I’ve spent so long away from the blog that I felt I needed to give you guys something a little more than a short rant about other roleplayers. And, I thought, what better way to return to the blog than to return to one of my old favourite topics, and see if I can add a little more to the table?
You guessed it. I’m talking about erotic role-play.
It’s a long-standing feeling of mine that there’s too much conflicting emotion about the subject of erotic roleplay on roleplay servers. I recently witnessed people /kiss’ing and similar being accused of being ERPers, even though that’s about the most mundane ERP it’s ever been my pleasure to witness. (Admittedly, this was in a Battleground, so that might explain a few things – but anyway, let me get back to the point.)
Then there’s the people who openly state that they feel that ERP is cheating on your real life partner, plain and simple. Well, you know, I can see where you might be coming from there, but I still disagree for one major reason.
There isn’t a clear divide that we can point to, saying ‘These people are real roleplayers, and these people are just ERPers’. Not really. If I roleplay my character as a well-rounded character, with a lot of different kinds of roleplay, who happens to be in a relationship with another character, with very careful in-character and out-of-character distinctions, and make it clear to the person I’m roleplaying with that I’m not at all romantically interested in them outside of our roleplay, and we never touch anything sexual, the vast majority of roleplayers wouldn’t bat an eyelid at it. And yet, if I were an exclusive ERPer, there are considerably more who would consider that some kind of breach of trust between my significant other and I.
Of course, these two examples are at two extremes, in a way. The fact is, though, that there’s a lot of examples and situations between someone who exclusively ERPs with random people they find in chat rooms, and those who roleplay full, well-rounded characters who get into romantic but strictly non-sexual roleplay only with people who they know will understand the IC/OOC divide.
That’s why I thought I’d go on record giving a full description of what I think this sliding scale is like.
Behind Closed Doors: At the least erotic end of the scale, we have those whose characters are in a romantic relationship, which may be sexual off-camera, but which is never explored, even in the slightest. It may be assumed, between the two players, that something sexual is going on somewhere, but they simply don’t roleplay it, or anything closely related to it.
It doesn’t have to be shy or discreet at all, even. A character who happily opens discussion with, “I got laid last night.” is still Behind Closed Doors if this is the most detail that comes out. Your character can be very open, or very quiet, about whether or not they have a sex life – but if nothing about it is roleplayed, that’s strictly Behind Closed Doors.
The Fade To Black: Maybe he’s just bought her dinner, or maybe they’ve just come back from a romantic date killing wolves together, or they’ve just decided to get to it right there on the floor – but as soon as it’s clear where it’s going, the scene seamlessly fades out into nothingness. You know what happened, you know what’s preceded it, and you know what comes after – but you don’t actually roleplay what’s going on. All the personal details are left up to the imagination.
The Consummation: The bulk of your roleplay is doing adventure things, or everyday things, and that’s absolutely fine with you. However, when things start to get hot and heavy, that’s absolutely fine with you, too. There’s no real distinction between roleplaying hunting some boars and roleplaying the personal details; the erotic roleplay is just another scene, neither better or worse than anything else, and while you wouldn’t want every scene to be like that, it can be just as important a part of your character’s story as the hunting boars.
Actively Seeking It Out: Once again, you may do plenty of roleplay that doesn’t involve eroticism, but sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood for, and you’ll happily seek it out – either with a dedicated roleplay partner or with someone you don’t know so well, it doesn’t matter. Unlike the Consummation, it’s not just a matter of ‘if it happens, it happens’; sometimes you’ll actively look for it and want it to happen, just not all the time.
PWP: Either ‘Plot? What Plot?’ or ‘Porn Without Plot’. You may have a character mapped out in your head – or maybe a whole variety. Or maybe you’re just making it up on the fly. Either way, other kinds of roleplay just plain don’t interest you much, unless it’s a precursor to or followup to the erotic roleplay. This is what a lot of people think of when they think of erotic roleplay, and even though it’s still a relatively big category, I’m lumping it all together for convenience.
As you can see, three of those five engage in erotic roleplay – or may do so – on occasion, but they’re not the classic ERPers that we might think of.
Of course, I’d like to point out here and now that Blizzard doesn’t care. If you’re roleplaying something graphic on a Blizzard server, it doesn’t matter if it’s PWP or if it’s part of an over-arching plot. It’s against policy, end of story.
However, plenty of people take it off the game, and that’s fine too. Plenty of people would be OK with The Consummation, but leave it at Fade To Black to keep it in line with the TOS.
To me, that’s all fine. But what do you think? What level are you most comfortable with? And am I right in observing that not everyone who engages in erotic roleplayer is “an ERPer” in the common use of the term?