I come here with much humility, an open mind, and eagerness to learn. I want to learn this roleplay thing so that I can play this game better. My ignorance of Roleplay has made me look like a fool. It has had me disrupt another user's 3DX experience and I simply will not make that mistake again. And it starts with me really understanding what Roleplay is.
My only understanding of it is typing stuff in a chat. I never did it in a virtual world though. Stuff like Yahoo Messenger is where I would do roleplay but it never involved 3D avatars. 3DX is my first look at this sort of chatting and social interaction and so roleplay really wasn't at the forefront of my mind because I never roleplayed in 3D before. So I have a series of questions and I would appreciate any help with this.
My questions are:
1. What is Roleplay?
2. Is it a full time thing? Like is everyone roleplaying?
3. How do you detect a roleplay?
4. Is it disrespectful to not roleplay or function as a roleplayer?
As has been touched on already, Roleplay can mean different things to different people, so the definition is somewhat open.
I have roleplayed for years in various games, usually MMO's like Final Fantasy, Elders Scrolls, Star Wars, and in those games there are thousands of roleplayers and while there is still some variations to it in there, its much more generalised and the rules more normalised.
A general idea of roleplay is making a character, naming it, then giving it a life so to speak. For example, in Elder Scrolls, I play a travelling merchant woman, stopping at small villages and towns, striking up convos with other roleplayers. Before I started, I sat down and wrote a full bio up on her, as I find it easier to do it that way. things like where she was born, the status of her family and their background as well as your own, the type of person she is, her MO and other assorted references. I do this so I don't fall into the trap of sliding different ways during rp, so I have a reasonable firm stance on the demeanour. An example of sliding is when a young man whom I was quite fond of, asked for my help to set up a robbery on a caravan, and while the scenario sounded fun, my character would have nothing to do with this, in doing so would break my character and be silly.
In picking a character to play, this game is a lot different as it does not have lore associated with it, so if you want to play a demon, vampire, werewolf, secret agent or coffee shop owner or just a normal person with some odd quirks, its all fine, though its best to pick something you know a bit about so convos can be a bit more engaging, but google is your friend if you feel like something different.
As for being full time, most don't, and I feel it would be unhealthy to do so. A lot of people including myself usually use an alt character that we will RP on, and another character to play the game so keeping them separate. Some scenarios can go on for weeks, even months in the case of a romance I had in Star Wars, it started as a random encounter with a bounty hunter in the deserts of Tatooine, we became friends, then lead to romance.
Once you've made your char and given it a life, and some sort of meaning, then comes the hard part, going out into the world and finding like-minded people to converse with, which leads to your question about finding RP. This game wasn't build with RP in mind, so lacks even the basic tools to help with this. In other games, if you walk around, rather than sprint or use a mount, is a clear sign to others you are in character, and games like Final Fantasy have a little RP tag that you can turn on in options that shows up next to your name, and finally, the RP communities usually end up making a area like a tavern/pub/bar somewhere in the world which will become a default meeting spot for like minded people. Your only avenue here is to use the forums, and add that info into your profile... Clunky, but its all we have atm.
There's two key things this game needs for RP to flourish and attract more. One is an area chat or /say, which usually covers around a 30 feet area around the character so you can walk into and out of rp as you go along, possibly joining in if its open, this is usually a common sense thing and just listening in for a moment will tell if its open banter or a more serious private convo, but usually, that sort of private convo will be taken to a remote area like your private house, or possibly group chat, but as a general rule, if you're out in public chatting, then you're "usually" welcoming anyone to join in. Even in the current small places and clubs, where the the convos would overlap it would still be a benefit, as it gives users an extra channel separate to World and Local which people can shit talk in.
The second, which is symbiotic to the first, is a map to facilitate this open RP style. The recently released beach map goes a long way towards this as its huge, allowing you to find private pockets in a still public space, but what is needed is a more what I call a character neutral area, something like a small city area with a couple of streets, some shops, offices and maybe a small park so naturally occuring RP can happen more organically in a setting that makes sense for so many different types of characters.
For your last question, No, not at all. You pay your monthly fee and can play how you like. The two groups play in the same place for years without too many problems at all, sometimes people can be mean and try and disrupt RPers by standing, jumping and other silly things in between the avatars, but this game has an excellent ignore function that not only mutes unwanted and disruptive chat, but makes the offending avatar vanish.