SL is ideally suited to some activities, whilst in other areas it’s probably best avoided. Even though virtuality is going through something of a boom period in terms of possible applications, it’s best to leave those to their own bespoke systems, rather than consider using SL as a platform… You wouldn’t, for example, feel particularly comfortable about seeking a doctor’s consultation inworld, sitting an important examination, or using SL to model brain surgery.
There are some things however that SL wasn’t designed for, but are ideally suited to the virtual world. Roleplay, for example, is a massively successful pursuit inworld thanks to the freedom and flexibility afforded to us by SL
However, it’s not for everyone and, in a recently conducted scientific study – well, slightly scientific… It was a bunch of us talking about the subject one evening – it turns out that in a randomly selected group of SL residents, whilst almost all present will happily accept that roleplay is a perfectly acceptable and normal pursuit, the majority will be entirely baffled by the concept, although maybe a third will have dabbled at some time, but have been incapable of taking themselves seriously ever since.
It’s not for everyone, but – even in RL, RP seems to be growing and is considered a legitimate and respectable adult recreational activity, which is confusing for someone like me for whom roleplay was always something you did as a child – more commonly known as ‘dressing up and make-believe’, and was certainly not the preserve of adults. I suppose times have changed – play for youngsters today is very much what takes place on a phone or tablet, and it seems that grown ups now hold the monopoly when it comes to pretending to be fairies, vikings and superheroes. It’s a funny old world!
It should come as no surprise then that SL, with its capacity to bring to life pretty much any setting you could wish for, and allowing us to interact with it and each other in any manner and form we wish, and all anonymously, is an idea RP playground. What is perhaps surprising is that relatively few of us – enlightened people that we are, (after all, we have little difficulty in relating to the virtual world in any other regard), actively participate in or even understand RP.
Although… That’s not strictly true, is it?
Aren’t we all, by virtue of the fact that we are participating in SL in the first place, role-playing by definition?
Each one of us, every time we log in, is playing a character, even if that character is supposed to be an accurate representation of our real world self. Our avatars are not us, they are a costume that we put on and in which we act out scenarios in an environment that permits our interaction in scenarios that range from the everyday and mundane to the bizarre and exotic. We fly and teleport, change our shape and appearance, pretend to drive, ride, dance and swim, and all of it – although it may look, and even feel real, is completely made up. It’s role-playing, pure and simple.
And that means that all of us, whether we profess to be role players or not, have a real, in depth understanding and appreciation of what roleplay is, how it works, and how it makes us feel, and no matter what we might argue to the contrary… We enjoy it.
So, yes, RP is OK, and if it suits us to pretend that we’re doing something entirely different, then that’s OK too…
Although, that’s just pretending, isn’t it?
Save myself from death, is that it?
Is that why I’ve come here?
I’m not afraid to die!
At times I’ve welcomed death
American McGee’s Alice – Time To Die