Posted by: Jess Riley | September 10, 2008

Communication Habits: Why People Do It

Today was the worst morning in the history of hyperbole, and I’m mildly annoyed that Sean took over my column to be all cranky and cynical at the world (that’s my job, and he’s taking away my ability to do that – there’ll be more thugs coming his way this afternoon, make no mistake).

Seriously, now. I’m guilty of a lot of the things he talked about, and my take on it is that I’m not guilty of doing them because I personally don’t think they’re wrong (although I could just be really bad and not realise it; it’s been known to happen). Now, first of all, I’d like to clarify my point: I think that when people roleplay, they should agree on what constitutes IC communication, what constitutes OOC communication, and then stick to that. If you agree that /w is OOC, keep it OOC; if you agree it’s IC and indicates actual lowering of the voice, then keep it IC – but stick to that stipulation of it being actual whispering, and don’t abuse it. The same applies for /g, /p, etc. If you agree that it’s IC or OOC, stick to that – and keep it consistent and realistic.

There are ways I like this. For a start, yes, people wander out of earshot – but you know what really sucks? When you’re typing something in /say and the person you’re talking to wanders off before you’re done. This wouldn’t happen. There’s a couple of seconds of reasonable suspension of disbelief, there. The, say, ten seconds it takes to type a couple of full sentences isn’t actually passing before your character opens their mouth – they start talking at the beginning of the ten seconds, and we just pretend OOCly that it doesn’t take that long to type it up. When you have impatient people running off before you’re done, it can get pretty annoying. Either you should OOCly agree on not running off if someone else is in the middle of typing something, or you can use channels to make sure they OOCly see it, and then decide whether they did hear it, and how much they hear, ICly.

Secondly, if you want to raise your voice to a point that’s louder than normal talking, but not actually yelling, how can you get this across? Well, you  could just use /yell, or you could emote being a little loud, or you could nudge the person over a channel (either ICly repeating yourself, or OOCly saying, “You’re standing just outside range to hear this, but I just said [blank] just loud enough for you to hear ICly.”). Or you could just not ever raise your voice a little. But that’s boring, and limiting. Part of the point of this roleplay blog is to encourage people to be creative, not to limit themselves by what the game does.

Thirdly, what if you actually want to whisper? Say you have a situation where Character A and Character B are talking, and Character C and Character D are talking, and they’re standing close enough to hear one another, but A wants to tell B something without C and D overhearing. Well, you could trust that if you go, “/e lowers her voice and leans in close to B, so only he can hear her.” and then /say the quiet thing, that C and D will react appropriately, but that’s not really good use of the game mechanisms at hand. One, C and D could just say ‘well, I did hear that, so there’, or they could then use the OOC information ICly without thinking about it, or any wealth of other things. Really, wouldn’t it be better to emote whispering, and then use /w to actually whisper the information?

These are just a few ideas to justify why I play different utilize the game mechanisms provided in a reasonable and consistent way without either breaking immersion or really annoying your fellow roleplayers.

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