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  • Writer's pictureZoey Easton

An introduction to improv for virtual reality (VR) Roleplay

Why Improv?

Whether you’re wetting your feet in VR Roleplay for the first time or a longstanding veteran, you can enhance the experience by learning the fundamentals of improv. Improv is the real-time creation of dialogue and actions without preparation (aka, acting without a script). Although there might be guidelines and scripted events, roleplay is the fluid co-creation of a story with other players in real time. As such, improv is fundamental to the experience, and learning the fundamentals of improv will give you confidence and ensure everyone has fun.

“Yes, and…”

The fundamentals of improv start with "Yes And". It's the agreement that you will accept the information given to you by another roleplayer and build upon it. You "yes" by agreeing with the information, and you "and" by adding to it.

If another actor says, "I saw you in the kitchen last night. What were you doing?" You "yes" by accepting you were in the kitchen last night. You "and" by offering new information such as "I was baking a cake." “Yes And” is the best rule of thumb for a fun and fluid experience, even when being in the kitchen might derail a storyline you were pursuing. Just go with it and be open to where the story takes you.

“Yes, but…”

Occasionally, there is a need to contradict what another actor has said. You may have information that makes it impossible to “Yes and” with another actor because you have contradictory facts intrinsic to the story. This frequently occurs in murder mystery role plays. In these cases, you can use “Yes But”.

It works the same way as “Yes and” in that you accept the information given to you, but you correct the facts without outright rejecting the statement. You still accept that the other actor saw someone they thought was you in the kitchen, but you say: "You must have mistaken someone else for me; I was at a party that night." This keeps the scene flowing and gives the story new information that can be used in the role play:

a. You were at a party; and

b. The other actor saw someone in the kitchen

Play to uplift

Play to uplift is often used in the Live Action Roleplay (LARP) community to describe a practice that essentially embodies playing to ensure everyone enjoys themselves. It doesn’t mean everyone frolicking around laughing. It means giving others their time in the spotlight. A character experiencing a devastating moment can be fun for the actor. So, look for opportunities to give other actors their moment.

Play to uplift also means taking the loss when it's narratively interesting. Maybe it’s better if you're not the hero you planned to be. Maybe the story becomes more interesting if you stumble and fail in your quest. Do your best to support everyone's enjoyment of a session rather than a storyline you’d like to see play out.

Improv workshops

There are Discord communities like Skits’n’Bits[link here] that host fun VR Improv workshops to improve your skills in a learning-oriented environment. Whether you are new to VR Roleplay or a veteran, improv workshops are an excellent space for quality practice and helpful feedback that you won't get elsewhere.

Join roleplays in Aexia

Aexia is a newcomer-friendly VR roleplay community where you have a safe space to learn the ropes of improv and all things roleplay. Join in on the fun!

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