RPG Consortium / Council


Proposed: Form a non-profit consortium for the safety and well-being of those participating in role-playing game related programs.

A consortium along the lines of the W3c (World Wide Web Consortium), the APAs (American Psychiatric Association) and (American Psychogical Associations), and the WHO (World Health Organization), to establish guidelines for safety and efficacy when using role-playing games in professional settings. Ranging from just professional recreation and entertainment, to educational and therapeutic uses, especially with higher risk populations.

Research shows there is no inherent risk in role-playing games for most populations. No more than most activities. Research also shows significant benefits from participation in RPGs for _all_ populations.

However, some practictioners may try to modify or use role-playing games with a particularly high-risk population, and as with ANY proposed intervention modality, there are important considerations to be made.

We now know of several instances of programs using RPGs that licensed, accredited, certified, professional attempted to implement, that ended up doing harm to the participants and/or the practitioners.

We know from experience these instances of harm could have been avoided if they had participated in our training, supervision, or at least guidelines.

RPG.LLC actually took over one program at a public school alternative school that had previously "blown up" within just a few weeks, even though the facilitators were highly trained with their population in the school setting. But they tried to mix in an untrained domain, with about 8-9 years of GM RPG experience each, that lead to a school lock down due to violent response. When RPG.LLC took over the program for 6 months, the program went very well and with zero incidents.

These are increasing indicators that we need to help guide professionals to make better choices.

It is hoped through a multidisciplinary consortium we can establish best practices, and offer a variety of resources to help reduce the risk factors for professionals using RPGs in non-standard and unusual ways beyond the normal implementation of RPGs.

Again, to reiterate, all the research strongly supports that RPGs themselves are not a high risk factor when used in the normal design use with friends with the general population. The risk factors are introduced by well-meaning laypersons, professionals, or organizations, attempting to use RPGs in potentially innovative and intended to be helpful ways, but that go awry due to lack of experience and training when implementing this modality with a particular demographic.

This council or consortium would be separate from the RPG Fund and RPG Federation programs, though many of the same organizations and individuals may be involved with them as well, they have different (though possibly somewhat overlapping portions) charters and foci.

Rough Notes/discussion:

Jack: "I imagine if someone was oding therapy incorrectly, the patient or parent could sue, but it would be as effective as when D and D was blaming for 80's issues, like with Eggbert and Pullings."

Jack: "If someone had an adverse reaction for example.  But again that would be more the fault of a practitioner not taking appropriate safeguards.  otherwise, it seems like good press as long as things are going well for the whole movement."

Hawke: "All of our volunteers and employees must pass multiple background checks before they are allowed to access any client sensitive data or interact directly with any clients. This includes even "just" public game stores, conferences, or conventions for just recreation/entertainment.  Years ago, prior to doing so years ago, 3 different child predators slipped into the games at the stores and conventions in less than 2 years. They are all back in prison now. One of them was working at a game store for 7 years running 2 youth RPG groups per week for the store, at the store and off-site, before he came forward about previous convictions years before and turned himself in.  Fortunately none were formally associated with any of our programs, these were more casual groups I was either playing in or a GM. And fortunately nobody was molested in the groups I was in. But it could have been disastrous.  Since then we have seen about 1 out of 10 applicants refuse the background check, and found that they were offenders later. In interviewing some of the previous offenders, they made it clear how "ideal" an environment the RPG community is for them to find and groom victims.  So we 100% require rigorous multinational background checks."

"That 1 out of 10 number is a very rough estimate based on back and forth. It may be higher or lower, but is our best guestimate from the limited data in those transactions."

Yes Jack about the silo-ing. I have been very sad to see how much it has changed in the past 20 years. Up until 2016 everyone was sharing very openly, then people started smelling money and since 2016 there has been a DRAMATIC silo-ing of people. Now I am seeing repeatedly people publishing ideas and research that is redundant and setting us back compared to the progression that was being made prior to then. People keep revisiting the same issues rather than moving forward and going deeper. That isn't all bad, it creates further edification and validation of the previous results, but unfortunately most of them still aren't very good controls in place, and so still don't really reaffirm validity and reliability for specific applications and specific populations. IJRP is doing some good by being open thankfully. We need a lot more open sharing to help the rising tide of shared knowledge float all boats and do more good globally.   There are 2 programs I'm aware of in the past few years that have just taken from everyone, implemented without real peer review and training, even though they are licensed therapists, and their programs have done harm. As far as I know those programs have been discontinued, but their practitioners are still planning to implement again, and are still not working with the community (as far as I know). I'm also aware of a program in Pakistan, and another in West Africa, that have also lead to harm from supposedly licensed therapists.  Also a local school district tried a program 2 years ago here, and it had to be terminated, even though the teachers were heavily trained, and the DM's each had over 8 years DM experience. The school brought us in the next year to try again, and our program went very well. They had implemented on their own from what others were posting on their sites, their training offerings, their videos, etc. But did not receive proper training for this populatilns dor this modalit

Tony: "I do like the idea of an ethics portion being created and we did create one for Geek Therapy which has proven to be satisfying for the people who have signed it.  Past that, I don't see a way past this to enforce it without a national accreditation body in place.  Geek Therapeutics and Leyline is not at that point yet, but it could be in the future if needed.

As for the different programs of trainings, I see this a no different than different schools of thought that psychology already has been broken into it.  If we choose to help manage it in that direction, then there really is not a reason to feel that we are competing with one another - but people can choose their own trainings based on their needs."

"Take for instance, I don't care much for CBT but more psychoanalysis and psychodynamics so I would prefer to be trained in those areas over other ones.
That is where I see the most benefit being placed overall I think, multiple programs can exist - but the ethics is important at the moment in my eyes
I am not opposed for helping create them as well and having them become standardized through all of the different programs that are out there
Also - for the study I mentioned above, I am open to collaboration in writing it up and getting it published if people are interested.
TCU students 11 - pre and post tested across a bunch of Psychological testing as a pilot study in the use of D&D as a community building exercise.
This is what we did for the ethics based aroudn the APA ethics: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdc6EkP3Ph6G8OAYUXI_C6TD0AbkQduVtrsuU18g4xGJhj3fg/viewform"

Tony: "I wonder if we could do something as a collaborative group each from our respective companies to show solidarity"

Jack: "This is one of the reasons why it is important for everyone to continue talking and speaking with each other about methodology instead of "siloing" out of principle business reasons,.  I get it, but we are essentially experimenting with an emergent modality/approach.  This bears an oinus of responsibility of sharing approaches to establish some guiding principles, but the thought of people already discussing trademarking the process is unsettling as it is so young with much for all of us to learn."

Jack: "I strongly believe that no one person or entity should hold the key to this approach.  There should be a collective or a foundation where we all share and develop best practices.  But no one agency dshould hold it.  And we have to be very careful i feel about how people get entered into it.  I know there is a business side to all of this and do not want to appear to be naive, but in the interest of legitimacy, and validation this comes through collaboration and conjoined effort.  Developing a simplistic standards and practices for ethics."

Hawke: It has grown exponentially in recent years at least, though again not really much new information, but the quantity is developing a quality of its own (to paraphrease Stalin)  🙂

Up until 2016, we had a lot of different organizations in a forum working on the professional standards together. Then everyone kind of split to go make their own alas. It has been sad to watch the fracturing after so many years of working to get everyone working together. I would love to see folks collaborating again. But there does seem to be a lot more protectivism now than ever before.

I think it will have to go through the typical industry maturity process.   You have the initial instigators, then those who pile on, then the explosive copying at lower quality, then people increasingly get hurt, then calls for professional standards get loud enough that organization finally come together across 2 to 3 bodies, and then those bodies compete for decades until finally integrating. You can see this in the tech industry, APA, medical industry, and others.   I've had sitting on the side for a long time  the RPG Federation and RPG Fund projects. The RPG Federation was the attempt to get everyone working together and sharing like other federations, and to conform to a minimum ethics and safety standards of practice.   The RPG Fund is a central foundation to fund research and any individuals or organizations doing research or programs using RPGs in any format to improve the human condition with explicit measurable efforts. The fund wouldn't do any of the work, but provide a central grans resource that researchers are struggling to find elsewhere when RPGs are brought up as the topic.   The Federation would follow approaches like the w3c RFCs and standardization processes. These were both getting traction in 2015, but alas the 2016 fracturing changed all that, so still sitting by the wayside waiting to get board members and incorporation to bring to the next level. Haven't been pushing it since hadn't seen a lot of interest from folks looking to cash in on current wave of popularity alas.

We have helped turn around previous RPG programs that "blew up" (including harm done to participants and/or facilitators) because the licensed professionals did not understand how to apply RPGs best to their particularly high risk populations, how to read the participants long before the blow up and use our proven pre-de-escalation techinques, and so we have either acted as consultants to train their staff to turn it around, or taken over  and provided our programs directly, with consistently excellent success.



Tony: "So that was a lot of information for sure.  I am wondering how feasible it is for us all to create an ethics for people to help understand the harm that can come from this typeof stuff"

By sharing best-practices information as openly and freely as possible, and over time, like the APA, establishing professional standards guidelines to help reduce risk factors controllable by the practitioner.   RPG Research cranks out a lot of RFC-like material over the decades, that gets downloaded a lot, but unfortunately over the past 5 years isn't getting much respond back (instead increasingly showing up in other people's publications and programs without attribution). We will keep putting it out there, because if it helps make things safer for clients that is by far the most important consideration. However, to try to improve the RFC process, as an experience we did back when I was in publishing 20 years ago. We released simultaneously free and $9.99 books on our publishing platform, and elsewhere. And due to the perceived value aspect, had far more "purchases" of the $9.99 material, and public reviews, than the identical free material... So the RPG Publishers service is formalizing the publication process in a more serialized approach in the hopes of re-engaging constructive criticisms of different approaches and solutions for different protocols, populations, etc. Always from a multi-disciplinary openness, with prioritization given to measurable quantitative and qualitative results in research and evidence-in-practice settings, over hyperbole, but welcoming new ideas and suppositions for consideration.  If you look at the proposed 10-step release cycle: https://rpg.llc/rpg-publishers   Instead of trying to finish the massive tomes we've been working on for years, but never able to release because we keep having so much new research to insert, we going to release in smaller bit-size iterative chunks. This will hopefully trigger constructive discussions, and future revisions based on feedback, and hopefully reconnect the discussions once again.   As the data becomes more solid over time on the ethics and best-practices, and as the community (hopefully) reengages in these productive conversations, then a w3c-like organization can post the recommended best practices as guidelines for professionals in: recreational, entertainment, educational, & therapeutic branches, (as well as general layperson helpful guidelines too).   The w3c approach allows full diversity of approaches and thoughts, but provides a baseline of guidelines that is beneficial to everyone.