Out of character, part 1. Roleplayers, this series is for you! Today we’re talking about emotional bleed in blaseball roleplay with Connor and Pigeon.
Here are a couple resources from Pigeon about emotional bleed:
Grounding techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques
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Kimberly: hello listeners it's Kimberly with a couple of content warnings. this episode contains a reclaimed homophobic slur that starts with the letter Q, discussion of emotional character bleed and mental health, and reference to war and loss (although not in detail). and now onto the podcast!
Hello, listeners! you are listening to Take Me Out To The Blall Game, the world's most out of character blaseball podcast. I'm your host Kimberly Dauber and I use She/her pronouns. today I am not a blaseball in the sky with a microphone. I am out of character as a podcaster and a blaseball fan living in Boston, Massachusetts. and the reason I'm out of character today is that we are going to talk about roleplaying. lots of people in place ball love to do roleplay or RP. it's basically pretending to be various characters along with other community members who are also roleplaying as other characters. and it is super fun: I do it on the show when I pretend to be a blaseball in the sky with a microphone. but there are also some risks associated with it and I thought the blaseball community would appreciate having some podcast episodes about those risks. so that's why today we are going to start a three part series called Out of Character: Safe and Healthy Roleplaying. these three episodes all came from one interview with a couple members of the blaseball roleplay community.
today we're gonna talk about emotional bleed. next Wednesday we're going to do grounding and disconnection. and two Wednesdays from now we're going to talk about canon and character ownership. now even if you don't do roleplay yourself, I really encourage you to listen anyway. because after all, all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. they have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts. so while you listen think about what roles you play in your life and how this episode might apply to them.
okay we'll get to the discussion in just a moment, but first we've got a listener soul scream. listeners, today's soul scream goes out from Shoe Thieves fan CaptainStubbs1 to J. Walter Weatherman. J. Walter Weatherman here is your soul scream.
[soul scream plays]
CaptainStubbs1, thank you so much for sending in that soul scream, it was lovely. listeners remember that you too can dedicate a soul scream to one of your fellow blaseball fans by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org and now back to the episode.
hello listeners this is Kimberly Dauber. today I'm not a blaseball with a microphone in the sky. I'm just me, Kimberly Dauber, here to talk about safe and healthy roleplaying. today we've got two guests: our first guest is Pigeon, thank you for joining us
Pigeon: thanks for having me.
Kimberly: Pigeon, can you tell us what should we call you, what are your pronouns, and is the commissioner doing a great job?
Pigeon: I am Pigeon both on and offline, so that keeps things pretty short and sweet. I use they/them pronouns, and since this is out of character I can tell you that the commissioner is not just doing a great job, but a fantastic job.
Kimberly: wonderful, thank you Pigeon, and Pigeon what's your role in the blaseball roleplaying community?
Pigeon: I moderate the discord server that serves as a hub for people running Twitter accounts. be that for players, teams as a whole, or completely original NPCs that they've created.
Kimberly: wow, alright thank you for coming. we've also got our second guest here, that would be Connor. Connor, thank you for joining us as well.
Connor: thank you for having me, yeah.
Kimberly: Connor, same questions. what should we call you, what are your pronouns, and is the commissioner doing a great job?
Connor: well it's been mentioned, you can call me Connor, that's great. my pronouns are He/him and... yeah. As I have no in character qualms holding me back, the commissioner is just doing great. doing even better than great.
Kimberly: wonderful and Connor what's your role in the blaseball roleplaying community?
Connor: I run the Twitter account for former Hades Tiger player Paula Turnip, now on the Seattle Garages.
Kimberly: That is fantastic, and I think you also both have other background with roleplaying and trying to keep people healthy and safe while they're doing such things. can you each go a little bit into your own personal background about your experience in this area? maybe Connor go first and then Pigeon.
Connor: yes sure. so I've been involved on and off with roleplaying communities for the past six years. as a GM, a player, and I used to moderate some forums. in addition this is not quite roleplaying but I have been involved in theatre, including originating my own characters. outside of roleplay I do offer sensitivity reading and diversity trainings which is a lot of where I find my experience comes in keeping communities safe, having difficult discussions, and being able to resolve your differences and things that are... maybe things that people don't want to talk about or people don't know how to talk about in mature and calm ways.
Kimberly: wow that's amazing. thank you so much for coming Connor, we are very lucky to have you here.
Connor: of course.
Kimberly: Pigeon what about you, what's your experience been like in this area?
Pigeon: I've been involved, like Connor, in theater since I was probably about ten. I've also been involved in online RP since I was probably about fifteen, and more so in tabletop RPG spaces since 2018/early 2019. including running official Adventurer's League sessions in our local game store and learning how to collaborate with groups of people I don't necessarily know outside of that space. I also have outside of the blaseball servers some moderation experience running as a server mod for a D&D podcast whose Patreon server sits currently at about twelve hundred people.
Kimberly: wow that's a lot of moderation.
Connor: that is really impressive.
Kimberly: I might even say that your moderation is well... not in moderation.
[everyone bursts into laughter]
Pigeon: I might have been told as much, yeah.
Kimberly: okay well thank you again both for coming. just to reframe our discussion today, we're here to talk about how to do roleplay in a safe and healthy way. since I'm not the expert here I wanna give you to a chance to frame the conversation. so Connor, why is this entire topic on a grand scale important to discuss? because you know, sorry to play devil's advocate, but some people might say: "well it's just playing pretend, what's so dangerous about that?"
Connor: yeah I mean that's a fair way to start. and especially because so much of the blaseball community is funny, sort of bit characters that are based in a joke. it can be easy to not even assume that it would affect your outside life. but we can see how much of an impact the events of blaseball can have on people outside of the game. as a Tiger there was a lot of grief and emotions that were running very high when two of our players, including the Tigers' captain, were incinerated in the same inning. so imagine taking that sort of emotion but putting themselves in the position of someone who has, for example, experienced that loss. so as much fun as it is are there are definitely elements of all roleplay but especially the, you know, danger for the players that can be difficult to deal with if you are not paying attention to it.
Pigeon: we've got a lot of people who are coming from those tabletop RPG backgrounds. but tabletop RPGs they tend to be condensed into... you've got, you know maybe a three hour window once a week where you're sat down at a table in condensed into a specific space, the specific time frame. whereas aside from the weekend breaks blaseball is always on. and I think a lot of people feel this pressure where they feel they cannot step away for fear of missing something. something happens to that character while they're gone.
Connor: yeah I always joke that the minute I go to take my daily run, something horrible happens in blaseball. and that, the fear of of missing something is definitely something that makes it difficult to... you know, step away.
Kimberly: well this is a great discussion. before we get too deep into it, I want to just orient any listeners who aren't as familiar with roleplaying in blaseball, because some people might have stumbled upon this podcast episode without really knowing what's going on on Twitter and what is going on in the blaseball roleplay discord. so Pigeon, could you do us a big favor and summarize what exactly is going on with roleplaying in the blaseball fandom. what form does it take, how do people participate, what's up with that?
Pigeon: much like TTRPGs, it's an input output system where the characters and the people behind those characters are reacting to something that is coming from a quote unquote "higher power." so we probably should have mentioned this earlier but I also run the Richmond Harrison and PolkaDot Patterson accounts on Twitter. but we are responding to what happens in the game. beyond that we are also creating relationships between characters. character interactions. we are giving these characters a little bit more flesh and blood, if you will, than just the the randomly generated letters on a screen.
Kimberly (Intermission): hey there listeners, it is me Kimberly. so here's what's going on: I have a lot of hubris, so at first I thought I could do this entire topic in just one episode. Hah! that was not true. but it was my original intent so that means I didn't build breaks in the interviews. so for this series I'm just going to be cutting in at the episode mid points to give our brains a short break from these heavy conversations. for today's break I'm just going to play some soothing music for a little bit and then we'll get back to the conversation. don't go away, we'll be right back.
[soothing music plays]
all right listeners, that was the break. thanks for sticking with us and for Chillin out. now let's get back to the episode.
Kimberly: thank you Pigeon. today we're going to talk about a couple of different issues that Pigeon and Connor have seen coming up in the blaseball roleplaying community. we're gonna talk about emotional bleed today. so can you give a one or two sentence description of just what bleed is, in case someone's never heard of it before?
Connor: yeah, bleed is any time you are feeling the emotions of a character who you are playing. it can not only be negative, I know that we talk about it negatively with the grief of what happened for example with Jaylen, but it can also be really positive. like if something great is happening, your character is super happy, and then that will bleed over and perhaps you'll be having a better day. so it is just any sort of emotional bypass between you and your character.
Pigeon: I have in the past, and I think when I was speaking to you guys prior to recording as well, used just one specific visual. where I'd look at bleed as a little bit like dropping Mentos into a bottle of diet coke science experiment or whatever that a lot of people did in in elementary school. where you can just take the one mento and drop it straight into the bottle and that's a very limited, contained reaction. it still happens, but it's not as dramatic. and ideally I think we want to see that being the approach taken. we want to give people the tools to say: "Hey, I've been given a problem. I've been given a mento. let's drop it in now, let's clean up the mess."
And that's localized, but what we tend to see introduced is, we quite often took and we stuck a sheet of paper over the mouth of that bottle and then pop seven or eight Mentos into a tube or hold the sheet so it was a much bigger, more dramatic, explosion if you will. and I think that's something we see happening a lot.
Kimberly: yeah I've definitely experienced this. I'm also a theatre person and I also have originated characters in shows. well, in one particular show I was the second person to ever play a character and they were very overconfident, very arrogant, and they also cared a lot about what people thought of them. and this bled over into me and it was... questionable.
Connor: I definitely also, due to the theater experiences, I was the first person to ever originate a character who was a soldier in World War two. so I'm going to, you know leave the details out of that because I feel like that's enough, but the play did eventually culminate in the character's death. and going over time and time again, the heartbreak that the character was feeling: leaving behind family, leaving behind friends was something that was just worrying and heartbreaking. and while I knew that it was what the character was feeling, it would make it difficult to say goodbye to my castmates. feeling like well... almost as if it was the character's emotions of "what if this is the last time that we leave them behind?"
Kimberly: so I want to go back to Pigeon's Mentos analogy. Pigeon, it sounded like you were saying that bleed generally happens since emotions go back and forth between us and our characters, but sometimes they get bottled up or compressed and they all come out at once? and that has been happening in blaseball to a certain extent?
Pigeon: yeah we've definitely seen it a fair bit. more so I think during the season that Jaylen came back and we were suddenly experiencing a loss at a much higher volume than we had since I think the book was opened. and at that point we had not put as much characterization into these characters. the Twittersphere was not, I think, as active.
I think there is an internalized shame to having feelings about a character and the art we create. because the reality is that it is art. nothing is ever created without putting emotion into what we're going to find connection one way or the other. and as a community we need to jump over those hurdles of feeling like "I can't be impacted like this because it's not real." because we are putting something real into it. at the moment you were putting your feelings, your emotions into it, it is something real.
Connor: and I definitely think that shame partially comes from the fact that it is blaseball and it is on some level very silly. and there are many characters that are being played and being lost. I mean Moody Cookbook was a sentient book. and all of a sudden you've gone from "oh, this is a bit of a joke" to "I am actually feeling genuinely hurt by by the fact that a character that I've really gotten to know and love is gone in some way." and then there is that shame of "well maybe I should just get over it because it's just a book. like that's silly, why am I feeling so much about this?" and then that kind of results in packing down those emotions and not wanting to let yourself feel them because there is some level of shame and that it's not respectable to be emotional about this thing.
Kimberly: wow thank you both very much for your contributions. okay so we've talked about what emotional bleed is a whole bunch and also how it manifests in the blaseball community. how it's enhanced by this community of people who are also playing with you. there is also the shame aspect of being so invested in the art that you're making about something that's kinda silly, and then there's also this Mentos Effect of things getting packed down which can often enhance feelings and make them either better or worse.
Kimberly (finale): Hey listeners, it's me Kimberly. dropping in again to say that that's all we've got for the episode today. I thought it was a pretty good stopping point, so we're going to call it a day. again this is the first episode of a three part series about safe and healthy roleplaying. this time we talked about emotional bleed and next time we'll get into grounding and ways to deal with that bleed. that's all for today. you can find our guests on Twitter. Connor is there at @ucbamba. that's the letter "u", the letter "c". BA, M as in mother, BA. and you can also find him as Paula Turnip at @TurnipOnBlase. Connor also has a horror podcast called Underwood that you can check out on Twitter at @PitchLibrary. you can find Pigeon on Twitter at Angry Bookseller (EDITOR'S NOTE: actually @AngryLibrarian). and you can also find them as PolkaDot Patterson at @TheDotBlaseball and as Richmond Harrison at @RichmondHarris4. all that's in the show notes, where you can also find some fantastic resources on emotional bleed that Pigeon sent me just for you. remember to subscribe to Take Me Out To The Blall Game wherever podcasts are found. follow us on Twitter at @blaseball_pod. email us at email@example.com and if you get the chance, tell a friend about the show. I bet they'll be happy you did. I'm Kimberly Dauber and you've been listening to Take Me Out To The Blall Game. thank you for participating in the cultural event of blaseball.
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Transcribed by Jossar.