Blurred Boundaries

As I continue playing and thinking about Clan Lord, and thinking about a new way of researching that integrates observer and participant, theory and practice, I find that boundaries are blurring in other ways as well.  A while back I began a blog for my character, and somewhat to my surprise, I felt compelled to keep it entirely In Character (IC) even though I don’t worry much about that when actually playing.  In fact, when I am playing, my conversation with other players is almost always Out of Character (OOC) unless I am on a public channel, or I am with a player for whom remaining IC is really important.

In the blog, though I remain in character, I find the boundaries start to blur with real life anyway.  I had talked with one of the other players about how I would represent our our relationship in that blog, because it exists both in game and out, which is only true for a few of my in-game friends. We decided that I would represent the emotional component as it actually exists between us, though we haven’t enacted it in the game that much, because in the game we tend to be focused on hunting.  So the blog is in some way more fictional and in other ways more real than the game.  That tension begins to emerge in the blog as my character wrestles with the way time passes in between her activities in the game (when I am too busy to log in).  This is glossed over in the game itself– people will sometimes say they’ve been away traveling in other lands, but for the most part people will say they were on a business trip, or their internet connection was down, or they went on a fishing trip, or whatever.

I have been thinking as well how to integrate other aspects of OOC life that intrude into the game.  I am sometimes interrupted by the demands of family life while playing and will then often tell my hunting partners that I must deal with whatever domestic issue.  But in the blog, when I am firmly IC, how do I explain that I fell in a hunt because I had to suddenly leave the computer?

Well, time will tell, as I keep writing and as Eirian continues to hunt and grow stronger and become more and more embedded in the story that is the game.  In the meantime, I am about to announce the IC blog more publicly on the Clan Lord community forum, The Sentinel, and start asking players for interviews and for collaboration. I then have to somehow stitch all this together into about 4000 words.

So, here we go…

4 thoughts on “Blurred Boundaries

  1. Dyaus

    “How do I explain that I fell in a hunt because I had to suddenly leave the computer?”

    Sorry guys, I blacked out. I use that one for my failures in real life as well!

  2. Skirwan

    Back when there were more folks who were concerned with staying ‘in character’, there was a pretty rich vocabulary of in-character euphemisms for external distractions. Some of them are still in wide usage — talking about poor weather to indicate network problems, for instance — while others — ‘ringing in my ears’ for a phone call — failed to catch on. As an aside, it’ll be interesting to see whether the network-as-weather metaphor persists now that the game actually has simulated weather systems.

    Clan Lord has always been in an odd spot with respect to keeping in character, because the game itself is fairly inconsistent in supplying in-character explanations and players follow that cue — e.g., “Why is there suddenly a large forest separating these two points that were previously adjacent?”; “I don’t know, maybe a wizard did it”.

    The teetering balance between ‘Clan Lord as roleplaying environment’ and ‘Clan Lord as network whack-a-mole’ often leads to some odd outcomes, tending to frustrate players who prefer either extreme. Most of the folks who’ve stuck around for a while have adopted a ‘just go with it’ attitude.

  3. Eirian

    Dyaus; LOL!

    Skirwan, in the game, I see the “just go with it” thing, and it’s my attitude as well, but somehow that doesn’t seem to work in a wholly IC blog that’s supposed to represent my personal view. I mean, what person could keep blacking out, and not start to wonder? It does add a mysterious angle that might turn out to be quite fun though. 🙂

    And Melben does a great job handling her alts while remaining IC though; it’s a treat to watch! She gives me ideas about how I might handle some things.

  4. Guinness

    I have pondered a bit over these things as well. The lines do get very blurry. Is it ok to roleplay a character in a way the is different from your own core beliefs? What of things like the relationships in the game? Are they between Guinness and Eirian, or between I who clicks Guinness and you who clicks Eirian?

    I’d say that it is between the clickers.. Guinness is just an extension of my imagination. Those who interact with him are in some way interacting with me.

    Thus, I will not click Guinness in a manner that goes against my own beliefs. I am careful not to develop relationships in character that I would not develop out of character, simply because the lines can get very blurry.

    I think of it like acting. For an example most are familiar with: Say, while I play the part of Romeo, it is still me who kisses the girl playing Juliet.

    It is impossible to disconnect yourself completely from the characters you play, and thus must be careful.

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