A month ago, my guild and I got into a very heated debate about RSP sites. I found myself making a few friends more than just a little upset at me because I didn’t see anything wrong with the sites at all. They heatedly felt my view was a little clouded and that I didn’t understand the reason why sites like these are considered hurtful and often childish. But at the time I felt that people were simply being too sensitive over a site they had no interest in. As long as they were simply judging the RSP directly and not the person, no harm is really being done. I believed this for quite a while and never really looked at it fully.
Then last night a blog post made by Anna had my question myself about something I tended to ignore or disregard. I went to bed thinking about the ethics behind most sites centered on posting bad role play flags. I began to ask myself honestly if I was the type of person who really advocated things like this despite my affiliations with people that do. I have a few friends who write or post regularly on a few sites displaying these type of things whether it be online or in a livejournal community, but I never really asked myself would I do it too if given the opportunity.
I woke up realizing that when it came right down to it, I really didn’t agree with it nor would I ever do it myself.
I admit to reading sites like these, but unlike others that participate in it, I generally only read it for the occasional shock factor. I normally don’t see too many blatantly obvious ERP flags, so it’s always shocking and even a little hilarious when someone else does manage to locate one. But when it comes to everything else I read there, it really is none of my business or concern. In fact sometimes I just don’t plain care for any of it. I could never pass judgments on people on a daily basis because they didn’t write what I felt makes a perfect RSP. I don’t care if someone described themselves as being utterly beautiful or crossed the realms of silliness with their description. It doesn’t bother me in game if I run across them and it certainly doesn’t bother me when I see them interacting with others. If someone out there is willing to believe and play into it, hey … all the more power to them.
Yes, there are some flags that are either too wordy, too flamboyant, or utterly ridiculous … but why should that be any concern of mines or anyone else? Their existence is claimed to be a bother for these people, but I have yet to find any of these role players ever interrupting anything that I do, so it’s never been a threat to have them near. Still, I stood by my claim that there was no wrong in talking about it openly with others.
But when it comes right down to it, I don’t really condone the act of public humiliation. I know this might make me a bit of a hypocrite since this contradicts everything I ever said when in regards to this. But I’ll just be honest, I don’t go to these sites to read a well-written post about how they can improve, I’m usually just there to read how many jokes everyone can make, poke fun at, and laugh. I also only check these sites because I’m curious as to how many of my friends will be picked on including myself. I never really laugh or get a cheap thrill out of it other than knowing that someone else out there is probably a little bummed that his or her attempt to try and role play was scorned by a bunch of people who has not once tried to role play with them.
Back in the early days of WoW, an RSP was really just a great tool to find other role players who were in character and to give ourselves last names. Descriptions were seldom used because many of us didn’t feel it was important to describe a character when you can SEE them. However, as time went on a few people began to use the feature and we easily got a feel for someone’s writing just by reading their description. When I first started role play in World of Warcraft, I was horrible. My Nigh Elf had a silly name that was constantly mocked and my RSP read as if I was the most beautiful creature you ever set eyes on. It didn’t stop there, either. Every other Night Elf female character I created was the same look and overall ethereal appearance. But despite my inability to be a little realistic, I role played fairly well and was able to entertain a few folks who found my character charming. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot from the experience. I began to see that maybe a few flaws were necessary since being perfect wasn’t always exciting.
When I moved to another role playing server, I created another character I think that broke the rules a little. She was human who grew up in Tanaris and was a classified gypsy dancer. God, I did all sorts of stupid things stupid with that one, haha. I made her just a teeny bit overpowered, created this lavish background for her where she was a dancer and so forth with an exotic appeal, and just all sorts of ‘Arabian nights’ stories. But despite it not fitting exactly into lore, it was absolutely FUN to write about in game! I found people who enjoyed playing the story out with me and I couldn’t wait to hop on and live that little adventure again. The experience taught me that while it’s fun to go a little outside the lines of lore, maybe I should really test myself and make something within it. Still, I had a blast playing her and would love to re-create her today in a more realistic play style.
I had fun with all my baddies no matter how much it didn’t … fit. And I can see every single one of those RSP flags winding up on a community because it was too flowery, broke lore, or something else of that nature. At the time I was having fun and that was really all that mattered. I’m sure a few folks thought my RSP was silly, but I never had anyone publicly bash it. I imagine if any of my RSPs, old or new, was post publicly and received all the negative comments … I’d be crushed, too. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and just plain cruelty.
Today I play a character that is still perhaps considered cliché but fits within the realms of reality and lore, not to mention she’s absolutely FUN to write about. During the early stages of her creations I used some really bad wording to describe her appearance and make her beautiful, but I’ve toned it down a lot since then and have learned a great deal about character creation based on interactions with others. Everyone knows the typical pirate story and that being a pirate is nothing new or original, but I don’t care. I don’t try to be different or set myself apart from the rest, I’m just here to create a character and write away! I’m here to lose myself in a story different from reality and let my imagination run wild. As a role player for years, this has always been a passion of mines, so I’m willing to believe something or play along if it’s entertaining enough.
I think a lot of role players forget that important element: we’re here to have fun! But if that was the case we wouldn’t have sites like Bad RPers Suck where even I have went to on a few occasions to vent. And no, not about bad RSP flags, but just general character reactions and OOC drama that I’ve ran across and felt compelled to blow off steam. There’s a difference between talking about someone’s character and calling it shitty and talking about how someone played their characters interaction with yours and OOCly did something towards you to make the story hideous and not fun.
Now I’m not innocent at all. I do mock a few people with friends when I see RSPs that I feel are a bit strange, but I don’t intentionally bash them in public. I kind of keep it to myself or share it with friends and either avoid them or try to get a feel for their character by (gasp!) role playing with them. I wouldn’t have all the friends I do now in game if I was to constantly and openly judge others that way. Surprisingly, I even met a few friends purely because I was curious about their strange RSP and later realize that they were really just trying to explore or new.
You really can’t judge a book by its cover.
As long as they’re not intentionally harassing or ruining my role play experience with others and I’m still having fun, why should I worry about what others are doing or writing in their stories? For all I know, she or he could be that beginner role player in WoW who’s just trying to have fun herself and explore the realms of fantasy. I was there at some point.
We all were.
Who am I to make judgment? I guess I’m a bit of a hypocrite.