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VWN Resource Database: Roleplay
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Resource Database > Roleplay
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Jobs and Professions | Alternate Lives
 
Playing in a virtual world is different to playing in a game. Virtual worlds are more than just games, they are real, living, breathing communities themselves, viable realities offering refuse from the physical, offering whole worlds to explore.

It is often so much more fun to explore as a resident of these worlds; seeing through their eyes, living as they live, acting out how the person you play in the virtual would act. This is the fundamental essence of roleplay, the bare bones of something that will enrich your experience beyond your wildest dreams, giving you, and everyone round you, the joy of a living novel that never ends.

Not all is sweetness and light; a very few enter the virtual looking to cause harm and suffering. To them, it is just a game, and they will not care if others get hurt. These people are called griefers, those who love player-versus-player or PvP. Not all PvP is bad, but by understanding what it is, you can see the signs as they develop.


Sections


What is Role-Play? (11)

Role-Play is, at it's base level, the art of Playing a Role. If you don't roleplay, then you usually tend to treat virtual worlds as simple games, with no consequences. Unfortunately, this isn't true.

Virtual worlds are social situations. The avatars are controlled by other people, as real as you. If you interact with these avatars outside of Role-Play then you are dealing directly with that person, and any unkind words or gestures strike through to them.

Role-Play is where you don't treat the avatar as a part of yourself. Instead, it is almost a puppet, and you are the string-puller. It has an animation of it's own, you see through it's eyes, you move it's limbs, but it has it's own life. You are simply the actor that says the lines, and expresses the personality.

With Role-Play, you can set up a life for the character within the virtual world. They may come to be known by other characters as a mighty sage, a whimsical bard, a dispicable thief, or even a lowly barkeep. Whatever the outcome, by playing a character, and creating their own life, you then have far more context for their actions, and a lot of lasting fun as well.

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A Brief History of Roleplaying, Part One
This, the first in a series on the evolution of Role-Play looks at where we have come from, at the origins of the modern roleplay systems used by near enough every world.

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A Brief History of Roleplaying, Part Three
A look at the third kind of structure for Role-Play, that of the story-driven world, where less emphasis is placed on the characters, and more on the overall idea. This article looks at the evolution of this strain of virtual world over time from the first ancestors, to modern versions.

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A Brief History of Roleplaying, Part Two
A second look at the history of Role-Playing, with more in depth coverage of how the different types of system which encourage role-play have evolved over time.

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Assumptive and Suggestive Roleplaying
An old article from the Imaginary Realities e-magazine, looking critically at the differences between assumptive ? presuming what the other party will do ? and suggestive, role-playing activities, Ten years later, it is still sorely needed, as using the wrong type of role-play in any shared experience, lessens the fun for both parties.

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Imaginary Realities: Guide to Roleplaying
A simple and very basic pre-roleplaying guide written for the now-defunct e-zine imaginary realities. It only covers the basics, for the first-time role player, but is never the less valuable for such.

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Literary Role Play
?Muds are designed to move role playing onto computer networks. Yet they do not merely translocate, but transform role playing: the different environment, in which the players are also authors, and the text medium, which requires expressive language, can lead to a different type of role playing.?

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Quick Start: Is this MUD for Me?
This article, written with the Turning Point MUD specifically in mind, is still ideal for an introductor to any Role-Play Intensive world. It highlights the key issues and considerations you need to face as a player, when first stepping out into a virtual world.

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Role playing
A short, fun poem that summarizes fairly effectively, exactly what role play means to so many people.

    
A comprehensive introduction to Role-Playing, for the uninitiated, across all the major world types. Well worth a look.

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RPer's Ramblings on VR Role-playing
This is a long, many sectioned paper, containing many suggestions, do's, and don'ts for better role-play in virtual worlds. Also available at the authors home site here.

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Rule making of roleplaying
The rules for roleplay are no different than the rules for any other complex system. Unless those are clearly laid down from the start, things quite quickly degenerate into primordial chaos.



Its just a game, right? (14)

This, the most commonly asked question a non-role-player asks a role-player, 'This is just a game, isn't it?' has a tendency to drive the role-player up the wall, for a virtual world, whilst it is entertainment, is also far more than a simple, and meaningless game. Therefore, this section is here to provide the answers that will make it crystal clear, once and for all.
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Balance
This interesting read deals with finding a balance between Role-Play, and the 'Hack & Slash' approach taken by gamers, allowing both to co-exist in the same world, happilly, without ruining the experience for each other.

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Clans in a Role playing World
How do you deal with, or come to terms with multiple-world-spanning clans inside a roleplaying world? Part 1: Looking at the role of clans in role-play.

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Criminal Profilers are to Psychopaths as Role-Players are to . . . ?
There are certain times when you pause, catch a breath, and look over what you're written . . . only to realize that you've just proven: you are a psychopath. It is at times like these, when one also realizes that it is possible to prove one's point too well.

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Morality and Consequences
In-Character Actions equal In-Character Consequences - ICA=ICC. This is the cornerstone of roleplay - what you do in character reflects what happens in character. This said, morality in roleplay does not get a second glance. Why not? That's a complex one...

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Naming NPC's
"Gary Cygaks poured through his book of demonology looking for the name of the Demon who would help him free his adventuring company from the clutches of the evil council. And he came across it, "A very evil looking being is here." Knowing that he had found the name of the most powerful creature, he began setting up a circle of summoning. "

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No Shit, There I Was
Roleplaying combat: a reminder of what roleplaying *isn't*, of your rights to roleplay, and of how to stand up for those rights. A comparison of common attitudes, to the mentality of a rapist, and how some players are just wannabe rapists who can't safely do so in RL society (with its Laws), so they take the next best thing from YOU in the Virtual World.

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Role Playing Extremism?
This is a transcript of a conversation held within an OOC area of one MUD, wherin one player's discussion of RP within the MUD, and the article author's own use of it, reveals some interesting views.

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Role-Play vs. Multi-play
An argument that playing multiple characters or alts on a roleplaying world, decreases the ability to roleplay in any depth. Well reasoned.

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Roleplaying (II) - on maturity
Not a role-play article par-se, this article is included here because it looks at the conflict between some extremes of role-play, and the RL morality issues when kids are involved. Note: the solutions raised are not proposals, merely comments.

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Star Trek: The Original Series, & VR ~ Errand of Mercy
Errand of Mercy, and the Organians. After viewing the episode, it becomes clear we have seen this again and again - in every MMORPG yet launched. Is 40 years long enough to keep hashing the same old? After all, as the storyline shows, it antagonised those from outside the environment, even then.

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The Powergamer
A more serious article, along the same broad bent of The story of Havoc, this one looks at the views, and downright obsurdities -of the powergamer, that unusual breed of player who plays to win, nothing else.

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The story of Havoc
A satriatrical look at non-role players, based around one player's character in a particular MUD, Nexus. A sad example of what can happen if a player doesn't consider RP 'a worthy consideration'.

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Til Death do us Part
In a roleplaying environment, gameworld, or alternative life setting, how do we handle the concept of death, in-world?

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Voice Chat Can Really Kill the Mood on WoW
A commentary from Wired magazine on the advent of voice in the gameworld WoW, and how it is destroying the virtual identity ? physical identity threshold. Well balanced for both sides.



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Benefits of Role-Play (13)

If you're here, in the third of VirtualWorldlets' Role-Play categories, then you probably know what role-playing is, you know how to do it, but what are the benefits of it? What do you gain from role-playing that you wouldn't, by just treating the world as a game?
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A Face in the Crowd
?In role playing environments, especially original themes, one of the most daunting tasks beyond getting to know the new universe is getting into the mix of role playing activities.?

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Actors and Reactors
A look at the four essential qualities of true Roleplayers: Awareness, Interaction, Goals, and Incentive. Without these put into the characters by their players, you have persona play, not roleplay...

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Don't Help
A look at why sometimes, trying to help a newcomer to a given world, is no help at all, for the newcomer.

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IC, OOC
A wonderful article looking at the great probability that in order to allow strong in-character bonding, you need to have a facility for dedicated out of character player bonding too.

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It was never about Hats!
This article stands as a statement against the compartmentalisation of ideas, genres, et al. You should be free to use ideas, concepts, and more, from any 'genre', into any world.

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Placards
This short article, written in response to a forum post at another site, whose origin is, sadly, unknown, expresses the need of Role-Playing gamers to present a united front by embrasing differences between gamers, rather than suppressing, or ignoring them. As the author points out, these actions damage the RP gaming community as a whole.

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Play the character, not the game
This story-based paper examines the different challenges, experiences, and memories available in role-play, and other types of 'game', in order to showcase the advantage of the one over the other. This one makes its point well.

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Quick Start: Developing Your Character
A solid, and badly needed guideline on creating a character which is sensible, and believable. Covers the creation of the backstory, and motivation for your character's actions - a point often missed by the new, or casual role-player.

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Roleplay Avatars with Emotion
A 'super emoticon' system for online chat, using photos and morphing them to create emotions, works just as well with CGI pictures as it does with faces, opening the way for facial expressions in roleplayed humanoids.

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Roleplaying is like a polyfractal prism
This fascinating article compares the art of role-play, to peeting through facets of a marvelous gem, the more facets you can look through at a time, the better a roleplayer you are. Read it.

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The Ethical development of Detail
This article is designed to mark a line in the sand, to clarify the principles which the author firmly believes are needed to stop "righteous internal sabotage by players, in the name of roleplaying".

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The Seven States of Gamer Development
?There lacks in the gaming community any sort of lens through which to help better view or understand the development of a game player. There do exist methods to determine how gamers rank in types of personality in comparison with one another, but that is a far cry from actually trying to determine the relationship to the development of the gamer personality.?

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Why Do I Roleplay?
The author explains their personal experiences of the benefit of role-play. This article deserves a read.



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World-Specific Role-Play (8)

Whilst the basics of Role-Play don't really change from world to world, codebase to codebase, sometimes the commands you use do. This section takes a look at Role-Playing in a variety of different world codebases, both text and graphical.
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Designing God
Forget intelligent design, how do you design a god, and a religion round them, for practical use within a gameworld?

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Experiments in Low Pressure
Playing a character can sometimes conflict with play styles, and so this article on roleplaying round your play style comes in - don't take on anything you cannot play, and do make plans in-world if you pln to be away for a while.

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I Think, Therefore I Role play
A heart warming story from Armageddon MUD, about their use of a ?think? command to help players flesh out their own characters, whilst role-playing, and silently interact with administrators, indirectly asking for role-playing hooks.

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MUSH and Roleplaying Etiquette Guidelines
As the author states, this is only an opinion on the etiquette needed for virtual world roleplaying. However, it is a very well reasoned, and common-sensical opinion.You could do worse than to follow these guidelines.

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Permanent Death Sliderule
?Permanent removal of the ability for a player to control his avatar within the game system is known as permanent player death (PPD). Few game mechanics actually attempt to make use of PPD, though the reasons for this vary. The purpose of this article is not to identify the strengths or weaknesses of PPD within a given game system, but to present one implementation of it.?

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Putting the "Game" in your RPG
An amusing yet to the point article on roleplay in VR. As the author puts it: ?Too much role-play, and you've got theatre, with everything consent-based and largely pre-arranged. Too much game, and you've got Quake, and the world is a flavourless collection of point-hounding players, who don't care if they're wearing "a Hawaiian shirt" on their body if it's got +damroll.?

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Roleplayability in Muds
A guide for how to enable true roleplay within the static confines of a computer-mediated world. The lessons this short article teaches are immortal. They were true then; they are true now.

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The Aedon Attribute and Rule System
A roleplaying virtual world?s administrator shares some of the fundamentals of their world, and why they were set up that way, to serve as a guide for others building such worlds.



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PvP: Mental Torture (2)

Strongly related to the belief that the world is just a game, is the belief by some players that the other characters in the world can be treated just like NPCs in computer games. This can lead to players using their characters to do their best to degrade the other players' characters, to belittle them. The mental effect this can have on a player is profound.

These resourrces are meant to educate and inform as to the vile nature of these acts, and the people who perpetrate them.

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A Rape in Cyberspace
This lengthy, but engrossing article looks at the actual effects of virtual 'rape' within a virtual world, and the aftershocks it produced. So much for it being 'harmless'. A must-read.

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Rape by any other name
This excellent article is concerned with concentual, interactive PvP, and how PvP has to be agreeable to both parties. If it's not, then there is a RL word for what is taking place...
Reprinted with permission, from the Biting the Hand column, previously hosted at happypuppy.com.



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Pro Role-Play (4)

Role-Playing has been a battered occupation since its beginnings. Often used as a scapegoat by those who misunderstand its purpose, or who lump it in with other topics, often having nothing to do with it. Thus, there have arisen a legion of 'flag-bearers' for roleplaying, those who will go to any length to prove that role-play is a wonderous thing, not a tool of abomination.
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IC, OOC
A wonderful article looking at the great probability that in order to allow strong in-character bonding, you need to have a facility for dedicated out of character player bonding too.

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Simulation versus Shoot-em-up
An older article this, from the MUDding community, arguing pro role-play over a kill anything that moves slugfest. More specifically it takes a reasoned look at how you can encourage one over the other, in your playerbase.

    
Complete Website: The Escapist
An excellent site, fighting to protect and promote RPGing of all types. Since most (decent) virtual worldlets fall under the RPG umbrella, this site is most definitely worth a look.

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Virtual Voice: Ultimate RolePlaying Hook
In roleplaying, nothing breaks immersion more than hearing the voice of the player when its not appropriate for the role. The voice of a 10 year old girl coming from the troll about to smack you into next week, or a butch, and manly seductress just breaks immersion entirely. Either online roleplay should be limited to just text whilst everything else goes voice, or a new approach is required.