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Roleplay realms and the struggle of non-roleplayers

Anne Stickney

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

If you're on a roleplay server, you've likely seen them before -- the people who choose not to participate in roleplay. Non-roleplayers on roleplay servers seem like a plague to some roleplayers, a blight that should be pushed off the server, the sooner the better. But for a non-roleplayer, sometimes the attitude and atmosphere of a roleplaying server is right up their alley, even if they don't happen to engage in roleplay.

The problem with roleplay realms in World of Warcraft is that roleplay isn't really enforced on these realms. Instead, they are designated as roleplay realms with the intent that those seeking roleplay will have a communal place to get together. So what do you do if you're a roleplayer and you see someone who obviously isn't into roleplay at all? Do you try to engage them in roleplay? Do you report them? Or do you simply let them be?

And if you're a non-roleplayer, but you want the atmosphere of a roleplaying realm, how should you conduct yourself once you're on that realm?

The amazing appeal of roleplaying realms

It is really, really easy to see why anyone would be attracted to a roleplaying realm. In general, roleplaying realms are full of roleplayers -- people who are used to typing in complete sentences. There's a laid-back nature to roleplaying realms that is appealing. The general maturity of the playerbase tends to be higher than you'll find on other realm types. (That isn't to say there aren't mature players on those other realms, of course.)

Regular realms tend to be highly populated, and with a higher population comes a higher percentage of immature players out to grief and harass in any way possible. Roleplay realms tend to be lower-population, so the percentages even out. Yes, a roleplay realm will still have examples of immaturity or griefing, but when compared to higher-population servers, it can look like a stress-free utopia.

It makes it a very tempting place to go. Add to that the fact that roleplay communities tend to be fairly friendly and open, and you've got a realm that seems like a paradise for most. The only problem is that these realms are designated for roleplay -- and some people just don't get into roleplay. They love the atmosphere, they love the community, but they just aren't interested in pretending they are a warrior defiantly standing against his foes or the clever mage that delves into historical tomes with as much relish as spellcraft.

And there's nothing wrong with that, really. Different people like different aspects of the game. But if you're a non-roleplayer venturing onto a roleplay realm, there are some things you want to know and things you want to keep in mind. And if you're a roleplayer dealing with a non-roleplayer, there are things that you definitely should keep in mind, too.

If you're a non-roleplayer

If you think you'd enjoy the feel and flavor of a roleplay server but you don't particularly care for roleplay, what you have to remember, constantly, is that you are playing under different rules. Roleplay realms have slightly different name requirements, and if you don't meet those requirements, you may find your name reported. Open world roleplay and roleplay events are actively encouraged; interrupting those events or otherwise disrupting roleplayers is not only frowned upon, it's a reportable offense.

And you will be reported if you are disruptive. When you roll a character on a roleplay realm, you are agreeing to the rules of that realm. Breaking those rules is a violation of that agreement. Does this mean you need to indulge in roleplay? No, it doesn't -- but what it means is that you have to respect the roleplayers of the realm, because they are the majority, and you are not.

Treat those around you with respect, and you'll be treated in kind. Don't interrupt or disrupt roleplay events, and don't openly wander around badmouthing roleplay. Roleplay is the reason that the realm exists, after all. Choose a name that is appropriate, quietly go about your business, and if you don't care to participate in roleplay, don't -- but don't ruin the experience for those who do partake in it.

You may meet resistance or hostility from roleplayers if you don't participate in roleplay. These people are the minority, not the majority. If they are harassing you or otherwise griefing you, you're certainly well within your rights to report them. This attitude is understandable, really, when you look at it from the right angle. Think of a roleplay server as a wildlife preserve. You visit it to observe the wildlife while they go do their wildlife thing.

But a wary reaction is almost inevitable when you're a human on a wildlife preserve, because you aren't wildlife. You could potentially be a poacher, for all the wildlife knows. This puts them on the defensive, even if you're just quietly sitting on a bench, minding your own business and watching the world go by. So keep that in mind when you speak to roleplayers who are wary or otherwise hostile toward you. Be friendly, be polite, be respectful, and you'll be fine.

Roleplayers dealing with non-roleplayers

For the roleplayer, having a non-roleplayer on the realm may seem like a terrible thing -- after all, these non-roleplayers aren't engaging in the activity that the server was made for. And new roleplayers might see all these people standing around not roleplaying and get discouraged or leave the server. Plus, some people come to a roleplay server specifically for griefing or otherwise harassing people, and that's always a terrible situation.

But a non-roleplayer can be an awesome credit to the realm, for a variety of other reasons that have nothing to do with roleplay. Non-roleplayers are generally focused on some other activity like raiding or PvP or simply collecting items and farming for gold. These people can breathe life into what would otherwise be a pretty stale server economy. Non-roleplaying raiders can often be a wealth of information for those wanting to know more information about playing a class, non-roleplaying PvPers offer the same to those interested in PvP.

Just because a player's focus isn't on roleplay, it doesn't mean they're out to make roleplay disappear. I'm in a raiding guild on a roleplaying server. Some of us roleplay, and some of us don't. We aren't a roleplaying guild, and roleplay isn't encouraged; we simply raid and do our thing. However, we have a policy in our guild regarding roleplay and roleplayers: Anyone caught griefing or harassing roleplayers is in deep trouble.

Those who happen to send us tells asking about specs or advice on playing their character usually find a player that is happy to offer advice or point them at websites that can help them out. We may appear unfriendly because we're quiet and standoffish, but that's largely because we have a strict policy of leaving people alone and not causing drama. You will rarely find anyone in our guild speaking in public channels; we generally leave them alone.

A large chunk of our players may not roleplay, but we're just as much a part of the realm community as those who choose to roleplay all the time. We add to the population of the server, even if we don't roleplay -- and new roleplayers will see that the realm is busy. Roleplayers engaging in open-world RP in public areas help add the idea that the server is not only bustling, but there's roleplay readily available.

Mutual respect

This doesn't mean that every non-roleplayer who comes to a roleplay server should be greeted with open arms. Sometimes you'll run across a player who's on a roleplay realm just to grief. The best way to deal with those players is to simply report them. Don't post rants on your realm forums. Don't harass that player. Simply report them for griefing and let Blizzard handle the rest -- and while you're at it, throw the offending player on ignore for good measure.

What it does mean, however, is that until a non-roleplayer behaves in a manner that is offensive, you should treat them the same as anyone else. Non-roleplayers are gamers just like you, loving the same game you love to play. Though they may not indulge in roleplay now, maybe they'll be interested enough to participate some day, especially if the roleplay community proves to be a pretty cool place to be.

The best way for players both roleplay and non to get along is to simply treat each other with mutual respect. Most non-roleplayers aren't out to harm the server or grief roleplayers. Most roleplayers aren't out to get anyone that isn't openly engaging in RP. As long as both sides remain friendly and respectful, they can get along just fine and work to make the server a better place for everyone.

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!

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