10 June 2011

Fantasy can't last forever

Today, I'd like to write about a personal pet peeve of mine - one that I've encountered far too often. Worse yet, I've almost volunteered to run into it as often as I do as a result of the circles I choose to run in...but I'm getting ahead of myself. I am, as I feel I've said many times before, a writer. I am also a theater student and a role-player. While a good dungeon crawling session is always fun and something I've been away from far too long, most of my role-play fix comes in the form of PBP (play-by-post) forums.

An explanation, for those who may not understand: These usually take place on message boards/forums where each member writes for a different character. Everyone works together, writing through the eyes of their characters, to tell the same story. It is, in essence, communal story-telling and has been likened to a group of people, all writing the same novel. Each person brings their character and their own personal writing style to it; in the end, hopefully, you have a coherent, cohesive story. Of course, I can't say I've ever witnessed a PBP site reach an official end, perhaps because the characters always have more stories to tell.

All in all, PBP is my very favorite form of RP. It's a writing exercise, after all. By varying things like character types and background, a wealth of possible characterization is available for anyone to tap into. However, there are some who tap into it too much.

I can't stand it when the only thing people do is role-play, no matter what form it takes. Escapism is amazing and can be a wonderful break, but there are some out there who seem to forget about their real world responsibilities. Addictive personalities, perhaps? I've always wondered. In the past, even I have been guilty of this crime, spending a whole day working on a character application, trying to get inside their heads, but I have my limits. When the characters I'm writing for get to be too much, I'll get away from the computer, maybe go for a walk or a run. I'll read a book, something that has nothing to do with whatever universe my characters came from. After a few hours or days in the real world, I go back to the characters and find them fresher and easier to write for.

Excess, in anything, can be harmful to self and to others. I was once friends with someone and broke it off because all they ever discussed was our role-play characters. Frankly, it got to be exhausting. With no opportunity to distance myself from the character I was writing, the fun went out of it and the character was abandoned. I still role-play on various forums, including one I have been a member of since it's inception six years ago. I love it as much as I did when I first discovered role-playing over ten years ago. However, I urge my fellow RPers to take a step back every now and then.

There's a real world out there too. Remember to live in it and visit the others, not the other way around.
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