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Are self-inserts good for roleplay?

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For once, I'm actually not going to express any opinions or write up any long essays since I just want to ask for some opinions to evaluate for myself regarding this topic.

The objective is rather simple, again, and that is whether or not having self-insert characters are beneficial for roleplay.

I don't want any long-winded discussions or arguments with each other. The topic at hand is about just posting your thoughts/view on the matter.

So, the question again being, "Are self-inserts good for roleplay?"

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To maintain the neutral attitude, allow me to provide a double-edged answer!

I'd say self-inserts can be very useful, especially for beginning players who are learning the Auroran ways, as they do not need to think so hard about what their character would or would not do and can focus on the narration instead.

The character is there and alive and good to go - and, for the most part, it's probably working, unlike some of our creations.

Aaand then there's the downside.

With self-inserts, one is more likely (in my opinion) to identify with their character too much and be genuinely, OOCly upset about their misfortunes.

Not to mention what happens when somebody points out some self-inserted character's traits as stupid and unlikeable. I mean, damn!

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I'll be first to admit almost all of my characters are limited self-inserts, which is what makes them interesting.

I take certain attitudes and traits from myself and insert them into my characters. While not always their best qualities, they are usually the most distinguished. It gives characters massive flaws as well great qualities, while still keeping them organic.

What Rechkalov said stands, it can backfire badly. The solution is simply not to take personal criticism as a bad thing, after all, no one is perfect, we all have room for self-improvement. Imagine trying to improve yourself through your characters, this would actually make playing this game... usefull...

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Self insertion is somewhat unhealthy. It can lead to being stressed and having emotional attachments to things you shouldn't overly care about.

That's why some people get upset when they die or have their character insulted. This probably is why some issues arise in the forums but who knows. I think you can embody your character while keeping yourself ultimately detached from them.

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Another thing about self-inserts is that they kinda destroy the balance of "creating a story". People stop becoming story writers, and things start becoming limited or weird, often shaped around the roleplayer's psyche.

For me, self inserts aren't about having similar traits of yourself in a character, but rather putting yourself in the game a bit too much via a character.

For example:

"I feel inadequate irl, let me play this badass mary sue that I've always wanted to be."

"I hate [enter potentially violent roundtype here] because it genuinely makes me scared for my life!"

"I'm a furry. Let's play tajara and yiff in maintenance."

"I want to be a tall and intimidating badass, how tall can you be again? Alright, seven foot it is."

"Let's play a perfect, attractive, young, special, 20-something, with mental issues. The last bit is I mostly identify with, the former being what I want to be."

"You ruined the look of my badass character, I didn't want him to be beaten in the game of thunderdome! VOID."

"I've always wanted to feel desired as a woman, and I don't want to date men, so let me play a lesbian. ALWAYS LESBIANS. Medbay onwards!"

"Oh, I can't play a gay character, I'm not gay and that would be awkward."

"I can't play a woman! I'm not a woman, for god's sake!"

"I masturbate to the thought of myself daily. Here, enjoy my aggressive, rude, and dominating self-insert. Aren't they cool?"

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"I can't play a woman! I'm not a woman, for god's sake!"

A'ight this one is more of a comfort zone thing than anything. I don't see what's wrong with not wanting to play a gender you don't identify (I hate this word being used like this, but someone would probably complain if I didn't use it) with.

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It's really equivalent to a writer of a book saying the same thing. That's all roleplay is, collaborate interactive writing.

I play male and female characters, I play young characters, old ones, of all sexualities and ethnicity that are not my own. Why can't anyone else?

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You really don't need to research to play someone of another gender. About ethnicity, while including culture is nice it is not necessary. You can have a jamaican character without having "Arie, me good mon, just de RD being a bloodclat in de holodeck. Bring ganja and me talk abot it.", you can just have a jamaican character. (Actually I'd like see someone to play a decent non-stereotypical black character sometime, with a personality, just like their other characters.)

Like, I've got a korean character, I'm black, I don't know much about asian culture. She's just korean, not by nationality, but just korean. That's it. That's all that is necessary. I also have a surplus of white characters, which is not at all unusual for the main playerbase of Aurora, but is not my own ethnicity. How people jump to stereotypes and overdo it is beyond me. As if being another ethnicity instantly makes you speak, talk, and act certain way.

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I play male and female characters, I play young characters, old ones, of all sexualities and ethnicity that are not my own. Why can't anyone else?


There are differences, some more subtle than others, with how these people act as well that leads me to doubt my confidence in my ability to accurately portray specific people - I never understood why, in a limitless universe, people choose to emulate cultures that we already know. One concept I've embraced on this note is that if it doesn't exist, you can't portray it incorrectly.

For example, when you see Jaylor talk, read what he says aloud. It makes sense on a screen, but not so much when you actually say it (due to how I've apparently conditioned my brain t' short'n certain words down t' somethin' 'at seems t' be an accent.) There are some words I just don't know how to shorten, and it irks me to no end when Jaylor has to use a long word like "abbreviated" because I have no way to insert apostrophes to simulate his accent - but then again, I don't have to worry so much because it's my own creation, and I can figure it out as I go because I'm not bound to a real-life example. More on topic, though:

It's great to create a character from nothing but your imagination - but at the same time, you need to keep them far enough away from yourself so as not to foster attachment.

If you're a straight, white, blonde-haired man standing at 6'3'' like myself, I'd strongly advise against creating a straight, white, blonde-haired man standing at 6'3'' - the association will come naturally, I assure you. I also advise against copy-pasting a character into Aurora that you've created elsewhere - again, to avoid attachment. I frequently see these grandiose stories posted here, there, and wherever that outline someone's character to the smallest degree - where they went to school, who their high school crush was, all of this could likely fill a novella. Why? The more time you spend on creating a character, the more attached you will become. Seeing a wall-of-text style flavor text complete with an image link does give us a good idea of what a character looks like, but at the same time I can't help but feel that all this leads to a great deal of that attachment. Why is that bad, though? Well, you see...

With that attachment comes entitlement - "you can't kill my character because they're mine and I decide what happens to them," and these players will do everything in their power to facilitate this mindset. Powergaming becomes acceptable because it favors their story rather than benefiting everyone's story, antagonists become simple villains to be defeated to show their character's glory and potential. They become the star. However, we're all essentially writing one large story, and a story can't have more than a few main characters at a time (let alone 30-40.) My best advice to avoid all of this?

Play a side character.

Literally. Build your character thinking, "okay, if I were making a game and included a side-quest for said game, where would this person fit in?" I guarantee you'll have far more fun that way. It's okay to take the limelight sometimes (being an antagonist means you need to, to a degree) but don't be the guy who has to tie every single thread of every story together with his own. So when Dexter prowls the station ready to make his next kill, try to be the James Doakes, the Vince Masuka, and the Angel Batista - unless of course the other players are very obviously making the story about your character, in which case you should consider this your moment to shine.

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I've never had an issue with attachment to characters personally. I can become very fond of my characters, heck, I even have characters similar to myself with no unhealthy problems relating to them. I can stay in character, even when I'm angry. I also have no problems with dying to antags and random events. Why is that? Well, here's what I think.

I do believe that self-inserts aren't to do with how similar your character is to yourself (although making a character similar to yourself can be a sign of self-inserting, or just a lack of imagination) but rather a form of escape, or trying to live vicariously through your character.

I've seen it countless times, people with mental illness, unhappy lives, or unhappy with themselves use roleplay as a form of a second life. The symptoms of it are what I mentioned in my previous post. Not to say that all people with mental illness do this, I myself suffer from bipolar but I have other coping mechanism; whereas some people do use RP as a form of medication for illness or whatever hardship they're going through, maybe even subconciously.

People feel like people in-game are their real friends, enemies, romances, even when they logically know they are not. This can cause emotional reactions that are quite unusual, and spoil things for other RP'ers.

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My main character is a self-insert and this triggers me. Kidding, of course. Well, my main character, Senri Ishikawa (A.K.A. Sinner Ishikarwash, etc.) is actually very like myself, with slight deviations. I created that character, not really knowing what was going to come out of him, so I just reacted to certain things the way I would react IRL. Hence why when the security officer is getting his head chopped off and there's a morphing being running down the hallways, I skidaddle the fuck a w a y fabulously. There's also the matter of comfort levels, I'm comfortable with my own sexuality, so I can really do whatever in that aspect with my characters. I'm not comfortable playing as a female character, though, because well.. I barely understand myself and how I work, how can I do that for another gender? Also, I just never had the desire to play as one (though I did try once or twice, and it just never worked for me).

At the end of the day, there is good and bad to creating self-inserts. It allows you to ease into the roleplaying community we have here smoother and faster, but it can lead to unfortunate situations involving people actually getting mad about the actions that occur in-game regarding their characters. Look, I honestly couldn't care whether Senri lives or dies in the round, but as a person, I feel like I would try my best to live. When it comes to fight or flight, there's a long list of fliers from my experience. Never get mad about it though, because at the end of the day..


And with that, I guess I'm wrapping up.

Oh, wait. One thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I....honestly do not know. Is it even possible for us to create characters without using a framework of what we ourselves perceive? Voiding the typical Mary Sue models, in order to add quality to a character, we have to build it in a way that can impact a community. We're akin to artists - we're gonna get attached to what we create.

As for self-insertion, allow me to use an example: My character, Rose Watson, suffers from several psychological conditions. I didn't want to stick on a stereotypical "Insane woman" label on her. It would have been very, VERY, short-sighted on my part. Quite honestly, a lot of inspiration for her came from an ethical studies course I took in college, which focused on how our society perceived and understood women with mental conditions, in comparison to men. What I learned in that class is....mind-blowing. Constant labels of, "all women are crazy," "menopause", "penis envy", "depression because chemical imbalance" - it all feeds back into our society in a vicious loop, when people are not in full complete understanding of what is going on within a person's mindset. On the surface, Rose would look very unstable. But dig a little deeper and you'll uncover a personality that I've done my best to craft from my limited knowledge of mental health.

@Cassie, I'm really going to have to disagree with you. Doing a little bit of research really is necessary to flesh out a character. After taking that class, I became slightly detached of other characters that displayed mental qualities, for the sake of making them unique. Unless it displayed some sense of accuracy, it felt downright unreal, and sometimes insulting and biased. It's for that same reason I don't want to play a gay character, because I myself am not gay, and I could never portray it properly. I would be doing a lot of injustice to the qualities and characteristics of the character I would have attempted to create. I mostly play female characters, because I myself am female, and I understand how a woman would feel and act. Now, that's not to say I'll never play a male character (I have two male characters), it's just that I want to put in a bit more work and understanding before I take such a task on.

I am constantly asking myself; "Is this something my character would do, or is this something /I/ would do?" "Am I letting another character's qualities seep into the character I'm playing right now?" Sometimes I do this by accident. Karima Mo'Taki started off as a completely helpless, timid, and shy Tajara. She's still that very much, but she's evolved to be a bit more confident, because that is a quality I have an easier time relating to - I can bring out more of her personality. To add, I sometimes berate myself for tweaking Lori's level of tolerance with synthetics to be more accepting and understanding, because that was more akin to Karima's quality. (And I toned it down OOCly so she could be a better head of staff).

TL;DR, I think it's impossible to build a character without any sort of baseline or framework of self-insertion, because we as the creators, have to understand our own characters to do them justice. If we don't understand them, they become static and cardboard cutouts.

As someone else once eloquently put it (despite how much I hate the quote), "I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am."

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I come from a community of free-form roleplaying where we don't have the guidelines of a single setting or style to create a character in. Many of us took aspects of ourselves and worked with it. It was also there that I learned that I don't play outside of my gender and/or sexual preference well. My wife (whom I met on said RP site) plays males quite well however. It's simple preference and ease of play.

Lets look at "self-inserting" now. You are always going to be you. you will think like you and respond like you. When you have time to think about the actions then you can put some distance between you and the character by doing things you might normally not. This doesn't mean you've thought of a different method, you've simply chosen the method you normally wouldn't. Another person might actually see a different way of going about things than you possibly could have. This is how you can't avoid putting yourself into something. ME for example. I'm a kind hearted giver. I am more than willing to help people I don't even like because that's who I am. But I have an inner rage that hates EVERYTHING. I can RP a really nice person and a very angry guy. Those are typically my options. I can see the shades of grey so I can play them, kinda. If an emergency hits, I lose my ability to use the grey area. I'm either kind or angsty. To a small extent you can't really escape who you are because you always think like you. The best way to make varying characters is to change what little you can, but across many different aspects.

Now I want to look at character attachment. I play tabletop RPGs on the daily. And yes they are the "main characters" of the story so they get to be allowed a different level of bias for this, but it should still pan out. I get attached to whatever I'm playing so long as I enjoy it. I don't want my character to die. I don't want the party to make a decision I disagree with. And a surely don't want any other malicious things taking me out of the game, even temporarily. I care about my character. I love my character. And yes, I use my character to escape the real world around me. If I die, am I going to cry and throw a fit? Nope. It's a part of a GAME. I understand some people have a hard time seperating RPGs from reality when they get invested, but that is where the problem lies. It's in an individual being unable to seperate their mind into game vs reality.

If that's true then it's not a matter of self-insertion = overly attached players. It's an issue of overly attached people playing RPGs, which you can't really stop.

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I come from an acting standpoint when it comes to roleplaying, using what I learned back when I was in school. I wouldn't say I personally self insert or become overly attached to my characters, because to me they are simply concepts I'm merely breathing life into. I'm not always able to create an intricate backstory for my characters at the beginning, but I explore how they would feel or react to certain situations. I guess in a way, I insert the character into myself while I'm playing opposed to putting myself into their personality. Which might sound like convoluted bullshit, but eh.

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i'll be fair and blunt here. I am a self-inserted player, that always plays the same character most of the time, and.. well, i have taken this road that i shall never change, even, even if it does have cons on to my real life stuff, i still see good things in it and as to how i react, assume things, gain things in game. That is my way of enjoyment of the game.

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Here's a thought: I'm beginning to wonder if we play RPG by whatever artistic qualities or backgrounds we ourselves have.

I akin my characters to writing and literature - I write in my free time. Jakers takes it as an actor. What if all our concepts of self-inserts is just a method of expressing our artistic qualities?

I'm a philosophic dreamer, shoot me.

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Here's a thought: I'm beginning to wonder if we play RPG by whatever artistic qualities or backgrounds we ourselves have.

I akin my characters to writing and literature - I write in my free time. Jakers takes it as an actor. What if all our concepts of self-inserts is just a method of expressing our artistic qualities?

I'm a philosophic dreamer, shoot me.


But you hit the nail on the head. This is really all it is. I don't have an artistic background, so I pull my stuff from the RPGs that I play in (Which I guess is limited acting, but then again so is writing a book when you really tear down the boundary).

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