A few years ago, when I was entrenched in Final Fantasy XIV's roleplaying scene, a friend of mine introduced me to a sort of Roko's Basilisk
- an idea that imperils you the moment you learn about it.
We were in a public space, watching someone RP with someone else, when he said to me: "Look, scroll back up and read through her emotes very carefully. Check it out. Every line she writes is about herself."
It was totally true. Her partner was gamely trying to talk to her about a political intrigue. At no point did she acknowledge them in her emotes. Every post referenced only herself and her actions. What's worse, even the dialogue was self-centered. Nearly every sentence began with "I". Not a single comment was made that wasn't pivoted to somehow relate to her or draw a comparison to herself.
This completely screwed me up. Once he'd opened my eyes to the idea, I couldn't stop seeing it everywhere I went.
It's actually okay to talk about yourself. This is a natural function of conversation, and in a perfect world where there are no self-centered people, we are perfectly happy to learn things about you. It's not
okay to relate to the entire world by doing this. It's not okay to spend time with a person and fail to notice a single thing about them. It's not okay to turn a conversation back to yourself every single time you get to talk. It's alienating at best, and rude at worst.
This is a pretty big problem in today's Aetolia. I'm not going to make any comments to the effect that there was somehow a Golden Age in which we didn't do this, but it didn't seem quite so prevalent. There's no need to imply things or name names, that's not the point. But please read that emote you've written before you send it. Please review your speech, your apology, your letter, and make sure that you've acknowledged there is another character in the room with you, being piloted by someone who is taking time to craft a story with you. Ask yourself these things: Who is your roleplay for? Who is the most important character in the room at any given time? If you switched out the character you were just talking to with anyone else, would the scene have played out differently?
I want to challenge everyone reading this to try at least one of these tasks, at least once a day:
- Ask a character for clarification about something you heard them say.
- Look at another character and acknowledge something about their appearance. Has their outfit changed? Are they glowing? Were they always male, and now they're non-binary?
- If another character has given you an idea or concept, don't find a reason to dismiss it, work with it. Play in the space for a little while.
- Consider a "difficult" character and why your attempts to start RP with them may not have worked. Try an approach more tailored to them.
- And of course, strike up RP with a stranger!