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    What is an emote?

    An emote is a way for players in text-based roleplaying games (RPGs) to describe their characters’ actions and express emotions through text.

    Unlike “says,” which are used strictly for speaking, emotes allow players to convey body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues.

    Emotes are used to enrich storytelling and character interaction, offering a more immersive and detailed roleplaying experience. They differ from “socials,” which are predefined and coded actions, by allowing players the freedom to create custom descriptions and scenarios.

    Historically, emotes originated in early online chat systems and MUDs as a way to add depth to text-based communication. Over time, they have become a fundamental aspect of roleplaying, enabling players to bring their characters to life beyond simple dialogue.

    Emote FAQs

    How do you create an emote in a game?

    The command to do an emote can vary by game and platform. To create an emote in a video game such as World of Warcraft, you would typically put your cursor in the chat window, then type “/emote” followed by a description of your character’s action.

    For example, typing “/emote smiles warmly.” would be displayed to other players as “[Your Character] smiles warmly.”

    For the basics, see: Beginner’s guide to roleplaying with text.

    Can you use emotes for any action?

    Yes, emotes can be used to describe virtually any action, emotion, or detail you wish to convey about your character, as long as it adheres to the game’s rules and community standards. This includes physical movements and facial expressions, and could even include dialogue.

    For example, “/emote smiles warmly and says, ‘Hey there.'” would be displayed to other players as: [Your Character] smiles warmly and says, ‘Hey there.’

    Are emotes considered essential in text-based roleplaying games?

    While not usually mandatory, emotes are considered essential by many players seeking a richer and more engaging roleplaying experience. They help convey nuances and depth of character that cannot be fully expressed through dialogue or socials alone.

    Do all text-based games support custom emotes?

    Most text-based roleplaying games, especially MUDs and MUSHes, support custom emotes, but the specific commands and format can vary from one game to another. Some games might have limitations on how emotes are used or formatted, such as the length of the emote and what can be described.

    For example, in some games, players are discouraged from writing out their character’s intangible thoughts and feelings, as other characters would have no way of knowing that information unless it was conveyed through physical cues or dialogue.

    Can emotes be misused?

    Yes, emotes can be misused if players create inappropriate or non-consensual content. It’s important to use emotes respectfully and to follow the game’s RP culture and rules.

    For example, using emotes to force an action, reaction, or emotion on another character is usually against the rules and is considered a form of powerposing or god-modding.

    Myths about emoting

    One common myth is that emotes are only for experienced players or writers. In reality, anyone can use emotes to enhance their roleplaying experience, regardless of their writing skills.

    Another misconception is that emotes are unnecessary or unwelcome outside of serious roleplaying games. However, emotes can provide valuable context and depth in casual settings, as well, and can be a great way to engage and draw in new players.

    Emote examples

    • “/emote looks around the room cautiously, trying to stay unnoticed.”
    • “:sighs heavily, rubbing his temples as he tries to make a difficult decision.”
    • “/emote’s eyes light up with joy as she spots her friend in the crowd.”
    • “emote takes a deep breath, steadying his nerves before stepping into the arena.”

    Other commands for emote include “emit” and “pose.” Which is preferred depends on the specific game.

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    Smiling blonde woman wearing glasses.
    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."