Grumpy old roleplayer.
I like roleplaying games. I cut my teeth playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends, and moved on from there to the World of Darkness series, Shadowrun, 7th Sea, and Pathfinder. But as the years rolled on and responsibilities mount, I didn’t have as many opportunities to sit down and play with my friends in person. So, to satisfy that need to be a wizard, a hacker, a swashbuckler, or even a monster (with a heart of gold) I turned to the roleplaying servers of several online video games. Online roleplaying helps keep my imagination sharp, forces me to write a satisfying story in an impromptu back-and-forth with friends and/or strangers, and gives me outside perspectives I wouldn’t normally be exposed to.
But as the years have rolled on, online roleplaying has changed.
Downloadable add-ons and modifications have become a major part of PC gaming, and a vast number of them are being created for the purpose of helping people create a more robust online roleplaying experience. I get the allure, but they’re not for me. It’s handy to be able to modify your character’s name from a single name to a full title, or write a lengthy profile explaining your character’s backstory, or link artwork related to your character’s appearance that the game cannot otherwise convey. I’m a fan of playing the game I am given, and working within restrictions and rules to create a compelling character. I can’t name my character what I originally wanted? Fine. I’ll think of something else and work my imagination harder. I get why people like them, and I say they should have their fun. But now add-ons and mods aren’t just handy suggestions. In some cases, they’ve become prerequisites.
I’ve encountered several online roleplaying communities that will outright refuse to acknowledge you if you do not have several add-ons installed. I’ve been admonished for addressing a character by the wrong gender because I was unaware they were actually playing a character of the opposite sex, despite using the in-game model of the mistaken gender. I’ve been told I can’t roleplay with people unless I install an entirely separate chat program so the game can continue offline and off-hours, which is something I do not have the desire nor the time to do.
Is this all too much? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m old-fashioned in playing the game I’m given within the rules presented. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old nerd who doesn’t have time for all this flim-flam razzle-dazzle nonsense. In my day we walked uphill both ways to pretend to be an orc wizard, you damn kids! Someone told me to “get with the times” in regards to online roleplaying. The times they are a-changing, but maybe they’ve changed too much for me.
(I will also politely decline to answer any questions regarding what games I play or on what servers I roleplay. This is my escapism and I enjoy the anonymity.)