The title is a play off the "My dA Story" event from about a month ago. For better or for worse, I'm going to share what I recall of my experiences with RP, or roleplay, the sort of roleplay where one conducts oneself as a fictional character when interacting with others online. The intention of this writing is for my benefit than for someone else to study or analyze, but this recollection may prove entertaining. I shall remain somewhat vague with my accounts so that I may keep individuals mentioned but not necessarily aware of this composition as anonymous as possible. I have typed this over the past few hours while I was inspired by memories suddenly rushing to me at 11:23 last night. They didn't cease until 12:34, which was when I finished writing down some notes, so I basically spent an hour awake into the last day of my summer vacation thinking about events that transpired three to five years ago. It's times like this where I realize I have a good memory, whether I like to believe it or not, and this memory can be a burden at times.
I know this site is replete with people who enjoy RPing and RP regularly; I see so many of you when I go "llama hunting," my moniker for finding people who trade llamas. Perhaps this will speak to some of you, and perhaps some of you could give some guidance or share your experiences if you find this.
Life is too cruel to not live in a fantasy from time to time. It's why we have fun. It's why the word "diversion" is a synonym for "fun." We must distract ourselves so that the baggage we have doesn't weigh us down so much and put on others' shoes so that the shoes we fill don't pain us so.
My stint in RP began when I was roughly twelve and terminated when I was about fifteen. It began on the first online media site that I had become a part of: YouTube. I didn't know how to make videos for YouTube for a long time; I just watched, favorited, and commented on videos. At the time I had created my first account there (now inactive, as I use it for just watching videos again, as it separate from my CP reading account), I had played my first Kingdom Hearts game and was enamored with it. Not only with it but also with a character whose brief appearance made a huge impact on me. That character was Sephiroth. He'd totally destroy me in the Colosseum matches because I couldn't stop his Heartless Angel attack soon enough, but he was so awesome to me. I began looking up different versions of his theme and AMVs that used them.
I eventually encountered this one really awesome fan-made video of Sephiroth. By chance I clicked on the owner's account profile link and was amazed. (I must explain that this was back before YouTube was vacillating constantly on what profile format to impose on its users. Profiles were very much in the style of the really old Facebook profiles, only one could link videos to one's page and add custom backgrounds to his or her page, etc. It wasn't the video-based setup like profiles on there are at the day of this writing.) What I found was page elegantly designed and maintained by an individual who looked, talked, and acted much like Sephiroth. By this point I didn't have many friends who understood what Final Fantasy was or how slick Sephiroth was as a character, but I told them about the person anyway and about the epic AMVs the individual made. They regularly received over ten thousand views, which was enormous for a YouTuber that wasn't like the huge rising YouTube stars at the time (nigahiga and Fred were reaching 1 million subscribers when I was on there). I really expected more for someone so talented, but I eventually realized that how far this individual got with a regular audience of ten thousand (not subscribers, but just as a conservative average) was nothing to sneeze at.
This person RPed as Sephiroth and was part of a group of RPers, most of whom played characters from Square Enix games. A week or two went by as I stalked around some of the community to see what it was about and to discern who the leaders were and what sort of people I'd be dealing with, should I have joined. I think I started talking to a few, probably not to Sephiroth himself, but rather to a few inviting sorts. That is, if I hadn't been directly or indirectly led to them by the great himself after some nervous initial question. I know I contacted a very kind soul who RPed a Kingdom Hearts version of Cloud Strife and a person who RPed Yuffie Kisaragi. Either of these three eventually pointed me, upon a question that I remember required a lot of my courage to ask, in the direction of the great moderator of the group, some guy RPing from Final Fantasy X-2, I think. The requirements to join the outfit were fairly simple but challenging for a newbie with a limited creative skill like I was: Declare the character and what game he/she/it was from, demonstrate a thorough understanding of the character and what vital information would be centered around the roleplay. Volunteering to fulfill the role of a character that was already done by somebody else was discouraged. It probably consumed a week of my thought and three days of writing in preparation, but I devised that I could fill a role that I designed myself. Sure, it was bound to share some of my characteristics since I was essentially inventing a character, but I decided I could be the Ruby WEAPON, an optional boss from the game.
(Possible Final Fantasy VII game spoilers ahead)
Ruby WEAPON was one of the many WEAPONS designed to protect the planet from outer threats, but the WEAPONS went berserk, notably Ultima, Diamond, and Sapphire, when Cloud returned the Black Materia to Sephiroth. My invention was that the Ruby WEAPON retained the consciousness of one of the Ancients (the original people of the Gaia, earth) who had been forsaken in the desert where Ruby WEAPON was found, and it was there that the planet claimed him for the task. In a nutshell, the character, freed from his bonds after the Meteor crisis, has a mission to investigate how the regular people conduct themselves after the event, but he vacillates over whether to remain true to his ties to the Planet or whether he is meant to be an agent for JENOVA, as its influence is not entirely removed yet from the planet.
(End potential spoilers, I think.)
It passed rather smoothly and with only a few questions from the head honcho. I was given the appropriate accessories for my profile to indicate that I was official and part of the group, and I, fresh and naïve but confident, got to work talking to some people and putting into action some roleplay. As I should have imagined, the people I talked to were people, too, so they weren't always consistent in replying to me. Those one or two messages per day (or four messages on the weekends), were infinitely gratifying, but it was sometimes hard to initiate the conversations with these strangers. I was essentially alone, afraid to inconvenience these friends that had helped me when I had the audacity to ask questions and for advice. It would take some shocking instance in order to get me back to talking to them, and my idiocy brought it sooner than expected.
Chronologically the whole story is a blurry to me, but I remember that cutscenes for the original Dissidia Final Fantasy were being archived and playthroughs for the Japanese version of the game were starting be released at the time, but it was before anybody I knew had their hands on an English copy of the game yet. Roleplayers for Sephiroth and Kefka Palazzo (from Final Fantasy VI) were having a little match with people from all over interjecting a little here or there. I had eyed Kefka before, but I was even more intimidated by the awesome character and execution of the character. He was a real loose cannon but an insanely powerful mage and hilarious mad clown. The confrontation was public, as they were commenting on each other's profile. Somehow I convinced myself that Sephiroth didn't have enough buddies or something and butted in. I was mainly ignored for a couple of turns of combat before Kefka himself messaged me directly. Although the message is still in my archives, I doubt I'll find it in less than hour of searching, so I'll rely on my memory. He said something along the lines of backing off or that I wasn't aware of my place or that I was simply being an annoyance, or some combination of these. I was and still am pretty sure he was right, and whether that was Kefka or the person behind the screen talking to me made no difference in my reaction. I took it very badly.
I went dead silent but stalked more profiles for a while, and I don't think it was until two months had passed before I asked for his apology in the formal way possible and vowed never to meddle again. To initiate a conversation with a stranger until those two months had passed and the apology was accepted seemed to me the equivalent of tightrope walking on a razor blade, ready to fall forward and cut myself in half. I swore that for sure that big cheese guy was going to kidnap me in my sleep and leave me a weighted box in the middle of the ocean and blacklist my character and username in case I ever returned, but this was not the case. This was the only scolding I received from anybody but myself, and for the most part I stayed in line after that, but I also limited a lot of interactions to private messaging (PM).
Things continued on interestingly, though. I recall very few of my RP adventures, but they were almost always casual. Basically, I would incite a response from somebody I knew RPed and attached my RP character as a signature to indicate that I was acting in the intent of RP. One time, Sephiroth has a sort of collaboration event that he needed voices for, and I tried to participate but had no previous experience in voicing anything, making videos (in order to audition), and the software involved were enigmas to me. I pretty much frustrated him when I begged him for a link to some software to record my voice with even thought there had been a link in the description of the announcement video in the first place. Casting had already begun for some of the bigger roles, but extras were needed, too, and I volunteered to voice as Kadaj, finding that he had a monologue in Advent Children quite convenient for auditioning purposes. I couldn't find Windows Movie Maker on my computer, and it wasn't until five months later that I would find it hiding under my nose while my computer was succumbing to system failures. It seemed that all I could do was witlessly and unwittingly antagonizing my idols.
As Dissidia Final Fantasy was released, other RPers in character suddenly joined our flock. For example, I recall a new Kuja, ExDeath, Golbez, several Cecil Harveys, and others. Suddenly, I wasn't the new kid on the block, but I was in no position to mentor them, either. Some of these accounts were short-lived; they became inactive or didn't know what they were doing, I supposed. I talked to a few, though; I always loved Golbez and envied the guy for picking him when I had had the opportunity to select him so long ago but hadn't even considered him, but he barely talked to me. I started hearing about people making profiles for multiple characters and almost shut down because I was afraid that I'd inadvertently find myself dealing with someone I had crossed when they were another character. This one Kuja guy, though, was a load of fun even though we spoke briefly. I remember he challenged me to cut a cake with a magical knife so as to result in 8 pieces of equal size. He said he would give me one shot, and failure meant my destruction. I spent a good ten minutes of spacial rendering in my mind to figure out that, if you cut twice to quarter the cake, you'd have four equal pieces, and doubling this would be possible if you cut the cake halfway up its height, one would get eight slices of equal size (although it wouldn't be fair because the icing ratio would be high for the top pieces and negligible for the bottom ones, but I digress, even though I included this in my explanation. He said something along the lines of "fair enough" in character but told me he was impressed out of character (OOC) at the original response to the riddle. That was probably one of the best sensations I've felt in all my RPing.
Within time, though, replies became extremely infrequent, as many of the RPers were going off to college. I still had contact with Yuffie, and she was becoming one of the last people remaining I felt comfortable talking to. We eventually went on to Skype, which she frequented more often than she did YouTube. She introduced me to a couple of her RP friends, an Ultimecia and another girl whose character escapes my recollection. We talked fairly frequently initially, but I soon became deterred when she got into the habit of perpetually being on "Do No Disturb" and not replying to me, either dilatorily or not at all. I moved on to her random friend, and we RPed some but not much, and the silence surrounding Yuffie augmented. I talked to Ultimecia, too, but she seemed annoyed with me, so I stopped for the most part.
I also found that another RPer from the YT group had a Skype, so I added her. Her character was based on Vincent Valentine's story, and we had an interesting but long RP together. I RPed as Emperor Matteus from Final Fantasy II, and she was her own character. It definitely put me out of my comfort zone (even though I've never honestly felt completely comfortable RPing) since I had to be a character that was very unlike me but whose tyrannical ways I understood very well from examples of bullies I've encountered. He had an immense character change in the RP when a child was born to him, and the new paradigm was an excellent challenge for my creativity. We eventually stopped talking, but the reason escapes me. Probably infrequent replies, as is so often the case with these people. I'm too consistent with my replies when I have the time, so I expect other people to do the same. I don't get outwardly frustrated, but I usually take a lack of reply the wrong way if it goes unaddressed and unexplained for too long.
Yuffie had been impressed, though, with my manner of speech, both in character and out, and by our OOC discussions, so she eventually returned with a friend of hers. I hadn't knowingly encountered her before, and I doubt she was part of the group, so I'll just refer to her as "Lillian" because I've never personally spoken to a person named "Lillian" in all my life, and she deserves to at least have a name. Yuffie had apparently figured that she was more "on my level" in terms of intelligence and RP, but I expressed that I was more into the casual sort of RP where I could just interact freely.
I talked to Lillian, anyway, and I tried to initiate an RP in the sense that I had come to understand, but she immediately stopped me. She explained that an RP is like writing a novel (something I've never possessed any intention of doing), and that I needed to create a character and a situation and set up a situation where characters would encounter one another and interact. She said she knew quality RPing from employing writing techniques she had learned in literature classes at college. Only until recently have I begun to understand what those techniques were, but, as I still am not even old enough to be in college yet, I can hardly say I've reached that level. Nonetheless, I spent a week developing a backstory and situation. She said it had to be at least a few pages long for it to be worth it, and I did my best, but I had never written so much creatively in one sitting before then. She said while I was still composing that the objective is almost similar a collaborative novel; the difference was that nobody knows exactly where the story's going to lead.
I gave her my reply, and she was satisfied but asked me so many questions about the idea in my mind. I remember she replied, but with the summer vacation drawing near to a close and with new horizons dawning as I entered tenth grade, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up the replies without disappointing her. Truncating that conversation was probably one of the wisest decisions I've ever made. I never did find the time or the interest to even pick up RPing on YouTube again. I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up, especially my own, when I knew that I would fail just like so many of the people I had RPed with before.
So, what lessons are to be learned from this? I'd rather receive any reader's input than what I can place here. I know my memory is clouded and my reflection biased by emotions, so it may be hard to tell. In hindsight, I think knowing what I know about theatre acting, especially improv (which I find to be eerily similar to the casual RP experiences I've had in the past) with tenets like "Never negate," "Raise the stakes," and "Never impress yourself or another interpretation of the character on the character you act as," is an invaluable tool and experience to keep in mind when undergoing an RP. I vowed to myself at that point never to RP again until I knew I was doing and had people I was comfortable with with me when I jumped back in instead of having to find them from an assortment of strangers.