Commentary: Here you have the first article I’ve written regarding RP in the upcoming game The Elder Scrolls Online. But it could also be viewed as a general overview of some of the main reasons people like me “waste” our time with roleplay. I’m pretty happy with it, and the response was generally positive. Can’t wait to publish more on RP in ESO!
Original Link: http://www.teso-rp.com/home/m/9324622/article/1492365
Official Tamriel Chronicle Feature: http://www.elderscrollsonline.com/en/news/post/2013/05/21/the-tamriel-chronicle-issue-8
Why Waste Your Time Roleplaying
The most common question I’m asked by my fellow gamers about roleplaying is, “What’s so fun about standing around pretending to be an orc when you could be killing sh*t?” To people who have spent enough time engrossed in their roleplay story this question seems ignorant or even insulting. After all, there’s a lot more to RP than typing out in-character (usually abbreviated to IC) conversations in /say. But I think it’s a great question, and very valid. I mean, what are video games for but an adrenaline rush and audiovisual orgasm? If you want story, read a book or watch a movie. If you want story in your video games then watch the cut scenes and read the lore, right? Maybe, but RP is a lot more involved than that.
There was a recent thread on the forum asking the TESO-RP community what motivates them to RP. There seems to be a pretty standard consensus here (and among countless RPers I’ve talked to) about the reasons why we stand around pretending to be fantasy characters. In this article I’m going to go over these reasons and take a deeper look at them.
Any form of storytelling is an escape from real life. You don’t usually watch a movie or play Skyrim so you can spend some time thinking about your job or school. But RP is a little more of an escape than just playing a video game. When you create a character and start to develop him/her/it you find that there is more and more to remember about them; their personality quirks, likes vs. dislikes, past, opinions on other PCs, the list goes on and on, man. Unlike your mom’s birthday this information isn’t hard to remember – because it’s fun! Though, you do find that RP takes a lot of brain-power if you’re really into it. This alone can force your brain to focus and pull you deeper into the world you’ve escaped to.
Roleplayers are writers, and writers generally have good imaginations. When I’m roleplaying I imagine my character as a real person and try to see their facial expression and physical qualities not represented by the game avatar, like scars, a backpack, a pipe or a lantern. This, combined with the thought required to make your characters’ actions fit with who you’ve created them to be (and who they’ve evolved into) makes roleplaying an incredibly immersive experience at times. Add epic music, good graphics and believable environments into this and you can trick your brain into thinking you are a hunter stalking prey or a mage teaching his apprentice how to cast spells, at least for a few hours.
Anyone can immerse themselves into a game world – you don’t have to be a roleplayer to do that. But RP adds that little extra pull which makes the setting seem so much more alive by making you part of that setting.
For some, this all-encompassing escape is desperately needed. A lot of people mentioned on this forum, and from experience I can tell you, roleplayers often come from shitty home lives and use RP to get away from that. Personally, this hasn’t been true for me but I can see why it draws in so many people who want to escape from their real lives. Of course, there is a healthy balance when escaping from the problems life presents. Like all forms of entertainment, there is potential for abusing roleplay and ignoring real life entirely but I’m not here to judge. Everyone walks their own path.
For me, RP has always provided an escape when I needed it, but that is possibly its least appealing attribute. In fact, I find RP tied to my daily life in more ways than it is separate. I might go into that more in a future article but for now here’s one example:
2. Writing Practice
Getting good at writing is like getting good at talking to giiiiiirrrllllss. At first, you’re going to come up with some shit to say that’s just stupid and embarrassing. You think its good before it leaves your mouth, then look back on it later and cringe. But the only way to get good at talking to vaginafolk is to just keep doing it, and observe yourself carefully so you can see what you did well and what didn’t go so well.
The nice thing about practicing your writing skills through RP is that you don’t have to dedicate yourself to finishing a story or crafting an entire novel. RP is instantaneous and lasts as long or as briefly as you want it to. It’s the lazy, easy way to write!
As soon as you put out a /say or /emote it begins its ascent up the chat and will soon disappear into cyberspace. If you do something you think is stupid or poorly written it doesn’t really matter because it will soon be gone. There will be countless more opportunities to “do well” and you have the immediate opportunity to fix your mistake and learn from it. That said, roleplaying alone won’t train you to write a novel, but it really does help with character building and dialogue.
3. Being Involved
PvPers, Raiders and RPers all have their respective communities which serve as a big part of what keeps people playing the game. No one can argue that most gamers are more attached to the friends they make in MMOs than the MMO itself.
The unique thing about the RP community is that it has two sides to it. Everyone you meet has their character and who they are out of character (OOC). You might know all about one and nothing about the other. I don’t try to get to know most people I RP with OOC because I feel like it immerses me more if I don’t have that knowledge. But I love forum communities and find that I always make new friends of people I spend the most time RPing with. Chatting with people OOC can be just as fun as roleplaying with them.
It’s always kind of exciting to run into a PC who you’ve talked OOC on the forums or vise versa. It can be even more exciting to meet a character you’ve heard rumors of. There are always “famous” people who are either really impressive RPers, are especially active on the forums or have some guild related fame. This is just the nature of humanity – some will be in the spotlight for better or worse. Either way, I have to admit to some feelings of being “star-struck” when getting to RP with “famous” players. And this isn’t really a rare occurrence; the RP community is small enough that it will happen if you play enough.
It’s exactly because it is so small that individuals can make a big difference in the community. Whether or not they get recognized for it doesn’t really matter to me, I’ve heard some say, “Our server could benefit from this thing. Let’s do that thing!” and sure enough, if you have the will you can noticeably affect a large group of fellow players.
For example, back on WoW I had a friend who decided that Razor Hill was a great place for Horde roleplay to occur. He spent some time just hanging out there IC, smoking his pipe, cooking boar meat, having discussions with the grunts, making offerings to spirits, etc. Eventually people started to recognize this old orc shaman hanging around a town pretty much no one roleplayed in at the time. He would always try to connect his story to that of the people who would RP with him there. He involved tons of RPers in various plots relating to and based around this small orcish town in the middle of the red Durotar sands. Instead of just passing through to pick up a quest or sell their grey items, people made connections to one another and created epic stories together. Because of my friend’s efforts, Razor Hill went from an empty town filled with blank-faced NPCs to a living, breathing village with an ongoing plot of its own.
Any RPer can make a difference. It just takes passion, time and energy. People are proud of their plots, characters and personal RP histories. For us, roleplaying is something that can only be experienced, not explained. It doesn’t have to be standing around the capital city chatting IC. If you want adventure, go make it! But that’s a discussion for another time.
For today I’ll wrap up by saying that we roleplay for the same reason the artist paints and musician plays. RP could be seen as unproductive because there’s no physical evidence of its fruits but, like RP itself, the products of it are subtle and entirely personal. We roleplay to better ourselves, to observe and test out ideas, to see from different perspectives. Roleplaying is art, philosophy, socializing, meditation, writing and gaming all wrapped into one. It can be complicated and even time-consuming if you want to get really involved. But like all things, you get out of RP what you put into it. For some, it’s just a pass-time. For the hardcore RPers, it is a state of mind.
If you haven’t roleplayed before and are curious about it, hit up my inbox. If you don’t have an account here shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have plenty of resources to help you get started and can answer any questions you might have. But the best way to see if roleplaying is for you is to just jump in and try it!
I hope you all have a great rest of the week and a kickass weekend. Thanks for reading!