Gameplay Immersion - Is using 3rd Party Communication Detrimental to Roleplay?

mmorpg dwarf

Where you fall on this title question will likely depend heavily on the type of game you play. For instance Skype or Mumble parties are frequently used in World of Warcraft groups or for games like League of Legends. I enjoy a high level of immersion in my MUDs and like to have a clear definition of where the characters end and where I begin.
For those of us like myself who play a roleplay-enforced game, where breaking character is considered rude, using information gained via outside means is frowned upon, and where using information across alternative characters will get you punished by the administration, utilizing the methods of communication available in-character are more than encouraged. Of course, it exists as a grey area for a lot of players, simply because we already have so many methods of chat open.
This can open some problems:

  • For those of us who play in MUDs, everything must be typed, and this can take a great deal of time if you have to explain orders, concepts and strategy in a limited timeframe. It would be easier, and is often tempting, to pickup a headset and have a five minute group chat.
  • By discussing things in-game we also open ourselves up to spies: perhaps someone is eavesdropping at the door, or that letter is read and copied before it reaches its destination. Infiltration and spying is a very valid form of roleplay, and when done properly can be a right pain in the backside for the plotting character. For security's sake, the ease and temptation of OOC temptation exists again.
  • The above points are all well and good, but we need to remember we play games with other people. Winning is great, but a lot of fun can be had from there being a risk involved: the chance of losing. Actually having your plot foiled or having your political group called out as the nefarious puppeteers that they are can open up entirely new avenues of roleplay and character growth for you and also gives a win to the other team. Change, conflict and interaction are why MMORPGs are the most immersive PC games out there.
  • Allowing the chance for others to come out on top is important, if your little friendship group stomps on everyone repeatedly, you may find yourself with no one to play with.

To leave a paper-trail or not is up to you, whether you conduct your business behind masks in shadowed caverns or via a sterile and safe chat medium is your choice. But perhaps don't make yourself infallible, many of the best MMORPGs don't have an end game where the screen goes black and the credits roll. When there is no defined win, take some chances and roll the dice.
Author bio: When not walking her dogs, cooking or working outside, Nicola Newton enjoys playing a worlds-end-seeking, chaos wielding nihilist in one of her favourite MUDs.


I do chat with a few achaeans on skype/msn. Sometimes its nice just to catch up on whats going on ig when your to tired or busy to login.

But very few of them.  Don't want to ruin the roleplay with OOC chatter.


Making a few friends never hurt anyone.

not if that friend is emo. in which case, she's always hurting.

So many people in prison might disagree.

I do similar, but I only talk to one person consistently 


I only talk to about one person, whenever I'm on Skype or Aim


Makes it easy to catch up with your friends without having to worry about accidentally saying something ooc while you are in game.

I agree.


not really a skype person, just one more program to have open. I have a few achaeans on FB but mostly try and talk to my friends IG, keeps everything neatly contained.

But without it, you may miss some cool events.

Exacly. It is like saying that emails from the admin and news posts from the admin ruin immersion.


Or even OOC clans


I really try to keep it in game, but ooc clans are just needed sometimes, and I have been forced sometimes to use even more out of game resources like chats

I used to do MSN, but it put me in the path of having to pretend to care about Gamers' personal lives, and that was a whole lot of drama and stress after a while. Now, if they can't say what they want to say in character, there's messages, but after two I start to get irritated.

Why don't you return my ....?

There are always details I'd prefer not to give out OOC, and I don't give those. I enjoy getting to know players behind the characters and I like to hang out, but usually I leave the in game information in game.


There are things I can't really say IC, so I enjoy chatting about it (with a few privileged people) OOCly.


Exactly.  I especially enjoy chatting about it with Savil


Hey a new article! I use Skype sometimes, but mainly when people tell me to get on it, via OOC clans. Skype runs kind of slow on my computer.

Didn't think I'd see a new article any time sooN!

In an effort to be more on topic, I never use out of game communication, but I do use an OOC clan.


This, word for word.


not new resicled but, it's sparking conversations so it's all good.

I never thought about these points before. It'd definitely be nice if people kept their in-game to in the game. I try to avoid OOC, but I have in the past talked with people out of the game. It usually ruins the in-game aspect for me, and after reading this article I could see how it could ruin the experience even more.


I guess the lesson here is, that if you care about your roleplay, to think about what medium your communication should be on. 

Which is why I disagree with the article. The problem is not the media, only that it can be misused. Yes, people go OOC on skype, teamspeak, etc, but they don't have to. Arguably, you could have better RP by using a tool like skype, it is just that most people don't use it for RP reasons.


Yes it is detrimental to role playing but you can't stop it.

To me I like to only use OOC for OOC talk and IC for IC talk, blurring the lines just is messy and often leads to weaker RP.  I noticed OOC plans have people talking lots of things about their characters that could be done via roleplaying.

Seems like half an article, there's some build up and then it sort of just ends.

a new article :D

eh, I think it can go both ways

i agree with this.

I try to avoid ooc communication for the most part, though I generally fail spctacularly

I've always found it fine

same, and what is completely left out of here is that there was additional benefits. You can actually be more social using skype.


Having OOC clans around at first was nice, but they do ruin immersion in the long run, which is why I have most of mine off for the most part these days. It's particularly annoying if you're trying to RP, but know that the other person is distracted by OOC stuff on an OOC clan.

Skype is a bit more interesting. Because of time zone differences, I've recounted entire events on Skype/Gchat while others are at work so they can enjoy it. That's totally fine IMO, doesn't affect RP at all except someone might not need to be pointed to the Events newspost afterwards.

But having OOC contact with other players can definitely put a bit of a damper on IC relations. You discuss a lot of things OOC, plans, and ideas and then carrying them out IG... just becomes carrying them out IG >.> Definitely a tradeoff there, but the ability to organise events, ideas and even just get a list of stock and discuss what to sell and what not to sell is just far more efficient, convenient and easier OOCly. It keeps the game from stagnating due to silly reasons.

As for it not being used for RP... it just feels to contrived to think of something on Skype, and then enact it IG. Maybe not for everyone, but for me it does. At the very least, I have to add my own twist or change to it. 

I'm in a single OOC clan, and I don't even properly belong there (it's a mudlet clan and I use tintin++, but I learned a few important tidbits from the clan even though 99% of the conversation is either mudlet beginner questions, debugging help, or off topic stuff), but I haven't assigned it a specific color so conversations from it are easy to ignore and stuff.


I hate excessive OOC conversation when I'm trying to roleplay, though. In this one D&D game, everyone was in a Skype chat too except the DM, and it was distracting and stuff. OOC planning is cool though, as long as it's kept productive and doesn't have too much sway over what happens ICly.

Maybe as a catalyst (like, hey Xer, you should totally try to convert Nim! I dunno how it'll go, but it might be fun!), or to speed over discussion for event planning or something like that. I hate when roleplaying scenes are completely pre-planned, though, and anyone not involved in the planning are just observers. It's like, why even roleplay it at all? Why not just write about it or something?

Completely preplanning things aren't the most exciting thing ever, and I totally understand what you mean by using it to jumpstart an event (and for the record, I might :P But gah, I'm always so busy in Achaea >.> There's always so much to do in Mhaldor, both IC and OOC, like combat, RP and designing scrolls and other implements for general usage >.<). Occasional lulz and fun can be had in OOC clans though, especially when you're doing something like standing in a secure room, just coding and not doing anything realmwise. 

You haven't yet and that makes me sad :( (but I guess you have seemed pretty busy with Mhaldorstuff, so in my deep sorrow, I understand!)

not a fan of skype/msn going on while playing.  OOC tells happen, though.

It does break immersion, a bit. Even 'OOC clan chats', to some extent, break immersion.

Wow, we actually got a new article. On topic, I find OOC communication fine, just as long as information gained in it isn't brought IC.

Yeah, I don't know how it is in other ones but I very rarely see anything beyond technical matters or things entirely unrelated to the game in my OOC clan. Wouldn't have it any other way.

It is fine.



I'm okay with contact being made, ie 'raid taking place, get on achaea', though with the new messaging system on the website you could check your messages on your phone and have something very similar anyway. OOC conversations being held over stuff are also fine. I miss that side of communication from MMOs. It would be kind of fun to have an ooc clan in achaea with a skype/ts/vent channel, but I would draw the line at having 'raid party' chats, or in role information being discussed in an in character perspective over them.




I've had plenty of points where it's been fine, even helpful. Other times ooc things have been used to try to screw me over ig which I think is not only crossing the line but stomping it into the ground and spitting on it. Really, it depends on the people you decide to talk to. I can talk to some people and they instinctively know when what I'm saying is ic and what's ooc even when we tend to switch off and on during a single conversation. Others, I can't trust them with even basic info that I specifically say is ooc and they bring it ic anyways. Don't blame the tool... blame the tool behind the tool, lol.


Take it to the next level. In-character Skype Chat.

You mean like... roleplaying that your characters are skyping?

I agree with the sentiment of the article. I don't think there's anything wrong with chatting ooc while playing, but using 3rd party chat to circumvent the possibility of being spied on ic is pretty lame.

Definitely agree that nothing IC should be transmitted over outside means.

As long as people know what should be discussed on the third party communication, no.

*gasp* new article?

the first of many! I hope.

Makes me wonder why they started up again.

I think so


I don't think so...given we can always use tells and messages

Some people can seamlessly go from IC to OOC and back and never break stride. Others make classic "misses" that are legendary. Just depends on the person.

In Ashtan, we have this dude some may know of, others, maybe not. Bhayn, by name, King of Misses by title. I honestly doubt there is anyone in Ashtan who doesn't know his name or reputation for such things. But by God, it can be absolutely hilarious.


I feel like some people are pretentious about their immersion. OOC clans are okay to me, so long as you can separate IC and OOC.

There's only two people I talk oocly with, adn that's contained to emails or //tells. I still have friends that used to play or that still play, but doesnt interact with my character. I think keeping it separated is important, but also taking it ooc sometimes is a huge benefit. You just have to learn when to pull the plug, and consider things carefully.

Well, I'll admit I use third party programs to chat with people in game and about in game things, but it's all in an OOC fashion. "So, whatcha think about this and this?" or "Oh, look. Soandso's attacking Whatchamacallit." Rarely will I bug someone OOCly for IG reasons, like asking for buffs/help with raids.

The OOC communications were pretty nice today on Achaea when they were having the problems that made it impossible to do anything at all!

having someone to communicate with on an OOC clan helps me enjoy the game more as a social experience even if I'm not doing anything remotely social IC

Its nice to have a break if you can separate the two

It helps with a few things, event times, some social things and whatnot, but can also ruin the roleplay aspect of it if overly used.

There's very few people I talk OOC with and even fewer that I speak OOC with about other things besides the game. Some people don't have a very good boundary and start talking about things that really ruin my perception.  

Hate when that happens!

not really

I think it can, but it doesn't necessarily

I try to avoid it, at least

ooc is bad in general, I find



Wasn't this already touched on? Only with a different name?

Yes, the question back then was:

Is it ok to ask for raid help on third party chat?


The new article isn't bad, though. Better than discussing your favourite MMO pet over and over again.

Some people want to play the game, others just want to chat. Not many are able to combine both successfully.

I'm one of the people that find it difficult to stick IG, so the chatting out of game gives me a place to break character and not ruin it for everyone else.


I try to stick to OOC clans instead of a 3rd party chat program

Yes, especially voice chat.

Honestly I hate it when people ask me for my msn or things like that..


thats true

hasn't this been talked about before already?


Ok, I'm already bored. When will we get more articles?

Still no.




I imagine it might break immersion.





free credit




To stay in character and use ooc clans for just that. I'm comfortable with it and can differentiate between what a friend and I might be gossiping about and what my character ACTUALLY knows. Some people can't do that, I've even had some get mad at ME personally for something my character does and insist that this is a chat world - not roleplay. Maybe to you buddy, but not to me. 

being able to keep up with all the channels.

Technology is what it is. It is all around us. So either you utilize it, or get left in the dust


Can be IC about IC things and treated that way. Or, should be OOC about OOC things, and treated that way. 


It should not be OOC about IC things and used ICly.



Credit comment.

I've found that skyping has increased my enjoyment of Lusternia. It may ruin some of the immersion but things can be planned in advance and role played out


Skype is something I don't do within the gaming realm at all. I can see how it would be nice to chat with your friends about the game but I can also see a detrimental side of this. Skyping is not roleplaying and joining a "skype gang" can certainly have a downside. All in all I would think it depends on what you are skyping about and how you use it in gameplay.

Potentially yes, but it doesn't have to be!

good article


I like to just fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to RP. I'd rather not talk OOC to people I'm RPing with. It just gets all bothersome.


I've never used skype, really. Thinking on it though. A few people've said that I should. I doubt I'd use it for talking much about the game, though. Once I'm on an OOC chat with you, you're a friend, not just a character.




maybe, i would reckon.

If people use ooc chat clients to drag people in fto defend against rading or similar events.  I'm Not sure there is anyting to do about it htough.  it's like oh, the oposition are mostly logged out.  lets raide.  then all of a sudden a army of defenders appears in the game.  or some such similarities.  That's the only bad side to ooc chats out of hte game.

I would like to talk over skype with a RL friend that plays too, but would be kinda weird with a person I know only his/her avatar..

For ages I've used them all, and I still do. Not everybody I chat with IG is on any of them, and few are on all. But, generally, our chats in those places really are just OOC chatter. Sometimes we talk about this or that event or this or that game mechanic, but most of the time it's other stuff, like food, or personal life, or other games, etc. Does it ruin RP, though? I'd say only if you let it.

I would agree here.  It's the question an you seperate rp with irl?  If not then I'd say ooc chatter is bad.  if you can then it's fine.

I've never really considered that one should 'plot' so to speak via OOC methods, unless your creating say a story arc. Getting together with another group of people and actively discussing something, and sharing knowledge just kind of smacks of immersion breaking. But that's just my opinion...

I enjoy reading articles about MUD games and Iron Realms definitely makes the best "MUD games" to play in your browser


I really do prefer keeping OOC to a minimum because I want to save my socializing for IC things. But it's also good to drop an OOC check if you're doing some sensitive/potentially uncomfortable RP to declare boundaries, if need be.

I think using them for OOC chatter and "get online, something cool is happening" are both OK.

I have done it before, but I'd rather not. 



I have had OOC convos on Skype and learned a few things RP-wise that made me do a U-turn and saved me days of work. So it's valuable to an extent.

OOC contact ruins the game in many aspects and allows people to form cliques. I disagree with it very strongly.

I think it has both good and bad specifications, in that it is useful for assistance with writing things and having them proof-read  before you send or post it, a second set of eyes is always useful. However the informantion I usually discuss is purely OOC rather than discussing IC things on 3rd party comminication programs.

I find my roleplay is far better when I am fully immersed and not distracted with ooc clan chatter. Some people are BAD at separating IC and OOC. Often I see people having arguments over things that really should just stay IC for the sake of tempers and to keep things interesting. I have made some great ooc friends and I do like to chat with them, but admittedly my rp and enjoyment of the game was a lot greater when I was completely oblivious to the fact that people ever did sit and chat oocly. It was far easier to keep separate and encouraged me to seek out more rp opportunities. Now I can get my social needs filled without having to go actually rp with anyone. Good when I'm feeling lazy, but bad for my rp!

I used to think it caused problems, but after taking a leadership position I find that it is quite needed, actually.

When clans first started (more than 10 real-life years ago), they were mostly established for roleplay purposes. Now that I have returned to game from a long long journey, I get the impression that clans nowadays are no longer clandestine as in the old days, very often out of character. I am still trying to get used to the fact that guilds are no more, houses no longer about families.

Now, this forum discussion is definitely OOC. There is no way to control players outside game also. In real life, we are OOC., though I must admit I have always played alone as a lone player, no one around me in real life is playing Achaea with me, while I am aware most everyone else....

At the end of the day, gameplay is for enjoyment, because life is simply too short to worry about too many rules, though handicaps and rules do make up great gameplay.

Lots of love to you all who are present or absent, Mistral

From my experience, most clans are IC, but there are some OOC clans to give people a chance to chat between each other as just a general experience. Houses and cities have clans to help train members and to help organize ministry efforts, and with High Clans now available, more of those serious clans are now starting to pop up.

I chat with other Achaeans on Skype regularly, but the discusions are almost always not related to Achaea. We talk about preferred beers, our lasted adventures out in the real world, etc. Additionally, there are OOC clans which offer you that opportunity to let loose a bit from the sometimes overbearing rp expectations of your character, and just chat with other players, not adventurers. Using OOC communication to accomplish IC goals is a bit like cheating, and it's happened a lot in the past (for instance you go to raid a city and then suddenly ten of the most regular combatants of that city pop in seemingly out of nowhere at the same time and take right to defending, leaving again after the raid is over). So I try to stick with the basic rule of keeping OOC talk OOC and seperate it from IC ambitions and goals.