RP: The OOC and the IC

Tabletop gamers, a pretty good analogy to what roleplayers are OOC (out of character).
Tabletop gamers, a pretty good but not perfect analogy for Out of Character gameplay in Second Life Gor.
If the gender ratio here mirrored Second Life Gor's real life gender ratio, there would be five players, and three would be female.

Image source: A vidcap from Table Top, a web video series by actor Wil Wheaton (second from right) in which he and various
(mostly) online celebrities play tabletop games. Here, he plays Small World with Starcraft II commentator Sean Plott
aka Day 9 (far left), Mythbuster Grant Imahara
(second from left) and video blogger Jenna Bush (far right).

Second Life is an immersive environment, for some people, tremendously so. The term “Second Life” is not a misnomer or an exaggeration in that respect. A strong element of its appeal is that players tend to very much believe they are the little avatar bouncing around on the computer screen while they are playing, especially if they are playing an intense role playing game like, for instance, Gor. People forget that they are playing a game.

But the fact is that we are playing a game, there is a difference between your character and you, the game player, no matter how intensively you may identify with your character. That's why roleplayers generally have invented the concepts of IC (In Character) and OOC (Out Of Character) play. Imagine that SL Gor was a board game, not virtual at all, and we were moving little plastic avatars around on a board. IC roleplay is what your avatars do and say and think. OOC is what the players say to one another directly, not through their character.

“I declare myself the Ubar of all Gor!” declares Mallius Throbbus. (that's IC)

“Hey, Jim, I don't think you could be Ubar of anything more than a city, Gor didn't have nations, much less a world government,” says Sue. (that's OOC).

A situation a Gorean slavegirl might find herself in, in character.
This is the sort of situation slavegirls can and sometimes do find themselves in during in-character Second Life Gor roleplay.
As such, it's a great example of the difference between tabletop gaming and the kind of roleplay enabled by the
anonymity of the Internet. You can't imagine people sitting around a tabletop and roleplaying hijinks like these
unless they knew each other really, really ... perhaps intimately ... well. But it works quite well in the anonymity of
Second Life. Image source: vidcap of Second Life sexual roleplay.

Pretty simple concept. OOC, we are all gamers who are sharing our enjoyment of the game, whether we are playing a slavegirl or a ubar (king of a Gorean city state). IC your character may be a slave who must do whatever the free people tell them to, and be humble, respectful and well, submissive, but OOC you're pretty much another gamer, the equal of anyone. Easy to understand.

However, there is a group of Gorean gamers who have a different approach to Second Life Gor. They are called “lifestylers.”They don't really play Gor as a game. They see Second Life Gor as an alternate reality through which they are able to freely express their Gorean natures. They come to Second Life to BE Gorean, not to play at being Gorean, but to live a Gorean lifestyle, so they don't make a distinction between OOC and IC when they play. And they were the ones who got SL Gor started, really.

So, for example, you're a Gorean lifestyler, and in Second Life Gor you are a slave. This means that from the moment you log on you must play as a slave, to the moment you log off. You are not a person playing the game of Gor with others like yourself, you are a slave. You might be required to address all the other players whose characters are free as “Master”and “Mistress” period, because there is no IC/OOC distinction. You are simply a slave. If a slave character wishes to leave the presence of a free person, they must request permission to do so. If the player wishes to leave the keyboard they must request the permission of the free to leave the keyboard. If they DO leave the keyboard without permission, they need to have a DAMN good excuse when they get back. (“The baby was on fire … again!”)

(I'm using slaves as an example because they are unique to Gor and also their role is much more regimented than other roles.)

Lifestyler Goreans and roleplayer Goreans have worked out a deal so they can play together, which basically consists of the Gorean lifestylers don't bitch about the roleplayers not being Gorean in Instant Messages (basically, messages sent privately from one player to another in-game, generally called IMs) and roleplayers keep all their posts in local chat (where all players within 20 meters can “hear” them) in character. Since both lifestylers and roleplayers agree that local chat SHOULD be in character, and it's not strictly speaking NECESSARY to IM people most of the time, it's a compromise that works very well.

That said, there were quite a few misunderstandings and conflicts between roleplayers of Gor and lifestyle Goreans before this deal got worked out. Newbie Goreans who didn't quite understand the difference between lifestyle Goreans and Gorean roleplayers, or even how they wanted to play at Gor also had run-ins with lifestylers and sometimes with roleplayers whose vision of Gorean roleplay was way past what they were seeking.

Add to this the fact, sad but true, that many submissive women enjoy playing SL Gor and a few guys who play SL Gor are in strictly for the chance to abuse women, taking submissive women playing SL Gor as targets of opportunity, and you have the reason why Second Life Gor had such a bad reputation at one time. (And another reason why I advocate that new Gorean players never do that one irrevocable thing when you start playing Second Life Gor – revealing real life information about yourself. Particularly your credit card number!) But I don't want to linger on this, because it's not really that important, if you are just a little bit smart and don't do the irrevocable until you have learned the lay of the Gorean roleplay land. Worth warning about, but not dwelling on.

More commonplace are problems involving the different interests, backgrounds and approaches of people who play SL Gor. Some of them come to play it as an adult version of World of Warcraft, and do not sexual RP at all, but primarily enjoy raiding and the camaraderie associated with it. Some come to Second Life Gor to find someone to develop a virtual Master/slave relationship, and pay very little attention to the game elements, in fact sometimes they pay very little attention to players other than their partners. Most who come to SL Gor have SOME interest in the BDSM elements of the game, but not all. Gorean roleplay has developed a reputation for being better than most roleplay, perhaps because so many of the roleplayers have an intense personal interest it it (BDSM, again) which has attracted people who just plain like good roleplay, even though they have little or no personal interest in BDSM. Or combat.

It is a situation, as they say, rife with opportunities for misunderstanding, and of course, people being who they are, many of those opportunities get taken.

With all these divergent approaches, Gorean roleplayers have developed some roleplay standards and techniques that lets people with various interests play it their way. I explained in my section on Gor Evolved vs. By the Book Gor how the game has developed to accommodate people with different levels of interest in combat, and I explained in my section on How To Commit Sexual Roleplay in Gor how the game has evolved to accommodate people with different levels of interest in sexual roleplay. What you as a player have to do is just tolerate others' different interests, etc.

Your best bet for getting along in Second Life Gor RP is pretty much like any other game, making friends with people OOC, being honest about what you want out of the game with them, and generally just try to have a good time. Just like any other game, the people who are having fun are going to be the ones who are fun to play with, and attractive to others for that reason. I find it easy to make friends with the people who play SL Gor because on the whole they are bright, fun and funny crew. I know the sterotype is that Gor is populated primarily by drooling male control freaks, but let me tell you a little secret about SL Gor. The best information about the makeup of the actual players of SL Gor indicates that about 60 percent of them are female. So it's mostly populated by drooling female submissives, which is different, and most people would say, better.

It's not surprising when you think about it. Think about those ten million copies of Fifty Shades of Gray that sold in just six weeks, about 9.9 million of which were bought and ready by women.
A lot of women LOVE BDSM fantasies. They may not like the reality, but they love the fantasy. And here is SL Gor, offering what is in my humble opinion the most intense BDSM fantasy there is out there. That's why I wrote Fifty Shades of Second Life Gor.

Naughty slavegirl being spanked.
Naughty slavegirls in Second Life Gor will be spanked. Well-behaved slave girls, too. That's IC for ya! Image source:WhippedAss.com.

Getting Started in Second Life Gor
Raiding in Second Life Gor
How To Commit Sexual Roleplay in Second Life Gor
50 Shades of Second Life Gor
Gor Evolved and By The Book Gor
OOC and IC in Second Life Gor, and Lifestyle Gor