Imagine walking through a park or tranquil forest and coming across the scene in the video above. What would your reaction be? What would you think about it? Live action roleplaying, or LARPing as it's commonly called, looks just a little strange to anyone who isn't familiar with the concept. But the truth is, it's just a bunch of people playing a game. Sure, the game's got different rules than most, and the uniforms are definitely not your standard fare, but in the end it boils down to this: It's a game people like to play.
World of Warcraft isn't like your standard video game. There isn't one set goal. There isn't a big "the end" when you finish everything, because you can't really finish everything in it. There are different focuses within the game -- fighting in scripted encounters for loot, fighting other players, doing quests, and for some players, roleplaying. To everyone else, roleplaying looks just as strange as that video above, and a lot of people tend to make a lot of false assumptions not just about roleplaying itself but about roleplayers, too.
This is probably the most common assumption people have about roleplayers, and it couldn't be more wrong. While a roleplayer's focus may not be primarily on raiding or PvP, that doesn't mean they don't know how to do it -- they've simply got more interest elsewhere. Everyone who levels a character in WoW has a basic understanding of how to play that character. A roleplayer is not automatically a bad player; they simply like to play a different aspect of the game.
And honestly, more and more roleplayers are taking the time to play those different aspects of the game and enjoy them just as much as they enjoy roleplay itself. Some roleplayers may not indulge in progression content. Others may be members of a raid guild that's cleared the entirety of Dragon Soul and are simply twiddling their thumbs waiting for Mists to come out along with everyone else. Some may be tearing up the Battlegrounds and racking up kills. Every player is different, and every player enjoys different things.
Just because a person says that they enjoy roleplay, it doesn't automatically mean they have sacrificed everything else in the game to stand around and play let's pretend with other people. While yes, it is possible to run into hardcore roleplay guilds that are just as focused on roleplay as PvP or raiding guilds are on their specific tasks, they aren't really common. Most roleplay guilds are a combination of roleplaying and messing around doing other content, too.
Man, those roleplay servers. All they're good for is roleplaying -- nobody does anything else on them, right? Absolutely wrong. Most roleplaying realms may not have a thriving hardcore raiding or PvP community, but the community still exists, and these players are just as passionate about killing bosses and killing other players as anywhere else in the world. On my realm, my 25-man raiding guild managed to down Deathwing on heroic in plenty of time to cool our heels, twiddle our thumbs and wait not-so-patiently for Mists to arrive.
And my realm's not the only one with competitive raiding guilds. Plenty of the other RP realms have guilds that raid. As for PvP, there are actually roleplaying servers designated as PvP, for those that like a little murder with their roleplay. In addition, there are plenty of players who participate in Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas, too. It's not a restricted activity on a roleplaying server at all. The only thing the roleplaying designation means is that more often than not, you will find more roleplayers on a designated RP server than on a regular one.
What's that? Oh yeah -- roleplaying isn't just restricted to roleplaying servers, either. In fact, there are likely groups of roleplayers on just about every server out there. You may never hear about them because they're quiet about what they do, and they don't necessarily flat-out advertise for more roleplayers, but they exist. A roleplaying realm is where you're more likely to find roleplay happening out in the open -- but just because you're not on a roleplaying realm doesn't mean you're forbidden to roleplay at all.
OK, we'll go here. We've all heard the tales of Goldshire hijinks and people who indulge in roleplay of a more adult nature. The problem is that most people seem to assume this is exactly what roleplaying is and what it was created for. It's not. Saying that roleplaying in WoW is nothing but a bunch of perverts getting together to act out adult situations makes about as much sense as saying that D&D groups are just getting together to have orgies. Does that happen? Maybe -- but it's not the norm at all.
Yes, there is a section of roleplayers that enjoy that kind of activity. But guess what? That person you're PvPing with or that person you're raiding with is just as likely to have some sort of penchant for behavior of an adult nature. That person who just went AFK in the middle of the raid may be going to get some coffee -- or they may be checking out an adult website on another tab. You have no idea what they're doing behind that keyboard.
That said, assuming a roleplayer is just in it for that particular aspect is making a stereotype out of a vast, diverse group of people. Roleplaying is essentially acting out your character's life and playing a game of let's pretend. It's not a game of getting your rocks off. Some people may turn it into that, but most aren't remotely interested in that aspect of roleplay at all. Does it happen? Yes, it happens. And the adult store in the remote corner of town gets a ton of traffic and enough sales to keep in business. It doesn't mean everyone in town is visiting.
As for Goldshire, I can guarantee you that at least three-quarters of the people out there aren't actually roleplayers. They're people that showed up because they thought it would be fun or cool to make fun of roleplay.
Oh my, aren't we the pot calling the kettle. Look, we've all heard the stereotype that gamers live in their mother's basement and have no social lives. If you're playing WoW, guess what? Somebody's said that about you, more than likely. Is it true? Do you live in your mother's basement? Do you have no social life to speak of? Are you chained to your computer every day, from the moment you wake up till the moment you go to bed? Do you forgo daily essentials like eating, showering, brushing your teeth and sleeping just to play a video game all day? No?
Well, neither do roleplayers. They're in the game for the same reasons you are -- they love playing WoW. They simply love playing a slightly different aspect of WoW than the one you are playing. One of the things that makes WoW so unique, entertaining and fun is the fact that there are so many different ways to enjoy the game. It's like eating a pizza; everyone's got their favorite toppings, but the basic crust with toppings aspect is still there.
Most roleplayers have just as much of a life as you do, if not more. Do you schedule regular times for raids and PvP? Roleplayers also do that -- only they're scheduling time for roleplaying. This is so that they can work around what is basically just as busy a life as yours. Assuming a roleplayer does nothing but pretend they're an elf in a magical land all day is frankly pretty silly.
Does drama happen with roleplay? Absolutely. In fact, it happens just as often as drama involving loot or cliques in raid groups, or fits over repeated deaths in PvP. Drama isn't just restricted to one area of World of Warcraft. It's everywhere. You get just as many immature fits and drama, just as much social awkwardness out of roleplay as you do with any other activity in WoW.
Yes, roleplaying has its own subset of elitist snobs who poo-poo anyone who takes liberties with lore or deviates from what they consider the proper way to roleplay. They are almost exactly the same as the elitists and snobs you'll find in dedicated raiding guilds or dedicated PvP teams. Basically, they think they're better than everyone else. You run into them in the game all the time.
As for guys pretending to be girls -- well, yeah. That's part of roleplay. There are just as many female players out there pretending to be male characters. Roleplaying is an exercise in creative thinking, and roleplaying a different gender takes that one step further. Think of it this way: Authors get into their character's heads when they write, in order to write them effectively. An author isn't pretending to be a girl because of some ulterior motive; they're just writing a story.
In the end, that's what roleplaying is, writing a story with your character -- a giant, interactive story with tons of characters in it, and each character is played by a different actor. It's an exercise in improvisational acting with a dash of creative writing thrown in. It all takes place within that weird, diverse, funny and sometimes sad universe Blizzard has laid out for us to play in. And for those who feel like indulging in their creative side, it's a heck of a lot of fun.
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!