My RP History

Part I

The thought of trying to sum up the experiences I’ve had through roleplaying into something coherent and readable is daunting. I could tell so many stories, but most of them wouldn’t be of too much interest or even make sense to most readers. Roleplayers have a culture of our own. Like any culture, you have to live it to fully understand it. By sharing some of the times I’ve had while roleplaying I might help the average non-roleplayer understand the culture a little better. Of course, this is all just my personal history. The thing that many roleplayers learn is that everything is about perspective. The way that I see our culture isn’t going to be the exact same as everyone else’s.

Most children like to play pretend. I lived for it. I was GMing the playground in elementary school starting in third grade. My friends and I had a complex Star Wars game in which they were apprentices (and eventually masters) of the Jedi Order. I would “be everybody”, which meant being the Game Master. We were serious about our lore, being hardcore Star Wars nerds, so our story never contradicted the films or books we had read. I don’t believe in being born to do some specific task or fill some role but I really want to say I was born to roleplay. Somehow my genes and upbringing, combined with my unending interest in roleplaying and fictional universes, would eventually lead me off of the playground and into the world of the internet.

The internet was like one of the fantasy worlds I longed to explore. It was endless, exciting and sometimes scary. I was eleven when my parents signed up with Walmart Connect. I’ll never forget the sound of the old dial-up modem screeching, trilling and whining for ten minutes every day after school as it connected. I found my way to Neopets (yeah, I know) where I discovered forums. I was slowly introduced to internet roleplaying when I saw people using astriks to indicate actions. I remember the first thread I started, a camping trip RP.

That was it, quite simple. I wasn’t roleplaying as anyone but myself, but it was fun! I could set up a tent and roast marshmallows and tell a ghost story and my imagination was vivid enough that it made it real. Of course, the roleplaying rabbit hole goes much deeper than that.

One day, in Sloth’s Lair (a message board on the Neopets forum) I saw a thread claiming that the poster was a traveler from another dimension and had come to save us all from some evil darkness nobody knew about. I wasn’t niave enough to think he was telling the truth but I was interested in what he had to say, so I messaged him. “I believe you,” I think I said. From there he went on about portals and dragons. We talked a bit before he linked another thread to me, one on a board called “Roleplay”.

I always skipped right down to my usual hangout, never thinking twice about what the Roleplay forum was. My multi-dimensional friend told me it was a wolf roleplay and I would need to create a character for it, showing his character as an example. I quickly thought up my wolf, taking every other letter out of my username to create his name, Teoamn. You can guess the username. 😛 My outline was simple. He was aloof, angry and totally badass! I took inspiration from a character named Wolf in a cartoon I used to watch. Monster Rancher, anyone?

The setting of the roleplay was a small glade in a forest. My friend with the tall tales was playing as the alpha of a pack called the Moonwolves, a winged wolf with all sorts of magical abilities. This pack each wore necklaces which gave them specific powers. I, being the noob, wasn’t aware that any of this had been established before the roleplay I was jumping into. I was under the impression that everyone was as new to this particular RP as I was. I also didn’t know that there are certain customs to RP culture, as well as taboos.

So, when I saw that one of the other RPers mentioned their wolf had a pendant around her neck I decided that she had stolen it from my wolf’s parents and I was going to get it back. I had no idea that all of the Moonwolves had these necklaces or that they were even a pack. When my character swiped at the necklace to take it the whole pack came and surrounded him. I was claiming up and down that she stole the necklace when the alpha put in an OOC comment, “No, really. She didn’t steal it.”

I laugh, cringe and shit myself at the same time as I remember this first RP experience. But really, I do cherish it. After the RP I was so hyped. I finally found a way to do more of the things I loved the most, pretending and play-acting! I joined the Moonwolves guild and spent an entire summer playing with them on their proboards. I later joined a wolf RP site called Au Claire De La Lune. It was there that I met my first friend who I would roleplay with online for over five years, and eventually meet in real life.

I ran my own proboards for awhile and joined many other RP sites/groups, developing my budding writing ability and working out the worst of the kinks. Having such an open, fast and fun way to express myself through words I quickly learned a lot about writing. Although the early days of my roleplay were full of cliches, mary sues and some really terrible writing I’m still thankful for them.

Having my start in chatrooms and forums was probably for the best. After all, MMOs are a lot more complex than play-by-post games, and I would spend the better part of my high school career deeply invested in World of Warcraft. In the next part I’ll discuss why I don’t think that’s a bad thing. *gasp!*

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Why Waste Your Time Roleplaying?

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

By

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.

1. Escapism
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: muppetdo@gmail.com. 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!