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    What is OOC?

    OOC stands for “out-of-character.” It refers to actions, conversations, or thoughts that do not pertain to the character’s role in a game, story, or session.

    OOC is used to differentiate between the player’s thoughts and their character’s actions to avoid confusion and maintain the integrity of the roleplaying experience.

    Alongside the concept of in-character (IC), OOC is fundamental to text-based gaming, storytelling, and roleplaying, as it helps maintain clear boundaries between a player’s identity and their character’s.

    This distinction is essential for immersive gameplay and for players to communicate necessary out-of-game information or clarify in-game actions without disrupting the narrative flow.

    OOC FAQs

    How do players indicate they are speaking OOC?

    It depends on the game, but players typically indicate OOC speech by using specific commands, markers, or formatting, such as brackets, parentheses, or a different font.

    For example, typing (This is OOC.) or [OOC: I have to leave soon.] are common ways to show that the message should not be interpreted within the context of the game’s story.

    Can OOC affect roleplaying?

    Yes, excessive or inappropriate use of OOC can disrupt the flow and immersion of a roleplaying session. It can also lead to confusion if players do not clearly distinguish between their character’s thoughts and their own comments or questions. Maintaining a balance and clearly separating out-of-character (OOC) from in-character (IC) interactions are important for a cohesive and engaging roleplaying experience.

    Is OOC only used in text-based roleplaying?

    While OOC is particularly prevalent in text-based roleplaying, the concept applies to all forms of roleplaying, including live-action roleplaying (LARP), tabletop games, and multiplayer video games. The need to differentiate between player and character perspectives is universal across different mediums of roleplaying.

    When should I use OOC communication?

    Use OOC communication for clarifications, to discuss real-life matters, to plan game logistics, or when you need to step away from the game. It’s also used to discuss character actions and storyline developments with other players without affecting the in-game narrative. Always ensure that your OOC interactions are brief and relevant to the game or situation at hand.

    See: Immersive Roleplay 101: the essential guide.

    Myths about OOC

    One common myth is that OOC interactions are detrimental to roleplaying and should be avoided entirely. However, OOC communication can be essential for clarifying misunderstandings, discussing game mechanics, or addressing personal emergencies.

    Another misconception is that OOC is only for inexperienced players. In reality, all players, regardless of experience, may need to communicate OOCly for various reasons.

    Lastly, some believe OOC discussions can only happen outside of the game session, but brief, necessary OOC interactions can be integrated into active sessions without disrupting the flow too much. The key is to be considerate of one’s fellow roleplayers.

    OOC examples

    • A player needs to leave the game early, so they type in the chat, “[OOC: Sorry, I have to go now. Can we continue this next week?]”
    • During a tabletop roleplaying session, a player is confused about a rule and asks, “(OOC: How does this spell work again?)”
    • In an online roleplaying forum, a player discusses character development with another player using OOC markers: “[OOC: I think our characters should team up for the next quest. What do you think?]”
    • In a MUD, a new player uses the OOC command to ask a question about how to level up: “ooc where do I go to find a trainer, can anyone help?”
    • A player in an MMO types into the chat window: “/ooc Thanks for the raid! Catch you guys later!”

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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."