Text-Based RPGs: Joining the Flock - Text Games and Conformity
By Teresa Harlan
While there is certainly no shame in being a text game rogue and forging your own path toward whatever you define success to be, my experience has been that conformity enriches a character. In saying that, I am not suggesting that everyone don their white woolen coats and start bleating like one of the flock in a feeble attempt to fit in. What I am suggesting is that prior to being anti-establishment, that you let your character give establishment a true chance.
Organizations in most quality roleplaying text games provide a whole host of benefits, from the tangible support structure (and sometimes free treats) to the more intangible aspects. Now, while we all like free stuff, and not talking to ourselves (though I hear it can be therapeutic), that is not the purpose of this article. No, this article will be focusing on the intangibles.
I have played my favorite text game for, well... let's just say that there are children that were born when I started playing roleplaying text games who are now entering the fourth grade. I have had a few throw-away alternative characters, but my main has rather consistently been active and going strong. I blame this (and yes, 'blame' with all the finger pointing that the word connotes) on the organizations she is a part of.
For my character, being a part of her organizations, her House specifically, truly defines her. And that was hardly intentional. I had her join her House purely for her to have people to learn her skills from without having to beg and plea. However, what I came to realize was that the culture of the House provided a wonderful platform to develop my character in. Being part of an organization in a text game helps you develop your character's motivations, his or her fears, his or her doubts, provides a structured set of goals and gives them conflict to deal with that is not self-manifested and therefore feels more genuine.
Sure, your text game character may have to compromise every once in a while, but that compromise makes you delve into your character's values more thereby assisting you in the creation of something that is multidimensional out of a text game that does not even have two dimensional visuals. That is sort of like creating life without the bloodbath that is childbirth (sorry for the awful image, it'll purge itself from your brain... Eventually).
The beauty of any good roleplaying text game is the player versus player interaction. These games are not just about completing quests or smashing people's skulls in (though they have plenty of that too), they are about being part of the creation of a story that has been being written for, in the case of my favorite text game, over a decade. As a rogue, you can still be part of that story, but each organization has its own story that fits into the grand scheme of things in the MUD that by joining, you join in on.
Ultimately, a lot of richness and uniqueness of these games are lost if you go at them alone. So perhaps, just this once, you can don your woolen coat and bleat a little as you join an organization. You never know, in a clever twist of fate, perhaps conformity will make your text game experience unique.
Go ahead and try one of the most highly acclaimed roleplaying mud games available today - all the cool kids are doing it!
Teresa Harlan is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.
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