The term roleplayer refers to an individual assumed the role of his or her character in-game and conducts himself or herself in an in-character manner. Also known as RPers, roleplayers typically follow the rules established by Blizzard for their RP and RP-PVP servers, including following the naming conventions, limiting or readily identifying the use of out-of-character chat, and avoiding discussion of subjects not pertaining to the game in public channels. They act out their characters through the use of emotes, /say, /yell, and sometimes other channels.
While in-character, a roleplayer assumes the role of his or her character and will converse with other characters as his or her character would. However a roleplayer may not always be in-character; the amount of time that a person spends in-character may be denoted through the use of terms such as casual roleplayer, medium roleplayer, and heavy roleplayer.
An individual may call himself or herself one type of roleplayer but be considered another type by the community, other individuals, or his or her peers. Furthermore, people do often change from one standard to another over a period of time. New arrivals to roleplaying servers who joined in order to roleplay are typically hesitant to roleplay for fear of being mocked or doing something wrong, and so may be initially deemed casual roleplayers. However, as they grow more comfortable in roleplaying, they may become medium or heavy roleplayers.
While there is no set definition for each of these terms, the following are commonly accepted meanings:
A casual roleplayer tends to be in-character infrequently, perhaps only during roleplaying events or when actively seeking to roleplay with others. Casual roleplayers typically don't indicate out-of-character text and it's often up to their companions to determine what has been said in-character and what has been said out-of-character. Their conduct may be the result of disinterest in roleplaying, unease in roleplaying their characters, or a genuine dislike of roleplaying.
Medium roleplayers exhibit characteristics of both casual roleplayers and heavy roleplayers. While they're in-character often, their conversations may include as much out-of-character as in-character. However they typically clearly indicate which is which, often through the use of conventions such as parentheses or by identifying that anything said in /say is in-character.
On the other end of the spectrum are the heavy roleplayers. These individuals by definition are in-character for most - if not all - of their duration in World of Warcraft. The use of out-of-character conversation may be nonexistant and they may exhibit a strong dislike for people who break their immersion by failing to do so themselves.
Guilds and Organizations
Roleplayers often seek like-minded individuals, bonding together to form guilds or other organizations that promote or engage in frequent roleplaying. These groups may organize in-character events or weave stories involving multiple characters as time passes.
Roleplayers may suffer from various stigmas as a result of being roleplayers, especially from individuals who play the game but not on a RP or RP-PVP server. Frequent topics of ridicule may include an inability to PvP well, lack of raiding experience or skill, or a disinterest in anything the game provides outside of roleplaying. Like many stereotypes, the veracity of these statements depends on the application.
One of the better known criticisms involving roleplayers can be identified in a fictional documentary known as the Deeprun Tram Incident. The individual, who had been a longtime member of PVE and PVP servers, decided to experience roleplaying firsthand. However shortly after his arrival on the server the dwarf supposedly stumbled across two night elves openly cybering in the Deeprum Tram. The fiasco that resulted has been documented on a variety of sites and has spawned numerous references to Dwarven Hand Cannons, tree disguises, and making crow noises. The server identified in the hoax was the Feathermoon (US) RP server.