Nov 17, 2011

Posted by in All The Galaxy's A Stage | 6 Comments

All The Galaxy’s A Stage: RP, Cliques, And Entitlement

All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals.  On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community.  On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!

In my experience there is merit to checking in once in a while to be clear on why you do what you do. I was thinking about why I RP the other day and the answer was simple.  I like to have fun, and co-creating story with others has resulted in some very memorable and fun experiences.

That said, in preparing for launch and the impending escalation of RP activity I also got to thinking. What kind of role-player am I? If I were to rank why I RP I think this would be my top three:

  1. To have fun as I co-create the very best story I can with friends
  2. To make new friends and have my imagination stretched by the creative genius of those I meet for the first time
  3. To encourage newcomers to RP

It should be obvious to any regular reader of this column that I really take number 3 seriously. After all, I’ve been writing for Ask A Jedi for a few months now, and have taken great pleasure in having a platform to share some of my perspectives and reflect some of my experiences from over 30 years of role-playing.

Bumping Into Cliques

That said, I’m not naive either. In those 30-something years I’ve bumped into my fair share of cliques. If you’re an RP veteran you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a newcomer you will come to know what I’m talking about. In short, RP cliques are quite simply a small exclusive group of friends who RP together. And I would like to place the emphasis on the word, exclusive.

RP cliques are exclusive because those involved in them tend to generally exclude those they don’t know.  This can be for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes players just want to get on with relaxing with their friends. They may be involved in some serious story and that moment is not the time to help a newcomer integrate into the local scene. At other times though it’s really about people getting comfortable with who they RP with and making the choice to experience their RP in a close knit community.

There was a time when I used to be mildly offended by cliques. However, over the years I’ve come to understand them. The big realization for me is that as a player I should not have a sense of entitlement around who should RP with me.  If I get offended because the cool guys and gals at the Hutt’s Bollocks Cantina ignore me because they don’t know me then it’s down to me. If I like the environment and I’m curious then I should make an effort.

Earning A Wider Acceptance

As a newcomer to RP I’ll also have to earn wider acceptance. There are RP guilds and kind players that will undoubtedly take new players under their wing. However, it is not the responsibility of every player you meet to accept your RP, particularly if you are still honing your grammar and character portrayal skills.

And I would offer a suggestion to any role-player that starts instructing others about how they should include all players they meet. There will be times when I’ll be less than inclusive than I could be. Sometimes I’ve got a short period of time when I log on, and want to focus on building story. Taking time out to mentor another player won’t allow me to accomplish what I logged on for in the first place. And let’s face it, unless you really like to mentor others and are good at it, are you really the right person for the job?

I’ve written in the past about character sovereignty. I am entitled to play my character my way, and no one else can control my character for me. For me that extends to having my fun and allowing others to choose what is fun for them. I have been known to gracefully withdraw from RP at those times where I really do not like a player or a situation on an OOC level. It is rare, but I have done it. After all, if I don’t like something, is that fun?

Let Go Of Your Entitlement, Luke

My advice to any newcomers to RP is to consider the above as a preview of extremes. Not every role-player sits in a small clique focused on exclusive RP. Not every role-player is a born mentor. Not every role-player that logs on has the time to help another out. If you find yourself out in the cold don’t take it personally.

There are definitely things you can do to increase the odds of getting involved. Looking for an RP guild is a great place to start. I wrote an article in August on that very subject. Sites like swtor-rp are filled with helpful players and in particular have a team of RP Guides (that I’ll be covering in a future article). If you are looking for ways to come in out of the cold don’t hesitate to ask for help. In my experience the community is filled with very helpful players. Get clear on what you are looking for from RP and ask around.

Just know that there will always be RP cliques. It’s nothing personal. I believe it’s an extension of human nature. We’re social animals and when we get close with a group it gets very comfortable. It’s not necessarily about you (although, depending on the personalities involved, it might be). And the worst thing you can do is to take it personally. Take heart and know that you will bump into helpful people who will absolutely give you a chance to cut your RP teeth.

  1. I see this game ad my first attempt to build a true merchant. Sure between acquiring great items to sell by being ‘heroic’ I still look forward to working on a reputation for crafting and commerce. With my companions doing the work I can find a comfortable cantina booth to rest and negotiate.
    I wonder if its feasible to create a craftsman guildhall out of a local cantina?

    • I see a lot of potential for casual to serious RP when it comes commerce. If you’re a crafter there is no reason why you couldn’t have fun interacting with role-players as you try and haggle their last credit from them. I’ve also suggested an idea to concerning engaging merchants in-character with some of our efforts. I won’t say anymore since this has not been implemented nor confirmed, but I foresee many wonderful opportunities for crafting and role-play in SWTOR.

  2. A few thoughts that came to mind as I read the article.

    Though cliques exist for a variety of reasons, not all who do not include others in their RP are cliquish. As Sa Chi pointed out, sometimes they’re already deeply involved in something and don’t want to break the flow. When in doubt, it never hurts to send a private message asking if you can join their RP.

    As much as RPers tend to be inclusive, no one is required to RP with anyone else. It’s important to reiterate that you should not feel offended if a person or a group does not include you.

    Last but not least, you can learn as much by watching as by doing. Even if a group does not include you in their RP, feel free to observe them. Watch what they do and how they do it. You will see things you like and things you disagree with or don’t like. This will help you find your own style and get used to how certain things are commonly done.

  3. This was the subject of an old blog post of mine (at this point I’m beginning to wonder what wasn’t?! It should be an in-joke by now. I’d make fun of me if I were somebody else).

    I called it “The Power of Selective Perception.” Sa Chi’s article is much clearer and more practical. I wandered a bit further into the idea of immersion. What does it mean for roleplayers, how is it accomplished and how does this cause problems between the hardcore, or what I call integral, roleplayer and the newbie, or what I call intuitive, roleplayer.

    Because their needs are different. They’re in very different stages of development. Both can achieve immersion but they go about it in different ways and those ways can clash. My ultimate solution is that everyone needs to just ignore things that don’t work for them rather than get upset, snarky or argumentative about them. Focus on finding people you can enjoy being around and worry less about what those that don’t mesh as well with your style are doing.

  4. “Entitlement”. That sums it up. People who feel that every RPer should be open and welcoming of their RP, these are usually the first people to point the finger at players and call them cliques. The fact is that it isn’t just new RPers, even some older RPers whose RP style/RP themes that aren’t accepted by everyone take it as a personal affront if you exclude them from whatever RP you are creating with your own folks.

    I’ve got time for new RPers, I want to guide new RPers into Heavy style of RP as opposed to losing them to the Cantina mediocre that is always so prevalent in MMOs, where people think that RP doesn’t happen beyond the four walls of the cantina/tavern RP hub. Joining a guild is definitely the best thing a new RPer can do, they will at least get a higher sense of story to their RP. Trying to rely on pickup RP it’s only ever going to be the base self-indulgent RP that they constantly encounter (not to say good RPers don’t go to Cantinas, but there’s a hella lot of bad ones as well).

    Find a group that are welcoming, friendly and whose setup delivers what you are after. Anything after that is important; worry less about what other people do.

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