Why Text-Based RPGs Are A 'Must' For Every Roleplayer
By Lisa Ohanian and Jeremy B Saunders
I remember what roleplaying was like before I discovered online text games.
I've played a lot of RPGs in my time, but all of them left something to be desired. I either couldn't customize my avatar enough to match the picture in my head, or none of the pre-written dialogue options fit my character's personality, or the game mechanics didn't allow for my character to change and grow like I wanted.
The sad truth is that most roleplaying games with graphics have to be like this; there is only has so much room for your character to be unique. In reality, these "roleplaying games" are more plot-driven than anything else, and your character is simply along for the ride.
Online text games, however, are nothing like this - and that's why anyone who truly likes to play an in-depth character is bound to fall in love with them.
In text-based RPGs, the lack of graphics means the lack of a pre-programmed 'realm of possibility'. No longer are your poor characters constrained to only whatever graphics have been consciously added to the game, and no longer are you given only two dialogue choices during significant, game-changing conversations. Text-based games may not be as pretty to look at, but their true beauty really shines through in the form of their ability to facilitate high quality roleplay that is customizable to every single character.
For example, text games allow players to design practically everything that others will experience in relation to their characters. Players are given the freedom to write their own descriptions, dialogue, and actions word-for-word, which means that every single detail about your character is under your control at every single moment. Many games will even allow your character to name and design their own armour, weapons, clothing, houses and food, which can further help to define a character and give the world a sense of originality and realism. Unlike RPGs with graphics, your imagination is quite literally the limit. All you have to do is think it and then type it out.
Another reason that online text games are an ideal atmosphere for high quality roleplay is because of how open-ended they are. Most RPGs with graphics come with plots that follow a set path - and no matter how hard you might try, there is no compromising on some (and, often, most) aspects on it. While the story may be compelling and the game itself might be great, this can make roleplay feel dry, clichéd and forced, especially if your character needs to do something that doesn't fit with his or her personality for the sake of the storyline. In graphical RPGs with set storylines, then, it is near impossible for a character to undergo any kind of meaningful change (unless, again, that change was part of the storyline).
Online text games present roleplay opportunities that are much more flexible. For example, most text games will have a variety of organizations that a character can join and become involved in (such as cities, clans, etc). This means that you can pick and choose your character's goals and outlooks and join organizations accordingly, without being required to "play along" with a pre-determined storyline. While the world of any quality text-based RPG will often have an overarching set of events or a few loose storylines to keep the game as engaging as possible, the extent of any character's involvement are completely up to the player.
It is this extreme flexibility that characterizes text-based RPGs and makes them a truly perfect medium in which to roleplay. The power to customize every single detail about a character, every word and every action in real time, is not to be underestimated.
For anyone who does (or aspires to) call themselves a fan of roleplaying, then, these games are just waiting to be your next love. If you're trying to roleplay a character of any depth whatsoever through any medium but an online text-based RPG, I can assure you that you can do better - because once you go text, you'll never go back.
If you would like to try out some great online roleplaying games, check out these RPG text games.
Lisa Ohanian is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.
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