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So I've been RPing in one shape or another (mostly forum based, but I have done chat and others) for about 12 years now. I've seen a few fads come and go. Things as simple as the overly colorful templates that have every letter a different color (had a friend make me a few of those, she was a doll), to "MUST HAVE TINY TEXT EVERYWHERE!!1!1111!!!! SIZE 0 MASTER RACE!!!!1!!!!1".


I had to leave RPing for a while, because college happened, because life happened, and I resently (in the last 6ish months or so) have decided to come back. I've found myself... pickier, personally. I won't join just ANY site anymore, and I'm picky about skins, rules, and those I can RP with. I adore romance, and fandoms, and have a hard time finding anyone who's similar (it seems). I'm noticing that where I'm looking, I'm not finding anyone who's a teen. Or if they are, they are very mature. I remember when Chatboxes were filled with "so, school sucked today, I had a biology test, a pop quiz, and my friend's not-boyfriend tried to hit on me" or "my life is so terrible, my parents aren't letting me do _____!!!!!". Now I see "I'll be back later guys, gotta put the kiddos to bed" or "Sorry I'm so late guys! I had to stay late for work, but I will get a post out I swear!".


It's... interesting for me. I was gone probably three to three and a half years, and I come back and now... RP is a completely different landscape. I no longer need AIM, but Discord. My forum RPs are being moved to Premium places as we all want more mature themes. (I remember when fade to black was exciting, and felt a little... naughty 😜.) I, personally, am more picky about who, what, where and when I rp. Even my Why has changed a bit. It's no longer about escaping, it's more about... enjoyment for me. I have things I want to RP out (and yes mostly in fandom, because I doubt I'll ever loose that), that I doubt 18 year old me would have wanted to RP.


I know I've changed, and I've noticed that the face of RP has changed as well. Again, mostly I've done forum stuff, but I am wondering, who else has seen these changes, or hasn't realized until now that they've happened. Coming back is... jarring, I guess. I'm faced with what feels like a new game, and I'm a bit behind. Tell me your experiences. Even if you started RPing in the last few months, you can tell me what you are seeing as normal, and I can give you an idea how it looks from someone who hasn't really gotten to RP much in the last few years.


Here are a few major fads I remember, some were good, some were not so much.


  • Animal Sites [Horses (where I started), Wolves, Tigers, Cats in general, lions]
  • Overly colorful EVERYTHING.
  • Bad color combinations.
  • Tiny, size 0 text.
  • AIM (figuring out group messaging was hard
  • Highschool (RP wise, and RL wise)
  • Emo Mary Sues (I think that had something to do with that terrible/wonderful HP fic, My Immortal?)
  • Black and White Rping (There is no gray, you are a good guy, or a bad guy)
  • Dark, Light, Neutral. Usually with the animal sites.
  • So Much Time! (I had it all guys, I had it all!)
  • Bonding over dumb things your character said (I think this still exists, or it should. If it doesn't, I'm bringing it back)


That is just to name a few. Why don't you tell me what you remember/know of/think of as 'modern rping', and we can compare notes! :D


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So I've been RPing in one shape or another (mostly forum based, but I have done chat and others) for about 12 years now. I've seen a few fads come and go. Things as simple as the overly colorful templ

To add to the list: *Dark themes. Still tiny fonts in many cases, but everything is so muted and dismal. Sort of like the internet is running its "gritty dark" phase of rebooting genres  

Avidgamers, sigh, my childhood in rp. I never really got into the wolf rps, though it is probably something I would have dug hardcore in middleschool, had I the internet at the time XD.  Oh and rainbo

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I've been a roleplayer for far too long. In fact I sometimes feel like I should retire.


  • Everything is now horribly dull in colors and low contrast.
  • People are still in school all over the place, trust me. Most people I know are still in school if they aren't adulting. @xexes I'm looking at you for being an adult person. @Gothams Reckoning I'm looking at you for being... you....
  • We still have size 0 fonts everywhere (My old lady eyes require zoom for most sites)
  • I think AIM has been a "depends on who you talk to thing" for over 8-10 years. I still have one but I haven't logged in except to talk to one person in over 3 years.
  • I don't believe in Mary Sues.
  • Never seen Black and White Roleplay personally although I've seen black and white moral sites because of the way they are setup.
  • All the funny things said or done are still happily discussed.


I think while the face has changed and the community evolves it's still the same old thing and a lot of the same old personalities. I know that many of the roleplayers I've grown to know have just become adults... I'm one of them. Hell my eldest child is eleven.


I think the best thing that has happened to roleplay is the minimum word count thing has basically evaporated. It's still a bit of a thing and a bit of an "issue" in my opinion. Rapid fire roleplays are more available and more widely accepted and aren't considered for "newbs" or beginners. It makes me happy. I love one liners more as I've aged.

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  • Avatars just keep getting bigger

If the little, new to RP me could see the size of the avvie I have now. Old me would be so jealous.

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To add to the list:

*Dark themes. Still tiny fonts in many cases, but everything is so muted and dismal. Sort of like the internet is running its "gritty dark" phase of rebooting genres



As far as bring Picky goes though, I think as we age we all get pickier. Thereby making it hard to just make new friends (as old friends slowly drift away into retirement or other genres). I've seen "younger" RPers drift more towards Idol RPs or Real Life Simulation RPs instead of the fantastical realms we evolved upon, and a handful of Pop-culture stuff like Once Upon a Time or Supernatural. I think this "I want to do XYZ and nothing else" is what keeps a lot of new sites from getting much (if any) life in the first place. We've done everything already, so there's no more mystery in "lets try this!"


I'm also glad to see "Elitist" RPs go by the wayside to be honest.


I haven't stopped RPing at all, but I did travel with just one group for so many years that now that "the group" is only 2 of us, I find it hard to navigate what "the culture" has become.

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I feel like I should bust out my harmonica and tell a tale with a Blues background in it. I am an interesting little Seahorse in that I remember playing in forums/looking at them through the eyes of friends. I was between AOL/forum split play for years, before that? AOL/AIM/A few forum boards in random places. I'm one of those folks who has been aware of/on the sidelines of the forum community's full culture via proboards/invisionfree for years with a nearing 2 full years immersed in after straddling the fence!  A group I ran years ago was one part AOL/AIM, and another part full proboards. (required use within the group, the uproar from live players about using a board, oh man!) remember those of us on AOL/Yahoo (Dare I even say that, maybe even MSN as well!) starting to get really in to message boards because of not only the potential for saving live play logs, but the ability to expand a story, interact with it through posts (because let's be honest, chat players, we could whip up a page on a dime some nights), and use it for storing info versus having a site and a board, or just a site. My offerings to this list of memories are: 

- The need to write entire blocks of text in one bright color, and various sizes of font from uber tiny up to Comic Sans. I remember in forums I'd write in, oh man, writing in multi colors became the thing especially to distinguish one character from another.  When coming from live RP to board RP, some of us liked to have our characters font/color  for their board font/color.  I remember looking around the net at these great designed boards a friend of mine did with others, and noting that in a few places, this was also a thing!  It's interesting how different modes of RP still had similar growing pains.  Now, I am so blind. So blind.  Tiny font and neon colors are the death of me at 33!


- @Morrigan has it right!  So much school still going on, so much adulting!  I am getting back to school myself, but oh man do I feel old when some of my younger player friends talk about their dorm experiences!  And yup, alot of that has also turned into, with those of us that have grown up "Meeting tomorrow/gotta put the baby down/date night with partner/" and generally sounding like our parents :D 

-@firefly -- Yes. Oh, my gosh. yes. If the me of some 10+ and so years ago could see the avatars of now and their fancy gif companions? She would have eyes the size of china plates. I remember limited size avatars and signature sets, and enforcing that was like pulling teeth!

- How you not only had AIM for chatting, but the occasional live play medium if a group had that, and adminish meetings. (AIM and AOL PR Chats) Now, still using AIM as I've got a handful of friends, there seems to be a want to try AIM based live groups. Speaking of live groups and chatting. Live RP happening over on Discord servers!  That takes me back!

- @CovertSphinx -- huzzah the falling of elitism!  That was happening just about everywhere. I've always enjoyed meeting various experiences of writer, because no one gets better or learns all on their own all of the time! 

- My group thrives over the dumb, silly, wonderful, romantic things our characters have said and say. In fact, I think we often joke around with them  all "The butler gives much side eye!" or "The grandmaster approves" all of the time.   

- Remember when forums and sites always had soundtracks you jammed to or toggled up because you couldn't hear that song again for the tenth time?  

-Soundtracks in profiles was also huge when media got with music sharing and youtube vibes.  It was like pimping your RP ride.

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Ah, I remember. There are still fads, but I feel like things have really changed for the better. Here are some of the changes I have noticed:



- Older people are more prevalent - I feel like roleplay isn't ruled anymore by the younger and that older folk have their place. There are even some places now where they intermingle without issue because common sense is the standard, but there is always the fear of inappropriate behavior with older people and younger folk, so the amount of safeguards that we have has really gone up. I guess this is hitting on what @Morrigan was saying, but I feel like it really has broader implications, like :


 - Better behavior: As there are more roleplays to choose from, absurdities like demeaning, tolletarian environments are disappearing because better opportunities exist, leading to a general trend of more behavior. (And also because older people are teaching the younger how to behave, in various ways). Personally I feel this is a direct benefit of having older people more prevalent and intermixing into the roleplay sphere. I feel there is a direct correlation of how diverse a place is to how mature they are. Consider other roleplay platforms, their audience, their health as a roleplay, and their mental maturity.


 - More networking: Roleplay is really starting to understand that site health is directly correlated to new, fresh blood which means affiliates, ads, directories, and a dozen other social network ties. Before, sites would sit in the corner by themselves with an iron fist clinging to their few members as if it could save them from a certain impending death, but now -


 - Site death is accepted : and attitudes are much healthier about it. There is still competitiveness but much less back-stabbing, secretive, and mutinous behavior, because it is more acceptable and easier than ever to just make their own. Interestingly enough, the hatred for serial site creators remains the same ; people don't like being deceived.


 - More ... everything ! With directory sites exploding with knowledge and tutorials and free things, we see a massive increase in the number of pretty aesthetic sites, sites with matching everything, and sites that are doing more and more cool things. Before, you had to be a genius to just make one or two parts; photoshoppers were genies, and web-designers were gods. Now, they can just plug and play


- Smaller sites & shorter lifespans : But with so much variety comes the knowledge that it's no big deal to leave a place, or for it to die. So there are so many dead sites, small sites, and overall sites have a shorter lifespan. This is sort of surprising because I would think that after being up for X number of years, someone would step up to the plate and admin it so it didn't have to die. But that's not happening, probably because they'd just rather go to one of the many more places that exist. This is similar to how we no longer have "courtship", a long phase of seeing and getting to know a single person, to "dating" which is bumble-beeing from flower to flower until we find one that sucks the least.


 - Mobile, but stagnant: In China, you make a website, you make mobile, period, end of story. But we are still not seeing very much attention to mobile and I feel it's because the knowledge of how to do so isn't really out there on those resource sites, and also because most free skin developers aren't including it with their skin - it's free, after all. I'm surprised this hasn't grown faster.


 - Less admin work : Finally, there's a slow-growing trend realization that most admin work is busy work. My friend Addy from another site really taught this to me and hammered it in, but the move towards more automation and less defining of things that don't really matter has begun, is moving slowly, and is here to stay. If and when JCInk develops his plugin system, this will explode exponentially. Proboards is starting to see it but with the age divide and popular opinion that the plugins are buggy and not seamless, it's been very slow.

Edited by xexes
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A relaxed, dark and gritty roleplay based on Disney's Zootopia. 

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Size 0 fonts are, unfortunately still a thing. Low contrast is also a thing.


One new design thing though is massive headers. (I mean like 600+ pixels tall... ones that you have to scroll through to actually see content.) People also now sometimes use hover codes to hide stuff under these massive headers. (So if you mouse over the header then things, like a link to rules or important documents and staff pages, will appear on top of it.)


And of course there are trigger warnings now. (For anyone who says they aren't new... You're partially right. They had a use prior to 2012 but it was largely the intended use of for PTSD. After 2012 they were adopted by victimhood culture and used for basically anything. Though they really came to prominence in 2014-2015.)


The rpg rating system is also new. (Previously most used MPAA or sometimes ESRB ratings.) Again, I'm not personally fond of it. (I think it has flaws. I'll also admit I'm not crazy about how it seemed like overnight everyone just jumped on board and decided it had to be used.)


The rise of Jcink Forum Hosting and decline of InvisionFree. (Jcink began in 2006 but didn't really start getting a lot of roleplayer attention until 2010-2011. Especially after a sub-account mod was added. Since then most people who would have used IF now use JFH instead.)


Premium modes that allow mature content on free hosted forums are also a relatively new thing. 


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"There are three sides to every story... Your side, their side, and then somewhere in the middle is the truth."
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@firefly Oh hell yeah, those avatars.  Today I went back onto an old board of mine and noticed the 100x100 avatar.  Now I have 250x400.  I expect the avatars will take over the boards one day.  (Actually, in a way they have, with the post templates that have full pictures.)


More changes:


- High school RPs!  They used to be everywhere.  That’s how I started mine: it was a bit of a joke RP in that we made fun of the high school clichés.


- Small fonts are still around, but they don’t come with the attitude anymore.  Previously it was “I’m not changing my font for you; I don’t care if you can’t read it—find another RP.”  Now it’s more for decorative purposes and many of the post templates have larger sizes.


- There’s a lot more emphasis on things outside of actually writing.  Post templates, and dohtml, and profile templates, and 10 pictures per character in the profile template, etc.


- Gifs.


- Before people were hesitant of doHTML due to the security risks.  Now no one cares.


- All of those scene kids PBs.


- Yes, all of those BBcode templates that had rainbow colored text. @RavenFlame


- The fall if InvisionFree indeed, @VirusZero.  I was one of the first people who joined Jcink (relatively first), and it was a hard sell getting people on board.  No one wanted to make the transition because it was new and scary.


- iPBfree was another host that used the same software as IF and Jcink.  It died.  Like one day my board was gone sort of died.


- Premium mode is pretty new.  Now it’s like people won’t consider a site if it’s not premium.  Sucks for us poor folk.


- App-less sites are new!  Back in the day, no one would ever have made a site without an application.  Heck, no one even wanted short applications.  Long apps or bust.


- Song lyrics everywhere.


- Also, @VirusZero, I remembered having content warning tags on threads back on my high school site in, say, 2009-2010-ish.  Maybe 2011.  We would tag them like [S*] = sexual scenes, [V] = violence, etc. and then we made sure that there were vowels, too.  We even had a [C] for chainsaws after a member said she was terrified of them.  Then people would try to fit as many weird things into a thread as possible so that they could spell things with the tags.

Edited by Uaithne
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I swear you've covered everything I've been thinking for the past few weeks. I too had left rping for 3 years and now that I'm back it feels like a whole different atmosphere. I come back and now it's all about thread templates, which is something I don't even understand lol I don't want to see that when I'm threading, I want to get into the storyline, it really takes me out of it. We have a very very basic template that really just aligns the text nicely. The death of signatures in a lot of places, seeing how major avatars have gotten and how big. I don't mind the shift there though, I'm a graphics designer so I heart either or. Tiny text is not missed at all, people still do it and I remember reading somewhere on a site a person was like make your font bigger, the internet doesn't run out of "paper" haha it really stuck with me and being mindful of how I design things. Fading to black haha the good old days that had me hiding my face feeling like someone was watching me xD I'm still debating how long I'm going to wait before I jump on the premium thing. I'm waiting it out for a bit but I'm glad it's an option.

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Content warnings and trigger warnings are not the same things. They may have similar looks but the idea is different for them.

Content warnings were usually pretty generic... EX- Violence is gonna happen. And in many cases were so you either didn't stumble into them at work (like reading a steamy scene on a work computer) or so younger people could steer clear (or more accurately gravitate towards) things.


Trigger warnings on the other hand are extremely specific and supposed to let people with trauma know a thread contains that specific thing. (I go into a bit more detail on that here.)


But I hear you on the rise of Jcink. Offhand, I'd like to think I was part of the reason why Jcink took off in the roleplay world. (I know I convinced a number of people to try it out...) and then my suggestion of adding the sub-accounts system really kind of got people's attention.


As for new things in RP-land...

Tumblr shows up from time to time. It's not so great for advertising roleplays (unless they're hosted by Jcink). Some people do use tumblr for roleplaying on. (I don't see the appeal here.)


Livejournal has kinda faded away too.

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"There are three sides to every story... Your side, their side, and then somewhere in the middle is the truth."
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Guest Archaic Cyborg

Personfication, Spirits/whatever, etc. I greatly miss the days when few people couldn't interact with non-human characters. People often played gargoyles (not the tv series version), anthros, dragons, centaurs, even undead- e.g sentient skeletal warriors rather than the drooling corpse variety.


These days, the majority of communities I find DEMAND personifying. No obe is comfortable interacting with, say, Rocket Raccoon, but the same people have zero problems with writing vampire sex (how even?).


Insanejournal-specific trends: cruise ship, desert island, insane asylum premises.

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@VirusZero I actually tried it on Tumblr. It was hard, and I just... disliked it. It's where I developed one of my favorite genderbent Canons from MCU, but other than that.... Yeah. Wasn't fun exactly. And it felt like I was imposing on already existing situations. So much fun? But hey, it's still good to know RP is everywhere.

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I... I remember that. I remember being told I needed to describe my character's eyes as "orbs". I also remember that I thought they were crazy and refused, which got me banned a couple of times. Eyes may be orbs, but I like eyes (or windows to the soul) thanks.

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Avidgamers being a thing. 


Hell, I still use AIM on the regular. With the same AIM name I had when it first came out. Which confuses the hell out of people when I have to explain that, no, it isn't an email. It's literally the name. 


I seem to remember anthro RPs were a bigger than years back.

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