Written by | Posted November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm A Girl and her Dog

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

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WoW, Social Media, and Roleplaying
comment 3 Written by on January 17, 2012 – 11:04 am

So Cynwise has a really excellent post up about what makes WoW different from other games and other forms of social media – it’s worth a read, so I’m going to just link to it and let you go read it before I start thinking about it over here.

Go now, read, come back when you’re done.

On Snow Crash, Virtual Avatars, and Warcraft’s Social Network Appeal

What really stuck with me, and tickled my brain cells, was the bit about guilds – beyond a general resonance that yes, what makes WoW (and other MMO’s) stick is the combination of social network and doing things. (See my earlier post on needing immersion and community - my versions of doing things and a social network.)

See, I don’t wonder if there’s a dichotomy between what WoW assumes guilds are about and how RP guilds work. Totally Raids was a way to raid beyond guild affiliation, because guild affiliation for roleplayers is about RP community, not about who’s a raid main and who’s an alt. So my raiding experience prior to 4.0 and the new guild achievement/ranking system was totally unrelated to my guild – in fact, I switched guilds a few times before settling in with the Wildfire Riders, all while still raiding with TRI.

Cyn also talks about the change from small server communities to a more global community – which is, I think, mostly a progression in the right direction. As much as we look with some nostalgia on the 3+hour wait times for Alterac Valley, back before cross-realm battlegroup PVP, it’s nice to be able to PVP whenever you want. You did lose the sense of server continuity though. Back in those days I knew who to watch out for in Feathermoon’s Horde PVP scene, and could generally tell pretty quickly who I was up against. Now you’re not likely to ever see the same players twice.

The same thing happens in LFG – which in its earliest days (back when I was leveling Annalira as a holy priest in 1.8 or so) was one of my primary ways of making friends on the server. Even of making roleplaying friends.

Now, in LFD, if I run into some roleplayers it’s a random treat, but I don’t use RealID (for a number of privacy reasons) so I have no way of connecting with any of those people again. And roleplay is really about being able to connect to people outside of just running dungeons or battlegrounds or raids.

RP guilds generally have different goals – but community is the biggest single goal that I’ve experienced. That community often (but not always) extends out of character, but in the end it’s about having a group of characters that relate to each other and tell stories together – all things that the “new and improved” guild system doesn’t measure. Which, in a way, means that RP can move out of guilds and into channels, but there is still something nice about being part of a community that has a guild tag, guild chat, a guild forum, etc.

Granted, my experience with TRI was the reverse of that, so it’s definitely possible to have cross-guild RP communities with chat channels and forums while still being part of a tagged raiding guild, if that’s what floats your boat.

But I don’t always think that the move to bigger and greater communities is one that is always good for RP

For one thing, a lot of RP is slow – it’s based around building trust and getting to know people.

The constant stream of players through LFD/LFR/BGs means you’re never seeing the same person twice – so you either have to jump to the idea that you can trust everyone, and give out relatively personal information (which comes at a cost, especially if you’ll only ever see that person in other dungeons and not out in the general world), or you enjoy a little pick up RP and move on. I almost exclusively choose the second option, simply because I don’t openly trust everyone I run into, roleplayer or not. I’ve been burned too hard for that in the past.

If I were to engage in larger community RP, it would require having some way to meet people and get used to them in “small” RP situations (like pub night) before diving into creating stories together. Most of the people I’d be interested in fostering that kind of relationship with are people I’ve met outside of WoW, usually on Twitter or through this blog. Meeting other like-minded RPers is harder than ever, now that there’s not really a lot of difference between RP-PVE and regular PVE when it comes to choosing servers, and server populations are enormous on most RP servers. Plus, your battlegroup makes a bigger difference in the people you run dungeons/battlegrounds with than your server, unless you are already cultivating a relationship …

A relationship with a guild.

RP guilds offer the opportunity to know that, at the very least, the people you’ll be socializing with are RP tolerant, if not outright roleplayers themselves.

So maybe Cynwise is right, and guilds are going to go the way of the dodo. But for those of us for whom guilds serve a rather different function than groups, raids, and battlegrounds, I don’t wonder if there will always be throwbacks to the current system. I realize that RP guilds are vastly in the minority for WoW guilds – most guild leadership guides don’t know heads or tails about what it takes to be a member or leader of an RP guild because they’re even more scarce now than they used to be. But we do exist, and it will be interesting to see where and how we fit into new systems in the future.

Whether or not future environments will be more or less RP friendly remains to be seen, however.

My gut feeling is that they will continue to be less RP friendly (as they’ve moved in that direction over time), but that is, as always, just my opinion. And probably the subject of another post.

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3 Responses to “WoW, Social Media, and Roleplaying”

  1. As nice as it can be to just hop in the queue when your new little undead hunter (or human, I suppose… if you’re into that sort of thing) to go to Shadowfang for your class quest, I feel a distinct lack of community with the LFD tool.

    I found almost all my WoW friends, the best guilds, and fellow RPers in dungeons, really. Now it seems like even RP servers are all business and I can’t find a way to meet new people or find new guilds that I really click with. It’s even harder to find people to RP with.

    I’ve only recently decided to try Feathermoon Alliside, having been and Earthen Ring hordie since 2005 but since my “home” guild blew up in Wrath and with the advent of the LFD… I find I no longer know how to find RP (or even RP-friendly) guilds anymore.

    If you have any insight into how to find islands of personability in a sea of facelessness… I’d love to hear it. You have no idea how jealous I’ve been of your guild situation since I even found your blog. :)

    By Mitawa on Jan 17, 2012 | Reply
  2. @Mitawa – To be honest, I did a lot of things, but one of the things on that list was “be in the right place at the right time” – I found my RP group through TRI (my raid). I found my raid because I frequented the Feathermoon Server IRC channel, something that I’m not sure even exists anymore, and because I visited a non-Blizzard website called Feathermoon.net that does NOT exist anymore, plus I read and posted in various threads (RP and non) on the Official Feathermoon Forums, all of which went a long way toward building a server community. (Both the non-official sites were cross-faction as well). Because of those relationships, and through connections I made there, I ended up as a trial healing sub for one of TRI’s struggling 10 man raids, and that caught me a spot as a shaman in their 25 man, and the rest was (as they say) history.

    In today’s server community, there just isn’t much community left. There’s not as much reason to make friends with everyone because you can just as easily run LFD with four people you’ve never met and it won’t matter. Used to be you could advertise in LFG that you were looking for an RP friendly run, or even do something in general chat in a major city. I’m pretty sure neither of those will work anymore. So the short answer is, I’m not entirely sure what will help right now, beyond doing as much as you can to get yourself out there. As for RP guilds on Feathermoon, WFR, The Boomstick Gang, and the Order of the Rose are all still active, but I’m not sure what’s out there beyond that. There’s also this thread on the FM forums: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3530213052 that might help.

  3. Thanks Anna,

    I know it’s just difficult now. In making WoW accessible to lots of people, they made it harder to meet new people. I’m still trying. :)

    By Mitawa on Jan 20, 2012 | Reply

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