Sunday, 4 September 2011

Role-Playing: Part One - God-Mode Engage

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this topic, I am going to split it into several sections, and place each in a new post. This might make going over the basics a little dull, and for that I apologise. I'm trying to cater for quite a varied audience. I promise that I am trying to make it as interesting as possible. If you find this a little tedious...come back in a few posts? I have already spoken in bits and pieces about this topic in various previous posts. If you wish to view them altogether, you can click the "role-playing" link in the tags cloud and it should display them all for you.
God-Mode Engage
Role-playing appears to be a pretty staple part of Second Life. To put it basically, role-playing in SL is pretty much like role-playing in/on any other medium; it requires you to take on a character and a personality, usually at least marginally different from your own, and then engage with a story or situation in accordance with the behavioural traits of that persona. It's relatively simple, and people have probably been doing it since the dawn of time. I myself have spent many years writing such stories on various forums, developing my characters and satiating my need to write (that these days, just tends to drive me crazy). There was something cathartic about it. I roped my friends into it, and eventually set up my own forum for it. It was quite successful for a while, but then my two most avid writers fell out, and then fell out with me, and...well. The rest is history. A dull, petty history.

RP in SL utilises the /me function (as outlined in this post here...which also contains a better description of role-playing that the one above), allowing characters to take turns at communicating their actions and responses in the third person. Occasionally, you will meet someone who thinks that their character is God, and they will try desperately to engage in a text battle with you. Often, too, they impose actions upon your character. An example of this may be:
"Kitti Wytchwood pounces on her blog viewers, knocking them to the ground. She then proceeds to beat them with a length of rusty pipe until their skulls become a reddish dust".

Funny as that may sound here, in the safety of my blog, it is pretty annoying if you have placed your avatar in a bar and are just trying to write a short scene with your friends about...kittens or something. It's also breaking a ton of unspoken (though I have received several notecards from role-playing sim owners, warning that people who RP like so will be kicked from the sim) maxims. What I should have written, if I wanted to attack you, was:

"Kitti Wytchwood pounces towards her blog viewers waving a piece of rusty pipe, hoping to knock them to the ground"

I would have to hope that you replied with:

"The blog viewers were taken totally unaware and, before they realised what was going on, found themselves on the floor, being beaten about the head by a metal object".

SL has many sims dedicated to role-playing. The sim I introduced you to in the afore-linked post, the Necronom VI, is one such sim. When you arrive in these sims, you are usually automatically sent a notecard, detailing the specific rules for the sim, and any requirements regarding the nature of behaviour and dress-code.
The Necronom VI guidelines are pretty lengthy. Normally, they just say "Don't swear. Don't god-mode. Don't get naked".
So far, I have only really been involved in sci-fi RPs, and as such, I have only really developed one character. That is plain Kitti, part of Laertes' crew for his spaceship, the Beowulf. She is a young, human, woman with no real specialist area of knowledge or expertise - but she is eager and quick to learn. Years hitch-hiking and paying her way through labour have given her a willingness to chip in wherever a hand is necessary. She has been recruited by Laertes as a mechanic. As such, she is required to maintain a level of uniform and to be armed at all times, but as she is a relatively simple, un-vain creature who works with oil and grease, she has to look a little grubby, too...

To be grubby, I have to wear dirt as a jacket. My mother would kill me if I got up and announced that I was going to wear a layer of dirt over my nice clean clothes :P

I began to find that, in sci-fi RPs, many of the characters you meet are not human, and they adopt a merciless, cold attitude towards hardships, because that is what is necessary to survive. Whilst Kitti is not naive to that mechanism of survivalism, she fights it, and I enjoy bringing something warm and human to the RP table. RP stories rarely involve me having to fix something on the ship. We go on missions and haunt doomed ships, looking for salvage. Inevitably, something or someone will be lost, or found unrescue-able, and Kitti will usually be the first to try and help, and the last to let go.

And she'll probably end up arguing with the Captain about it all the way back to the base.

Coming up: overriding the (virtually) physical, HUDs, RP content, SL as a backdrop, RP anecdotes, and Restrained Love.


  1. What I like about Kitti the character is that she's in many ways the opposite of most RP characters you meet in places like Necronom and that, in that the newb's error when roleplaying is to make a character with a backstory that's amazing and fascinating and fabulous (or at least you think it is. If you need them to give you a notecard to figure out what their character's like, and your eyes glaze over at the section marked "early life", you know they're not that great). Kitti gets it right because Kitti's pretty ordinary in background - she's just a traveller, really. But it's what she says and does that's interesting.

    The best RPs I have ever had have been with people who react in interesting ways. It's not any one character that makes RP fascinating and sometimes cathartic, it's the interaction and it's the willingness to allow your own character to develop in the context of others.

    Kitti might meet the Leisure Consultant again sometime, by the way. That might be fun.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write that. It's very kind of you to say. And lol, backstory has never been one of my strong points, really. I like to develop characters through RP, and use that as backstory. I don't think anybody really cares about what she was like when she was five, or what her favourite colour is.

    I really enjoy the nuances in RP, though - the little details that, irl, you'd pick up almost instinctively. I love writing with you partially because you do that. You include those little important bits that many people seem to ignore or forget. They are what makes it believeable.

    And ha ha! - I think it would most definitely be fun. Maybe she'll be better prepared this time, but let's face it, probably not, lol

  3. I suppose the heart of good RP is generosity - the willingness to let another's ideas shape your character's reactions and maybe even her or his fate.

    I'm sure you've seen this, by the way:

  4. Yes, I had. I am planning to do a post about RP content (along the lines of the convo we had the other day) and ask you if you minded me putting a link to that in the post. And yes, I think there does need to be a sense of trust and compromise in RP, even if you are only trusting that the other person will do "the right thing" in terms of personal boundaries and the storyline.

  5. Mate that picture.. I have no words.. I'm going to drool instead...

  6. With love from your Lesbian Lover Liz

    ps. Awesome alliteration


All questions, comments and feedback are welcome. Thank you.