Online Text RPGs: Roleplaying Relationships
By Chris J. Johnston
As with any MMO roleplaying game, relationships between characters are very important. If characters do not interact at all, why not just go play a single player game? Though 'relationship' usually implies romance and love, it also covers any other form of bond between players; friend, foe, family, et cetera.
All roleplaying games require relationships, but not all of them require or even allow the (rare) text romance because of the maturity required in roleplaying such a relationship. A majority of casual text MUD players have a difficult time separating the personality of their character from their own personality. Consequently, developing an intimate relationship with another character can be dangerous. Here are a few tips for having your character form a successful and safe relationship with another character.
Be Different IC From OOC
The dangerous part of a text game relationship stems from the blurring of the in-character and out-of-character boundary. You must remember at all times that your character is not you, and that the character whom your character is roleplaying a relationship with is also just that; a role! Your text partner is not just the screen name of another person on the internet. Obviously there is a real person playing that character, but there is absolutely no way to know how similar to their character they are. What if they don't understand the point of roleplay? Whether you like to believe it or not, you should not trust anyone at (text) face value in a game until you know how strongly they separate themselves from their character. You need to be adamant that your character is not you... in case your text partner does not.
Establish OOC Boundaries
As with any relationship, in real life or otherwise, communication is important. Assume that nothing is implicit, and be very clear about what you want out of a text relationship. There is no problem with sending a friendly out-of-character message to your partner stating your boundaries. You should be sure to make a few things clear: 1) Your character is not a copy of you, 2) You are not interested in an out-of-character relationship at this time, and 3) If you ask them to stop something and they refuse, you can and will contact the admins, who will quickly intervene. Regarding the second item, I included "at this time" because it IS possible to decide that you are interested in an out-of-character relationship after roleplaying. Just be careful, as with any internet dating, and make it clear that the text relationship does not mean anything in itself.
Be Smart About Roleplaying Intimacy
If you want to roleplay having an intimate relationship with your text partner, make sure that you are on the same page about how in-depth your roleplay will go. Understand that you should never have to roleplay any degree of intimacy, physical or emotional, that you are uncomfortable with; it is perfectly acceptable to roleplay up until a point, and then "fade to black" and pick up with your roleplay after the scene or conversation. Finally, make sure that your motivations are clear; in entering this relationship, you are roleplaying out your characters' feelings and desires, and it doesn't imply anything special between you and that character's player. I suppose you could take all of the stuff written above and condense it into three words: BE CAREFUL and ROLEPLAY. And don't forget to have fun while you're at it!
Now that you know how to be safe about it, go get text-married today on some of the best online text RPGs available today!
Chris J. Johnston is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.
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