When the going gets tough, the tough start roleplaying

Roleplaying in MMOs has always been a minority pursuit. I think a lot of people do enjoy being able to interact with the world and the setting, but it takes a certain mindset to forge ahead with a character background and try to tell your own stories as well. Plus an understanding of what it actually means to be in character or out of character (if you think of roleplaying like amateur improvisational theatre, you’ll be fairly close to the mark.)

You have to be just a little bit bloodyminded to ignore all the other activities which the game offers and go stand in a pub and chat to people, virtually. And tell stories.

So in economic terms, roleplaying has a high opportunity cost. If you choose to go and roleplay, it’s because you’re rejecting all those carefully planned tour bus quests, grinds, PvP battlegrounds, barbie dress-up, pet collecting, or whatever else wacky activity the devs intend for players to do. You’d rather go your own way.

It is possible to roleplay while doing other activities. You can use chat channels or just interject the odd, ‘For the HORDE!’ while you’re in a battleground but really, proper roleplaying requires 100% attention. You’re actually supposed to pay attention to what other people are doing and saying and respond appropriately. This means that it is in some ways more demanding than raiding.

Roleplaying servers have their own conventions too. Some games let you flag yourself when you are roleplaying. It is very common for people to set themselves to walk instead of run to show that they are in character. Some channels are usually in character (say usually is) and some are not (trade and general usually are not). And guilds may have their own conventions on top of that.

I combined my desire for a new death knight alt with my curiousity about hardcore RP guilds, err and about inscription… and created a new death knight on another RP server. I joined a RP guild. I started inscription. It has been good fun so far and an interesting change of pace.

I’ll have more to say about that all later (DKs are good fun,  but I tanked my first instance the other day and … why am I still playing a warrior again?), but what I have really noticed recently is that as people get bored of the expansion, the roleplay has really picked up.

So what’s going on in WoW

Even just on my server, there have been events in which the Royal Apothecary Society (ie. the ones who didn’t know anything about the Wrathgate) have been tried and given a second chance to prove themselves in battle against the scourge. Someone is organising a western themed gold mining day out in Tanaris. We have regular roleplay evenings in various different in game pubs. I think the night elf players have get togethers in Ashenvale.

There’s a lot going on if people are curious, and it really isn’t all cybering.

Aleora has an awesome What’s On in Azeroth blog where she chronicles all the roleplay events that are being organised across both EU and US roleplaying servers. Just go look at the wide variety of things that are actually going on. And I’d bet that the organisers would welcome anyone who wanted to go join in as long as they were polite about it.

And tell me again that players are dumb, lazy morons and that the game is being dumbed down. (Note: I see that LOTRO, having already eased the levelling curve and reworked some of the more tedious old zones is also making old epic storyline quests soloable — all very smart changes in my opinion. Does it still count as dumbing down if it isn’t WoW? :) )

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9 thoughts on “When the going gets tough, the tough start roleplaying

  1. So in economic terms, roleplaying has a high opportunity cost. If you choose to go and roleplay, it’s because you’re rejecting all those carefully planned tour bus quests, grinds, PvP battlegrounds, barbie dress-up, pet collecting, or whatever else wacky activity the devs intend for players to do.

    You’ve just described one of my pet peeves. In about every game in the post-WoW era, I feel like I’m fighting against the system whenever I try to roleplay. I think the problem is that the gameplay has become increasingly linear and constrained, without much opportunity for choice or creativity. Also, many MMOs these days don’t really try to have internally consistent lore, and ignoring all of the cheesy pop culture references gets tiresome. While it’s still possible to roleplay, it’s hard to do it while actually playing the game.

    Just out of curiosity, is there any graphical MMO that focuses on roleplay? I’ve been looking around and they don’t even seem to exist.

    Great post, by the way.

  2. Don\’t give in to DK tanking! I am trying to stick to my chosen tanking class, which is why I refused to tank as paladin in TBC and now DK in WotLK. Warrior tanking won\’t get fixed if people desert protection!

    That said, I loooove my DK for DPS, I am having a lot of fun gearing up in heroics.

    I have a couple characters on RP servers, because I always enjoyed the laid back atmosphere on those servers. People generally are nicer. I know a bunch of people who go into great detail creating a great atmosphere on Forscherliga (my German RP realm). I have a lot of downtime on my characters these days, so maybe I should spend more time on my EU account.

    • This is actually why I\’m levelling the alt on a different (smaller population) server where I don\’t know many people. To minimise the temptation.

      Don\’t get me wrong, I like Spinks and I find the prot warrior very fun to play. But wow was it ever easy to tank on a death knight, even without being geared or specced for it. I admit it was only Mana Tombs and their starting gear is quite overpowered though :) Also, it does get you down eventually when half your guild are playing their DK alts and telling you how uber they are.

      I like to think I\’ll have some rarity value eventually though. “What? Your guild actually uses a warrior tank? Madness!” (Note: We tried Vezax last night in 10 man, I tanked it and then a druid did. We proved the whole kiting thing worked but everyone agreed that it was significantly easier with the druid when no one had to move. To be fair, it would have been even worse with a palatank because at least I can intervene around the place.)

  3. (If this shows twice, apologies, but my browsed hiccuped when I tried to post the first time.)

    I\’d crave an RP-focused fantasy MMORPG with consistent lore, too. WoW sadly isn\’t it. When I was new to the game, I had this naive expectation that \”RP server\” meant everyone was a roleplayer and that rules-violations would be punished accordingly by the GMs.

    Yeah, talk about a rough wake-up call.

    And my server (Moonglade EU) was young and \”clean\” then, as far as RP servers go. Idiot names were rare, and even Stormwind wasn\’t yet overrun by lollertrons. Now, though … They might as well ditch the \”RP servers\” altogether since there is no visible desire to tangibly enforce any of the policies.

    It\’s a shame that WoW, while having some fun content, is so … bland in terms of immersion and interaction. It has one-size-fits-all content with only a tiny number of class quests. A gnome mage can rub shoulders with supposedly magic-hating night elves. A Forsaken warlock can poison and murder civilians, druids, dryads and then happily interact with the \”neutral\” factions that are allies and brethren to his victims — not to mention that said factions should tear him to shreds for being a demon-humper, too. All this makes it really hard to RP according to the lore instead of \”let\’s all be best buddies and screw like bunnies\”.

    And while I\’m ranting, let me say I really dislike the recent Titan-related techno-craze in the game. Yes, steampunkish tech has been in the franchise since WC2, but in Wrath it\’s really gotten out of hand. At this rate, they\’ll soon retcon Elune from \”one true goddess\” to \”Titan hologram\”.

    Yes, I\’m bitter. I am a strong proponent of \”themed\” RP and emphasizing each cultures\’ and class\’ special traits. If everyone is just a human in a funny suit, what is the point of having different \”races\” in the first place?

  4. Pingback: Turbine’s Vs. Blizzard’s Approach To Older Content « Pearls of Unwisdom

  5. German WoW roleplayers favor the city of Theramore for their meetings and events somehow. And as you can guess, most roleplayers seem to favor the alliance for some reason. I wonder where Horde roleplayers have their inofficial capital of roleplaying?

  6. I used to roleplay a fair bit back in my EQ days but haven’t done it much since then. Unfortunately it seems that the modern MMORPG is more MMO than RPG. Voice chat, for example, has been a major nail in the RPG coffin as no one likes RPing through a microphone. Also games like WoW have introduced a new breed of gamer who isn’t at all a RPGer.

    I still like to have a backstory and character for my avatar though even if it’s something minor like a religous nutcase or a grumpy old man. It keeps it fun for me anyway.

  7. Hmm… interesting idea! I used to rp in MUDs way back when, and I usually roll on roleplay servers in MMOs, primarily because the population tends to be a bit more mature. I didn’t do that in WoW when I first started though, and now that most of my friends have quit the game (and our server) in recent months, I’m thinking about transferring some of my characters to an RP server for a change. Right now, I’m not really motivated to play at all. Maybe doing the rp thing will get me stoked about WoW again. I just need to figure out which US server has a strong horde RP contingent.

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