For many fans, following a few characters and spoiler tweets is enough to satisfy their interests. For others, it’s the first step leading to a roleplaying account and group affiliation.
True Blood roleplayers (RPers) embody canon characters—taking on their voices, expressions, personality, and interests. Roleplayers collaborate to create stories and improvise with other characters. Unlike most roleplaying games, the characters don’t just interact with each other. They’ll respond in character to anyone who talks to them, and followers can become part of the story. Also, because the roleplaying is taking place on Twitter, the storylines are real-time tweets from multiple characters. Most True Blood Twitter roleplayers are affiliated with a group of RPers that acts as the cast of characters.
Some RPers create an original character in the world of True Blood and interact with the canon RPers. The world of True Blood leaves a lot of room for fans to write themselves into the story. Some RPers present themselves as related (in the traditional sense, but also the maker-progeny relationship between vampires) to primary, background, or deceased characters. Others affiliate their character with a referenced location, person, or group.
To supplement the concise nature of tweeting, some RPers have an accompanying character blog that gives them an opportunity to develop their characters further than 140-character tweets allow. In addition, the creation of a fictional persona or the further development of a canon character can lead way to fanfiction and other fan expressions.
Roleplayers are “engaged in two fundamental social practices: first, they are constructing communities through play, with internal goals and identity values, and second, they have a social role in the production and reproduction of symbolic worlds” (Roig 100). Fans are creating interest-based virtual communities that span countries and time zones.
There is a “new relationship between subject and representation that goes far beyond the ‘spectatorship’” (Roig 89). Because True Blood is an alternate reality, there’s a lot of backstory and content available for fans to explore. Fans are taking it upon themselves to fill in the holes and add to the story.
HBO openly endorses the True Blood RPing (even featuring some on the website), but there aren’t any officially affiliated characters. However, because of their frequent tweets and uncanny ability of many RPers to adopt their characters voices, they are often assumed to be employees of HBO (@SookieBonTemps can certainly attest to this misconception).
- Each character is fun to follow (who doesn’t want tweets from Sookie?), but if fans also follow the characters Sookie roleplays with, then they have a new story and set of conversations to follow.
- Following characters and storylines gives fans some daily True Blood entertainment while they wait for the next season or episode. In the Twitter timeline, the dialogues become integrated with tweets from non-RP Twitter accounts—creating a mixed reality that enables fans to immerse themselves in the alternate universe of True Blood.
Followers of Rpers may also influence the storyline and directly engage with characters… though they should be sure to avoid tweetdropping, or interrupting a storyline taking place in private (e.g. Sookie’s house… or bed). When Sookie tweets that she is at Merlotte’s, it leaves the chance for anyone to ‘walk’ into the story.
- Unlike fanfiction and more traditional forms of RPing (forums, blogs etc.), Twitter is made for conversation, which allows for more interaction (with RPers in the storyline, other RPers, and followers). In addition, the immediacy of Twitter allows for the real-time plot progression and dialogue.
- @SookieSC: “It’s a bigger world for the characters to live in.” Twitter becomes a public stage for RPers. The appeal of participation through twitter is, in part, the acknowledgement users get from others in the fan community (Ytreberg 476). Twitter users can acknowledge by following, retweeting, replying, or direct messaging.
- With an HBO presence and many of the True Blood actors on Twitter, there is also the opportunity for the participants to “be recognized by those who represent and embody the format” (Ytreberg 476). This opportunity is very appealing for fans who get to experience the recognition and for those who experience it vicariously though another by seeing it on their Twitter feed. For example, @TrueBloodHBO retweets fans on Wednesday Word of the Day competitions. Another more exciting example: Carrie Preston (@Carrie_Preston) is following @ArleneFowler, and Kristin Bauer (@BauervanStratan) is following @Pam_Ravenscroft.
Written by (@becomingtruebie)
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