Plaza roleplaying – from lolplay to whole play
by, 24/May/2013 at 12:38 PM (2019 Views)
In the twelve and a half years of the Plaza, the idea of what was considered “good roleplay” has changed drastically. Most of the members who joined after 2005 who now took a look in the archives for 2002/2003 would surely laugh themselves silly at what was then considered great roleplaying. Early plaza was the kingdom of oneliners; RPGs were a series of posts containing one or two lines of text, often dialogue with a rare “she said” attached to the end and barely a hint of descriptive writing. Like this gem of mine, from yours truly’s very first RPG, The Flute of Lúthien Tinúviel, a Rivendell Army RPG.
Yes, my dear fellow plazaites. Back in 2002, this was considered roleplay. I dare not say “good roleplay”, because that was something none of us was even considering at the time. What was most important to us was fun. Hence the title: lolplay. For it was often a lot of laughs bundled together in a thread that moved so quickly, if you blinked you had missed ten posts and possibly the opening of a new thread, since back then threads were closed at a hundred posts to prevent slow loading pages. ADSL and optic fibre speeds were science fiction; most of us were on dial-up and because of the speed of posting (it was, basically, one big chatroom), a slow load meant by the time you had posted, so had fifteen others. Some even twice.*Walks along, at the side, and salutes to Feanedhell when she sees him. She follows the others, cause she doesn’t know the way.....*
As with all thing however, roleplay on the plaza evolved. By the time I GM’d my first stand-alone RPG in Rivendell, descriptive writing had made its entrée. Posts were now usually five to six lines in length, had the now common convention of italics for description, “quotes for dialogue” and bolded names to be able to see at a moment’s notice when someone was talking to or about you.
In the years that followed, the scale tipped to the other side of lolplay. Especially in the kingdom of Minas Tirith, roleplay was serious business. There were rules in some RPGs that said your post had to be at least 500 characters in length and a roleplay post wasn’t considered good unless it looked like a chapter from a novel. With proper spelling and punctuation. For me, especially as a non-native speaker of English, this was all a little bit too much. Roleplay didn’t seem as fun if I had to worry about word count and where to put that comma. I was participating in an online game, not in NaNoWriMo, after all. Luckily, in most other kingdoms, roleplay was started to level with what it is today; a good balance between description and dialogue, without the distracting filler to reach a certain amount of characters. So I happily spent my time in Lothlórien, leading an elven army, getting married, having an IC child, because the world was there to explore, for all the fun to be found.
It is what I like to refer to as whole play; good writing that was sprouted from a sense of fun, not duty. Writing that is inspired by a sense to participate, to draw in others, to make a story together, not write a chapter on your own and have others accommodate. The best roleplaying posts, I find, are the ones that leave room for your fellow RPers to jump in and participate in your story. To have it become our story. For where is the fun in being alone in a thread with ten other people? To dictate every character you write and their interactions with each other, that’s when you’re writing a novel. But to interact with other people, sometimes strangers, and have them surprise and delight you with their (unexpected) responses; that’s where the fun’s to be had, in my opinion. That’s whole play. And on the plaza, that is the general essence of our roleplay, and it is a great community to be a part of.