Language and speech are the two primary methods of interaction we humans use to communicate with each other. While I’m sure you appreciate me stating the obvious, I want to bring the fact to your attention because that truth holds steady even in WoW, and may even take on a greater importance in the entire MMORPG genre.
One of the great advantages of WoW is the ability to game with people all over the world from the comfort of your own place. As far as it concerns roleplayers, this is also one of the great stumbling blocks for our style of play. The mental work involved in just talking to another character so that our words are understood is one example that puts many off to the concept of roleplaying from the very start. Another example is talking in ‘RP mode’ (aka In Character, or IC) so that it is believed that it is the character speaking, not the player… well, it can be and is a daunting thing, even for seasoned roleplayers
Rather than just jumping into the deep end of the linguistic arts, allow me to show my fellow roleplayers and anyone else interested how I have come to learn how to better use language and speech for roleplaying in WoW. There is an easy (or, at least, not so hard) way to prepare yourself for properly roleplaying your character’s speech and mannerisms. Let me show you!
Before that, and even though it’s been stated many times before elsewhere, just let me reiterate one very important fact: speaking in ‘RP mode’ in WoW DOES NOT involve spouting Old English, Elizabethan, or biblical words and phrases. Nor does it have anything to do with that so-called ‘leet speek’. WoW is simply not set in such a universe, at least not in any related readings I have done, and I’ve done my share. Now, I’m not saying real world archaic languages should be entirely shunned in WoW, just that such manners of speech are not an everyday item. So, for those who are looking to try out roleplaying for the very first time, relax! You don’t have to sound like one of Chaucer’s pilgrims on the road to Canterbury (although, if you can, huzzah!). Hopefully the following guidelines will help.
The very first interaction a new character has with language in WoW comes directly after creation. Each starting area also happens to be one of the best in game areas to listen and learn how a specific race talks. Every NPC can be a potential teacher, all you have to do is pay close attention to what they say, in both audible and written forms.
I have a stack of notebooks within arms’ reach, a couple devoted for WoW notes and data I want to remember. In one notebook, I have pages of words and phrases specific to each race, all gleaned through chatting with starter area NPC’s, accepting and finishing quests, and by just clicking on them over and over until they chased me away. Some may think that is enough to classify me as a hardcore roleplayer, and maybe so. Thankfully, others don’t have to go to the same degree just to learn a bit of RP speech. It really only takes a small handful of race specific terms thrown in here and there for your own character to sound believable. However, I would suggest writing them down as you come upon them, and then pick and choose from your list which ones feel right for your character.
Another place I suggest for learning this is by finding your character an out-of-the-way corner of Azeroth, and just start going through the whole voice emote list. The voice acting, like a great many other things in WoW, was designed and implemented by Blizzard to an amazing degree, much of which can be seen by clicking the voice emotes or typing the specific ‘/’ command. This is a fantastic way to listen to and learn how your character speaks and sounds. Since the act of speech is much more than just sound, many voice emotes also have an expression to go with them, some physical gesture that your character will make to match the words and sounds they are emitting. Not only that, but a good many of them are downright hilarious! Just get your favorite female Blood Elf to spam ‘/flirt’, or get the nearest Gnome to do the same for ‘/train’, and you’ll see what I mean. The point is, once you have it in your mind how your character sounds and moves, it’ll be much easier to type the right words and phrases in line with creating a much better and more believable character.
Finally, I pass along my favorite method of learning how to roleplay speech, and that is by talking to other fellow roleplayers If you never practice the art, you’ll never learn it, right? Plus, you can get more than a few clues and hints from other players and their characters, some of which you may put to use yourself. Furthermore, I have found this can and very often does lead into some excellent roleplaying experiences.
Well, those are just a few pointers I can pass along to my fellow roleplayers I’m very interested in hearing from you about how you tackle the issue of RP speech in WoW. For a role player to truly walk the walk, it helps to be able talk the talk. So, how do you?