Graphic content can be a tricky topic to maneuver around. So much so that some people playing villains and bad guys might avoid it altogether, or keep all that kind of plots and content off-screen. But for those that don’t want to avoid it entirely and think it would be a benefit to theme and atmosphere of your roleplay; then there are some things they can do and keep in mind to make it work.
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First and foremost you need to keep in mind that World of Warcraft is a PEGI 13 video game, that means it is suitable and used by audiences of 13 years and above. That means there are minors using this game and you should be aware that anything you post on a public channel could be seen by minors. As such bad language and graphic content should not be used in /s and /e and other public channels. It is against the Blizzard code of conduct and I believe, correct me if I am wrong, that you can be reported and potentially banned for such behavior.
For the sake of this post, I want to clarify that when I say graphic content I mean a whole range of things from moderate and above violence, adult language, adult themes, and even sensitive topics like drugs and mental health issues. The spectrum here is very wide and bear that in mind not all of what I say pertains to the later end of that spectrum, those things have little to no place in an MMORPG at all and add nothing that other things can do just as well and with less controversy.
There is loads of room for an argument on whether or not, with that in mind you should use graphic content at all, and that discussion would be a valid one. For the most part I think the answer is no, you shouldn’t. But when you are playing a villain or a bad guy or running a guild that is based on those themes, avoiding any and all graphic content can be difficult and can dilute and weaken your theme for the players involved and willing to engage in more graphic content. So how do you manage it?
What kind of graphic content are you thinking of creating? What does your plot-line and theme need to create the right atmosphere. A group of thugs might need to use some violence to create the right atmosphere for their group, city smugglers and thieves might need to dabble in addictions, drugs and maybe even prostitution. Military and spy networks could be expanded by interrogation tactics and again violence where needed. Graphic content can come in many different flavours and is not strictly restricted to purely violence.
Think about what flavour of content your bad guy or guild needs, what will add to his atmosphere and story and stick to only that. You don’t need to be ticking every box and collecting the full set when it comes to types, stick to what is useful and characterful for your character. If you overuse graphic content it has two effects it dilutes the content you are meaning to put across by making it as a whole less relevant and suitable, and it makes you look like you are purely using graphic content for the controversial, attention-seeking and other Mary-Sue style factors that will turn people away from wanting to role-play with your bad guy or group.
How Graphic You Get
There is a scale of how graphic you get as well. A fist fight while it could be bloody and a bit rough would not be nearly as intense and graphic as a torture scene for example. As above it could be that you can set your scene and atmosphere perfectly well without getting too far down that scale. Only do as much as you need to, it keeps it suitable and relevant and stops it being over the top for the sake of it, it doesn’t add anything to your theme and atmosphere to add gore for the sake of gore, and it weakens overall weight of the scene and theme entirely.
Where You Get Graphic
Where you get graphic is just as important as what and how. As I noted above using public channels like /s and /e is not the best idea as those channels can be see by everyone, this includes those 13 year old patrons we spoke of above. If you want to use graphic content you are better too use it in a more private channel. You can use it within guild channels (If your guild has an 18+ policy and knows and agrees to such use of their channels), or party/raid groups or even create a channel of your own.
You can role-play in a channel or chat just the same way as you would in /s and /e, most people simply use astrix’s to mark emotes and speech marks to highlight dialogue. If you have the TotalRolePlay addon it will even colour things between astrix’s in the /e colour to make it easier. You could also use an out of game program like Skype for such scenes. But the main factor here it to keep anything that should come with a graphic content warning out of any public channels.
This is a given. The game is a PEGI 13 game that means all kinds of kids and teens could be playing with it, even on roleplay realms. If you are going to engage another character in something that might contain graphic content of any kind or nature you should always check that persons age first, as it is your responsibility as much as theirs to be a thoughtful and responsible player. If you don’t know the other player then maybe trying to steer away from that kind of content would be a better course of action. Either find a clever means of avoiding it all together or instead maybe you could try and suggest or allude to it rather than acting on it.
At The End Of The Day
Who, How, Where and What. These are the four important factors to consider before you engage in anything that might be considered beyond PEGI13 content, and if your unsure if it would be or not, better safe than sorry. Check your audience and make sure you’ve through through your own character, theme and plot and what would actually lend to your concept and what would be unnecessary. And as always discussion is open in the comments below, or you can contact me on the bar above.
Let me know your experiences and thoughts.