When I asked the Forest of the Moon players why they did it, they gave the following replies (Screen name / Character name[s]):
Being able to be a part of a fun world/idea/plot — more directly than just reading a book — and being able to do something with my tendancy to keep making characters like mad. (Oreta / Rehael)
the creativeness, making our own storyline. Seeing what another person will do and adjusting your own story you have going to match it. (Jessica / Seryina / Kenai)
I like it for loads of reasons. It’s an escape from reality for a moment. It’s a form of venting. I love the players I play with (does that sound wrong? ) and the characters they’ve created are fantastic (Red / Hunter / Maia)
I love the creativity of it, the chance to get to write a story which i always want to do, without the hardship of working on all the details yourself. Also you can come up with an idea that sounds good but then it gets work on by loads of different people and comes out maybe nothing like your idea but so much better!!! Also I have dyslexia and working on posts help me work on my spelling, gramma and structure where people won’t kill me if it comes out a little weird or I dont lose marks for it being wrong. (Melas Zepheos / Nimah)
The calibre of the story telling. I love to read what people are thinking, how they react to a scene and (natch) how they write. This is so much cooler than the ol’ pencil and paper D&D route to RP. (Vyxen / Fayne)
Creativity plays a strong part in their motivation, but there is also the element of escape. This could be interpreted as a negative tendency as Bell (2001, p.105) highlights:
For all their proponents’ chatter about inclusion and heterogeneity, the space of online community is, rather, a ‘domain of order, refuge, withdrawal’ (Robins CR: 91). As he writes in another essay, ‘virtual culture is a culture of retreat from the world’ (Robins 1999: 166). Arthur and Marilouise Kroker describe the withdrawal into VR as ‘bunkering in.
However I believe that in many aspects virtual culture the masks we wear often allow us to be more ourselves rather than less. However for this to be a positive and healthy aspect of community we need a space where we can take off the mask and be ourselves, and in some way to articulate the learning we have gained from wearing them. The Northlands RPGers do this in their Out of Character (OOC) thread. This thread is ostensibly for plotting purposes but it is more frequently used as a place to praise (good writing), catch up (on real life news), make excuses (for not posting), encourage and generally form social bonds. Looking at our RPG forum, one might suspect the OOC thread are the reason for being there – with the RPG’s being an excuse for a get together. (Taking The Forst of the Moon as an example the RPG has a mere 18 posts, whilst the FoTM OOC thread has 91!). This probably follows the pattern of many face to face communities where the ostensible reason for getting together (theatrical groups, bible study, writing clubs, quilting circles) is far less important than the connections made, friendships developed and support given over coffee and biscuits. Whether we are face to face or online we feel comforted and empowered by being with people who are like us, and who like us. This is for me a fitting case for community.
I would like to thank the Forest of the Moon players for allowing me to be part of their community for the past 2 weeks.
Bell, David (2001) Community and cyberculture, chapter 5 of An introduction to cybercultures. Abingdon: Routledge. pp92-112