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What is tumblr roleplay?
May 12, 2012 8:32 PM   Subscribe

What is tumblr roleplay?

Okay, so I follow a fair number of tumblr blogs, seek out images, and the like. But one aspect of tumblr culture mystifies me. What is "tumblr roleplay" (see posts tagged rp). From what I can tell it's sort of fan fiction, but people have to "apply" to be a character, but it's characters and it's also celebrity/actor names. And lots of images. I can't tell if the stuff I see on tumblr is the destination, or tumblr's being used as a tool and the actual stuff happens in role play communities (message boards? irc? chat? apps? group texting?). Searching for "tumblr role play" on the web gets either spammy sites or other tumblrs. It reminds me vaguely of old MUDs/MOOs/MUSHes - but also seems fundamentally different somehow.

Explain it to me?
posted by artlung to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
It's something that was probably born in LiveJournal (although I have seen it in independent fan forums too).

It's basically group fanfiction with each author representing a character following a vague excuse of a plot ('they are all in an island, LOST/Survivor style'). People need to apply because there can be only one Tony Stark or one Captain America (which, for example, are incredibly popular characters in The Avengers fandom) in the 'story'.

Of course, it's Tumblr, so you get reaction gifs, memes and all those things from the character's point of view.
posted by Memo at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2012


I can't tell if the stuff I see on tumblr is the destination, or tumblr's being used as a tool and the actual stuff happens in role play communities (message boards? irc? chat? apps? group texting?)

It depends on the particular group. Often people do carry out their RPing on Tumblr, with all the opportunities for gifs and so on that Memo mentions, but it's also quite common for Tumblr to be used as an organisation point to find people to RP with on IM.
posted by lwb at 2:34 AM on May 13, 2012


Memo's got it.
posted by spunweb at 2:34 AM on May 13, 2012


The term of art is "journal-style RP." It's a heavily text-based roleplay based heavily around journal entries and comments. Tumblr's part of the overall game, where it's hosted. Usually (but not always) there's additional roleplay around chat, email, etc, with possible use of dice/randomizers for determining outcomes.

Journal style roleplay on LJ got big back in 2003 with the rise of a Harry Potter-based RP called Nocturne Alley. A lot of games started around or just after that time, usually all inspired by one fandom (usually, but not always, Harry Potter).

By 2005-2006, things started to transition to multi-fandom journal-style RPs, which allowed characters from multiple source cannons. I think a lot of the popularity on the multi-fandom RPs is because of (a) a much greater character limit -- and note that most heavy players will have at least three characters, and usually more; and (b) increased availability of "cool" characters. (A Dr. Horrible RP would be hard to get off the ground -- only three main characters, and most RPers don't want to play Fangirl #3. Multi-fandom RP can accommodate the player who wants to play Moist and the player who wants to play Captain Hammer, while still having enough other characters to keep the game active.)
posted by pie ninja at 5:18 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's also quite common for Tumblr to be used as an organisation point to find people to RP with on IM.

Or on forums, or livejournal or insanejournal (a livejournal clone site that has a lot of roleplaying and fanfiction). I still see a lot of single-fandom games on IJ.
posted by immlass at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2012


Using "journal-style RP" I searched and found this glossary: RP Types, Lingo, & Courtesy which is fascinating. This glossary item for "scene":
A scene is a scenario between characters that is played out. It can be any type of situation - from a dramatic fight to a pair of friends looking at photographs, and everything in between. Scenes can be played in any medium preferred by the players - threading, AIM logging, email, googledocs, or anything else, the term isn't specific to any one in particular
The thought of using Google Docs for this stuff takes me aback and reminds me, more than ever, "the street finds its own uses for things."

Thanks all, and thanks pie ninja for giving me "journal-style RP"!
posted by artlung at 12:20 PM on May 14, 2012


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