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    What is RL?

    RL stands for “real life.” It’s a term used to differentiate the everyday, non-digital world from the virtual or game environments in which roleplaying, gaming, and other digital interactions occur.

    RL can be used as both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, RL refers to activities, responsibilities, and interactions that occur outside of games. As an adjective, it describes aspects or issues that pertain to the non-virtual world, such as “RL problems” or “RL events.”

    The usage of RL became common with the rise of virtual communities, online gaming, and digital communication, where a clear distinction became necessary to differentiate between interactions within the game and those outside it.

    Use of the term RL emphasizes the impact or influence of one’s non-gaming life on their gaming experiences or vice versa.

    RL FAQs

    What is the significance of differentiating between RL and in-game environments?

    Differentiating between RL and in-game environments helps clarify whether one is referring to interactions and events happening in the virtual world or in day-to-day life. This distinction is crucial in discussions about time management, game addiction, or when explaining the context of certain behaviors or decisions.

    How do players typically use RL in conversation?

    Players typically use RL in conversation to excuse themselves from gameplay due to real-world responsibilities (“Need to go, RL calls”), to differentiate between an in-game friend and a friend known in RL, or to discuss how real-life issues are affecting their gameplay.

    Can focusing too much on RL be seen negatively in gaming communities?

    In some intensely dedicated gaming communities, particularly those that involve immersive roleplaying, excessively discussing RL issues or allowing them to interfere with game time can sometimes be viewed negatively. This is because it might detract from the escapism and engagement that these games provide.

    However, in most roleplaying communities, players are quite understanding of RL and will often recite the mantra that RL is more important than the game.

    How does RL impact player behavior in online games?

    RL significantly impacts player behavior as real-life responsibilities, stress, or time constraints can influence how much time players dedicate to gaming, how they interact with other players, and their overall performance and commitment to game-related activities. This is true for game staff, as well, especially in environments such as MUDs, where game and community management is provided by volunteers.

    What are some examples of RL interfering with gaming?

    Examples include players having to pause or quit gaming sessions for job responsibilities, family engagements, or educational commitments. Health issues or financial problems are also common RL factors that can interfere with the consistency and enjoyment of gaming.

    Myths about RL

    A common myth is that gamers do not have an RL or disregard it entirely. Many gamers balance gaming with a variety of RL responsibilities and social activities.

    Another misconception is that RL is always mundane compared to the excitement of virtual worlds; many individuals find their real-life interactions and activities to be rich and fulfilling.

    RL examples

    • A group of players in a tabletop gaming group might postpone a scheduled game session because one member has an RL work conference.
    • In a gaming forum, a user might ask for advice on handling depression, specifying they are looking for RL advice rather than something related to game mechanics.
    • A player tells their guild that they won’t be available for the weekend raid because they have RL family obligations.
    • During a discussion about game tactics, a player might differentiate their in-game strategy from their RL decision-making processes, highlighting how they are more cautious in RL.

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    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."