Social Networking Sites for Roleplaying??

As part of my research I’ve been looking at profiles on the most popular and accessible Social Networking Sites just to get a feel for what users tend to do with their profiles and how they use them. Although I’m aware that there are many celebrity/fictional character/embodiment of abstract idea profiles, I tend to view Social Networking sites as very much prioritising the presentation of the ‘real life’ self – located geographically and represented visually in photographs, and tied to ‘real life’ personal details of age, locale, education and gender.

I was very surprised then, to find that some people are apparently using Social Networking Sites for serious roleplay, despite their extreme structural unsuitability for the development of a coherent narrative. I found it surprising enough when I encountered extensive roleplaying in a forum- even though the forum structure is ideally suited to roleplay with its long, traceable sequential threads of posts- because I’d just never thought of forums that way. I would have thought roleplay on SNS virtually impossible. Yet there was the evidence!

On Bebo I found the profile of an anime character. What was especially puzzling was the confusing way in which most of their profile details were relating to their fictionalised persona, but there was continual slippage into real life preferences and details.

Of the actual roleplay going on, it was well nigh impossible for an outsider to follow due to the responses of other characters being spread throughout a variety of other people’s profiles. Obviously keeping track of these developments and participating in the storyline was dependent on having the other characters as friends, and of course, anyone viewing from outside couldn’t really participate. They were not co-creating a story, as in the forum example, more involving themselves in small in-character interactions with their in-character friends.

I’m going to have to have a look at how MySpace roleplayers do it, and compare it with Bebo.


~ by yourfriendselectric on November 12, 2008.

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