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Real, not Role Play
In EVE Online we are all well and firmly conditioned to the term “EVE is Real”, it’s been repeated by the CCP marketing since it was coined in 2011. The following is about how much deeper and more complicated that term really is. The choice of using Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco as the example, is based on the fact that he is among the very few visible and publicly known enough to act as such an example. Most if not all EVE players will be able to nod in recognition, and find examples from their own circles, if not basically identifying with it personally.
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by real world environments while interacting with each other in character. RP, formerly known as Riot Points, is the premium currency used to unlock League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics PC content, mostly ranging from cosmetics to other functions outside of direct gameplay. Content listed on the wiki defaults to North America RP prices. R68RP prides itself in being one of the more realistic servers out there. Our IRL police and fire members give us an advantage, when designing realistic procedures and equipment. Some servers do anything to get as many members as possible. At R68RP we care more about quality RP's ratther than the quantity of our members.
Maybe this is the most watered down and totally undermined term in popular culture. Role play (RP) is plastered on pretty much everything that is supposed to get geeks diamond hard, and run salivating to the shelves and after that the checkout, swiping their credit cards. MMORPG, massive multiplayer online role playing game, is the label on the EVE Online box, and yes I have one of those anachronistic things. As a label it really does not say a lot about what is inside this cookie. In classical terms playing a role, is supposed to be akin to acting, and in geeks around the dinner table, that is meant to be mostly in dialogue and imagined actions in the imagined collaborative narration set up by a gamemaster. In the online game variant, that means a lot of people running around doing things while adding the Out Of Character (OOC) or (In Character) IC tags in front of lines of text. Thus taking the dinner table narrative into something slightly bigger, but more disconnected and less intimate socially. However in early EVE a lot of players, as well as in other games, decided to ignore the RP part of the game label, and just not care about when they were in or out of character. This segment have grown steadily bigger, and the original RP and lore groups are not major in most online games anymore. In other games this fact matters very little, but in EVE there is something more afoot.
To really understand what is going on in EVE it is important to know a little bit about larping, especially the more hard core oriented type. Taking the role play into real life, staying in character, dressing up, and all of that crazy stuff, that mostly resembles method acting, is called live action role playing, or larping. Aside from the traditional running around dressed like elves and orcs, and waving fake styrofoam swords, there is a few groups that do more contemporary settings, and especially relevant to us is the World of Darkness (WoD) setting. Larping in WoD, is a rather interesting subset of the larp crowd, and tend to overlap with some interest groups in the fetish, BDSM, and Goth alternative scene. Its natural that these overlap from the lore and themes in WoD. The players attracted to WoD is also a prone to take things a bit more serious, while maybe not as far as method acting, but close.
It is perfectly possible to become an involuntary participant in WoD larp scenarios, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not at first noticing that something is strange. Before you know it someone could be puncturing your skin, or dragging you off to the “upper floors” for some nsfw aspects of in character activity. In short the nature of the contemporary tend to blur with reality, and some of the players can have trouble setting it aside in their real lives.
Hard Core Roleplaying
The wording of this practice is a bit confusing following the larp and fetish scene description, it is not actually as hard core as the term implies. In roleplay, going hard core is defined as taking your real life persona and skillsets and merely extrapolating and exaggerating these. This, so you become a heroic variant of yourself, and will need very little prep work to perform in character. Reason this type of roleplay is interesting is that it gets rather intimate, without an easy IC cop-out, and thus ties back into the above fetish and goth group’s activities. It’s easy to understand how and why these things can become a slippery slope, from one degree into more weird and exotic areas.
In EVE when we start playing we can choose to actively and voluntarily be part of the RP scene, the one that does the lore and stuff, and uses the natural safety of clear lines between character and player. However many opt out of that for many reasons, the most obvious one being “effort” or lack of experience with actual acting or role playing. Problem is that even if you opt out, you are involuntarily being drawn in, by the scenario that emerges as players are active in EVE – emergent gameplay. Just like the above mentioned accidental larping, you think everything is normal, until you start noticing that it is not. The most obvious way you start noticing you have crawled down the rabbit hole is, when you start reacting naturally to your in character name, even outside the game universe. Expanded on that is, when you stop even caring or wondering what your EVE friends real names are, because even when you are told, you keep calling them by their character name. This is where the important bit becomes clear, EVE players are ALL roleplaying, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.
This phenomena is, to the best of my knowledge, unique to EVE Online. It stems from the importance of extended social interaction. In other games logging in and out practically resets things, and whether you raid on a wednesday or friday, there is no real difference. The events you missed one day is not relevant to you today. In EVE everything is historical and all events are unique, regardless of how minor and at a glance insignificant. (ed. The Damsel in distress missions not considered) Not only does this change your attitude towards the game, it changes how you think about your character, or indirectly by how you think of all the other players. It is this effect that eventually develops your character into a “hard core character” a version of yourself, with different activities than in your real life. As you play the game for many months and years, the experiences you gather from the game and its players become almost as real as what you experience in real life. Sometimes it is even more real, the simulation begets the simulacra, and discerning real from imagined becomes very blurry, if not arbitrary.
Even if you try to distance your acknowledgement of the played persona, you will have experiences in EVE that are beyond normal. It is one thing that you need to come to terms with; the harshness of risking your assets, and the semi forced pvp environment. You will not walk away from your first severe loss, your first time being the victim of a scam, or the first time you make a great heroic kill yourself, without a rather profound emotional response. As things get more complicated and more socially integrated, you find your legs in the game, the experiences start being stranger. You will be betrayed by people you call friends, you will get help from places you did not expect, you will be viewed by others based on your actions, more so than in any other game. The exaggerated persona that shapes itself by your actions, will take on a life of its own. Even though you are still in control, you can not control the ripples you make. Most real life experiences are ofc more “real”, but the degrees of freedom in EVE makes things possible that you might never have the chance to encounter in real life. Whether that is the drama of running a ponzi scheme, the ego boost of being the leader of a big group, or by social engineering causing havoc worthy of a spy novel. In EVE these simulations feel very real, even though we all know it is only a game.
This is where the somewhat accidental emperor of the Imperium enters the story. When the Mittani became the leader of one of the largest organisations in the game, I doubt he expected the attention levels, or the responsibilities he got. As he has shaped his character over the years, the difference between Alex the man and the Mittani the character has grown rather considerably, while still not really being easily discernible. That especially true to the outsiders, that only get the propaganda persona, and the strutting and fretting on the scene. Ironically the Mittani is very much like the real historical Vercingetorix. The myth and appearance of the paraded figure is larger than life, and serves that specific purpose. The space tyrant persona is perceived as real, and the ideologies, the attitudes, quirks and offensive behavior is very real to those that forget or are ignorant of how EVE real play works. The people are deceived or they are so entranced by the simulation, that the fourth wall is never penetrated. When we add the intention of demonizing to “the other,” this self delusion takes on epic proportions.
However the same is in effect from inside the Imperium towards the rest of the EVE playerbase. Terms like plebs, and high sec pubbies, etc are thrown around frequently. The self delusions of grandeur of Imperium is very strong. One specific example of that is when the Imperium financial cabal keeps claiming they are the only long and deep meta gamers in EVE and without competition. In this it resembles real life secret societies and their workings, when someone outs themselves or a group, its because they have already moved on, and just like in real life the collusion of conspirators are not as preplanned and completely controlled as tinfoilers tend to believe. A Bilderberg Group meeting is mostly social, and actions after the event are more tending to interests and community, than any genius master plan. There are plenty of groups and individuals in EVE playing the same meta, and with considerable influence and wealth, it is just not as visible as a Pentagon, Langley, or Vauxhall Cross housed group.
I can promise any new player in EVE that if you stick with it, and crack the code of the game, you will have many years of potential fun and strange experiences, and we did not even cover what happens when all the above spills into real life player meets, truly breaking the fourth wall.
For good examples of what player can expect, check out the links below:
My Story by Modern Inferno
I Goon by Erick Ashmock
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The role of the chat gamer and an avenue to be real
What is roleplaying chat?
Regardless how you think of a chat game or chat room, there is the fact that roleplaying is the key component. You're not the person you say you are and the Internet cannot create a perfect impression of who you are. You imagine and collaboratively conjure the world together in a series of texted or text-based formats.
It is not so dissimilar from a table-top atmosphere but online. Whatever it is, you are fantasising first, and imagining the reality second. You tacitly agree to share the same fantasy and provide, through roleplaying and creative writing, an avenue for your shared experience.
The role chat plays in Avalon as game and social avenue
Every game and social or chat avenue for roleplayers has a function to talk and creatively expressive themselves. How important is that?
For some, it is the reason to be online; for others, it is a burden to write well and perhaps they cannot. Both wish to roleplay.
The problem is not irreconcilable.
The illusion of freedom in chat gaming: chat like you mean it
The evidence of a chat-based environment is that you do not have many tools or systems around you to rely on. While the idea sounds wonderfully free, the average person is not going to fit your own idea of what that world is. There is a constantly shifting reality, that only with a handful of acquiescent individuals, will there be any consistency.
That means the chat gaming 'world' is also inconsistent and fragile. If it depends on its contributors, then it will never reach a state of shared certainty. You need something to pin down that evanescent ether to a hard fact.
As a consequence, you have to give it meaning by saying there is; to chat and roleplay like you mean it, when in fact you do not care one iota.
Defining a great roleplayer
It would take up many screens of explanation to really go into detail, which we will save for another time.
The best roleplayers are not those who fiendishly invent new situations or the ones that write exceptionally well. It is those who fit their environment yet are able to stand out in what they do as apposite and interesting.
These are some quick DOs and DON'Ts of an excellent roleplayer:
- DO include the other senses than sight and smell -- whether blind, deaf, or noseless, everyone perceives real life differently
- DO make use of your environment -- it is the setting you share with others, interact with it
- DO rely on the game to provide meaningful cues -- a little smile at the right time is better than a custom one saying the same
DO what is natural to you in real life
DO NOT invent new environmental factors without good reason
- DO NOT react to everything -- you are not obliged to insert your own responses when someone else is rolepalying
- DO NOT presume how others feel -- you are only gratifying yourself at their expense
- DO NOT use a thesaurus or words not normally in your everyday conversation -- it sounds stuffy and contrived
As it happens, these are the same rules a good dungeon master or tabletop game master would follow in preparing the scene for his fellow roleplayers.
How to kill lively chat? Enforce roleplay
Even roleplaying games now make the following mistake: enforced roleplay. Why, if that makes the world even more meaningless to each other, would that help?
Initially it may indeed help. It encourages everyone not to break immersion with idle chat and game mechanic banter. However, as you pull apart every situation for every person, there are many times where they are holding themselves back. They are throttling their natural impulses.
When the natural impulses die, you also kill all the motive to be present. There is little else left than to keep up the facade that everything is healthy and maintain this perspective of certitude (which often comes down harder to 'correct' the failure to enforce roleplaying).
What does roleplaying chat game lack?
Not everyone is a writer and you aren't expected in Avalon to be one. You are surrounded by beautiful text, as though a world-class author came to host your own private party.
Pure roleplaying chat avenues, venues, and even tabletop 'open' roleplaying, are missing a vital component: a baseline.
Rp Real Play Discord
Baseline of Quality: chat games meet roleplaying for real
The baseline of quality is elusive but there is a true solution to the difference between players and members of a chat-based game that incorporates both roleplaying and game mechanics.
Avalon solved this issue, in fact, back in 1989 and 1990, with the systems of government, property ownership, persistent history, and amazing literary talent. Games like that did not exist before it; it was the first. Even today, there are few if any worlds out there -- in text, in graphical, or in novel formats -- that conjure so beautiful, so detailed, and so rich an experience as Avalon does.
It is the one area in which it stands out the most: it makes no demand whatsoever on a player to roleplay, realplay, or just enjoy the game side of things. The social aspect, the chat gaming, is always there; it does not have to be 'in role' and 'out of role'. It is a reflection of you, more in the vein that modern graphical roleplaying games are.
By providing a huge part of the puzzle, the immersive and richly described world, even the most untalented in creative writing may enjoy an experience on par with their fellow roleplayers.
The baseline must be part of the world itself. It needs to provide quality fodder for the imagination, mechanics for meaningful encounters, and a reason to stay and create your own story within the great saga.
The chat avenues to express anything and everything should not be restricted but in fact accentuated to allow for varied expression.
Where Avalon fits for the roleplaying and chat gamer
How To Find Rp Real Play
Avalon originated as a real life social chat avenue in the late 80s and early 90s. It began in London and still resides there, but the Internet in 1994 brought it to the world.
The people who mingled in those early years were across the spectrum of age, gender, occupation, wealth, and fame; from people who were heirs to great fortunes and early computer scientists who contributed to creating the Internet, to the snotty brat in a block of flats nearby and the home-cook housewife from Derbyshire.
We are happy to report we are as cosmopolitan today as we were in the early days. There is uniqueness to be found in the richness of its world and the people who chat, play games, and linger there.
Avalon was not the only game out there in 1989 but it was the first to be a gaming cafe in 1990. It was and is a social venue centered around roleplaying a game of a single person's imagination. It married the ideas of tabletop gaming, chat, persistent history, and what later became the staples of game mechanics (cooldowns, property ownership, player versus player combat, government, warfare). Today, it may seem a little peculiar or quirky for not fitting the mainstream models of roleplaying games you see today, but that is because it remains an historic and contemporary innovation.
Who you meet is down to you. Nowhere else will the just and honourable knight vanquish the real life genius. Nowhere else will a millionaire gleefully cut the throat of an old hag, on an altar of bones devoted to the Diabolus.