Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Essays

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Gordon from We Fly Spitfires wrote, both on his blog and on this one, about the seeming transition of Roleplaying from inside games to outside them, such as on blogs or websites. It’s interesting to have watched it change over the years, and while hope may be dying for Gordon, mine has just been sparked by a simple memory.

I remember playing Ultima Online many years ago, back when it was new and revolutionary. Roleplayers were everywhere and no matter what you did you were exposed to it. In many ways it was the opposite of what we have now. But you know what I remember most? Out of my entire time playing Ultima Online, the one thing I look back on with the most fondness were the guides.

The only guides I could find, and the guides I really wish I could find now, were in character. I remember specifically reading an alchemy guide and it was entirely in character. Just try to imagine the creativity it would take to not only figure out all of the information needed to create a guide, but to then make a story out of it that was compelling.

The fishing guide was another favorite of mine. It was told from the perspective of a young whipper snapper (you) as you met with an aged, salty fisherman. He told you about some of the misconceptions the people of Brittania had when it came to fishing and the ocean. He warned you of the dangers and explained, in vague terms that were specific enough to easily figure out where to go and what to do, but it was all a story.

Jump forward a few years and most people were roleplaying in game. Guides had become information textbooks with no flare and no heart. Let’s face it, the majority of people in the world are not roleplayers. That fact by itself shouldn’t effect the roleplaying community as much as it does. If it were just for the fact that more and more people are getting into MMO’s then it should just mean that there are more and more non-RPers and non-RP servers. So why is it so hard to find Roleplaying ON a Roleplaying server?

The problem is that it’s not just non-roleplayers that are flooding into MMOs and video games in general, it’s that douches are flooding in with them. Sure it’s partly the anonymous nature of the internet, but that’s like blaming guns for murders. Sure, without the gun the murder might not have happened, but some idiot pulled the trigger.

It used to be that video game nerds were just that. We were the quiet kids who liked DnD and reading. Flash forward to now and the vast majority of gamers are people who would have tried to beat us up for our lunch money back in the day, and they haven’t changed much. They’ve invaded the hobby and changed not only the pay models, but the target audience and the treatment of people inside the game.

Sure, you’ve always had jackasses in MMOs, going all the way back to MUDs. Ultima Online had it’s fair share, but, and this may be nostalgia talking, I seem to remember it being a current beneath the broader roleplaying/adventuring vibe. Now Halo Jocks (Disclaimer: Halo is a good game, but would have been better on PC. Facts are facts, keyboard and mouse will always be superior for FPS) with popped collars are running around “roleplaying” P3nisP3n3traterXx the Orc Fighter! His battlecry is “L2P!” and his favorite taunt is teabagging.

So why do I have ANY hope left? Because I blog hop and see dozens of stories being written from the perspective of the bloggers characters. Even people who don’t usually write RP stories throw out little one shots that give me not only an insight into their character but into the blogger themselves. I see people in game trying to roleplay (some do better than others) for the first time, though it’s rare. I also see drawings of characters, in character podcasts, in character “newspapers” that publish real and made up in game events. Perhaps one day soon we will see in character guides make a resurgence! If that happens you might see the amount of in game RPing make a comeback simply because, if you can get brought in character and into the world deeper and deeper by the supplimental material outside the game, then you are more likely to be interesting in staying in character while in game.

I have never been one who believed that the lack of MMOs feeling like living breathing worlds was the developers fault. I think more and more the worlds are vibrant and interesting with some great stories playing out that even the developers didn’t foresee. I blame the community for changing and making roleplaying in a roleplaying game, or treating people nicely even, a taboo.

Then again I have no faith in humanity. I haven’t since I was a boy. That is probably tainting the way I’m seeing the whole picture but it’s just who I am. I hope that roleplaying will make a comeback, especially since it is so difficult to get six or so people together for several hours once a week every week in real life. If it doesn’t I’ll just enjoy some great roleplaying on the outside.

Below is a list of recent RP posts that really got me interested:

Yams – The Breckenridge Legacy 2.3. A Sims 2 story that isn’t so much in character as a great story and some great writing.

Star Trek: Tarpitz. This blog follows the adventures of Captain Judon Ruz of the U.S.S. Tarpitz.

MMO Gamer Chick – Fight Like A Khitan. Told from the perspective of her new Khitan Guardian. Am I the only one who can’t help but picture Kung Fu Panda whenever I read Sifu?

Tooting my own Horn. My Star Trek Online Captains Log. It’s the first one I did on Star Trek Online, and I really think it was entertaining.

Blue Kae’s Meet the Silver Hunter. It’s not in character, but more a character biography, and a well though out one I might add. I really enjoyed it.

Have your own blog or website and like to post storied of your MMO characters? Let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out!

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5 Comments on “Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Essays”


  1. Well, on why it’s so hard to find roleplayers on roleplaying servers, I have a couple thoughts. I know a lot of people who aren’t RPers who tend to roll on RP servers because they believe they do have a more mature population. The other is, a lot of players may just choose randomly an RP server to play on, without knowing what it means. Usually though, I find if you want to roleplay the best thing to do is find a dedicated RP guild. Plain random RP with someone you just happen to come across just doesn’t seem to happen very often anymore.

    And thank you for the link love. I don’t really know if that was me RPing, I was just in a silly mood. 😛 But now that I think about it, I suppose I WAS sort of taking on the voice of another character AND speaking from their point of view…which in essence I guess is like RP! Cool!

  2. Blue Kae Says:

    Finding RP really depends on the game. In LotRO it is very easy to find, at least on Landroval. Granted it is the “unofficial RP server” but it is also the second or third highest in population. In STO it is a little harder to find, just about anytime I’m on DS9 and stop by Quark’s Bar there are a few people there in character.

    All that said, for me RP is more of an internal/mental activity than an external/behavioral one. Meaning that I don’t walk my character or necessarily talk in character all the time, although I do occasionally. Instead, I’m thinking about the character’s history and motivations while I’m questing, making up stories that usually just stay in my head. Although I am trying to write more of those down.

  3. Adventurer Historian Says:

    Rowan of I Have Touched The Sky routinely writes pieces from the point-of-view of his characters. I’ve also written a story or two about my STO captains.

    • rowan Says:

      Thank you, AyAitch, for tooting my horn for me. 😀 Just today I have one brewing, but it’ll be a couple days before it develops the heady aroma and bold taste a good story should have.


  4. […] The Path To Hell Jump to Comments Amuntoth just wrote a piece on roleplaying in MMOs, and his post served as the catalyst for me breaking down and writing an introductory piece for my […]


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