As gamers, many of us have experienced bleed–moments where our real-life feelings, thoughts, relationships, and physical states spill over into our characters’ and vice versa. If you’ve ever ended up angry at another player because their character did something nasty to yours, that’s bleed. If your character has ended up romantically involved with someone else’s because you have feelings for or are in a relationship with the other player in real life, that’s bleed. If you’ve ever lost a character or someone important to your character and been unable to shake a real-life feeling of grief and loss, that’s bleed.
While less common, there also positive forms of bleed, such as being excited about your character’s triumphs, empathizing with another character’s struggles, and catharsis, where you’re able to process or express something in character that you can’t in your real life, or which brings you a sense of closure.
You can read more about bleed and tips on how to manage it here.
In this game, every player is responsible for managing their own bleed. If you find yourself becoming negatively emotionally entangled in roleplay and its consequences, you are expected to do the following:
- Take a minimum of 24 hours away from game. If necessary, you may ask a staff member to lock your account to keep you from signing in.
- Engage in strategies that help reduce bleed, such as:
- doing an activity completely unrelated to game/strongly tied to your Out-of-Game life
- journaling about your experiences
- debriefing with your scene partner, a staff member, or a friend
- Practice emotional awareness. Ask yourself:
- What is going on in your real life that might be causing or exacerbating bleed?
- Are there things Out Of Game you need to address?
- Likewise, are there changes you need to make in-game in order to avoid carrying fictional stress into your real life?
- Does the answer to either of the first two questions necessitate you taking a hiatus from game?
- Is there an issue taking place that needs to be addressed by a storyteller, such as rules or ethics violations?
- Is what you’re experiencing related to a pre-existing mental health condition, and if so, what kinds of self-care should you be engaging in?
Please be aware that this is a BIG difference between ‘I’m experiencing bleed’ and ‘I am/someone is triggering my mental health issues’. While one can eventually lead to the other, they aren’t always the same thing. Additionally, neither experiencing bleed nor struggling with mental health issues constitutes ‘causing drama’ or ‘being dramatic’.
Please see On Mental Health, Gaming and You for more information about accommodating and addressing mental health issues in practice.
If game begins negatively impacting your mental health, you are strongly encouraged to step back and prioritize self-care in the way that is best for you.
(Huge thanks to Jill Helding for this exceptional write up!)