As I’m the occasional (okay, maybe more than occasional) roleplayer on World of Warcraft, I’ve been wanting to put together some sort of guide and chunk it into the roleplaying world for quite some time now.
When I say “decent,” I don’t just mean experience-wise. I also mean personality-wise. Because let’s face it, there are times where it seems like our roleplay partners are less than understanding in certain situations, or they’re just plain rude.
I didn’t write this post to tell you how you should or shouldn’t roleplay. Hell, I’m not perfect, and I know that. These are just some things that run through my mind on numerous occasions, and I think it’d be extremely beneficial for people to know — especially new roleplayers.
If you disagree with something in this post, go right ahead and disagree. We all have our own opinions. I respect yours, and you’re awesome if you respect mine. Take all of this with a grain of salt if you want. Even if only one person reads this and takes one thing I say to heart, that’ll satisfy me enough and make me feel like this post was worth writing.
Keep IC (in-character) and OoC (out-of-character) separate
It’s easy to take things personal sometimes. It’s hard not to, especially when some of us put so much time and so much effort into our characters. Sometimes they feel like an extension of ourselves, and sometimes and in certain situations, we may live some situations vicariously through them. Nothing is wrong with either of those things, but it’s important that you try your best to separate IC and OoC posts. Sure, sometimes things can be cleared up with a private message if both parties are willing to be adults about it, but it can sometimes cause hurt feelings that may or may not be hard to mend. In some cases, it could even ruin friendships.
I’ve been in a couple of situations where my roleplay partner mixed up IC and OoC interactions and it always gets messy. In my most recent experience with an IC and OoC mix-up, my character was involved in a situation where someone else’s character was involved in a disagreement with my character and a couple of others. Not too long after the fact, that person contacted us and asked if we were mad at them. It was easily cleared up, but sometimes the situation may be more unfortunate than that.
In another instance I witnessed, a random person’s IC comments upset someone OoCly, causing them to log off the game completely because it ruined their mood that entire evening.
Now, I have no doubt that some of you are saying that some people just need to “grow up” and “stop being so sensitive,” but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I’m sure that there are some people out there that purposefully mix up IC and OoC interactions, too.
If you happen to find yourself in a position where you want to mix up IC and OoC interactions on purpose, be conscious about what you’re doing, and just don’t do it. I’ve been guilty of mixing the two on purpose before. I felt bad afterwords, and luckily I was able to set things straight with my roleplay partner after having a conversation with them. If you have a problem with someone OoCly, contact them via private message so that you don’t ruin either of your roleplay experiences.
The easiest way I have found to help me separate the two is to remind myself that my roleplay partner isn’t interacting with me — they’re interacting with my character. And vise versa. It gets easier once I remind myself of this.
Respect the person behind the character
Respect can go along way in the roleplaying world. There’s a person behind the character, and I think we all lose sight of that sometimes. Especially those of us that tend to get incredibly immersed in our roleplay experience.
There are many things that may cause us to become upset, whether it’s the fact that our roleplay partner isn’t getting online as often as we’d like, or they’re roleplaying with someone else when we wish they were roleplaying with us, or their character didn’t respond to ours in a way that we were hoping. We might even be on the other side of the anger. Regardless, what matters is that we realize that there’s a person on the other side of our computer screen who needs to be respected, just like we deserve to be.
We all have a life outside of the game (whether we like to admit to it or not), and that goes for our roleplay partner(s), too. There are plenty of factors that may apply to our roleplay partner(s) and they deserve to be respected for them without fear of being shunned or disrespected because of them.
- They may be a student
- They may have a job
- They may be in the military
- They may be a younger person and not allowed to have internet access whenever they want
- They may be a parent
- They may not have regular internet access
- They may have family obligations
- They may be sick
- They may be involved with sports or other hobbies
- They may be going through a hard time mentally/emotionally
- They may be going through a rough spot in life
- They may not be feeling creative enough to roleplay
- They may not feel like writing
- They may feel like enjoying other aspects of the game, like progressing through current content
- They may not be in the mood to progress a particular character
This, of course, is not a list of every entire instance where something might come up with us or our roleplay partner, but the point is simple: Be respectful and realize that you’re roleplaying with a person and not a mindless drone. Your roleplay partner(s) needs to respect you for the exact same reasons.
I’ve roleplayed on and off for many years, and I have been involved in quite a few situations where I wish there had been more respect than there was, whether it was on my end or my partner’s. If you ever find yourself in that situation, a conversation and an apology, when appropriate, go a long way.
Whether you’re a new or veteran roleplayer, good roleplay etiquette should always be something that we all strive for. Don’t be a scrub!
- Spelling and grammar: No one is perfect, but trying to put effort into our posts is a wonderful thing for us and for our roleplay partner. I can’t tell you how many times someone has walked up to me and attempted to start a roleplay “bye talking lyke dis” and “asking 2 rp wit me,” which got them a swift /ignore.
- Trolling: Please just don’t do it, whether you’re bored or you don’t like a certain person or their character. If you feel like bothering people who are roleplaying, it only makes you look like an asshole and an idiot.
- Constant OoC chatter: While talking OoCly is perfectly okay, too much of it can disrupt immersion and get annoying, or both.
- Research: Every type of character has lore attached to it. Please be open to doing a little research. Why? Let’s just say that, when I first started roleplaying on World of Warcraft, I attempted to roleplay a Draenei who I claimed was from Shattrath in the Outlands… Needless to say, when I finally did my research, I was completely and totally embarrassed, and I definitely learned my lesson. I don’t even roleplay on that character anymore.
- No godmodding: You can’t control everything that happens to a person’s character, so don’t roleplay like you can. I see this a lot in combat situations, which is why I’m glad that my guild started using a D20 system. It is unrealistic for your character to win every argument, be victorious in every combat situation, be overly powerful, or have all of the answers to every question or situation.
- Separate IC and OoC: If your roleplay partner tells you a piece of information about their character OoCly, your character obviously will not have that information until you roleplay with them.
This is not a list of every way that you can exhibit good roleplay etiquette, but they’re some things that I see all too often and wanted to share in this post.
- Separate IC and OoC interactions
- Respect your roleplay partner and don’t be afraid to ask for respect from them
- Do your best to show good roleplay etiquette
Feel free to comment with your own ideas and suggestions. I know that I didn’t include everything that I probably could have, but these are the main things I wanted to share with the roleplaying community. Even if it only reaches one person, that’s good enough for me.
If you roleplay on World of Warcraft, feel free to add me on Battle.net! My Battle Tag is CatLady#11234!