Interesting safety technique
Originally shared by Nick Golding
Safety checks in roleplaying games
It’s not often that my job teaches me something that’s useful IRL, but here’s a trick I learnt from project retrospectives and used twice in last night’s Monsterhearts game.
Hand everyone a small slip of paper or post-it note. Have them write a number from 1-5 (or similar) indicating how safe or how comfortable they feel right now, fold it up, and hand it back to you. Shuffle them, then either display the results publicly or perhaps for a small group just summarise them. (Add your own number as well!)
In work retrospectives, we use it at the start to ask how comfortable people are about being honest in their feedback. If we get too many (e.g. any, perhaps) low numbers, we abandon the retro because it’ll be pointless, and work on the issue that people don’t feel able to speak freely, as a high priority.
Last night I used this:
– At the start of the session, but after the talk about game safety mechanisms & techniques, to see how comfortable and safe people were feeling (1-5, where 5 was “fine, totally safe” and 1 was “I’m not at all comfortable with this”).
– After a particularly cruel scene by an increasingly manipulative vampire. People were commenting on his cruelty and I couldn’t tell whether it was “nasty, but great game material” or “nasty, I’m uncomfortable as a player now”. To be slightly more explicit than the vague “safety” measure, I used a traffic light – green for “it’s nasty, great drama, keep going”, amber for “it’s about at my limit, let’s not accelerate”, red for “let’s pull back on this from now on”.
Both times, it really helped us all decide how to keep the game going in a way everyone was enjoying, while not requiring anyone to speak out directly / publicly about their feelings, so (hopefully) leading to more honest responses. Yay emotional safety!