When you hear the word roleplay, what springs to mind? Most will likely think of the iconic game Dungeons & Dragons – or perhaps you may think of something more private in the bedroom.
Yet, Roleplay (RP) is so much more than this and though it may not seem as popular in Malta, it is very much alive. Whether through games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy or even through social media like Discord, RP is out there.
I’ve counted myself as a gamer for as long as I can remember. The stories, the worldbuilding and even the characters that exist within each world I play in has always inspired me.
Coming from a theatre and then creative writing background, being able to create and write about my characters has always been an amazing opportunity. I have been RPing since mid-2017 on World of Warcraft, in an experience that has been everything from crazy to hilarious and sometimes also sad.
What exactly is Roleplay?
Now, this is going to be the question most people will ask. The best way to think about it is like acting: you are becoming a character of your own design, immersing them in the world.
Many find it is an escape from the stress and traumas that life throws at them. For others, it is a way to have fun with friends or even just play around with different concepts to see how a character dynamic would work.
For me, and many others, RP has been a way to find yourself and further explore your identity. In RP you can be whoever or whatever you’d want: a man, a woman, non-binary, a wizard, an insanely muscular warrior etc…
Coming from an island where you can often feel like an outsider for having different interests or simply being different to what most people can expect is hard.
Yet, through Roleplay, you can find like-minded individuals and people of all walks of life – from all over the world. It not only can broaden your mind to countless ideas, but it can also help you understand so much more about people and society.
In my case, I RP a Druid in World of Warcraft who strives to protect the world and all of its people, while taking the shapes of various animals. I also lead a guild (think of it as a mercenary company) that boasts around sixty people from all over Europe. We spend nearly every day either talking to one another on calls or living our characters out in various scenarios.
Most of the time, RP works as things do in real life. You have people who are guards, you have people going out to bars or running shops or even being nobles or politicians (yes, politics really does reach everything).
A virtual family
Everyone is going to have different experiences with RP. In World of Warcraft, you can choose what faction you want to be in, choose from a variety of unique races and be everything from a Druid to an Archer or even a part-Demon.
As always with the internet, you will find the dark sides. Whether it is cyberbullying or harassment, just as in real life, the virtual world is not as safe.
In my case, my guild, The Greyheart Enclave, have helped me through some of the most difficult moments of my life, from moving abroad and living on my own for the first time to even grappling with understanding my very identity or trying to cope in the chaos of a pandemic.
At each step, I’ve had friends there for me – only a message or call away and at each step we always have one another’s backs, ready to support one another no matter the time of day.
What does a day of RP look like?
As stated previously, it really is just like living your life – just in a high fantasy setting. Your character lives, they can eat, they have social needs and so on.
Granted, you have full control of what exactly they need or do, but the opportunities are very much like real life. You can try and get into a guild (some even give you a job interview) or you can even open a shop!
Your character can wander one of the many cities of the world or even travel the roads to explore all types of different regions.
In many cases, there are regular events that are organised by the community: from festivals celebrating things like Halloween to even large-scale military-esque campaigns to defeat the various threats that strike the world.
There are literally endless possibilities – all you’d need to do is reach for them. Whether you are a villainous character, a criminal or a hero, you’ll find something.
The world of Roleplay, however, is far larger than people believe. World of Warcraft especially is a huge market for aspiring artists – who make their living taking commissions to bring people’s characters to life.
It also goes far beyond just World of Warcraft and D&D too. There are RP scenes on games like Final Fantasy 14, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2.
There are even worldbuilding projects on Discord servers, where people create chat rooms where entire worlds are fleshed out with bustling kingdoms and homemade maps.
Personally, I have roleplayed across various mediums: D&D, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14 and even been a part of (and also founded) Worldbuilding endeavours on Discord.
As a writer, it has offered the perfect opportunity not only to expand the range of characters I can properly write – but also, it has allowed me to better understand the types of characters people enjoy engaging with the most.
Not to mention, it is an amazing way to bounce off your ideas by actually experimenting with them through RP.
You can test out whether a certain character trope or dynamic is well received by others, all while fleshing out a character by living them.
While RP, especially on World of Warcraft, doesn’t appear to be as popular in Malta it is still a thriving community in its own right.
It is also truly a testament to the better sides of the internet, you are forming communities, you can lead actual people or even feel like you aren’t so much of an outcast after all.
Whether you want to play as the person you’ve always wanted to be or want to experiment with a character concept for your next book? RP won’t let you down.
Tag someone who’d be interested in Roleplay!