In order to roleplay, first a person needs to understand what that means. Roleplaying has been around in one form or another for many years. It has grown and changed over that time, also. The growth of technology has contributed greatly to the ways people RP, as well as the opportunity to RP.
In the 80′s, pencil and paper roleplaying games were the most common form. Games like Dungeons and Dragons set the standard for RP. This form of RP took a great deal of inventiveness and imagination on the part of the players. There was not a detailed environment to look at or even a visible avatar. Everything was created through a person’s own thoughts and imagination, with some guidance of books and others playing.
With the start of home computers, AOL became another source of roleplaying. Early on, home computers were most often used for chat rooms. This broadened the number of people that a person could RP with and an ease of creating variety of scenarios. Personally, I feel that this also opened the door to bending the rules of RP. With pencil and paper games, there were established rules of how players could interact. With the use of chat rooms, most rules went out the digital window.
As computers became more common in households, computer games began to flood the market. MUDs or mutli-user dungeons, were around before the 80′s, but most homes did not have a personal computer. In the late 80′s, these games grew in popularity. This was basically a pencil and paper game, with a basic set of rules, only texted on a computer. This brought back some of the older presets of roleplaying with access to a larger spectrum of users.
Many people will consider a game called Everquest to be one of the first roleplaying computer games. While this is extremely untrue, it is one of the first recognizable games to younger people. Everquest allowed for a living, breathing environment to roleplay a story. A person could actually stand face to face with another person’s avatar, make motions, choose an environment that suited the story being played out. The options became seemingly unlimited. Many people chose to play the game like a console game. Questing, leveling, learning, exploring were all the general gameplay styles. However, there were a number of gamers who took advantage of this new environment to RP.
Over the years, some people have stayed the course and still use pencil and paper games today. Others have chosen MMORPGs as their roleplaying platform. Whichever you choose, remember that it is a game and should be fun to the people involved. RP should never feel like a job or chore. If a story line ever begins to feel this way, it might be a good time to change characters, redevelop a story, or walk away from RP for a bit.