Ah, the happy camaraderie of being in a guild with like-minded people! The joy of gaming and grouping with people you genuinely like to be around! It’s such an amazing feeling, one that makes you want to log on just to be with your friends, even if you don’t feel like actually playing the game very much. But then something happens: drama. It might start with something said in gchat. Maybe it’s an officer who’s being heavy handed. The prima-donna who thinks they’re more “leet” than the guild. The list and variety of guild drama, and what causes it, are endless.
I’ve been in several guilds over the past 8 1/2 years, and I’ve seen some incredible things. One guildie used her friend to help her fake her own death. They knowingly let us be grief-stricken for about a week before she came back. Or not one, but two guilds I was in were run by couples in a committed relationship… until the relationship became not so committed. That was fun after the break-up, waiting in Ventrilo on raid night for “him” to show up, while “she” bad mouthed him and wondered who he was with that was making him late. Talk about awkward! Or the guilds where cliques form and only the “in crowd” talks to each other in gchat or forms groups, leaving others feel ignored or unwanted. Or the guild coup: where a group of people decide they don’t like the leaders anymore and either leave, taking a large number of guildies with them, or argue/pick on the leaders incessantly until the leaders decide they’re moving on. This behavior is destructive to guilds and to the morale of guild members, and despite good friendships, many will leave to avoid the drama.
If you find yourself in a nice, drama-free guild, regardless of size, here are some things to help keep it drama-free.
1. Read the rules on the guild membership forums, if there are any. If there aren’t, ask an officer or the GM what guidelines for behavior are expected within the guild. Don’t assume because you see people acting a certain way in guild chat that you know how things are supposed to go. People might be behaving improperly because they think there’s not an officer on to see what’s happening. You don’t have to contribute to that, because other people might be online who, just because they’re not speaking, are unhappy with what’s being said or done.
2. Don’t take it upon yourself to be the “guild police”. Are you an officer? No? Calling out someone in gchat about language, topic, or behavior could just start more drama. If you are so distressed about what’s happening, whisper to an officer. If no officer is present, you could try to whisper the person who is upsetting you, but be diplomatic, explain what is wrong, state your piece, and be done. Avoid starting an argument. If the person remains difficult, make note and talk to an officer as soon as one is present. Screenshot any behavior that you find particularly offensive.
3. One person’s definition of “guild-mate” is different from another’s. For example, some people feel that they cannot, in good faith, charge guildies for items, enchants, etc. Others don’t feel the need to be that selfless. Unless something is stated in the rules, no one is obligated to provide freebies for guild-mates. Just because that’s a standard you might hold yourself to, doesn’t mean that it’s a standard everyone must uphold. That’s on you, and you alone.
4. If a guild-mate is so out of hand that you cannot stand to read what they say, and you feel you must put them on ignore, then do so without making a public statement about it. If you want to whisper an officer about it, that’s fine. But the broadcast, “Well, I hate putting a guild-mate on ignore, but So-and-so is on my list now,” is unnecessary drama. The whole guild doesn’t need to hear about your ignore list, or your self-important comment. Same goes with a gquit. You might want to whisper a few people to say goodbyes, or let an officer know behind the scenes. But the dramatic exit announcement is unnecessary.
5. Unless you know that it’s ok otherwise, keep guild chat the way you would behave at work. Avoid hot button issues, such as politics and religion. Even sports talk can be fraught with danger unless guildies know how to keep partisanship and temper in check. The best rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t say it at work, don’t say it in gchat until you are comfortable with the situation and know your audience.
6. Don’t turn your guild into your own personal dating pool or need for attention. You know the types. Guys who hit on all the girls. Or, girls who are experiencing their first taste of the attention they get from all the gamer guys that they say provocative things to keep that attention going. Guilds are meant for friendship, camaraderie, and gameplay. Not Match.com. And if someone, anyone, asks you to stop flirting with or hitting on them, do so immediately, officer or not. No guildie should be made uncomfortable by explicit talk of a sexual nature, or unwanted advances, Again, if you wouldn’t do it at work, don’t do it in guild.
7. Interpersonal relationships within guilds can be cute when things are going well. They’re not so cute when things are going poorly. Please keep your couple-hood drama out of general guild conversation or gchat. It’s nobody’s business but your own, and you can bet that aside from being nosey, no one wants to hear about it.
8. If you are unhappy with guild leadership, please discuss what issues you’re having with officers, up to the GM if necessary. Staging an insurrection in gchat is not the way to handle things, even if you’re trying to garner support. Keep in mind that there may be members who are perfectly content and who might worry that their happy home is fractured. If you find a guild situation unbearable, just leave, quietly, without drama. Get battle tags of friends you want to keep in touch with so you don’t have to worry about losing touch when you join or form a new guild.
9. If you feel the level of gameplay by your guildies in a group or raid setting is not up to par with your own, there is no need to say so in gchat. No need to link meters, or publicly pine that there’s no progressions because “some people” are not playing well and holding the team back. That might be as much of a team that guild has to offer. Help them if you can, and if your desires are for a more “‘leet” gaming experience that they seem incapable of achieving, find a new guild that suits your needs. Again, leave quietly. There’s no need to make others feel bad. They’re probably doing the best they can.
10. Be careful how you characterize your guild on social media such as Facebook or Twitter if many of your guild-mates are connected there. Don’t tweet about how much better you are than the rest of your guild because they called your class OP and you’re always top dps. Don’t comment about what you hate about the rules, or the officers, or the lack of things to do. Don’t assume that your guildies will never see it. They often do. Social media drama turns into guild drama, and vice versa.
11. Officers, don’t be tyrants. Rules are rules, but be even and consistent with how you enforce them. No favoritism for friends. Responses should be in whispers unless it’s something that needs to be broadcast in gchat, which is very rare and should be done in a general nature, not calling anyone out specifically. Humiliating guildies publicly is never cool. Being an officer comes with some responsibility to not just the guild, but the very real people within it.
12. Remember, screenshots are forever. Watch what you say and do under a guild tag. Even if you think no one can see, it can still come back and bite you in the ass. Same goes for social media, forum posts, and emails. If it’s something you don’t want getting back to another person, don’t put it in writing.
I’m starting a new addition to my blog: a role playing series with my main character in WoW, Lilu the night elf druid that I’ve played since 2006. I’ve never written role plays before, but it seems like a great creative exercise and provides additional content for my blog besides a timely real life gaming post. I hope you all enjoy my first attempt at fan fiction!
An arrow whizzed by my ear with a hissing whine. “Well,” I thought grimly to myself, “not how I was expecting to start this day.”
Why I didn’t expect it, I couldn’t begin to tell you. Being in harm’s way had been a commonplace experience since I had left my homeland in virtual exile. Shaming your family and outraging your leaders doesn’t exactly buy an easy path through the rest of your life. A life, which, if I didn’t get moving quickly, might be over in a few seconds.
Shaking the sleep from my head, I heard another arrow hiss and strike home in a nearby tree. I cleared my mind, filling it with only a feline form. My skin rippled and changed, limbs lengthening, fangs and claws extending, a downy gray fur sprouting over my body. And, in an instant, I was a large panther-like cat, crouching low as I stealthed through the bushes, virtually invisible to all but the keenest eyes. I had to discover who was shooting, and, most importantly, if they were they shooting at me.
I crept silently through the undergrowth, my soft cat paws not even cracking a twig. I heard a voice call out, “Did you hit it?” The reply: “No, it disappeared, but I’m sure I saw it.” Was it me they were really after? Who were they? How did they see me, shadow-melded in the crook between two trees, in the gloom of the deep shade? Cursing myself for letting sleep take over so completely that they could even get that near me, I crept closer, trying to get a look at my assailants.
“There it is!” the first voice cries. And I hear the hiss of another arrow, this time heading away from me. What was going on here? I kept creeping along until I reached the edge of a clearing in the trees. Now, I could see who was doing the shooting. There were two human youths, perhaps about 16 to 17 of their years of age. One had a shoddy looking bow with a ragged string. The other had a hatchet of some type, looking more suitable for chopping wood than for fighting an adversary. They were now looking away from me, away from the area where I had been resting.
A flash of light on the other side of the clearing revealed their target. It was a large glow-fly, about four feet in length, but harmless. The first voice, belonging to the “bowman”, cried out in triumph at its appearance. “I told you! See it?” He raised an arrow to his bow for another try, and missed again. His companion laughed at him. Meanwhile, it occurred to me that shape-shifting into my flight form may not be the safest method of escape around these two youngsters. I prowled away from the clearing, past another thicket of trees, then shape-shifted into my speediest land form, that of a giant elk. I raced away, sweeping my eyes from side to side, looking for danger as I ran. I realized that I was far too close to human settlements and decided to keep running until neither sound nor scent of them could be detected. I didn’t stop until I met the bottom of a boulder strewn hillside, and hid myself in an overgrowth of bushes and vines.
Yes, I can shape-shift, for I am a druid. No, I am more than that. My name is Lilu. I am one of the Quel’dorei. A night elf of Darnassus. My mother, a night elf priestess, would have seen me join her with the Sisterhood of Elune in the Temple of the Moon. My father… Well, let’s just say that I took more after him. He had been a druid, as well. Had been. He was killed by the Horde in one of their dreadful cities, or so the word was brought to us by one of his companions who had escaped. Or fled.
I had been a mere elfling at the time. I loved roaming the forests, talking with the beasts and the birds, climbing the tall trees under light of moon and stars. I wanted to be like my father, nomadic and free, roaming all of Azeroth, fighting for the Alliance. My mother thought it wasn’t a fitting life for a pretty elf girl, especially considering my father’s tragic but, as she felt, inevitable end. She envisioned me in white robes, serving Tyrandre in the Temple. My propensity for healing seemed to make this the logical choice. I mended various wounded creatures I found out in the woods, even a bear. That bear. It wasn’t his fault, but in a way, he was my undoing.
You see, I had returned home, bits of leaves in my shiny, silver hair from climbing around through the forest, and excitedly told my mother about the bear, how its leg had appeared crushed from a hunter’s snare, but I freed the bear and healed him so that he could limp home to safety. The bear was all that filled my mind… and then suddenly, it happened. My body shuddered uncontrollably, my back rounding as I dropped to the floor on all fours. My skin rippled, my mouth gaping as I saw talons extending from my fingers. It all happened so fast. My mother screamed, and I saw, in her mirror, the bear standing there. No, it was me. I was the bear in the mirror.
There was no assuaging my mother’s anguish and rage. She was not about to lose her only child the way she lost my father. To be a druid was to be one with nature, to roam abroad in the wilderness. The other priestesses spoke with me, and declared that since I was a druid, there was no longer any hope for me to become a Sister of Elune. From that day forward, my mother and I rarely spoke another word. She could hardly stand to look at me. I started spending most of my time in the Cenarion enclave in Darnassus, trying to learn to control and use my gifts from the druids there, avoiding my mother’s thin-lipped disapproval when I returned home. When I finally got to be old enough, I asked to join the Sentinels of Feathermoon Stronghold, under Shandris Feathermoon. I had to get away from Darnassus, from my mother, and the broken dreams and expectations that lay with both.
My mind snaps back to the present. I am exhausted. I had gotten precious little rest as it was before I had been interrupted by those human oafs. Then to make an extended run at full speed… I needed to find a more secure place to sleep. Shifting again to cat form, I prowled invisibly amongst the scree and boulders at the bottom of the hillside. I finally found what I was looking for: a little “cave” formed between boulders a bit higher up the hill. I sniffed the interior. It seemed like it had been used as a den before, but the scents were old and faint. Hoping that the disappearance of the former occupant was not a bad sign, I curl up to go to sleep, still stealthed. I could think about what happened with the Sentinels, and all the horror that followed, another time.
Big vs Small: Which guild is right for you?
Blizzcon 2014 Wrap-up!
Fem Fem Fem Logic on the Nexy Show!
Many of you in the World of Warcraft (WoW) community have, by now, seen Alt:ernative Chat’s post for her 10 Years::10 Questions project in preparation for WoW’s 10th Anniversary in November. I’m excited to be able to contribute toward this project, as WoW has been and will continue to be an important part of my life. So, without fanfare, I give you the questions, and my answers.
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
1. Why Did You Start Playing World of Warcraft?
I had heard of World of Warcraft for a year or so before I actually started playing. At that point, I was still looking for ways to network for career purposes, and I read an article in a business magazine about people using WoW as a means to network with like-minded people and open doors for possible job opportunities. Plus, I had purchased a new gaming PC and was looking for more titles to play. Sounded great to me! So I started the free trial in July of 2006.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
Once WoW was installed on my computer, I watched the opening cinematic. I saw a beautiful elf-like creature transform into a cat and run through the trees. I knew that’s what I wanted to be! I logged onto the suggested server, and when through character creation. There I saw the race and class of the girl in the cinematic: Night Elf, Druid. But what to name her? My childhood nickname, of course. And thus, Lilu, Night Elf Druid, was born on Anvilmar-US. There have been many server transfers and a name change over the years. She’s now Lilulicious in the <Convert to Raid> guild on Aerie Peak-US.
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
I felt that the Horde races were ugly (this was Vanilla, after all) and that they were the “bad guys” anyway. Plus, in doing a little pre-game research, I noticed that many Horde players somehow felt cooler because they were “outcasts”. I really wasn’t interested in the whole “being bad to be cool” thing. I’d had one brush with the law as a teenager, being “bad” was no longer of interest. So, I chose Alliance.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft, and why?
Without a doubt, it was downing the Lich King in 10 man normal mode. I had raided since the Burning Crusade expansion in a 25 man progression raiding guild: Black Temple, Serpentshrine Caverns, Hyjal. I switched guilds for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion into a 25 man raiding guild that was more my style, not so elitist. Unfortunately, the guild was run by a husband/wife team which split up just as we were getting deep into the Icecrown Citadel raid encounter, and the guild dissolved. Fortunately, myself and 9 others formed a 10 man group and resolved to finish what we started. And on July 20, 2010, the Lich King fell at our hands.
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game, and has this always been the case?
I thoroughly enjoy end-game content and raiding. I reached level 60 only a few days before the BC expansion, so any Vanilla raiding was done after the fact. But in BC, I discovered the adrenaline-fueled thrill ride of 25 man raiding. Not 10 man, but 25s. I enjoy the teamwork, the strategies, and the perseverance required to bring down a serious raid boss. As of late, my time commitments don’t allow me to raid much outside of doing LFR on-demand when time allows. But I still find that to be the content I consistently work towards at every expansion now.
6. Do you have an area in-game that you always return to?
Yes! Teldrassil and Ashenvale are my favorite zones to return to when I’m feeling nostalgic. I spent a lot of time there as I leveled my original character, Lilu. Perhaps more than typical because I was such a noob. I didn’t know about Wowhead, or add-ons like Quest Helper. I wandered throughout those zones seemingly forever (it took me moths and months to hit 60). But I was entranced by the beauty of the zones and the music there. It was truly a magical time. So, occasionally, I return to try to recapture those fond memories of when the World of Warcraft was new (to me).
7. How long have you /played, and has that been continuous?
I’ve been playing since July, 2006. I have never let my subscription lapse. I have taken a couple breaks. One was during the Cataclysm expansion, right when Dragonsoul came out. I was burned out from raiding, and my current guild had become a pit of drama thanks to yet another couple leading it that was undergoing a nasty break-up. I would log on from time to time to make sure I hadn’t been hacked, but I probably stayed away from actually playing the game for a good six months. I took another brief break during this current content lull, post-Pandaria, earlier this year for a couple months. I’ve now returned to leveling a few alts to 90 in preparation for the Warlords of Draenor expansion. My total /played time is about a year and a half, roughly, spread between 19 characters over 8 years.
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Not. Nor do I pay attention to the lore. To me, fake lore made up to suit a game doesn’t hold up as well as fake lore that was written before and upon which a game is based. If that makes any sense.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
Yes, I do have a few regrets. I sometimes lose confidence in myself and abilities that I often won’t try to get into a progression raid team anymore. I regret not finishing Dragonsoul at level. I’m hoping to finish Siege of Orgrimmar on flex or normal (non-LFR) difficulty to get a shot at the mount, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen in time.
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
Playing WoW has had one profound effect on my life: I was able to save enough money to put down on a house, which I did four years ago. I used to spend my money at bars, at the movies, at the mall, because I was bored. When I started WoW, I was locked firmly in the grips of obsession with the game. I stopped wasting money on stupid stuff to keep me occupied, and the money began to pool up in my savings account. Before long, I had enough to make a small down payment on a house, and now I’m a homeowner because of WoW.
Additionally, I have several real life friends (and one real life boyfriend) that I would not have made without WoW. Some are friends I actually visit with from time to time. Others are friends online only, but friends nevertheless. So many WoW players exhibit so much wit and vivacity that they add a lot of joy to my life. And my boyfriend… Well, that goes without saying.
WoW has meant a lot to me over the past several years, and I feel certain I’ll keep playing until the last server shuts down, even if it’s more of a hobby now than a hardcore obsession. I’m grateful for what it’s given me, and what it’s taught me about gaming, people, and relationships. Congratulations to Blizzard for World of Warcraft’s 10th Anniversary, and thank you, Alt:ernative Chat for inviting us to participate in the 10 Years::10 Questions project. I am open to any further questions, podcast participation, whatever you need, dear Mistress.
World of Warcraft, I’ve been running around on you with that little chippy, WildStar. I know that you and I have been together a long time. I feel like I know your every thought, your every quest, your every hill and vale. We’ve had some great times together, you and I. But now I’m thinking maybe I settled too quickly. There’s a whole wide world out there, full of new experiences. I’m not sure I’ve really seen all there is to see to commit myself to you alone. I don’t want to break up with you, but WoW… I’d like to start seeing some other games. I need to experiment. If what you and I had was really right, then I’ll be back. I know you probably feel betrayed, I know this seems disloyal. But if you love something, you have to set it free.
OK, that was more than a bit corny, but this is basically how I feel at this stage in my gaming life. I love WoW. I’ve invested a lot of years leveling characters, raiding, making friends, gaining achievements. This isn’t something I plan on throwing away. WoW is a major part of my life, and as long as the servers are active and the game is still running, I imagine it will continue to be so, even if on a more casual basis.
So, what leads me to stray? First, you can blame my boyfriend. He started it by getting me to try a new game in a genre I’d never tried before. Sure, I played a few other pc games before WoW, but once I discovered the beauty of the MMO, WoW was my main squeeze. Over the years of playing WoW, I had dabbled in a couple of other MMOs: Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). But none gave me the feeling that WoW did. They weren’t as well done (in my opinion), and the content wasn’t as fun or compelling. It was all WoW, all the time. Even the other Blizzard titles seemed like games to tide me over until a new WoW expansion or content patch hit.
My boyfriend, however, introduced me to League of Legends (LoL), my first MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). I sucked at it at first (I sorta still do), but I loved it. I had never played a game like that before. But he didn’t stop there. He got me to try more MMOs and really give them a chance. Forsaken World, Final Fantasy XIV, DC Universe Online, and lately, Rift. Through him, I got a new perspective on gaming. I didn’t have to devote my gameplay to one game and one game only. I could play whatever struck my fancy, depending on my mood from day to day. I know that it seems like a “Duh!” statement, but only recently have I discovered that I’m not the only one who thought like that.
I discovered this fact because of this little game called WildStar. Every MMO that comes along gets people talking about whether or not this will be the so-called “WoW-killer.” WildStar had a lot of hype built up about it. Its beta testing and release dates were right in the middle of one of the longest content lulls WoW has ever seen. People were excited about WildStar; more and more folks started talking about it. I couldn’t resist it. I had to try it. It was new and fun and colorful, and it didn’t take itself too seriously. I was all in, as were many other current and former WoW players.
What brought the issue to a head was, upon its pending release, the backlash from people who considered playing another MMO as “disloyal to WoW,” or to Blizzard Entertainment as a company. While I’m sure that Blizzard doesn’t mind this way of thinking, it doesn’t really make any sense. Playing a game doesn’t call for an oath of fealty. We don’t make vows never to touch another game when we accept Blizzard’s terms of service. We play games to have fun. And fun can be found in more than one title.
Indeed, some of the negativity surrounding the WildStar release has been surprising. I can understand people not wanting to pay another subscription. Times are still tough, everyone is stretching their entertainment dollars. But some of the comments from those in social media circles go beyond a matter of economics. In the face of so many people excited to play this new game, we’ve heard things like, “WildStar looks stupid.” “It’s just WoW in space.” “Give it a couple months and it’ll be free to play anyways.” “I don’t understand people being disloyal to Blizzard.”
I heard something on the podcast Tauren Think Tank (Episode 102) that spoke to how people behaved when they didn’t get an alpha invite for the new Blizzard MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. One of the hosts mentioned something about inclusiveness, and what feelings come forth when people don’t feel included with “the group.” I suspect that’s what’s happening here with WildStar. People who, for whatever reason, have not gotten in on this new game are feeling like they’re not part of the excitement. They feel left out, and sadly, negativity is their only response to these feelings.
Folks, you don’t have to be loyal to one game or one game company. There are a lot of good free to play MMOs, MOBAs, and similar games out there. You are missing out on worlds of different content and play styles. You may think you don’t have time to devote to other games, but no one’s saying you have to be hardcore in whatever you try. Have fun! Experiment! You can still play WoW and enjoy other games, too! See what elements can be found in these games that you never knew existed, which you can use as valuable feedback to Blizzard about what changes you’d like to see in WoW.
But above all, don’t ruin the experiences of others who have decided to take the leap away from WoW to try new games. If you’re disinterested, fine. You don’t have to be negative. Be happy for people who are excited, don’t resent them for it. Let us have our fun. We’re not abandoning you. We aren’t changing as people because we’ve changed games during the WoW pre-expansion lull. Many of us will continue to play WoW, too. Most of us will be back to share the excitement of Warlords of Draenor when it’s released. In the meantime, I challenge you to try an entirely new game, if you haven’t already. You might be surprised how it changes your entire gaming perspective as a whole.
When I was a teenager, my life revolved around music and the popular bands of the moment. This is going to date me a bit, but my big “crush” band was Duran Duran. I knew everything about them. Their birthdays, their height, where they were born; it was almost as if this information was more important than the music they actually produced. I had posters of them everywhere. I was desperate for every scrap of news or photo I could get of them. I was a total fangirl!
Flash forward to present day. Muse is my one of my favorite bands ever. I know little to nothing about them. I know of Matt Bellamy, I think one of the band member’s names is Dominic. I couldn’t tell you when they were born, where they were born (except the UK), and I probably wouldn’t recognize one of them on the street if I were to pass them. I don’t know their personal opinions on politics (except in song), equal rights, religion, or society as a whole. I only know that I love their music, their lyrics, and their melodies. That music strikes a chord within me that makes these other aspects unimportant.
It therefore puzzles me greatly how we, as a gaming community, have elevated our game developers to celebrity status. We treat them like rock stars, and we’re their adoring fans. Who are these people that so many of us should hang on their every word? Why should anyone be excited if they get a mention from one on Twitter? And why would we expect their words, whether through social media or in an interview, to be anything other than their personal opinion and thus they are entitled to it?
To me, these game developers are not celebrities. They’re employees. They work for a company. They get their paychecks with taxes and Medicare taken out just like everyone else. They get in to work in the morning and have to deal with their email inbox just like you and I. They are people. Just regular ol’ people working a J-O-B. And just like regular ol’ people, they have their own opinions about their job, the games they work on, and life in general.
Should it be a surprise when one of them makes a gaffe that implies that somehow their employer feels the same way as the employee? No. It’s to be expected. They’re not public relations people, they’re game developers. Dealing with the public is not their calling. And their word is not gospel. The owners and shareholders of their company have the final word. And that word will be issued in a carefully prepared press release, like any other company. One developer’s interview or tweet does not equate an entire company’s viewpoint. While it could be argued that it’s indicative of a systemic problem, it does not mean that every employee, manager, executive, owner, or shareholder of that company feels the same way.
We all know the latest controversy surrounding Blizzard, and from whence it came. There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not this employee’s words were taken out of context or twisted to fit an agenda. That’s not what I’m looking to solve here. I just want to remind you all to take one man’s word with a grain of salt. He’s just one person. He wasn’t reading a prepared press release; it was just him, shooting off the cuff. His audience has made him more important than he needs to be, and thus his words held greater weight than they deserved.
What we should all remember is how these games make us feel when we play them. The content and its immersive fantasy world is what compelled us to play to begin with. What do these games touch within us? By and large, we’ve all enjoyed Blizzard games for years. There may be reasons why we decide that these games are no longer for us: lack of content, repetitiveness, other hobbies, real life, or the feeling that the game doesn’t reflect our society as we see it. But don’t let one employee’s remarks change how you view something that once gave you pleasure. He’s just a guy. A regular ol’ guy, like the rest of us.
And so, here we are again, friends. New controversy over something that benefits those dirty casuals and new players again. The recently introduced paid Level 90 Character Boost (herein after known as “the Boost”) in the World of Warcraft. For the low, low (not really so low) price of $60, you can mint a brand new 90! Without lifting a finger to level! Just lift your wallet, and it’s yours! “What is this game coming to? It’s pay to win now! There are going to be tons of people with new 90s who are under-geared and don’t know how to play. They’re going to ruin this game! You think LFR was bad before, just imagine what it will be like now! That’s it, I’m canceling my subscription! This game is no longer fun for me because these people didn’t ‘earn’ their 90’s like I did! With blood, sweat, and tears. I walked in a blizzard (no pun intended) to level this toon, and I had no shoes, and it was uphill… BOTH WAYS!!!”
Yeah, ok. Calm down and sit back down in your rocker, Grandpa. This is some of the reaction I’ve read about the Boost, both on the official WoW forums and on social media sites like Twitter. The paid Level 90 Character Boost Service is now live through the Blizzard store. One free Boost is given with the pre-order of the WoD expansion. This means that, as we speak, the unwashed masses of newborn level 90’s are swarming across realms like locusts. But what does it really mean in terms of game play? More importantly, what, or who, does it hurt?
What you get for your $60 is one character taken from level 1 to level 90, given $150 gold, 4 embersilk bags, a set of 483 ilvl gear, a stack of food, a faction specific mount, artisan flying, and regional flying skills trained. If you Boost a character level already at level 60 or higher, you also get existing professions and first aid maxed out. Well, gosh, doesn’t seem too OP to me. It’s not like you’ll just be able to trump all the heroic-geared players, auction house gold makers, and the poor embersilk bag sellers! OK, what else ya got? Nothing? Well, how the hell is that pay to win? The 483 ilvl gear will get you into the lower LFRs and the Timeless Isle. Not exactly raid ready for a heroic 10 man, if you know what I mean.
“Ah,” the critics say, “but the people who Boost their toons won’t know how to play them.” That is indeed likely in a lot of instances. Does this mean they can’t learn? No. We all had to learn. It might mean experienced players may have to help educate them if they’re grouped and hope to make it through a dungeon. But does that really hurt anything, other than the misplaced sense of elitism that they’re above helping new players? And who’s to say a Boosted character belongs to a new player, anyway? You know what I intend to do with my free Boost? I’m going to roll a boomkin on the Horde side to play with my friends over there. My Alliance main has been a boomkin since 2006, and I refuse to transfer her to Horde. I guarantee you that my newly Boosted Horde boomkin plays the exact same way as the Alliance one. Even if I wasn’t familiar with a class, I’ve been around the game long enough to pick it up quickly, and let’s face it: end-game specs and rotations are seldom the same as those used for leveling. You always have a learning curve when you hit end game with an organically raised toon.
The truth of the matter is that “Character Boosts,” in some form or fashion, have been around since the inception of the game. How about paying someone to power level your toon? Remember when you saw toons for sale on eBay, complete with epics? And please, let us not forget Recruit a Friend. The latest iteration of RaF gave one “grantable” level to one of the recruiter’s characters for every two levels the recruit’s character earned. So, for instance, I created a second account to be a recruit for my boyfriend. We leveled two pairs of toons to level 80, a total of 160 levels for me, the recruit, across both toons. That allowed 80 grantable levels I could give to a toon of his. We took his level 1 druid to 80 in one shot, granting levels. So, how is that any different from a paid Boost? The money for sub time comes out to be almost the same. I guess we had to work at it a little, but he wound up with 3 level 80s while only physically leveling 2, and that’s with the triple XP that comes with being grouped together under RaF. Again, here’s an (almost) max-level toon that hasn’t been played, and has no gear. Looks like practically the same end result to me as the paid Boost.
And what is this obsession with a WoW “work ethic,” anyway? There’s an assumption that if you don’t want to level a toon, you must be lazy. WRONG!! How about… no time? No time to squeeze in a LFR or Flex raid here and there, PLUS level a toon. I just heard someone say in a podcast that if you couldn’t get a toon to level 90 by the time WoD came out, maybe you should get into another game. Really? Find me the hours to do so. Or find the hours for any one of a number of people with outside responsibilities, jobs, families, and a desire for a taste of real life. Does that really make them lazy? Or do they just not have the same luxury of free time that someone else might?
Does the Boost help dirty casuals like myself? Yes, because there are classes that I’d like to play at end-game that I absolutely know I won’t be able to get leveled while still maintaining activity on my current stable. Will it help new players, some of which may be under similar time constraints? Absolutely! Are either a bad thing? NO! Ability and/or desire to purchase a Boost has no serious impact on anyone else’s game play. They won’t be showing up in regular, flex, or heroic raids anyway, because raid leaders will be able to sort them out. They’ll be in LFR, where normal-mode raiders really don’t need to be. Struggling with the rest of us casuals. Adding players and subscriptions to the game. Boosting server populations and stimulating AH economies. Yeah, that’ll really ruin the game. Tell me another one, Grandpa…
“Oh, these stupid casuals. They just ruin everyone’s fun in the World of Warcraft. Blizzard is killing the game catering to them. They don’t know what they’re doing, they’re never prepared, they want people to carry them, and why can’t I get an LFR group that isn’t full of them?” Sound familiar, casuals? Or maybe you’re one of those “real raiders” who says these things. Well, it’s high time to bust right through the “casual” stereotype and talk about casual players in their many different forms.
Among a self-proclaimed “elite” subset of the WoW player base, “casual” is a dirty word. If you’re a casual, you clearly paid for your toon on eBay, or (even worse) are a new player. Everyone know casuals are the only ones who die standing in the fire. If you’re a tank, you can’t hold aggro; if you’re DPS, the tank can do more damage; and if you’re a healer, you’re just fail. The worst nightmare to one of these über gamers is getting an LFR full of under-geared or new players. They won’t be able to blast through this optional content in 15 minutes, and even worse, they may actually have to help someone learn something. Oh, the humanity!
I can’t speak for every player who has been called a casual. A casual can, in fact, be any one of the stereotypes perpetuated by these “elite” players. But there are other shades of casual, too. What about folks experienced in other MMO’s but who are new to WoW? What about the person forced into “casual” status due to real life constraints, not incompetence. And this is probably an ever-growing number of gamers, considering the aging player base of the MMO genre.
The best way I can describe this is by using myself as an example. I am a casual. I’m not ashamed to say it. I work a ten hour day, my commute takes about 90 minutes each way, and for health purposes, I cook fresh food for dinner. I sit on two different boards outside of work, both of which have scheduled evening meetings as well as emergency and committee meetings. My schedule is unpredictable and insanely busy. And somewhere in there, household chores and time spent with my horses has to be carved out. Finding game time some weeks is like squeezing blood from a rock.
So, because I’m a casual who only has LFR gear, does that mean I don’t know what I’m doing when I raid? No! I wasn’t always this busy. I was a progression raider through BC and WotLK. I started raiding Cata before WoW burnout set in. I would squirrel out of work, grab some take out, and rush home to make raid four nights a week, three hours a night. I loved raiding, I loved getting gear, and I enjoyed the teamwork involved with a set raid group. I am also very responsible, and now that my life is more complicated, I don’t like to leave anyone hanging when my schedule has to take an abrupt turn. So, I’ve turned to LFR.
I may be a casual, but I don’t take raiding casually. Even LFR. My gear is gemmed, enchanted, and reforged. I’ve at least reviewed a video of the fight before I go in for the first time. I study my rotations, make sure I have the appropriate add-ones, and put in my best effort on every fight. Each new raid encounter is sort of a combination of old mechanics, with a few new twists. I consider myself an experienced raider, so just because I don’t have a lot of time to run content doesn’t mean I can’t pick up on instructions quickly. I try to get in on some flex raids for better gear, but most of the time, I’m home too late or have too little time to do anything but a wing of LFR. And honestly, some flex groups consider me under-geared in my upgraded LFR drops. You know… sort of like a casual.
But, let’s say, for the sake of argument, I was a new player to MMOs in general, WoW to be specific? The longevity of this game we love depends upon new players coming into the fold to replace those who leave for good . It certainly must be discouraging to these players to face people who will put them down, criticize their performance, or say “/uninstall, noob!” We, as veteran players, whether experienced “casuals” or “elite” hardcore raiders, should feel a duty to make these players feel welcome, not scare them off. Some casuals won’t want help, and won’t take it seriously. But for others, you might open their eyes to a whole new way to play their class, see more of the end game content, and provide utility to their LFR group. We don’t come into the world knowing how to play games at a high level. We had to learn. And I’ll bet we all had some kindly, patient, long-suffering soul who helped us figure out what to do to become the players we are now.
Go easy on casuals. Look past the LFR gear and lack of in-game raid achievements. These things don’t tell the whole story about a player’s potential. You may be surprised what experience these folks can bring to your group. Or you might just be the person who opens the eyes of a new player, to show them all that is achievable in this World of Warcraft.
Next Week: 50 Shades of Casual, Part 2: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Boost?
“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”
Perhaps it’s irony that I would choose to write this post in February, the month of love. After all, Valentine’s Day has just passed, with its pink hearts and Singles Awareness Day jokes. To quote an old Johnny Lee song, a lot of people are looking for love in all the wrong places. Honestly, I’m a little fed up with it. I’m not the only woman who is. Perhaps some of the guys have stories of their own, because the topic of today’s post is not exclusively “men-on-women”. I’m talking about online “creeping”, and it can happen to anyone. However, the focus of this post is toward the most prevalent, men “creeping” on women. I’ll be using Twitter as the prime example, since that’s where I spend the majority of my social media time.
What is “Creeping”?
“Creeping,” it would seem, doesn’t have a solid definition across the board, and it probably has different definitions for different people. Even Urban Dictionary can’t agree. It might be the perusal of the social media accounts of friends and family that you’ve lost track of for a while. It may be a seemingly obsessive interest in the social media accounts of a romantic interest (whether or not the target knows they’re a romantic interest, who’s to say). It may be harassment via direct message or other private form of communication. This certainly is a far less benign form of creeping, especially to the recipient.
So, then, what would be considered Twitter creeping? For some people, it’s not much. There are people who consider the excessive “favoriting” of tweets, or constant responses to every tweet, to be creeping. For others, it may be the type of response to a woman’s tweet, something that sounds like an obvious come-on or is lewd or sexualized. And yet for others, it may be direct messages (DMs) of a persistent nature that makes the user feel uncomfortable. In any event, if someone asks you to stop a type of behavior directed toward them on Twitter, you should stop immediately. Much like in sexual harassment training on the job, it’s not your intent that makes the harassment, it’s how the victim perceives it. It’s never ok to make someone uncomfortable if they’ve made it clear that you’re doing so.
Making the Creepy even Creepier: The Insidiousness of the DM
I don’t think there’s any inherent novelty in being a woman on the internet. However, in certain male-dominated communities, being a female can draw a certain amount of unwelcome attention. The gaming community is a prime example of this. People “hit on” female characters in-game, without any awareness of whether or not it’s actually a female on the other end of the keyboard. Males hear a female voice on Mumble or Ventrilo during a group raid or run, and start whispering the person speaking. And in social media, like Twitter, if you dare make it known you’re a woman, you open yourself up to be creeped on. Especially if you’re so audacious as to feel safe enough to put your photo as your avatar. And why wouldn’t you? After all, plenty of guys do it without negative effect, why shouldn’t you?
In point of fact, 9 times out of 10, most guys you meet on Twitter or in-game won’t ever offer to say or do anything to make you feel uncomfortable, and if they do, most are very responsive to a request to keep things light and casual. But for that 10th, look out. Maybe you’ll get “lucky” and he’ll restrict his remarks to a public setting, where you can rebuke him publicly. It’s only your personal comfort level that tells you when to say when, and when to pull the plug and block the user.
What I find to be the most insidious abuse of social media by a creeper, though, is the use of the DM. These people will play it safe in the public eye. They project an image of themselves as just “being friendly”. They might make a joke or two, perhaps gauging your responses to see if there’s some interest. And then the DMs start. Unwelcome, unbidden, and unwanted. DM’s that, without preamble or warning, ask about your marital status, or make comments on your physical appearance. DMs that range anywhere from uncomfortable to downright obscene. If you’re young, inexperienced, shy, or have been victimized in the past, these DMs can be very damaging. They cause confusion, apprehension, maybe even intimidation, especially if they’re from people you might be interacting with in-game, such as guildies or raid teammates.
I’ll give you some examples. This guy was a gamer that followed me out of nowhere one day. It seemed like some of his followers were people I knew, so I followed him back. I never had a regular interaction with him on Twitter. Maybe two weeks after the follow, the first DM comes in. How’s my day, what do I do, where (vaguely) do I live. I’m not really comfortable with all that, because I’m starting to get the feeling the conversation is leading toward something I might not like. And I wasn’t disappointed.
So, at this point, I realize that this guy isn’t taking no for an answer. I’m naturally a nice person, I hate being rude, and was trying to deflect his “compliments” and advances without being cruel. But he wasn’t taking the hint. Since I didn’t really know him, or have an established rapport with him on Twitter in more public channels, I realized I didn’t have to deal with him, so I blocked him. He didn’t need to be allowed an explanation.
Or this guy. Here, this a WoW guildie. Here is someone I will probably run into in-game at some point. This could obviously be a sticky situation. He seemed rather well-respected by some of the more prominent of my guildmates. He’s got his wife in his avatar picture. He made a couple of jokes publicly about things I tweeted that sounded “dirty”. I’ll admit to a gutter mind, I enjoy dabbling in double entendre. I happened to post a selfie one day. Well, the first DM rolls in. He said he liked my tweets and jokes, they sounded “dirty” to him. I told him that I enjoyed making bad jokes, and that it often caused problems because people take it the wrong way, think that I mean more than I’m saying, that it’s an invitation. Here was his response.
Well, that’s lovely, isn’t it? Here, I had just got finished telling him I just liked to joke, and this was what I got. So, why didn’t he make the “nice rack” comment out in the public, as a response to my selfie tweet? Was he worried about other guildies seeing it? His wife even? There was a reason he decided to go underground with the DM. I didn’t waste any time being nice on this one. That was an insta-block. I’m not looking for that kind of attention on Twitter. But, as you can see, I kept screenshots for myself in case there’s any guild drama resulting from my pre-emptive strike.
These guys are not the only ones. I’ve had several. And I’m not some ultra-sexy “gamer girl” waif who tries to be sexy. I’m just a regular girl. Some of these guys came out of the blue and disappeared as such. Some are more tenured members of the gaming community. Some I’ve blocked. Others, because I’ve valued their friendship and felt it was worth salvaging, I made it very clear that I had no interest in them other than friends. The “keepers” backed off, per my request. I greatly appreciate that, and we’re still friends to this day.
Who’s Really to Blame Here?
So, do I, or other women, bring this upon ourselves with our behavior? I have a dirty mind, I like to make jokes of things that could have a sexual nature. Does that mean I’m inviting being hit on? No. There shouldn’t be any confusion with regard to this. Twitter isn’t eHarmony. Neither is World of Warcraft. No one ever taught these men that what women say, look like, or wear is not an open invitation for flirting. My Twitter avatar is just a picture of my face. There’s no cleavage. I once had someone DM me to tell me that because my Twitter handle was Lilulicious, I was trying to be sexy. Really? Let me tell you, even if I posted a picture of myself in a low-cut cami with a name like LiluXXX, it doesn’t give anyone the right to DM me with insulting come-ons. And some women are treated to far worse in their DMs. If a dick pic is your big lead in, you wouldn’t be the type of guy I’m looking for even if I was looking.
Someone once told me that just by being nice to some guys, that alone was invitation enough. Now, isn’t that pathetic? But I believe that to be true for some. I had an older coworker who once told me that I was so friendly and outgoing that he thought I was “good to go.” I saw an internet meme once that said, “I’m not angry with you for not liking me back, I’m angry at you for not even giving me a chance.” OK, what is that? What makes any man think he is owed a chance to get with me? He’s not. No one is owed anything. If I’m looking, and I’ve spent some time talking with him publicly, and I like what I’ve seen so far, maybe. But neither I nor any other woman owes any man “a chance”, whether she’s single and looking or not.
What Can Be Done?
Ladies, you ultimately have control of who can contact you on social media. If you don’t think you can handle the kind of unwarranted attention being a girl in the gaming world can bring, consider using a game character or other artwork for your avatar. Be cautious how far you let any Twitter follower or in-game friend into your social media network, at least until you get to know the person a little better. Only make contact with people in ways that you can easily block or banish or ignore them. Keep screenshots of any unwelcome behavior. You might want them for the authorities, you might want them to defend yourself against slanderous accusations by a rejected guy who wants to say cruel untruths, or say that you were leading him on. You may want to be able to show your guild leaders should trouble crop up in-game. You don’t have to drag them out to have him publicly flogged, but you also might find other women who are having the same problem with this person, and screenshots can corroborate this. Most importantly, you don’t have to take this kind of behavior. If this is someone who you like as a friend or fellow gamer, then ask them to stop. If they respect that, great. If not, block them. If there’s nothing about this person you want as a friend, block them. You have the power, and provided you haven’t divulged too much information about yourself, they’re not going to find you.
Men, the burden lies upon you to not be creeps. Don’t make advances toward women in-game or via DM. If in doubt, ask a woman if it’s ok to DM her. Don’t read anything into what a woman might say in a public setting. Don’t mistake her kindness for interest in you. Don’t grasp at straws that she may be flirting with you and come at her with guns blazing. What if it was your sister? Your mom? Don’t get angry if you’re asked to stop a certain behavior, even if your intention wasn’t malicious. Respect the wishes of the woman you’ve messaged if she says you’re making her uncomfortable. Don’t continue to approach. Apologize and move on.
The gaming community will be a better, safer, more comfortable place for us all.