OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Using Facebook for roleplaying

Facebook logoMany people use Facebook as a place to roleplay as a character. Facebook is one of the most advanced websites for keeping in touch with your friends and allows you to post regular updates that your friends can see and comment on. There’s great potential here for roleplaying as a character, but there’s also some really annoying limitations, the main being that Facebook really don’t like roleplayers and might remove your profile.

Roleplay your character’s social life

In other forms of roleplayign you might be used to playing the part of a character to create a story, or complete a campaign. Facebook is a lot more social, and you can really assume the role of your character and interact with other people as if you’re acting out your character’s social life.

James T Kirk on FacebookI use facebook as a network… like if my character had a personal profile. I don’t use it like a forum or an IRC but I think it’s better ’cause is more rapid and it offers the possibility to do more things…like notes or chat with more people etc…
James T Kirk

Roleplaying on Facebook is relatively new, with but some people have been doing it for several years. ‘Judge Q of the continuum’ said he’s had a profile for over 2 years, but then created a new one.

Facebook has actually brought more people into roleplaying, who wouldn’t have done it before.

Kathryn Janeway on FacebookI personally think that Facebook is very accessible and on the whole is rather user-friendly. Facebook is where I first originally got into roleplaying as I liked what I saw going on, so I signed up myself and I have been rather lucky to be one of those few that have managed to gain some great friendships through doing this and it is through meeting some of those fine people that I think Facebook is and always will be (fingers crossed) be my place of residence as far as roleplaying is concerned.
Captain-Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway

Your profile

All Facebook profiles have an “Info” tab, this is where you can write information about your character. You can fill in your character’s gender, relationship status, sexuality and location. It’s likely that your current location isn’t a real place, but Facebook don’t allow you to put fictional places like the planet Vulcan or the USS Enterprise, so you might have to leave this blank and put most of the information in “Bio” which is a free text field.

You can fill in places where your character went to school or university, for the many Star Trek accounts I’ve seen people write “Starfleet Academy” here which seems to be accepted.

Posting on your wall

Just like you’d use Facebook to write status updates about your own life, your wall is where you can write in person about what your character is doing right now. This will show in all your friends status feeds, and they’ll be able to comment if they want to continue the story.

Getting friends

Without friends, you won’t see any other roleplaying going on. Search for roleplaying characters using the search box at the top, start with easy ones you’ll know, for example many of the characters in Star Trek have roleplaying profiles. If you make friends with these you’ll see their friends and can easily find people to communicate with and be allowed into the roleplaying group they’re playing in.

Posting on other characters walls

Just like you can write status updates to your wall, other people can do the same, and if you want to get involved you have to comment on their updates. People comment here to become part of the current story, and it’s not common to see the amount of messages on each post go above 10.

This is the main way that roleplayers on Facebook will roleplay. It means the roleplay is very open and allows any new roleplayers to just jump straight in without any sort of membership or approval. Fleet Admiral Michael Knight is part of a collection of roleplayers who play like this.

Michael Knight on FacebookWe have about 40 – 50 people in our Roleplay ‘Group’. And our numbers are still growing. So yes you could say it is part of a greater game. We all just write on each others status’ and wall’s and try and create fun and challenging roleplays.
FltAdm Michael Knight

When Admiral Knight mentions a group (above), he doesn’t mean a Facebook Group which has specific functionality to collate posts from members. He just means a collection of people who have each other on their friends list. There are ways that you can use a Facebook Group to roleplay, which I’ll explain below.

Using Facebook Groups and Fan Pages

Groups and Fan Pages are a place for members to post and collate all of their messages. I would have thought this would be the ideal way to roleplay on Facebook, but it doesn’t seem as popular as the way described by Admiral Knight above.

Finding a roleplaying group

Finding a decent group of people to roleplay with seems easy, it’s often easy to tell the character profiles from actual people using Facebook “properly” as you’ll see character profiles using the photos of actors, and often in their description will label their profile as roleplay only.

Michael Knight on FacebookI actually started out as a Captain and worked my way up the ranks to CinC of Starfleet Roleplay because of my roleplay technique of being fair and kind to everyone and keeping the entire roleplay safe and fun for everyone and trying to stop people from God Modding. Sometimes it is like a full time job. Lol
FltAdm Michael Knight

Out of character posts

Like with all roleplaying there might be time when you need to communicate out of character (OOC) see article about OOC here. You can do this in the status update but it’ not commonly done. If you want to communicate OOC, it’s best to send a private message to another player.

Using Facebook chat

Facebook is also a lot more “instant” than using forums, so combines the advantage of real-time chat that IRC has with it’s chat functionality, allowing players to chat with others without having to add them to a separate instant chat program like MSN Messenger.

Michael Knight on FacebookFacebook has chat.. which means you can talk to people and set up roleplays and keep in touch with each other during the roleplay.
FltAdm Michael Knight

Getting more members to your game

Facebook is great at being social, so it’s an easy way to get more people to join your group. Just send someone a message or write on their wall and get them to join in.

Michael Knight on FacebookI have made lots of contacts with a lot of people and made friends with them behind the character’s. We do have a lot of drama going on behind the scenes and class each other as one big, yet dysfunctional, family and try and look out for each other and help each other.
FltAdm Michael Knight

Drawbacks of using Facebook for roleplaying

There are many drawbacks to Facebook as a roleplaying platform. Wit hteh amount of posting happening, older posts are pushed off the list pretty quickly, which means that after a week it can be very difficult to find out what has happened previously.

The way that information can be posted on your wall, or someone else’s wall means that whatever story you’re roleplaying about might get missed by some of the members. This can mean it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on. This makes the roleplaying experience very current, and the stories have to be short and simple as it’s hard to go back and read about the start of a long sprawling epic story, you have to rely on your memory of past events instead of a archived history like you get with forum based roleplaying games.

Moderation of the story can be very difficult, as there are a lot of places the story can continue. For example the GM would have to check every member’s wall posts for any part of the story they might have posted.

The problems are not critical and can all be worked around very easily, they don’t even seem to be a problem for the many roleplayers on Facebook.

Facebook might remove your account

Facebook don’t really like roleplayers. It’s not what they intend you to use it for, and so they might delete your profile. If that happens, there’s no way to get it back. All you messages are deleted, wall posts, photos, and connections with your friends are all deleted.

Katherine Janeway on FacebookI was told a number of months ago that Facebook were deleting roleplay profiles and I being a dedicated roleplayer didn’t like this at all. Apparently from what I’ve been told Facebook just generally don’t like roleplayers
Captain-Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway

If you do find yourself deleted from Facebook you can easily create a new profile or create a game on OngoingWorlds, where we love roleplayers and won’t delete you!

Facebook is here to stay as a roleplaying platform

There are many people who really love to use Facebook as a place to roleplay, and it looks like it’s reinvigorated the roleplaying community and introduced many new people to roleplaying as their character.

Katherine Janeway on Facebookdon’t really like being anywhere else, I don’t think there is a place that is structured enough, if there is a running forum out there that gives what I want when it comes to this matter then I’m yet to find it, but here I can do what I want and I have complete control over what I can do and I don’t feel that privilege elsewhere.
Captain-Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway

Do you use Facebook to roleplay? Let us know in the comments below.