Online Role Playing Text Games: Warning Signs

Online Role Playing Text Games

By Lorna Cowie

Online text games can be a wonderful method of escapism, but it is worth remembering that they are exactly that: text games. Immersing yourself in a text-based RPG or MUD is the point, to draw you in and let you live a fantasy life in a fantasy world and carve out a future for your characters... but sometimes it comes at a cost.

Through my years as an avid online text game player (many, I assure you!) I can say I have experienced and seen a multitude of things happen in the online gaming world, so here I give you an example of one of the easiest things that can happen in any online text game.

You become overly emotional at in-game actions OUTSIDE of the online text game.

This is more common than you think. You are playing a character that you have spent time levelling and creating a history for, and learning about the engaging text game world. Your character has a personality and a life, and perhaps also has family and friends. Then one or more of those friends causes your character to become angry, upset or sad. It is natural for you to personally feel this way also... but only to a limit. I will freely admit that I laugh, I cry, and I become frustrated and sometimes angry at what can and does happen to my characters. But it is crucial to be able to remember that it is only a game, so you can sit back, give a smile and say, "Now that was good roleplay!"

Often knowing when you are in too deep is hard to see, but ask yourself this. Do you log out of the text adventure games and after ten minutes away still feel angry about what happened in-game? Do you lose sleep over actions that have happened in an online text game? Are your friends contacting you out of character, asking you to calm down or reminding you 'it is only a game'? Are you taking in-game actions as a slight against you personally? If so, then perhaps it is time to sit back and take a good look at what is happening.

Becoming too emotionally involved is unhealthy. After hours and hours of gameplay and of channeling your character, it is often hard to distinguish between what is real and what is only role play, and things begin to hurt a little too much. Sitting back and allowing yourself a break can make a world of different. Go check out the world outside of the computer whilst letting your thoughts clear. Not dwelling on the issues in the text games will let you see things more clearly.

Allowing yourself some distance between you and your character in the online text game is not betraying your character in any way. It will not hate you; it can't, because (as you should be reminding yourself at this point anyway) the real world and the game world are completely separate things. You don't exist to your character, technically.

Knowing that you have become too emotionally involved in an online text game is nothing to be ashamed of... and being honest enough with yourself to recognize if it has happened to you is something to be proud of, as now you know and now you can do something about it.

Remember. It is just a game. It is an enjoyable, exciting, stimulating fantasy world of fun and adventure... but it is still just a game.

Check out some great online text RPGs today!

Lorna Cowie is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from


Just a tip. If you begin to start feeling anxious, angry or sad about a particular event in a text game, log off! Go for a walk and vent steam elsewhere, or you'll probably regret it. Also remember that a lot of people in game are completely differnet to how they are in real life. Just remember it 'still' is a fantasy game.

I wish more people would follow this advice. I had to carefully pick who I wanted to talk to both in game and out because a lot of times words I would say out of the game would come back in the game as if my character had said them. I finally got a decent set of people now that I don't think are going to do that, the community is maturing.

I had to do the same.





QQ and go for a walk.

Simple and sweet. QQ and just do something else!

yes, it's that simple


"Allowing yourself some distance between you and your character in
the online text game is not betraying your character in any way. It
will not hate you; it can't, because (as you should be reminding
yourself at this point anyway) the real world and the game world are
completely separate things. You don't exist to your character,

The game may not be able to hate you, but the people playing it are ;) Even if the setting is a game the interactions between people are real.

the thing about free online games like achaea is that its like a game+chatroom so you build these relationships with people and end up becoming alot more emotionally involved in situations where you otherwise wouldn't in normal games. like if I join an online shooting game and i get stuck on a really crappy team i can just join a new server. on achaea, you're kind of stuck on the team you join, so its alot more frustrating if you're "losing". but eventually you play the game for so long that when you die you're just like, lol crap i died

Just so we are clear, it isn't just these text based games that cause anger.  I and other people have all gotten angry with video games as well, and we've all seen pictures of wii-motes thrown through television screens.  Human emotions are going to rise if all your hard work is ruined by another person, and it isn't just something you can turn off.  Emotions are reactions, and we are all going to react to what others are doing around us.  The way I see it is, be angry, but take that anger into the game and put it to good use.

Always keep a snack or whatever helps you relax near you. If you are getting irritated and are logging out, start enjoying it.  A soda goes a long way to not breaking a laptop or remote of something. Also feel free to make an alt in some cases in the middle of nowhere (aka not where you are from or where you are mad at), that might give you something else to do without having things you must have done.

always keeping a snack near is not good..

I personally haven't had any real issues with this, but for those I know who do it seems breaks and alts are the easiest way to combat the issue.


Alts are also an opportunity for a character to not become too much of a focus and second personality for your OOC.

I'd imagine this could be true but I've also seen it happen where someone makes an alt only to just join the same organizations and act the same way, thinking that the rules will magically change or people will treat them differently and make their frustrations go away.  Doing this doesn't actually solve the problems, it just shuffles them around.

I'll admit it, having to pray for salvation when hunting to Dragon usually made me sulky in real life. It's hard not to feel aggreived when something in the game you've put a lot of real-world time into experiences a setback.

But experience has taught me to breathe, have a cup of tea, have your character talk to a sympathetic friend, and get stuck back in!

It is much easier to get too involved in the game if you are spending way too much time playing. Why not go out and do something else? If you don't feel like doing anything esle, read a book or something. It should be noted that some people do spend a fair amount of real money on these games as well, which naturally makes them more connected to their character and what happens to them.

When I play, I always have something extra to do. 2 young kids, crochet, a tablet to learn how to draw. If something happens that gets to me, I hide in my journal, go fish, or go on an alt and then focus on something out of realms to get through it. Easy enough to do. Easily took a year off to focus on my (at the time) newborn.

Just find something else to focus your mind on- even if it's an alt

Good point. I sometimes find myself getting a little too serious about in game things

Funny thing is, a lot of people cross this threshold without knowing it and blend OOC with IC. Maybe that's mostly because a lot of people gift their character with the player's own personality. If they do that, the line between game and real life becomes very blurry.So my advice is to always try to make your character vary wildly from yourself. And by that I don't mean make them an idealized version of yourself, make them something completely different.


And if you have to blur the line at least try to only blur it when your character is happy!

I used to be that way towards IRE's Achaea, until I took almost a 2 year haitus. I got tired of the Drama affecting my everyday life so I took off. I've recently come back which is great because I do enjoy it and the Drama that was there is STILL there and STILL tries to follow me but I've matured enough to be able to push it away and not worry about it. There are such things as limits and what you need to do to make sure they don't affect you.

Hiatus = time to step away, and just breathe and be normal for a bit. When I come back, I'll probably find that not much has changed, really... its also a sign that I'm addicted, if I'm so easily affected by IG things that flow into RL.

Something to also watch out for is your mood when logging in. Tired, angry or sad? Chances are that something in the game will set you off far easier. While gaming can be relaxing, this is not always true for multiplayer environments. No matter what pressing concerns you have ingame, skip out on them or keep it to a minimum and do something else instead. You will be thankful afterward.

It can also just ruin the experince all the more for you as well. Not happy? It will reflect in how you play, people will pick up on it and things will set you off.

Your emotions in the real world carry over very easily, indeed.

Several years ago, I was faced with having to discipline another player.  She understood the reason for being in trouble, and even agreed to her punishment - from time to time she did try to excuse her IC actions by saying she was upset OOC and that was why she behaved in a manner which led to this completely in-character confrontation/resolution. Within hours my instant messages were buzzing with aggitation and the messages all the same: "did I know this girl was so upset about being in trouble that she's attempting suicide right now as we speak?!" 


So because Girl X was having a bad day, brought it into the game, and got her hand smacked for it, I'm suddenly responsible for her attempted suicide?  WHAT?! 

Turns out this gal was just being melodramatic in her description of how she was coping with her upset, but that situation had lasting impact on me regardless.   I learned that I have to be very careful in the things I do and say, because I'm dealing with some tender psyches on the other side of my conversations.




I agree, sometimes it's best for me to just... QQ, stand up, and walk away from B.S. I'm looking at you, Cyrene's political hacks.

Yeah, one should never forget that you're just playing a game. If a raid or some other type of conflict is going on, try to remember it's okay for your character to be angry, but there's absolutely no reason for you, the player, to be upset that a denizen or something is getting killed. It doesn't affect you in any way. QQ if you really are upset.

I find that it is easiest to distance oneself from IC situations by creating characters that are different from your OOC persona. This doesn't always happen, and that's probably why problems IC bleed out into real life.


More often than not I've been able to calm myself with the question "What would X do?", how would MY CHARACTER in this situation, with her personality and her background react to this issue? There's been a few times that I, the player, wanted to scream at another character's actions, to cause an argument and finally speak what was on my mind. However my character had no precedence or reason for acting that way, and it forced me to roleplay the situation out in a level-headed manner, making compromises that I would not have, but at least feeling that I'd gotten some decent roleplay out of a bad situation. 


It also helps me when talking about things that have upset me to talk about I-the-player and I-the-character as two separate entities (which, in truth, they are!) it just further drives the point home and makes it easier to control.


The second point is that if you-the-player are upset oocly, and that affects what you-the-character does, do not expect other characters to give you grace. Other players might feel sympathetic but in an IC environment all that was seen was you-the-character acting the "wrong" way and therefore needing punishment.

I'm sorry, my response is this, has always been this and will always be this. It lends itself to why I get frustrated, and I think justifies my out of the game reactions, in a wierd way:


Nothing Matters But Glomdoring.

Good advice there. It's just a game, if you are not enjoying yourself, take a break. Games are meant to be enjoyable.

I like to think of it as a book. A larger, more interactive book, sure. But a good story told well can make you laugh, cry, get angry or whichever. And then it naturally fades.

RPGs are that way. But as everyone has said, if they end up getting to be too much, a break or an alternate character are two possible solutions. It's not a bad thing to be emotionally invested in a character, but it shouldn't linger too much a few minutes after you sign out.

i agree


As mentioned in the article, a balance is key when playing a character. It is natural for people to become emotionally attached to something they invest time, money and energy into. The important thing is to not allow a negative IC interaction to completely destroy you on an OOC level.


That being said, when a griefer attacks your character for the sole purpose of upsetting you, the player behind Fred the Firefly, it becomes even more difficult to not be upset. I can only suggest to not let such things get to you as a player - That would just be playing right into a griefer's hands!

Heh. I don't get emotional because more often than not, I am the source of my character's torment.


Call me a sadist, but I love jerking my character around, throwing her right into the middle of situations she isn't prepared for, making her say things that will get her in trouble and most importantly: new, exciting situations for her to overcome.


It makes things more interesting, more exciting. Kill someone from a backstory, start a gradual dissension into madness, make your character open its eyes one day and realise everything it had previously believed in was a lie. Then consider what your character does - break, or grow stronger?


Just remember that your character is one of many in a world of ever-complicating plotlines - the goal is not to 'win', it is to weave a story; and if it isn't, what's the point?

Also important to note, that if a puzzle or something in game has you pulling your hair out: odds are, it's supposed to. Just like a rubix cube or some other puzzle, take a break, come back at it with a new perspective later, and give it another shot. As far as IG drama goes, rise above it, keep it IC, and use that anger to help the Glomdoring thrive. 



Honestly, this is true for all games: if you're getting frustrated by it, seriously, take a break! The game will still be there when you return; granted, it's a bit different in the way that you don't save it and come back to the exact same thing you left with, but not too awful much tends to happen in the time necessary to step away from things.



Games are so in depth now that it's pretty easy for people to blur the line between their game life and reality. It's not uncommon for gamers to become friends and meet eachother in real life. I think it depends on the character you're playing as well. Some people approach their character's behaviour in a manner similar to the way they are in real life while others pick something polar opposite. I think the people who chose to play 'themselves' in the game tend to be more emotional about a sudden turn of events.

I consider myself a rather happy person, don't really get angry. But then one fateful night...I couldn't clear a bashing area without getting killed 5 times. After the 3rd attempt, I my mouse had found itself hurled across my living room, and directly into my screen door, ripping a hole in it. This was the day, I decided to not get mad at video games.

Many of us use games to escape. Escape from the stress of everyday life, escape from our worries or boredom. Sometimes the stresses of the games can build just as they can in real life. This is a great opportunity to stand up, stretch, take a walk, and escape from the stresses of the game by living your life.

To me, text based games are a great way to reach out and play a game with others.  I know that few people in Alaska where I live play them, as far as I know.  I also know that this makes it easy for me to not mix the game and real life at all, since I don't know anybody in my state who plays, haha.  I think that people should realize it is just a game, and not cost themselves pain and sorrow, or their job or grades because they are playing too much.

That's what friends are for! To vent and give you advice! If you find yourself becoming steadily angry and upset at things in the game, take a step back and play something else. And when you cool down, take a logical perception on how you should deal with the thing that's upsetting you!

I find that a really great way to escape from feeling angry, and then making bad decisions on a particular character (ex. rage killing, class quitting) is to log out and play a different character for a while. Go into a different environment, cool off. You'll be thankful later. 

I've never had this problem, personally. Though both IC and OOC I often have a really good grasp on my emotions. However, I have seen some others stay angry OOC for days at a time, and even a have a friend who has rage-suicided multiple characters for rather benign reasons. Some can manage it well, others can't.

Games are meant to be fun, yeah. If they no longer are such, time to stop playing and find something else to do for a while. Simple advice, and I've repeated it to many. I wish more of them would listen, heh.

If the game is getting so intense your getting angry and losing sleep over it, then you might as well turn it off and go to work or hang out with the family, you should be able to get enough of that there. Games are supposed to be fun, not mimick life.


Calandil of Midkemia

Be it an OOC clan, forums, a Facebook group, or just your plain old self, as long as you allow your real self to "reach out" to your "made-up" one, real life versus fantasy lines will always blur. That being said, if you want straight RP with no RL entanglements..cut yourself off as much as you can. The OOC connections might be handy, useful..but they are not indispensable. Consider this especially if you are the type to get really emotional and involved with your'd enjoy the game with less personal hassle and hangups with those strings cut.

i'm like a robot.

Saves alot of trouble!

Sometimes people seem to forget it's just a game after all, they're meant to have fun playing it and not to get mad. If you're not enjoying, just stop playing for a while and return when you're feeling better, no need to keep playing till get a heartattack.

It's nice to be able to sometimes be picky about who to interact with, as a very small percentage of the playerbase seem to be the type that can just cause problems wherever they go. I feel for the leaders that feel obligated to deal with these types, but even for leaders it's not always necessary to interact with people that are frustrating you. There's always the option to walk away.

Life's too short to spend time banging your head against people who'll suck your time. Games should be fun, and if dealing with awkward people isn't fun, leave them alone!

I myself used to get very emotionally connected to some of the games I played. Over the years I've gotten much better at distancing myself.  If ever I feel like I'm starting to get too attached, I'll just take a break whether it be a week, month, year or permanent and go on to something else. I thoroughly enjoy trying out different personalites and roles in various places. 

Over the years I have met a few people that get to into the game and let it affect them out of game. Shoot, one instance even affected me out of the realms

Something I think everyone is guilty of. The trouble is, the aim isn't some arbitrary goal set by the game designers, but participation in a vast, complex and immersive world. The better you roleplay, the more prone you are to becoming too attached. Hence the need to find a decent balance.

If I hadn't experienced becoming overly emotional because of something that occured in a text game, I don't think I would have believed the author of this article. However, because I have been involved in an argument with a few players online while in character, I did go through exactly what the author said: mulling it over and over, getting angry for a long period time, losing sleep...

Of course if these games did not involve real people, I could never really get that angry. It's because we're dealing with real life people that it starts getting real outside the game too. I know a lot of the actions targetted at my character is supposed to be a role play, meaning "fake" but to me, it feels real. I don't believe that someone changed their character to play these games.

Regardless of if it's reality or virtual reality that people are arguing and are mad at me (my character I mean), it affected me so much that I stopped playing for a long time. When I came back, I still was mad at Lavinia for being such a stickler to stating the rules and how she reminds everyone of rules even if we're not going to break them...Probably about time I let things go...After all, it's just a game.

Playing Lusternia taught me something valuable: Don't get involved with drama-queens. I don't really care if it breaks RP to ignore someone, but my enjoyment of the game kind of means more than getting involved with that one person who has like 20 different alts and half of them are in the same org as each other and the only reason for them to even MAKE the alts is to annoy everyone with drama. No. Thank. You.


You can apply this wisdom in real life too. Come across a drama queen? All you have to do is be passive aggressive about how much you don't want them in your sphere and chances are they'll go off to talk about you to someone else.


Anyway, when it comes to getting too involved in text games, remember that you can always snub someone who's annoying you and unsnub them later when you think you've cooled off. If you start to get really mad just log out and do something else.

That's why it happens. I've done it once or twice, but I come back. Yes, I should learn to QQ normally rather than yearlong RAGEQUITS.

I think it's normal to get a little upset when dealing with other people, in games or real life.

This is a good article, and everyone should be cool about the game.

Do not play too much, do not get angry too much. Of course, there is always something that slips from IC to OOC. Like if I die in a raid or hunting, I am upset and I want to  regain the experience lost as quickly as possible, but I think that's normal. Or if someone steals something from me, I would like to take revenge. Everything is ok, just keep things in balance and equilibrium.

Just do not be a slave.

It might be ridicolous, but even RL life is a game...a certain point in time a QQ happens to everybody. Do not take things too seriously, both in game and in life (if possible). Light always shines in both worlds.

It might be ridicolous, but even RL life is a game...a certain point in time a QQ happens to everybody. Do not take things too seriously, both in game and in life (if possible). Light always shines in both worlds.

Good stuff, it also can apply to a lot of things besides just text or even video games in general.

Lusternia has been pretty fair with death, another game I used to play had you running back to corpse and getting all your stuff back, and if it was a PK well then you were hoping the person who killed you didn't grab ALL the good stuff off of you. Those were frustrating.

Relationships are relationships, regardless of whether they're in a text game, social network or in life. Abuse is abuse, and betrayal is betrayal. Simply saying QQ and to shrug off the emotional investment is a very superficial stance to take.

I'd take the opposite stance, if you desire true escapism, and that's why I play text games, then you have to emotionally invest, otherwise its not escapism at all. This doesn't mean I lack the warden on my shoulder telling me its 'just a game', it just means that I can ignore the warden's leash.

To extent, I agree. it is a game, and you shouldn't let it bother you too much, On the other hand, you are dealing with real people, and you form relationships with them, it does become personal. three of my best friends I met here, and one of them I am now in a long term relationship with. the game does get personal, and sometimes the emotions of IC actions and OOC reactions are only normal.

Known a few cases...


As another article indicates, many characters on these are an extension of the players themselves. In those cases I could imagine it being a little harder to remember that it is just the character. It could be more than that to them. A personal attack to a an extension could feel like a real insult to this kind of player!

...I just play a couple of hours a week. Still, when I gave my house oath, my heart started pumping wildly, I was really emotional...It was like I was there. Absolutely freaking extraordinary. 

That was the feeling that got me hooked on Achaea. I remember sitting at a keyboard in a computer lab and physically trembling when my head of novices tested me to advance out of novicehood. I'd played video games all my life and never had that reaction to a challenge, because it is different when you are so closely linked to your character, and you know that other characters are controlled by living, breathing people and not just some lines of code. There is a lot of pressure in text games. I still feel my hands shaking when I pk! That same reaction can be a sign when you've played too much though. I bet I'm not the only one here who has had dreams in text and had nightmares that went something like: "x snaps his fingers at you."

used to play quite a bit, now...hardly needed a break

Now I only log in once in a while. Many other things to handle atm!

I'll admit, if I die after a nice long bout of bashing I get upset IRL. I just spent an hour killing all those little goblins to get that ten percent...arg! But then I get over it, because it's just a game. Sure things happen that upset me, the player, but I draw a line and don't let them ruin my day. Some people get way more involved and the lines are very blurred...and that's their prerogative, but for me, I prefer for it to stay a game and not become some dramatic text soap opera that rules my emotions.

Achaea is like this for me. I can tell myself, "It's just a game" until I am blue in the face, but when I log in, I become Daryn and myself as the player ceases to exist. So any emotion Daryn feels, is transferred straight into my mind and body. Rage, sorrow, depression, lust, joy, fear... hell, I even get a little drunk when Daryn drinks too much rum!


There are times I have cried, openly weeped, because of Achaea. And times when I burned with so much rage that I shook and threw a fit. I have lost so much sleep because of Daryn and Achaea. Had my heart broken, my mind shattered, and my body wasted by Achaea. And I have no regrets!

i get frustrated in that moment especially when something senseless happens, but its not worth staying angry over, its the internet, its a game, life goes on.  we die, we return, we can regain.  we get robbed we can rebuy, what costs us a fortune in credits, we dont lose! so were good!  as stated, its just a game. 

I like to think at me as my character in game. No separation, when Im in the game, that's who I am and that's the world I live in.

it's because I log in at unholy hours. If I log off and lose sleep over something IG, it's more likely me worrying about how something I said might've made someone else angry or sad, or else worrying about my bad spelling.

I'm one of those who log in at ridiculous hours as well (blast it all with everyone playing on the opposite side of the hemisphere to me) so I may or may not have said questionable things due to an irregular sleep pattern.

That, and if sleepy I tend to giggle (emote and out loud) is someone tries to cast an illusion on me with poor spelling. Gives it away a bit really.

I think I may have been a victim of said sleep patterns. 


I freak out when Wysteria giggles.

Good thing I love sleep more than anything else.

/ Danko Jones

Sure, i've been through some emotional rollercoasters with/because of my character, but i try to keep things seperate...although thinking about something that happened that could have gone different or raging a bit more than I should because of this or that, does sometimes occur to me.

QQ, ftw. Hands down.


definitely see some crazy reactions, and it can be hard to tell when it is the -character- that is reacting, and when it is the -player-.

ofc your life will get reflected in game and from IG to OOC. Feelings is nothing you can control but you need to have a good friend IG to make you stop and think of what your doing.

I like the picture.

When you consider getting a job that gives you more playtime

Unlike other types of games yuo identify with your character, see him as an extension of yourself and that is why you take it a personally so easily.


Even I have to remind myself that there is a real life that needs me as much as they do in game. That you have to keep a eye on, family, health, and social life are necessity to living beyond the game and found that situations you learn in game can help in solutions to real too. Talk about weird.


can say been there and not been there many times. It truely is hard to distinuish :S

I may have read like half of this.



Yep, I'm guilty.

I feel it's understandable to get anxious or slightly emotional over in game consequences. After all, it's pretty well known that the best books can bring up some intense emotions. I will agree however, that there are times you need to log off and tell yourself 'It's just a game'. I for one realize that I might spend more than a healthy amount of time thinking about creative ideas for my character. I like to think that it's not so much the game that I'm addicted to, but the opportunities it give my imagination. (Then again this could just mean I'm flat out addicted to it!)

Isn't that the truth. Some people can't seem to draw the line between OOC and IC, and they get way too into it.


WAY to many!

While I do admit tha I get tied up in things like this, I was also raised by roleplay purists. We were very careful to keep PEOPLE seperate from CHARACTERS in terms of what we held them accountable for. I'm able to draw a clear line between my friend in the real world and the character that just pissed me off in the game. The trouble is, even outside the game world, I have the genuinely Irish habit of shoving everything deep down inside and covering it over with some variatin of intoxicaion. We bottle things up, fume over them forever, and hold grudges like you wouldn't believe.


Even in the real world, it takes an exceptional amount of effort to make myself stop dwelling on problems even decades old on a day-to-day basis. Some people call this "reflection"... let's face it, it's a grudge.


For this reason, both my character and I hold grudges for a long time, and those become reasons to us not to trust others. Angry ten minutes afterwards, not usually. Angry again the next time we see the person? Absolutely, and those people quickly become our enemies. Again, I stress, the cahracter, not the player. Sometimes, the player and I will continue to be firends even when the characters are long-standing enemies. (Just ask Nagakura!)

It's difficult sometimes, to keep the game world from pressing in on your thoughts when you're outside of it, and fuming about it is inescapable from time to time. I find the best way to keep my mind off of it is to transition after a while. Yes, go out, go for a wlk, listen to your music, whatever it is that makes you calm down immediately, but if the fantasy world starts pushing in on you again, I find it helps to go play another game. Assasin's Creed, Teraria, The Sims and Saga Frontier are my favourite picks, depending on my mood. THey force me to think of a game that other people can't influence, so I'm free of those worries.


And if all else fails, try logging in as a different character, watching a movie, or geting yourself involved in some other story somehow. That way, your mind can't dwell too much on any one story!


Hope this helps.

You wouldn't keep coming back if it wasn't fun! 


But at times the games stand still, so you can take a break and come back again for new fun.