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anthrxmilkshake

Ripping vs Inspiration, the Conversation

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As roleplayers we are often inspired by multiple sources. This can be a tv show,book, movie, something we saw online, and even other roleplayers. For some of us we walk a fine line between playing our own original creations and literally taking something someone else made and playing them. This is something I've seen all over the place, an argument for or against using other people characters as their own roleplay characters.

 

My opinions vary on this particular topic. For instance, I believe if you're RPing on an actual fandom site playing a premade character from another location isn't actually a bad thing. You're obviously not the creator of said character, everyone is aware of it, and you're not claiming to be. However, in my opinion, when RPing in a completely original verse, or one even inspired by another verse, playing a character that has been torn from the pages of someone elses book is just plain wrong. For instance if I joined a zombie RP site, and made Machone, but gave her a weird name, and a different playby, it's still the same character, and not my own creation. This would be different if I was RPing INSIDE the TWD verse, where Machone was created, and everyone is aware I didn't write her. 

 

What is your opinion? How close can you get to inspiration before you toe the line of ripping someones hard work off? I had one person tell me they found using a playby who played a character that happened to be a ballerina, and making my character a ballerina as well, we ripping and plagiarism. I don't quite agree with this, I find it to be more smarter playby searching since they'd have the same pictures I would need to depict my character, but what is your opinion? If someone puts all of the credits from the inspiration sources, how close can a site come to using other locations information before it becomes their verse and they can no longer claim creation? How close can a character come to your inspiration before it actually becomes that character?


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When I see a character that is a clear copy of an existing fandom (in a non-fandom site), I assume that the person isn't a strong enough writer to create his or her own characters. That said, I'm okay with people playing fandom characters if they're adjusted to fit the world and they give clear credit where due. And as long as it's a rare occurrence. There are plenty of panfandom sites with a variety of settings that people can play on if they need to make canon characters.

 

As far as drawing the line . . . as writers, we see something cool on TV or in a book, and we want to explore that character concept. That's fine. But we need to bring something new to the table if we want to make it original - something other than a change of name or face claim or character age. Substantial differences in personality and history are required for the character to not be "inspired by" or "based on" another character.

 

There is nothing wrong with using a picture of a ballerina for a ballerina character as long as either the character is clearly a different character than the source material or appropriate credit is given. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to use photos of any celebrity in role or any sports person in uniform or any model on the runway to match the occupation or time period of the character. The person has probably experienced writers who can't differentiate between character and celebrity, and this was her conclusion.

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I've made more than a few characters that were strongly based upon characters from totally unrelated sources. Some of my first tabletop characters started out from characters I loved in Neal Stephenson novels... but it was basically like I took a seed from the inspiring character, and after I fleshed them out in the new setting, they'd grown into something else.

 

For example: I gender flipped Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash (if you haven't read the book, yes, that's legit his name, and Stephenson was being pretty tongue in cheek about it), and when I built out a background for the resulting character, she resembled Hiro only a little bit: racial background, father in the military, hacker with a sword fetish... and that was about it.

 

I agree it's important to acknowledge your sources and inspiration. I certainly acknowledge Kaida was inspired by Hiro, but she also grew into her own unique character because of the changes I needed to make for her to fit in the game system she was being used in, as well as the personal choice to change her gender.

 

Now, a thing to consider about this conversation: in many art forms, it's normal to copy from those who come before in an effort to learn. Painters will often attempt to copy a master's painting in an effort to practice and learn their techniques. Or cartoonists will practice by tracing their favorite illustrators work, or drawing their signature characters or attempting to mimic their style. Musicians will start by learning their favorite songs before they attempt to compose/write their own. So why is it so taboo to write another person's character in a rpg? It's the same sort of practice, learning by working from the guidance of someone more experienced. As long as you acknowledge it, what's the harm? I mean, sure, if someone comes along with a poorly aped version of a character, that you can clearly tell is supposed to be that character, and they don't acknowledge it... admins are in their right to call the player on it, but if the player is open about it, the only real reason I can see to tell the player no is if the character doesn't fit in with your site.

 

We're playing a game, and for a lot of us, we're playing in someone else's sandbox. Our game setting is based on a book, TV show, or movie, some of these games even include characters from the source material. So how is using a setting pulled from somewhere else, or characters from that setting, any better than someone taking a character they like from another source and modifying it to suit the setting of the game? Unless you're playing on a site with entirely original setting, and you're not using pictures of real people (unless you took them yourself and got the person's permission), you're borrowing from someone else's creative work, so really, what's the difference?

 

It's not like anything we're doing here is being sold commercially, and it's not like art hasn't always been taking the things you observe and experience around you in the world and transforming them into something new, influenced by your own perspective. So chill out and have fun.

Edited by Death Kitten
minor clarity edit
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I've had people play canon characters from sources that happened to have fit in the environment of the "original" RP that I was playing on. And as long as it was acknowledged that this character was a canon from somewhere, it was no issue.

 

My only problem is the characters that are CLEARLY a popular canon and all the person does is change the name and appearance. This is because my belief is that if you want to play a canon character, and they fit the setting, you may as well just do so. I guess to me its more about being honest than anything else.

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I only consider it plagiarism if people directly copy the work of someone else, word for word, everything about the character. The reason why I say this is because I've seen people being bitchy if someone wrote a love interest for a canon character, or created an original character which had a characteristic that someone else's OC had. That is not plagiarism. When I wrote Star Wars fan fiction, I used to write characters of a certain species which didn't appear often in the EU novels and films because I was fascinated by the species and found them interesting to write. It was very easy to assume, when I came across someone else writing an OC of that species that they had copied my ideas for them, but as it wasn't an exact copy of the character(s), I couldn't accuse them of copying. The names and backgrounds were different so it only appeared so. If they had read my stuff and created them because I'd inspired it, then great! Someone liked my work enough to do that.

 

From an academic standpoint, plagiarism is where someone would take passages or entire papers (this, incidentally, happened to one of my uni lecturers' work, the perp was caught, because one of the reviewers recognized the work as belonging to that of my lecturer.), put the passages directly into their own work without referencing it (and without bothering to put it into their own words...) or take off the name of the real author of a paper and stick their own on it and try and get it published. I would say that rping and fan fiction writing is not as strict as this, but I would only consider something to be plagiarism if copy/pasting of other rper's work is involved, or copying/pasting directly from wiki's, etc, or actually taking everything about someone's character and pretending it's theirs, and/or pretending that it's a 'new' character. If they haven't copied things word for word, and the characters are similar, then it's petty to call plagiarism because people might have come up with the ideas independently.

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I  have seen many people who does not even trying to made their own character and they keep copy someone else ideas and character .I  am person who know how to rp and how to create good character when I  have inspiration you not need ask me anything I'll write about my character .My characters can be bad or good  if plot story or forum where I  rp need character like that I  can create it .I  just hate that people copy my ideas and claim them like they own them.

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