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.

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p>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!

5 Comments

  1. Sharon 12 months ago

    That is not socializing. You have an addiction, but you’re binging now. You sound foolish. Please get help. I’m unsubscribing, I’ll check the website occasionally to see if you are doing any useful work.

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 12 months ago

    Thanks for your assessment, Sharon! I am sure that you have good reasons behind it.

    Since I don’t know who you are, what your background is, or what experiences you have had, I’ll refrain from reading too much into the tone and reasons behind your comment. There’s a strong judgmental aspect to it, though, with words like “foolish”, “doing any useful work”, etc.

    One reason I post these kinds of stories is that I am sure that there are people who, for one reason or another, are afraid of expressing themselves and their desires because they fear public judgment like yours. I don’t think it’s particularly constructive to create that kind of negative energy.

    I happen to have derived a lot of enjoyment from the activities above, as it taps into my interest in storytelling, character development, and personal identity in an unexpected way, and it’s given me a lot of food for thought for further exploration. If I’d read a book about travelling overseas to visit Spain instead of ACTUALLY visiting Spain, would that also be foolish? By my rulebook, it would not be. By my rulebook, it’s been highly useful.

    I’m very aware that my website has at least two audiences: the “productivity tools” crowd, who are looking for insights and usable tools to improve their own workflows, and the “creative dreamers on a personal journey” who are in the process of discovering themselves. I really write for the latter audience, the dreamers who aspire to greatness, by sharing my own personal journey and experiences. I know that the split between audiences is not very clear on the website, which is why I’m working on a new design so one audience can get what they want without compromising the core reason that I am writing this blog in the first place.

    I’m not sure if your words were intended to sting; they did a little, but they’re just words and I’m going to assume that you mean them in a guiding way because again, I don’t know you and you really don’t know me either except by the category you perhaps have put me in. Check back in a month or two, and maybe you’ll find more of what you’re looking for.

  3. idyll 12 months ago

    otoh, without addiction, life has little spice. I lead a productive life, but you know, I adore my social interaction in Second Life and it has a texture, history and beauty that takes me Beyond. I treasure it.

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 12 months ago

    Idyll: That’s beautifully stated! Thank you!

  5. Kassandra 11 months ago

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you have said – When I was younger I participated in online role playing both in games and via a MIRC chatroom. Not only was this a fun and constructive way of expressing and developing improved levels of creative thinking, it also helped me to develop better creative writing skills and problem solving.

    The only time this sort of activity becomes an issue is if it becomes a form of chronic and compulsive escapism; otherwise (if engaged in responsibly, as with everything else) it can actually help you to visualise and develop a better sense of self, and can help you to map out the kind of person you want to be (or don’t want to be!) in real life – for example, the more you successfully develop the persona of a witty character online, the more confidence you can build in a controlled environment without the fear of public judgement. Once confidence and skill is built to a certain point you could then potentially employ such wit in the real world, thus boosting confidence and social skills beyond the online sphere.

    Thus, while it may not seem like much (and even might seem like a waste of time to some people) the reality is that it can be utilised as an effective tool that helps to build real world practical skills, so long as is is used responsibly. As such I believe that spending the odd weekend indulging in this kind of hobby is certainly not irresponsible in and of itself, so long as it does not negatively impact an individual’s overall work/life/productivity/health balance. :)

A message from Dave:

I really believe we all benefit when we share our own perspectives on common experiences. It would be great if you added your own anecdotes and comments, even if you don't necessarily agree with the premise of the post; that's just good conversation in my book. The house rules are "treat each other with kindness and respect" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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