“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.