Playing a construct isn’t as easy as playing a human. We all know basically what humans are like. Sure, you should think about things like what your personality is like, what you do for a living, and how you like to spend your time. But you don’t need to decide how many arms you have, how you experience emotions, or what your body is made of. When you’re playing something non-human, whether it’s a robot, doll, alien, or something else, all of those kinds of questions become relevant. This page is here to help you in figuring out the details of what you want your robot character to be like.
The fact that the word “robot” is used on this page shouldn’t be considered limiting. For “robot,” feel free to read “android,” “gynoid,” “doll,” “biobot,” “construct,” “cyborg,” or whatever other word works for you.
Why Play a Robot?
The first question you should give some thought to is: Why do you want to play a robot? We all have different reasons. The better you know YOUR reasons, the more likely you are to get what you want. If you find that question hard to answer, try this related one: What would be an ideal scene for you to have as the robot? What would you do? What would the other avatar(s) do? And why would that be so exciting for you?
For me, for example, my favorite scenes involve a robot (whether it’s me as the robot, or another robot that I’m playing with) being manipulated, used, forced to do what someone else wants despite her protests and without regard for her own desires. I enjoy the dichotomy between what the robot wants, and what she’s compelled by her programming to do.
For other people, their ideal scene might involve transformation, or mindlessly obeying instructions, or being blissfully on display, or having their mind reprogrammed to suit another’s desires, or any number of other things. These reflect for them the reasons they enjoy playing a robot. No reason is better or worse than any other. When you know what it is about playing a robot that interests you, you’re better able to seek out interactions that will give you that.
Getting What You Want
Understanding why you want to play a robot helps you figure out how you’d like other people to interact with you. The next question is, how will you encourage them to interact with you in that way?
One thing I DON’T think works is having a long list of limits in your profile. Even if people read and honor them, it just tells them what NOT to do. I know when I see a profile that’s mostly about what not to do, I start thinking, “well, gee, I don’t know what they want, but I do know they’re going to get pissed off if I misstep, so I think I’ll just avoid them.”
Another thing I don’t think usually works for this purpose (though it isn’t a bad thing) is a profile that lists specifications and backstory. Those are good things to know, and they tell me you’ve given your character some creative thought, which is good. But they usually don’t guide me in understanding what you might want from me. We’ll come back to this topic.
So what does work? Well, you can be direct, or you can be indirect.
Being direct includes talking about what you like in your profile. “I like being controlled and forced to do things I don’t want to, such as displaying myself, having sex, or being nice.” “I like having my thoughts and desires changed so I can be a perfect servant to a mistress.” Or whatever may be the case for you. You can use a bullet list, or a paragraph of text – content matters more than format, I think.
Being direct doesn’t mean being demanding. In fact, ideally, you want people to focus on what you’re offering, not what you’re demanding. Because they’re looking for what they want themselves, not what they can do for you. Make yourself look like something someone might want, while also staying true to what you want.
You can also be indirect. Being indirect means you’re not explicitly saying what you want people to do, but you’re presenting yourself in a way that encourages them to do what you want. For example, if you look like a sexy plastic bimbo in a nightie and greet someone with, “Heya, hot stuff!” How do you think they might respond? How about if you’re sleek and elegantly-dressed and introduce yourself with, “Good afternoon, Sir. How may this unit serve you today?” You probably don’t get quite the same reaction. Both reactions may be very good – but one of them might be closer to what you’re hoping for.
In short, your look and your words encourage certain types of responses. Choose them wisely so as to encourage the responses you actually want.
Backstory is the story of how your character got to be who and what he or she is. It’s important because it helps you create a unified impression of yourself. It guides your play, and it guides how others interact with you. If it’s well thought out, it will help you get what you want.
To help you think about your backstory, I’d like to offer some questions you should be able to answer about your robot avatar.
Perhaps most important is how your robot was created. Were you built in a factory? Or in a secret lab by an eccentric millionaire? Are you a unique prototype, or one of a mass-produced product line? Were you a human being (or something else) that was converted into a robot?
It’s also worth considering WHY you were created. Were you a scientific experiment? A commercial product? The result of a vendetta? Were you made to have sex, to staff a restaurant, to operate a nuclear power plant, to explore strange new worlds, to infiltrate rival corporate headquarters?
How and why you were created probably suggest something about what you look like and what you can do. If you were made to comfort sick children, you probably can’t solve quantum mechanics problems. If you were made to intimidate assassins, you probably don’t look small and pretty.
That doesn’t mean there can’t be some contradictions in your design. You can look like a sexbot and hate having sex – but how did you get that way? Were you a sexbot whose owner liked hacking him and installed new personality programs? Or were you a nannybot that got damaged and downloaded into a new chassis?
That leads me to discussing more current elements of backstory. What is your situation now? Are you owned, and if so, by whom? Where do you spend your time? What are you used for? How much freedom do you have, and how do you use it? These things do not all have to be fully represented in-world. You can have an “owner” that nobody ever sees – for example, JulieDoll had a maker long before Mr. Chelton was created as an avatar. You can have a “home” or “job” that you go to when you log out, that doesn’t exist on the grid.
A backstory that makes sense and explains why you are the way you are helps a lot in rounding out any character and guiding how you play. And as others begin to learn about you, they will gain a deeper impression of you – hopefully one that continues to encourage them to interact with you the way you want them to.
Physical Structure and Abilities
So consider the body of your robot, in light of what you want it to do and where it came from. Here are some questions to consider:
How durable is your body? Some robots weigh a ton and can withstand an exploding grenade. Others might weigh next to nothing and break if someone hugs them too hard.
How strong are you? Can you bend iron bars with your bare hands? How about paper clips? Could you win an arm-wrestling match with a typical human? Could you hold one against his will, or escape from someone who wanted to hold on to you?
Do you have features human beings don’t have? You might have built-in weaponry, or built-in vibrators, or a built-in stereo system.
What about your senses? Do you have all the senses a human does? A robot might not need senses of smell and taste, for example. It might not need color vision – but it might have infrared or radio receivers. Are your senses more acute, or less acute, or different than a human’s? Are they vulnerable to being confused or overloaded in different ways than human senses?
What signs does your body have of how you were created? Is there a corporate logo and brand name on your skin? Do your internal components have model numbers? Is there evidence that you were converted from something else?
What do you want to look like? This will help you decide what shape, skin, hair, and other components you want to make or purchase. Of course you may change your mind when you can’t find exactly what you hoped for but do find something else you like, but I find it helps to have something in mind to look for in the first place.
Don’t forget the other senses. Hearing: do you have internal motors, fans, or other components that can be heard? Touch: what does your skin feel like? Stiff plastic? Solid fiberglass, like a mannequin? Completely realistic? Are you warm or cool to the touch? Smell: Do you have an odor? Taste: do people notice anything when they kiss you? Remember to offer this information when people interact with you. If someone reaches out to touch you, your response should tell them what they notice.
Also think about the mental capacities of your robot. For example:
How smart are you? A simple sexdoll might only be able to understand a few instructions and say sexy things. An android body double might be highly intelligent, with detailed knowledge of a particular human’s experience so as to be able to fool a target into thinking it really is the person it’s pretending to be. Something in the middle might seem very human most of the time, but every now and then respond in a very unnatural way to something they’re just not programmed to handle, making their robotic nature obvious.
Does your programming require you to obey orders? All orders, or only certain kinds, or those from certain people? Do you follow Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, or some other strict set of rules you cannot violate? Or are you as free-willed as a human?
Are you capable of thoughts and emotions that you have not been instructed to have? Perhaps that conflict with what you are programmed to do? Can you act on your own initiative? (And if not, what makes you interesting to play with?) Speaking of emotions, it needn’t be all or nothing. Perhaps you can experience some emotions, but not all. JulieDoll, for example, can’t be afraid. I decided that because I don’t find it fun to react fearfully when a demon or assassin android shows up, as they do. But she can be angry or frustrated. In some modes she can be bored, while in others, she can’t.
You should know what your robot’s sexual interests and abilities are. It might not have any. It might lust for anything that moves and be able to have sex with anything. It could want sex only with attractive men, but be capable of sex with anything it’s ordered to.
How about combat? Does your body have combat capabilities? Under what circumstances are you programmed to use them? (Note that ACS takes a dim view of combat-capable robots, especially if not well-controlled, and that can be a story starter. Note Salvage Operations, for instance.)
If you found that you like multiple answers to these questions, you can have different modes, different shapes, different chassis, and so on, so that you can display different qualities and abilities at different times. Or you can just make two or more different avatars.
This may seem like an overwhelming amount to consider, and I’m sure I’ve left some things out. Some of them are in the Appendix below. But you certainly don’t need to figure it out all at once. Nobody expects you to write it all down before you start playing. I think most people take some time to work out what they want even after they begin playing, and may change things quite a bit. I know I did, and I’ve seen other avatars evolve from vague non-entity to clearly defined and interesting character.
Still, it helps a lot to have a general idea of what you’re going for – especially if you are hoping to have others interact with you in a particular way. Knowing what you want, and designing a character that encourages others to give you what you want, can make the difference between standing around wondering why nobody talks to you, and having a lot of fun.
This page is based on a workshop that has been presented at ACS from time to time.
Appendix: Long list of more detailed questions
This is way too many questions to try to sit down and write detailed answers to. But they are all things that may well come up in the course of play at ACS. The more you’ve thought about them, the more interesting a response you’ll be able to give when they do, and the more interesting you are, the more people are likely to want to play with you.
- What word do you use to describe yourself? There are no universally agreed upon terms, but here are some words some people use with a general idea of what many people associate with them:
- Robot: A synthetic, computer-driven machine that resembles a human or other living being in shape. Typically clearly mechanical, often with visibly metal, chrome, or otherwise synthetic parts.
- Android: A robot that more closely approximates human, and may even be nearly indistinguishable. Some people use this word for only robots that appear male; most use it for robots appearing to be of any gender or none.
- Gynoid: A specifically female-appearing android.
- Fembot: A specifically female-appearing android, usually with emphasis on sexual features.
- Drone: A robot lacking individual identity. Typically has no face and little personality. Often covered in rubber or latex.
- Doll: A robot designed primarily for its physical appearance. Typically thought of as being relatively simple and passive, though many dolls are quite intelligent and independent.
- Cyborg: Typically a living being that has had enough of its body replaced with artificial body parts that it can be thought of as at least a partly-synthetic being. Cyborgs are often partly, if not entirely, programmable and controllable.
- Does your body include any biological components, or is it entirely synthetic? If so, what effect does this have on your functioning?
- What is your power source? Do you run out of power? If so, how do you recharge?
- Do you need to eat, sleep, breathe, use the bathroom?
- Do you sweat? Salivate? Produce synthetic vaginal fluid, semen, or breast milk?
- How easily is your body damaged?
- How strong are you?
- Are you much heavier or lighter than a living being that looks like you would be?
- What does different parts of your surface (skin) feel like? Consider face, limbs, lips, breasts, fingernails, sexual organs, inside of mouth, teeth
- What is the typical temperature of your body? Do you need to vent waste heat, and if so, how do you do that?
- Does your body make mechanical or other sounds during normal operation?
- Is there evidence of how you were created, that could be discovered by examining you?
- Is there evidence of who currently owns you?
- How do your senses differ from those of a typical human?
- Vision: Ability to identify objects, see small or distant details, distinguish colors, see outside the visual spectrum
- Hearing: Ability to understand speech, music, other sounds, detect very high or low pitches, hear very soft or distant sounds
- Touch: Ability to recognize and/or enjoy pressure against your skin, ticklishness, sexual sensitivity, temperature sensitivity, experience of pain
- Smell or Taste: Ability to identify different substances
- Kinesthetics: Awareness of the location and pose of your own body
- Other senses
- Do you have sexual organs? If so, which ones? How realistic are they? How are you programmed to use them?
- How capable are you of combat? Consider both physical capacity and programming.
- What is the condition of your body? Brand new? Slightly worn? In desperate need of maintenance? Damaged?
- How much knowledge do you have, about general human topics (e.g. understanding emotions and recognizing typical human activities) or specific fields of knowledge?
- What skills do you have?
- How able are you to reason intelligently and draw conclusions based on available information?
- How capable are you of thinking and acting beyond what you have been specifically programmed or ordered to do?
- Does your programming require you to obey orders? How literally? How quickly? Are there some orders you would not obey? How do you respond when given an order you cannot obey? Or cannot understand? Or two conflicting orders?
- Are you ever capable of wanting to disobey an order?
- Are you capable of experiencing emotions and/or desires? All, or only some?
- To what extent can your emotions and/or desires be manipulated by command or programming?
- Are you capable of sexual functions? Which, and under what circumstances?
- Are you capable of experiencing sexual attraction? If so, how often do you experience it, and toward what?
- Are there areas of human behavior that your programming does not include?
- Does your programming cause you to behave in unusual ways in some circumstances? If so, how and why?