Defining Role-play – response to “Could Second Life expand the LEA model to create a Role Play endowment?”

One day, two blog posts. I think I’ve done this only once before. This one is super short.


Prim Perfect Jigsaw: A New Year with Reflections
Could Second Life expand the LEA model to create a Role Play endowment?

The question was posed:
“One immediate difficulty, it seems to me, is identifying role-play. To some extent, one could argue that everyone who takes on an avatar that is not as close as possible a representation of their form in the physical world is taking part in a role-play. However, perhaps one could employ a stricter definition . . .”

So here is what I would see as the definition of Role-play:

It shouldn’t be too hard to quantify role-play.

Role-play is when people gather and play out characters within an unscripted group driven storyline to create, tell, or retell some event or plot-line.

  1. Role-play is not (just) a themed community, but the storyline and the actors.
  2. Role-play is unscripted. There may be a preceding event or premise, and there may be a setting. But the actors involved create the story and plot as they proceed, with each acting or reacting based on the nature of their character and the current events thus far.
  3. Role-play involves the actors assuming characters. They could play a fictional character, a real life historic or current persona, or even a ‘fictional version of themselves’. But they are not ‘being themselves’, even when acting a character that is themselves. Example: What happens to the character “John Malkovich” in the movie “Being John Malkovich” happens to that character, and not to the actor John Malkovich himself.
  4. Role-play has a stage and a scene. The stage is ‘where’ the role-play occurs. It is space the actors carve out to engage in their story, either in private or available for public observation. In SL this is usually a parcel or sim dedicated to the role-play, and primarily private with limited observation of ‘visitors’. The scene defines the time for a story block to be explored. In SL the scene is often ongoing – anytime any 2 or more members enter the stage of the role-play, they can go ‘in character’ thus starting/resuming the scene.
  5. Role-play is confined to the stage and scene, and ends or pauses when the actors leave the stage and scene, to resume when they re-enter. This is one way in which role-play is distinguished from ‘life-styling’ (besides just having a character). While it is a very overstated meme these days, it is ideal for role-play to say:

    What happens in the role-play, stays in the role-play.

Oh, and in the comments to the Prim Perfect blog article, I added my idea for how to structure a ‘Linden Endowment for Role-Play’. Repeated below:

I think the idea of doing something to organize role-play sims would be a great boost for SL.

A committee that could pick role-plays to showcase. A few centralized spots to get info and classes for them (there is already a sim that tries to do some of this, you can go there and get LMs and notecards to a vast array of different RPs. If needed, when I’m next online I will look up where it was… 🙂 ).

And I would say… these places need to get a tier discount. They’re filling half the tables in this restaurant we call SL, and getting billed heavily for it, while the majority of ways they traditionally self-funded have been cut off (/marketplaceanyone?)…

Or even whatever deal LEA gets (does it get one?), should be done for the RPs in this also.

I would go for a:

1 – 4 semi-permanent. The top ones by activity that the committee finds of quality to be showcased (because if we just looked at a traffic score, someone would game their way into this list).

5-9 revolving quarterly. Showcasing the new and/or different. Places that “break the mold” or do something the committee finds of great value or which pushes the art form forward.

10 The “sim” that holds the HQ of all this:
1/4 classrooms with volunteers on a schedule like NCI does.
1/4 a place any role-play that can get approved as being legit can put a picture on a signboard that will give a single notecard and a single LM to anyone who clicks it. A prominent portion of this would be for displays for the 1-9 sims)
1/4 shops that cater to RPers. Half of this reserved for freebies.
1/4 Open / management space.

(So sims 1-9 would be an existing sim somewhere that would get the ‘LERP’ treatment/discount/promotion while its RP retained that position.)

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