Before we had hampsterdance.com, let alone the interwebz, the computer world had the concept of user accounts. You were one identifiable person using the machine in front of you. If you were taking up precious computing cycles, the techies knew who to blame. Having one identity per user made a lot of sense.
Now fast forward to modern day, lolcats and ginormous roleplay forums such as our own. How well does having one user identity work for us as roleplayers when our time on forums is largely spent creating and 'using' our character identities. These characters each have important information associated with them that is distinct from ourselves as forum users. The presentation and organization of that character level information is something handled differently by each of one of us. I will return to some of the interesting ad hoc approaches people have come up with to manage characters a little later on. For now I want to delve a little more into what my ideal forum experience would be if I only ever played a single character.
It I was logged into this forum as the Character I was playing, instead of a user, what would I want to see or be able to do? Immediately I would lose interest in roleplay boards except those related to the plot I'm in. Instead of seeing recent posts I'm interested in knowing if its my turn to post, or who has posted since my last entry. I probably have something like my character sheet that I want handy for myself. I also want to have easy access to character sheets of others who are in the same plot. Additionally, I hate it when the one and only plot Iím in starts to fizzle. That means I want a way to drum up interest or reward posting by other roleplayers who are contributing to the roleplay.
That said, zoom out from the character perspective to someone who plays multiple characters. It becomes less clear if you're still interested in the things listed above. Maybe you like the high level view of everything and dont want to have character blinders on. Then again, maybe you still want to feel as if you are only ever playing One character at a time. Regardless of the reason why, I've seen people use some of the following approaches to managing their characters on roleplay forums.
- Creating multiple forum accounts (not done here). This seems like more trouble than its worth, although it does allow players to have an experience optimized around their character (eg: bookmarks only including threads for their character plots, its clear from their post who their character is)
- Using one forum account and taking advantage of multiple forum threads to manage seperate characters. This can also include convenience things like 'Posting status' threads that let other players know at a glance if you are writing a post or waiting for someone else to post. Very nice to have and prevents the 'I wonder if anyone else is posting or if I should post' locking condition.
- Creating wiki pages that contain all their characters as well as information on the world setting.
Another roleplay community I'm part of will soon be facing the question of what they want to do with regards to managing multiple characters per account (or allowing multiple accounts as they have in the past). So I'm curious to ask you all what your opinions are. How would you like to manage your characters in an ideal world?