So, when the time came to create new characters, I jumped right in. I decided I'd put Consigliere on the backburner in favor of movie homage, so I created Roman Moronie, a night elf Hunter, inspired by the antagonist in the movie Johnny Dangerously. I ran around with a pet, firing bowshots at random monsters while calling them "miserable cork-suckers" and "fargin iceholes." When I got tired of speaking in broken English, I created Danny Vermin, a human Hunter inspired again from the movie, and called the gun I picked up an .88 magnum, telling anyone who listened, "This thing shoots through schools." I told people I was looking for Johnny, who worked with another gang on the Horde side of the world.
Most people didn't get it. Granted, Johnny Dangerously isn't the most popular movie in the world, but anyone who grew up watching Comedy Central has seen it roughly 600 times. Especially after dropping helpful quotes from the movie, the ponderous emotes directed my way could only have been willful ignorance. Other people were so wrapped up in their own version of roleplaying, they didn't have room for mine, so they just pretended they didn't understand.
But who really does? Most according-to-Hoyle roleplayers I've met don't really seem to get along well with anyone outside their incredibly exclusive circles, incapable of bending their structured mythos. Every individual's story and premise is just too different to really jive with anyone else. Sure, your night elf Druid is actually a demon from the planet Zardo, but good luck getting along with the guy whose human Paladin is an avatar of light sent by a Judeo-Christian God to convert heathens like you. That's when the old adage, "Ignore them and they'll go away," comes into play, and the wagons circle closer around you.
That's what I don't get. It may be easier to pretend your personal story exists in a bubble, but is that really the point of online roleplaying? Is a story within the game's lore the only legitimate form of roleplaying? It just seems like bad acting if you can't find a way to merge your character with your fellow man, even if he's typing with a fake Brooklyn accent. Intermingling with other people, forcing yourself to become a part of the world, is what makes MMOGs more than the sum of some 5 million parts. What's the point of videogame communities if there isn't any communication between them?
In the end, isn't community what it's all about? You can't tell your story, no matter what it is, without others to listen. What's wrong with having a slightly off-kilt story to share? But what do I know? I've never been much of a roleplayer.
Joe Blancato is a Contributing Editor for The Escapist Magazine, in addition to being the Founder of waterthread.org.