Saturday, April 9, 2011

Evolving Roleplay Beyond Time

I've been thinking on this for a while, and through various talks I've had with friends, as well as considering my own experiences in RP, it seems that roleplay, the concept as we know it so far on SL, has to change.  Or, at least, a new way of RPing is essential to accommodate for people's busy schedules, and doesn't get burdened by false expectations and flimsy excuses.  But, also, remembering that this is SL, where we come to enjoy ourselves, and relax, we don't put too much pressure on people.  Afterall, the reason we RP with one another is, or should be because we enjoy the company of each other, and what each of us brings to the table in our participation in the RP.  So why should we make it seem like an undue burden to be a part of RP?  Shouldn't RP be fun?  And shouldn't we be able to work together to make sure that we do indeed have fun?

And that's exactly what I'd like to do - make a group wherein RPers can come together, work towards a common goal in a story, and have fun in the process. There's a few things that I feel need to be addressed with this different perspective on RP.  Not necessarily 'rules', but certainly guidelines and things I'd like to see become norms in the collective group of RPers I'm trying to form.

For starters, let's all remember that we're friends, and, regardless of conflicts, we all have the same end goal when it comes to the RP in general.  We may not be on the same 'team', and our roles may indeed conflict.  But, in the end, it is part of the Chess match being played.  And when one round is over, we put aside the trivial of that round and ready to play the next round.

Secondarily, and considering that when in Forgotten City, which is a PG sim, we need to remember to try and manage our actions accordingly to the guidelines of the particular sim we are RPing in.  The community rating to me is more a challenge with Forgotten City.  How so?  Well, for one, it's actually attempting to put together a quality story that doesn't involve sex and a lot of gore.  Much of SL RP has pretty much centered around 'dark' RP, to which has always devolved into scenes of sex and gore.  I'm not saying that such should not be in RP, or a story.  I read plenty of books that are adventure novels with plenty of it and manage to also hold higher level thoughts on philosophies, religion, and science.  But, to me, the challenge is to actually make a quality RP and story without such things, which is compelling in its own right.  Amazingly, many top Hollywood movies, such as Avatar, Batman Returns and The Dark Night, as the space operas of Star Trek and Star Wars have been able to make such stories, so why not RP storytellers as well?

But regardless of rating on a sim, also consider what the period is, what they allow, and all the other aspects before starting to RP there.  If they don't allow your type of character, and you don't want to morph from the character you have, then move on.  If it's not in you to want to participate where your particular form is not allowed, then it's not worth the time and half-hearted passion that may be put into it.  Find a place you can feel that passion, and go for it.  We are both authors and actors in our RPs and stories, so why waste time with places that want to edit you to the point that you may feel you don't have the character you would want to play and develop?  There's plenty of places out there, and plenty of opportunities to work out a way to craft your character and story to how you see fit.

Of course, in participation, it may be necessary to consider how you can fit your character into the RP once you find the place you want to RP.  For me, particularly with Forgotten City, the opportunities are vast at the moment.  Sure, the genre is steampunk, and the sim rating is PG, but, the story is open to be developed in so many ways right now.  Of course, with more people coming into the story and RPing, it will bring different ideas on what to do, but I welcome that.  I want the ideas, so I have something to play with and develop into my RP and story.  It will help me in considering the road map of my own story and what direction I want to take it.  It is still in a mutable stage, and open for a variety of drafts and redrafts - which is what happens in storytelling, regardless the medium.  And my question is for now, "how will this new chapter take place?"  And that is largely up to the interactions, as well as some planning that also takes place, both individually and as a group with those participating.

Interaction itself is important.  How you interact with people can both be a creative and destructive force.  In many ways, people's actions in RP have made for a pretty volatile environment that has taken the fun out of RP and attempts toward storytelling in RP.  It may have to do with losing sight in a particular vision of the story.  It may have to do with interrupting or otherwise disturbing a particular flow in a story.  It really can be anything to which either changes, for better or worse, the field upon which the RP is taking place.  There is no exact, pin-point answer or reason to why or how RP evolves or devolves, but there are ways to try to keep certain things from happening.  That is, if the option is to safeguard a certain storyline or direction of RP.  To me, one main way to do that is work on levels of participation - particularly open or close, and working on the RP etiquette on how to join in, and being discerning on if one should join in.  There is also the self-governing of considering what exactly are you willing to participate in, as well as considering whether it would be worth any cost or consequence to be involved in that particular scene or storyline.  To always keep in mind that you are the author and actor of your own RP. If participating in certain scenes or storylines would somehow ruin what direction or other reason would consider you to not do something, then don't do it.  You do have control over your character, regardless of what anyone else may say.  You have the final cut in your story, and you can and ought to make the decisions you feel or know you ought to make.  That doesn't mean people can't persuade you to do something, but it does mean that you have the power to choose whether to accept or decline the proposition of that persuasion.

Beyond the logic and common sense of what most ought to know already about how to go about RP, the other important aspect comes with time and ability to RP.  Many of us enjoy RP and don't have the time, nor ability to remain online and in world 24/7, 7 days a week.  We can't be totally immersed in SL, and online time in general is limited.  We have to work in order to be able to do anything online, and so, we know we have a limited amount of time to do what we'd like.  Therefore, our choices have to be more structured than those who can be on all the time.  We have to have a sense of time frame to do things.  And this is where communication comes in.  Learning about what schedules we may have irl, and figuring out when we can set time aside to be able to put a story into action.  Many in this position think it not fair to try and do this, but the reality is, we have to.  So, not only is our time limited, but also is our participation.  And thus is where it is important to have RPers that are understanding on limits of time, and are willing to work within time frames and work around schedules to meet up to do what we like to do.  There should be no shame in saying, "Hey, I have a business meeting and will be gone for a few days.  Would you have time to continue this when I get back?"  And it should be something reasonable to be able to do this.  But let's not make it a matter of snobbery, or get too demanding.  We all need time to do things in our offline life and away from SL.  But we also need to be clear and decisive about how we go about scheduling in RP time.  And that takes communication -being open to talk to those you want to RP with, and working around each others real life needs.

Anyways, these are just a few concepts to consider.  Beyond that, will save for another blog when it comes to mind.

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