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Writers Workshop: Token Tags

What is token tagging?

Token tagging is a phrase that you probably have never heard of before, but have probably been taking part in without knowing it. Put simply, token tagging is when somebody is tagged in a scene, without fully engaging them. Let’s look at some examples:

  • A scene is being played out between three players. Two of the players are leading the scene by doing most of the talking/action, leaving the third person with tags that require only yes or no answers. As they are only being left token tags that prevent them from taking part in the fun/action, they are going to feel their input is not required and will be less engaged in the scene.
  • A small group of players are tagging out a scene and leave only one optional tag at the bottom of the scene. The person leaving the tags thinks of them as an invitation – we think you may be interested, so come and join us if you want. However; the person who the tag was for may think that the tag for them was an afterthought because there is only one tag, which is not a lot to work with, especially if you are already struggling.
  • Marathon sims are where one writer takes up too much of a scene, writing out a large part of it on their own and dominating it, frequently leaving a long string of tags. This can leave other writers feeling as if they are not as important and are merely along for the ride.

Token tags are something that nobody ever sets out to leave, as when we tag others we are doing it with the intention to include them. There is nothing inherently wrong with token tags, although it can lead to frustrations from the recipient, who could already be feeling frustrated and possibly overwhelmed.

What to do about them?

The best thing that you as a player can do about token tags is to be vigilant and aware of when you are doing it. Instead of leaving a single tag at the end of a scene, inviting someone to join in, write a small OOC note, or better yet reach out to them via email or Discord. On the other end, if there is a scene that you would like to get involved in, and it makes sense that your character could be in the location, then either jump in or reach out to those involved.

Some players are reluctant to get involved in ongoing scenes, feeling as if they are stepping on toes, so that small reassurance can be a great boost for them, and can help them feel more engaged in their simming.

If you find yourself going to use a token tag, try instead take a few minutes to work out how you can turn it into a tag with more substance, something that draws them into the scene and gives them an opportunity to really respond. For example:

She wrapped her fingers around the steaming cup, feeling the warmth radiate through her fingers. It was only a simple combination, hot milk, cocoa and sugar, but for Alison it was one of the greatest pleasures in the galaxy. Depending on how bad her day had been, she sometimes liked to add a little extra, like marshmallows or cream. The chocolatey scent rising up, filling her nostrils with the sweet aroma.

 

Jones: Mmm that is good. ::She placed the cup back down and looked up to her colleague.:: So you were saying that your brother has just applied to the academy. That must be exciting for you.

 

Smith: Response

 

As she chuckled at the man’s response, she spotted Ensign Ellison stood over by the counter, looking rather lost. She held up a hand and waved her over. Alison had only briefly met the new ensign when they bumped into each by sickbay during her first week, but that wasn’t going to stop her getting to know her fellow engineer.

 

Jones: Ensign, care to join us?



Ellison: Response

 

Jones: Of course not, Lieutenant Smith was just telling me about his brother. Please, take a seat.

 

Ellison / Smith: Response



Jones: And how about you Ellison, how did you end up an engineer?

 

Ellison: Response

About Jarred Thoran

Jarred Thoran is currently the Commanding Officer of the USS Atlantis. His real name is Richard, and his interests include sci-fi, cycling and taekwondo. He currently lives in Germany with his partner and young child.
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