Online Text RPGs: Dealing With OOCness - Asking When
By Lisa Ohanian
In online text games where role playing is ‘strongly encouraged’ but not strictly enforced (like those made by Iron Realms Entertainment), the matter of staying in-character (IC) can be a tricky issue. Those who prefer to play online text games for combat or for the social aspect will inevitably falter at times, and go out-of-character (OOC). Most of the time, this is harmless enough. But occasionally this disconnect can cause confusion, drama, or simply the ruining of a significant moment in the other character’s roleplay.
So where does one draw that line between tactfully informing or nudging the other player towards roleplaying in critical circumstances, and becoming a self-righteous roleplaying nazi worthy of blacklisting? Read on for some advice on when to address OOCness in online text games. Part two of this series, coming soon, will then detail how to proceed tactfully, once you’ve decided whether you want to intervene.
Although good judgment should always triumph over a cemented list (every situation is different, after all), here are some general questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to speak up about OOC behavior in a text RPG-
How important is this conversation to your character – is it a key defining moment that you’ll want to remember, or a throwaway chat? If this is something that your character might refer back to for some emotional reason, it is perfectly acceptable to ask that the character playing opposite you respect your immersion.
Another factor is exactly how blatantly OOC they are behaving – is it possible to pretend they used a slightly different word and keep going with the conversation, or is it impossible to reply without going OOC yourself? If the other player is saying something insignificant, and something that could be taken IC, it’s much easier to ignore the comment or to carry on the conversation in an IC manner.
Finally, do you think they realize that you’re staying in character? Do you plan to use or reference something from this conversation ICly later on? If the other player is saying something that you suspect is OOC, and could potentially cause consistency problems later on, it might be a bad idea to keep quiet.
All of these factors can play into one’s decision to address the problem in the first place. If it’s a brief and insignificant conversation with OOC undertones, I’ll often either ignore the OOC deviation or try and wrap up the conversation. If it’s a dramatic moment in my character’s life and the other player insists on being blatantly and repeatedly OOC, however, or I think that it might lead to problems later on, I would politely say something every time.
Remember, as you play a MUD as a role player, that you have the right to have fun, too! In MUDs, it is inevitable that some players will be playing for the role play, and some will be playing for the combat. Just as role players are expected to partake in some minimal level of combat without whining about it, even something as simple as defense, combatants are expected to engage in a minimal level of role play when they happen to come across a role player. Keep in mind that both preferences are valid, and that there is a delicate balance going on here - striking the perfect mix of demanding the role play you need for your character while not forcing it upon other players can truly be an art!
Now that you're a master at detecting when to address OOCness, try some high quality text RPGs today!
Lisa Ohanian is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from Iron Realms.