by, 26th May 2012 at 03:45 AM (244 Views)
I've been RPing here for 3 years, and almost 13,000 posts. I've been in more RPs than I can count. Maybe more than is healthy. I dunno if I'm particularly skilled at RPing. I do know that I have experience. I've been meaning to do this for a long time: Write down my observations of the district here, and some of my interpretations of 'em. I don't intend to make anyone change how they do stuff; I don't even know if the way I do things is any good. I just want to inform people of what I've seen and tell 'em what I think it means. In other words, consider the following...
It's hard to predict how long an RP will last. Common sense would dictate that a GM with more experience would have RPs that last longer, and thus more likely to finish, correct? This is not the case. Sure, you get experienced GMs hosting RPs that last in excess of 500 pages, and newbies having ones that fall flat. But just as often, those same GMs have ones that barely last five pages. And I have borne witness to a young RPer who started an RP within a couple months of joining that lasted over a thousand pages. It would seem that GM experience is not a deciding factor. But, then, what is?
In my years here, I have observed that there are many. But one of the most important seems to be the relationships between each character. Now, I don't mean just romantic, although those do count. I mean any kind, whether it be a friendship, or even a dislike, so long as the characters feel something about each other.
This may seem odd. How do the relationships between characters in an RP make it last longer? The answer lies in emotional torque.
Emotional torque is a term writers use to describe how a work makes people feel, and to what degree. One could say the main reason people enjoy art, whether it's a painting like The Scream, a video game like Earthbound, or a TV show like The Office, is because it makes us feel. The Scream fills us with suspense and shock at it's ghastly subject. And The Office makes us both cringe and laugh at the antics of Dwight Schrute. And one of the main reasons Earthbound has such a following seems to be that it's so full of feeling. A work is successful when it provides emotional torque, when we develop feelings for it and it's subjects.
What does this mean for RPs? In an RP, most of the emotion comes from the characters, and their interactions. When we make our characters feel for other characters, we are forced to see our characters as more than just constructs built to manipulate the world within the RP. Through their actions towards other characters in the game world, we see them as beings, with emotions and feelings and hearts and souls. And we are also forced to see the characters created by other players in the same way. We begin to care about them. And when we care about the characters in a story, we care about the story. And when you care about a story, when it makes you feel, that's when it's successful.
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