By its nature, roleplaying games are a cooperative, interactive event between the players and the GM. I have always found the enjoyment that players get from game is proportional to the amount of work the players and the GM put into the game they are playing at any given time. This doesn't extend to convention games and demos of a game that one is running at a bookstore, hobby shoppe, comic shoppe, and the like. Those games are where players can come in, play a pre-generated character in the game world/universe in question, and get basic information about said game world/universe, and see if they like the game and its mechanics from a player point of view. In such a gaming situation, the GM does all the work, creating the scenario and the pre-generated characters that the players are going to play.
However, in a campaign game that a GM is running with a group of players, I have always expected the players to do a bit of work on their characters, least of which is to do up a section on their character's background, history, and personality. That said, I want them to send me their character history and background, as well as the game stats, so that I can have a record of their character (possibly put it on my website pages), and actually see the background so that I can plan a few adventures and/or sub-plots around their characters. The amount of effort and work that the player characters have to put into this is pretty minimal, if they've created their characters and have made notes on the character as they generated it. Sure, some players write a minimal of backstory on their characters and all, preferring to flesh it out as they play, but that tends to prevent me from creating a plotline or scenario that has *personal* interest and consequences for their characters. And let's face it, it's always easier to hook a player and keep them interested when playing an rpg if the character has a personal investment in what's going on. As a general rule, this means that I can give the players' characters something interesting to do, so they don't sit on their asses at the gaming session and take on the role of vegetables. Or even worse, just react to something that's going on when prodded. (I really hate having to use the phrase, "So what do you do?" in rpg sessions.) All they have to do is transcribe the information into a file or two and send it off to me at my e-mail address. I always tell my players that I expect this of them, and I always give them a deadline time to work to.
So I get really aggro-ed when a player can't be bothered to get the file(s) on the character to me by the deadline I've set, despite the fact that they've promised me twice that it would be in my virtual hands earlier than the date set, and...and...ah, nuts! :< I am seriously annoyed by this right now, and as you may have guessed, this has happened to me with one of my players (and no, I'm not saying which of the two gaming groups this is in, but the person in question knows).
It's such a little thing that I ask of my players, and to be honest, it makes me feel a) annoyed that the player(s) can't be bothered to do this little thing (sometimes, perhaps, they just don't care about their characters or what's going on with them); and b) I feel guilty and responsible when such players tend to sit at gaming sessions and have *nothing* going on with their characters because I know next to nothing about their character and background, personality, and what motivates them. I mean, you'd think they expect me to remember everything about their characters from the session or two of character generation! Sheesh! What do I like, a 20-year-old? I've got a memory like a sieve, if I'm lucky.
Uggh. I just feel like playing board games now, and not bothering with roleplaying. That's how annoyed and peeved I am.
That's my rant, such as it was.