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Choose the people who play your friends carefully

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Nenicirene's picture

Role playing on a forum is a load of rubbish!

The fundamental problem is that most people do not have a clue how to contribute to collaborative storytelling in a constructive, non-hijacking manner. Also, most people can't write anything worth reading. Both take a little training and a lot of practice.

This is particularly exacerbated when any fool can drive by and wreck things, both unintentionally (due to a lack of skill) or intentionally (due to maliciousness). Far too many people are too invested in the accomplishments of their own character as opposed to the furthering the overall story in an interesting manner. Audience participation improv suffers from much the same problem. Even when taking suggestions, you generally need to specify that you want something non-sexual and non-scatological, because far too many people think that the only way to make a funny scene is between a proctologist and his gay lover.

In general, I don't find MMORPGs to be very conducive to good role-playing. They suffer from most of the drawbacks of LARPs with few of the benefits. You're stuck operating in real-time, meaning that boring travel and such cannot be abstracted away, so meaningful inter-character interaction is generally confined to a tight physical location. On the other hand, your ability to express yourself is both highly limited and painfully slow compared to actual physical interaction. Since there is no GM to create NPCs as needed, you're limited to interacting in a meaningful fashion with just the other players.

Personally, I think that long-term LARPs are unsustainable and nonsensical, but one-shots (which, due to the constraints of reality, usually involve about a dozen people who may or may not know each other trapped in a house during a dangerous situation) work well. For proper collaborative storytelling, nothing beats sitting around a table with good friends, a designated referee, and a few hours to kill. It doesn't produce an end product, but that's okay, because it's a unique art form in that the creators and the audience are one and the same, and it's very much a self-indulgent "you had to be there" sort of thing that does not lend itself to be watched, only done (kinda like how I feel about sex, but that's another matter).