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Thoughts of a Casual MMOer

My thoughts on gaming as a person who enjoys RP and gaming while balancing a full time job.

Author: haratu

Role-play vs Reward

Posted by haratu Tuesday July 28 2009 at 7:44AM
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While I may prefer casual play in an MMO, I am also a person that enjoys my role-play as often as I can get it, this however comes as a costly price. In many games role-players suffer the time penalty, while they play around and talk, socialize, and construct stories other players work tirelessly to level up, gain currency and gather items. However, as any role-player can attest to, role-play is a lot of work, sometimes more than that a grinder does. Where is the reward for all that work?


Firstly I would like to define the work that goes into a role-play, I am doing so because many people simply do not see this so-called "work" that is done, and seriously I can understand this perfectly, you see all that work is often done outside the game. The work that goes into role-play is a twofold process that is completed by only the best role-players. i will summerise.

1. The role. Most role-players put a lot of effort into constructing their story. This may include a background, biography, an upkeep of events that change the life of the character, as well as some things just for fun. Seriously, in some situations this is almost as much work as a professional author (at least I hope they put half the effort in at least).

2. The play. This is often the part that sets the serious from the amateur. Sure, you may be able to make an interesting story, but can you enact your character in a way that seems believable and enjoyable. This is a balanace of defining your character and also hiding some parts to encourage curiosity. This is oftent eh hardest part as you are literally writing a story that you have no control over, in real time too!!! Ask a professional author to write a story and not edit his/her story as they go and they will scream blue murder, but a role-player has to do this by the seat of their pants.

The Problem

So, a lot of work is done by the role-player? So what? Well, that is exactly right there is no great thing about being a role-player [waits for flaming mass to land on him]. Seriously though the rewards for role-playing is close to nil, and that is merely being generous. Sure i get some good friends, some good social time, a feeling of doing something creative and unique... but, can't I do that outside the game? Why should I do it in the game? Why should I waste my precious time constructing an elaborate story using someone else's lore for rewards I could get by going to the local pub (they can get very creative at pubs, many old songs have been created in a pub). So I do all this work, no reward, and developers and gamers seem to think lore is important? HANG ON!!! This makes no sense.

The solution

Okay, so role-players work, so they produce something great, seriously where is the reward? So i get a post on the forums, some person says it was a good story, and you get a nice reputation. Fantastic... I might as well be some dweeb who never saw the outside of my bedroom. Where is the glory that I deserve? the feeling of seriously completing something that people can recognise, something that will help me in the game, something that I can't just get by actually going out and getting some friends?

Well, the solution is obvious, reward role-players!


Well, this is the hard question isn't it. How can you reward a person for makign the game more interesting and be fair at the same time? Do you hire a bunch of people to constantly patrol the system and give out rewards for specific people? Do you get GMs to hide amongst the population watching out for good role-players? What is a good role-player?

The true answer?

Is there a way to help this problem with role-playing? Seriously, do you have a good idea. I would love to hear it.

OddjobXL writes:

Here's the thing.   RPGs online are different from a pub because people there are getting together to try and do some roleplaying.  Getting into different characters, putting together stories or just playing the regular (rewarded) game while staying in character.

There are ways to reward creative people in online games.   Some MUSHes, text-based private roleplaying games, have systems where folks vote anonymously for players who've done some good roleplaying and that's how experienced is gained.  It works on MUSHes because the populations are smaller and it's hard to game the system if the wizards (administrators) know who is who and whether the person getting the reward has in any way earned it.

A more practical approach is to move the focus of rewarding roleplaying away from the humble craft of playing one character and to people who can use the same creative roleplaying energy to develop content a broader community can make use of.   Look at the Architect system in City of Heros where creators can get rewarded by the system, or the developers, for making popular or creative scenarios.   Look at Storyteller in SWG where people can make and sell, on the market, adventure templates or individuals can become rather famous and sought after as storytellers.

Ultimately why do people want levels or rare magic items?  To stand apart from the crowd.  To become well known and respected.  Here's a far more interesting way for people with the ability to entertain others to achieve that ultimate goal and get rewarded for what they're actually good at.

Tue Jul 28 2009 9:08AM Report writes:
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