Posted by: Jess Riley | March 12, 2009

Self-Imposed Challenges

Here’s the thing; I love the Sims 2 almost as much as Sean does. I also get bored easily. In a freeform game like The Sims 2, and to a lesser extent, World of Warcraft, I find it hard to keep playing without applying new goals, rules and parameters to myself to give my play some direction.

And yet, I still like games where you pretty much choose whatever you do next, because it means that I can make up new goals, rules and parameters for my play. Currently in the Sims 2, it’s my self-sufficient family, who don’t work or order groceries and, in fact, live off selling home-made items and their vegetable garden and fish pond.

You’re not especially interested in that, though. This isn’t the Blogasims blog. Technically, it’s not the BlogaWoW blog either, but that’s because our name is punny clever.

The same principle of making up challenges to play your character by can apply to World of Warcraft just as it can apply to a Sims family. I’m not so much referring to goals that you’re planning to achieve and then be done with, though that can be a part of it. I’m talking about the fundamental way you play the game, by limiting yourself to certain behaviours.

The fun part is that it could be any kind of thing – getting to level-cap without killing anything at all is a particularly extreme version, but there’s all kinds. Perhaps the Warcraft version of my Sim family could work, eating only food they have cooked themselves, and selling only items they have made themselves? Killing only animals, not humanoids?

The world is your oyster!

So, alright, but how do you incorporate this into your roleplay? It’s all good and well to decide that you’re going to go through the game doing X, but this is a roleplay blog. What’s this got to do with roleplay?

It could have everything to do with roleplay. Some things, like the holy priest that won’t touch shadow spells, comes straight out of roleplay concepts. Sometimes you may want to do the reverse, invent a challenge to abide by, and then write a character out of that challenge.

For instance, to take my animals-but-not-humanoids idea; your rule is that you are going to go through the game freely killing animals, but no humanoids – and just to make it clearcut, no humanoid-looking demons and no undead humanoid-looking things, either. Just animals.

I don’t know what that says to any of you, but tome, that concept says ‘big game hunter’.

So out of this challenge comes a dwarf or tauren hunter who wants to kill them all – he likes nothing better than the thrill of the hunt, except possibly the taste of the barbecue. He’s a hunter, not a soldier, so he has no interest in pursuing humanoids, human-looking demons, or the Scourge. Can you get good meat off them? Ha!

Not your thing? Consider instead the self-sufficient type I suggested, who only eats homemade food and only sells homemade things. This one is a bit more broad. Are they a hermit? A country homemaker? Some kind of crunchy granola girl? Any one of these ideas, and more, could lead you to your challenge.

And, of course, if you decide you want to give up on your challenge, you get the fun of roleplaying out why it is your character has decided to give up on their previous life and play more normally.

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