Too Many Annas points out this exchange between one Blizzard fan and Blizzard Community Manager Nethaera. It’s a little long, though not nearly so long as the thread it’s spawned from. That said, the long thread is absolutely bloody instructive in looking at the situation regarding role-playing on World of Warcraft. I’ve yet to read through the whole thing, but I’m damned well going to. Here’s some gems I’ve pulled out so far.
Let me summarise part of this conversation in order to make it simpler to understand. It is, as I said, a bit long.
Original poster: Why is it that Blizzard seem to ignore the issues with role-playing servers? The lot of them have more people ridiculing the role-players – thus violating Blizzard’s conduct guidelines – than actual role-players. Why do Blizzard not enforce their own rules?
Nethaera: Hey, we’re not ignoring you! We’ve added in lots of fun role-play items for you, and the Argent Tournament has lots of nifty role-play tools like squires and city tabards!
Blizzard seem to continue to see the situation as being essentially modular: Role-players can happily play while non-role players play around them. True enough, except that the other players are often absolutely disinterested in playing along with this scenario. The real issue is enforcement: Creating environments that are friendly to role-play by limiting the actions of those who don’t, or better yet, just concentrating the numbers of those who do.
To be fair, Nethaera does look at the issue of enforcement later on, and notes the difficulty of drawing a line. I’m reminded of Ding! comic from Scott Kurtz’s ill-fated Phables-esque experiment. Two Blood Elves, frustrated with the low drop-rate on Felblood in the Pools of Aggonar, begin jumping up and down on the dead terrorfiends to try and squeeze blood out of them.
You know what I call that? Role-playing.
But others might disagree.
Role-playing is not a single state. It’s a spectrum. Hell, it’s a field. Spectrum implies linearity, and that’s not true either. There’s the hard-core angsty drama queens over there. There’s the comedy club rejects yukking it up that way. (I am proudly a member of this group.) The ERPers are in Goldshire. The darkness and evil crowd are in the Undercity. Every single one of these groups do role-play differently, but they’re utterly different. Not to mention those who are Full-Immersion RPers, versus the casual ‘role-play between raids’ types.
What we can all agree on is that the griefers, the ridiculers and the like are not role-playing. (OK, there’s even some disagreement there, but shut up, I’m working on this.) Blizzard need to do more to enforce these rules, they do need to crack down on the naming policy, they do need to understand that some level of immersion is required for a role-play server. Nethaera’s responses are welcome, but this central truth remains unacknowledged.
I admit, this post amused me.
Back in Vanilla I was riding through Stormwind on my mage, just sort of flitting here and there, and there was a guy sitting on a bench by the mage quarter talking to an NPC. I sat there and watched him for about five minutes, and he just kept going and going.
Every time somebody brings up RP, I think of that. That’s why you’re being ignored, you freak normal people out.
Ignoring the amusing misuse of the word ‘normal’, the fun thing here is that I recognised immediately what that guy was doing. He was flagging. He was saying, “Hey, I’m a role-player! Come and role-play with me!” By talking to the NPC he was developing a potential scene for others to leap into. (Actually, we plan to test that strategy in our next Katafray Project.)
But this guy looked at him and thought, “Holy shit! This guy is talking to himself!” Which is also pretty fair.
One problem is that… well, we’re not not normal, but we are a bit weird, and I’m happy to admit that. But so are PVPers, who have their own in-game quirks, and the hardcore raiders have their own as well. They make sense to us, because our quirks are aimed at goals we understand. But if you don’t understand the goal, it’s perhaps understandable that the quirk will look very weird indeed.
Goodness me, I’m in the city already. Consider this a To Be Continued. I’m not nearly done with this thread yet.