By Light Unseen

Role-Playing Gamers and other Vampire Fans

The popularity of the role-playing game (RPG) Vampire:The Masquerade has created an entire subculture of people devoted to the game, its universe, and the personae they create in order to "live" the game. These individuals have their own, quite extensive, network of interconnected websites, chatrooms and messageboards, and enjoy posting to these "in persona" as their gaming characters. As such, they maintain the illusion that they are "real vampires" as defined by the rules of the game, complete with the fictional qualities, history and supernatural abilities accruing to their game persona. Like good actors, they hate to "break character" and explain what is going on, so their statements and dialogue online can be confusing to those who stumble into one of their fora without knowing where they are or being familiar with the game.

Live Action Role Playing Games, or LARPs, are a combination of scripted plot and improvisational acting by groups of people who often wear elaborate costumes and find dramatic locations for their gaming sessions (such as underground tunnels, spooky basements and wooded parks at night). LARPers have a large network of players and will travel considerable distances to play sessions of the game. Some vampire fiction was developed out of LARP and RPG scenarios, and White Wolf has commissioned and published large amounts of tie-in fiction for their lines of games.

Some gamers and their supporters argue that the game serves a healthy purpose in allowing them to work out certain issues and to experiment with certain possibilities and potentials. Some of the players are also Vampyre Lifestylers who take the ideals of the vampiric universe in the game seriously and attempt to manifest them in real life.

Outside of structured role-playing game universes, there are vampire fiction-writing e-lists, forums and websites in which vampire fans also post in persona as their fictional characters, or create very convincing non-existent organizations. It has also become trendy in recent years for published authors of vampire fiction to create blogs, Twitter accounts, websites and Facebook pages on which they role-play their fictional characters. As a general rule, these vampire fans and writers regard Vampire-Identified People with contempt, and feel that anyone who would believe the fictional accounts must be incredibly naive or very stupid.

Unfortunately, many of those in the Vampire Community feel that some gamers deliberately (and possibly maliciously) mislead seekers of vampiric reality, by pretending to be what they are not. By presenting themselves online as "real vampires" who claim to be centuries old predators, the gamers make Vampire-Identified People look like mere role-players themselves, or create the impression that all Vampire-Identified People claim to be bloodthirsty hunters of humankind or world-weary immortals with supernatural powers. Most Vampire-Identified People feel that the gamers create confusion, and make it more difficult for Vampire-Identified People to find each other online.

Undoubtedly, some role-playing gamers and vampire fans deliberately tease and mislead Vampire-Identified People. In some cases, they may simply be so skeptical about Vampire-Identified People's assertions that they don't believe that the self-defined Vampire-Identified People are serious, and not just role-playing themselves. In an effort to keep the boundaries clear, nearly all "real vampire" websites state prominently that "this is not a role-playing site." Vampire Community fora and "personal ads" nearly always specify that gamers and fans are not to post "in persona."

Many Vampire-Identified People enjoy vampire fiction and games, but they keep their game personae strictly separate from their vampiric identities.