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 backgrounds and that social expectations vary from community to community. With that understanding in mind, the Safety Team 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 Team hopes that these issues will not emerge during the course of the conference. We assume the best of intentions in our participants unless presented with information that suggests otherwise. In these latter cases, the Safety Team 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 our anti-harassment policy. 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 our attendees may have disagreements or interpersonal conflicts that do not 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 (e.g., racist or sexist language), the Safety Team may become involved.
Each complaint received by the Safety Team is evaluated on a case-by-case basis based upon the evidence presented, existing information about the participants in question, and the judgment of the members of the Safety Team. While the Safety Team likely will resolve most complaints internally, if the violation is serious enough, the team may choose to pursue legal action.
The Safety Team will keep any identifying details of the plaintiffs and the incident(s) in question internally confidential unless the parties involved request otherwise or in the case of legal obligations, such as a police investigation. Members of other Living Games teams and volunteers not on the Core Safety Team will not receive these details, but will be informed about generalities involving the situation. For example, the Core Safety Team 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 team members about the accused and the nature of the alleged offense.
Living Games’ definition of harassment may not 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 Team to take action on a complaint.
For our purposes, harassment includes:
- Verbal comments or displayed images that denigrate individuals based upon gender identity/expression, sexuality, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, political beliefs, 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 policing gender expression based on expected social norms in any bathroom;
- Non-consensual photography or recording;
- Repeated and unwanted contact after a participant sets a clear boundary requesting distance;
- Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
- Inappropriate physical contact or proximity;
- Non-consensual physical or social interactions;
- Non-consensual sexual acts, including sex with an intoxicated person, as stipulated by Essex County law;
- Unwelcome sexual attention, whether verbal or physical.
This harassment policy applies to both in-person and online activities. Note that the Safety Team may take into account any evidence of online harassment taking place in private or public places on social media, including locations outside of Living Games’ official forums. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Living Games volunteers and team members are also subject to the anti-harassment policy.
The Living Games Safety Team is committed to fostering diversity and to protecting members of marginalized groups. However, the team 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, overgeneralization of the perspectives of attendees or individual accusations toward attendees based upon race, gender, and class are not appropriate.
The conference will provide members of the Safety Team detailed instructions and training procedures in case of a violation or emergency based upon our Internal Procedures. Attendees can report harassment at any time:
Before the event: If you are privy to information about harassment as defined above 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 email@example.com. 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 Core Safety Team. Reports received about registered attendees before the event may be 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 Sanctuary Space on the main floor of the conference. Our goal is to have a member of the Safety Team present in this room at all times during the hours of 9am to 1am. If a violation of the Code of Conduct transpires, first seek out an individual with a Safety pin on their lanyard in front of the Sanctuary Space, who will have detailed instructions for how to proceed. If no one is present at the Sanctuary Space 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Possible Disciplinary Steps for Violations
The conference will log each violation in a secure location only accessible by the Core Safety Team. The Core Safety Team may choose to take action based upon a report of harassment. Disciplinary Actions are organized into three levels based upon the severity of the violation. These Actions include but are not limited to:
a) 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 that another participant finds offensive. A member of the Safety Team pulls the individual aside to ask for greater sensitivity and awareness in future discussions. Members of the Safety Team 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.
b) 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 Team pulls the participant reported as in violation aside and asks that they refrain from attending panels, workshops, games, or other social events where the plaintiff in question is also present. Note that complete separation may not be possible due to space constraints, e.g. group meals, keynotes, etc.
- 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 other romantic overtures without overt reciprocation, such as a statement of interest from the individual. Stop any romantic advances when the person declines or appears uncomfortable. Err on the side of caution and respect.
c) Removing the individual from the conference and, potentially, from future Living Games events or online communities.
- For example:
The Safety Team 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 Team 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 are 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.
In these cases, the Team 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 relinquish 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) and allergy-inducing scents may be present in 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.
Consent at Living Games
Living Games wants to make clear which intimate behaviors are acceptable and which are against our Code of Conduct. We value active, enthusiastic consent, both on the part of the people engaged in the activity and on the part of witnesses. We also want to make clear what we consider enthusiastic consent for both public and private activities during the conference.
Obtaining consent requires asking a direct question while not physically looming. For example, take a couple of steps back from the person, and ask slowly, “How would you feel about me holding your hand?” Give the participant plenty of time to contemplate their answer.
The person can respond, “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.” If they respond “No, thank you,” then conversation on that suggested activity stops. Respond to silence or lack of response in the same way as you would a “No, thank you.” If the initiator engages in that behavior after hearing no or proceeds to pressure the person to consent, these behaviors are considered consent violations. Similarly, the initiator should not publicly shame or comment upon the respondent’s decision.
Active direct verbal communication is always preferred in these situations. Consent may have been obtained prior to the convention, e.g. with established partners. However, do not assume consent. Err on the side of caution and respect. Please note that the Safety Team considers a person incapable of consenting while intoxicated or unconscious.
Behavior in Public Spaces
Please note that Living Games is a professional conference. We expect a certain degree of professional decorum that may not align with the culture of other conferences, conventions, or larp spaces. While we do not judge participants based upon their sexuality, we aim to establish a baseline for acceptable intimate conduct in public spaces, e.g. conference rooms, lobbies, public restrooms, etc. Additionally, please do not become intoxicated in public spaces. Private hotel rooms are not considered public spaces according to these guidelines.
If the participants involved in the activity establish consent first, acceptable public behaviors include: shaking hands, flirting, hugging, holding hands, cuddling, sitting in laps, and brief kissing. Such behaviors do not require consent from witnesses.
Unacceptable behaviors include: any physical touch or flirtation without consent; physically looming over others; kissing for extended periods of time in public spaces; sexual grinding; public displays of nudity (including participants taking their shirts off); sexual acts in conference rooms or other public spaces; discussion of explicit sexual acts outside of the context of an academic or professional presentation for educational purposes.
Note: This policy is in effect as of 3/28/2018. Living Games’ Safety Team may amend it as needed. If you have suggestions for improving the policy, please email email@example.com. Portions of this harassment policy were adapted by permission from WisCon. Other groups may adapt portions of this content with attribution to Living Games Conference.
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 direct 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 aggressive 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. No perspective or argument is worth hurting another individual. If offense occurs, apologize when possible. If offended, try to be forgiving.
- Have fun!