Posted by: Jess Riley | November 4, 2008

Pet Peeves: Research Is Not A Four-Letter Word

Alright, so a little bit of play today sparked a mildly bothered train of thought, so I just had to make my case on the blog. So, yes, this is a little grudgey and probably hypocritical – I daresay I probably do this as well.

Pet Peeve: People who clearly haven’t researched a concept before putting it into play.

Why People Do It: It’s very understandable – you have an idea, you want to include it, but you haven’t the time or the energy or the inclination to look it up. Maybe it’s not even the main focus of your character, but it came up in a scene and you don’t know the answer off the top of your head. It’s easier to just BS an answer or tell the other party that you don’t OOCly know the answer than to go and look it up.

Why It Bugs Me: How couldn’t it? Sure, I don’t know everything about Warcraft lore, and I’ve probably made the mistake of perpetuating misunderstandings with my character concepts and so on before… but I do note that I make an effort to do this as little as possible. The one that really gets me is when people admit they don’t know the answer to something that isn’t even a heavy lore question – let’s take the example that annoyed me today (and keep in mind, this is a completely irrational peeve, so I’m sorry if it seems like I’m overreacting to nothing).

Me: What do you do for a living?
Them: I’m a prostitute.
Me: …really.
Them: Oh, yes.
Me: It’s not… much of a living, is it?
Them: (( >.> I have NO idea how much a prostitute earns. ))

Alright, now you’re done laughing at me over my overreaction to this point, I feel the need to point out that I’m not all that angry about it – it just sparked a train of thought that ended with me mentally grumbling about the appropriate amount of effort that should be put into character creation and design.

But, really. It bugs me a little because… well, I don’t even know why. It’s irrational, but I don’t like it, and other people probably don’t like it either.

How To Do It Better: I personally haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find a ballpark figure for what kind of a living people in this industry make, and extrapolate that to Azeroth – or give some kind of non-commital answer to the question, for that matter. If it’s something as intrinsic to the character as vocation, I feel like a certain amount of time should be put into doing basic research to ensure that what you’re looking at is feasible and the kinds of things you should know about that. In the case of a sex worker, looking at non-lore sources would be good to get an inkling of the kind of lifestyle it is and how it works, so to speak.

And when it comes to something you haven’t thought out ahead of time, I must point out that World of Warcraft does have a Windowed mode – you can Google and RP at the same time, if you’re good.

Basically, it comes down to a pretty basic point: if you can find a way to make something more realistic or feasible, it certainly doesn’t hurt to take it. If you want to make your character look realistic and consistent, put some time into researching the important things that are likely to come up. Your audience will thank you.

At least, I will.


  1. “Alright, now you’re done laughing at me over my overreaction to this point”

    No one laugh at you over that, at least this crowd wouldn’t I say. Because really, the sad thing is that the example you gave was so flexible that one could make something up on the spot and be able to justify it with ease. Because we all know that prostitutes can range from the dirt cheap to the very expensive. Allowing the person to easily say anything on the spot, without you thinking twice most likely.

    As for the subject, I really don’t see why people can’t fact check more often. Especially, for those who make long involved histories and personalities. But like the casual role-player who will say something as outrageous as being a 18 year old night elf from Darnassus, its something we must come to expect unfortunately.

    Luckily, I think that most semi-serious role-players would not be as likely to make you get all “Hulk mad” with their lack of knowledge and inconsistencies.

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