OK, dramatic title. Many people reading this… BWAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, that last bit amused me. Many people. If only.
Dramatic title. Some people reading this will be incensed and think “I rolepay perfectly well in SL, you stupid man!”. Well good, I’m glad. But I don’t. Here’s why:
1) Lack of really immersive environment: Unless you live in a themed sim/sims then it’s hard to roleplay being vampire/Jedi/whatever with a lapdancing club next door and Spongebob cubes screaming above them. Even with a themed sim, you have little to no control who wanders in – from a lost newbie to some berk deliberately taking the piss out of the players, these can all go to ruining the roleplay. And then time dilation or script lag can ruin RP. Other dedicated games such as WoW, Eve or LoTR fair better because they are just that, dedicated to that roleplay game. SL is a creative opportunity where people try and overlay roleplay and it doesn’t always fit well.
2) A Million Stories: Arseholes and stories; everyone has one. Problem is, how do you boil down a million stories into a cohesive rolepayable whole? In dedicated sims, how do you manage an environment where everyone is a Baron or a Vampire Lord or Slave Master or Whatever As Long As Its Important? In the end, the sheer number of voices drown out almost everything.
The bottom line is that RP in SL is hard because of lack of immersion. Immersion is hard in SL because it is hard to control the environment and the environment was never built for roleplay games.
Leaving aside RPing in dedicated sims or communities, what about collaborative RP across blogs? Before I was part of the show, I found myself reading many, many blogs in the hope that in them I would find a new home. I found some good writing and some promising crossovers that hinted at wider community RPing, but almost without exception my attempts to ‘click in’ to them failed with my comments on posts either ignored or dead-ended. After many weeks of trying I gave up.
Take a look at how many blogs tell such tales and them look at the number of comments those posts have – usually around zero. Even on my blog where I get comments to most posts, The Lost Journal, The Island and Backpacking Burro posts get the lowest comments of all, with The Lost Journal getting almost none. It seems people either do not want to read such tales, or do not feel able to comment. Maybe the nature of the tale locks them out, in a way that silly posts or serious discussion-style posts don’t.
But that doesn’t answer question of why authors of such tales seem unwilling to answer comments left on their posts. Without doubt, some will be part of a clique and unwilling to allow others in, but not everyone can be like that. I really don’t know… it seems that most blog RPs are for either a closed community or the author alone.
Sigh, I just don’t think SL is the right place for a good, rich, deep RP experience. But then it never was, I guess.
p.s. I’ll tell you something for nothing – collaboration is fun, yes, but it is also hard. Really. I’m currently working with Darien Mason to complete the tale of the Lost Journal, but because of our time differences and Darien’s current RL commitments the relationship is mainly limited to bouncing ideas about. From my time with the troupe of TSMGO I know how hard it is to get together and actually thrash out a workable act, let alone a whole script. Trying to plan out a tale that involves more people than yourself, all of whom have backgrounds you know little or nothing about, is hard and requires workarounds or frequent pauses to check facts. Still fun though – you should try it. Find a blog you like and plan a tale together 🙂