Over the course of the last several months, I have been plugging steadily along on updates to the RPG policy. The main goal has been to make it simpler, so there’s less confusion about what individual sections mean. Where possible, things have been broken into more sub-bullets rather than longer sentences, and some unnecessary things related to Nova have been removed.
A criticism I’ve heard pretty frequently—though less in the last year or so—is that we don’t offer as much freedom for game managers as GMs in other groups have. Indeed, many groups tout that they aren’t there to “micromanage” (Theta Fleet), that “captains have autonomy over their sims [sic]” (Independence Fleet), or that “A Game Manager (GM) shall possess full and total authority over their simulation (sim) [sic]” (22nd Fleet Charter, defunct).
That’s one-hundred percent true because we are operating with a centralized web presence, not a bunch of disparate, individual websites, within a shared canon universe. We also ensure that games operate to a certain standard and within a set of rules to make the experience fairer and more approachable for our members. A laissez-faire approach just doesn’t work here. (And quite often, it doesn’t work for other groups either!) The good news is that if you’re looking for total independence, there are plenty of groups out there that offer that!
This is one of the strongest reasons why we don’t refer to ships or sims or SIMMS, but to RPGs. Not to captains or COs, but to GMs. I’ve seen some histrionic claims of language policing from a very small number of people, but I wanted to reinforce in this very public way that we have made these language choices deliberately to distance ourselves from the extremely toxic history of the “wider community” (check out the turmoil around the so-called “Simming Prize” if you’re curious for an example) where the voice of GMs has consistently been elevated above other members. There was even a time in Bravo Fleet where you had to be a game manager to hold basically any form of staff position.
All of this is to say that, yes, this policy presents more restrictions on the conduct of game managers than some other groups do, but this is by design and with full understanding that other groups have more liberal policies. We would rather have games that are alive, active, and of high quality than hand them out to everyone, which is why we expect members to reach at least lieutenant commander and demonstrate some commitment to the group before being trusted to run an activity that impacts many members besides themselves. The emphasis, as always, is that GMs are running an activity that helps other members stay engaged, not barons in fiefs.
What we do offer, though, is the most comprehensive lore library of any group, with detailed articles on major powers, species, organizations, and, most famously, specifications. The lore and operations offices both have multiple staffers who are quite happy to hash out ideas with you, and we can help you tell your story in our universe. People often think that it’s more creative to just invent without limits, but successfully integrating yourself into an existing universe’s constraints actually takes more creativity than just balls-to-the-wall zany antics. We also have the most sophisticated shared writing interface of any group, which needs zero web design familiarity to operate, and the posts you write actually end up visible to the whole club and not just stuck on some unvisited website. I’m proud of the games we have now, and I’m happy to facilitate the creation of more, knowing that we have a robust infrastructure and a robust policy set up to handle them.
So, this is all to contextualize the changes present in the policy:
- There is now a formal LOA policy for GMs so that they don’t leave their games hanging. Now that we have individual fiction commands, if you want to be a captain, you can definitely do that and do so without leaving a whole group waiting for you to lead.
- We’ve also formalized that GMs need to be active in their own games. That should be a no-brainer, but we’ve found that it isn’t.
- A reminder was added that games need to follow the lore policy, while the actual rating policy was moved directly to the canon policy. Remember: BF does not allow for 333 games.
- Clarifications were added about the AWOL policy: whether you’re a GM or a player, being AWOL means the system has noticed that you haven’t logged in for 60 days or more, so you’ll be removed from any games you’re on and must re-apply at that point.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions!