Guest Post – We Fly Spitfires

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires has done me the honor of writing a guest post about a subject I am pretty close to. On a side note my American spellchecker nearly had a heart attack when I loaded this baby into it. Not because anything was spelled wrong, but just because of the difference in spelling between European English and American English. Gotta love that :)Without further rambling on my part, enjoy this wonderful post:

Taking Roleplaying Out Of The Game

Roleplaying is a funny old thing. Traditionally it was a group of geeks crammed round a table at night, acting and embodying the roles of their fantasy genre based characters, abiding by a pen and paper rulebook and battling against the wits of their human Games Master. It was part acting, part socialising and part gaming all rolled into one. And then along came the computer and the Internet and ruined everything.

RGP video games were designed to satisfy the itch of roleplay by creating more immersive universes that players could access at any time of the day without needing an entourage of fellow roleplayers. We marvelled at the technology and adored games like Baulder’s Gate II as they gave us a whole new RPG experience. After a few years, the next logical step in the evolutionary chain came in the form of the MMORPG and it seemed like the ultimate opportunity for roleplay. It combined all of the convenience of gaming at home with all the immersion that a computer game can provide plus the ability to socialise with thousands of other players online all bundled up neatly into one package.

It’s now been over a decade since the first MMORPG and the sad news is that all meaning behind it is starting to fade. Yes, they are amazing fun and a fantastic joy to play but they aren’t roleplaying games in the sense that first inspired their inception. They have become ruleplaying games. Players don’t play roles, they are instead just focused on being the best and min/maxing their statistics. You no long play "Utgard The Mighty Warrior who has a phobia of cats", you play "Bill, level 80 Warrior with a cookie-cutter Fury spec and a Gearscore of 4,000".

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As players roleplay less inside the games, we’re starting to see a rise of roleplaying outside it. More and more gamers are writing fan lore about their favourite MMO or stories about their characters. They broadcast their fan fiction from blogs and forums and ignite the imagination inside us all with brilliant stories and tales of adventure. Even Everquest 2, which still severely lacks roleplaying in game, recognises this fact and provides the facility for players to write their own in-game books.

Yes, the days of "Hail, noble knight" and "Oogbah da biggest and cleverest Ogre" are long gone and maybe that’s the result of the rise of voice chat or the mainstream popularity that MMOs are gaining but, whatever the case, at least we’re seeing a new outlet for roleplaying and that’s a wonderful thing. Roleplaying isn’t dead, it’s just moved to other formats to deal with the evolution of the RPG genre. Take comfort in that, good sir, for at least the flames of roleplay are still fanning somewhere.


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9 Comments on “Guest Post – We Fly Spitfires”

  1. “However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As players roleplay less inside the games, we’re starting to see a rise of roleplaying outside it.”

    Gordon speaks truth. I do this myself, by writing up stories for my characters, but you’ll almost never see me doing any RPing in game. I know that’s the case with a lot of others as well.

    • amuntoth Says:

      I rarely RP in game, though I tend to gravitate toward RP servers. I recently had a nice four hour RP/Quest event with some random person I met. My wife was with me, and it was unplanned, and not something she was into. Still, she actually came up with a reason why she wasn’t talking and had me tell people.

      After it was done, she told me something I hadn’t noticed. We had gotten VERY little done quest wise. Perhaps it’s the fact that, if you stop to RP in game, it your friends might be passing you up. Maybe it is just the MMO culture we have created where we have to keep advancing and never stopping to enjoy anything.

  2. Thac0 Says:

    Long Live Utgard The Mighty Warrior who has a phobia of cats!

    I dearly miss the day of playing DnD in peoples basements and spending hours finely crafting character sheets and backgrounds. Perhaps I need to write some fiction for some of my MMO characters and see if that helps my craving.

  3. […] can read my full guest post on the subject over at Manifest Pixel here and feel free to have a look around around whilst your at it and explore some of Amuntoth’s […]

  4. Blue Kae Says:

    In-game RP is alive and well, it just depends on what game you’re looking at.

  5. Dàchéng Says:

    I think that part of the problem is that role-playing needs an audience, and an audience that’s willing to buy into the play. When we played D&D, we played with like-minded players and were all on the same page. In an MMO, the problem is twofold:

    1. We don’t have an audience. That is, when you start RPing, you never know if the players who are your intended audience are actually into it or not. Also, if you are meeting new players every day, you have no chance of progressing the play. You are always restarting with act 1, scene 1.

    2. Even if we have an audience, there are bound to be hecklers: people who don’t want to RP and will try to ridicule you and your audience for wanting to.

    Why does this not happen in a theatre, or the D&D game we used to play at home? Because those audiences were self-selecting. People went to the theatre because they wanted to hear the actors’ story. People played D&D because they enjoyed creating their characters and enjoyed interacting with yours; they enjoyed hearing your story and telling theirs. If they didn’t, they didn’t come next week. If they didn’t fit in, they weren’t invited next week.

    It’s a matter of trust. In the theatre, the actors trusted the audience to be there because they wanted to be told a story. In the fireside Runequest or D&D games, trust came easily because you played with the same players from week to week. In today’s MMORPG, you’ve no idea why anybody is there, and so you are less inclined to risk being made fun of by role-playing. This is a vicious circle, of course, because the less RPers role-play, the more unusual role-playing becomes, making it even less likely you will risk it tomorrow.

  6. theerivs Says:

    After much investigation into RP’ers I come to the conclusion. I loathe RP, and feel it has no place on the electronic games.

    You don’t RP the soldier in Call of Duty do you?

    • amuntoth Says:

      You do know that Call of Duty is not a ROLE PLAYING game right? Other than that, it’s fine if you loathe RP, as long as you don’t roll on an RP server and try and tell everyone else your opinion.

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