I have been role playing for a number of years now and the joy I get from it never fades. In fact, it is like a muse that whispers into my ear what the next story I write should be about. When I am in Everquest2, I participate in any of the RP - role playing - events possible. The world of Norrath there is like a huge online community theater.  Anyone who wishes to learn how to role play need only join up with a role playing guild to get some guidance and practice.

For those of you who don't really know what role playing is, let me try to explain. Simply put, role playing is assuming the role of someone or something other than yourself. It's very much like acting. The stage can be somewhere locally where you live like a park or auditorium. This type of role playing even is often referred to as LARP - Live Action Role Playing. With the Internet and it's graphical interface, we can now do such impromptu role playing - or acting - online. The use of chat rooms, instant messaging programs and online games now makes it feasible for us to role play from the comfort of our homes any time we want, for as long as we want.

I started and learned about role playing when I discovered AOL's Virtual Places. A number of people had created castles and realms using graphical websites. Then they created and used tiny graphic images called avatars to be their characters. These avatars could be trolls, knights, ladies, animals, anything that was possible for use on the internet and in Virtual Places. The special internet program, Virtual Places, enabled us to chat by typing in special “chat boxes” at the bottom of the screen. Dialog was instantaneous and we were able to move the avatars around or change them as we wanted. Stories and friendships were created and I spent many a late night hour glued to my computer. I collected avatars and created my own realm which still exists to this very day located at http://www.dragonling.com/road.htm

Role playing adds depth and interest to a character and a good role player should have the ability to act to a certain extent. Being a fiction writer would also help with creating a character that is fun to role play. Reading books and following the other role players you associate with also helps you develop your own character. It doesn't happen overnight and let no one tell you that there is only one style of role playing. There are many! Everyone Rps in their own special way. Their characters can be mysterious, happy, silly, friendly, intellectual, evil, or dumb! Some role players are always in character when they are in the game or program. Some role play with big story lines while others only role play at certain events or times. Some people like to role player characters that are very different from themselves while others are very much like themselves. When Virtual Places closed, I began to search the internet for another way to role play.

When you join a role playing game like Everquest2, also known as a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game) you will start by creating your character. If you are just starting out, create a simple character and watch with others are doing until you think you are able to participate.   Role playing gives everyone the freedom to be as creative and as imaginative as they want to be so long as it doesn't take away from another role player's enjoyment. Never, I repeat, never ever tell someone how to RP their character. If they are being rude, vulgar or mean, leave their company and avoid them. Because of the social nature of a role playing program, chat room, or game, those that are rude or mean will eventually find themselves alone and unwelcomed.

In time and with practice, you can add more to your character much like writers do with their characters. Add personality traits and think up an interesting background.  Personal quirks and noticeable habits like a studdering or limping will make your character more interesting. All this may sound like a lot of work but don't let it be. Do what you can, little by little, because roleplaying is meant to be fun and fascinating.

There are many guides available on the Internet for helping you create a fun character.  character will act in certain situations; a character with such a background will be more difficult to role play, but ultimately more rewarding.

One thing you may also want to remember. Role playing games, while very popular, are not the only way to role play. Dungeons and Dragons is a game that involves a lot of role playing amongst players seated around a table. You can still buy the box game and its large collection of gaming books at places like Hastings Book Store and Barnes & Nobles.

Online chat rooms created with certain themes like Medieval Land, Western Land or Fantasy Land are also popular. Role playing is almost totally done with text and no graphics.  Just two good examples of this would be www.white-wolf.com and www.myrealms.net.  There is something for everyone who wants to enjoy this form of fun on the Internet. Try doing a search using the words “Free role playing chat rooms” on any search engine and you will see that there are quite a few out there.

I even learned it was possible to role play using instant message programs like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Chat and AIM. If the other person you are chatting with is a role player, then the two of you can come up with some interesting plots and stories. Again, role playing only requires a bit of imagination and a medium to interact with others either personally or artificially, like the Internet.

Yes, one must always be careful on the Internet. We have to keep our computers protected from hacking and viruses. We need to be sure we don't give out too much personal information. Parents need to monitor their children and make sure they don't go into the wrong kind of chat room or play mature role playing games. In role playing as in real life, we all need to be care who we associate with. Be selective of those we meet until you feel they can be trusted.

I have been role playing for almost 11 years and now my logs of role playing that I have saved all this time are coming in handy because of the stories, characters, plots, events I created. I wasn't much of a writer but my imagination took me to magical kingdoms, I have made many good friends while role playing. I have laughed at their antics and cried when they were suffering. We do it all the time over a good movie or good book but in this form of recreation, there are other real people involved, some way and some how. Some role players become such good friends that they even call or email each other. Some discover they live close enough to meet and share real hugs.I have been lucky to meet such wonderful people. We have met, role played and became good friends. Give it a try the next chance you get.

In closing, let me give you the number one rule about role playing:Real Life Comes First! Any friend you role play with will understand and endorse this rule. I can't stress it enough. REAL LIFE COMES FIRST. If you have to leave a game or event because your family, job or loved one needs you. You leave. The game and your true friends will still be there when you are able to return. I agree that it can become addicting for some. I have seen it and still hear about it all the time. Role playing is only for fun and should never ever harm your real life in any way, anymore than a TV program or a good book can.

Role playing is fun but it's not real!