Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hazards of PvP: Destabilisation

So let's look at one potential technique a PvP player in a political arena might use against another PvP player, good old destabilisation (Wikipedia description below):

The word destabilisation can be applied to a wide variety of contexts such as attempts to undermine political, military or economic power. In a psychological context it is used as a technique in brainwashing and abuse to disorient and disarm the victim. For example, in the context of workplace bullying, destabilisation applied to the victim may involve:
  • failure to acknowledge good work and value the victim's efforts
  • allocation of meaningless tasks
  • removal of areas of responsibility without consultation
  • repeated reminders of blunders
  • setting up to fail
  • shifting of goal posts without telling the victim
  • persistent attempts to demoralise the victim.
While most PvP players enjoy the cut and thrust of politics, imagine running up against a cunning PvPer who runs a skilful campaign involving these tactics against your own character.  In fact this technique is best used by a superior in your hierarchy, who might be expected to be your ally, like a jealous sire, a vindictive liege lord or simply a high status person within your social group, might do all of these things in a vampire game.  How would you feel if you were subjected to this every session at the game?

If you answered, "I'd be cool with it", I'll bet you have put tactics in place to ensure that it remained okay.  Perhaps:

"I'd be cool with it since my nemesis would be a friend of mine and we'd make a point to meet up outside of game for some positive experiences to remind ourselves that we're not actually out to get each other as people."

and / or...

"I'd be cool with it, though I might be shaking by game's end, as I have a post-game ritual where I systematically 'unskin' the character through ritualistically getting into / out of costume while listening to my character's theme song / songs I personally like and then destressing at the end with a warm shower."

and / or...

"I have an arrangement with my nemesis player that we shake hands before and after session and that if s/he's particularly cruel to me, s/he makes a point to buy me a drink after game or, if s/he already knows a terrible plan is in the works, s/he bakes me cupcakes."

and / or...

"I'd be pre-warned if something truly horrible was about to happen and I'm given veto rights if it's likely to be personally traumatic or character changing."

and / or

"My organisation is full of caring and compassionate people who'd make sure I was okay at the after game debriefing / event.  There'd be lots of hugs and plenty of time to debrief and unwind."

I'd imagine few people would be emotionally okay with a persistent campaign against their character, or even a full session of such actions, unless they had something to keep it all in check and to remind themselves that the person isn't out to get them.  What techniques would you, or have you, used to ensure that this PvP tactic remained fun rather than pushing you out of the game?

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