RP. You’re thinking… what? Received pronunciation? Rating pending?

No, none of those things. I’m talking about roleplay.

Potentially quite a few strange and different thoughts are going through your head right now. Are you sat there thinking, “what the heck? Roleplay? I thought that only happened in the bedroom or on a gaming console.” Well, friends, I’m about to open your eyes…

Far from JUST a game genre, or a type of sexual activity, or even LARP (s’pretty cool, check it out, nice lifestyle/hobby choice right there), it’s also a type of writing. You might already be familiar with tabletop RP, or MMO RP, or video RPGs… but play-by-post RP is something which has been going for years – and might even predate the internet?

So, word documents were a medium of play-by-post I used to use a lot with my sister. Many Saturday afternoons were spent by leaving the room while the other person wrote another entry in the word document. When she was done, I’d go read what my sister had written, and respond according to my character.

Now, I’m not saying the community is small, but I’ve only ever met a handful of people in person who have this hobby. Of course, I’ve met many more online, because the very nature of the hobby is that it’s largely done through internet forums, chat rooms, etc.

RPs tend to have a genre or a theme – they might be based on Harry Potter, X-Men, or have a “general theme” – science fiction, fantasy, real-life, etc. Whatever genre they’re in might also be constricted by a setting – a certain town, a certain planet, fantasy world, etc.

It’s a hobby which has fallen by the way-side for me in the last few years. Other things such as my part-time job and my studies have taken precedence over this as a hobby, and when I’ve wanted to write it has often been for the benefit of my own projects rather than collaboratively.

But that is what RP is – collaboration on writing. It’s a great way to make friends, find like-minded people, and generally get into good writing habits. I honestly believe it’s what made the difference between me forgetting about writing and doing it as a sort of ‘side-hobby’ to my other hobbies, and continuing it throughout my early teen years to today where I’d rather focus on my own projects and stories.

But RP as a community activity really does help grammar, spelling, character development, plot development, sharing ideas, sharing thoughts, sharing passions. It’s great to communicate with people from across the globe and learn about other cultures.

I’ll admit the online community has changed since the advent of sites such as Tumblr and the nose-dive of others such as Livejournal, but in general the community is alive. I’d hazard a guess that the community isn’t as thriving as it was between the early 2000’s and 2010, but nonetheless it’s still there and kicking.

I learned a lot from and owe a lot to RP and the people I shared my writing with. It really allowed me to gain the ability to show my work to other people and work on things with others, and not just my sister. For a long time I did pick up bad habits from it too – it isn’t without it’s cons – but in general my spelling and grammar have come on in leaps because of this hobby.

Writing with others is not just a playground activity confined to a game of ‘consequences’ or what you do in school classrooms. Writing with others is a genuinely beneficial way of learning a lot about writing and to gain other skills too.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has experience with this type of writing. Let me know in comments or emails!



(Full disclosure – I had no idea what to use as a header for this post, so we’ve got a lovely image of two battling squids. If anyone would like to let me know the artist of this piece, I’m happy to give them full credit, as I definitely did not draw/paint the piece. I use it as I usually go by a squid-related misnomer online, since they’re one of my favourite creatures!)