The problem of really dreadful roleplayers

There has been a lot of drama in the WoW blogosphere this week, what with invented drama (it’ll bite you on the butt one day, kids) as well as thin skinned bloggers throwing up a drama storm and rage quitting when someone disagrees with them strongly.

Yes, I’m calling it thin skinned blogging to throw a wobbly when you stir up a storm in a teacup. And if your post genuinely upsets another writer, of course they will respond. Think of it as an opportunity to either engage in vigorous debate (i.e. write some more and explain why you’re right!) or else learn from someone else (i.e. think about it, and then post a thoughtful post explaining why you changed your mind).

Anyhow, since Cranky Healer has left the field, I want to talk about the problem of really bad roleplaying and how we can deal with it. Really bad roleplaying can mean a lot of different things:

  • playing a character that’s horribly inappropriate (eg. I am the vampire stepson of Thrall and Alezxstrasza)
  • horrible writing skills
  • playing a very inappropriate scene (eg. cybering in goldshire, especially if it is explicit), or playing a scene in an inappropriate place
  • doing anything else that shows you have failed to understand the game’s lore, theme, and background at a really basic level.

Anna’s response post contains CH’s original suggestion – mock the weak. This is similar to mocking idiots on trade channel. Except that trade channel shenanigans will amuse the rest of the server, mocking roleplayers only entertains the people who happen to be around, the majority of whom are probably the people you are mocking who will not be amused.

Here’s a secret also. The majority of players on a RP realm will not cry if really bad roleplayers get mocked. It’s common practice on the realm forums, which the perpetrators are unlikely to read. On the other hand, a lot of roleplayers will also freely admit that their first ventures into RP were fairly awful too. And if they’d been mocked as soon as they got started, they might not have stuck with it.

Anna suggests instead that you could report the offenders. And if the offence did involve sexual language in public, the GMs may well take action. Or they might not. They’re not even overly proactive in even enforcing name changes, which is far easier to prove and to report.

Ultimately, the accepted way to deal with terrible roleplayers is to ignore them and let them get on with it. Our roleplaying servers don’t have active GMs who make sure everyone sticks to the theme. And if you aren’t a GM, it isn’t your job either. All we regular players can do is not include people in our own RP if their view on the gameworld and lore is radically different to ours. Or in other words, we show our disdain by not accepting their roleplay as valid in our RP.

If a really bad roleplayer is in your strict RP guild, then an officer will deal with it. And they’ll do this by explaining patiently to the offender what the problem was, and suggesting other ways to handle it. If you aren’t in a strict RP guild or don’t roleplay at all, then it is really not your problem, any more than you’d expect a random person to start yelling at you about your horrible talent spec while you were off quietly soloing somewhere.

The cost of WoW not being a RP-friendly game is that we have no way to enforce theme on people. But it’s a  big world and there are lots of players. If you want to roleplay, then find some like minded friends and set up some roleplay.

But Anna is right. Griefing is griefing. And how any sensible minded player could think that it was reasonable to encourage her guild to go mock people for their own amusement when she knew fine well that her guild was on a roleplay server? Yah. Don’t mess with our RP servers. They may have some truly shitty roleplayers on them, but they are OUR players and they’re part of OUR community. So if you really joined a RP server just so that you could mock the roleplayers, please leave now, because we don’t want you.

Just ignore them and bitch on realm or guild forums, like everyone else does :)

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24 thoughts on “The problem of really dreadful roleplayers

  1. I have no problem with people role-playing as long as it’s not public “cybering”. I used to play on a WoW RP server and the inn at Goldshire was like an X-rated orgy. There was all kinds of sexually offensive language and emotes being used that violated the Blizzard terms of use policy. Frankly it was sickening.

    I guarantee if the American politicians knew what was going on in most WoW RP servers they’d probably pass some kind of law against it. Blizzard full well knows what is going and for some reason (probably that they are afraid to lose money) fails to proactively police it.

    Should people that violate the official rules while RPing be mocked? Well in the absence of Blizzard GM enforcement what other alternatives do concerned players who are fed up with it have?

    Let’s say I have decided to “RP” a man of good moral character that is frustrated with the illicit activities going on in the public whorehouse that is Goldshire (often called “Pornshire”) I have every right to make their life a living hell if they chose to ruin the experience of many innocent players just trying to use the Goldshire Inn for the purpose it was intended.

    Now if someone is just a bad role-player and is sincerely trying to be “in character” with the setting and theme of the Warcraft universe then I would not mock them.

    I think it all depends on what is “RP” in this context. Most players on RP servers have no clue what role-playing in the traditional sense means. RPing Twilight or Harry Potter characters for that matter is completely inappropriate and has no place in Azeroth.

    In the absence of any real enforcement of the rules from Blizzard, we as players have no choice but to police our own server community. And that goes for reporting racism, hate speech and gold spammers.

    • “I have every right to make their life a living hell if they chose to ruin the experience of many innocent players just trying to use the Goldshire Inn for the purpose it was intended.”

      Think about what you just said.

      You speak of policing our own server community. We can’t. We don’t have the tools for it. We can only control who we associate with. If you were to actually grief anyone, they could probably report you. The rest is pointless shouting matches, community disdain (which already happens) and being the in game equivalent of the old dude in the park who shouts abuse at the kids.

      Roleplayers may wish they could treat the whole world and every player in it as if they were part of the setting. Fact is, in an uncontrolled environment like WoW, you will have to pick and choose which bits you include in your own roleplay. And understand that whatever you do, other people probably think it’s dreadful also.

      So trust me on this one, ignoring is the best way to deal. And if people are spouting obscenities in public, you can report. But that won’t help deal with the guys who insist on being lovey dovey while fighting a raid boss. Or that guy who creates a characters with a horribly abused ‘look at ME!’ background. Or everyone who thinks it’s great to RP a mute character and force everyone to watch their emotes all the time.

      Much much better to let them find their own little communities and get on with having fun. You cannot control everyone and it’s probably better to let it go.

      • I was a volunteer Senior Guide for EverQuest for almost 4 years and in that time I dealt with thousands of player petitions that dealt with all kinds of player griefing issues such as harassment. I know the pain caused by cowardly anonymous griefers who think they can get away with destroying the play experience of others.

        Just to clarify, I’m taking about methods that do not violate the terms of use agreement that deal with players that are violating the rules and disrupting my enjoyment of a game that I’m *paying* to play.

        I also put forward a valid example of role-playing that offers a counter-balance and protest to all of the perverts and sick twisted freaks in the Goldshire Inn.

        Ignoring is not always the best way to deal with things. Besides my /ignore list is always full. It’s tantamount to putting your head in the sand and hoping that they will go away. Do you ignore the bully that terrorizes you? Of course not. If you do they keep on doing it.

        There are many legitimate and clever ways to exact justice on people who violate the rules and players are not powerless. I even posted a blog article on how to deal with some of these offenders.

        http://www.wolfsheadonline.com/?p=1239#ad9b8

        Perhaps we are talking about two different issues here. My suggestions are not directed toward legitimate or even inept role-players; rather they are directed at the disrespectful people that “grief” the majority of normal players with inappropriate chat who are just trying to enjoy the game.

      • I have run or helped to run several RP MUSHes, which are tightly controlled multiplayer (up to a couple of hundred at a time) roleplaying environments where staff do enforce theme and quality, to some extent.

        I am pretty familiar with staff interventions, being called in to deal with obstructive or inappropriate RP, and using staff powers to isolate, punish, or ban offending players. Obv in a free game staffed by volunteers you don’t have to worry about losing subscriptions but that won’t be an issue in MMOs anyway since if you lose 1 person and make a lot more happy it’s worth it.

        But you sound terribly certain that you can easily discriminate between an inept, incompetent, or deeply inexperienced RP and a deliberate griefer and then take on the mantle of judge, jury and executioner. I would suggest that a lot of inappropriate RP is not done to deliberately grief the rest of the player base.

        A griefer is someone who goes into a RP meeting in order to disrupt it as much as possible (and RPing at them is not going to help), and that includes deliberately messing up other people’s RP. People who are cybering in the deeprun tram? Not so much. You can still report it but hanging around in the deeprun tram to mock them? Helps no one.

  2. Back when I was still trying to roleplay in MMOs (I gave up in disgust a few years ago) what really annoyed me was all the ooc rp purity arguments.

    About whether lol can be in character, whether Aaragorn as a name means you aren’t roleplaying etc. These arguments would rage for hours in the chat channels and distracted everyone from the actual business of getting into character and playing a role.

    “Policing our own community” by sanctimonious lore-lawyers kills the fun for a lot of would-be role-players. I saw quite brilliant improvised drama being shot down and derailed by irate purists over some minor technicality.

  3. If no one tells bad RPers that they’re bad, how will they know?

    My biggest beef with roleplay servers is that people looking for cybersex aren’t at all discrete about it. I am very frequently propositioned while sitting around minding my own business. If they do so to me, they’ll probably do so to minors too.

    I don’t see why giving these perverts a hard time (no pun intended), especially ICly, is wrong. If they give up and leave the server, or better, quit RPing because of it, then it’s a job well done.

    • I’ve never actually been chatted up or propositioned for sex on a RP server, maybe I’m doing something wrong. What puzzles me more is why people cyber and have RP weddings etc. on non-RP servers. And I know that it happens.

      And giving people a hard time ICly for OOC reasons is always wrong. If you have an OOC issue with someone, deal with it OOCly. Because otherwise, how will they know that it isn’t just you being a dick iRL? They might just assume you are another bad roleplayer.

      I know a lot of inexperienced RPers have trouble separating IC from OOC and keeping them separate, and that’s actually the main reason I don’t RP much in MMOs (too likely to end up with a bunch of people who’ll end up getting all upset at you just because your character said something snarky to their character.)

      Trying to make someone give up and leave a server is griefing, by the way. If you see inappropriate sexual RP, you can just report it.

  4. Stabs is right….

    Who will police the police, I will outdo the sanctimonous bastards, and take it to a level where even they will fear it.

    We do have some tools to police, their called tickets, and reporting. Sure some of it may be ineffective, but you know what I don’t care.

    My hatred stems from Elitist RP’ers who think they are above being accountable. They are not. Anna meant to make Cranky an example, what I term a virtual lynching, and drag SAN down with it. I won’t stand for it.

    I promise accounts will be lost, when I’m threw, and if mine is one of them I am prepared for that. I got a handful of trial disks, and I can get a toon to 80 in 11days played. Are they?

    • I don’t understand why you’d be so proud of griefing. SAN needs to decide if it actually wants to be on a RP server or not. If not, then move to another one and no one will ever bother any of you about how you treat roleplayers, it really is that easy. If you do want to be on a RP server then I suggest it’s actually very easy to just ignore the RP you don’t like. And if you don’t want to be on a RP server but the rest of SAN do then put your big girl pants on and deal with it in a grown up way, ie. not by being a total dick which is what you are suggesting and which will likely upset a bunch of people who aren’t in any way the ones who made the comments that you didn’t like.

      “I promise accounts will be lost, when I’m threw, and if mine is one of them I am prepared for that. I got a handful of trial disks, and I can get a toon to 80 in 11days played. Are they?”

      Well done. That was quite the most dickish remark I’ve seen on a blog all week.

      • I’d appreciate it if all parties involved in this discussion refrain from framing it in terms of “SAN vs roleplayers”. It isn’t – several people in SAN are active roleplayers and many many more are interested in exploring it with sensitivity. Theerivs views are his own, not those of SAN as a whole.

      • Yup, good point. I’m sorry if I implied anything else – my bad.

        edited to add: Oops, sorry. This was intended as a reply to Sven (who asked that SAN not be brought into this). Although I should just leave it up as a generic reply to everyone :)

  5. So I love to just read and read and read at wowwiki about the history of Azeroth. But #4 on that list of examples of Bad RP makes me not want to try to role play at all. There is so much depth to the story and history, and our characters are so insignificant compared to that, but so great in our own little stories. Balancing the 3 seems impossible and makes my head want to explode, and is why I’ve spent nearly 3 years on an RP server with very little roleplay.

    When those on my server are being obnoxious, annoying, distracting, or deliberately breaking rules and codes of conduct there’s a couple ways to handle it. I like to drown them out with proper play first, or interact with it in a way that steers them into a better mode. If I can’t do that, I /ignore and teach others through the general channel how to /ignore (there are new players every day, after all). I often /ignore those that WON’T ignore the troublemakers because they become part of the problem, too.

    Mockery to be mean/hurtful is never acceptable to me. For any reason. Ever. Ignore and move on, or be ignored yourself. Blizzard really needs to give me an unlimitted ignore list though.

    • You actually want to exterminate these people who aren’t harming you in any way now?

      Could you not direct this energy towards something more useful, like eradicating people who fill trade chat with bile filled homophobic and racist comments? I guarantee that upsets more people than a few bad roleplayers do.

  6. I agree with you, and also Anna’s linked post. I have done my share on both sides of this argument, but now if I RP i just do it solo, or do silly or joke characters in public. I think that embarassing people like that really hurts trust, and its hard to RP when you can get savaged by the people you are supposed to do it with.

  7. Spinks, I don’t know if you read my blog, but they made fun of me moving in with my handicapped mother, and my stepfather who just had a stroke to help them out. They made it personal.

    So I will bring war to there holier then though RP people. I will cause so much chaos on their server they will hate me more then they hated anyone else.

    • Actually, that poster (who didn’t leave a pingback, and none of the people I’ve talked to know who the heck he was) did make fun of you moving back in with your parents, which I agree was completely out of line…but once you and other commenters informed him that your parents were sick, he apologized and offered to delete the post. You refused and left it up, and he edited the comment to remove the offending statements. So while he shouldn’t have been dragging out the old tired “living in your parents’ basement” card (don’t we all hear enough of that anyway?), he apparently didn’t know the circumstances, and backed off when he found out. You’re implying in your statement that he knew ahead of time.

    • Ugh, I’m really sorry you had to deal with that. There never is any cause to degenerate into personal attacks ;/

      I can tell you’re angry and that this has all gotten much bigger than I think anyone wanted (I’m sure neither CH nor Anna intended that with their posts).

      But I still don’t think declaring a generic griefing war on a bunch of people who weren’t the ones making personal attacks is going to help.

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  9. Yes, SAN has nothing to do with this beside the original time Anna tried to accuse them. I severed all ties with any guild. I go it alone from here.

    As for griefing innocent people, sometimes you need to crack a few eggs to make an omelette.

    Mmmmm Omelettes!

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