Posted by: Sean | January 21, 2009

Sell it!

While I am going to write something about the Timbermaw (I swear!) it’ll have to wait for tomorrow, because so far I’ve got nothing to say about them beyond “TEDDY BEARS! TEDDY TEDDY TEDDY!” And that would be wrong.

So instead let’s talk about professional wrestling.

One of the key skills in professional wrestling is ‘selling‘. Selling is the art of making a fight look real (for a given value of real) and keeping the sense of injury, hurt and pain in a match. At it’s most simple, it means recoiling after a blow, thrashing around after being slammed to the mat, or otherwise saying to the crowd, “I just took a hit!”

But good selling is more than that. It’s a cue to the opponent to say, “This is the story line we can make with this match.” Let’s say Kurt Angle goes up against Vince McMahon for some reason. Angle gets hit with a huge back-breaker, and staggers away, holding his back. He tries to come back into the ring, but falls down, again clutching his back. Not only is this selling that backbreaker as a huge, devastating blow, but he’s all but screaming at McMahon to keep on workin’ the back. For the rest of the match, every hit to the back will be met with a massive response. McMahon will know to hit it often, drawing up more boos and heat for the rest of the match. This is classic wrestling storytelling.

Really good selling can go even further. A character who takes a large hit to the shoulder should shake it out every so often. A leg hit will produce limping for the rest of the match. Basically, it’s about taking fictional elements with no real substance and remembering them.

This is a really valuable skill in Warcraft role-playing, too.

For example, I have an orc shaman I play on Earthen Ring. One thing I try to remember is that the totems he’s putting down are actual physical objects – They really are the totems he’s earned from the elements, those things that sit in his backpack. As such, whenever he goes to dismiss one, he actually runs over to it. The notion is to say that he’s pulling it out again, putting it back in his backpack.

I also try to keep a logic of where a totem can be placed. Earth totems must hit the ground – If I’m in the water I can place one, but I need to swim to the very bottom first. Fire totems can’t be used in water at all. A water totem could be used there, of course, and an air totem could be floated on the top, presumably. (I haven’t taken the opposite logical extreme and said that a water totem can only be used in water. Sometimes practicality wins out.)

Another example; imagine playing an older warrior character, a real ‘old soldier’ kind. After every fight, you may remember to kneel briefly. You’re not doing this out of respect. You’re doing it because you’re damn well catching your breath.

In all cases, the point is not to clog your fellow players screens with emotes. (Although an emote could be used to sell, certainly – You could have a mage refer back to his spell-book whenever he gets a chance, memorising the words in a nod to Dungeons and Dragons.) Instead, the goal is to visually recreate some of the logical conclusions of your actions, making the game more immersive and real. It’s a valuable skill to learn, and one worth thinking about in your role-play.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Wrassling is fake? What?

  2. Oh dang, I broke kayfabe.

  3. “Another example; imagine playing an older warrior character, a real ‘old soldier’ kind. After every fight, you may remember to kneel briefly. You’re not doing this out of respect. You’re doing it because you’re damn well catching your breath.”

    Or maybe you are just looting.

    (sorry, I couldn’t resist it)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: