Roleplay Adventures: The fine line between the character and the person.

Roleplay is all about immersion. We take over a different persona, dive into an alternate world, and do things that we would never do in real life with people who often feel so real it is easy to forget they are not. In that world, we live adventures, tragedies and epiphanies that real life does not offer so readily. It is all about the experiences that ordinarily we would never have. We become heroes, assassins, tyrants; we wage war upon one another, stage daring rescues, forge friendships, grow deep hatreds… and, often, we fall in love. It is amazing, thrilling, and yet… more frequently than it should happen, it becomes forgotten that this is not real.

In Character and Out Of Character are notions that even the most green of roleplayers become familiar with, from day one. These are fake people, we repeat ourselves. This world does not exist… ah, but how fascinating and vibrant it is! Look at me, how skillfully I wield a sword! Out of nowhere I am a pirate, feared in all the Seven Seas! And… these people are showing me respect and fear! It is exhilarating, and, quite unlike real life, the only limit is my imagination (and my peers’ tolerance, but that’s another story). I can be anything I want, in an instant. And have you looked at me? I am gorgeous. Look at these muscles, this perfect face, not a blemish upon my skin… wow, get a load of that girl over there. Shapely ass, great boobs, and an angelic face. I want her. I will find perfect love with her, she will love me instantly because I am handsome and muscular and successful and rich, and we will love one another with our perfect bodies and our perfect lives.

…And just like that, reality is forgotten; and often, that means we are in for a rude awakening. Frequently it turns out that the curvaceous, alluring alien girl of the slender tail and perfectly cared for horns, is played by a dude. And our little utopia comes crashing down and we feel cheated, and embarrassed. Does it look like I am hating on dudes who play female characters? Think again, cause I am not. I know many dudes that play females, and I have done so myself at times. That’s exactly what IC and OOC is about, and this simple truth is forgotten way more often than it should.

Does this mean I have had my little utopias come crashing down on me? No, but I have been on the opposite side of it. Story time:

Nearly five years ago, I was playing on WoW’s Earthen Ring server with a community of roleplayers that I had found over the internet (this was about two or three years before I got into ER’s server community). We played a noble house of Blood Elves, and my character, a paladin, was a humble retainer of the house. At some point, a gal joined with her Blood Elf warlock, and her character and mine, to put it simply, hit it off.

Were boundaries set? Yes, by her. This is strictly IC, don’t get any ideas, yadda yadda yadda. Me, I had enough RP experience under my belt to be well versed in this kind of thing, and I had no issue keeping the lines untouched. It was fun, and, why not say it, it was steamy. Then one day she goes and tells me she is falling in love with me.

At the time, I was taken.

Thus our adventures and intense stories came to an abrupt end. She disappeared and never talked to me again. You may contend that I should have told her from the beginning that I had another relationship, but to this day I wonder, is it really necessary? Aren’t these boundaries in place precisely to prevent this kind of thing happening? I have not come to an answer as of yet, but I did learn my lesson and, ever since, I make sure to put forth my relationship status when it applies. Funny thing is, it has helped little.

The same happens with hate. You meet a character who is an absolute jackass. Evil to the core. Treats you horribly from the get-go. And what happens? You end up hating the person behind it. Which, funny enough… sometimes is justified. I have had plenty of experiences with villains and tyrants that used RP as a way to express their own… kinks. I am not exaggerating.

I have no qualms about getting invested in your stories and living vicariously through your characters. That is, after all, the very meaning of roleplaying. I have known people who actually wept after a character (theirs or otherwise) goes through a particularly intense experience (like death, breakup, etc). It’s like when you read a novel, you find some characters fascinating and awesome, and the villains are the scum of the earth (or other planets) and you hate  them so much… but they are only stories, and that is something that should always be kept in mind.

This tirade came to my mind as I pondered about so many  RP buddies of mine that have had unpleasant experiences with fellow RPers who essentially use knowledge gleaned from their journals and other ilegitimate sources to bring heavy slander upon them. Many of my buddies (though I prefer to call several of them friends) play characters surrounded by controversy, the stories are intense and, to some, questionable… but these people who came against their fellow players in such a way forget two things: One, and the most obvious, is that the character in the game and the individual at the keyboard are two very different things. Two, that using in character information gained ONLY out of character is an ugly, despicable practice known as  metagaming. That is a big no-no. I have seen my buddies, understandably so, somewhat distraught by such unsavory ordeals. I usually feel, understandably so, fairly outraged. And this is not exactly rare, either. Real life vendettas and harassment born from in-game stories and actions are more common than they should be. Fortunately there is a kinder side to this coin, for, out of these fictitious happenings and lives, many strong, deep, and very real friendships are born.

Never forget that, as riveting, engaging, and sometimes realistic as these stories are, they are still stories. They may be informed by our personalities, but they are not our actual lives. And most important, never forget that, for every character you see out there, there is a living, breathing person behind a screen.

A big salute to my friends and RP buddies. See you next week.

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2 Responses to “Roleplay Adventures: The fine line between the character and the person.”

  1. /Salute ❤ this!

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