Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fair People of Stormwind . . .

Not too long ago, I stumbled on a thread at the WoW forums.  The opening poster played on a role-play (RP) realm and was upset at the number of raid leaders trying to find people for their raids in Trade Chat.  Basically, his complaint was that it interfered with his attempts to immerse himself in role play.  His solution was that the number of raids should be limited on RP servers.  (/blink.)

Some of the posters basically told him he was nuts.  Raiding is, after all, a big part of the game, and it wouldn't be fair to the other players to limit the number of raids.  Others differed with his definition of role play.  The entire game, they contended, was role play, because players who are human took control of characters of various races and did things they couldn't do in real life, in the context of the game.  And, as some of them said, what could be more in keeping with role play than to head out to kill the big monsters in a raid?

I do not role play, as some people define it, and I never have.  But I decided to reply, a little tongue-in-cheek.  I suggested that instead of limiting the number of raids, perhaps raid leaders should be encouraged to role play their Trade Chat spam:

"Fair people of Stormwind, today Obsidian ventures forth to BWD to kill the foul monster Nefarian! Alas, our brave and stalwart warrior has fallen ill, threatening the success of our venture. Is there no hero who will stand up and accept the call?"
The opening poster loved it.  I suspected he would, because I figured this was the kind of role play he preferred.  (The slightly over-the-top kind wherein people might make a macro to hit as they charge down from the starting cave in Alterac Valley, shouting motivational speeches about how they are going to decimate the Horde for the glory of the Alliance.  I used to hear it all the time at Society for Creative Anachronism court functions.)  It sort of sounds like something some of the Stormwind NPCs would say . . . or Oxhorn . . .

Interestingly enough, when I was in the SCA, I never considered it a role-playing game, although I suppose technically it was.  (A very expensive role-playing game. We got involved when my husband saw people fencing in period garb on our college campus.)  I approached it as an educationally-oriented non-profit society dedicated to the study and re-creation of Medieval history (as it should have been), so I didn't focus as much on developing a persona or staying in character as I did on learning various old-fashioned skills.  Oh, sure, I went along with a lot of the trappings, choosing a name and a nationality, as well as designing a device.  But my clothing ended up a hodgepodge of whatever I decided I liked and wanted to sew, rather than really focused on one period in time and one location.  (Everything from an Egyptian gawazee coat for dancing to an Elizabethan gown to more simple Scottish garb.)

But I knew others who really changed themselves depending on what persona they were playing that day, including clothing, trappings, speech and mannerisms.  Their personas had back stories, down to parentage, previous adventures, and their current opinions of the Crown.  Generally speaking, as long as people made an attempt to wear garb which could pass at 20 feet and didn't do something obvious like bring an electric guitar to play at camp during the wars, most people didn't worry about individual levels of involvement.  But we did have our "garb snobs" and other such people who felt their way of approaching the society was the right way, and others simply did not measure up.

Given that, I can understand something of the different opinions about WoW role play.  There will be some who figure that just being there in a simple t-tunic is sufficient, and there will be those who think that nothing less than displaying appropriate levels of obsequiousness to those of higher rank and station is correct.  There will be some who simply speak within the context of the game and avoid irrelevant topics, and there will be those who believe that all players should use copious emotes and formal language, complete with imagined accents.  (Unless, of course, their backstory requires they came from a low background and so did not learn polite language.)

I cannot judge those who RP in WoW, as I make no attempt at it, myself.  But I hope the opening poster of that thread can come to terms with other people's idea of role play, instead of making himself upset with something about which he can do nothing.

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