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October 21st, 2017, 20:55
Jeremy Peel of PCGamesN describes how he learnt to roleplay:

How I learned to start roleplaying somebody other than myself

A blank page is intimidating. Ask any writer and they will say the same. But, back in the day, that was one of the first things an RPG would present you with. During character creation, Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights - with one eye on their D&D roots - would throw you a ‘biography’ screen to fill with pertinent details about your new personality. ‘Go on,’ it seemed to say. ‘If you’re going to roleplay, then you might as well do it properly’.

I remember making a couple of half-hearted teenage attempts - something something rogue, something something tragic past - before becoming accustomed to leaving BioWare’s generic blurb untouched. I know I am not alone in this: our very own Phil has roleplayed every RPG he has ever played as a Caucasian man with brown hair. Named Philip.

Which is to say, a lot of us have never really roleplayed very much in roleplaying games - to the point that the name of the genre has become a slightly silly misnomer. Where on the tabletop you are required to come up with all your own dialogue, CRPGs provide you with framework enough to coast through 100 hours without ever really deciding on who you are.

[…]
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October 21st, 2017, 20:55
There are lots of way to role play or play a role. Read the whole article as I tend to be curious how others approach it. I have friends who truly create unique characters very unlike themselves with elaborate back stories and who throw themselves completely into playing that role (power hungry assassins, noble princess, mediocre warlord, pretty much anything). They tend to dislike pre-defined characters in games as it goes against their desire to create their own. Many of them are also writers who like to write fan-fiction (except one who has gone a level above that).

Others see pre-defined characters as a perfect chance to play a role someone else has made for them and tend to love that type of game style. The only exception being if the character made for them is one they really dislike for some reason. They also tend to be more flexible - able to play a defined role made for them or able to make their own role.

I have my own style developed over a long life time of playing games, first on pen and paper and later on computes, that tends to be a mix of myself and someone I would like to be. I often create elaborate back stories for my characters if the game allows for it and it makes sense. Open world games are best for this for me - TES and FO being good examples. I don't need the game to constantly reinforce or recognize my choices - I just need the framework that makes me consider choices and then make them myself. I don't want the game always enforcing my choices on my as I prefer to impose my own role and choices.

Probably why I love Skyrim and FO4 so much as I get to create a character and role and go with it. For example I have a melee only warrior whose soul is that of a fallen warrior of Valhalla back in the days of the Norse who was reincarnated as a survivor in FO4. The game doesn't care if would use a gun over a lead pipe but my character has an innate distrust of technology and a sense of honor in close combat. Yet in its own way the game does provide the framework. Wolf could pick up a gun at any time and use it but his specials and perks are not going to make him very good at it. Anyhow just one very small example of how I approach role play in such a game.

I also do okay in games with defined character IF I can picture myself as that character in at least some way - to form a bond or connection. Hence why I did well in ME games as I connected to Shepherd but could not play the Witcher games as I could not connect to Geralt.

Also some predefined characters are still fairly open. Jax in ELEX is a defined character yet in many ways also a blank slate who gets to start over. I think that is why I have gotten so into ELEX recently. I like Jax and also can put myself into that role and see myself there, in his situation, but then decide how I would approach things based on the kind of person I would want to be there. A mix of myself and Jax and the world I found myself in.

If you make your own character in DOS2 then that also allows for freedom to make a back strory. Dragon Age has a mix but still allowed freedom, for me. As did Tryanny and Torment as the other pointed out. I suppose that is why I have enjoyed all those games. Looking back over my game list of games I finished or replayed, that are high on my fond memory list, all have that ability to create some back story and play.

I don't play my literal self in games - as if I just got plopped into the world I mean; I do tend to insert my personality and morals though. What I prefer to do is create a character concept of someone I might like to be - perhaps an idealized self that is a far better person in many ways than I have achieved. Or perhaps a darker self who has embraced my shadow and worries less about always doing the right thing or being perfect. I suppose playing the rogue with a bit of selfish indulgence and looser morals yet who also has a sense of doing good and helping those less fortunate, is my favorite type of character to play.

One thing I don't do, simply because I can't get into a game that way, is play someone completely opposite or different then myself. Tried a few times and had no fun. For psychology it may be great but for gaming I prefer a character I can bond with and that I could maybe see myself as in some other life.

Yet being thrown into another life still provides ample chances to role play and make you look at yourself and how you might deal with situations that you would most likely never encounter in real life and try to see the world through the eyes of someone else.
Last edited by wolfgrimdark; October 21st, 2017 at 21:06.
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October 21st, 2017, 22:27
I know I am not alone in this: our very own Phil has roleplayed every RPG he has ever played as a Caucasian man with brown hair. Named Philip.
Asheron's Call was a real eye opener for me. When I started playing that, just about everyone was a white male. Eeesh.

I like to roleplay a bit but I definitely don't make elaborate backstories. For instance, in D:OS I played a guy that was a bit of an outcast noble who would really rather just hang out at the tavern and chat with everyone that showed up. My other character was a woman who's family/lover/pet rock/whatever was killed by a Source user and now she was out for vengeance. And that's *IT* for their backstories. What's more, in the first hours of the game, I am perfectly fine with a little retcon to fit better with the game world and what the theme is turning out to be. Inevitably, my own values and personality will get infused.

Does anyone actually play these sorts of RPGs as some well known character? Instead of playing yourself or playing a character you made up yourself, steal one from fiction or real life.
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October 21st, 2017, 22:39
As I may have mentioned before, I always tend to play some variant of a ranger who dabbles in the arcane. However, this is only very limited roleplaying, as, if I possibly could, I'd actually be living in the deep woods, dabbling in arcana.
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October 21st, 2017, 23:07
I know some folks have to make the huge story before they even start the game - as it will define the characters looks, who they are, all that stuff.

I only do that once I know the game fully - which means I only do the deep back stories on a second or more play through.

For my first time I try to create a fairly basic idea but prefer to keep it open - and somewhat determine the overall personality as I get into the game and I am forced to make choices. So nothing deep and more of a simple guideline. It can be fun to have the character somewhat develop themselves as you play.
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October 21st, 2017, 23:44
In Baldur's Gate 1&2 you can actually write your character's biography and save it in-game. More games should allow that.

Character generation vs pre-defined doesn't make a huge difference for me though unless I'm forced to play a female which I don't like.

In the end, it doesn't change much outside your imagination unless npcs have different dialogue and reactions based on your character. It's rare that games do that, and even when they do the differences are rarely significant.
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October 22nd, 2017, 09:35
I much prefer making my own character. Role playing will generally be just a broad outline of how that toon behaves though, I don't do back stories for my PC game characters… One example is I have a Skyrim character who's saves all end in CE to remind me she's chaotic evil and I play her accordingly - lying, murdering etc. Another one is generally good but is a bit of a kelpto so she'll steal any shiny things she can snatch even tho she's a mage and not a thief built character.

For me to do this the game must be re-playable enough to make me come back and spend time in it with multiple toons. It also needs to have the freedom to actually do something other than follow a story, especially if that's tied to a set protagonist. TES/FO games are great examples of this and why I like them most. You might not always get the dialogue options to play it out but as it's a sandbox you can do other things to fit with the character idea. NWN is another good framework to RP a toon within a game, 1 for the outstanding character building options and 2 there's enough content to play dozens of PC's and not touch the same modules twice.

With preset protagonists I usually end up following the tone set by the story (as I see it).
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October 22nd, 2017, 13:07
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
In Baldur's Gate 1&2 you can actually write your character's biography and save it in-game. More games should allow that.
Yeah, it's a shame that developers don't see this as an possibility.

As someone who is writing "stories" since being a teenager, it's relatively common for me to assume the point of view of another person. So, from this point of view, role-playing aka playing a role = assuming one's own view - isn't that far away.

I came into real role-playing 1997 or 1998 via a "demo round" / demo session with TDE during the "Spiel International" fair in Essen, which still takes place every October. From there, the fantasy genre became more and more attractive to me.

In C-RPGs, I was fully playing a role in earlier times - Action-RPGs have kind of eroded that. I often find it difficult to maintain a set role during modern games. I don't really know why … maybe I get nudged by the game's story-writers into direction my role wouldn't want. Like greed, for example. Since LOOT is so much important these days, combined with the NEED to equip one's character witrh LOOT, it is almost impossible these days to play an altruistic, greedless character. Which says volumes about the view of developers as well, because they are the ones not implementing the possibility to play altruistic characters.
I could even say that Action-RPGs kind of train RL people to act greedy, because there's loot - and modern games are designed so that one would NEVER be able to complete a game without being greeds about loot … (No loot = gimping your character.)

About role-playing : I think I'm a "special snowflake" or how the saying goes : I just can't play/assume roles containing omething I don't have inside of me. Therefore I just can't play "dark side", for example. I'm just not able to play a ruthless, brutal, greedy, opportunistic character. I just can't. BUT - so many games these days almost EXPECT you to do exactly THAT ! I fear that this might create a certain mind-set among not-so-mature players : Greed is a good thing, for example. Or narcissm. Especially dangerous when transported/transferred into RL.

I still believe that "the industry" is playing an HUGE social/psychological experiment with younger people without even knowing it does so. Becaue of our unconscious part. Messages and things get there. And our consciousness just can't control our unconscious part.

There should be much, much more discussion among developers on the psychological impact of games on belief-systems etc. … It's just as if eating something didn't have any effect on the body …

… And then there's this "but it's only pixels !" argument. Ugh. Don't get me started on that. Because out unconsciousness just doesn't know "it's only pixels" … I still fear that our unconsciousness might take "these pixels" for real !

Part of my bitterness over RPGs come from the fact that most games follow the trail of the Action-RPG genre so much that LOOT has become such a prominent factor. And that DESTRUCTION is a main theme as well. I just don't remember any offline RPG in which HEALING is a major theme ! In MMORPGs, the "trinity" indeed consists of a Healer as well- but NONE of the offline RPGs I know of has this … Only as magic, maybe, magicians doing the job of healers …

If the RPG genre wants to go on, then new themes have to be explored.
But right now it's seemingly rather Heavy Metal Time - exceptions (D:OS) proving the rule.
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October 22nd, 2017, 14:34
Another article promoting the view that role playing is not acting out of a role but acting out of personality or character (movie actor job which is in common language called acting and not roleplaying)

The premise makes no sense: except peculiar conditions, you cant roleplay yourself as you can not get the same role as a PC.
Now, in acting for sure, and it is a known problem for beginning actors or even established professionals, being someone else than yourself is troublesome. That is the work of an actor: getting into character. That is how their acting skills are measured and acknowledged.
Established professionals who lack acting skills are when they are bankable offered to play their own character in different movies. Arnold Swchartzenegger is an example of it. He had a character and was expected to play it in all the movies.

Has nothing to do with roleplaying. It is clear that for a number of people, acting is roleplaying except of course when it comes to actors in which case the same activity must be called acting.

Actor doing the actor job: acting
Anyone else doing the actor job: roleplaying.
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October 22nd, 2017, 16:21
Role playing is not black and white. Just google "difference between acting and role playing" to see how much discussion their is. An actor is someone playing a role.

Some feel acting is becoming your character so your self becomes something in the background. While role playing is a superficial activity where you are very aware you playing a role and force yourself to do so.

Role playing also has a psychological basis used in therapy and that tends to have a very different aspect from acting and game role playing. But they all interrelate.

Don't confuse how good someone is at role playing with role playing itself. A good actor is an excellent role player while a poor actor might be someone who is only good at playing them self.

I know for me I take a simple approach. Role playing is the act of taking on a role and pretending you are a person in that role. The degree this is done, and the amount of drama or depth involved, may vary depending on whether its a game, an actor for a movie, a spy pretending to be someone they are not, or a patient getting therapy. But it all shares the same theme of taking on the identify (to various degrees) of someone else - of trying to act and behave in a way that is outside of you normal role. To try and see view points from another perspective.
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October 22nd, 2017, 16:34
As for games expecting people to be greedy, ruthless, killers I can see some points to that argument but don't paint people in broad strokes. As long as games provide some balance and a difficulty slider I know tons of people who are not loot whores and like to play good guys/gals. Whether we are in the minority is what I can't say. Maybe games focus on loot and killing because it sells so not sure what that says.

I know I play games where I care very little about loot outside of two factors - does it look cool and does it fit the role of the character I am playing? For example in DOS2 my character won't use or touch any weapon that has the taint of necromancy or life stealing. EDIT: My mistake on DOS2 comment as I was just playing it and realized I still only had 1 source point. It was only a certain skill I got.

Anyhow the point is I almost always gimp all my characters but as long as the game provides ways to get around that it works.

I tend to agree that some games have too much focus on death, greed, and killing as @Alrik Fassbauer mentions but I disagree on how strong that influence is. Same discussion about whether cartoons, heavy metal music, and video games turn people into violent psychopaths. There is probably some influence but I think the environment and the parents have a lot more influence then said games.

One thing I do enjoy in games is OPTIONS. The option to solve a dispute in a non-violent way. I suppose one reason I enjoyed Torment ToN a lot - while there was some fighting I was able to bypass a lot of it. I like games where they provide peaceful options.
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October 22nd, 2017, 22:41
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
One thing I do enjoy in games is OPTIONS. The option to solve a dispute in a non-violent way. I suppose one reason I enjoyed Torment ToN a lot - while there was some fighting I was able to bypass a lot of it. I like games where they provide peaceful options.
I know my position on this is well known, but I'll repeat myself because everyone else is repeating themselves while ignoring the things I've said many times. But this time I'll try to be more concise, more to the point and more undeniable.

1. In order to have peaceful options you most likely have to have dialogue as your route to conflict resolution.

1a. In order to have dialogue then the entity you're in conflict with must speak a language.

1aa. If the entity has a relateable language then they must be civilised to a degree.

1aaa. The most interesting conflicts in RPGs are when fighting proper scary monsters, from undead to hydras.

Conclusion: You are disliking conflict because you're playing a bad fantasy RPG which isn't providing enough fantasy combat encounters, the bad RPG is providing you too many 'humanoid' encounters that are making you (or any empathetic person) empathise too much with your surroundings.

Conclusion a: The more empathy you feel for the characters you're in conflict with in a fantasy RPG the less fantasy the game becomes, by default. If you can't disconnect the violence in an RPG with some form of reality then the game has failed to transport you to another world where combat is a logical and daily part of regular life.

2. Combat is part and parcel of RPGs because defining different roles within a party framework is most easily expressed via combat. A platoon of soldiers will have the leader, the second in command, the medic, the wireless operator, the mapping guy, the sniper, etc etc etc. Combat is also the scenario most likely to force mismatched people together for a common cause.

2a. You could have a role-playing game set in a hospital, with each party member performing different tasks, Surgeon, nurse, receptionist etc, but what are you going to invent as the reason why they all move around en-block around the hospital? How will they work as a team to defeat someone's illness?

Conclusion: Are there any better scenarios than combat for providing a fantasy role-playing game? If there were, don't you think someone would have tried it? Spies maybe? But spies tend to work alone or maybe with one other colleague, not in packs, and the variety of differences between each spy would be minimal at best anyway.

3. If a game was strewn with non-combat options which were as equally rewarding as combat options, would you feel 'dumber' going for the combat option? When, in reality, the non-combat option is always the easier option.

3a. If you can reason with the hydra or, conversely, sneak past the hydra, why would you even need the monster to be a hydra? You might as well make it a human.

3aa. What is the point in having one party member who can sneak past the monster if the other team members can't sneak past the monster.

3aaa. What is the point of the combat team members if your lead party member is just going to talk their way through all the possible combat encounters?

Conclusion: A game which offers too many non-combat options goes against the concept of having a team of varied characters. A single character game could offer all three options, as a single character game does not require people to play roles within a party. But if a single character game allows you to stealth everything then what you've done is you've turned your RPG into a stealth game, when you could have just gone and bought a stealth game. You're making your poor RPG dev make 2 games in one while the people who make stealth games only have to make one game…
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October 22nd, 2017, 23:34
A great post and got me thinking on many things @lackblogger some that I was nodding my head and other parts shaking. But the main part I thought was the empathy.

As a slightly different viewpoint is that I think the empathy part is more the key than the humanoid. For example in FO4 the devs made the raiders so utterly despicable that I enjoyed hunting them down - even sought them out to do so. Probably why I like the combat in FO4. They are monsters in human skin. I felt almost no empathy for them. What little I did was more for special cases - like the one kneeling at the grave by the rail road tracks or knowing that some raiders were indoctrinated or broken into becoming raiders. Regardless of how, though, those that stayed in the raider groups were nothing more that sadistic killers (to me at least). It was a pleasure killing them because of this.

On the other hand the Deathclaws and Scorpions were just animals that were just doing what is natural. I killed them when I had to but without the drive I had to hunt down raiders. I hated the raiders even more than the Super Mutants or Ferals.

Anyhow point being in many games combat is more enjoyable when in the game what I am fighting is more black and white (just speaking for myself of course) and probably why I enjoy hunting undead, demons, and monsters - even though they can appear as humanoid or not. I enjoy it less when its far less gray - such as certain enemies in DOS2 where I knew not all magisters were insane sadists like their leader. Probably also why I do not play war games or games where you have to kill people who are no different than you.

Still I think a game can balance combat and non-combat, such as Torment:ToN which I enjoyed a lot. But I agree that having a group style RPG (versus a single character) does need some focus where all the team can contribute. In a book it is easier but a game - combat is a rallying point. But I think it is possible to provide better balance. There are other ways to get damage and need healing; there are talents that are useful outside of combat, etc. For example where the members of the team cover specific skill sets that are needed throughout the game - but the game then needs to be very well designed around that. I think combat is by far the easiest way to design around a party system so Devs go for that. It is also the most popular I think.

There are also games that have no real combat but those tend to be put under other genre's as you mentioned and more focused on a single character.

Overall, however, I think the points make sense.
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October 23rd, 2017, 02:43
I don't role-play my characters in rpgs. I get that other people enjoy doing this and feel its a very important part of their gaming experience, but most of the time its not something I do. But that doesn't mean I can't connect with my characters in the game, I still can and do, and enjoy the character progression in leveling them up, gaining abilities, thinking they are a cool character, enjoying their dialogue, etc.

About combat and "loot" in rpgs. Gaining treasure and having combat encounters have always been staple experiences of rpgs, and have always been a core part of their appeal…I think if you wanted to take away those pillars of the genre, then you may as well make an adventure game instead, because these things have always been foundations of the rpg.

And I'm not saying this to diss adventure games. I've played a few of them, and they can be outstanding game experiences. Nothing wrong with them, just that they are a very different game genre compared to crpgs.

Finally, about gaming effect on the youth, I have to call baloney on that. All the scientific evidence shows it doesn't make people violent or turn them into killers. The only exceptions have been studies that are very suspect and have been put together by people who have an agenda, and are usually debunked in time by real scientists.

I would hate for the sorts of people who want to be a sort of "big brother" to be in charge of making games or having too big of an influence…luckily, the gaming industry largely rejected them, because of gaming fans, and they failed in gaining much influence over the gaming industry with their constant and endless moralizing and cult-like beliefs. (sjws, in other words)
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October 23rd, 2017, 14:40
Originally Posted by Arkadia7 View Post
Finally, about gaming effect on the youth, I have to call baloney on that. All the scientific evidence shows it doesn't make people violent or turn them into killers. The only exceptions have been studies that are very suspect and have been put together by people who have an agenda, and are usually debunked in time by real scientists.
Usually, studies try to connect video products with what they do not display: wanton violence. Video products are charged with making people commit wanton violence.

Vid products are everything but wanton violence. They are based on structured violence.
So called RPGs that are focused on a quest for power are a good example:
it is all about finding the proper recipients for violence. The PC starts as weak and can not exert violence randomly. Later on, when the PC has grown the most powerful entity, exercize of violence can be done with less discrimination.

Basically, in video products, players are demanded to exert violence only when they know there is no greater source of violence around.

One way to fail to find is to look for what is not there. Vid products can not incite wanton violence as they do not expose to wanton violence.

A quick look at the world shows that few places fitting to study the influence of vid products on violence. Commonly, players live in places they are not the greater violence threat.
Places like occupied Iraq tell a different story.

Most importantly, the whole stuff is rule of law bogus: it taunts the idea that, if causation between violence and vid products was established, then the industry would be stopped or reformed.

Which is of course incredible.
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October 23rd, 2017, 15:57
I tend to roleplay to the extent that the game world reacts to my decisions. If I'm playing a dungeon crawler or a sandbox game with limited C&C (ie Skyrim) then I usually won't bother roleplaying too much, other than to maybe avoiding "evil" acts if I'm viewing the character as a good guy.

If I'm playing a game like The Witcher with heavy C&C, but also a predefined character, I'll role-play in a sense, but it's more about thinking what the character they have given me would do. My perception of Geralt might be different from the next guy playing the Witcher, but it's still not my character.

Usually the games where I really roleplay are the ones with C&C and my own character. But even then the world usually isn't deep enough to make me really think about my character and what he would do. There have to be come more complicated choices like in Tyranny before I will do that.
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October 24th, 2017, 12:10
I'm a bit similar to fadedc.

I can't really roleplay when I am playing sandbox games, guess it's because I have rather limited imagination.

When I'm forced to play pre-defined character, I find it difficult to roleplay. I hate it when games tells me to roleplay someone who is completely different to me, someone who I can't relate to.

When I get to create my own character, I form a personality/history as I go, depending on how the world interacts with my character's decision/actions.
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October 24th, 2017, 14:08
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
Role playing is not black and white. Just google "difference between acting and role playing" to see how much discussion their is. An actor is someone playing a role.
It is nothing like black or white. There is no opposition between roleplaying and acting. Roleplaying and acting are distinct one from another.
The volumes of discussion changes nothing. Other topics would be better served by this volume rather than two activities that were characterized a long time ago.

Role playing also has a psychological basis used in therapy and that tends to have a very different aspect from acting and game role playing. But they all interrelate.
No. Roleplaying was indeedused as a therapy before it was introduced in gaming (and as a job interview test also before)
It does not change. In therapy, roleplaying has been used as a way to help patients to adjust to expectations they meet in society. It has nothing to do with acting.
Role based societies were destroyed so there are less and less daily life examples of roles.
People still do not take the few remaining as it were acting. When they think of parenting, they do not conceive it yet as an actor's role. It might come. It will come but not yet.
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