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The One About Identity and Culpability…

“To ensure all participants in the Arena Tournament have the best experience possible, there will be a zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate character or Arena team names created on the Arena Tournament realm.

Characters with inappropriate names will be deleted. This means that you will need to customize another template from scratch and re-earn all personal and hidden ratings. Keep in mind that in a later phase of the Arena Tournament team rosters will be locked down. If your character is deleted during this time, no exceptions will be made and your team will need to use whoever is left on that roster in order to continue competing.

Arena teams with names deemed inappropriate will be dissolved. This means that you will need to create another charter for your team and climb back up from a rating of zero.

Please think twice before naming your characters and Arena teams!”

I have to admit that my eyes widened a little when I read this blue post in my RSS feed the other day. Is Blizzard actually drawing a line in the sand?

Let’s take a closer look at this a little closer. Yes, we all know that harassment and inappropriate names are all against the EULA– however Blizzard has never made such an explicit statement comment regarding naming. I find it more interesting that Blizzard feels they need to make this distinction. Of course Blizzard is covering all types of inappropriate names, including racism, sexism, domestic violence, etc– and for that I applaud them. I really want to dive into this a bit more as to why does this need to happen?

Many of you know I am very open about my sexuality. I started this project (Tales of a Priest) with the intent of keeping a fair amount of personal anonymity.  While I’m open about my sexuality, I’m not “wave it around like a big old rainbow flag” open about it. I don’t put it into every post, tweet, or comment I make. I’m always of the mindset, “If it comes up, it comes up.” My sexuality is only part of my identity in real life, why should it be more than only part of my identity in game or on this blog?

Let’s be real, Trade Chat (and the Internet itself) is littered with asshats, plain and simple. Why is that the case? I highly recommend everyone taking a look at this article by John Suler called The Psychology of CyberSpace. Mr. Suler does a really good job discussing why we do things online that we wouldn’t necessarily do them “IRL”; a good read.

How many times have you seen, “oh that’s gay” or, “fag” used in trade chat? How about, “girls can’t play WOW,” “get back in the kitchen,” or, “so-and-so jewed me on this GDKP run?” Probably more times than you notice. It’s a result of the “you don’t know me!” and “you can’t see me!” mantra that the Internet provides. People approach the game as if they have a shroud, often disassociating reality from the game. Why should they be culpable for what they do in a MAKE BELIEVE world?

(c)2004 Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins

In an online universe, people say things that they would never say in a real life environment. Call me naive, but I highly doubt any of these people actually mean what they are saying.

I’ll use “fag” as an example, because it’s one that affects me personally. The word has a negative connotation. Does that mean I have to accept that people say it? No, it doesn’t. But I don’t feel compelled to go around correcting everyone, informing them of the origin of the word faggot and its association with a negative term for gay men, either.

Still, I’m not afraid to make a comment here and there if something irritates me or bothers me. If someone is bold enough to personally call me a faggot or is otherwise negative towards me in game, I’ll confront them. If someone in raid goes, “that’s so gay!” I often times reply with, “yeah, it’s so damn straight!” A friend of mine will say, “Yeah, but not as gay as me sleeping with your dad.” It’s hyperbole, and that’s the point — to show how absurd it sounds.

People will ridicule and mock things that are different or that which they don’t understand. It doesn’t mean that we have to put up with it. But as a gay gamer, I should be prepared to deal with it.

There are plenty of good people who do recognize who you are as a whole (or as much as you can show through an internet friendship). Many of my good friends I have made in game understand that my sexuality is only part of who I am. My guild knows I am one of our strongest healers, and that’s that. We do ”spar” with sexuality and whatnot in guild chat and Ventrilo, but it really is all in good fun. If I was offended and said something, they would recognize that offense and correct it because they respect me as a person. Through happenstance, I have become real life friends with many people in the WOW community. I’ve met several players in real life and consider many of them friends. The WOW community, and the Internet for that matter, allow all of us to meet people we otherwise would not have met (or “met”) — and for that I am grateful. Much love to many of my guildmates (Avalonna included), Seven and Brian of Raid Warning, Leech of This is OutcastedThespius, Fox a Fellow Blogger/Bostonian/new guildmate, and many others. All of these people are exceptionally diverse, and we respect one another for who we are as a whole person, not just one aspect of our identity.

Who your raiders are in real life is ultimately irrelevant to your gameplay. Are they a woman? Are they in a wheelchair? Are they gay? Are they black? Are they Jewish? It doesn’t matter. They are your main tank. They are your top DPS. They are your clutch healer. You should raid and respect them as a player and as a tank/dps/healer. But just as being a tank/DPS/healer is only part of their identity, so too do these other parts of their identity comprise only PART of their identity.

If they are solid players and your raid is ultimately better as a result of them being in it, respect that fact in and of itself. That is the point that Blizzard is trying to make with their post the other day. Yes, part of it is to make the WOW community a friendlier place, of course, but ultimately a good player is a good player is a good player.

I am sure people will disagree with this post, in fact, I’d bet on it. Frankly, I don’t care. This faggot is a far better priest than you and I’ll hit you with my purse if you say otherwise.

Written By: on May 4, 2010
  1. This post is so gay.

    Kidding aside, it’s no secret that our guild can seem offensive & crude to outsiders, but we all know there is a huge differance between believing in stereotypes & laughing at them. All the joking is just that – joking. We’re comfortable enough with each other to do that.

    Derevka is no more ashamed about being gay than I am being female. It’s who were are, but it’s not ALL we are. We both have layers & colors beyond that – THAT’S who we are.

    I’m well known for shocking comments & jokes, but I think it’s pretty obvious I’m joking. But enough of this – I have to get back in the kitchen and get Derevka & Ranedor a sandwich before I get beat.

  2. If you don’t mind me making a personal note here…
    I recall, after following you and Ava on twitter for a few weeks, thinking:
    “Why the hell is Ava always going on and on about calling you gay/girly?”
    “Well damn, he’s really taking those blows like a man! Go Derevka!”
    “.. Ohhh!”
    If it weren’t for the jokes and sexual references on Twitter (and some podcasts.. ) I probably wouldn’t have known.

    It may sound strange, but I appreciate the less ‘in your face’ attitude you have towards that. I followed you for your priest knowledge, ideas, experience and blog. I respected you for those reasons … such personal details being less relevant.
    Not that there’s any problem with ‘outing’ but it makes me wonder ‘does that really matter that much?’. Unless I’m trying to use Twitter and this wow community as a dating network, I doubt it.

    Still, ‘gay jokes’ are common even in my friend circle. Calling eachother gay is part of our group’s humor… the gay friends in the group joining in ;)
    I can’t help feeling they are fundamentally different from the trade-channel jokes though. I guess… underlying respect does come accross despite the jokes IRL.

    Underlying respect is tricky to get accross over the internet. Does it mean sexual references in names are, by definition, insulting? Perhaps not, but while one joke can be part of your groups humor and be ‘understood as just a joke’, it may come accross quite differently to other people. In fact, the same reference could even feel different to the same person, depending on who it comes from.

    I can understand Blizzard reacts to this. I’m happy they are being more severe about it. I guess some people may find themselves limited in their self expression but I recall gaming communities roughly 14 years ago where such jokes were considered “not done” and it didn’t stop them from being fun, engaging and social.

    Anyways, enough emo stuff.

  3. This faggot is a far better priest than you and I’ll hit you with my purse if you say otherwise.

    Too Funny…. I love it….

  4. Awesome post, Just awesome.

    I cant applaud enough your cavalier approach towards the joking and kidding around about sexual orientation. I like to kid about it too, but sometimes need to strive for calm and tolerance when the gay jokes get a little rough. I think it helps that i am a female and considered “only” bi. But you will see the gaming fur fly when I get told (and it happens more often than it should) that my GF and I are only gay because we secretly want men to think we are hot. >.<

    But lolwut stories aside, my favorite comeback to hearing someone say something like, 'omg, that's so gay" is to smile and calmly say, "Why Thank You =)".

    cheers!

  5. Great post and thanks for the “thats so gay” replys, i’ve never quite worked out what to say to that while I’m in game :)

  6. Finally, I’m glad someone else in the blogosphere is picking up on this announcement in particular :) I can’t say I entirely agree with everything you’ve said here, but I agree with the overall message that respect is important to us all, and seeing other players as more than ‘priest’ or ‘dps’ or ‘tank’ is a step towards making the game more enjoyable for yourself and for those you encounter.

  7. Thanks, Derevka. I’ve always hated (a word I rarely use) racism and bigotry in WoW chat (trade, guild or otherwise) as much as I do IRL. And although you’re right — I see a lot more of it in WoW chat than I do in real life — I sometimes wonder if the internet’s cloak of anonymity isn’t just another form of “in vino veritas” — the expression suggesting that when a person is drunk s/he loosens up and says things s/he wouldn’t ordinarily say, but really means (in wine there is truth). I bristle whenever I see it in chat.

    Some of my closest friends over the years have been gay, and I’m Jewish. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with racism and bigotry in chat, and I’m glad to see Blizzard take this stand, but your attitude and grace make me want to relax a bit, and take WoW chat a little less seriously. And the purse thing… well, that’s just so fucking Jewish.

  8. “This faggot is a far better priest than you and I’ll hit you with my purse if you say otherwise.”

    Holy crap, I just sprayed coffee everywhere. THIS is pure win!!! The one I actually used once to the tank in a team was “Well I guess you don’t want my gay bubbles saving your ass then, huh?”

    I am a little more militant. I don’t fight over the “gay” comment so much in Trade or General chats, but if I’m in a party I will always speak up if it gets out of hand. We have a strong but small Guild that is a fairly sheltered environment, comprised mostly of gay men, but some straight men and women as well. We make “gay” and “straight” cracks, but the difference is, we’re all friends and there’s no ignorance or bigotry involved.

    I will ALWAYS, always report people that use fag, faggot, or any other derisive discriminatory or racist term. And when the customer service reps tell me “Just use ignore” we have a discussion on how that only exacerbates the problem…

    Great post!

    -RBK

  9. At least tell me it’s a manpurse. >.> As in, the only good thing aside from the Soup Nazi to come from Seinfeld.

  10. The “that is so gay” phenomenon seems to have worked its way into a whole generation now, and maybe I’m getting old, but I just never did see the logic of it.

    The silly thing is, people don’t seem to be using it to be anti-homosexual as such, but just as a buzz phrase without even thinking about what they are saying. To the extent that I overheard in General chat the following exchange:

    A: Can someone lend me 5000g to learn epic mount?
    B: Do some dailies to earn it. Its something that you really should do yourself the first time. Asking someone else to pay for it for you is like paying for a hooker….its just so gay.

    what?

    Its never really bothered me what the sexual orientation, gender, colour etc of the person I am playing with is, as long as they aren’t acting like an idiot.

    What has been worrying me more is the large amount of people that seem to find themselves compelled to refer to any combat where one side lost significantly as being “raped”. While I find it a little insulting to hear people using “gay” as an offensive term, throwing out terms like “rape” for some casual event that may have happened in a game truely sickens me.

    Where does the player that is sensitive to such comments go from there? Sure, they can ask people not to keep using the term as it is a distasteful usage of it, but that tends to fall on deaf ears. They could explain why they personally find it a sensitive issue, but who wants to be the person that is seen as the whiney sensitive one that made all the group feel uncomfortable?

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