20 June 2008

My role play shame

My name is Merlot and I'm a role playing sympathiser.

The horror hit home while reading an article on wow insider about all the ways we inadvertently role play. To be honest, I've always been a bit suspicious of hardcore role play, as if it indicated something more sinister than a player's preference for a fantasy life. I thought role players had to have beards and live with their mum, and I thought they all had to invent stories about being orphaned by troggs or a mining accident.

I kinda liked killing things: that was as far as my thinking went. I certainly never set out to invent a back story or create any kind of personality for Merlot.

Then I got out my mana wyrmling (Impulse) and gave him a pet.

Maybe it's a side effect of long-term game play, or maybe it's a by-product of hitting 70, but I really have been role playing without knowing it.

Getting to the cap was the first time I took a proper look at my surroundings and started to appreciate the design of the game, the epic storylines, and all the politics and machinations that bubble beneath the surface. I was able to break out of the mindset that sees you blindly mowing down an extra five mobs for that last elusive drop, or else keeps you ploughing through the local fauna way past your bedtime just to reach the next level that night. I've started to read quests — not just the bit at the top that tells you what to do, but the stuff below it that tells you why. (Although frankly, some of them are deeply cryptic and need a good edit.)

Sure, I still have to kill things for gold, for rep, for crafting mats, sometimes just for a distraction. But then I'll group up and run through a heroic, taking a haughty sniff of the undead and flirting with the other blood elves. There is a balance. It's a very different game from when I first stepped through the dark portal.

I've been so busy looking forward to Wrath and preparing for that long push to 80, that I didn't really think what I might loose along the way. This time, I'm going to try not to burn through content just to hit 80. I'm going to take time to read my quests, understand what I'm being asked to do and why, and maybe make a few moral decisions along the way.

I've come to realise that role play isn't just about pretending you're an orphan dwarf with a interest in guns and a hatred of troggs. It's simply another facet of the game, another level of enjoyment that we all experience, just like the wow insider article says.

So there will be no more poking of fun at role players, even if they do all have beards and live with their mum. There's a little bit of that orphan dwarf in all of us, don't you think?

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