We all have those things and hobbies and life that start off only as a fun activity. Over time, we start to realize that there's so much to this than an activity we do for fun. For me, that's roleplaying.
When the majority of people think of roleplaying, there are a number of different ways it can be viewed. According to Webster's dictionary, roleplaying is "to act out the role of and/or to represent in action." This is typically the view of roleplaying when it comes to theatre and work projects. There's also roleplaying that is referred to with a sexual connotation. That's definitely not the one we are referring to today. The roleplaying we are referring to today is a large community of online users who pretend to be some of their favorite fictional characters.
I was introduced to the roleplaying community via my love for fandom life, particularly the musical theatre community. The act of roleplaying online stems from the love of characters that we want to spend more time with beyond the stage or screen. In addition, our love for roleplaying comes from seeing ourselves in these characters. I spend a large amount of my time roleplaying on my accounts for Newsies musical and "The Flash" television show. In all the times, I've realized that it was becoming more about fun for me. I was gaining a variety of things that were useful to my life and my craft. Here a few things I've learned from being a part of the roleplaying community.
1. Roleplaying can build friendships.
The fun and joy you feel of being friends and roleplaying in one picture.
One of the best parts of roleplaying is the friendships that develop while participating in it. As stated before, the main part of roleplaying is being a part of a community. Each community is built up people portraying characters from a specific television show, musical, book, etc. In the beginning, the relationships are formed solely on the relationship between your characters. You spend time responding to each other threads (writings and dialogues between our characters based off a prompt) and coming up with ideas beyond the events that happen in canon (the main events of the original story).
As time goes on, the similar interests you have with the characters and fandom start to lead to other conversations outside of roleplaying. Eventually, you end up with a new friend that either is online only or also in real life. I met one of my best friends ever through roleplaying and I couldn't be more grateful.
2. Roleplaying is a great form of self-therapy.
Its like your own form of yoga, just through writing.
This reason here is one of my favorite reasons as to why I enjoy roleplaying. It's a great source to release your inner feelings about the real world in a safe place. A lot of how your character is built and interacts is based upon on yourself, sometimes more than you realize. It goes back to seeing the connection between yourself and the character; which is also the reason you choose to roleplay them. In those interactions, you get the chance to release your frustrations and worries, letting your characters take those on for a minute. In the meanwhile, the interactions you're having with your roleplaying partner just may lead you to solve them. You just gave yourself free therapy, it has to feel great.
3. Roleplaying can build imagination and creativity.
Be Mickey...and live your imagination (its Orlando, you get it)
A lot of the interactions that take place between characters are based on the main events of the original story. However, roleplaying is about the ability to let those characters live beyond their original conception. There's so much fun inventing a new backstory for your character that still connects to their own original story. In addition, we create different stories that are referred to as alternate universes (aka AUs) that place the characters in different stories, points in time, or basically anything you can create. Creativity is often something people only believe they need in school or if you're a creator. Contrary to popular belief, imagination is needed in all parts of life and careers. Imagination and creativity is a part of problem-solving, which is something you need in all walks of life.
4. Roleplaying can help build your skills as a writer.
Yes, writing is hard. You can improve it by doing roleplaying.
In the previous point, I mentioned how roleplaying can build your creativity. If there's anyone that needs to build on creativity, its a writer. Roleplaying largely focuses on character building and development. Lots of writers tend to struggle with building characters that are fully fleshed out and complete. The story is built, but not the characters; this sometimes leads to lackluster in what could have been a great story.
Even though I tend to be a character-oriented writer, it has helped improved my character building skills as well. It forces you to take the time and think about your character and live life in their shoes. You begin to come up with details about their life, such as family, favorites, and specific events that shape them as a person. In addition, since the majority of roleplaying interactions are done with writing and dialogue, it can help to improve those skills as well.
5. Roleplaying helps you better understand yourself.
Yes, being roleplaying makes you a genius. Congratulations.
All of the character building and writing of the character eventually forces you to begin to analyze yourself. You start to notice qualities and characteristics that you may have never noticed before now. The journey you are taking with your character is one that you are also taking with yourself. It's the ultimate benefit of roleplaying.
After you spend some time roleplaying, you start to realize that you're gaining more from it than just having fun. You've become a part of a community, built friendships, become better at communication and have a better understanding of yourself. Overall, roleplaying is essentially pretending to be someone else, mainly a fictional character. It's the opportunity to be something that you're not every day. It's a thing that brings joy and an escape and sometimes there's nothing better than that. It cost you nothing, so you might as well give it a shot.