Role Play: How to encourage new roleplayers
If you’ve been roleplaying for years, chances are you’ve encountered new roleplayers before — people who have obviously not tried to roleplay before, whether they didn’t have the chance to, or if they’re new to the game. And if you’re an experienced roleplayer, a lot of the guides I’ve written are probably very familiar to you by now. Creating a character is easy, figuring out just how old that character should be, even the basics of interacting with the people around you are as second nature as breathing by this point.
So new roleplayers tend to stick out, more often that not. Either they’ve got some timeline errors in their profile, or they’re playing a character that just doesn’t fit in lore, or maybe they’re hanging out in a place that you or your guild commonly use for roleplay, or interrupting a serious event. The first instinct in these kinds of situations unfortunately tends to lean towards ignoring, mocking, or otherwise shooting down any attempt at roleplay…which is really sad, when you think about it, because it does nothing but encourage that new roleplayer to pick up their belongings and leave, never to be seen again.
And that attitude, my friends, will kill a community faster than any drama you can think of.
New roleplayers are new
The thing you need to remember, especially when it comes to new roleplayers is that they are just that — new. They don’t know the rules, they don’t know what could be deemed inconsiderate or downright rude. They might not even know that there are any rules when it comes to RP, that there are behaviors that are frowned upon. And they definitely don’t know whether or not they’re interrupting something important — after all, while you and your friends might be in the middle of a key event pertaining to some months-long storyline, all they can see is a group of people roleplaying, which is exactly what they’re looking for.
Being shut down in a moment like that is basically having the door slammed in your face. We were all new, once, and we all managed to figure out the ins and outs of RP. New roleplayers more often than not aren’t trying to be deliberately insulting, they’re simply trying to roleplay, and they may not be aware of how to act. They don’t know how to roleplay the “right” way, by whatever definitions you’ve personally set, but they also don’t know how to roleplay the “wrong” way, either — to them, it’s just roleplay. It’s an error in judgment, it’s a mistake, but it certainly wasn’t meant to give offense.
New roleplayers are like blank canvases in this aspect. They’re scribbling the first few lines of whatever masterpiece they’ve decided upon in their head. Trying to reach out to people is a process that is intimidating enough on its own, without people berating them for not suddenly whipping out the next Louvre-worthy masterpiece. So if you run into one of these players, gentle corrections on proper behavior are fine…trust me, they’ll learn. They simply need time to learn, rather than experienced people taking offense that they don’t know everything immediately.
Correct if asked
And in the case that someone’s got some serious profile errors going on, you might be tempted to correct it. That’s not really recommended either. Yes, if they ask you for corrections, by all means point them to Wowpedia or any other number of resources out there. If they ask for your input, go ahead and give it to them — constructively — and be polite about it. But if your input isn’t asked for, if it’s just a random character standing at the mailbox, don’t jump in out of nowhere and tear down what they’ve come up with.
People want to stick around where they feel most welcome. Your job, as an experienced roleplayer, isn’t to be the all-seeing all-knowing lore police. You don’t really have a job at all — but if you’d like people to stick around, if you’d like to make new friends, the best way to do that is to treat people the way you want to be treated. Be the kind of roleplayer you’d like to roleplay with yourself. Be open, be welcoming, be a source for information or advice, but don’t hand it out if it isn’t asked for, because that’s almost a guarantee that no matter how well-meaning your advice is, it won’t be appreciated.
You can choose who to roleplay with, and who you’d rather not roleplay with at all. But that doesn’t mean you have to be rude about choosing not to roleplay with someone. If you’re turning someone down for roleplay, let them know why, if they really want to know. If it’s a case of characters not meshing, maybe that’s something they should know about. It’s all a matter of communication, and being friendly with that communication rather than being outright dismissive or picking someone apart when they haven’t asked for it.
Be an example
Here’s the problem with picking people apart — you’re essentially telling them they aren’t welcome. If that’s the case, they’ll go look for roleplay elsewhere, even if that elsewhere means on another server entirely. Sure, you might sneer at the idea now, but later on down the road, when you watch your server slowly empty of people willing to roleplay, you’ll start to see what the effects of this kind of attitude and behavior really are.
Active RP servers are active for a reason: Because roleplay is encouraged, in whatever aspect that might take. People aren’t turned away for being new, they’re helped or pointed in the right direction. That kind of attitude sticks with a person, makes that person want to stick around, and if they have any other friends that want to try roleplaying, they’ll ask those friends to join them. Roleplay realms that have a lot of activity tend to draw a lot more people to them simply because they have a lot of activity.
And roleplay realms that have a lot of people who only roleplay in closed groups and cut off any new people from joining, participating, or even watching will slowly die out. Does this mean you need to roleplay in public and let anyone join? No, of course not — RP guilds have recruitment requirements just like PVE or PVP guilds do. But it does mean that you should be an example for new roleplayers. Be friendly, be considerate, point them at resources or guilds that are recruiting.
We’ve all been the new person at one point in time or another. Think back to the days when you were just starting out, and how it felt to meet a friendly face in a sea of strangers. Think about the first person you spoke to in-character, and what it felt like to actually get the ball rolling and dive into the world of roleplay. That feeling is what these new roleplayers are looking for — just a sense of fun and creativity, a friendly face or three. As an experienced roleplayer, you’ve got the chance to foster new roleplay in your community, and keep the roleplay aspect of an RP realm alive and well. That’s the kind of opportunity you want to take advantage of, because as long as that cycle of new players is coming in, it means more roleplay for you, too.
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