Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rivet Town and the Difficulties of Role-Playing

I spent some time in Rivet Town, a new Victorian/Steampunk role-playing area. Well, new to me: others may already know of it – indeed, after the discussion of alts on the Forums some weeks ago, I realize I may have encountered some of my fellow Caledonians without knowing it – and at least two other Aetheric Journals have commented on the town, but I stumbled across the concept after reading another avatar’s profile. (I am a hopeless profile addict, which makes it all the more embarrassing when I do not update mine regularly.)

After arriving in the town's "train station" where one can receive a Rivet Town game meter/observer tag and the day's weather forecast, one has a choice of teleporting to Rivet Town East or North. The former is the white collar section of town while the latter is the blue collar section. Below is a shot of one of the narrow streets with tenements on either side:

The photos below show some of the nicer section of town, with professional offices - lawyers, the patent office, and some shops. The green sign indicates a branch of Mr. Newbe Writer's Steam Works.

There is a courthouse

and some lovely houses.

A few minor carps about the notecard explaining the background of the town and the story: first, if the town was happy and prosperous but isolated back in the good-old days before the proletariat came to town, who manufactured the goods the rich folk consumed? Second, with the blue collar workforce came "crime, prostitution, panhandling...even the consumption of spirits." Doesn't that seem just a bit elitist? The upper class does not seem to be immune to the various vices listed, up to and including the "consumption of spirits." (A vice I will admit to on occasion.)

I have mixed feelings about the “24/7 role-playing” dictum of Rivet Town. On the one hand, if one takes the concept seriously, OOC behavior and conversation is as inappropriate in a Victorian sim as in, say, the City of Lost Angels or a Buffy RP sim. On the other hand, I hate the idea of being on my toes all the time, constantly monitoring my behavior and remarks to see if anything would be deemed OOC. I assume that, in practice, minor deviations from the concept are ignored, and somewhat larger ones are gently corrected, but I can also imagine many people interested in the concept giving up and saying “Who needs the stress?”

I also have to wonder how much actual role-playing goes on. During my limited stay in the City of Lost Angels, most people were loitering on the street corner, engaging in OOC conversation. And that's a successful RP sim.

Then again, unlike many people I encounter, who admit to online role-playing experiences outside SL - indeed, sometimes going back years - I have never participated in RP for any length of time. The whole concept of creating an extensive back story of one’s character that simultaneously fits into the overall “plot” also seems fairly stressful. (And, while I realize that some structures do not lend themselves readily to democracy, the idea that someone else gets to decide on how I fare is a little grating – the way I imagine a soap opera actor feels when his character gets to lie in a coma for a month while contract negotiations linger.) And how does one coordinate people with different on-line schedules, anyway? If Bob commits a crime against Mary and Jack arrests Bob who gets Jill to defend him in Judge Sam’s court, don’t we need to coordinate in-world time for at least five people? Given the vagaries of my schedule and various SL problems, this seems like a problem to me, although perhaps others can commit to more time in-world.

Nonetheless, I wish the Rivets well - a happy and prosperous role-playing.

1 comment:

Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

Dear Miss Jameson,
I have also visited Rivet Town a handfull of times, and I'm not quite sure if the 24/7 role play experience is quite panning out. The bulk of the experience (of what I have seen) has been notecards via their group, as opposed to actual Steampunk RP. [Oddly enough, I've seen more Gorian individuals in the "non-rp" area than rp individuals in the main sims].
Those that I have attempted to engage in discourse didn't seem quite interested in discussion - or perhaps were busy with other happenings. The Inaguration Ball may lend itself to a more interaction with larger group of participants, so hopefully it provide a wider variety of indivduals to meet and perhaps engage in RP.
Dr. Rafael Fabre