27 August, 2019
One thing I’ve run into a surprising number of times while I’ve been RPing in FFXIV is people apologizing OOCly for their character. I’m RPing a scene with a less-than-friendly character and via some OOC channel I get a quick, “I’m sorry my character is like that.”
This confuses me a bit, so I gave some time to thinking about it.
One cardinal rules for RP in most situations is that you separate out IC and OOC. Even if you’re good friends with someone OOCly, if the characters are supposed to be enemies ICly you should RP being enemies. Likewise, if you have an intense IC scene where you’re fighting, that shouldn’t carry over into OOC interactions with that person! A separation between the two keeps things fun and healthy.
To me, this feels like a blurring of the two; perhaps people who RP less friendly characters feel like they’ve been brushed off by people who didn’t realize it was IC behavior not OOC. It could also be that the person doing the RP is reminding themselves about the divide as well.
It might be the character’s negative outlook is wearying for people. It could be wearying to play, as it might be tough to stay in such a negative mindset for extended periods of time. For some people, this can be tiring to maintain the character’s attitude over a longer period of time because it conflicts with natural attitudes. Even if you are a gloomy and negative person outside of the game, it might be an unfriendly reminder of this to RP such a character in the game. We often RP to escape the problems of the offline world.
It can also be wearing for others. Putting up with a curmudgeon can be tiring for most people, even if you have a bit of separation between yourself and the character you’re interacting with from IC/OOC separation. Again, we often RP to escape from the “real world” and the people we are forced to deal with. Not that everyone needs to be sunshine and light, but it can be really exasperating to be reminded of such people while playing a game.
Better way to handle it
I think a better way to handle this might be to take a bit extra effort to show friendliness OOCly if the primary problem is OOC reactions being negative. Now, this can be hard to do in a one-off scene, but it’s still possible. After a scene is over, it’s often polite to thank the other person for the RP. If you’re worried about the impression your character gave, perhaps a bit of extra friendliness at the end will help. Express a desire to RP again soon, maybe compliment the RP in some way. Demonstrate that the character’s IC attitude doesn’t match your OOC feelings.
In a longer-term RP, you can just be consistently nicer to others in order to compensate for the IC attitude. Being a bit more generous with others, being a little more upbeat and helpful, or just having a better attitude in general can help counter the negative impression of your character.
Another possibility is to develop the character over time. If it’s wearing to yourself or to others, then change the character. Ultimately, you are in control of the character and the character doesn’t control you. You get to choose how the character acts, reacts, and changes over time. This is a powerful tool in that I think RPers miss all too often.