Raph Koster has a new piece on the Williams paper that I mentioned last week, where he hits on Williams’ points. One of the early commentators on the thread was asking about the relative RPer populations of EQ2 versus SWG, presuming that the latter had a higher RP’er population. Actually, I’d take this a step further do a sampling across worlds and technology platforms. It is not just SWG, the Matrix Online and (formerly) Ryzom likely to have higher roleplayer counts. Roleplayers who try to RP in large, commercial AAA environments not only have to deal with having their immersion broken, but are often actively persecuted. You have three choices in such an environment:
1 – find a roleplay guild, sequester yourselves as much as possible and deal with the occasional persecution.
2 – give up on roleplay
3 – leave for greener pastures
IC enforced roleplay worlds one of the last bastions of the NWN persistent world community and is definitely well above 5% of the total NWN PW player population. This is despite the fact that NWN was designed for cooperative multiplay and not PW use and NWN2 was optimized for single player; resulting in a situation where roleplayers have to work against the platform and often players are forced into a form of metagaming and collectively ignore some of the pain points where the diku-like engine is breaking immersion. They put up with it because they can be gatekeepers to their ivory tower and there is no other 3D environment that readily allows roleplayers to play in worlds build and run by other roleplayers.
Text MUDs also likely have a much higher roleplayer representation for largely the same reasons. Roleplayers on text MUDS are trading the 3D environment for more codebase control.
Then again, the total populations of these latter two entries number in the low thousands, probably under comfortably under five digits. Considering that commercial worlds have, collectively, close to 50 million active subscriptions, this is a not likely to affect the total percentages so much.