Soooo… yyyeahhh… role playing in MMO’s…
As I mentioned, role-playing in any game is where you pretend to be your character. When I played D&D in middle school (that’s not to say that I wouldn’t play now, because I would. in a heartbeat. you got a game goin’?), the best we could do is make a primitive doodle drawing of our characters. I’m pretty sure that none of my friends ever dressed up for a D&D game, or “talked funny”. As fun as that sounds, most of the guys I played D&D with were the types of guys who rode Zorlac skateboards, so you know what that means.
In an MMO, it’s easier to pretend that you are a character because you don’t have your buddies, whom you’ll hafta see in school tomorrow, sitting right across from you. It’s all very anonymous which, like wearing a mask at Mardi Gras, makes people feel more comfortable to do things that they want to do, but might would feel stupid doing with their everyday gang of pals.
That said, I never saw anyone in any game I ever played “talkin’ funny”. I even started characters on Roleplay servers in WoW just to see if anyone was doing it. They were not, and these were even designated roleplay servers (unlike Landroval, the server I play on in LOTRO, which is the “unofficial” roleplay server for lotro). In fact, all of my characters in DAoC were on a RP server, yet I never saw anyone talking funny there, either.
I think I just came to the conclusion that people on RP servers were just nicer, and that made a big difference, especially in WoW, which is notorious for cretins.
(I just wanted to share what the “urban dictionary” says a cretin is, because it’s so close to exactly what I mean. Ahem… “A Person that is: brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins. They can be found in abundance in every single populated internet forum, where they race to post as many mind-numbing messages as possible in a single session. In addition, they seemingly interbreed with other cretins, ensuring that their cretinous genes continue long after they end up dead meaning the Internet will never be rid of their kind. More’s the pity.”)
I never saw anyone talking funny in an mmo, that is, until I went to work on lotro.
As soon as I started playing lotro, I immediately noticed that the people were way nicer and more helpful and more mature than the people on WoW. I assumed they were mostly fellow adults. Gone were the Chuck Norris jokes that had so plagued my existence in WoW, replaced with…
Say…. what the hell are those people doing? It appears as though they are talking funny. And they are using the emotes to communicate back and forth.
Great Scott! I do believe that these people think they are really in Middle~Earth!
It was quite a shock at first, I’ll be honest. And to be even further honest, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it and thought that it was incredibly stupid and couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly have any fun whatsoever doing that rather than slaying orcs and leveling and building up their crafting abilities to make some serious jack on the auction house (the auction house, or AH, is where you can sell stuff to other players, usually for an enormous profit).
Eventually, my character (my first character) arrived in the bustling city of Bree, which is probably the largest city in the game, and should be known to you other Tolkien fans out there.
My quest led me to an inn. An inn called the Prancing Pony.
I stepped inside and immediately had to just sit back, mouth hung open, and marvel at what was going on in this inn.
There were people dancing, people playing music (the music mechanic of this game is so complicated, I won’t even try to get into it here. suffice it to say that you can play music in the game. you can even start bands and write your own songs. it’s crazy.), and loads and loads and loads of people talkin’ funny.
I hafta admit, I was intrigued.
Even after I had finished my business in Bree, and had moved on to the far reaches of Middle~Earth in my journeys, I would go back to the Prancing Pony just to sit and watch and enjoy the atmosphere. Even though I would not participate (other than a smoke here, a drink there, or a dance or two), I thought then, and still think, that it really added to the atmosphere and the character of the game, and I’m glad that people do it. I’m glad that there are people out there who enjoy getting on a video game and really testing out their improv acting chops by truly pretending to be their dude, or lady, in Middle~Earth.
In time, I started a character specifically to participate in these kinds of activities, and I got him into a kinship that supported that sort of thing. I still don’t go all out, balls-to-the-wall, roleplay, but he does wear appropriate clothes and will occasionally do a dance or share a pipeful of pipeweed with a kin member. I’m trying to get into the swing of things, though I don’t really know exactly how far I’m willing to go into this world.
For a long time, when I was just kickin it in the Prancing Pony every now and then, I thought that roleplay was strictly for people to “hook up” in-game and type dirty to each other. Most of the roleplay that I had seen in the Pony was all about flirting. Allow me to relate to you a story…
I had just gotten done with a quick adventure, and was waiting for the cooldown on my port home to be up (if you own a house in-game you can port there once an hour, and that’s usually where I prefer to log off). I decided to pop into the Pony for a minute, just to see what was going on.
Now, my character is one handsome devil. His beard flows like a waterfall over a mountain and his eyes are as blue as the balls you got on your first date.
So here’s our man, standing around, minding his own business, when a lady character walks over and sends a “tell” (another word for private message) saying, “You up for a little roleplay?”
I send her back a tell that says, “Nah, I’m just waiting for the cooldown on my portal home, so I can log. Thanks anyway. Smiley Face.”
“You sure? I know a private room here at the Pony…”
It’s a dude, I thought. “No thanks, I’m just gonna hang out till I can port home.”
“Can I come with you?”
Definitely a dude. I ported home and haven’t logged on with that character since. Looking back, I should have been more open to the idea, just to see how it goes. I think that all of this roleplay stuff is extremely interesting, especially from a sociological standpoint, and to see where that little conversation could have gone now piques my curiosity.
I know about the “fourth wall” and how there should not be one in mmo’s, especially when roleplaying, but I just can’t help but think about it. The fourth wall is the wall between my character and whoever, or whatever, was doing the talking for that forward lady toon. I think it’s a theatre term. It’s impossible for me not to wonder exactly what that other person is thinking when they say, or do, something “in character”.
Landroval also, being the unofficial roleplay server of lotro, has an ongoing dilemma between the people who talk funny and the people who don’t. I have the feeling that Turbine (the makers of lotro) will never get involved, meaning that they will probably never come out and say that Landroval is the official roleplay server of lotro, for fear of alienating people and, ultimately, losing customers, and thus revenue.
There will always be some tension between the people who think that everyone on Landroval should talk funny, and the people who feel like they shouldn’t be forced to do it, just because they happened to choose this server. Personally, I can’t stand the “RP” nazis. These are the people who get all uptight if you say something OOC (out of character) or do something that doesn’t quite jibe with the established lore of Middle~Earth. Thankfully, there aren’t many of these folks out there. There are, however, plenty of people who have no sense of humor or who take themselves way too seriously and forget that this is a game, and it won’t last forever. The people in your kinship that you are so fake friendly with on a daily basis, if Turbine closed up shop tomorrow and lotro went off the air, they would be gone forever because you have no clue who they are irl. And then where are you?
Sure, I like to have fun and hang out with my kinship, but real life has to come first, because it’s just that. REAL life. If Turbine closed tomorrow, I’d still have my friends and family (although all that time I threw in the toilet crafting “yew hafts” would be gone).
With all that said, lotro is a fun game and it’s a fun game because the people who play it make it fun. It’s fun to run around in the Shire, killing toads and slugs and whatnot. It’s fun to gather together with a bunch of people and pretend like you’re having a party and pretend like you’re drinking loads of ale and smoking loads of pipeweed. As weird as that may sound (why pretend to drink ale when you can have the real thing? I don’t know), it is just another facet of the game, just like killing orcs and leveling up your fishing abilities.
I bring up the “pretending to have a party” thing because last night I attended what I’m pretty sure was the largest in-game, player-controlled event I have ever been involved in.
If you are a nerdlinger like I am, you probably know that, in lore, yesterday was Bilbo Baggins’s birthday. To celebrate, a kinship called “the Sons of Numenor” hosted a party in Rivendell where they shot off fireworks and everyone pretended to drink ale, dance, and smoke pipeweed.
I took some screenshots. (as always, click to make them bigger)
The hobbit that is front and center is me, smoking a pipe and watching the fireworks. The two lady hobbits on my left and right are, I think, members of the same kinship I am in. The dudes in uniform standing up on the rock are members of the Sons of Numenor kinship, and they’re the ones hosting the party and shooting off the fireworks. Yes, I know that I am a nerd.
This shot is, again, of yours truly watching the fireworks. In the background you can see the little horse trail that leads down into the Valley of Rivendell. This also gives you a better idea of how many other player-characters were there. Tons.
This shot is from farther away and is from a first-person perspective. It shows all the people there with the Falls of Imladris behind them. No idea where that glare comes from, it’s not like I took this with a camera or anything.
So it was pretty fun. I always feel like the black sheep of my kinship because I’m old and therefore am constantly making pop culture references that no one gets, so they just think I’m saying random ridiculous shit.
Why would so many people want to get together and pretend to have a party? Why do they talk funny and flirt with each other? Why do they form bands and play in the Prancing Pony so other people can pretend to drink ale together? Because it’s just fun to pretend sometimes, I guess.
I haven’t really even scratched the surface of roleplaying in lotro, but it will hafta do for now. Perhaps another time we can talk some more about it. Feel free to ask any questions.
I also meant to get back around to Vlad today, and how he is used to destroy your weak, flabby body, but I’ll do that tomorrow. Today I didn’t even use him. I went to the JFZ and did 35 minutes on the elliptical and then used the Trilogy of Terror to failure. I’ll be stove up tomorrow.
I know I haven’t been talking about what I’m eating or drinking, either. I just want you to enjoy this blog, and I realize that reading stuff about what someone ate today, or how many sit-ups they did, is a bit dry. Hell, I never read other fitness blogs. Well, yesterday when I went out to eat with my sister I had some grilled trout with veggies. For dinner the DW cooked some wheat tortellini and broccoli with sun-dried tomatoes (which I normally hate due to their leathery texture, but these were good). Then I drank a beer and had some Davy Crockett wine. For breakfast this morning I had yogurt and granola, then a mid-morning snack of an apple. Lunch was baked red potatoes (five), some beans, topped with brown sauce. Right now I’m drinking some more Davy Crockett wine.
So, yeah… tomorrow we’ll talk more about Vlad.
I leave you with this video (via youtube as usual), depicting an event called “Ales & Tales” which is a roleplay event on Mondays of every week on my server. It is hosted by my kinship (so if you know anything about Landroval, you now know what kinship I am in). People get together, play music in-game, and do all the play-pretending and talking funny that they want. If you follow some of the links from this vid, you’ll find tons of video of this weekly event and others like it. Enjoy…
Today I found this video of Bilbo’s Birthday Party at Rivendell. The one talked about above. Figured I’d share it with yall.
Pingback: Harvestmath Festival in Lord of the Rings Online « Fit for Dragon*Con 2012