The Art of Roleplaying in the World of MMPs Part 2

The Art of
Roleplaying in the World of MMPs – Part 2

By

Michael Lafferty

 

“My avatar in-game is ME, not an alternate ego or hidden
desire” – Azmail

 

When one thinks of roleplaying, one may
imagine actors strutting across a stage, but the truth of the matter is that, as
Shakespeare once said, all the world’s a stage and each of us merely actors upon
it.

 

In the world of massively multiplayer games,
players are provided with the opportunity to take on roles, to play different
races, and different classes. It is not often that one is allowed to play an
elven wizard in real life – if at all. For some, it is an opportunity to step
beyond the limits of who they are and become something new, someone imagined,
with a new set of traits and characteristics. This is the world of the
roleplayer. But not everyone who plays these games indulges in roleplaying.

 

This is the second part of a three-part
feature on the aspect of roleplaying in massively multiplayer online games. Part
three, which will follow tomorrow, will address the steps of how one goes about
creating a character and indulging in roleplaying in a game, even if those about
you are not roleplaying at all.

 

In the first part of this feature, we heard
from two members of an allegiance who discussed the value and benefits of
roleplaying, from their perspective. In this installment, we will get the
opinions of three others, two who don’t believe they roleplay at all and one who
links roleplaying to the type of character he is playing.

 



Does the race and character class affect one’s viewpoint
and decision on whether to roleplay or not?


(Asheron’s Call 2, a Lugian warrior)

He is known as Azmail, a
member of the allegiance of the Lady Charis. He played a variety of roles, one
as a tree-hugger there to defend the mobs from the inhumane treatment of the
players, and another who was a member of the guild. But Azmail has a different
take on roleplaying.

These are his thoughts …

”I have a dark secret. I’ve been playing these MMG’s for years now. For three
years in Asheron’s Call, then after taking a small step into AC2 jumping into
other company’s titles. I first encountered the House of Charis in AC2, nearly
three years after I had started my online addiction. That was, of course, when
we were still on Snowreap, a PvP server during the early months of the game’s
release. They were a role-playing guild. Probably the one universally respected
guild on the server, they actually played ‘honorable’ and ‘good’ characters that
defended the newbies from the harsh realities of PvP. Charis peeps were great
people to attack.

“Being a lower level than
them, I usually tried to throw at least two spells at ‘em before running. It was
all about the thorns aura, praying that I could heal faster then they could
kill. Since everyone else on the server I didn’t know was a higher level than
them I was just trying to provide the necessary moral boost. Apparently though
that got me the wrong type of attention. I hung out with ‘em a bunch, traded
some barbs, died a lot, and suddenly I’m finding myself being recruited. As I
said before though, I have terrible secret. See… I’m not a roleplayer.

“Sure I had broken out on
the boards and made some very interesting statements. I set up and ran a
tollbooth on the bridges in town, attacking all the newbies that wouldn’t pay me
100 gold to cross. And I personally believe that my defense of the Moarsmen of
Eastern Omishan is legendary. But I wasn’t a roleplayer. I didn’t play someone
else when I logged in and I didn’t have a story to explain my alternate
existence. I just played as myself, and embellished a little with the games
content to provide my own unique entertainment for the community.

“That’s the important part
about the definition of a roleplayer. They are playing someone or something
other than who they are. And I just can’t do that. When I log into a game I feel
more connected to society, not less. My avatar in-game is ME, not an alternate
ego or hidden desire. And a roleplaying guild was asking me to join them, to
help defend the innocent, protect the weak. I’ll have to admit what they were
doing was fun. And I liked playing with them a lot. But unfortunately I
respected them also, and I just couldn’t see myself fitting into the group. I’ll
die repeatedly to defend the newbies from the mean bullies, but you have to
admit there is something special about being able to one-shot some kid who
doesn’t even have a clue. There is a special high that can only be obtained when
you see countless bodies at your feet, and three or four tells coming in asking,
‘Why?’

“But they were kind of
growing on me, so I ended up with a compromise. I created another character, who
joined the guild and ‘role-played’ a Defender of Arwic. That was when I found
out I wasn’t that good of a roleplayer. I couldn’t keep the names straight and
constantly just referred to myself as me, no matter which character I was on as.
And I kept switching back and forth between characters. Obviously if there
wasn’t anyone to defend Arwic from at the moment I had an obligation to log in
and start something. But then I would forget who was actually on, my roleplayer
or myself, and I would switch sides to help defend Arwic from the invaders.

“This was all happening
during the dying days of the server. AC2 was having problems and people were not
sticking it out. Being over three-and-a-half years invested in Turbine, with
friends working there and friends playing the first iteration still, I wasn’t
exactly going to leave the game. Charis and the guild stuck it out for a while
also, but they eventually decided to move to a galaxy far, far away as it became
difficult to find the MM in the MMG. A week later I was in a store buying the
last copy of Star Wars Galaxy. They made me pay extra for the special edition
because it was the only one they had left. Whatever.

“Of course I didn’t jump
ship because of the roleplaying. I can find the stuff fascinating most of the
time, there are excellent writers and dreamers in the Defenders ranks. But I
don’t strive to be one of them. I just kinda play myself. But whether or not
they did the roleplaying thing wasn’t really important. They happened to be a
good group and fun to play with. I’ve found that roleplayers aren’t hard to be
around at all. Sure they might know the story content a little better then most,
but it’s the power players that make a point about knowing the bugged moves that
allow you to kill the NPC and start the riot. These people aren’t the fanatics
of the game, they just like to play it a certain way. And whether I can play
their way 100% of the time or not isn’t really an issue, they just happen to be
good people that are fun to hang out with.”


But what about the
politeness of the roleplaying guild? With all the mi’lord’s and mi’lady’s flying
about, does that make it hard on the non-roleplayer or it is a question of
merely being polite?

Rwill, another MMP gamer who
logged a lot of time on Asheron’s Call 2, offered some comments on the topic:

“I believe these words (mi’lord and mi’lady)
are more than just being polite,” he said. “People take on certain traits as
they play these games to become something else, to escape the world we live in
and become someone else. In AC2 I didn’t feel as comfortable saying stuff like
mi’lady and Lord and all that because I was a big luggy (Lugian, one of the
races in the game). At times when I was a zerker my whole personality as a
player was to rip stuff apart, to be aggressive. When I played mass-vigor and
hit-point healer as melee sage I was a more compassionate player. If I was to
step into a game more focused at a certain time period (say renaissance) then I
would be comfortable with the lingo (mi’lady, lord). I believe our different
characters is what makes an allegiance so great, and roleplay – however we do it
– gives us a sense of structure to our ally.”

 

Defjam, a journeyman warrior who has played
several MMPs, is a little more forthright about politeness and roleplaying …

 

Got nothing
against RP’ing,” he stated, “but I hate to say this, you can be polite but also
there’s a point in being too darn polite. I am the kind of guy that’s only gonna
say "thanks Talyn" or "your welcome Talyn" or Hi "Insert name here" and Cya
later "insert name here", etc., etc., etc.

 

“If you wanna
‘official Rp,’ like I said I got no problems with that but I’m just a regular
guy who’s gonna do regular chat – that’s all.”

 


Will upcoming titles such
as Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicles,
with it’s incredible graphical elements inspire more roleplaying?
Or will players simply view it as just another MMP vehicle and
continue to play as they always have?

 …

 

Roleplaying is
obviously not for everyone, but it can enliven the game and make it more
immersive of an experience. One can journey through the Internet and find fan
sites devoted to games, and from that wellspring of imagination is born songs
and tributes to those games played. That stems from immersing oneself in both
the lore and the world, of letting the imagination run free and wild and
allowing the game to either ingrain itself on the conscious mind or unleash the
muses residing within.

 

The first feature
in this series was ended with a piece of poetry written by one who has journeyed
through many realms. This piece, by the one known as Talyn (or Rhyn) is a prime
example of how a game has loosened the imagination. It was written about an
allegiance and the role it played in the Asheron’s Call 2 server (which is no
more) of Snowreap:

Quiet
now on the mountain down
a blanket of snow to silence bring
remember the moment not long ago
when magic scorched and sword did ring

A dance of death to sorrow bound

Defenders proud! Defend us now
for Shadows loom, life’s thread is narrow
bring fierceness to these fields of woe
let retribution fly with whispering arrow

The warrior’s heart in thunderous sound

What brought us to this, to wars surreal?
Dominion’s delusion o’er all to hold sway
The lands of Dereth – the chosen prize
But the House of Charis stood in its way

Once sheltered in hope now freedom found

So quiet now on the mountain down
the falling snow to silence bring
a warrior alone with memories to keep
and a song of victory yet still to sing
 


The Art of
Roleplaying in the World of MMPs – Part 1