Monday, June 13, 2011

To RP Or Not To RP...

That has been my question for a while now.  I'm not really sure, and therefore, my basic answer right now is no.

Reasons I would want to?

When I used to RP regularly, it seemed a good creative outlet to help me play out story ideas in real time.  It pushed me to improvisation, so I couldn't say, like I can with writing a story, "Oh, I'll just sleep on it and see what comes to mind later."  In other words, I can't just procrastinate when a particular scene or conflict got messy.  I had to deal with it right then and there, minus unless RL issues came up during the time.  And it forced me to consider alternative realities when things didn't work out.  In writing, you might have to pose other possible ideas, but you are not imposed to the belief that one or the other concept you were considering would be impossible because you don't have to hold to the actualities of how a story progresses unless you the author wishes to play it out.  In other words, you can revise a story you write to play out as you (or your publisher) likes, but you have to forfeit alternative revisions in RP when others take that control away.

Reasons I would not want to?

Let's face it, loss of control of a situation can be both a positive and negative for RP.  Procrastination aside, being forced to deal with other people controlling things, especially if it seems inequity and unbalance are in play can just make it frustrating to RP.  And as much as RP can be a creative outlet, it can be mentally taxing and morally draining.  At least I can stand only so much 'dark' (ie. fetish fantasies about being abused, raped, butchered, drinking blood, killing my character(s) or killing off everyone else's, and other moral and society depravities that you can think of and can be excused as being fine to play out as long as it derives under the banner of 'dark') RP before it gets old.  And it gets old because there is no balance in it.  Many of those sims play the 'no heroes' card, and that all things done in RP are consensual.  And yet, they commercialize the aspects of 'dark' as being forced.  So there is a conflict right at the core of these RPs on just what exactly is consensual and how to define forced, but yet the need for permission to make something forced.  This leads to a lot of problems eventually, and I don't see many ways around it.

But, I think ultimately, I am feeling like maybe I"m maturing beyond the nonsense of such RP.  While the real time of RP can give a certain genuineness and realism to a story, the fact that most RP found is 'dark' and, for the most part, immature deviancy with little or no power or ability (or maybe just plain want) for quality of story beyond just making something filled with gore and other such pornography and profanity, there isn't much incentive to remain.  There isn't any balance in such RP.  To find balance, where you can deal with things more realistically - where not everyone is trying to be evil, and you can actually have good people trying to better themselves, regardless of having a seedy past or not - is something that you can't find very often in RP sims.  People are more obsessed over the gor, the violence, and the sexually explicit to really delve deep enough to find something 'real.'

When I speak of real, I don't mean that fantasy cannot exist.  In SL, I play cat characters.  I find fantasy a great outlet for the imagination and overall creation.  I'm also working on a story that has cat characters in them that form one society in a world alternative to ours on earth.  And I think that I can play a realistic character, even as that character is a cat.  Ioh is a testament to that, and his story covers a wide variety of dimensions, and various planes of existence in the SL world, such as RP and general SL personae.  While Ioh's story in Midian is 'dead' to the current RP, it still lives on and can branch out in different aspects, if I so chose to do so.  The Dreamwalker sets (Beginnings of a Dreamwalker, Wanderings of a Lost Soul, and A New Dream for a Dreamwalker), as well as Chamber City, all convey a particular evolution of Ioh from out of Midian.  On the other hand, while the sets of The Covenant RealmForgotten City, and the concept of Project Ziggurat can be said to have a certain kernel of development from Ioh in Midian, they have components that are much more independent of the events that happened in Midian and ultimately spewed forth the need for departure from that forsaken sim.

Funny, it may seem, though, that in speaking about Midian, even in the negative, it will likely draw people's curiosity to go there and see for themselves if that place is really as bad off as I may make it seem.  Publicity is publicity, even if it may be good or bad, no?  However it be,  and the further I grow away from those events, the less I care one way or the other.  I still feel that I was ill-treated, and that there are still some there that would consider me an enemy, even though we once were (supposedly) friends, or at least well-wishing associates.  And sure, my public protests of the wrongs that happened to me may have not been well thought out at the time.  I can excuse that as being hurt if I want to, and as true as it might be, it's still an excuse.  What I've learned since then is to not be so trusting.  That is a valuable life lesson, regardless the cost of it.

To be quite honest, the reason I'm not RPing, or at least not so regularly as I used to comes on many levels of being busy.  I work 10 hour days of 4 out of 7 days in a week.  When I do have time to be online, or otherwise have free time, I have to consider what is of most value for me to do.  RP is at the bottom of that list, and for a variety of reasons.  For starters, it's becoming more and more impossible to do it, and to do it in the nature and quality that I personally demand and require to make it worthwhile.  I'm not a 'dark' RPer.  I may have RPed within 'dark' or 'adult' themes, but, consistently, the main thing I looked for was quality of story.  I may have lapsed a few times into some things for the ridiculous vanity of pride and wanting to display that I could play my characters on a variety of levels and in dark situations, but ultimately, I want to make a good, timeless story.  Something that people step back from and say, "Whoa, that was epic!" and not mean it in the trendy fashion of the phrase as it is used today. But that it was truly something epic, that flowed throughout the journey of the story.  Something with an impact beyond the mundane of gore/violence/pornography/etc. for the sake of doing it.

I'm not alone in this vision.  In one of my writers magazines, there was talk about the origin and nature of using 'obscene' when it came to the use of violence as one form of conflict within a story.  To put it basically, obscene was that which was 'off the scene', or 'not on the stage.' Some RP sims have used fade to black (FTB) to this nature, mainly when consent is not given to follow through with playing out the scene.  The purpose in writing is that, while the explicit visuals (or description, as it is) are not used, the off scene engages the imagination of the reader.  There is something far worse in knowing, but not showing the fate of a character.  In some ways, I feel that is fitting for Ioh's ending in Midian.  Being banned just cut Ioh's fate out of the place completely, thus making it more severe than tar and feathering (among whatever perverse imaginings my enemies might have for my character).  It's funny, now, to think that I have truly become obscene in the truest sense by way of the nature of how I came to no longer be in that city.  Even though I may not be a dark RPer at heart, my ending from that city was truly dark in its abrupt and permanent FTB.  I'm not dark, but I do love a good twist of irony.  But anyways, the point is that you can have dark elements thrown in with shades of gray, and the inevitable struggle to try and seek out light in the most bleakest of times and events, and not have to always go for needless or overuse of explicit and gratuitous violence/pornography/etc.  This is what is truly 'real' and multidimensional. But this is what is disregarded in most RP any more.  Self gratuity is the name of the game for most, and it is, in my opinion, the most pathetic aspect of RP as it is in many RP sims still going today.

My hope, for a much more progressive and better future of RP is that places that are truly Steampunk in their origin will become a prevalent force to drive change in vision of RP.  I don't mean the poseur sorts that are just in it for fashion and machination, but that seek to push a vital and creative force, and that the spirit of that force permeates into other aspects of SLRP.  Steampunk, or at least the 'punk' aspect, that is truly interested in pushing a social dialogue, fighting to revolt against status quo in recent generations that has washed much of our lives into irrelevancy and just trying to stay sane in an otherwise insane world that, frankly, does not give a damn for anything but the bottom line ($$$).  To see our generation strive for something better than the bullshit offered to us, and to finally see real change in our world that seeks out for that better future, even while playing with the past to help envision it.  Maybe Steampunk will not pave that way, but what spirit for such things comes from it, and how it develops, I find more excitement in that than I do in the bitter past that remains the legacy of Midian in my SL experience.

But for now, I am trying to focus on different projects that are not so SL related.  I still come on from time to time, but often do not have time to RP.  So I hang out with someone that I am very fond of, and who has allowed me to relax and start to try and love and live again in this second life.  What will come of it?  Only time will tell.  But for now, no more RP for a while, maybe longer.  At least nothing serious and demanding.  Feh, we'll see...

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