UR1NALMINT, or Ur1 as we\’e2\’80\’99ll call him for short, was a regular in Neverwinter Square, always showing off his pink garb for all to see. He portrayed the best urine sanitation device he knew how, always roleplaying his character to the nines. But one day, Ur1 logged onto America Online to find that his dear name had been deleted and his account had been flagged!
Indignant of the forces at hand against him, he immediately took his case to many of the guilds of Neverwinter, foremostly the Bard\’e2\’80\’99s Guild. In his missive, he becried the evil GMs (known as \’e2\’80\’9cNW\’e2\’80\’99s\’e2\’80\’9d here) as being oppresive of his roleplay. Ur1\’e2\’80\’99s plights went largely unnoticed, and I\’e2\’80\’99m not even sure why I remember him. But one response on the Bard\’e2\’80\’99s Guild board sticks out in my mind.
\’e2\’80\’9cWell, if you wanted to roleplay, you shouldn\’e2\’80\’99t have been a urinal mint,\’e2\’80\’9d is the paraphrased version.
Shortly thereafter, all vestiges of UR1NALMINT were gone, and noone thought twice about him. The pink and white fellow in the Neverwinter Square went unmissed. Yet the larger issue remained – was it within the rights of the staff to regulate roleplay?
Of course, that never did come up. Deep gaming philosophy was replaced by staff controversies such as illegal items going to their players, a mass guild deletion for failing to submit member lists at the first of every month, early and often message board post deletions, and underground amusement at a screenshot showing an assistant staff member\’e2\’80\’99s in-game sex0r with a genderbending player known to be, for lack of a better term, male.
I reflected back on Ur1 when I first read the Abashi-updated FAQ for EverQuest and saw all references to MMORPGs replaced with \’e2\’80\’9cMMOG,\’e2\’80\’9d to my mind, one of many seals of the role-playing game apocalypse. It appeared Verant had given up on making any sort of reward for role-playing, only for the players, like the two-year old in the back seat, to stop howling, sit down, shut up, and endure the ride. A certain fiery tempered guy over at Wolfpack Studios could tell you a story about that.
Then the Mystere banning came up, and I started to draw a few parallels. Mystere wrote about a character which was inconsistent with Verant\’e2\’80\’99s view of proper roleplaying, much as Ur1 was inconsistent with America Online\’e2\’80\’99s view of proper roleplaying. The difference was that Verant had publicly disenfranchised roleplay by its deletion of the \’e2\’80\’9cRPG\’e2\’80\’9d from MMORPG. NWN, even after the $19.95 a month \’e2\’80\’98revolution\’e2\’80\’99 flooded its gates with an endless stream of 12-year olds, never gave up the fight. Good roleplayers were still rewarded, and the hordes of improper ones were either ignored or banned.
Can a double standard be upheld legitimately? Can players be justifiably punished for improper roleplay if proper roleplay is not recognized? Further more, if roleplay isn\’e2\’80\’99t acknowledged, is there really a standard for its propriety?
We see a lot of UR1NALMINTs in online games, noted by their names as well as their mating calls of \’e2\’80\’9csow plz\’e2\’80\’9d and \’e2\’80\’9cwhy u pk me\’e2\’80\’9d. But unless an example is set, and rewards for following that example are given, game developers have no reason to complain about their existence.