Hey everybody! Wow, been a while since I got a post out there. College has been putting quite the hammer on my schedule, especially on my SWTOR time. However! I won’t let something as silly as “real life” get in the way of hard-hitting roleplay posts!
That said, today’s post is a Stat Management entry inspired from my participation in an audition for a series of short plays going on at my college last Friday, and that entry is on the topic of Acting.
More in this edition of War Stories after the Jump…
Did you know that Acting in the TV, Movie, or Theater world is actually roleplaying? It’s true! Actors have to read a part, try to understand a character they’re going to play as, and then act out that character, portray the emotions of that character in their words or actions, and really trade their brain (at least temporarily) for that of the character’s. However, if it were so easy, then perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this article about it!
The real essence of roleplaying is the ability to act. You have to, in a sense, become someone else, in order to effectively inhabit a role. This is something most veteran roleplayers are able to do because they’re able to craft characters and know how to play them. They can go from being a really quiet, very nice person in the real world, to playing the role of a suave and charismatic jerk-bag of a thieving scoundrel, and if they’re good at doing so, then the audience (or other players) won’t be able to know they’re acting! The thing novices struggle with, however, is the ability to become someone other than themselves.
Most newer roleplayers tend to either be themselves, or they rely on stereotypical characters with little to no personality other than typing “RAWR! SHOOT LIGHTNING, BE SUPER EVIL, RARRR!” or “I am best jedi, I save evry1 and r super nice and awsum!” The latter example is the worst offender because it’s overdone to the point of annoyance, it’s unoriginal, it’s uninspiring, and even a little immature and thoughtless.
So! First thing you should do: “Don’t be Yourself, and Don’t be a Stereotype.”
In an earlier article, I explained at one point that to make a great character, you have to have a character built on “layers,” who has pros and cons, natural strengths and flaws to their personality and character. No person in the real world is perfect, nor are they one-dimensional. They also have very different beliefs and views on the world.
Think of it this way. Look around the screen. Take note of the colors and shades you see. Now adjust your monitor and mute the colors (or just turn them down). Notice how it looks more black and white now and not as colorful as it was? Some people can only see in black and white like you’re seeing, whereas you might be able to see in color. Your red may not be the same as anyone else’s red. Now apply that same analogy toward how people think. Someone thinks that remaining the same and sticking to what works is a great way to go, but another person things that change, regardless of risks, is the way to move things forward.
You have to be able to don different perspectives and try to understand different forms of reasoning. This is part of the trick to playing as characters that are unlike yourself, because your characters should have very different rationales and beliefs, even opposite ones from each other. Mannerisms are something else that vary from person to person, and it should vary from character to character. You may play the role of an elegant and formal politician one minute, then play as a rough-and-tumble delinquent who talks in crude prose the next. One person might be brash, loud, and maybe outgoing and people-focused, and the next might be a quiet shut-in who keeps to himself and avoids people.
My advice is that you should spend time observing people, just watching them do what they do, and understand why they do it. You could even do this with your favorite Movies, TV shows, even other Games and Theater. In fact, the next time you hop on SWTOR and you talk to NPC characters, take note of how different they are. One person might be paranoid and skittish, perhaps because they’ve rarely been on a battlefield, maybe even never, and the next might be overconfident because they’ve seen and done a lot.
After you’ve done this, essentially start mimicking these mannerisms. If you’re playing a drunk character, start going to bars, read up on drinks from Wookiepedia and start ordering the strongest drinks in RP, type in slurs and act with a bit of a warped logic or start going on tangents when talking about something. If you play as a noble, speak professionally and maybe in a high-and-mighty manner; pretend poor people are lesser people than you. If you play as a coward, start running away from fights and avoid conflicts wherever possible.
In addition, start adopting new logics. For example, with the drunk character, it’s perfectly okay to drink because what’s the point? Your life is miserable, you want to drink the pain away. Or with the noble, you’re rich. You’re spoiled, and you’re selfish. You can get whatever you want because you can afford it. Then with the coward, you might be smart and kind but you’re no fighter. You’re just an ordinary person who’s in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and you don’t know how to swing a sword or shoot a gun straight, so why stay and fight?
Finally, practice at these things, and heck, maybe spend time in the real world imitating a character in front of a mirror, or do impressions of characters you see in SWTOR, a movie, a TV show, or whatever else.
So start “leveling up” your acting skills, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great roleplayer in no time!