Introducing conflict resolution in to your game – Land of Skcos

Designing this game has been quite a bit of fun, and a bit challenging.  I’ve had to go off on a number of research tangents to be able to deliver the content I want you all to have.  One of those tangents has been conflict resolution – particularly with younger folks in mind.  I spent a day boiling down all I could find on conflict resolution into one page.  A page that can be utilized by adults and educators when guiding kids through conflict in the game.

After running it buy a few folks, it’s gotten several seals of approval. I then read through it again and realized that it’s a pretty good guide for adults too, from your regular gaming group to that convention game with the two players who just can’t get along.

Here’s a page grab from Land of Skcos dealing with conflict resolution. Still a work in progress, so the formatting isn’t final by any means, and the text is subject to change and/or correction. Click it for a bigger image.  The complete text is directly after.

Using conflict in a positive way

Sometimes your group will reach a point where there is a conflict, either between the Guide and the players, or between the players directly.

Conflict can bring your game to a screeching halt, reducing the enjoyment for everyone involve and make several people in your group simply feel bad.

While Land of Skcos does not lay any claim to being a method for conflict resolution, there is a solid grounding for using this system to resolve conflicts in a positive way, which leaves everyone feeling that they have been heard and understood.

As the Guide, especially among younger players, it is your responsibility to act as a mediator and help to bring about a positive resolution.  Here are a few tips for doing so.  This is only a guide – there have been books written on the subject of conflict resolution, but this quick look at resolving conflict should be useful to all involved.

When playing Land of Skcos with adults, there are situations where conflict and disagreement could be central to the theme of the game. If you’re telling the story of supernatural betrayal, or playing a scenario where one of the players has a previously agreed on a hidden agenda, conflict may be necessary.  The steps listed here however can help to mitigate bad feelings and continue the game in an entertaining way.

Listen. Everyone involved in the conflict should be reminded that before they can reach an agreement, they all must listen to each other, and do so in a polite, non-confrontational way.

Understand. Have everyone involved in the conflict repeat back the arguments of those ‘on the other side’.  Understanding where the conflict arises from and what is causing it is important in coming to a resolution.

Separate issues from opinion.  Everyone has their opinion on an issue – state the issues that are causing the conflict in a non-opinionated way.  For instance painting something red rather than green could be the argument. The colors are the issue, stated with no opinion as to which color is better.

Establish respect. Each person is entitled to have their opinions on the issues. Remind everyone involved that opinions are not invalid and that even if there is disagreement, it must be done respectfully.  Both respectful of the other person and of their opinions.

That sets the stage for a resolution. Now it’s time to move towards that resolution.

Use tact.  As the Guide, demonstrate respect and sensitivity to everyone involved.  Lead by example.

Employ boundaries and set expectations.  Remind the players of the rules, remind everyone that they are here to have a good time, and remind all involved about respecting each other.

Acknowledge anger. If the conflict had been heated, acknowledge the fact that anger was a playing a part. Everyone has stepped back, been reminded of being respectful and have looked at the issues without opinions attached. Look at the disagreement again, without anger.

Agree to disagree.  If no full resolution or agreement can be reached, remind those involved that it is okay to agree to disagree, and move on with the story.  The Guide can modify the story as needed to remove the source of conflict from the spotlight from this point on.

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