricks at interacting and that really is the backbone of what I am talking about.  But there really are a lot of posts… too many to list them all.

Respect and consideration are the keys here. I say this all the time because it states exactly what I mean when I cite respect and consideration:

Play *with* me, not *at* me.

With” implies that we are working together, that my illusion is as important as yours.  “At” implies that I am being subjected to your illusion at the expense of my own.  There is no respect or consideration in someone playing *at* me.

Power… you don’t have to go far to get it, you already have it.  Who you give power to?  That’s up to you…  But please remember that just because you think someone has “power” doesn’t mean that they think they do.  Always keep in mind… there is no power greater than yours.  You are in control, you get to decide.

Fact is… You can have everything you want: all you have to do is know what it is you want, and learn how to get it.

Those perceived as popular got that way because of their positive contributions, not because of their “abuse of power”.  Look at those who indulge in abuse of their power; they are typically shunned and ignored.  Perhaps they will gain a modicum of infamy?  But it is their behavior, IC and OOC, which gains them this negative attention.

What we do matters.

Throughout life there is one thing each and every one of us can always control: Our Own Personal Behavior.  I can’t say this loud enough, so I shall simply keep repeating it…  IC or OCC, we will set the criteria upon which others shall judge us in how we behave. What ethics one has, what one chooses as content, how one interacts, everything one does will be what colors everyone else’s perceptions of them. Our behaviors define who we are; they tell the world how to deal with us.  It doesn’t matter what you say nearly as much as what your actions infer.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that those who play the bad guys are evil and that their players will be judged harshly because of their bad guy’s behavior.  I am saying that *How* you play your bad guy will be the criteria upon which you shall be judged. In short, I am not addressing Character Behavior, I am addressing the Player’s behavior behind the character’s.  You can play the most evil, vile nasty this side of the Mason-Dixon Line, alright?  But as long as you the player remain respectful and considerate most will be happy to play with you.  If you cross the line of respect, attempt to dominate others to your will then most will not care to play with you. Hence why I continually state how the player behaves IC and OOC will influence how they are likely to be judged.

You want to be “powerful”?  You want to be “popular”?  You want others to respect yours?  You want everyone’s attention? Then… in the infamous words of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Be it! Be the best player you can be, be respectful and considerate, be open to the illusions of others, be honest with yourself and those you play with in what it is that you want, and always remember…the power?  Is Yours.  Wield it wisely…

Oh?  One last thing…  some of us have been around for a long time… that doesn’t grant us special passes, or awards, or deference, it grants us the wisdom of experience.  I’ve been rping for years, I have worked very hard to hone my online rp-interaction skills, and to cultivate a play group.  I put in my time, worked for what I have, and paid many an unfair toll.  Before you envy me, walk in my footsteps.  Before you assume that I hold some kind of “power”, know that even if I did?  I wouldn’t assume to abuse it. My ethics dictate that I do unto others as I would have them do unto me.

::Who, contrary to popular belief, is not one of the currently perceived “powerful elite”… as no such thing exists, at least… not in her mind.::

(Look, friends…what status you wanna assign me?  That’s fine…  But in my mind, I’m still the girl who logged on in 1992, intimidated by what I saw, in awe of the talent scrolling past, and eventually just wanting to find my own niche in the wonderful world of Rhy’Din… I do not perceive myself as anything more or less than anyone else. Just because others think me “powerful” or “popular” doesn’t mean that makes me so, or that in some way it makes me responsible to them.  I am only responsible to me and mine.  It is against my ethics to dictate to others how, who and what they should play.  I am just one more player here, not the leader of some wild cult who, with the wave of my hand, can command everyone to fall to their knees ready to drink that poison laced kool-aid…  Get real, please?  Just because you think I am something… doesn’t make me into that something.  I am one voice, that’s all.  And that voice… is mine to use as I will it.  Thanks.)

Written Dec 2004