When I was asked to write an article about role play, I didn’t know even where to begin. So I thought maybe the first thing was to look up the actual definition of the term. The Oxford English Dictionary offers a definition of role-playing as “the changing of one’s behavior to fulfill a social role”. And while that is technically correct, I think what is really important is how to engage in role play (RP) that is fun and satisfying.
Generally in Second life, when in the process of RP, you are going to be engaged in the active creation and development of a common story. Both (or more) parties are all involved in the same plot, and each creates their own perspective of the evolving story.
There are a couple of techniques to contributing your portion of the story line. And how you elect to do so is of personal choice. The only thing that I think is important is that everyone operates using the same technique.
The first is my preference but I have been in RP that utilized the other, and for the sake of the development of the story, I used the technique that was preferred by the majority of the players. It would be uncommon that you would ask prior to starting your RP that you would ask “what style of RP do you use?” but shortly after it starts you would be able to discern which technique it is.
So the first one is more flowing, it is short one to two sentences that you can describe your action or reaction. Your thoughts, your emotions, even your feelings (pain, pleasure, etc.)
The other approach is to write extended paragraphs. It is done by turn, first one person, then the other. Within each paragraph you can develop great detail of the setting, your feelings and emotions and your actions or reactions.
While the first technique is more flowing, the second has the potential to be richer in detail. But there is a drawback, and it is the drawback that moves me to the first technique in my personal RP’s, and that is it is slow. It takes time to type and most here are not 60-70 word per minute typists (no one is a fast typist when typing with one hand because the other is busy doing something else (use your imagination as to what they might be doing) and that is fairly common in Second Life RP’s), so it takes time for each person to inject their part of the story, and of course you can’t begin typing until you know what is going on, or being done to you. So it can take 1 to 2 minutes or more between turns, and if you are sitting there with bated breath to see how they are going to react to your tremendously cleaver trickery, then you are going to be sitting there awhile. First they have to think how they would respond, then type it. I sit there yawning, looking at the clock and if it’s a sexy RP, then my excitement starts to abate, and that is not a good thing for me or my RP partner.
So, what do you say in RP? Well, there are three things which are typical. This is not in any specific order, but first a reaction to the input from your partner in the RP, then perhaps an emotional response, how it makes you feel, and finally your responding action.
This brings us to another word that is important to know and understand, and that is “emote” or “emoting” that is defined as the active display of emotion. As it applies in our case, in a typed description of that display of emotion.
So a good RP is one that is flowing, and engaging. One of the essential keys for me when I am in a RP is to try to inject myself mentally and emotionally into the role, and as it applies to Second Life, to inject myself into the character of my avatar.