Thursday, December 29, 2011

OOC: The Player/Character Line - 204

Hello, class! It has been a long time. Teachers take sabbaticals, right? Right.

This entry we're tackling something that everyone has to deal with. Out of Character (OOC) vs IC (In Character) and the blurry grey line in between.

In roleplay, you are creating a character that you play. When an actor gets on the stage, he's playing a part. The guy who plays Hamlet shouldn't be running home to his uncle and wanting to kill him.

Or start getting a little friendly with skulls.

There is a separation there - a needed separation.

Even actors have issues with character bleed, where traits of the characters start seeping into how the person acts. So the issue of the line between roleplayer and character getting blurry is not something restricted just to roleplayers.

It can be very helpful to write down character traits, to ask yourself how your character would approach certain situations - and also, how that's different from how you would act?

Such as - if Damon Salvatore was caught in a bank robbery, those bank robbers would be slammed so hard, it wouldn't even be funny. He might pause his actions to protect others in the room (if he cared about them), or protect his identity as a vampire, but his gut instinct would be to act.

If I were caught in a bank robbery, I would probably cry and do whatever the robbers said.

You would, too. Don't lie.

There are a lot of available character profiles out there that you can use. It can even be a bit fun to answer these as your character, and can slowly help you distinguish all the ways you are not your character.

Here's some links to some profiles you can check out: (The profiles in this link were taken from somewhere I don't remember. If you wrote them and wish to claim credit, please let me know.)

Note: Please keep in mind that profiles are meant to be guidelines. A shy person can come out of their shell. A coward can do something brave, or a usually brave person can become terrified.

Profiles aren't meant to be a solid black and white structure that you have to base your character on forever and ever amen; they're more of a springboard for you to start figuring out the type of character you're going to be playing, so that you start asking yourself those defining questions.

The general point of this? You aren't your character. Which means if your character is mad, it shouldn't mean that you have to get mad. If another character is roleplaying being a dick to your character, because they are a villain, that doesn't mean that the player behind them is trying to be a douche. You shouldn't be taking your roleplay personally, although it definitely does sometimes happen.

If Batman and Deadpool can play nice, you can too.

Example: You are Batman (congratulations, you're officially awesome). Someone is playing the Joker. The Joker blows stuff up. Kills civilians. Makes fun of the fact that Batman is an orphan. He's a complete dickbag.

Now, Batman is going to rip him to shreds. (But not kill, never kill. Hit enough to give brain injury to, but never kill.)

But why would you, as a player, get pissed with the person playing the Joker? 

As a player, it is your responsibility to keep yourself in check as to what is in character and out of character. If the person is harassing your twitter, or making things actually personal, by all means - act in your best interest as a player, give them a piece of your mind, or choose to walk away.

But if they are just playing their character? Dude, isn't that what you're there for?

Trust the Magic 8 Ball.


Relationships in RP are tricky enough. Finding people who get you, get the characterization you're trying to play, or who simply don't annoy you - that's hard enough at times. Things get even more confusing when people start assuming that because two characters are together, that the player of that character is in love with them. They start assuming all those tender words are meant for them personally. And hearts get broken. And people get jealous when that person has another character and plays with someone else. All sorts of problems arise.

Keeping that Player/Character line in check can help you avoid this, because you're going to be aware that just because you're Lois Lane and Superman says he loves you... That's not that player saying they love you. 

Plus, as evidenced above -
 Superman was a dick and totally didn't mean it anyway.

The Other Side of the Coin:

The other side of this are folks who say they are a character, but actually spend their time doing anything BUT playing them. They chit-chat about their personal lives, they tumblr, they talk about fandom, and they hardly ever participate in storylines. Some of them consistently go on rants about drama, usually in the form of 10 tweets that cause more drama.

I would ask these folks -- why choose this character if you're not going to play the role? If you're doing this on a site, you're taking that role from people who might actually wish to play them. 

There are plenty of people out there who would play with you, and a WORLD of ideas and stories to tell, if you'd just try.

In Summary: 

Be careful not to let your character slide into yourself and start taking things personally, as if you actually are Harry Potter and Malfoy just jellylegs jinxed you.

Chill, bro. The counter-curse is unjellify. 

They are words on a screen in a fantasy setting. This is writing a book with a partner. And you don't get mad at your co-author, unless they are infringing on the characterization of your characters, or derailing your story (which is godmodding, which will be covered in another lesson).

On the other hand, you are there to play your character. Others around you will usually have that expectation.  If you're constantly OOC, the people who really want to tell stories are not going to want to involve you. 


Observe the line.