I'll start by saying that, for all its simplicity, the hierarchy of the Editorial Panel is a strange thing. The Administration hands out orders to the Editors, who do their best to keep the Writers in check: a process which I've heard them refer to as "herding cats". It's highly inaccurate, mostly because cats can't hope to match our creativity or our ego. Still, they can be surprisingly creative when it comes to keeping us in line, and especially when it comes to punishments. In my case, one too many last minute articles earned me an undercover assignment . . . within Runescape's roleplaying community.
It seemed like a simple enough job, at first. Head to the Blue Moon Inn north of Varrock, watch what goes on there. I placed a glass of water next to the paper I was using for notes and logged in. The place was livelier than I would have expected, people had their avatars gather around the tables in an approximation of sitting and drinking like adventurers would. A larger group of people did the same at the bar in the far end of the room, complete with a couple behind the desk. Only a handful of them had any kind of traditional equipment; the most heavily armed player wore dragonhide.
That doesn't mean it was peaceful. There was a pair that attempted a duel of sorts, though most of it was verbal. For a newcomer such as myself, it was more than a little unusual to watch the pair describe their fight in painstaking detail while standing perfectly still three steps away from one another, but I accepted that as a quirk of the game and watched. In trying to blend in, I moved my character out of the way when they described a fireball heading straight for me. It ended a little while after that as both players logged out on surprisingly good terms.
It was a bit quieter today, and by my understanding there was a different person behind the bar than before. The place changes ownership by the day, I guess. I was at the other end of the room this time, since it made no sense to stand around one table when everyone else was at another. There were few enough people that I really didn't have a choice but to participate, so I adopted a simple enough persona to match my character's appearance at the time; that of a stoic traveler, which gave me an excuse to sit and observe what was going on.
Naturally, that's when the griefer came. As with many other community gatherings, it falls apart the minute someone refuses to play by the rules, or in this case, with their own set of rules. In this case, the character started to monologue in an allegedly 'employees only' part of the bar, and it took a lot of time for the owner to get him out. The fact that both players stayed entirely in character throughout the conflict was fairly impressive; it's something the average forum troll could only dream of.
They've gotten used to my silence, or at least they've chosen to ignore it. I wasn't eager to draw attention to myself, which comes with being a spy, and I didn't think I could hope to match the way they played the game. So I sat at the bar and nursed my drink, watching the others until eventually I realized my time was up, and decided to log out. I didn't actually do so until the bar was reasonably empty.
The moral of the story—which, naturally, I didn't bother to hint at ahead of time—is that the roleplaying community is misunderstood, but that makes sense. It's a niche thing; a metagame built around storytelling rather than experience, and if that's your kind of thing then by all means, get involved. There's an official world and more than one RSOF section dedicated to it.
Joke's on you, editors. I had fun with that punishment!