Here’s a little literature-inspired ramble for ‘ya’. It, like every other story I tell, felt so good to get out onto digital paper. Funny thing? I hadn’t known before an hour ago that I had something to say:

Us roleplayers, we’re not all that different from the Suicide Pac(k)t (reference to albert borris’s book). Going into this online writing relationship, every one of us has problems, and most are seeking ways to handle or solve those problems. You might have grown up in a poor home where you never got to wear or eat name brands. Your parents may have loved you too much, overbearing and pressing in on your life from all sides, or never loved you at all; they could have been cold, money-calculating human beings with no sense of how to raise a child with love. You might have never had a romantic relationship – you might be too ugly, too fat, too lanky, or too young; you never felt like you belonged in the crowd you had to belong in. Someone once told me that every writer in this community has a story, a reason why they are there and not out shopping in a mall somewhere, and he is absolutely right.

Loneliness or “the itch” are the two main factors I’ve recognized in my fellow roleplayers, and I know that both exist in myself at the same time. Loneliness develops naturally, from rejection or instability or both. The Itch is the craving that some creative peoples feel in the “gut” of their mind. It’ll push them to do something, change something, but until they really sit down with a pen, paintbrush, or a ball of clay, they can’t fully understand what it is they are supposed to do.

The moment I wrote my first story, I knew that I’d found something to satisfy that itch, albeit temporarily. Other kids feel that roleplaying gives them a chance to live in a different world, maybe even a fantasy world like Pandora or Middle Earth, where the sky (i.e. administrative rules) is the limit, and life always has an off-switch. With the internet, if you are so frustrated that you need to get up and walk away, you can. It’s as simple as that. No one is going to follow you into your room when you don’t want to see them, or call you a million times just to yell at you when you finally do answer with a low,“What?” When you turn your computer off, you turn off that world, but it is as easy as electricity to immerse yourself in it all over again.

The characters are probably what I love most about my online community. Creating a character for a story or for a roleplaying forum is like molding a child, only this fictional “child” doesn’t have to be young. You, the creator, choose every single thing about the character from it’s weight to its history, likes and dislikes, appearance, personality, age, hair color, eye color, its passions, its fears, its hopes… essentially you are creating another you that doesn’t have to be you at all. How amazing is that? First, you create this character, following whatever form or guidelines are required of you (if any) on that particular board, and then you release it into this world – every character in that world can possibly be affected by your one character, just like every real person in our world can be impacted by us if that is our choosing.

A lot of critics in my own life, my closest family and friends, show me that only an RPG writer can understand what it means to be a part of this culture. Unless someone has experienced it for themselves, the good, bad and the difficult, it is an impossible concept to grasp. The biggest and most obvious statement tied to roleplaying: it is not real. They repeat that it is not the real world, and that we are living our most precious years out online instead of where we belong.

I know a few facts of my own, like: when I was in my early teens, an absolute noob to the online community, there was nowhere else that I did belong. I was awkward, lonely, unsatisfied with how I lived my life and how I looked. Sure, I had “friends”, but I did not fully understand how important a real friend could be until I began making them. Whether it be through chat, private messaging, or through your writing, the members of an RP site can become connected closer than any family in “real” life can. The anonymity that comes with a computer allows for complete honests – usernames become real names and ages, likes, dislikes and histories. The puppeteers, controlling all the fictional characters, become characters themselves. I would have never imagined the camaraderie that is aroused between two people living hundreds of miles apart; the love you can feel for someone you have never physically met? I have sisters in different states. Brothers that can put a smile on my face in under ten seconds, that live in cities I have never heard of. You start to share your life with these people. And whether you’re holed up in a room by yourself, or you’re signed into an internet cafe downtown, you start to live.