One of the questions that emerges again and again amongst Warcraft role-players is, “Where are all the role-players?”
Y’know what my answer is? All around you. But most role-players are just too shy and nervous to involve themselves with you.
Let me give you an example. You’re sitting around at Auberdine, waiting for the boat to Azuremyst Island. As you wait, a human man and a gnome woman pop up in front of you, and begin chatting in character. The human is wry, sardonic, and quips off a few choice comments about why the gnome is so keen to visit the draenei. For her part, the gnome ignores the comments mostly, and impatiently remarks on how slow the boats are.
Here you are, then. These two are clearly role-players. They are obviously playing, at this moment, a role. So what do you do, as a role-player yourself?
I am certain, that many, many times, the answer is: Stay quiet, and don’t involve yourself. There are some very good reasons for this. You don’t know them – How are you supposed to work yourself into the scene? What if you come across like a jerk? What if they don’t want to be disturbed? Besides, my character’s meant to be nervous, he wouldn’t talk to random strangers! It’s safer just to stay back here and observe.
Bah and humbug to all of those reasons. Let’s go through them one by one:
- But how can I work myself into the scene if we have no history together? It depends on the scene, but there’s always a way! Don’t pay attention to the words, for the most part, as much as the tone. Is one of the participants worried? Try to offer a sympathetic ear. Is one of them a bit overly excitable? Mock them! Now, sometimes the right words can make all the difference. If one of them notes that they grew up in Menethil Harbor, and hey, your background says you grew up in Menethil Harbor, then leap in and say, “By the Light! You’re a old dock boy too? I’m a dock boy!” Sometimes you can even construct a history on the spot in whispers, if you’re quick-witted and the other player is co-operative.
- What if I come across as a jerk? Seriously, don’t worry about it. Most role-players are pretty savvy to the differences with in-character and out-of-character comments, so even if your character is a mocking, nasty jerk, most players will get that it’s your character, not yourself, who is the jerk. Do you know why role-playing servers have a reputation as being more mature and civil than non role-playing servers? Because part of being a good role-player is being a good citizen, and most of us know it. You can’t have jerks and asshole characters around, and be trusted, unless the base of players are assumed to be good people. So assume they’re good people, and that they will assume you to be a good person too. Most will.
- What if they don’t want to be disturbed? C’mon! They’re asking the same question, “Where are all the role-players?” And besides which, a surprising newcomer to the role-play is one of the most lovely surprises you can ever get. Seriously, if it’s a private scene, you’ll know. Most private scenes tend to be placed in hard-to-find places, anyway.
- But my character’s meant to be shy! Well, work around it. Drop your weapon and stumble as you go to pick it up! Catch the eyes of one of the participants, realise you’re staring, and blush. Make them react to you, if you need to. But find a way in – Even shy characters can interrupt. They may just stammer a lot as they do so.
The point is this, though: I love it when people surprise me by being role-players, and I bet most role-players do too.
It’s true. Most role-players play the game to role-play. More role-play, surprising sources of role-play, is likely to delight them, not annoy them.
So don’t be shy. Get in, and butt your head into other people’s games. It’s worth doing.
Oh, and by the way? In the above example, I was the gnome. And the dwarven priestess behind us proceeded to chastise me for being a typical impatient gnome. She then called me a ‘little clockwork’.
I loved it.