Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our first Deadwood exhibit -- roleplay rooted in history


At 3:00 PM slt today, Saturday September 26, the Deadwood Memorial Library in the non-rp entry area of the Deadwood 1876 Sim will host its first exhibit:

Drawn From the Past: Deadwood Roleplay Characters Inspired by Real History

The exhibit focuses on the concept that just as the Deadwood immersion environment sim was based upon and inspired by an actual historical place and time on the American western frontier, many of the "historically plausible" composite characters that its residents have created to inhabit and interact in that environment were inspired by or based upon actual individuals from the past.

This exhibit features a selection of recurring characters who are part of the ongoing "storytelling roleplay" in the Deadwood sim. The typists who created these characters have contributed reflections upon and information about the actual historical people that inspired their fictional personas.

The exhibit will be on the second floor of the Deadwood Memorial Library in the Yankton area of the Deadwood 1876 sim, from Sept. 26 through December 31, 2009.

The exhibit itself is not a unique design, it essentially follows the pattern established a few years ago by JJ Drinkwater with the Caledon Library, in which exhibits are developed using attractive panels with minimal text, but an embedded notecard-giver that provides substantial interpretive material, as well as web addresses for sources of even more in-depth information about the subject. The style of exhibit is analogous to a real-life museum or library exhibit panel, in which you have a descending order of information in decreasing font sizes--the main title and key concept in few words but the largest font size, followed by slightly more in-depth information in a slightly smaller font size, and then the truly in-depth information for the most committed exhibit visitor, at the bottom of the panel and in an even smaller font size.

While the design of the exhibit is not unusual, the creators of the exhibit are nonetheless rather proud of how this all turned out. Below is an example of one of the exhibit panels:

Each panel features one image of the avatar you may encounter in the sim, and one image of the primary historical inspiration for that character. Background colors of each panel were chosen to reflect something about the persona of the character, such as red backgrounds representing a story of passion and violence.

When the visitor touches one of the panels he or she receives a note card, the initial draft of which was written by the person who plays that particular character--their "typist." This approach resulted in substantial variety in the structure, length and style of each interpretive piece, but it does suggest something of the diverse nature of the "cast" in Deadwood 1876, and the uniqueness of each typist and how they approach their roleplay.

The exhibit was conceptualized and installed by myself, Addison Leigh and Blitzer Renfold. A number of individual resdients contributed their images and stories for the exhibit panels, including myself, Poohneil Streeter, Malachi Boelcke, Cheshire Macarthur, Coodnank Thibedueau, Ernst Osterham, Astolat Dufaux, Baird Bravin and Planter and Elisabeth Leitner.

I think you'll be intrigued by the variety of characters and their sources of inspiration, some of whom are well-known, while others may be completely now to you. We are hoping that during the course of the exhibit, we will be able to add some additional panels from more of our residents, and to present some round-table discussions on creating a roleplay character and using sources like these.

Join us for the opening of the exhibit, starting at 3:00 PM SLT on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, with a reception where you can meet some of the characters featured in the exhibit. Guided tours of the rp area will be available.


  1. I'm itching to come and see this - I'll tweet it and see if I can't get some Steelheaders to come too :)

  2. hey there HB,

    if you let me know when you're coming maybe I can arrange to meet up with you guys and maybe even give a tour, or we could have an impromptu discussion of character development.