16 August, 2019
Much of RP, all RP not just MMO RP, tends to be long term. In tabletop you have a campaign that usually lasts for several sessions to form a campaign. Forum RP generally lasts a long time due to the time between posts. And this attitude carries over into MMOs, to some extent. Not all RP is long-term, but I think people generally gravitate toward the longer term.
Let’s take a closer look at this and see how it fits into MMO RP where things tend to be a bit more ephemeral sometimes.
Kissing a lot of frogs
Unless you join a group of friends with an established group, you probably need find the right people to RP with. As I said, this is a bit like dating, so you have to try a lot of people to find that good match. Often you’ll need to deal with a lot of people.
And once you find the right people, you often want to commit to that group since this is where most of RP tends to gravitate toward RP as a longer-term RP. So I think it’s important to start considering what this means as soon as you find a good group.
RP is compromise
One of the big things is that people don’t quite realize is that good RP requires compromise between people. As I said before, RP is different from writing stories because you interact with other people who have their own thoughts, ideas, and desires.
In general, this compromise works better if it’s explicit to start, because sometimes you need to double-check with other people’s goals for the scene to make sure you’re not working a cross-purposes in the scene; it can feel like wasted time when this happens. So the best thing to do is to work out a compromise. Eventually with a good group this compromise can almost become second nature as people understand each other and the characters.
RP is commitment
Commitment is the next step in this process. Once you have found a group that you work well with, can compromise, can discuss RP goals, and then create shared storylines with, it’s a good idea to keep those people around! Given all the varied forms of RP people like, finding a good match can be something of a rare thing. That feeling when compromise doesn’t have to happen or happens almost automatically is amazing from a creative standpoint!
Of course, not every group lasts. Sometimes someone’s tastes change, sometimes people just drift apart, or sometimes stories get stale between people in a group because there’s no variety. In these cases people will sometimes change things up, which means leaving a group. As long as it’s done well and with respect, it leaves doors open for the future. Of course, sometimes people are selfish and short-sighted, and even if they say they want to RP later they’ll find their RP tastes and schedules too hard to go back to.
RP requires safety
But I’m going to argue that sticking with a group is important for more than just for convenience. I think it leads to better RP in the long run. The reason is that creativity requires a feeling of confidence and safety. Again, putting your creativity out in the world for others to interact with requires bravery. By sticking with a group, it helps foster that security which allows people to be braver.
Some people are always a “grass is greener on the other side” type. They see some other RP and think it’s superior (especially if Elitists are saying they could fit into their obviously superior RP), and want that. But continuing the dating metaphor, RPing with a group is commitment. You might be temporarily attracted to someone else besides your significant other, but in the long term most people say it’s best to stick with the person who has shown you commitment.
So, what do you think? Have you found RP groups to be beneficial? Do you see the bonds as stronger or do you see it as just another thing of convenience?