This article is the first part of a blog post series on role-playing in Second Life.
- An Introduction to Role-playing in Second Life
- Location Scouting in Second Life
- Determining a role-play event in Second Life
- The fashionista - A Second Life Role-Play Archetype
The history of role-playing games (RPG) goes back much further than the history of Second Life. It begins with an earlier tradition of pen-and-paper role-playing games. The first commercially available RPG, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), was inspired by fantasy literature and was published in 1974.
A role-playing game is a type of game in which the participants assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization. In pen-and-paper role-play games each action succeeds or fails according to a system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, the players may improvise freely. The exciting feature about role-play games is that the direction and outcome of the game is shaped by the players in a collaborative effort in a small social gathering. In the beginning of the eighties RPGs where also released in electronic format, first as single later as multi-player games.
|"The Doomed Ship" is an RGP set in a dark Sci-Fi environment.|
It is obvious why Second Life is a promising platform for virtual RPGs: the SL regions can be modeled to immersive sceneries and worlds. Our avatars can visually embody our role-play identity. And what most people don't realize: by creating, developing and refining our avatar, our alter ego within Second Life, we are already role-playing - even if if we never visit intentionally an RPG platform in SL.
In the real world our gender, age, income, physical appearance and identity is fixed for the most part. By creating an avatar differing from our real identity, we are role-playing. One of Second Life's secret success ingredients therefore is the avatar which helps us to overcome real life limitations and makes us experience situations that we might not encounter otherwise. In Second Life we pretend to remove those limitations when simulating an experience or when interacting with other people. I have no hard figures to prove this, but from my personal experience in SL, more than 90% or SL residents who are actively participating in the economy use SL to role-play through their "alter ego" avatar - to some extend. This suggests that contrary to the commonly repeated phrase "Second Life is not a game", the platform is used by the the vast majority for a game purposes - even if they are not aware of it. The Second Life Wiki defines this mode of role-play: The simplest [RP] 'game' is just a gathering of friends, indulging in a common tale. By the way: the most common SL specific role-play archetype is probably the "fashionista".
|"Black Spot" is a pirate themed RPG environment|
It is therefore not surprising that countless role-play communities exist in Second Life. Their aim is to add a level of sophistication and persistence to the basic intuitive SL role-play with additions such as game facilitators and rules of interaction. Participants in an RPG will generate specific characters and an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in these RPG areas aid to create an immersive environment. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes. This also means that new players are faced with an expected online role-play etiquette that they should meet. The SL resident Grace Loudon has written a "Roleplaying Guide and Tips for the Beginner" which explains the typical rules of interaction in SL RPGs.
The SL destination guide features even two categories role-play areas in Second Life: Role-playing communities and Adult role-playing areas. The 156 "Role-playing communities" which are listed in the SL destination guide are subdivided into the following headings: Historical, Pirates, Sci-Fi, Urban/Noir, Vampire, Steampunk and Fantasy. These headings only give a rough idea about the variety of role-play themes in SL - ranging from "Highschool" to "Superhero", from "Western" to "Emergency room", from "Post-apocalyptic lands" to "One thousand and one nights". If you are interested in writing a guest post on my blog and to present your RPG environment, let me know about it in the comments. Also leave your full Second Life name so that I can contact you in-world.
A short video of the RPG environment "The Kingdom of Sand"