Improvised Dino Attacks

Rob Wittig in writing about netprov focuses specifically on what he describes as “fake characters who pretend to do things in the real world.” He analyzes the concept in a specific way that goes beyond any networked improvised network. He cites 5 major influences: literature, mass media, internet, personal and social media, games, theater and mass media. When he thinks about the Netprov community in terms of games, he focuses specifically on the ARG/mimicry influences, cutting off a large swathe of legitimate Netprovs from the system, the play by post rpg.

In 2005, before most Lego themes became directly licensed or generic city themes, Lego often developed more advanced mythologies around its in-house developed themes, from the most famous of which likely being Bionicle to the forgotten and short-lived set lines like Dino Attack, which lasted for only two very similar five set runs. However, that would not be the end of the Dino Attack line, as alongside the sets release on the role-playing board of the 2nd largest Bionicle fan forum BZPower, the Dino Attack RPG spawned, which would last until 2011 across thousands of forum pages. ( The Wittig reading might segregate this from being netprov, because it doesn’t represent an interaction between the fictional and real world but play-by-post RPG’s like this, which are the staples of the the roleplaying board on nearly every message board, from official ones like the Activision-Blizzard’s World of Warcraft board to fan forums like BZPower.

The game takes from all the same influences that Wittig’s netprov does. Post-apocalyptic literature influences the setting and characters. Theater links in with the origins of the narrativist role-playing rule set, along with more traditional tabletop roleplaying games. It is entirely based off of a mass-media property. And finally, the game takes place on the internet in one of the earliest forms of social media, the internet forum, as a group of featured players tell their characters story before an audience of readers. A skeptic may also say that netprov must be transmedia, and while the entire plot development took place on a forum, the prose-ified archive and the massive backlog of fanart that can be found with a simple search for “Dino Attack RPG” on google, shows a community of avid viewers observing the adventure.

Thus, I think the Wittig interpretation of netprov seems limiting and an example of intellectual gatekeeping. He depicts it in this context as this sort of strange arthouse political production poking fun at modern society that calls people out into the public. However, in my time, I’ve formed great connections entirely online through a simpler, more fun brand of netprov, in which you get to inhabit a character in a fictional world. Where onlookers stay if they enjoy the stories, and rather than providing a magnifying class on society, simplify provides a fun escape from the daily doldrum.

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