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The Daily Grind: How do you define roleplaying?

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Like many of you, I've gone through so many stages of roleplaying; I started out as most people do, playing an idealized version of myself in Ultima Online. In EverQuest, I found myself funneling my roleplay into fan fiction and formal events because there was so little time between dungeon camps and raiding to actually step into a role. Star Wars Galaxies was my turning point; I finally became truly immersed and willing to play full-time as characters totally different from me, and that's partly because the game encouraged non-combat roles and activities. I never had to fight the game to be a real person in that world.

And yet in the years since SWG's heyday, MMOs have pushed me away from formal roleplaying once again with mechanics and frustrations and contradictory goals. At best, my roleplaying now takes the form of respect for other roleplayers, in not breaking character where it might be annoying, and in selecting gear and names and planning backstory more than in participating in whatever epic plot my server's RPers are weaving. It still feels like roleplaying in my head. But is it?

Without stepping too far into Storyboard territory, we're wondering today how you define roleplaying. Would you consider each stage of a roleplayer's evolution equally valid, or does it only "count" when you're actively participating? How do you express your RP in modern MMOs?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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