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…