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Being an Immortal sucks -- ask any of them who've been at it longer than a few weeks. Still, people keep starting their own muds, so people must be getting SOMETHING out of it. Personally, I think *I* only keep at it out of habit, but I've found Immship is a lot easier to bear if you keep in mind four rules, which I continually pay a sort of hypocritical lip-service to.
Drinking contest between Dionysis and Herakles. Those immortals have all the fun.
Get Over Yourself. The quickest way to sabotage your efforts is to convince yourself that you're some kind of brilliant artist, or that your Immly work is essential to the mud, and thus to the lives of players. You may be helping to create a fun environment, and your mistakes might cause some unhappiness, but that's as far as it goes. At some point, somebody will disagree with your little philosophy, and won't ever be able to understand why you're so upset about it. Don't get a philosophy. Don't elevate yourself to the position of artist-martyr. Don't get so entangled emotionally in the situation that you'll genuinely be upset if things don't work out the way you expect. Just DON'T. Take a step back, revaluate your priorities, and try to be mature about the whole thing.
Don't Let the Players Get To You. Oh, and they will. Muds attract many different types of people, and a lot of them are losers. You may think this is a cynical joke in poor taste, but if you've ever run or played on a mud yourself, you're also filling in names. Even the ones who aren't consistently idiotic will get under your skin. When they say, "I know how annoying players can be," they mean the OTHER players, and aren't going to notice once they start throwing a tantrum themselves. (They're justified, you see.) When they say, "I know I must be annoying," they're implicitly tacking on "but I'm aware of this, so you should forgive me." People don't like to believe that they're wrong -- go on, try it -- and so they'll often fail to apologize to you for being irritating, or for assuming the worst of you and getting angry at you for something you consider perfectly reasonable. In some cases, they really haven't done anything wrong. Just try, try to keep in mind that they're in the mud for basically the same reason that you are, and that misunderstandings can crop up easily, especially when you start with different expectations. Just relax, and let it go.
Don't Let the Imms Get To You. Oh, and they will. Even if you've been clever enough in selecting staff to make sure that nobody is playing spiteful little political games and everybody is doing their best to follow rule #1, problems will crop up. The other Imms will occasionally be insulting in the way they disagree with you, or will be insulted when you make some perfectly reasonable or well-intentioned comment. They'll do less work than you, and then complain about how much of your work they're having to do. They'll act on their own, and get in your way. They'll want different things. It's unavoidable that you'll get angry or frustrated every now and then, but you don't have to lash out at them. Just keep in mind that they want basically the same thing as you, and are suffering through the same process, and are dealing with somebody as potentially irritating as themselves -- namely, you. And when conflict inevitably springs up, try to remember to be calm and conciliatory, and don't ever convince yourself that the other person is the irrational one.
Have Fun. This sounds trite and smarmy, but it's really easy to forget. This is a GAME, and people make it into all kinds of emotional issues, and react accordingly. You've already found yourself angry and frustrated on certain occasions (I cannot think of an exception among the mud players and admin I know) and have probably, one way or another, fantasized about vengeance. Maybe you've even taken pains to carry it out, aggressively or passive-aggressively. Was it fun? Is it what you want to do with your free time, when you could be reading a book or going out with friends? If you're not enjoying being an Imm, then there's really no point to the time and energy you're putting into it. When shit happens, when players believe ridiculous things and expect you to agree with them, when the fellow Imms you should be able to count on act like psychotics, try to find something funny about it, and don't torture yourself or the person on the other end of the computer. Chant "this is a game, this is a game" to yourself, and try to adjust your attitude until you're no longer talking yourself into bitter misery.
If you don't detect a certain hypocritical note in these rules, then you must not be somebody I know personally. I'm not a saint. I get self-righteous, and spiteful, and irritable, and worked-up. I don't always follow my own rules -- but I try to, because when I fail, it ends up sucking incredibly hard. At the very least, you can avoid being as bad as me at my worst.
May 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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