Role Play: Immersing yourself in roleplay
World of Warcraft isn’t exactly a game that makes itself conducive to roleplaying. Sure, there are roleplaying realms, and there are plenty of great locations where players can gather for events. But there aren’t exactly a lot of tools developed specifically for roleplayers – addons help alleviate that particular struggle, but there’s nothing built-in.
It’s not that Blizzard hates roleplayers – it’s just that WoW is by and large a PVE-oriented game, with a side emphasis in PVP. That’s what the majority of players tend to participate in, and what the biggest bulk of players want the most. So how, exactly, does a roleplayer go about the business of immersing themselves in a game that isn’t quite built for what they’d like to do?
Immersion in RP
What is “immersion,” in regards to roleplay? It’s the act of becoming your character while you’re roleplaying. Basically, you think like them, speak as if you were them, and kind of sink yourself into the game world as if you were living in it. Part of the act of character development is getting to know this character you created so that you understand how they’d react to any given situation – that’s what makes immersion possible.
Immersion is also the act of blocking out anything that might be perceived as out of character. That may be information you’re privy to that your character doesn’t know, or just simple game mechanics. Things like what level you’ve obtained, or the quality of the gear you’re wearing really don’t matter to a character. It’s just not logically something a character would think about.
Between these two concepts, you can get yourself into a space where you begin to feel how that character would feel. It’s a little like getting into a really good book or movie – you start to sympathize and empathize with what’s going on. This also has the added bonus of making your interactions with other characters feel a lot more genuine in the process.
What to ignore
There aren’t a lot of roleplaying tools in World of Warcraft – but there are ways to shape the world around you into something more suitable for roleplay. First things first, your character doesn’t know the names of random strangers that happen to walk by. This information is readily floating above every character, NPC, and pet’s head, no matter where you go. Turning off the names will help you remember that a stranger is exactly that: a stranger, someone you don’t know.
The same goes for health bars. Nothing’s more distracting than a giant bar floating above your character’s head. “Health” isn’t a numeric value in real life, and it isn’t a numeric value to your character, either. You can safely ditch the floating bars while roleplaying. There just isn’t a need for them at all.
Obviously there are situations where you’d like that information at hand. I’m not saying you need to disable this stuff permanently. But while you’re roleplaying, getting rid of the visual distractions can serve as a helpful reminder of just what your character doesn’t know, or isn’t aware of – which helps keep their reactions authentic.
There are a variety of different chat channels in game. Some are filled with people you’d like to talk to, like guild chat, party chat, whispers and raids. Some, however, are full of strangers that may or may not be talking about RP. They certainly aren’t in character, and the purpose of these channels isn’t really RP-related.
While Trade chat, General chat, and LocalDefense aren’t really useful from an RP standpoint, they are useful in game. Because of this, I don’t recommend getting rid of these channels entirely – you never know when you’ll want to list something in Trade chat. But you can customize your chat window by right-clicking the General tab and selecting “Create New Window.” From there, you can go into the settings and configure the tabs to display whatever channels you want to see.
I do this with every new character I create. The main chat window I use is strictly for guild, raid, party, whisper and say. If I want to check in on Trade or General, I can just click to the other tab – and the rest of the time, I can ignore it. It cuts the potential distraction from what I’d rather be paying attention to, and keeps the idle non-RP chat safely out of sight until needed.
While you can sculpt the game to suit your purposes, you have no such control over other players. And while the majority of people on RP servers are there because of that roleplaying element, there are always a few bad apples to contend with. Unfortunately, there’s no way to simple erase someone who’s pestering you, whether by talking over any roleplay you’re doing, or simply jumping up and down, throwing down toys, or otherwise being disruptive right in the middle of your RP.
Your solutions in these cases are pretty limited – you can ask the disruptive person to leave. If they refuse and continue to be deliberately disruptive, you can report them for harassment. But there isn’t really an immediate return on reports filed for that sort of thing. In these cases, your best bet is to report the player and simply pack up and relocate to somewhere else. Either that, or throw the offending player on ignore and tough it out, waiting until they get bored and eventually leave.
Immersion is a lot less about the game world, and a lot more about your imagination. It’s a state of mind – the ability to tune out all the background noise and simply be your character, acting and thinking as they would think and act. Immersion isn’t really a quantitative thing you can flip on an off like a switch at a moment’s notice. But with a few tweaks, you can make it a little easier to dive right in and get that empathetic connection that makes roleplay fun.
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