Guide For a New Role-Playerbylipsofanangel©
Role-playing via the Internet is everyone's biggest fantasy come to live. It is a nearly endless playground. You can find someone willing to be anyone you can possibly imagine in the online world, and you can find partners literally from all over the globe. That be said, there are some worries about this kind of play. People of all ages enjoy the anonymity and virtual rules-free attitude that the Internet allows them. Now, role-playing and cybersex are not one and the same. Sexual situations are very often depicted in role-playing but that is not the only type of scene that can be taking place. Some people have storylines that can last for years, with the characters growing up, going to college, falling in love and the whole nine yards. Some are just quick flashes, single scenes where two characters just happen to meet for a brief time. Most seem to fall somewhere in the middle.
There really are no set rules for role-playing, but here are a few simple guidelines that can make it a better experience both for yourself and for the people you come across while trying to find a writing partner. As with most rules there are always loopholes and exceptions and each person is free to find them out for themselves.
Rule Number One: Know your character well.
For some people this would go without saying. If you are going to be playing a certain persona, you should know that persona backwards and forwards. Yet every day, it seems like people come across players who are - well, wishy-washy for lack of a better term. I know a lot of people in real life like to switch things up, and there's nothing wrong with that. However when a character goes from being a very confident, proud straight man to a completely withdrawn gay one within the matter of minutes? Then the person behind the character needs to go back and figure out exactly what it is he or she is intending to portray.
Rule Number Two: Be careful whom you are playing with.
As far as this goes, there is only so much you can do. A major double-edged sword of the Internet is the fact that you cannot be sure who is on the other side of the computer. For role-play, this is a great thing but it can also be a curse, especially when sexual situations come into play. There really is no way to guarantee the other player is above the age of eighteen without requiring some form of identification, which quickly takes all of the fun out of the game. Remaining anonymous is one of the greatest parts of playing, which leads me to rule number three.
Rule Number Three: Remain in character as much as possible.
Humans seem to have this desperate desire to get to know one another. Even when behind the mask of a character, sometimes it's easy to want to know the person behind the character on the other side. And depending on the situation, this isn't always a terrible thing. I personally have gotten to know some incredible people from role-playing games (also known as RPGs) that I have been a part of over the years. I have also gotten incredibly burned and jaded when the person behind the character I've played opposite turns out to be the world's biggest asshole, thus ruining my good perspective I had on their character. The bad can easily outweigh the good so for safety's sake, it's best to try to stay in your character's head as much as possible. Some out of character (OOC) discussion is unavoidable, especially when it comes to storylines of a more sinister or serious nature. Just use good judgment.
Rule Number Four: Make sure that all parties are in agreement.
This is where the time to talk OOC comes into play. Really, all these rules go together more often than not. If you're looking for a storyline that requires the other player to be a certain way, make sure that they know what it is you're looking for and that they also would like to be that character. There is nothing worse than finding someone who wants to create a scene with you, only to find out that these characters could never find a level playing ground if they were real-life human beings. Some people really get off on doing things controversial - rape, incest, et cetera. Some just really like fetishes. Some aren't interested in playing scenes of a sexual nature at all. (If you're on this forum and you're thinking about joining this realm of writing, those might be the ones to avoid. Then again, they might not!) If one person doesn't mesh well with you, try again! There are thousands upon thousands of role-players on the Internet, and there are many different ways to get in contact with them.
Rule Number Five: Be true to yourself.
Don't let someone push you into a storyline or situation you are not comfortable with. Again, this goes back to Rule Number Four. There is no point in forcing yourself to play a certain storyline or character just because you do not feel that you can say no. If you are looking to expand your horizons and try something that is a little out of your comfort zone, that is one thing. If you are completely against something and yet feel pressured to put your character in a situation where they would play a way different from how you see them in your head, that is another. The other person can find someone else more willing and you will be free to find another role-player who will blend well with you as well.
Role-playing is one of the most fun forms of writing that I personally have ever come across. I truly believe that is has made me a better writer overall and has allowed me to find new things that I may want to write out in the future. If you have any questions or would like some ideas of where to go, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and I will do my best to help you find somewhere that is right for you.