Wednesday, 13 April 2011

OOC: RP Guide. Why Roleplay in EVE?

The first in an occasional series about Roleplaying in EVE.

Why should we listen to /you/?
"It shows to go you, you never know who anybody is." - Susan Ricci, The Spanish Prisoner.
Well, the simple answer is that you don't have to, and you probably shouldn't. Nobody made you read the blog (if I'm currently standing behind you with a threatening expression, ignore this bit). I've been an RPer in various forms (Tabletop, Forum, Live Roleplay, Live "action" roleplay, MUSH etc etc) for twenty years, so whilst a relative newcomer to EVE, I do have a little experience elsewhere. Take everything with a pinch of salt. Don't believe anything anyone tells you. If it works for you, then that's great, though I should warn you that the Arti Drake is never likely to be flavour of the month.

Why should I roleplay? I don't even /own/ a wizard hat.
"Everybody makes their own fun. If you don't make it yourself, it isn't fun. It's entertainment." - Ann Black, State and Main.
"EVE is a sandbox", people are fond of saying. What they (often) mean is that there aren't any goals or paths provided - we make our own. We form groups, we set objectives for ourselves and our corporations. We make up activities - the "Low Sec Roam" has no particular genesis in the game itself, it was something that people came up with. What we do has meaning only because we give it meaning, and it has value only in as much as it provides us with enjoyment.

What the game does provide is some tools and resources. And one of these resources is the backstory, in the chronicles and the novels and the text in game (1). This is the world of New Eden.

There's a choice. One can say "Well, that doesn't have anything to do with the game I play," and either consume the backstory as entertainment or ignore it entirely, as you wish. That's fine. But it is intentionally limiting your game. (2)

The other choice is to bring that backstory into how you play EVE, and what you do, and how you interpret what happens. And the way you do that is via roleplay. By creating and playing a character that lives in the world, and by interacting with other characters, you bring the backstory into your game experience. The main game activities remain the same - you mine, you pew-pew, you build, you haul, you trade. But each of them becomes part of the story you and others are telling (though often in a very small way). Roleplay is not an activity done separately from other bits of the game, it's a method of weaving meaning around it.

Saying that EVE is a game about internet spaceships is like saying Hamlet is a play about succession to the throne of Denmark. It's technically true, but it's a very one-levelled approach. From very early on, EVE has been a game featuring spaceships set in the world of New Eden. You can play it how you want. It's a sandbox. But if you want to deepen the game, wrap layers of meaning around it, immerse yourself further in it... then that's why you should roleplay.

(1) I didn't say it was all good. Or any of it good. Your mileage may /definitely/ vary.
(2) Everyone limits their game. The game's way too big to do it all. It's not a bad thing, but one should do so knowing that one is doing it.

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