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Updated: Jan 8, 2023

The book addresses a few reasons some people prefer not to emote or roleplay in virtual worlds, such as not liking to read and write much. However, I recently met someone who said they did not include emotes in their posts because “I’m just me. I don’t roleplay.”

I would answer, ok, but as ‘just you,’ do you only talk like a disembodied voice? Or do you also smile and frown, whisper and shout, wink and stick out your tongue? If you fail to include at least simple emotes that convey that body language, you are not being fully you, not portraying your full self. It is as if we could not see you, as if we could only hear your words. Not even that, because we could not even hear your tone of voice.

To share an example from the book, if I just say, "Hello," how do you know whether I’m happy, excited, sad, angry, or indifferent to see you? You’d respond differently in each situation, so I need an emote to let you know. For example, I can post any of the following:

  • /me turns to look at the woman, his eyes taking in her gorgeous form in a slow sweep from her feet to her long wavy hair, then gazes into her lovely brown eyes and purrs, “Hello.”

  • /me smiles warmly, holds out his hand for the boy to shake and says cheerily, “Hello.”

  • /me eyes the man warily and scowls, his hand hovering over his pistol as he snarls “Hello.”

No amount of time and money spent on scripted gestures, facial expressions, and animations can make up for the wealth of information you can convey easily and freely in a few words that accompany your talk. That will give us a much more complete ‘you,’ not just the text of what you say.

Nap Time in Shibuya by sugar-coated pixels
Nap Time in Shibuya by sugar-coated pixels

What do you think? Do you disagree with anything or have something to add? An example from your experience, maybe? Please leave a comment below to make this more of a conversation. Thanks!

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