Roleplay in MMOs: On Becoming a Person
I rarely do any proper roleplay in games, although I prefer to roll on RP servers and I’ve very much loved the light or just-for-fun roleplay that I’ve done with guilds. I’m respectful of roleplay, I walk when necessary, dismount before entering a building, etc. I will respond in kind if someone initiates roleplay with my character…but I usually will never initiate it myself, I would feel like a tit.
That said, I’m always “in character” – it’s why I play MMOs. I’ve written before about finding it difficult to play characters longterm if they don’t click for me as characters in their own right. My Warcraft hunter Kitsune had a backstory and a personality from the moment I created her, and I loved her enough to have her name in kanji tattooed on my spine. If that’s not being serious, I don’t know what is. :)
Ravven, my character in The Secret World, hadn’t clicked for me as a person until I hit the lighthouse in the Savage Coast and listened to the author’s cut scene on Life Imitates Art. Even given the extremely basic character creation tools, I’d managed to create a look that I could deal with. I had reserved my favourite name. I’d spent tons of cash in Pangaea putting together outfits for her. But I didn’t know who she was until I watched this:
That is Ravven. She is an ordinary person who worked a shit job until the world fell apart. She’s a bit like Thelma in Thelma and Louise in that it took a horrible event to make her realise who she was born to be. Just as Thelma discovers the outlaw living under the skin of the mousy housewife, Ravven discovers that what she was actually put on earth to do is kill, efficiently and coldly, without enjoyment but with a fierce desire to right an upside-down world. First it was survival, and then it was an avocation.
I rolled her as Dragon, and that fits with her emerging persona. You may think that the Dragon are anarchists and terrorists, but they are actually creating order out of a chaotic world using seemingly random events to shape and guide the future. Ravven is a force of change and the destruction that clears the field for healthy growth. She doesn’t know, and doesn’t need to know, what the grand overall plan is. She is just doing what she was put on this earth to do.
And yes, she is well aware that if she hadn’t been thrust into this broken world she would have been “another rat stuck in a race with a dead end job, living for a paycheck and the weekends, one long booze-soaked slide towards the dark and cold grave.” (Such gorgeous storytelling in this game!) She finally has her place in the world, a purpose, and a passion.
This is why I play.