The Breakdown of Communication.
Let’s begin with a story.
Not very long ago (a few days ago in fact), there was a bit of a dispute between a few friends in WoW over something that shouldn’t have been an issue. However, because of how it was initially handled, it sparked feelings of resentment and anger from a group of people, even though the other person—who was the focus point of these feelings—didn’t mean to. Does this experience look familiar? This sort of scenario seems to play itself out all too often in WoW—especially in the role-playing community, though it’s not limited to it.
Communication is the heart of everything that involves role-play. It keeps plotlines moving forward, events running week-after-week, and allows people to network and spread their proverbial RP wings—so to speak. Without it, misunderstandings arise and people are hurt because of it—making them less likely to want to participate in any sort of RP in future.
How can we change things? How can we make sure that we don’t fall into that trap? While it’s impossible to avoid all forms of OOC drama, keeping these few things in mind will help to keep it in-character.
1) Address your concerns.
Your comfort level is important, especially when it comes to being involved with another character’s affairs—by plotline, relationship, or otherwise. Tell the people you’re RPing with about what you are, and aren’t comfortable about doing with your character, and make sure that they understand and are okay with it. None of us are mind-readers.
2) Cutting off your communication lines leads to inevitable drama.
No one likes leaving a bad impression, but people tend to automatically assume the worse—especially to people who don’t respond to their questions, or have them ignored outright. If you’re a type of person that doesn’t have thick-skin, the first thing to remember is to not panic. Be mature, and listen to what the other person has to say because, there’s a good chance that they want to understand what’s going on and work out the problem, rather than criticize and hurt you.
3) Don’t assume. Ask.
Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and the spread of misinformation—intentional or not—which in turn can lead to communication break-down. At worse, it can destroy friendships, and stop stories dead in their tracks. RP hinges on social interaction, so before you start burning your bridges on something you only assume to know as truth, it’s better to stop and ask questions and clarify.
Go straight to the source if you have to. Chances are, the situation can be rectified before it gets out of hand.
No one is perfect. And no one likes to step on other people’s toes. But if we manage to keep the communication lines amongst our peers open, a good RP community can thrive.