Yes, GTA V is out today but I am determined to be decidedly hipster and not go with the mainstream. For anybody not currently playing GTA with their phone turned off and all the curtains closed I wanted to write about something I’ve recently discovered in GW2 – role playing.What is Role Playing?
Role-playing has a bit of a bad rep with some people, but at its core its just acting a character just as Sir Ian McKellan so expertly acts Gandalf in the lord of the rings. Granted, we are no Sir Ians when we take on personas in game, but we can share in a bit of the magic that comes with creating a rich character and creating a story surrounding them.
Many games embrace role playing, with games such as Eve Online and Second Life calling themselves a ‘role playing’ game first and foremost. Of course, Guild Wars is an MMORPG to give it its full title (often just shortened to MMO), which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. RGPs are a whole category of fantasy games in themselves, from World of Warcraft to Fable. So role playing is something that gamers are used to and comfortable with, and many clearly seem to enjoy.
Guild Wars 2 Role Playing
In Guild Wars 2 role playing essentially takes the form of creating a character and mentally creating a back story. This is one of the aspects that GW2 falls down on in itself, the lack of much depth to your character. You created your character look, equipment, profession, traits and skills to a well balanced level. However, back story is significantly lacking. Added to that the fairly lackluster main story, which has certain fun sections but added together doesn’t gel particularly well or make that much sense, and you begin to see a lot of potential for players to create their own back story to their character and their own stories for them.
I discovered role playing through a guild friend on GW2 very recently, who jokingly told me that somebody had followed him around in a bar pretending to be a waiter for over an hour. I wanted to see this place, see if people really do do that, and it was correct. Quite disturbingly my guild friend had found the only, to my knowledge, role play brothel on any servers on GW2 where people go to rooms and role play – well, what goes on in a brothel. At least its well hidden away and the chat is kept to private whispers between the individuals, so it doesn’t disturb anybody else.
Looking past the brothel I found an interestingly rich experience which made me want to create my own back story for my characters, if not to act it out just to flesh their personality out a bit more. People would play as Seraph, catching role playing criminals, and so on. It made you realise how one dimensional the character the game gives you really is.
There is a problem with role playing. At least on the EU role playing servers most role players will keep their role play within groups, and discuss out of character admin on off-game forums. Its probably a good idea for minimum impact on other role players and for the most fluid role play, but it keeps casual players from getting too involved. I don’t particularly want to have to post on an off-game forum all the time to organise what role-play we will be doing whilst remaining in character 24/7.
There’s a second problem with GW2 role play, and thats the characters that people create. They all create humans, because everybody else in humans and for the stories to work its easier for you all to be the same race. However, I personally hate the humans in GW2, I find them to be the boring choice – if you want a humanoid go for a tatooed and bearded norn for some spice to your character! That aside, I visited a role playing server accidentally as my Charr character. Anybody who has played GW1 will understand why humans and Charr still do not get along – a Charr faction obliterating half the human race in GW1 has a big part in it! So, I was given the cold shoulder as my Charr, and my norn didn’t get much of a warmer welcome. I don’t want to play as a human but if I wanted to seriously role play I would have to.
My introduction to GW2 role play recently has been fascinating and has changed the way I look at my characters. I was a perfectionist before with getting them looking perfect, but now I want them to look perfect and have a rich story to them too! There’s problems with role playing, certainly, but there’s massive scope for the more casual player or those not wanting to be fully absorbed by just role playing to get involved.
I really would recommend guesting to a role playing server. For the EU that’s Piken Square and for NA Tarnished Coast. Take a look at http://www.guildwars2roleplayers.com/home for events currently on going (there’s usually something going on somewhere in the world), but if you just want to pop your head in head to one of those servers and go to the human city Divinity’s Reach where you will find the most role players.
Try it out, go and get lost on the back streets of Divinity’s Reach. You might meet a thief, you might find a hidden treasure. What you will certainly discover is a lot more about your character’s personality, and for that I thank my visits to role playing!
P.S. although most role players are deadly serious types, go and have fun with it as well – don’t let them put you off. I’ll include a screenshot here of me and three of my guild friends who decided to turn into kodan using tonics and dance in sync as a traveling group of entertainers. We had great fun dancing in front of all the serious role players and also lots of laughs when the sync went slightly off. Try it and see, you’ll be surprised by the fun you can have!
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