~~~There's been a good bit of discussion lately about RP and what works and what doesn't in different communities within SL, including some very rational sharing of thoughts on two blogs I follow pretty regularly, Hibernia on the Skids and Backpacking Burro. Much of the recent back and forth has been set in motion by a kerfuffle in the steampunk sims that appears to have settled down for the most part.
Here's the latest commentary about it on Hotspur's blog
It seems to have gotten pretty intense there. But you know, every place gets its share of drama -- after all, self inflicted angst is one of the ways we as humans entertain ourselves. And, I think, in the virtual context, both manufactured and naturally occurring conflicts of a minor and relatively unimportant nature provide us with a distraction from the Truly Awful Shit that is out there lurking in our real lives.
I think the key question here is how do we best nurture and manage the "manufactured" conflict that is often at the heart of much RP? In essence how do we create positive conflict for our entertainment and edification?
Here on Headburro's blog, I direct your attention to a general discussion of some of these larger issues with RP:
Not everyone likes RP or even agrees on what it is or how it is best carried out. And that's just jim-fuckin-dandy with me. The expression of diverse viewpoints is a great participatory sport.
But obviously, looking at it from my own wacky perspective, RP does have a potentially positive place in life for many of us. And I think SL can be a useful tool for augmenting and enhancing the RP playground of the imagination, as we individually and collectively create or recreate worlds and realities different from our own and tell stories within those contexts. RP is in many ways a viable, enjoyable and structured means by which we can inflict drama upon ourselves in a controlled way, so that we can have that distraction from real life's TAS, and sometimes connect with other folks in some real fun ways. Sometimes those other players we connect with are of a like mind to our own, and sometimes they are coming from a wildly different perspective than our own, but goddammit, that's part of the wonder and beauty of it.
That said, I do note from the on-going discussions that there does seem to be a tendency to have a tidier form of rp in the sims that have a very focused theme -- Gorean realms , or historical sims like Versailles and Deadwood, or certain science fiction environments -- where you have things like rules, and guidelines and clear expectations of what is going to happen and how it is going to play out.
And please notice that I say "tidier" not "better."
I think there is a great deal to be said for a a more flexible form of rp experimentation, such as what you typically have going on in some of the steampunk sims. Yeah, it ain't always tidy, it ain't always pretty, but goddamn it sure is interesting and you never know what the hell people are going to throw into that history/fantasy/sci fi/militant tiny mashup, which is sure as shit exciting.
But it's not for everyone.
Just like going back to a relatively literal recreation of the historical Black Hills in the 1870s ain't for everyone.
But then as I have often said, it's a big goddam grid. And if it can't accommodate everyone someplace, then the folks who ain't being accommodated have the ability to get off their asses and create their own lil' playground of the imagination and try to draw in like-minded -- at least compatibly minded -- fellow players.
Still, there is much to be said for the idea expressed by some of the commentators on O'Toole's blog that it might be useful and interesting --at the very least entertaining -- to find a neutral space and bring together people who have different views on RP. Then we could see if we can step out of character and kick around ways we might facilitate a collective form of RP that could serve as an alternative to the complete balkanization of the larger RP communities, until we only end up with each one of us rp'ng with one other guy (who is most likely your own alt anyway).
I'd be interested in being a part of that discussion.