Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Encouraged Behavior
The Living Games Conference is committed to providing a space that feels as safe and inclusive as reasonably possible. We recognize that attendees come from a variety of different backgrounds and that social expectations vary from community to community. With that understanding in mind, the Safety Committee has articulated the following Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Encouraged Behaviors for Living Games participants in order for everyone to remain on the same page regarding expectations for appropriate comportment at the conference.
The Safety Committee hopes that these issues will not emerge during the course of the conference. Living Games subscribes to the BFF rule as a general guideline for participants: leave a discussion learning more and becoming better friends with the individuals involved than when you started. We assume the best of intentions in our participants unless presented with information that suggests otherwise. In these cases, the Safety Committee will not hesitate to take action based upon the below Code of Conduct.
Code of Conduct
As a private organization, the Living Games Conference can sanction or remove attendees for any reason. The conference has no legal obligation to disclose those reasons. However, this policy aims to provide clear and reasonable guidelines for expected behavior at the conference and possible consequences if an individual transgresses against these guidelines. The consequences for breaking the Code range from verbal warnings to ejection from the conference and associated online communities, as detailed below.
We understand that at times, our attendees will have disagreements or interpersonal conflicts that do not necessarily escalate to the point of harassment or abuse. Living Games will not arbitrate these sorts of feuds. If, however, conflicts escalate to the point that they 1) threaten attendee safety, or 2) violate our Code of Conduct at the convention (e.g., racist or sexist language), the Safety Committee may become involved.
Each complaint received by the Safety Committee is evaluated on a case-by-case basis based upon the evidence presented, existing information about the participants in question, and ultimately, the judgment of the members of the Safety Committee. While the Safety Committee likely will resolve most complaints internally, if the violation is serious enough, the the committee may choose to pursue legal action.
The Safety Committee will keep internally confidential any identifying details of the plaintiffs and the incident(s) in question unless the plaintiffs request otherwise or in the case of legal obligations, such as a police investigation. Members of other Living Games committees and volunteers not on the Safety Committee will not receive these details, but will be informed about generalities involving the situation. For example, the Safety Committee will not reveal the identity of an alleged victim and the details of a physical attack without consent, but may communicate general information to other Living Games committee members about the accused and the nature of the offense.
Living Games’ definition of harassment may not necessarily align with legal definitions of harassment. Therefore, attendees should regard the following guidelines as expectations of conduct in addition to legally actionable actions. In other words, the legal expectations of tangible proof are not necessary for the Safety Committee to take action upon a complaint.
For our purposes, harassment includes:
- Verbal comments or displayed images that denigrate individuals based upon gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, political beliefs, philosophies, geographic origin, or socioeconomic status;
- Physical or verbal intimidation or any other behavior that reasonable individuals would view as abusive;
- Loud arguments that move beyond the expectations of polite discourse;
- Body policing, including gender policing in all bathrooms;
- Non-consensual photography or recording;
- Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
- Inappropriate physical contact or proximity;
- Non-consensual physical or emotional interactions;
- Non-consensual sexual acts, including sex with an intoxicated person, as stipulated by Travis County law;
- Unwelcome sexual attention, whether verbal or physical.
This harassment policy applies to both in-person and online activities. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Living Games volunteers and committee members are also subject to the anti-harassment policy.
Please note that while Living Games’ commitment to fostering diversity aims to protect members of historically marginalized groups, the committee does not approve of blatant sexism or racism toward any group, including individuals from positions of historical power. The goal of our conference is to foster good will and shared insights among all groups rather than alienating individuals from one another. While discussion of historically problematic and oppressive behaviors is acceptable, overly generalizing the perspectives of attendees or leveling individual accusations toward attendees based upon race, gender, and class are not appropriate.
The conference will provide members of the Safety Committee detailed instructions and training procedures in case of a violation or emergency. Attendees can report harassment at any time:
Before the event: If you are privy to information about harassment toward yourself or someone else by someone in the community at large, whether or not they plan openly to attend Living Games, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As registration is private, this information may prove important later. Please include as many details as possible, though you may choose to remove the identities of the alleged victims if a concern for retribution is present. These messages will remain confidential, known only to the members of the Living Games Safety Committee. Reports received about registered attendees before the event are subject to the same consequences as those received during the conference.
During the event: If the Code of Conduct violation involves an attendee breaking the law, please call 911 or the local police immediately or request that a friend or a Living Games official do so on your behalf. We aim to set aside a private Relaxation Room on the main floor of the conference. Our goal is to have a member of the Safety Committee present in this room at all times during the hours of 9a.m. to 2a.m. If a violation of the Code of Conduct transpires, first seek out an individual with a Safety pin on their lanyard in the Relaxation Room, who will have detailed instructions for how to proceed. If no one is present in the Relaxation Room or the violation occurs at other times, look for other members with Safety or Organizer pins on their lanyards at the con suite or info desk when possible. Finally, we will provide phone numbers for on-staff Safety members at the start of conference in case of emergency.
After the event: You may choose to wait until after the event to report a violation, in which case, please email email@example.com.
Possible Disciplinary Steps for Violations
Disciplinary Steps are organized into three levels based upon the severity of the violation. The conference will log each violation in a secure location only accessible by Safety Committee members.
Level 1: Monitoring the individual in question, pulling the individual aside to discuss the violation, and/or issuing verbal warnings.
- For example:
An attendee makes an off-color remark about the Holocaust that another participant finds offensive. A member of the Safety Committee pulls the individual aside to ask for greater sensitivity and awareness in future discussions. Members of the Safety Committee choose to monitor the attendee’s behavior for the rest of the conference.
- Ways to avoid such incidents:
Avoid making comments that might offend or otherwise hurt people, especially individuals from marginalized groups, even when intended as a joke. Err on the side of caution and respect.
Level 2: Restricting the individual’s activities at the conference based upon the report.
- For example:
An attendee repeatedly makes unwanted romantic advances toward another individual. The individual does not wish for the attendee to be ejected, but requests space. The Safety Committee pulls the participant reported as in violation aside and asks that they refrain them from attending panels, workshops, games, or other social events where the plaintiff in question is also present.
- Ways to avoid such incidents:
Avoid remarking on an individual’s personal appearance in a sexualized manner, maintaining close physical proximity unless explicitly invited, or making otherwise romantic overtures without overt reciprocation, such as a statement of interest from the individual. Err on the side of caution and respect.
Level 3: Removing the individual from the conference and, potentially, from future Living Games events or online communities.
- For example:
The Safety Committee is given sufficient information to believe that an individual has abused or harassed another member of the larp community. This abuse may have occurred in the past or during the event itself. The Safety Committee chooses to revoke the registration of the accused before the conference or evict them from the premises during the conference.
- Ways to avoid such incidents:
Avoid behaving in ways that others might consider harassing or abusive, such as loud arguments, insults, physical intimidation, or unwanted sexual advances. Do not assume your level of comfort with such behavior is the same as that of others. Err on the side of caution and respect.
If a Level 3 violation occurs, the Committee may choose to refund the registration of the attendee before the start of the conference, but are not required to do so. Individuals who violate the Code of Conduct during the conference are not eligible for a refund. Conference staff will require attendees who violate the Code of Conduct to turn in their badge if asked to leave.
Participants are required to wear their Living Games badges at all times in order to identify them as paid attendees.
Living Games cannot make the convention allergen-free. Latex (e.g., balloons) may be present in many common areas. Those with severe allergies should take appropriate precautions or avoid these areas.
Those who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts may want to avoid the Con Suite. Please inform the convention staff of any allergies or special food restrictions before the conference in the registration form and remind the caterers during the conference.
Note: This policy is in effect as of 9/21/2015. Living Games’ Safety Committee will review the policy and amend it as needed in further iterations of the conference. If you have suggestions for improving the policy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Portions of this harassment policy were adapted by permission from WisCon.
Guidelines for Encouraged Behavior
- During social events and discussions, encourage others to join in. For example, always keep an empty chair or open space in your circle for newcomers. Verbally invite interested attendees to join your conversation.
- When a new person enters a conversation, give them a brief 1-3 sentence synopsis of the current topic in order to catch them up.
- Adhere to the BFF rule by aiming to enter each conversation wishing to learn more and become better friends with the people involved than when you started.
- Establish a buddy system with one or more attendees at the conference. Promise to keep an eye on your buddies and regularly check in on them throughout the event, especially late at night and/or when intoxicated.
- Realize the difference between public and private conversations. Keep in mind that acceptable language and behavior in your regular community – including off-color jokes or physical affection – may not translate well to a diverse group of attendees from different backgrounds.
- Ask before you hug or otherwise touch an individual. Apologize if individuals appear uncomfortable with physical contact or proximity. Give them space in future interactions.
- Assume the best in your fellow attendees. Assume that they understand the necessity for diverse perspectives, are sensitive to issues of social justice, and have good intentions.
- Cut one another some slack. Not everyone comes from the same shared knowledge base or social framework. Use social slips or miscommunications as an opportunity to clarify or share knowledge in a respectful way.
- Aim to learn from differences of perspective. Avoid speaking ill of other communities, play styles, or game preferences. Each member of our community has unique qualities to offer the conference. Ask questions, learn new perspectives, and share insights.
- Avoid dismissing the ideas of others, even if they do not align with your personal beliefs. Many of us have favorite theories or practices. Listen with interest to concepts and engage in polite debate rather than hostility or dismissiveness.
- Treat new members of the community with as much inclusion and interest as established ones. New creativity drives innovation and enthusiasm for larp. Adopt a new player and help them navigate points of interest in the program. Invite them to attend events with you.
- Try to keep your voice low and quiet in conversation, even when excited. Keep in mind that when everyone speaks loudly, the noise level in the entire room grows louder. Be especially sensitive to loudness of voice when engaged in debate in order to avoid unintentionally shutting others down.
- Make space for people in the conversation. If you notice a couple of people dominating a discussion, ask for the opinions of quieter members. Notice how often and at what length you speak. Calibrate your involvement as a way to invite participation from other group members.
- Let people know if a topic of conversation or verbal approach is making you uncomfortable. If someone expresses their discomfort, attempt to listen with empathy rather than dismiss their perspective. Often, effective communication and active listening can deescalate problematic interpersonal dynamics.
- When unsure about a particular course of action or the definition of a concept, just ask. The goal of the conference is sharing insights. Members with knowledge in a particular area should explain when possible in order to catch everyone up on key concepts.
- When asking questions, first thank or compliment attendees on their insights, then frame the question with words such as, “I’m wondering if…” Avoid escalating debates with aggressive language. Acknowledge the good points that others make. Do not aim to “win,” but rather to learn.
- Assume that points made in discussion are not personal attacks or intended in an oppressive manner. Larpers come from a variety of different religious, philosophical, and political backgrounds. If these differences arise, use them as opportunities to learn new things rather than shut down other perspectives. Avoid assuming that disagreements are signs of ignorance or malice, as complex issues will often have multiple valid positions.
- Avoid ad hominem attacks, such as labeling, use of expletives, or name calling. These strategies rarely win over hearts and minds. Often, these approaches cause more problems than they solve.
- Be kind to one another above all else. No perspective or argument is worth hurting another individual. If offense occurs, apologize when possible. If offended, try to be forgiving.
- Have fun!