Kirin Tor – the server I inhabit in WoW – is a “Roleplaying Server”. I’ve mentioned before that RP servers have a much better ratio of idiots to normal people. There are a lot of rules regarding how you’re supposed to behave on an RP server. While I like the result (less idiots) I don’t actually think you can get several thousand disorganized strangers together and call anything they do “roleplaying”.
|Three naked female characters hanging out in (where else) Goldshire. I should make one of those motivational posters out of this. The caption would be: ROLEPLAYING: ur doin it rong. Actually I could have it say ENGLISH instead of ROLEPLAYING and that would work too.|
Everyone has a different idea of what roleplaying means or how it works. Everyone has their own taste for how much roleplaying they want. Is it okay if we just avoid talking about cars and the internet, or do we need to speak in arty language? What about game mechanics? Do we need to talk around things like what level we are? In a tabletop game you might have a character who is terrified of spiders, or a Dwarf who has a deep hatred of Elvenkind. Those are fine attribures in a game with friends, but in an online game that guy is just going to be a pain in the ass to play with.
Roleplaying itself is very subjective. Bryan left a comment the other day that described his idea of roleplaying:
Now, a character named “sickbag” wouldn’t fly at my table, but some tabletop games have all sorts of outlandish names. But you can’t get serveral thousand people around the same metaphorical table and expect everyone to be on the same page about how we’re going to play this. Insisting that people “roleplay” is impossible because you can’t ever prove they aren’t.
In fact, by my own definition I don’t really roleplay my character at all. Ask me about my character’s personality. History. Background. They don’t have any. I’m not going through the game, trying to weave all the other things people are doing into a story about my little Hunter.
So, Bryan roleplays his character, and I don’t.
I think this focus on “roleplaying” is misleading. What they should really be striving for is just a system where players try to fit into the world. The name Druiddidurmom doesn’t belong anywhere in the world of Azeroth. If you saw an NPC with that name you’d think it was a prank. Same goes for Sharpfart and Fullofcrap. (Both of which I saw yesterday.) I don’t care if Fullofcrap is roleplaying a character who is always full of crap. Roleplaying is irrelevant. His name is stupid, infantile and (most importantly) it doesn’t fit into the world. When I see names like this it cheapens the setting and breaks immersion.
So when I play I strive to avoid breaking immersion for others. I choose plausible names (as best I can, considering the huge population and the requirement for unique names) and I don’t blather about real-world stuff in open chat. I mostly communicate with strangers via waves, bows, claps, and laughing. If we need to talk game mechanics (these guys will wipe the floor with us at our level, let’s go around) we keep it in party chat.
I wish there were an even more exclusive server available out there where they actively policed this sort of thing. I’d pay a couple of bucks extra a month if I knew it would wall off people like Sharpfart, Bangurded, and other clowns. If anyone decides they don’t like the exclusive server or the restrictive behavior policies, they could stop paying the extra fee and be moved to another server.
The population would be low, which would mean good names would be easier to come by. It would make the game a little more grown-up and a little more low-key. There would still be people who would want to take the roleplaying more seriously than I do, but I don’t mind dealing with those folks on their own terms.
I don’t expect Blizzard to actually do this. I’m not even sure the idea would appeal to anyone else, but I know it would work for me.
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