Role playing is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I suppose there are really no absolute definitions of what role playing is, or should be, other than that it assumes you take on and play a role other than that of your own true identity. I suspect a lot of people don’t really do that. It strikes me that many people “role play” what they would do in a situation rather than what their character might do in that situation. That’s o k, too.
I am an only child and my critical socialization years around ages 5 & 6 were spent in an environment where there were not many other children so I often find myself at a loss when role playing in a very social setting. It is difficult for me to imagine how my character might act when in conversation in these situations, because I missed out on learning much of that as a child. I imagine that leaves other players thinking my characters are a bit strange from time to time. That said, while I do not necessarily follow common role play technique, I do role play almost all of the time when I am in Middle-earth.
Nearly 3 decades of paper and pencil role playing game experience resulted in me giving a lot of thought to how my characters might react in a situation as opposed to how I would react. I think about this all of the time, even when soloing. In effect that means I am always role playing when in game. It isn’t what many would consider role playing, because often I am not interacting with other players, but it is role playing in that I am making a serious effort to consider what a given character would do in a given situation. It shows in small ways. For example I like to get out of sight of other players and NPC’s when I change costumes. Naturally then how I approach a given quest differs depending on which of my characters I am playing at the time. Similarly in more traditional role play settings like Ales & Tales or the recent RP arc “Exiles of the Riddermark” how I behave when I am there as Aldekim is different from how I behave when I am there as Ahtook.
Part of why I present this topic is the behavior of others when “role playing.” As I mentioned earlier, role playing can be done many ways. Unfortunately some people are what I think of as role playing snoots. They act like the way they do it is the only acceptable way and can give you a lot of grief should your play nearby interfere with what they think of as “role playing.” My advice would be this. If you have not been in touch with role players prior to a role play situation, don’t try to get involved. On Landroval if you wish to begin developing your role play skills you can do it at open role play events like Ales & Tales Monday evenings, the Green Hill Music Society concerts Tuesday evenings in Michel Delving, and the Exiles of the Riddermark role play arc Wednesdays. These are informal role play events where everyone is invited and welcome to step in and participate without invitation. Give it a try some time. I think you will find it can be great fun, and you can begin to get a feel for role playing.