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    What is smallrooming?

    Smallrooming is a specific behavior observed in multiplayer text-based games, particularly in MU*s, where players fail to realistically incorporate the broader game environment into their roleplay. This can lead the game spaces, which may actually be expansive or crowded, to feel unrealistically small or intimate.

    For instance, players might interact as if they are in close proximity even when their characters are supposed to be at a considerable distance from each other, such as across a large room or on opposite sides of a street.

    The term “smallrooming” evolved from the player community as a way to address lapses in the immersive quality of gameplay.

    As text-based roleplaying games rely heavily on written descriptions to establish scene and setting, maintaining spatial and environmental realism is important for immersion. The term “smallrooming” helps players communicate about and improve the realism and consistency of their interactive storytelling.

    Smallrooming examples

    1. Two characters in a bustling market scene might carry on a conversation in normal tones, ignoring the noise and chaos that should realistically make hearing each other difficult.
    2. In a large ballroom setting, a character might instantly notice and react to a subtle gesture made by another character across the room, despite the crowd and distance between them.
    3. Characters in an extensive forest might encounter each other and begin interacting without any description of moving through the trees or navigating the space between them.
    4. During a street scene, a character might respond to another character’s whisper from across a busy road without crossing it or acknowledging the need to shout.
    5. In a large castle setting, players might neglect to describe traveling from one wing to another, instead appearing to teleport instantly to interact.

    Myths about smallrooming

    A common misconception about smallrooming is that it’s solely the result of lazy writing. While it can stem from a lack of attention to detail, it often occurs because players are focused on the dialogue or the immediate action and forget the larger setting.

    Another myth is that smallrooming doesn’t affect the game’s quality, but in reality, maintaining an awareness of the environment can significantly enhance the depth and realism of the gameplay. While not important in all types of text-based roleplaying games (RPGs), smallrooming can significantly impact the immersion and enjoyment in roleplaying-focused games, such as RP MUDs and MUSHes.

    Lastly, some might believe that smallrooming is unavoidable in fast-paced gaming sessions; however, simple practices and reminders can help maintain realism even during rapid interactions.

    Smallrooming FAQs

    How can I avoid smallrooming in my gameplay?

    To avoid smallrooming, regularly incorporate environmental details into your character’s actions and dialogues. Acknowledge physical distances, obstacles, and environmental noise relevant to your character’s location. This not only enhances realism but also enriches the story being created collaboratively.

    See: Immersive Roleplay 101: the essential guide.

    Does smallrooming affect player interaction?

    Yes, smallrooming can impact player interaction by reducing the perceived space in which characters operate, potentially simplifying the complexities of a scene that could add interesting layers to the interaction. It might also lead to confusion or inconsistencies in the storyline.

    What should I do if I notice other players smallrooming?

    If you notice other players smallrooming, you can gently remind them of the scene’s broader context or incorporate corrective details into your own responses. For example, if someone speaks to you across a noisy room, you might write that your character didn’t hear them initially and had to come closer. Teaching by example can often be an effective way to encourage immersive RP among others.

    Can game moderators help manage smallrooming?

    Yes, game moderators or storytellers can play a crucial role in managing smallrooming by providing detailed environmental descriptions and occasionally reminding players of the physical realities of the scene. This guidance helps maintain a consistent and immersive gaming experience.

    Is smallrooming ever a problem in MMORPGs?

    Likely not. MMORPGs and other graphical games provide visual and spatial structures that clearly define the environment’s scale. Rather, smallrooming tends to occur in text-based games, where the size and scope of a “room” can vary greatly—from as large as a football field to as small as a closet—based solely on textual descriptions.

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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."