OngoingWorlds blog

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


There’s millions of roleplayers. They just might not be where you’re looking

I noticed recently that RPGlibrary has closed the section of their forum for PBEM games, citing “the era of PBEM roleplaying has come and gone”. Utter nonsense, or is that true?

Another worrying stat is that google searches for the word “PBEM” has dropped by 97% since 2004. Look at this graph of doom and gloom:

Graph showing searches for PBEM drop 97% since 2004

Googles for the word “PBEM” 2005 – 2013

I’m not worried though, because I know there’s millions of roleplayers. They’re just not where you’ve been looking.

Twitter roleplay

Do a Twitter search for “roleplay” or “rp” or “RPing” and you’ll find thousands of Tweets from roleplayers using it to either roleplay, or talk about roleplaying. If you’re not a Twitter user, you might find this difficult or bizarre. Twitter is a difficult medium to roleplay, and almost impossible to follow if you’re a bystander. But favoured by looooads of roleplayers.

Tumblr roleplay

Even though it’s not as popular as Twitter or Facebook, Tumblr is hugely popular with the “cool kids”. Myself not included in that, I’m rocketing towards my 31st birthday. Booooo! – Apologies if you’re older 😉

Tumblr is a very popular roleplay medium, and there’s articles on how to play here (LINK). There’s loads of Tumblrs dedicated to different fandoms, like Harry Potter, Dr Who, Sherlock, plus all sorts of Japanese anime. Likewise, search for “roleplay” or see the roleplay tag & you’ll find thousands of roleplay posts. Admittedly it might be so different to what you’re used to, and you might not recognise it at first, but it’s roleplay.

You’re calling it the wrong thing

We’ve all got different names to describe the roleplay we do, even if it’s mostly the same. PBEM, play-by-post, PBP, PBM, roleplay, RP, RPing, RPG etc etc.

If we’ve seen above that the old fashioned term “PBEM” is going away, but the roleplayers keep roleplaying, and that’s one word which remains to be searched for. In fact the graph below shows that google searches for “roleplay” have increased over the last few years.

Googles for the word "roleplay"  2009-2013

Googles for the word “roleplay” 2005-2013

There’s no shortage of people signing up

So there’s no shortage of people wanting to roleplay. The amount of people signing up for OngoingWorlds is a positive graph too. Remaining fairly regular over the last 2 years with a steady increase. Here’s a graph:

Graph of user signups to OngoingWorlds (Feb 2011-Sep 2013

User signups to OngoingWorlds (Feb 2011-Sep 2013

I personally don’t think Twitter or Tumblr are good places to roleplay

Twitter is too short to be useful, shrinking beautifully-written prose into soulless txt-speak, which is too bloody difficult to keep track of events between multiple accounts. A new user joining an existing roleplay has an almost impossible task piecing together what was said and when between the contributing Twitter accounts. Tumblr is similar, but more offensive to my eyes. Gaudy flashing GIFs will catch your eye on almost every Tumblr page I’ve seen, making an already confuising experience more of a headache. Plus where do you store your characters biographies?

I’m sticking to OngoingWorlds, it’s much easier 🙂