The joys of the simple question... "What's roleplaying?"

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Shuboni, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. Alright, I have two lifelong friends. I've known them forever, and don't plan on losing them anytime soon. One is well versed in roleplaying, and the other... well... asked me once what roleplaying is. The worst part, I didn't know how to answer his question. I had no idea how to explain to him what roleplaying is. There were two giant problems with trying to explain roleplaying: He isn't on a computer very often and he doesn't have anything to relate roleplaying to.

    So, how do I explain this entirely new and alien concept to my friend?

    I've tried to correlate it to writing a story.

    "Well, it's like writing pieces of a story. You have your character and everyone else has theirs, then you take turns posting and having the characters interact to move the story along. Going on and on in a wonderful fantasy of other worlds where anything could happen."

    "So... like that game Telephone?"

    "... No. Not even close."

    I then tried to compare it to a script.

    "Imagine that you have to write part of a script using only one, maybe two characters with other people who have one or two characters. You only get those characters along with anybody else you introduce. Then you write your part of the script, then someone else, etc. But it's more in-depth than that."

    "I don't get it..."

    He's old enough to understand, just he doesn't see the pleasure in the decadent ways of a roleplayer. It's like a man from a cold and snow-ridden environment trying to explain the joys of snowball fights to a desert dweller who hasn't even heard of snow.

    Does anyone have any idea how I should explain roleplaying to him?
  2. He's been roleplaying since he was a kid; he's just never realised it.

    Remember those games you used to play when you were younger? You know, 'Cops & Robbers' and what have you? That's roleplaying at it's simplest, most innocent form. The kids step into the role of someone other than who they are and act out scenarios with others.

    Roleplaying in the sense you're trying to describe is more complicated than that, sure, but the analogy and comparison still stands. It's basically a mix of acting and storytelling. Some people utilise dice and rules in order to add a bit of structure and cohesion to the whole thing, as with D&D and other pen-and-paper RPs. On Iwaku we utilise writing and fiction to play characters and tell stories.

    But at it's most basic, it's really not that much different to Cops & Robbers or whatever other make-believe games you might have played as a kid.

    Roleplaying, simply put, is collaborative storytelling.
  3. I could try explaining it that way and hoping that he played those games as a kid, but I've known him for that long and I don't remember him playing those games. As soon as he met me, he got into video games (I was the rich kid whose parents thought a Nintendo was just as good as a babysitter.)

    Anyways, I'll try your tactic and add on the collaborative storytelling (which he might understand) and hope for the best.

    If not, and worst comes to worst, I'll leave the task of explaining it to my other friend.
  4. Roleplaying is just playing pretend, but with writing it in words instead of acting it out. 8D So the finished product is a story.
  5. I completely agree with what Grumpy said. Roleplaying is collaborative story-telling. Everybody is playing the part of a character, and there is a GameMaster, who directs the general plotline. It is like an interactive novel, but with more characters making more choices, and more possible outcomes. Roleplaying is not just about playing pretend, it is about trying to write a story with your friends.
  6. Ah, but some people don't roleplay to write stories. >:] Some people roleplay to experience a different life and pretend to be someone else. A story is the result of the pretend playing, but not always the agenda.

    Not that I disagree at all about it being collaborative storytelling! 8D I was just giving a simple explanation that works for ME when I have to tell people what roleplaying is. People get confused by long descriptions of mechanics. D:
  7. Roleplay is a form of literacy used in terms of the uses and gratifications theory in media to either entertain or distract people in or into a different reality aside from their own. As a result of this it can categorize under social interaction as roleplays can consist of anybody; such as groups large or small or even on your own.

    As Diana said previously - some people use role-play as a way of trying to pretend to be somebody else. Which can either be an escape from reality, the need to release feelings that you cannot otherwise in real life or even just for the fun of being able to act out a different role. Role-playing allows people to create a fictional character and 'pretend' to be that character as if they were in their shoes; much similar to the real life experience of attempting to relate to other people and imagining how they are thinking or feeling or reacting to a different situation. The difference being is the actions are actually being written, typed or acted out as that person as if you were them - thus could be closely associated with acting.

    But in terms of written and such things as Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) also includes collabarative story telling, which consists of a group of people 2+ who if you used an example of a book such as "Eragon." One would play the rider and act him out and the other would play the dragon. The rider is unable to predict what the dragon will do next, because he has to wait for the person playing the dragon to take part and it is not his character, but the dragon HAS to react towards the rider's actions. Because of the difference in ideas, skill in literacy and style of writing; the rider and the dragon have to be aware of the other's actions like you would react to another person speaking or taking an action in real life and thus include this in their decisions and what they want to do next, much like you would in real life.

    As a result you usually have a story.

    Collaborative story telling is also where the social interaction comes in. Because of love for literacy, stories, genres; people who participate in such an activity have something in common and thus allow them to converse with others who have a common interest.