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 🙂

  • Embrystical

    “I’m sticking to OngoingWorlds, it’s much easier.”

    Obviously you would say that, wouldn’t you David? *Puts hands on hips sarcastically/disapprovingly*

    • Of course I would 🙂

    • Alex

      Still true though :p

  • 1An0maly1

    Ongoing worlds is nice… But honestly I don’t really like how 90% of games progress so little before everyone just drops off the face of the earth. Blue Dwarf is the only game still active since I joined the site.

    • Unfortunately that’s true of all roleplays, not just games on OngoingWorlds. It’s unfortunate that so many fail within the first few weeks.
      Blue Dwarf has been successfully running for many years now, and that helps because we know it’s not going anywhere. Although I can’t say it get easier over time, it’s always going to be hard work. But fun hard work tho! 😉

  • Alex

    They say 31 is the new 16.

    • Tear of Blood

      I’ve been doing other roleplay searches and for other sights and I found a few social sights that does roleplay. I used to play this game called SW and I recently just rejoined it, and I searched roleplay in it’s search panel and found over 50 rp areas. Only a few were active, but the ones that were had 30+ people in it. I also did rp groups and found only a few, but the members were going past 200 people. It may not be a lot but it’s something I guess…

  • Hope

    I can’t imagine RPing on Twitter. Oof. That doesn’t, and will never, count as ‘writing.’ Tumblr… Well, I’ve seen it, but it’s very difficult to keep track of who is who, and what happened while you weren’t online, and I just couldn’t get into the rhythm of it. As a new user, OngoingWorlds is so far the first thing I’ve found since the original Avidgamers (circa, oh, 2003-2007?) that has at least a vaguely similar set up.

    I do still miss the days of building unique layouts for your games and separate threads and character profiles, though. But I am very glad I found this place, and that there actually are still others who RP.