When I was a teenager, I had this fantastic idea. I should drop out of high school.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my mom was a little less favorable of me throwing my education into the metaphorical toilet, and didn’t allow me to go through with it. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t foresee the very near future where I threatened my high school counselor with a paperweight and managed to get kicked out anyway. I can still see that paperweight. It was some sort of tribal/African artifact type of thingumabob. It was designed to look like wood, but it was in fact, stone. Which probably made me seem all the more threatening. You don’t mess with a fishnet clad, dark red-lip-stick’d gothball (Robert Smith, much?) holding a slab of stone in the shape of a Tiki head. I will fuck you up(noIwon’t).
I spent some time in an alternative school, which I eventually dropped out of. I poke fun, but those days were full of hardship. I chose to deal with them by dying the shit out of my hair and researching body modification in world culture. And when that bored me, I turned to role playing on the internet. Because on the internet, I could be a goddamn cat person. Yeah, that’s right, I role played a cat person. I’m not ashamed of this(yesIam).
Role playing served as a means of escape. A way I could express my creativity (or something), and at least pass the time. I role played in AOL chatrooms mostly. I can’t even remember what compelled me to try it. I think I simply stumbled into the Red Dragon Inn one day and thought, “OH COOL ELVES AND SHIT. I CAN ROLE PLAY TOO.”
::She entered the room, her cool, amber eyes scanning the bar occupants. She wore all black, which matched her raven hued locks, which cascaded down to the small of her back. Two perky cat ears peek out from her bouncy tresses, picking up the conversation of drunks and hooligans around the vicinity.::
Aww yeah. This is good.
The way I decided to enter the world of role play is to simply be dramatic as possible.
First off, I need an awesome celebrity picture to depict my character. Let’s see now….
Now I just need to photoshop on some cat eyes, and I will have my character. I will name her Sierra, because it’s close to my real name and sounds exotic and cool. Man, I am totally not uncool.
I couldn’t actually find the exact picture I used for my character. I remember it was another photo of Katie Holmes, in a similar, dramatic pose, Dawson’s Creek era. At the time, everyone in the chatroom I played with had celebrity photos to portray their characters. Because of this, everyone was obscenely good looking and completely unrealistic. Why? Because how can your character hook up with another character if he or she isn’t obscenely good looking?
Alright, now I need to edit the shit out of my AOL profile and make it all dramatic and MEANINGFUL. I’ll just use some HTML and write a POEM in there or something. …No wait, not a poem. SONG LYRICS. SONG LYRICS ARE COOL.
Looking back on my methods of character development and my writing style, I have to admit to myself. I was pretty absurd. But I was completely engaged in this virtual world.
Early on, it was hard to determine genuine role players from absolute creepers. Within the first few days of role play, I experienced someone who just wanted to “cyber.” It started out all innocent, sure. And then you get posts like this:
::Raoul grasps the back of Sierra’s hair and tugs lightly. Then he starts unsnapping her bra…::–
((HEY HEY HEY WAIT A FUCKING SECOND THERE SLEEZEBALL. GO BACK TO YOUR FREAKY SEX CHATROOMS OR SOMETHING))*
*X’s out of the chat*
However, the more I role played, the more I loved it, and the more I could seriously give a shit about anything else. I have incredibly fond memories of story-lines my group and I created. It even got to the point where more characters were more popular than each-other, and thus spawned mun** drama. Now that I am reflecting on this, I remember more mun drama than legitimate story lines. Who was dating who? Who cybered with who? Did so and so kill blah de blah’s character again? Why is the story line halted? Why is Joe-schmoe mad at Jane Doe? WHY CAN I NOT FIND A BETTER CHARACTER PORTRAIT? TAKE BETTER PICTURES, KATIE HOLMES.
In my early twenties, I felt my role play life slowly coming to an end. I had acquired something called a boyfriend, and my naive virgin mind wanted to experience.. eh.. other things. Not cyber things. Admittedly, I can say that my online days were more enjoyable than that particular relationship, but let’s not lose focus here.
Every now and then I create a minor character and role play with him or her. There is just something so nostalgic, so whimsical, so fantastical, about role playing. When things weren’t going to so hot in IRL, I knew I could rely on my virtual playground to distract me, and engage me until things got better. I often wish I could go back to AOL chatroom role play, but AOL days are pretty much dead. People are using AOL disks/discs as cup holders these days anyway. But for a time in my life, I truly adored it. I await the day that Sierra, the quirky cat girl with beige fur on her ears will make a triumphant return.
*((Talking with parenthesis around the sentence, like this, meant we were talking out of character. In character statements usually had :: :: around them, to specify action.))
**Mun is the term we used to call the person playing the character. Sometimes meaning, “Man Under Name”, it was common to call person by their character name followed by “mun.” I would be “Sierra-mun.”