Wednesday, February 28, 2024

If You’re Unfamiliar with Roleplay: It’s Basically Pro Wrestling.

( Back in 2021, I joined a GTA RP—Grand Theft Auto roleplay—server called Alabama RP. It was a smaller server and at the time didn’t have the mechanics that larger servers like NoPixel and IgniteRP sported. In the player application for my background in roleplay and for my character, I was asked “What is roleplay?”

I’d been roleplaying in some sense since 1996. I started in play-by-email, message boards, and on wrestling e-federations. All had an application process and actually, the early days of text roleplay encouraged my love of writing and creativity. Whether it was making a vampire, a ninja, or a psychopathic wrestler, it was fun to sit, come up with a backstory to fit into this new setting and do the sample roleplay.

Vampire - The Masquerade

When I did tabletop for the first time with Vampire: The Masquerade, it was a different experience since there was no application process—just friends creating adventures. However, when I first dove into GTA RP—something I’d watched for years—it was the first I’d been asked what I was roleplay. My answer:

Roleplay is Pro Wrestling

Pure and simple. I’ve been a wrestling fan since 1995 or 1996. The thing with any fandom is that you might fall in love with it when you’re young but as you age and with the internet, you learn more about the workings of the business: how are the moves performed, how do they call for these moves in a match, how is a card put together, who is cool with who backstage—that kind of stuff.

It’s the same with comics, music, and yes, roleplay. You learn things that make you more knowledgeable about what you’re viewing even if it’s stuff you don’t need to know. That’s an important point since viewers can be pretty nosy when it comes to the inner workings and rules of roleplay when many have never played in a server.

At its core, players create a character who is expected to exist in this world (server) and adhere to the laws of that world (server rules). They can interact with other players who are doing the same, be involved in alliances, fights, and commerce. Basically, they live as this character and act as the character would—unless they’re a self-insert character. This is when a character basically has traits of the player instead of having their own traits based on their background for the player to act out.

Think of Nick Cage or Charlie Sheen in a film but they’re just playing themselves.

Ultimately, it’s just playing a role and cooperating with others for scenarios, interactions, and storylines. It’s similar to wrestlers who take on any number of characters and must exist in this arena where the rules are weird and warped but they cooperate for matches, angles, and interviews.


Beyond Character-work

Even the behind-the-scenes stuff is similar to wrestling. Admins are like road agents/producers/referees who deal with OOC (out-of-character) issues with players as well as issues with abnormalities in the game world—or “scuff”. Devs for the servers are like the ring crew/production team who setup the ring, stage, ramp, railings, and commentary tables. The server owner is the promoter or promotion owner and keep everything afloat.

Players themselves are the on-screen talent as well as their own camera crew/production team—especially if they stream. When interacting with others in the server it can be a shoot—wrestling parlance for when reality crosses over into performance as far as outside issues and often involves actual strikes or submissions—or a work—where the people are cooperating. Based on viewer bases, experience, and the streamer’s performances they can go down as veterans, superstars, underrated talents, ones for the future, or jobbers/jabronis—or the wrestlers who tend to lose more often than they win.

Then you have the viewers who are very much like wrestling fans. Some have ideas on how characters should be played, rules, features, incidents, and so on all while never playing on a server for a lengthy period of time—or at all—in most cases. Hell, toxicity from viewers can be extremely similar to wrestling fans amongst themselves, streamers they frequent, and in the worst case: towards other streamers because of in-game conflict.

Of course, not all RP viewers are like this, including yours truly. Most of us are supportive of the streamer, hope for the best for the characters, appreciate the content, and keep our takes on how things “should” or could be done to ourselves.

Sure, we talk with others in chat about all of this stuff but many us realize we’re viewers and not armchair roleplaying which would be similar to fantasy booking for you wrestling fans out there. As I mentioned, it’s no different than any other form of entertainment or media.

Like pro wrestling RP can exist in multiple forms. In the case of GTA, it can extremely chaotic shoot ‘em up action focused on cops and criminals or it can be slow burn with actual storylines. In rare cases, it can be a mix of both. All in all, RP and pro wrestling offer something for everyone if you can find what you’re looking for—and both can be equally addicting.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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