Let’s start with a fact or life in the real world, being in prison is boring. You are being locked up in an environment where your opportunities for amusement are very limited. However role play is not reality and even very serious pole players cannot ever achieve the emotional challenge or real incarceration. When role playing in second life you can always log off and that is a control real inmates do not have. Indeed many prison role players in Second Life have no interest in achieving anything approaching that level of reality and if there are not others actively playing they log off, most likely to an alternate account. Yet in doing so they miss the opportunity to take their role play to a different level of involvement.
When I first became involved in these form of RP I was taken aback by how emotional and how real the feelings can become. While the reasons for this are a subject for another day, I found myself craving interaction with others when my confinement prevented this. When I was alone I wondered when someone would come, who they would be and what would happen. Despite the reality that I was sitting in front of a computer screen, I felt a very real feeling of confinement. When a staff member would enter, there was anticipation of what they would do. Would they simply pass through? Maybe take me to the yard? Maybe simply talk to me for a short moment. This situation made my feeling of confinement much more realistic than if I had just logged on to see if people were around.
During my first experience with prison role play in Second Life, I engaged in a long term arc with someone playing a guard at that facility. This player was a master, she knew I was very much immersed in my character and played with that is very subtle yet effective ways. When I had been on alone for some time, she would show up and play with my emotional need for engagement. Sometimes this would result in amazing role play, other times she would simply leave me locked in my cell alone again. This would never have the effect had I not spent real time alone. To those who have not been involved with this style of play, this will be hard to comprehend, I never would have understood before my involvement. Yet the results were the most incredible role play I have ever seen.
Now this may not be what all role players want. Some want more vanilla role play in a prison environment, but for those wishing to role play a realistic prison experience being alone is a real part of the experience. I found the emotional experience was enhanced when I tried a few simple routines for my play. First I set hours when I would log on to play and stayed for the entire time regardless of my confinement situation. When on I avoided the camera cheats which allow you to “escape” your limitations and amuse yourself. I have always felt role play was a voluntary situational experience and when you use cheats, you simply cheat your own experience. The confinement and anticipation simply amplified the emotions of whatever role play followed. When alone I tried to do things I would be able to do if I was actually confined, reading or such things. For those seriously role playing inmates, the loss of control is part of the experience.
Some players make use of in world tools to aid in the experience such as the Restrained Life Viewer (RLV) which is fine. However I have felt that if you are serious about role playing an inmate, then you do not need tools to keep you from cheating. If you’re locked up and alone, then you’re locked up and should stay true to that. Being alone is the true test of this as only then are you either able to emotionally immerse yourself in the situation or simply disengage and move on to the distractions real life affords. Yet by letting yourself be immersed in your confinement you can take your role play to a whole new level.