IC =/= OOC

meaning and definition

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    What is IC =/= OOC?

    IC =/= OOC stands for “in character does not equal out of character.”

    This is a fundamental concept in roleplaying games (RPGs). It differentiates the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the character from those of the player controlling the character (mun).

    The distinction is important for maintaining a clear boundary between the game’s narrative and the real world, allowing players to explore diverse roles and scenarios without personal bias or misunderstanding.

    A brief history of the term

    The concept of IC =/= OOC has its roots in traditional acting and storytelling, where a clear line between the performer’s identity and their role is maintained.

    The term originated in early online roleplaying communities in the 1980s and 1990s. It helped players distinguish between their roles in the game and their real identities.

    In roleplaying games, this distinction is just as important for allowing players to explore diverse roles and personas that may be quite different from their own.

    Over time, the use of this term became more common as online roleplaying games grew in popularity. Communities developed guidelines to reinforce the importance of separating in-character actions from out-of-character behavior.

    Modern usage

    Today, many gaming communities still use this term to maintain a healthy gaming environment. It is essential in both text-based and more immersive online roleplaying games.

    Types of games that feature IC =/= OOC include but are not limited to:

    MUD, MUSH, RPMUD, PbP, Talker, MMORPG, FPS, MOBA, Chat RPG, Social media RPG, Hack and slash, PvE, PvP, RPI, RPE, and their respective communities.

    IC =/= OOC examples

    • A player personally likes dogs but plays a character who is terrified of them after being bitten as a child.
    • In an L&L game, a character expresses strong religious or political views that are completely opposite to those of the player.
    • A player is very outgoing and friendly, but their character is reserved and mistrustful due to growing up in the slums.
    • A character betrays their best friend in the game, leading to dramatic IC conflict, but the players themselves maintain a good friendship OOC.

    Myths about IC =/= OOC

    A common myth is that a player’s IC behavior reflects their OOC personality or beliefs. This is not true, as roleplaying allows individuals to explore characters far removed from their actual selves.

    While players often weave aspects of themselves into their characters, they can also play characters completely different in gender, age, education, socioeconomic status, and world views.

    Another misconception is that IC and OOC knowledge are interchangeable. However, maintaining a strict separation between IC and OOC helps prevent metagaming and preserves the game’s integrity and fairness.

    IC =/= OOC FAQs

    How do players indicate whether they are speaking IC or OOC?

    Players typically indicate their mode of speech by using specific markers or formats when communicating.

    For example, text-based games often use brackets, parentheses, or special chat channels to denote out-of-character (OOC) communication, while in-character (IC) speech is presented as part of the narrative without such markers.

    Why is the distinction between IC and OOC important in roleplaying?

    The distinction is important to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts among players. By separating character actions and thoughts from those of the player, it ensures that personal feelings are not misinterpreted as part of the game. Keeping these two things separate can lead to a more enjoyable and respectful playing environment.

    This is especially true when players play antagonistic or unpleasant characters. It’s important to realize that just because a character is being difficult, aggressive, or unfriendly, it doesn’t mean that the player is like that.

    Can a player’s OOC knowledge affect their IC actions?

    This is referred to as “IC/OOC crossover” and is generally frowned upon in roleplaying communities. When it involves a player using OOC knowledge for their character’s benefit, it is a form of cheating known as “metagaming.” Metagaming can disrupt the game’s fairness and narrative integrity. Maintaining the IC/OOC divide helps prevent this issue.

    What should a player do if they feel another player is blurring the IC/OOC line?

    If a player feels the IC/OOC line is being blurred, they should communicate their concerns to the other player or a game moderator. It’s important to address such issues respectfully and directly, aiming for a mutual understanding and reaffirmation of the game’s boundaries.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."