IC/OOC Crossover

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    What is IC/OOC crossover?

    IC/OOC crossover refers to the blending or inappropriate mixing of in-character (IC) and out-of-character (OOC) information, emotions, or actions in roleplaying games.

    This phenomenon can manifest in several ways, such as using knowledge acquired OOC for an IC advantage (metagaming), allowing real-life emotions to influence one’s character in ways that are not consistent with the character’s established personality or backstory, or the inappropriate sharing of IC information between players on an OOC basis (collusion).

    These actions can disrupt the natural flow of the game and affect the immersive experience of roleplaying.

    The concept of IC/OOC crossover has its roots in the early days of tabletop and text-based roleplaying, where distinguishing between player and character knowledge and emotions was crucial for maintaining the integrity of the game’s narrative and the consistency of the characters’ actions and motivations.

    NOTE: IC/OOC crossover should not be confused with crossover RP, a style of RP where characters from one genre are integrated into another.

    IC/OOC crossover FAQs

    What are the consequences of IC/OOC crossover in a game?

    IC/OOC crossover can lead to a breakdown in the narrative coherence of a roleplaying game, create unfair advantages, and lead to conflicts among players. It can undermine the trust and collaborative spirit necessary for a fulfilling roleplaying experience and may result in players feeling alienated or frustrated.

    How can players avoid IC/OOC crossover?

    Players can avoid IC/OOC crossover by maintaining a clear distinction between their knowledge and their character’s knowledge, separating their personal feelings from those of their characters, and communicating clearly with other players and the game master (GM) about boundaries and expectations.

    Regular reminders and discussions about the importance of this distinction can also be helpful.

    What is metagaming in the context of IC/OOC crossover?

    Metagaming is a form of IC/OOC crossover where a player uses out-of-character knowledge to influence their character’s in-game decisions or actions.

    For example, acting on information that the player knows but the character would not, such as an ambush planned by the game master that the character has not been informed of.

    See: Metagaming in RP.

    Can IC/OOC crossover ever be acceptable in roleplaying games?

    While generally discouraged in roleplay-heavy games, there may be specific scenarios or game types where IC/OOC crossover is acceptable or even encouraged. If in doubt, consult the game’s rules or seek clarity from its moderators or community.

    How do text-based roleplaying games handle IC/OOC crossover?

    In text-based games, IC/OOC crossover can be difficult to prove. It is often managed through the use of different channels for IC and OOC communication, clear labeling of IC and OOC content, and strict moderation to ensure that the two do not overlap inappropriately.

    Myths about IC/OOC crossover

    • It’s always intentional: Not all IC/OOC crossover is done on purpose. Players may accidentally use OOC knowledge IC or let their real-life emotions bleed into their characters without realizing it (common in instances of passive-aggressive RP).
    • It’s harmless: Some players believe that IC/OOC crossover does not significantly impact the game. However, it can disrupt storytelling and fairness, affecting everyone’s enjoyment.
    • It can’t be controlled: While it can be challenging to manage, IC/OOC crossover can be minimized through clear guidelines, communication, and self-awareness.

    IC/OOC crossover examples

    • A player learns about a secret trap in an OOC chat and then has their character avoid the trap without having learned about it in-game.
    • A player has a bad day and decides their normally cheerful character is now inexplicably angry and argumentative.
    • Two players discuss their characters’ strategies and feelings in an OOC setting and then act on that discussion in the game without their characters having had the chance to communicate those thoughts or plans IC.

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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."