Online RPGs: Getting Back into Roleplay
by Tony Celentano
The thing about online roleplaying games is that, once you're sucked in, it can be difficult to avoid the traps. Sometimes we become so involved, we're not roleplaying anymore. It's hard to remember that your online RPG character ≠ you. Our RPG characters can take on our own real life personalities, and we might make decisions for our RPG character based on our real life reactions to things that happen in the roleplay scheme of things. I'm not talking about an MSN squad of city defenders/raiders, though it's not my style. If you want your WUPHF account to go off whenever there's a city raid, that's up to you.
So how do you avoid the online roleplaying traps? For a bright-eyed, bushy tailed newbie, text game roleplay can be a wonderful new experience. However, the bitter old timers run the risk of treating the game like a chatroom. Suspension of disbelief can be difficult, especially if a favourite God went suddenly inactive during a roleplaying event. Or maybe you have a huge list of text gamer buddies on your instant messenger list, and spend more time talking about the RPG than playing it - or worse, not thinking twice about using AIM information in-character.
Yes, in this age of Pastebin shrine lists and readily available curing systems, finding inspiring roleplay ideas in your favourite RPG can be difficult. Sticking with those ideas even more so. With that in mind, I think I've got what you need. A fantasy-name generator won't cut it, you need the full RPG shock treatment. While not necessarily a roleplay list article, I'd like to share some unconventional methods of finding inspiration for you to get the most out of your online text game roleplay.
1: Personality Profiles
Everyone loves to take personality quizzes, MBTI-based being the most common. Instead of answering about yourself, however, why not craft an RPG alter-ego and use the results as a guideline? You could even read forums for real people with your character's personality type. If you're looking to truly become somebody else, this is an excellent way to start. As an exciting side note, research is being done for an upcoming article that explores the links between our real life personality types and our in-game factions. I can't give away too much, but for those interested, we've found so far that Extrovert types are almost non-existent in text games!
2: Pulling Tarot Cards
One of the wilder ideas I've heard involves pulling Tarot cards to generate a background story for your RPG character. Of course, buying a 'reading' for your text game character is silly. Trust me, a live psychic won't tell you if you'll become supreme ruler of the online role-playing game world. Well, maybe for $1.99 / minute they will. This is really easy to do yourself, though, as there are a number of free online tarot decks. Remember that each individual card tells a story in itself, and craft an epic storyline for your character. This can be fun when starting a new text game character, or maybe spurring your online RPG character's development along!
3: Browsing TvTropes
If you've never visited this site, I highly recommend giving it a look. TvTropes humorously categorizes all the cliches and character archetypes in fiction, television, RPGs and Hollywood. For example, my character fights for Good and Justice, but often grumbles about the disadvantages of the Good side. I guess he'd be a Knight in Sour Armour! Dig through this extensive Wiki and you're bound to find the inspiration you've been looking for.
Hopefully, one of these ideas will zap a little juice back into your online RPG character and helps you to stop playing yourself. If you have your own unique and unconventional method for shaping characters, share them in the comments!
Tony Celentano is a text game enthusiast who enjoys the best free online MMOs at Iron Realms!