I was ten years old in the year 1999. I had finally “mastered” the art of typing, and had just enough experience using computers to conduct my own Internet searches. Neopets was brand new and all the rage, so like many preteens in that era I spent a lot of time with the virtual pets in my browser.
There was a popular community that existed around the same time, maybe in 2000/2001, called Nothing But Neopets. The site had forums, which I largely ignored until I noticed a board called “Roleplaying.” I had no idea what this meant, so I checked it out.
Low and behold, people were writing as Neopets. They were describing the actions of the creatures, and responding to the posts of other members of the forum’s written actions. As a kid who carried notebooks everywhere she went and wrote stories in her free time, this was a thrilling concept for me. I did, however, quickly grow tired of being limited to Neopets, so I started searching for other places to do this roleplaying thing.
My searches brought me to Red Dragon Inn (which still exists), then Nexxus’ The Keep (also still exists), Tumblr, and now to Discord, which is a chat application. I have been roleplaying for almost 20 years, and it still hasn’t gotten old.
Roleplaying is a great way to keep your writing skills sharp, and to constantly write even when you’re experiencing a lull in creativity. You’re only expected to write a short amount per “post,” for one thing, but the truly great advantage of roleplay is having someone else throwing you for a loop. When you write alone, it can sometimes feel like you’re talking to yourself. Storytelling with others, however, teaches invaluable dialogue writing skills and improvisation.
If you are a fiction writer and considerably nerdy, I highly recommend you give this hobby a try. Head over to the subreddit /r/roleplay and check out the ads. You can write one-on-one with another person, or join a group and write with several others.