April 14, 2011

My Views on Role-Playing in Modern Games

It often fascinates me what people designate as role-play and what isn't role-play in their gaming genre. Needless to say, I use to be one of those aforementioned role-player types mostly because I rather enjoyed it and felt if I am going to immerse myself in some make believe world, I might as well go all the way and do it. However, as the MMOG industry evolved (definition in terms since it's been de-evolving from my point of view) that fanciful role-playing term has become less involved in the actual process and more of a second thought, or even third or fourth thought in many cases.

The wild thing about this is, what most people consider to be role-playing elements just really aren't. Somewhere along the line when the actual PnP model was evolving from just basic dice rolling to actually trying to put yourself in the role of your character, that translation was lost, badly, upon the computer interpretation. Unfortunately, when developers actually try to "include" these so called RP elements, they generally are just in the form of multiple choice options that really aren't much different from a very well constrained choose your own adventure book.

This is further compounded that this illusion of choice is often presented to starved people who actually think this is even remotely role-play. It really isn't, but as the gaming has not really evolved and more or less de-evolved in the past decade alone. In the name of making games accessible to everyone, they've pretty much made the games so stupidly simple in the process that anyone that has two functioning limbs and at least a 2nd Grade education should more than be able to complete these yawn fests that focus on graphics instead of actual game play. And that's the sad part, especially in games that claim to be role-playing games, that substitute the actual role-playing element with pretty graphics and trick your brain with false choices to give you a sense of choices that have no bearing our outcome on the story as it stands. The final result is just a strict corridor shooter that gives you little more than a big beefy middle that has no real bearing on your character other than extra padding to get from the visual exploding beginning to the ridiculous ending that makes very little sense in the entire paradigm of the game as it stood.

In MMOGs, role-play is actually treated like a dirty word there, and I can't blame the people that do treat it with a bit of disdain. MMOG role-players tend to be exceptionally cliquish, boring, prejudice, boring, closed to any new ideas, boring, unwilling to accept anything outside of their god-mode paradigm and boring. I'm sorry people, I've been a role-player for a long time, and quite frankly, today's MMOG RP consists of hanging around in single little locations that have no action and coming up with pointless melodrama with as little conflict that either sounds like the emo poetry of some goth punk from a coffee shop near college, or some slash fiction of Twilight failtard writing in history. You are unwilling to go anywhere, unwilling to do anything, and unwilling to actually inject excitement and adventure into your "story" (using the term loosely to define most of them) that you guys tend to repeat like clockwork every few weeks.

And of course, like it or not, most RPers god-mode in today's RP climate as well. Their characters are perfect in every way and can't be defeated or harmed by anyone. And sorry people that think you are RPers that do this, you aren't. A perfect character is boring in every which way you can imagine. And the worse character is the perfect one that emos about life and saying nothing is worth living for. In fact, one of the things I do readily is avoid any location that is basically a bar, pub, or any such area that these people infest because of that attitude, and of course the even darker side, the ERPer that breed well out of the above mentioned people.

That is probably another point on this as well. I don't care about people that ERP. That's there thing and they are welcomed to do whatever they want. But these people do everything to make it obvious and more public to people who don't want to even hear about it. And this isn't limited to any single MMO. It's out there in many though some will claim it doesn't happen as often, they are lying out their asses if they claim that.

But before I get off on a tangent (too late) the overall point is that in the modern MMOG climate, role-play is practically dead. Many will try to say it's not but again, they are being deluded. It's as dead as disco and the people saying RP is strong are just like the average disco person saying disco is alive and strong just because them and a couple of friends listen to it. The reason RP is dead; no tools to actually do any realistic RP in any MMOG and most of today's RPers are too afraid of conflicts that might actually shatter their false belief their character is unbeatable god.

It will take a lot to give tools to the players to actually be able to truly RP again. Realistically, it probably won't happen right now while BioWare is busy trumpeting the Blizzard banner that only games that copy WoW exactly will ever succeed in this market. Basically, RP has little place in theme park games where the games middle serves no purpose other than getting to the games end. This leaves very little room for any actual RP.

Another thing that kills RP, whether the people want to believe this or not, is the fact the games allow people to constantly alt all the time. That's a piss poor idea, and basically making new characters over and over that fight for your attention results in RP being killed that way as well. The more characters created the more of your attention has to be diverted to fill the gaps for these games. This results in less actual RP and more or less being treated around by a schizophrenic with multi-personality disorder who can't settle on the fact they aren't RPing by constantly shifting characters around. Like it or not it kills the mood and just makes any desire to continue irrelevant on constantly shifting characters.

Then finally, one of the biggest hurdles and most obvious nails in the RP coffin are the players themselves. Like it or not, the RP community is the majority of the problem with RP. You guys are insular and treat anyone that might have an interest like a potential enemy instead of someone who might actually be genuinely interested. You ignore anyone who doesn't follow your asininely strict rules of RP and shun anyone who doesn't immediately acknowledge you as the center piece of your little snore-fest Twilight revamp story. It's a sickening problem, and the funny part is, these are the same people that claim they are grown up and mature, but are the first to throw insults at people who don't play their way and such. The hypocrisy is just so many levels of ironic.

Personally, I would want to get back into the RP field, but honestly the average RPer lately makes my desire low. It's just a plain fact, it isn't even really what I would call RP anymore, especially considering that most of the time I am generally getting walked up to by the "tall dark guy in the big black coat with a waggle in his eye" as he tries to order me a drink and be suave expecting me to fall for his epic charms just because he thinks he is suave like James Bond. And the sad part is, just like real life, guys don't exactly take a hint very well since they are thinking with their second head where no means yes and get lost means take me I am yours.

Of course I think the RP that really pisses me off the most is the one that every single action and environmental effect is RP'd out. Extra explanation has never really bothered me, but you are not a novelist and you aren't RPing just because you sit there and describe how the icy glass is covered in perspiration after sitting there for a couple of minutes. It doesn't heighten the mood either guys, so stop trying it. In fact, unless the situation calls for a bit more explanation, explaining every little detail of every moment is just failing at storytelling and bores your audience, but considering most seem to enjoy Twilight novels, then boring dialog with little point seems to be what most want.

The final bit of RP that I hate is people that tell me I need to do things a certain way and god-moding. I am putting these two together because they are basically one in the same. Someone tells you that you have to talk a certain way and play a certain way, and of course people that either are immortal or basically try to tell you how your character should play and act. No consensus, not even asking, just flat out telling you after coming up to you. Sorry people, that's insulting the player, and it's rude. Not everyone plays by your style and no one ever likes having their character taken out of their hands and run around roughshod such as their back story and explanation being completely ruined because you don't like it. And no one really likes playing with people who are perfect and are unbeatable. It's a basic keep away warning light. If your character is capable of doing everything, you failed at RP. If you are trying to tell someone how their characters back story is suppose to work, you failed at RP. If you are trying to tell someone that their style of RP is not RP, you failed at RP.

It's such an ironic thing that long ago role-players use to be the most open and tolerant people on the planet, and now they've just turned into a bunch of crying, sniveling children lately who get upset just because the dial is slightly different on the wall from what they like. But that boils back on self-entitlement I guess and people reading smut like Twilight and such and thinking that is good storytelling to.

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