Like most people, I spend a lot of time searching. Not just searching, but wondering, imagining, calculating, figuring it out; peering into the mysterious void of my future, taking the pieces of everything I already have and trying to weave something new out of them.
It’s not just my future that gets me thinking though. It’s everything. And when you find yourself constantly trying to predict or understand everything, it gets a little overwhelming. A lot of the time, it becomes intimidating, and it turns into grounds for a downward spiral into believing that everything is a mess and nothing will ever come of it.
I just want to go forth and say that it isn’t true. At least, I personally don’t believe it is.
Mental illness can be a sensitive subject to approach, but we can’t deny its presence in our world, and we can’t resist examining it in others’. In media, it is common to see characters exhibiting traits that we might assign to certain mental conditions, but we have to be cautious with how we characterize mental conditions in that we do it respectfully and with understanding as to how people in real life deal with these conditions. It’s easy to see the allure of using mental illness to add depth, vulnerability, or even a means to excuse actions in a character, but rarely are these portrayals ever tasteful.
A huge part of every great story is the world it takes place in. A story isn’t a story without it’s setting, and it’s hard to envision one without being able to place characters or cities, mark journeys across vast lands, or place actions into an environmental context. Readers will always rely on their imagination when visiting another world for the first time, but wouldn’t it be great to give them all the tools necessary to imagine that world exactly how you do? If you know how to flesh out this brand new world, then you can bring it to life just as easily – for this reason, it’s important to think of the world itself as just another character in the story. And every character needs depth and a rich background.
Compared to most high-profile hobbies that are shared on the internet, play-by-post roleplaying is a very niche market for writers. Not only is this a subset of roleplaying, which in itself is a clandestine pastime often presumed to take on an fetishistic nature, but it is also a subset of hobby writing. A hobby that, if someone is to engage in, is rarely shared with the public let alone friends and family. Combine these two crafts and you come out with a highly secretive community of people who love to write stories together, but you’d never know it unless someone was comfortable enough to share or you yourself are one of these people participating in an online roleplaying forum. So, if the term ‘play-by-post roleplaying’ is completely new to you, that’s why.
The truth is, there is nothing weird, fetishy, or shameful about play-by-post roleplaying and for how little people know of it, the online roleplaying community is surprisingly massive. And old. It has evolved, and to this day is still growing and changing. It’s a pivotal gateway into the world of writing, and I feel like it’s crucial to talk about. At the very least, I’d like to give you a rundown of play-by-post roleplaying and how it got its legs; more importantly, how it has influenced writers who roleplay online as a hobby.