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Role Play 101: The Difference Between “Looking For Contact” And “Waiting For Contact”

By: Qai

These were originally written while role playing in WoW, but all of the general concepts and advice still very much apply. Even if you've been role playing for years, there are some things in here will likely help you develop even further.

While I take no credit for writing this guide, I cannot actually name the person who wrote it. It is a handbook that has been passed around for a little over 9 years now, the authors have changed (or at least user names) many times over. Though I thought it would be good to share for those who do actively or are interested in role playing.

Role Play 101: The Difference Between “Looking For Contact” And “Waiting For Contact”

The single most common complaint I hear from role players is either “nobody Role Plays anymore!” or “I can’t find anyone to Role Play with!” My first instinct is to ask, “Does that include you?” You see, there are lots of Role Players with Merrisioux running around out there that say “In Character, Looking For Contact” but are you *looking* for contact, or *waiting* for contact. There is a distinct difference.

Looking for contact is the act of putting out effort to find, create, or otherwise engage others in Role Play. Waiting for contact is sitting on a bridge, saying nothing, waiting for others to engage you. Do you see the difference here?

In a perfect world, we would all have Role Play dropped into our lap whenever we wanted. This is far from a perfect world, however, and in order to find Role Play, you also have to be willing to put out some effort. If everyone just sits around waiting for Role Play, when is it ever going to happen? Someone has to take the initiative.

How can you tell if you are looking or waiting? Through a simple analysis of your own in-game behaviors. Do you approach others with their looking for contact tag up? If someone you don’t know comes up while you are engaged in conversation do you try to include them? Do you walk while in town instead of run? Do you put on Role Play clothes? If you answered no to these questions, you are waiting.

Looking for contact does involve some effort but is not as difficult or scary as you might believe. I’ll try to provide some tips and hints to set you on the right path to finding the Role Play you crave.

Clues to Finding the Role Players

Before we get into the actual contact tips, let’s go over a few of the simplest clues as to who is going to be a role player and who is likely not. If you don’t use a Role Play mod that lets you see if they are or not, or if they don’t use it, you have to use other clues to pick out who might be open to Role Play.

The first and easiest is going to be the name. Is the name a role play name (or could it be viewed as one). For example if you see two people, one with the name Lorina and the other with the name Pwntyu, likely Pwntyu is not going to be a role player. Also, is the name one you recognize from the forums or elsewhere as a role player?

Now just a name is not always enough to pick out who role plays and who does not. Watch behaviors too. Walking in town is always a good indicator. Wearing “street clothes” rather than armor is one too. Are they a member of a well known RP guild? If you see them talk in /say, is it IC? There are lots of subtle indicators, and some not-so-subtle, that can lead you closer to someone who would be more receptive to role play.

Making In-Character Contact

Lots of people have difficulty making first contact In-Character. Called “first contact fear”, hopefully I will be able to provide some tips here that will help others to overcome this. Don’t worry! You are not alone. Everyone has felt that first contact anxiety at some point. It can be overcome.

The most common question is “Why would my character talk to that person?” Why indeed? This is where you have to be creative! It doesn’t have to be something profound. Find an excuse. If you wanted to strike up a conversation with someone in real life, what would you do? It could be as simple as complimenting their clothing or if they have a pet, comment on that. Comment on the weather or ask for directions. Use your imagination. All it has to be is something to get the conversation started.

Making Out Of Character Contact

When you simply cannot come up with an idea to start a conversation In-Character, resort to Out Of Character. Send the person a whisper Out Of Character. Something along the lines of /w Person (( Hey! I notice you have your looking for contact tag up. Would you like to Role Play? )) If you can’t see a looking for contact tag, but they appear to be looking for Role Play, tailor your message to indicate what leads you to believe they are looking for Role Play. Don’t let fear keep you from at least trying. Most people are either going to be receptive or tell you if they are about to log or leave to go to a raid or whatever.

Sometimes you may not get a response at all. Don’t assume this is a snub. The person may be on a stealth afk. Or they may be wrapped up in drama over other channels. Or they may simply miss it in the spam. Because this is a typed medium, be sure you give plenty of time to respond before you move on. But don’t let one failed attempt keep you from trying again. It is only through trying that we ever succeed.


Another way to find Role Play is to attend events. Small weekly gatherings or larger events thrown open to the public are a great way to make contact with others. Yes, this may mean giving up an evening of daily quests, but if you want to find Role Play, you have to make the effort.

Check your realm forum for events. Also check any guild forums you frequent or other forums tied to your realm. Ask around among people who are well known on the server. Likely they will know of any upcoming events or where to find information on them.

When you attend events, be sure you don’t just sit on the side and wait for others to talk to you. Role Play is a two-way street. It takes effort from both sides to make it happen. If you attend a ball, mingle! Talk with others, compliment their clothes, and comment on something you hear in passing. Once again, be creative. You are looking, not waiting, remember?

If there are no events coming up, consider organizing one. That isn’t as complicated as it may seem either.

Don’t Be A Wallflower

Apathy kills Role Play. I cannot say that enough. If we all sit around and wait for Role Play to happen then who is going to initiate it? We must all put forth effort to make it happen and keep it alive. Don’t expect others to bring Role Play to you. Step out of the safety of silence and look for it. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out every time. That’s normal! The more you try, the more success you will have! If you sit around like the wallflower at the prom, don’t be upset if nobody asks you to dance.

The next time you find yourself complaining about there not being any Role Play, ask yourself what are you doing to get some going. With a little bit of effort, we can make more Role Play happen for everyone!

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