Super Social Weekend

This is 1 of 2 posts for the morning, starting with a quick review of the weekend. The next post will be about setting the tone for Week #2 of the “Themed Work Week” experiment.

Social Simulation

I spent nearly the entire weekend, from 10PM on Friday evening to 1AM on Sunday night, socializing online in WildStar, the massively-multiplayer online role planning game (MMORPG) that I’ve been playing for the past six weeks. As I’d mentioned before, I’ve been not actually playing the game, but participating in its virtual role playing community learning the ropes of improvisational group storytelling. I mostly stayed-in, leaving the house only to buy groceries. I got a few chores done: vacuuming the living room, paying some bills, giving myself a haircut for the first time, and doing laundry. The rest of the time I was immersed in new social experiences online.

Rather than go through all the details, here’s a few of the highlights.

The Weekend’s Simulated Experiences

  • First time participating in so-called “Bar RP”, which is what it sounds like: you go to a bar somewhere, because everyone knows you sit around there and can meet people. You don’t know who you’ll meet, but whether you talk, emote quietly, or just listen, there’s something going on. I’d avoided it because it has a reputation of being lame, but others had told me it can be OK as a starting point so I tried it.

  • “Starting point” was a good way to describe that first experience, but not in the way I expected. I was thinking more of “easy, casual beginner roleplaying”, which is where I am, but it can also mean, “gateway to another adventure away from the bar”. It’s the latter that happened, travelling to a distance location to rescue another who was stranded in the middle of a lake on an island.

  • I became aware of several intertwined storylines between other characters I knew, and marveled at how complex things can get. I started to lose track of who my character knew, when they had met, and so forth. I’m bad at this in real life too, forgetting names and where I first met them, until about three exposures. I got pulled into a few of these storylines, one involving some missing paintings, another involving an ongoing investigation by a surly granok, and the ongoing one with my own character’s land of hay.

  • I also tried another Bar RP, which played out actually the way that I would expect an actual bar experience to be: kind of loud and unpleasant for my character. It’s important to separate the players from their characters; the players themselves are people that I like, but the relationships between characters are their own thing. If someone is role-playing a character that is racist or prejudiced toward my character, it’s interesting to try to play that out authentically. It’s also a bit stressful to play, but mature RPers can make that distinction.

Overall, it was a very interesting way to socialize, because I forced myself into virtual situations that in real life I would never do. And because I have had to exercise my social muscles and think about how to react in a way that OTHER people can pick-up on and improv from themselves, I think it’s actually making me a better conversationalist in real life; I’ve noticed that I’m engaging with strangers more readily and easily. Weird!

I’m also exhausted from all this socialization. I’m actually rather glad that I’m swearing off the game during the work week, because I need the break!