It’s me, it’s definitely me.
I own the way I feel and do not blame others when I am living my best self.
I do feel in the RP in the context of our community. It’s intentional. I allow myself to feel more purposefully, thoughtfully, and deeply than I do in RL.
Most of the feels I can notice and document fairly easily. I note the hard feelings like agony/grief/anger/sadness when a beloved PC or pet dies, and I note happy feelings like joy/accomplishment/esteem when my character participates in saving the day, or when one of my antagonists is able to pull off some nefarious plan.
Other feels, the elusive type, are harder to notice and name but have a potentially greater impact on player experience. I have observed two of these so far.
1. The simplest of these so-called “elusive feels” is an ongoing desire to be included inside the “in-group”.
“Feeling like an outsider I take steps I need to take to in order to feel like I am part of the group,” is written in first-person because the steps have to be active every day, there is no past tense for them.
An “in-group” is defined as a group that an individual psychologically identifies themselves as a member. The “out-group” is everything else.
In-group examples include family, church, university, sports teams, and professional associations, but these traditional examples do not include the ubiquitous notion of “online” community, or rather “groups”, to which an individual might psychologically identify themselves as a member. It is this case of online in-group/out-group dynamics that most piques my interest as a researcher and as a self-identified community member.
Nevertheless, I do not dare get into the details of the theory as it is applied to the very many diverse in-group/out-groups sets that exist in the land of Discord. Much less do I dare to get into a smaller sets of diversity that exists in our own Conan Exiles Discord server and game. I will no doubt undertake this task in the future, but not today.
Okay, leaving that aside for now, here are the steps I take to cultivate a feeling of belonging and membership to our specific “in-group”:
- I bring my fully authentic self (along with disclaimers 😉 ) to the group,
- I practice generosity as much as possible IC, despite the disposition of the PC,
- OOC and IC, I praise other people’s creativity,
- I (try) thank each person who chooses to spend their RP time with me.
Eureka! I found again what has always been: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” — I’m selfish — I want people to do all those things for me and in some sense, these steps may be the sum total of what it is to be a member of any group.
2. But I also know the feel of discontent that trickles in from stubborn dreams about the unique personas embodied inside our character creations. This feel, more universal and iron-willed, is fundamental.
It derives from the anxiety we all share in the collective knowledge that one day our RL uniqueness will fade into the blackness of death. Our fantastic creations are in this light a bid to raise ourselves above this simple death anxiety and become a version of ourselves wholly different, one who does not fear death as we mere mortals do in the most secret places of our hearts.
Facts. But how we deal with it in the RP when we are not in the leading role (as we most often aren’t in this game 😉 ) is what makes the difference between community membership success feels and community membership failure feels...
….And although there is much more to be said about existential angst, OOC emotion, and role-playing characters, I am ending this blog post here…