For people new to role playing there are a few things that older players talk about that may confuse you. I am going to go over a few topics to make sure that you understand what they mean when they say things like IC vs. OOC, metagaming, godmodding, blurring and the like. Pretty simple stuff, but if you are new, it’s good to have someplace to go to find out what these things mean.
One of the most basic ideas behind role play is that you are playing a character. There may be aspects of the player that are mirrored in their character, but in the end you are not your character, and your character is not you. This is an important distinction! This is one of the biggest problems even seasoned role players have to deal with.
Our characters are going to do things that we as players would never even think about doing! I would never condone slavery, nor would I murder someone for an insult to my faith. But my character might. Being able to distinguish between a player and their character is a big part of the enjoyment of a scene.
In Character actions (Or IC actions, also known as IG or In Game actions) are actions taken by your character. Nothing that is done IC should be taken personally. You are not dealing with the player themselves, and in many instances the player could be just as horrified by their character’s actions as you are. Out of Character actions (Or OOC actions, also known as OOG or Out of Game actions) are done by the player themselves, and in an immersive environment are kept to a minimum.
If my character yells at your character during the course of a scene, it is not that I, the player, am screaming at you, the player. Some of the best, and most intense role play comes from tension and drama between characters. Best friends can play the worst enemies, husband and wives can play relationships between other people, and genders could be swapped. Unless otherwise stated, you can assume that none of those things are real, because it is done between characters. It is a story that people are telling, not the people themselves.
That being said, IC actions should never trump OOC comfort. This is a game after all, and if we aren’t all enjoying it, we are losing sight of why we play to begin with. If you notice that the person you are playing with is uncomfortable there are several different ways to check in with them to make sure the player is okay with continuing the scene. If it is just the character being uncomfortable, and the player is fine, continue on. But if the player is no longer okay with the scene then stop, drop out of character and make sure the player is okay. In this instance it is totally okay to let the other player know that their comfort is more important than the scene itself. It doesn’t matter why they are uncomfortable, and you shouldn’t try to get them to explain the issues at the time, you simply want to hold a place of compassion for them and let them deal with their issues as they see fit. If they want to talk about it later, make sure to come at the conversation with respect and understanding.
Making sure to keep IC and OOC separate is the best way to make sure you avoid the most common problems with role playing. Metagaming and blurring are two of the most common types of problems that happen when you lose track of that hard line between you and your character but we will talk more about those in future RP 101 articles.
Hopefully, that helps to explain what folks are talking about when they discuss IC and OOC actions. As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask! Role play can be such a rewarding hobby, all it takes is a little know how and a lot of creativity!
If you have questions about role play that would be good to discuss in an RP 101 type article, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list of discussions to have in the future!