Un-Intentional RP

An interesting Conversation came up a while ago in Guild Chat.  Our raid leader and a few other raiders were online alting it up well before the raid, and we had the option of working on Iron Council or Ignis, so he was taking votes as to where we wanted to start our night of progression raiding (much to the disdain of my team-mates, I voted for Ignis, and we ended up two shotting a boss that has been giving us trouble since we started Ulduar).

A possibility that someone brought up was that we should try to get into VoA and try to get Emalon down, while we had wintergrasp (my server is overwhelmingly Alliance, and for some reason, the horde have been winning more than their fair share of WG’s lately).  I responded by saying “I think Firespirit is saved to 10 VoA.”  There was silence for a while, and then my team-mates asked me “who are you, playing Fire’s toons?”  I assured them that it was me, but it brought a thought up to my mind – I had been un-intentionally RP’ing my toons (to some degree).

Online Persona

One critical point that many people new to RP is the distinction between your online persona and actual true RP.  On one hand, everyone has an online persona, even if it is just you being yourself.  It’s what other people perceive you as, as well as how you perceive yourself when playing the game.  You can quantify it – Goofy, Naieve, Serious, etc…  But one thing does not change, who you are.  My internet handle “Firespirit” is my persona.  I am goofy, wacky, fun loving, always needs to pay a bit more attention, and the type to trip over a line drawn in the sand.  But I can distinctively separate my online persona from my true person. I know that I am not the one in game swinging that huge mace (if I was, boy would I be in better shape), and My guildmates know that I am not in the game swinging the mace .

My GM is a little more serious, but still funny, and fun to be around.  His online persona is Lorgrath – Lor for short, and I am sure he more closely matches his true person.  But there is a distinction between the two.  When he logs in, he has some degree of separation from his persona – click connect, he responds to Lor or Lorgrath, outside of the gameworld he would probably respond to a verbal “Lorgrath” but I am sure that he would be startled to hear someone say that, and he would do a double take.   As would I if someone shouted “Firespirit” in the real world, trying to get my attention.

It is that degree of separation that makes it RP, because that is what RP is – You are playing, acting, another person or entity – Even if you don’t know it.  It’s not hardcore RP (Thoust shall not take the queen thou thane!), but it is RP none the less.  I think most WoW players (outside of RP’ers – see below) have a Persona, especially in an anonymously driven engine called WoW.  Very few of my guild-mates talk to one another on a first name basis, in vent, telling what each other has for breakfast while smashing zombie faces.  But this is OK.  They have adopted, to some extent, that persona, even if they don’t realize it.

Character Driven RP

Of course there is character driven RP.  Blizz even puts out RP severs to support this, and I think it is great (even though I dont RP intentionally in WoW – it’s and experiment I would love to try with Pike).  The true, hardcore roleplayers will never step out of character.  And when they switch characters, they also change personalities completely.

Some people would say that the true RP’ers have taken the Online Persona to the n’th degree.  They *are* the toon.  But this is not correct.  RP’ers have just removed the Online Persona.  When you talk to them, you talk to their toon, not to the person behind the keyboard.  They might have another, separate, Online Persona (for vent, for example), but do not practice it in game.  And when they switch toons, they truly switch toons.

But most of us just switch toons and continue playing.  We don’t go from “Holier than thou” paladin to “Eco Terrorist” Druid.  We simply glide through the game.  But every once in a while, I catch myself on my little bitty priest, thinking “Boom, Whack, Pew Pew.” Of course to the sounds of old time Batman shows 🙂 .

So, even if you don’t intentionally RP, most of us, even if in the smallest ways, RP a little.  The next time you make fun of the diehard D&D geek, remember, you too probably answer to the call of your main toon’s name.  Even if it is only during the time you are logged on.  Have fun with it.  Geek out one night, and do an RP night.  You never know, you might just like it.

10 Responses to “Un-Intentional RP”
  1. Ten'nen says:

    Great post, and you’re absolutely correct. I think everyone has an online persona.

    What I think happens a lot (I know that this is in my case) is that for many players, MMO’s are a place to release their “inner nerd” so to speak, and a part of them can now act more freely how they otherwise probably don’t amongst their non-WoW friends. In my case, and as is the case of other’s I’ve met in game, we don’t play WoW with other out-of-game friends, so to act the same and use the same quips would result in blank stares, side glances, hushed whispers, and perhaps even questions about our sanity.

    It’s kind of nice, though, to be able to relax and hype up a part of yourself you can’t normally express, if only because you wouldn’t be understood (how teenager does that sound?)

    • Firespirit says:


      Thanks for the comments, thats exactly what I was thinking 🙂

      Somehow your comments are always ending up in spam… I wonder why…

      Ill see what I can do to fix that.

  2. Lorgrath says:

    Ha! I got a mention! 🙂

    Oddly enough…I rarely (if ever) have called you by your first name. I think it may have something to do with the amount of focus you put on Firespirit (and the lack of alts). To me, you are Firespirit, or simply Fire.

    • Ten'nen says:

      Even with my altitis, people still refer to me as Ten’nen (or whatever nickname they so derived from my name). Even people who know my first name. I think it also has something to do with the fact that in vent/raids where there are people I don’t know, I don’t necessarily want them to know my real name because I don’t know them…

      Fire: I think you have to approve either my account, IP address, or something to let it go through? It’s like French law, where you are guilty until proven innocent, except you are spam until proven not-spam.

  3. Bumbles says:

    Bumbles role plays a lot……..keeps things interesting. Really, in the rl, I’m not a pig-tailed gnome…not that there is anything wrong with pig-tailed gnomes…I’m certainly not gnomeophobic, though some appear to be so 😉

    That said, there are plans in the works for a snowball fight in SC in october….wonder where that idea came from. Just don’t tell Tut, it is a surprise 😉

  4. Tutunkommon says:

    Boring day at work. Reading back through the articles again. I can relate to your ‘little priest’ as well. Whenever I am on my Drood, shapeshift into cat form, and then go into prowl, I find myself chanting “sneaky-kitty” over and over in my head while I walk past mobs and whatnot in search of my quest item, or trying to escape a unpleasant situation.


  5. Elyndynne says:

    I am not sure if you read these comments, but LOL. Sneaky Kitty? Tut, hilarious. I’m going to think of Sheldon’s Pretty Kitty song now from Big Bang Theory. Fire, Batman sounds! Hilarious!!!

  6. Dyna says:

    I know, I know, dredging up over year old posts = wtf?? 😛

    But I just wanted to comment that, to a certain degree, I feel that -everyone- ‘RP’s a little, in game and out of it, if that’s how you’re defining it.

    When you go to work in the morning, who you are as an individual instantly becomes less important than who the company needs you to be. If you’re a ‘good’ employee, then you will set aside who you are as an individual so that you can serve the needs of your company. It doesn’t matter if you had a fight with a close friend, or if your head is aching- you will do your best to set those personal things aside, and use your professional demeanor. When you go home, it would be highly unusual to act exactly as if you were at work.

    We do the same thing in game- we portray ourselves in a certain light, whether or not we RP. This post was very insightful in highlighting how, exactly, we tend to do that. 🙂

    However, coming from the perspective of someone whose primary objective in-game is RP, I’d like to point out that the ‘line’ between in-character (IC) and out of character (OOC) is VERY strong. When a player switches characters, yes, the /say and /e motions will be completely different- you move from your Light-loving paladin to your eco-terrorist druid, things are bound to change. However, RPers DO actually have OOC conversations with one another. You-the-player are known to be very different from the avatar you are playing- otherwise we’d all seem rather schizophrenic, don’t you think? 😉

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