OngoingWorlds blog

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


Instant video game fun vs difficult roleplaying writing

Motprstorm Apocalypse
This is a subject that I’ve thought long and hard about, and I’d love to say that I always do the right thing here, but often I’m just as guilty as everyone else. Let me explain…

I love writing, and I love roleplaying, I’ve been involved in play-by-post games for about 15 years, and GM of my own game for over 10 of them. I write a new post about characters in my game about once a week, and if anyone ever asks me I tell them I love it. That’s true, I do love it.

I love roleplaying in play-by-post games so much that I want to encourage as many people to take it up as a hobby as I can, and I honestly believe they’ll love it too. For me there’s nothing better than being in control of a sprawling and unpredictable story that you’re constantly writing with friends.

But the problem is, it’s not fun all of the time, and I have a hard time admitting that.

I’ve recently bought Motorstorm Apocalypse for the PS3, a fast paced racing game set in a post-apocalyptic world. The game is just nuts, so much is happening all at once and it’s a wild rollercoaster of an experience that really gets my heart racing and head spinning. I’m really enjoying it so far, and the best part about it is I can just pick it up at any time when I have a few spare minutes, and instantly I’m having fun.

And then I’ve got my other game, my play-by-post roleplaying game that’s been going for over 10 years. It was around a long time before Motorstorm, and of course I haven’t forgotten about it. The problem is, there are many times during the week where I think I should be writing for my roleplay instead of playing Motorstorm, but I’ve chosen to go with Motorstorm because it’s simply easier to turn on the PS3, and quicker to get into a game and instantly have fun.

Writing in my roleplay takes time. It takes about an hour (at least) of time where I’m sat at my computer, reading posts written by other members, and then crafting a well-written post that continues the story of my characters. It’s not instant fun, it can be hard work.

I said at the start of this article that I love my roleplaying game, and I still do. The appeal of a fun racing game isn’t going to change that, and playing it doesn’t make me a traitor to what I believe in. Just because I’m not writing the next post in my roleplay doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. In fact, every day I think about it, and every day I’m thinking about cool new stories and possible things that could happen. One of the truly great things I love about play-by-post roleplaying games is that you’re totally in control, and anything can happen, as long as you think of it. Throughout the day I’m not thinking of racing, I’m thinking of interesting story ideas.

Racing games like Motorstorm will come and go like fads. I’ll play them for a while. Likely I’ll not remember much about them after I’ve stopped playing. The time I’ve invested in playing games like that will be well spent because it’s given me enjoyment, but if I look back I’ve got nothing to say for the time I spent playing them. If I look back at what I’ve done in my roleplaying game I’ve got over 10 years of rich story that I helped to create.

Writing in play-by-post games might be hard work, but it’s time well spent. I think the fact that the fun of play-by-post games is not instant is a major factor that might put people off starting. But I think it’s a problem we can overcome by encouraging our friends to give it a try.

If you’ve got some tips on helping people get into roleplaying, please write them in the comments below!