Today we are talking about Swearing in roleplay. This can be a touchy and highly debated topic in many roleplay communities, we break it down below. But in case you want to catch up; Beyond Basics is a series of posts that delve into different aspects of roleplay beyond the basics of character creation within an MMO setting. For our purposes, this setting is World of Warcraft but it can be useful in others too. This series will look at things like plots and storylines, conversations. Even the world and community around you as a player in an MMO. And how you can best make use of that as well as how it might differ from roleplay on tabletop games for example. You can find the Beyond Basics Series Index here.
What is Swearing
Swearing is the use of a profanity which is ”blasphemous or obscene language”. It ranges in severity and intent and includes words like Shit, God, and Fuck. It is also very susceptible to perception, some people will think some words are profanities when others disagree; such as crap, damn and names for genitalia. There is also a scale of severity with these words, for example, shit is not normally seen as being as offensive as fuck. Some people swear a lot in real life and some people don’t. Some people don’t mind swearing at all and other people find it very uncomfortable. As with any things it is entirely changeable person to person. And with that in mind, it is often frowned upon being used or used excessively in public spaces. The internet is a public space. Even if it is one we are still learning how to use with dignity and grace.
Should Swearing Be Used In Roleplay?
So should it be used in roleplay? If you are in a tabletop setting with a group of friends you know well and you know they are all comfortable with swearing, then go for it by all means. If you are online in an MMORPG setting however you need to consider the fact that it is a public setting. You cannot be sure who is seeing what you type. World of Warcraft, for example, is a PEGI 13 game. That means there are potentially 13-year-olds and no doubt younger playing this game too. And while many of them likely do not play on Roleplay servers it is worth bearing in mind that your audience could be young teenagers.
You can argue the fact that profanity is just another aspect of language as well. And that just like with people in real life, characters may have different and varying relationships with foul language that could be telling traits and characterful nods to their background. Sometimes swearing can help you build a character’s aesthetic and vibe. So how then do you juggle that with the idea that the game and setting itself is on an OOC level meant to be somewhat child-friendly?
I don’t have any definitive answers for you. The topic is not one of those with a clear answer though many may think their answer is the clear answer as that is the nature of opinion. I would love to hear your arguments and thoughts on the matter below as well. But for now, I have laid out what I think to be the best way of handling swearing in roleplay.
Community Friendly Swearing
In public area’s within the game, and when using public channels like /s, /e /y etc you should be mindful of what you say. And you should keep in mind that this is a PEGI13 game and to the best of my knowledge swearing in public channels is against the code of conduct. If you can find no other way around it then try and make sure you are in a private area and it’s past watershed. But it shouldn’t need to come to that in truth because there are several ways to get creative with it.
A lot of TV shows and games get around the use of swearing by inventing new swear words. In Battlestar Galactica it was ‘Frack’, in Star Wars: The Old Republic it is ‘Kriff’ etc. THis is also an option for games. Look at the aminals and gods in the lore of the setting. Bullshit can become Kodo-dung, God can become Old Gods or Light, or Shadows or any other faith of choice; for example ‘Light damn it all’. Have a look around and get creative. Remember you don’t always have to use a curse word to get your point across.
Non-Community Friendly Swearing
If you have your heart set on more commonplace real world words then the best thing to do is to be careful about your settings and be careful where you used them. If you need to do it in /s or /e then make sure you do it away from public consumption. That way it’s at less risk of offending anyone else or making them uncomfortable. Beyond that be sure to check what policy your guild holds on swearing. Whether or not /g and /o and any other channels they use may be fine for swearing but also might not be. Knowing ahead of time will save you a blunder though.
Beyond that, there is always RP in private channels. Instanced areas with a group of friends is a good place to air such traits. Perhaps try using Partt chat (/p) for certain scenes. Maybe even custom channels in the game or on Discord of Skype. These places are all set up by a group of players and if that group are all okay with bad language in their roleplay then you’re free to go wild without crossing lines and offending people.
Where ever you find yourself on the spectrum, let us know your thoughts below!
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