15.9 Out of Character

This is a lot of reading! Can you sum it up for me?

  - Aetolia is an immersive roleplaying game; our characters are played much like actors on stage!

  - Referring to modern, real-world exclusive concepts (football, computers, etc.) in public mediums is heavily frowned upon.

  - Likewise, actions that don't make sense for their medium are also OOC. This includes emoting over channels ("How are you all doing *grin*"), or using emoticons ("Someone took my leyline >:(").

  - Roleplaying doesn't have to be about saying "forsooth" and stabbing vile knaves, but Aetolia is a better place as long as we avoid OOC references!

The term OOC stands for "out of character" and is used to refer to any action that your character, someone who has lived in Aetolia his or her entire life, would not logically take. You, the player, know things about the real world, about the computers on which the game is played, and about the Aetolian world itself that your character has no idea about. As a player, it is your duty to make sure that your character's comments and actions never reflect these external matters. When you and others hold yourselves to this high standard, you help maintain and enhance both your and other players' immersion in the fictional world that is Aetolia.                                                        

By way of analogy, think about going to see a movie. When you have paid your money for a ticket and you are sitting in the theater, do you want someone sitting near you yelling out, "Cool, that one stunt man stabbed the other stunt man with one of those retractable prop knives, wow look at all the blood makeup they've used?" Though you know it's just a movie, behavior like would destroy your temporary sense of immersion in the fictional story being told on the screen, and that is the exact opposite of what you want - you paid good money for the chance to let yourself believe in whatever world the moviemakers have created. Similarly, OOC behavior in Aetolia jars the other players out of their sense of immersion in the game world.                                   

But it's not just about respect for other players. By immersing yourself in the game fiction and keeping your behavior in-character, you will be creating a much more fun and rewarding play experience for yourself.    

Questions & Answers

Q: What exactly is considered OOC?

A: Broadly, anything your character wouldn't do or know about is OOC. A 
few specific examples:                                                  

  - Talking about real-world people, places, events, or things
  - Citing or quoting real-world pop culture, literature, entertainment media, etc.
  - Using modern slang or 'netspeak' abbreviations
  - Discussing lag, servers, mud clients, etc.
  - Mentioning alternate characters
  - Discussing issues (except with Administrators, obviously)
  - Acting without regard for the context or history of your character ("You can kill me for 50 credits", "I think I'll contest the foci for Shadow tether today, more PK")

Q: Isn't it a little too picky to consider some common things OOC?

A: Depends on whom you ask, but... yes, probably. For example:

  - Emoticons. Some people love them, some hate them, but they are effective and not (in the opinion of the author) particularly intrusive.
  - Emoted text (*grin*). Again, while a pet peeve of some, they can be very helpful in communicating effectively and there isn't always a reasonable substitute.

Q: Where is it acceptable to say OOC things?

A: Virtually nowhere in Aetolia. Certainly you are expected to avoid OOC behavior in all public channels and places where someone you do not specifically know wants to hear your OOC comments could overhear you. This includes SAY, YELL, SHOUT, GNT, MARKET, and so on. If you and a buddy play together and want to talk about your jobs or weekend plans, feel free - just please keep it to tells. Owners of private clans are also permitted to set their own rules with regard to acceptable OOC speech on their private clan channel. However, if you are the owner of such an OOC clan, don't expect any immortal to support it in any way.

It's worth noting that the NEWBIE channel can be a special case. Sometimes newbies need a helping hand figuring out how to configure their mud client and whatnot, so a certain degree of OOC speech is tolerated there. Discussing the Patriots game there will generally result in someone asking you to stop, though.

Q: It's a free country, isn't it? Why can't I "roleplay" a gangsta pimp?

A: Yes, it (the United States, where Aetolia is hosted) is a free country. Aetolia is not owned or operated by any government body though, so this is an entirely moot point. The immortals and players of Aetolia alike collectively define what are acceptable standards of roleplay within the game world and use various methods and tools to maintain those standards. Another is simply social/political pressure. If an immortal doesn't like your OOC behavior, don't expect any favorable treatment by them. If your guildmaster keeps having to ask you not to speak OOC on the guild channel, don't expect to be promoted very quickly within your guild. Players who make an effort to consistently act in-character generally do get more out of their play experience in Aetolia.  

Q: Are there other types of OOC behavior I should know about? 

A: Allowing information that your character would not reasonably know to affect their actions; referred to as 'metagaming', is another type of OOC behavior to avoid. In example, if another player told you in a chat window about something a mutual friend did, and in turn, your character approached the friend and asked about it, this is an instance of metagaming. While this example is benign, the affects of metagaming can and often do escalate to staggering lengths. While metagaming is hard to police and not as obvious as other OOC actions, we depend upon players themselves to be careful about separating OOC knowledge from character's knowledge. That said, help scrolls and honors are considered general knowledge.