mirrorshard: (Default)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
I'd been wondering whether I could strictly claim to be a roleplayer or not (and, indeed, whether I wanted to, but that's a whole 'nother story).

So I came to the conclusion that it's not to do with standing around drinking tasteless virtual beer, and inventing gossip, and fomenting political incidents, but to do with the way you view the environment.

Multi-User Dimensions are:

i) chunks of interacting code with characteristic behaviours, that can be manipulated for your profit, and inhabited by the avatars or toons of other people who are also trying to do the same.

ii) simulated worlds which are presented through text, in which one interacts with the environment and with real (player) and imaginary (non-player) characters in various ways.

As a long-time roleplayer and fiction reader in real life, it's my instinct to take the text at face value - if it tells me that that is what it is, it's only polite to believe it. It also doesn't matter what the text is presented by - whether it's a server, a real-life GM, a live roleplaying ref & a group of monsters, or a neatly bound series of dead tree slices. It all comes from someone's imagination in the end.

Suspension of disbelief rocks.

The problem is, it's fragile. I don't have a problem with my character killing monsters, or indeed other supposedly-human characters, since I'm used to that in roleplaying games, both tabletop & live-action. But there are non-player characters wandering around that are perfectly ordinary animals - dogs, cats, horses, and wild animals too. The only way I've interacted with them in the past is in real life, and there is no way I can react to them otherwise without major cognitive dissonance, which expresses itself as panic & bewilderment, or without constantly telling myself that this isn't even a game.

(Since, of course, ninety-five percent or so of the games I play are roleplaying games, and one expects to treat the game's environment as if it were real. Where else does the fun come from, if not that? And yes, that's an honest question, I'd love to hear an answer to it.)

The other problem - the other face of this problem - is when the non-player characters break their role and act in ways you wouldn't expect a character to be able to. Every time they remind me that they're chunks of code, and not bound by the same rules I am, a bit of my suspension of disbelief goes SMASH-tinkle-tinkle on the ground.

And there's only so many times you can clap your hands.
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