Archive for the ‘Internet Anthropology’ category

Don’t Let Anonymity on the Internet Fool You

July 8, 2010

With the whole Real ID fiasco going on, one thought really sticks out to me: “I post under a handle, therefore I am anonymous and safe.”

Unfortunately, no, you are not anonymous and safe just because you aren’t using your real name. Safer, probably, but not safe. IP addresses can track people down to a certain location, you may have inadvertently given out too much information when filling out email and website profiles, or your boss or significant other snoops through your computer and discovers those angsty twitter posts about them.

And because I adore you all and wish you all to remain unharmed and employed and in good terms with your acquaintances, I’m going to discuss internet safety a little bit.

Never say anything on the internet you don’t want your significant other, your boss or your mom to discover

Ok, ok, you can say whatever you want on the internet. As long as you can live with the consequences.

But beware, those msn chat logs, that old angsty blog you had when you were 14, those raunchy Facebook photos and those flirty forum posts are very likely floating around somewhere. It takes one wrong person to come across them to send you into a downward spiral of embarrassment or, if you’re really unlucky and scandalous, put your career/relationship/social life in jeopardy.

Obviously, the more easily identifiable you make yourself, the more easily you’ll be identified (and the more likely your computer illiterate grandmother will discover your list of favorite porn movies). Even so, after taking all precautions imaginable, you’re still traceable.

It doesn’t mean you have to avoid the internet altogether (life is all about taking those small risks!), it means think before you type. It means don’t assume you’re anonymous and no one will ever find out who you are. One day, you’ll accidently leave twitter open. Your gossipy roommate will walk in, find it and show her 900 Facebook friends. Remind of yourself of that every time you hit a send button.

Also keep your stuff locked as much as possible. Don’t use Facebook applications unless you REALLY REALLY WANT THEM. If you want to keep your old lifejournal for the walks down memory lane, set anything remotely compromising to private. Delete your old chat logs. Cancel your AIM/MSN/Bongo Buddy (remember that folks!) accounts if you’re not using them. You can’t cover your trail 100%, but the more you remove, the less that can be used against you.

Sexual assault on the Internet most likely follows the same patterns as sexual assaults in the offline world

While the exact statistics vary from source to source, Sexual Assault prevention and education associations all agree on this: most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and only a minority are committed by a stranger.

What it means is that you should still be careful around strangers (walking alone at night through sketchy parts of town is never a good idea!) but you can’t be careless around people you think you know either.

The data concerning sexual assault over the internet (whether it’s limited to verbal harassment or the more extreme flying around the world to stalk you) is still anecdotal so I have to say “it most likely follows real life patterns” because we don’t know if it follows real life patterns. The anecdotes follow similar patterns though:

1- You meet someone on the internet.
2- You get along really well and they’re such smooth talkers that your friendship evolves really fast. Like, REALLY fast.
3- You tell them stuff about yourself.
4- After awhile, they become total pests and they come at you from all sides.
5- When you try to cut them off, they become threatening.

I would hope most stories end there, but the news does come out with “creepy internet people” stories that end badly fairly often.

Like in real life, you can’t cut yourself off from every single person you meet by chance that they’re dangerous. You won’t get hurt, but you’ll be pretty lonely. Just play smart. Remember that friendships grow slowly, not overnight. Don’t give anyone a dozen ways to get ahold of you. One way is enough. Make your friendship public. Immediately cut anyone out of your life (offline and online) who gets possessive or intrusive, don’t let it escalate. Take screenshots of any questionable behaviour.

Use different emails for different spheres of your life

I stumbled on this trick by accident. I was looking for a way to keep all my hobby communications organized and tidy. So I kept the hotmail account I’ve had since I was 12 for real life friends and family (and contest signups), I used my school email strictly for academic, professional and school politics communications, I made a Bossy Pally email account for the blog and gaming, and I have a separate email for my Battlenet account (as a security measure before I bought an authenticator).

I realized how much of a lifesaver this was when I found out that a potential landlady googled the email address I had used to contact her. What did she find? Some details about a career fair I had planned for my school. My profile on our National Student Council webpage. Some model UN mentions. (I’ve never done model UN, but it still looks very good when it comes up on a google search!)

I was pretty happy I didn’t use Bossy Pally (while I’m not ashamed of my gamer status, there are better first impressions to make) or my old teenage email that would have yielded links to godknowswhat I was doing when I was 12!

Be smart, always.

I’ve heard the line “don’t drink and type” said often. It’s true. Everyone uses the internet these days and there are a lot of people who know how to find what they want to find.

Be cautious when posting personal information as well as rants. Don’t be fooled that you’re safe just because you’re using a fake name.

Make friends online, but don’t let your urge to make friends fast get the best of you. Remember, remember, remember that friendship and trust grow slowly. Recognize your gut feeling. If a behaviour seems…off…it probably is.

I don’t want to hear anymore stories of “I lost my job because of my rant/blog” or “I got stalked by a jerk on the internet”. Real ID or pre-Real ID, those stories make me sad.

/ignore And Why I Don’t Like It…Much

June 28, 2010

- Jerkface is ignoring you -

What. the.

My face was suddenly sore from e-slap. Why is Jerkface ignoring me? I thought we were pretty good friends. We ran heroics together all the time, played on the same arena team. We’d even gotten smashed and wandered the streets of Toronto until 4 am once, just the two of us. Yes, the real life Toronto! Not Stormwind or Ironforge or Exodar. He did have a bad temper. Maybe we had a disagreement lately? I played the last few in-game days over in my mind. No. No fight.

An accident maybe?

Somehow I doubted it.

FINE, I thought, you ignore me, I’ll ignore you.

Smugly, I put him on my ignore list and went about my business. But I really wanted to know what he was saying. Really wanted to know. Really wanted to-

He must have stayed on my ignore list for grand 15 minutes before I realized that the idea was absolutely stupid.

To this day, I’ve never used the ignore feature since, save for a few beggers in Ironforge who made the list just long enough to get the hint.

I’m not a fan ignoring other players, with the exception of maybe really annoying strangers trying to take my gold or sell me theirs. I know the mentality is “if you can’t put up with someone, just put them on ignore”, but I don’t like that. Whether it’s puggers or guildies, hiding everything someone says doesn’t fix any problems and just makes it more difficult to get the job done.

/ignore in PuGs

Surprise, surprise, players in pugs can be socially inept, jerks, annoying or plain stupid. You’re only in a group with them for a few hours at most, you’ll likely never play with them again, why put up with their idiocies?

Well, you’re only in a group with them for a few hours, you’ll likely never play with the likes of them again, so why not just roll your eyes at their dumb contributions to chat?

Despite all the stupidity floating in the air, I still like to know what’s going on when I’m pugging. When I’m playing with strangers, I imagine the worst case scenario and in the worst case scenario, I’m going to have to cover for everyone elses mishaps. So the more information I have, the better.

And if that information is mainly “anal [random name]” or “ur mom”, then so be it.

/ignore in guilds

You don’t like someone’s sense of humour, you don’t like their attitude. Just /ignore them. Easy, right?

Not really.

I’m sure it’s great for a short term fix. Just hide what they say and you won’t have to worry about it ever again. But can you go on, day after day, week after week, raid after raid just not knowing what they’re saying?

Not being able to see their chatter might relieve some stress at first, but even if you can’t see it, they’re still talking. Their attitude is still infiltrating your bubble. They’re still there. (You know, in ur raid, offending ur person.) And not only are they there, but they’re your healers, your tanks, your healees, your teammates. Despite the (what you consider) crap they might spew out, in a raid setting, they might just say something useful to the success of the raid.

And that’s without counting the inevitable tension that slowly builds between yourself and your ignoree. Every time you play you remind yourself that you’re ignoring them because you can’t stand them and they remind themselves (because, yes, they will figure out soon enough they’re being ignored) that you’re ignoring them because you can’t stand them. In a world of thick skinned internet beasts, it may take awhile for tension to build, but it will built and it will explode. Then there’ll be ooze and blood and we’ll have to clean up and no one likes cleaning up.

You’re never going to like everyone

I’m often accused of being too nice and of liking everyone.

It’s not that I like everyone. Nor does everyone like me (as the story at the beginning of this post has proven to us!). I have my own personality and morals and they do clash with others at time. It might come as a surprise to some that, while I left my old guild of two years because I didn’t care for the playstyle and leadership structure anymore, it was an exploded personality conflict that burned my bridges and kept me from looking back. It’s not that either of us were terrible people, we were just terribly incompatible people. So, yes, no one likes everyone all the time and that’s completely ok.

How to put up with annoyances?

1- Pick your battles carefully. You won’t win them all, and those you lose will be like fuel on a fire. (Tell a bunch of boys they’re not allowed to say the word “rape” and the only word you’ll hear from them for the next 3 weeks will be “rape”) Unless someone is really crossing a line, it’s best to just tune them out without physically ignoring them. Also, the less often you put people in their place, the more impact you’ll have when you do.

2- Remember that human beings aren’t 2 dimensional. With some individuals, it can be really hard to remind yourself of their redeeming features, but for the team (and your sanity)’s sake, you have to. Many WoW players are very socially inept, but behind the strange facades they put up, you’ll usually find intelligent, helpful, passionate people who appreciate any kind of attention you give them. Also, what looks like nastyness to some can actually be a sign of people comfortable enough with each other to tease

3- Master the art of subtlety changing the subject. WoW players are passionate folk. If they stray onto a topic you don’t like, bring up class changes, patch notes or whatever else they feel strongly about. Problem solved. When all else fails, the line “now, now, that’s not very nice” has the double effect of causing laughter and ending the current conversation. (I have to give credit to my GM for that one, I stole that line from him and tried it a few times, works like a charm.)

4- If it can’t be fixed, it might be time to move on. I’m guilty of getting attached to guildies and convincing them to stay despite elements of our guild culture making them absolutely miserable. What I’ve realized lately is that by doing this, I was just causing everyone tons of stress. Some personality conflicts can’t be resolved. When it gets to the point where you just can’t allow yourself to see what a person is typing, then it’s time to find a more fitting home. There are a lot of former guildies that I miss with all my heart, but I much prefer to hear them speak excitedly about their new teammates than comfort them as they complain about my teammates.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, the ignore feature is great for getting rid of gold sellers, gold beggers and that annoying level 2 guy in Exodar asking how to get to Stormwind. It’s not so great for stretching out an unresolvable personality conflict or masking a too-big guild culture shock.

At the end of the day, we play this game for enjoyment, whether that enjoyment comes from downing bosses in the most efficient way possible or from socializing with people from across the continent or a mixture of column A and column B. If you have to entirely block out an individual, you’re doing neither of the above. Go, go and be with people you don’t have to block out.

Just sent me an email once in awhile, because, you know, I kinda get attached to people.

Free Speech in the WoW-Blogosphere

March 21, 2010

Me: Oh hei! I started a WoW blog! I’m not very daring though and I’m pretty politically correct.
Friend: No, if you want to be a blogger, you have be loud! And opinionated!
Me: Ah, but the WoW blogging community is pretty mellow.

Believe it or not, the outline for this post had actually been rotting in my draft bin for some time. I think the recent outburst in the WoW blogosphere had been quietly brewing for awhile. What got me thinking of our extend of free speech as WoW bloggers was actually a post by Daraxxus on Guild Ethics. A post that troubled me quite a bit.

My stance on people getting offended by what I write is…..if you dont like it you can either

a) Not read it
b) Go eat a big fat bowl of dick

The whole post is definitely worth reading and it was more thought provoking to me than any of the more, um, classy posts that had appeared on that topic over the past week.

I’m a very ethical blogger
. For the most part. Not because I’m afraid of getting slandered (yes, I was terrified when I first started blogging, but after watching and hearing what the Wow.com writers go through, I got over the fear of having rocks thrown at me pretty fast), but because that’s just who I am as a person. I’m careful when I write about my guild, not because I fear a /gkick, but because I don’t think being a bitch on my blog is the most efficient way to deal with in-game conflict. Honesty, respect and looking at both sides of the story are values important to me in all aspects of my life.

Should I expect other bloggers to follow the rules I impose on myself?

By the light, no!

Who the hell am I to tell others what’s appropriate and inappropriate content? Just because certain values are important to me doesn’t mean they’re important to everyone else. Saying my code of ethics is better than someone elses would be awfully arrogant of me. I’ll admit I can be a goodie-goodie, but there are limits.

Besides, if everyone wrote like me, the blogging world would be a pretty dull place. I stick to a cautious style myself, but I can assure you that I devour exuberant blog posts as much as the next person. I won’t blogroll a blog that I judge unethical (yes, I know I link to Paladin Schmaladin, but Ferraro has behaved for quite some time now and there’s just too much good information on the site to pass up), but I’ll still read it.

Over the weekend, a discussion stirred up on Blog Azeroth. A discussion that covered respect among bloggers, free speech as bloggers and tricks in dealing with criticism and trolls. There’s a lot in that thread to ponder and I encourage anyone interested by the topic to read it (and join in if you have anything to add). For the purpose of this post, though, I’m only going to quote Bellwether’s words:

It has been said to me many times that the WoW blogosphere is a stagnant community because all we, as bloggers, give or get are pats on the back to each other. You very rarely see people taken to task for misinformation or something just plain wrong, and those who do become a sort of pariah for rocking the boat.

As much of a “OMG-lets-all-love-each-other-and-be-happy-friends” blogger that I am, I have to agree with this statement. I’ve seen the WoW blogging community compared to a “circle jerk” before. When I correct another blogger on a mistake their in post, I even feel bad. It shouldn’t be like that.
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Of Guilds and of Blogging

March 4, 2010

Note: This post is crazy long. That’s what happens when I’m away from my blog for more than a weekend. The words build up and come out all at the same time. I wrote this for myself because I’ve been thinking about the topic quite a bit lately and it’s driving me nuts. I considered splitting the post into two, but it’s too personal to be worth it.

I hate getting into hot blogging trends. Unless it’s an official Shared Topic, the more people talk about something, the more I write about everything but. I’m special, unique snowflake dammit!

I do, however, love thinking about blogging. I also love talking about anything guild-related. I’m somewhat of a closet amateur social anthropologist. Anything that has to do about how people interact with each other, about cultures, about communication, about influence, about social behaviour just gets me giddy. And the young, diverse, strange, ever changing social world of the internet? OMG! Just thinking about it makes me want to jump up and down in excitement.

What can I say? Some people are big into birds, others into sports, I’m a geek for social anthropology. I have no training for it, though, (two level 100 courses I took while on student exchange don’t count) so I kind of fumble around topics in hazy bliss. May real social anthropologists forgive me.

But anyway, I talk a lot about guild stuff on my blog. As a result, I’m constantly worrying about crossing the line. It’s important to me to show respect towards my guildies and to have respect for the work the officers put into the guild. I don’t want to censor myself, yet it’s not my place to criticize others, or be the cause of hurt feelings.

So, to make myself happy, I’m going to jump onto the bandwagon and bring up the very topic that’s been discussed on bit on Twitter, and posted about by Cassandri, Tam, Larísa, Anea, Pugnacious Priest as well as my own guild master, Matticus. Besides, I’ve been very good lately and put my schoolwork before my blogging for FOUR (4) WHOLE DAYS! (OMG IT WAS SO HARD TO DO! Blogging is such a drug.) I totally deserve a self indulgent post.

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Love Is In Proper Gift Etiquette Part 2

February 13, 2010

When I started writing a post on in-game gift giving/receiving, I didn’t expect for it to be this long. Obviously, this is part 2. To see a proper introduction, please refer to part 1. Otherwise, do keep reading!

Let’s talk about receiving

The idea for this post was actually sparked by a comment by Jel on my series on the Treatment of Women in WoW.

One thing that I wanted to bring up was something that a commenter alluded to and I wonder how other women handle it. How do you deal with guys giving you gifts in wow. Flowers are a nice sweet offering, but I have had guildies give excessive gifts to me. Like top of the line crafted gear that I know took quite a bit of effort to create. I try and politely refuse and or try and get them the equivalent in some fashion but it isn’t always feasible. I would love another’s perspective on it.

There are a lot of ways we could look at these kinds of situations, but what it all comes down to is this: if you feel comfortable accepting, then accept, if you only feel comfortable accepting in exchange for something else, then do an exchange, if you’re not comfortable accepting, then don’t accept.

While a giver’s intentions probably influence how you feel about receiving something from them, in the grand scheme of things, they don’t matter. If you don’t mind having stuff handed to you, then by all means, enjoy it! If acquiring your gear or achievement items are part of what makes the game fun, then declining the gift (or at least, thanking the person while ensuring that they’ll never do it again) is a wiser course of action.

A Bossy Pally perspective

In case someone was wondering how I, personally, react to gifts in game, they’re in luck! (I didn’t think anyone was, but you never know. People wonder about strange things.)

Unless I suspect that someone is feeling desperate (note, it doesn’t happen often!), I don’t really associate receiving practical gifts with being a woman. As was pointed out to me in my Women in WoW posts, I might just be very dense, but whatever. I see the guys help each other out all the time and I don’t see it being any different when they help me out.

Yes, I know that when I’m on a lowbie and a stranger gives me food/drink or green gear, then it’s probably because I’m playing a female character. No, it doesn’t bother me. Yes, I find it weird. No, I’m not going to turn it down. It’s food/drink and a bunch of greens. Not a big deal.

Back to friends helping me out, sometimes I appreciate it, sometimes I would rather do things on my own. When I’m in a “do-it-myself” mode, I just won’t let anyone know what I’m doing so they won’t know. The times where I do accept a gift, I’ll make a mental note to be more generous the next time they need help with something.

I don’t see gifts for events like birthdays or Christmas to be problematic. Unless, as mentioned earlier, there’s a desperate undertone. After all, I’m a huge sucker for holidays and I love to give out presents, so I’m not shocked when others return the favor. They might regret it, though, because I get all “YAY A BESTEST BEST FRIEND!!” and follow them around everywhere. I’m told people don’t like it when I do that.

But yeah, I’ve saved every single flower I’ve ever received in the game. The more personal ones, I keep in my bags at all time like the sentimental sap that I am.

So what about that desperate undertone?

Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often that someone is after more than casual in-game friendship. But for whatever strange reason I can’t begin to fathom, it has happened once or twice over the years. And if it has happened to me, it must happen to players more graceful and eloquent than I as well. It’s important to keep boundaries, to be polite but straightforward. Not everyone in WoW has wonderful social skills so being very direct is often the only way to be understood.

Final Words on In-Game Gifts

WoW is a social game and, just like in real life, gifts play an important role in the interactions between people. Acts of kindness strengthen friendships and generosity between teammates accelerates guild progress. But giving too much can result in burn out or being taken advantage of. When it comes to receiving, people have their boundaries. Officers typically don’t like members trying to “buy” privileges with presents. (And here I have to add, I was an officer in a guild for a year and a half and *no one* ever tried to exchange presents for privileges! I’m very insulted by that.) Players of either gender may or may not appreciate feeling “hit on” by other players. Many players don’t like others “doing things for them” since the farm or the grind is part of the fun for them. When receiving a gift is uncomfortable or unpleasant, it defeats the whole purpose of the gift, so being able to say “thanks but no thanks” without being hurtful is a useful skill.

Love Is In Proper Gift Etiquette Part 1

February 11, 2010

Couples get it so easy when it comes to in-game gift giving. There’s no danger of coming on too strong, giving the wrong impression or upsetting a significant other. As long as they know that a Bloody Bear Paw is poor taste for most (but not all) loved ones, they’ve got it made.


For the rest of us, however few we may be, it’s a bit more awkward. Me, I love gift giving. In-game and in real life. I guess I’m just not all that attached to objects, be they material or pixel. My real life social interactions go kind of like this:

Other girl: I like your shoes!
Me: Thanks! Do you want them?

Fortunately, in-game footwear becomes bound to me as soon as I put it on. Soulboundness reduces the risk of me going barefoot. However, I still keep stacks and stacks of saronite in my bank, in case a newly dinged 80 paladin would like some gear crafted. And Winter’s Veil? Oh my. I spend the entire holiday season stressing!

I wonder if I should give person X a gift. They did talk to me a few months ago, but maybe they don’t remember me and it would be weird. How about person Y? They randomly hugged me in Dalaron once and I’m sure they would like something, but I’m afraid they’ll get the wrong idea and think I’m into them or maybe they’ll get too into me and eventually think I’m leading them on, oh no, omg what do I do?

Then you get the whole deal that comes with accepting gifts. This came up in the discussion on my Treatment of Women in WoW posts a few weeks back. Many players who’ve played characters of both genders have reported receiving more gifts, gear and gold on their female characters. Men even joke about pretending to be women to receive in-game gifts, gear and gold. In the same spirit, guild officers also tend to report members “sucking up” to them by giving them in-game gifts.

So lets think about gifts.

Lets think about giving

There’s always someone in a guild who gives and gives. They eventually end up feeling taken advantage of and burning out.

Sound familiar?

Gifts range from gold, gear, raid goods, convenience items like mounts to small symbolic items, friendly messages. Time and energy are two other gift we don’t normally think of. Reasons for giving can be innocent – expressing friendship, helping a raider to benefit the guild, returning a favor – or they can be deceiving- bribes, attention seeking. Taken to the extreme, it can even be a form of harassment.

Ok, you know all this, you say. Very good, very good, but don’t ever complain that you give too much. Don’t ever complain that someone doesn’t reciprocate your giving. What am I getting to? Well, just like in real life, when giving in game, it’s important to be aware and honest to yourself about your intentions. It’s important to ask the questions:

- Why am I giving to this person/guild?
– Do I expect something in return?
– Is the recipient comfortable with or wanting the gift?

Let’s apply that

Say you’re giving your time, your crafting mats or whatever to help a fellow improve their play.

Why are you giving?
So you get better raiding. Or to get some peace and quiet from those who want better raiding.

Do you expect something in return?
Yes, you want better raids. You might also want some respect. You might want friendship. (This is where burnout happens: You lie to yourself and say you don’t want anything in return. Then one day you realize that you wanted better raids/respect/friendship and you didn’t get it.)

Is the recipient comfortable with or wanting the gift?

Maybe, maybe not. If not, there’s not much you can do about it but back off.

Let’s use a different example

Let’s talk about my love of in-game Christmas present giving. This Christmas was a little special because I had just recently left my guild of two years and moved on to my current guild. So I gave a little something to all the people I was close to in my old guild, I gave a little something to the people I’m friends with in my classmates’ guild and I gave a little something to the handful of people in my new guild who had taken the time to make me feel at home one way or another. A total of about 30 “little somethings” in all.

Why did I do it?
Because I’m a sucker for holidays. Because I like an excuse to be a huge sap.

Did I expect anything in return?
No. I even knew from experience that about half of the people I send a gift to would ignore it. It’s always great to hear that I made someone’s day, but it’s not something I expect.

Are the recipients comfortable or wanting of the gift?
I have no idea. This year was especially tricky. My new guildies didn’t know of my crazy holiday obsession. If someone doesn’t answer, I assume they’re probably just being guys, but there’s a chance they might get the message “um…weird crazy chick!“. It won’t stop me from dropping something in their mailbox next year, but I don’t bother them by asking “did you get it? did you get it? did you get it?

To End Part 1

Gift giving obviously isn’t rocket science, but when someone feels taken advantage of or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, becomes annoying, it’s worth thinking about. On the “too nice” side, when you find yourself giving, giving, giving without getting what you want in return, revise your strategy. On the “jerk” side, be wary of bribing guild officers for advantages or female players for attention; you’ll make yourself hated pretty fast.

I was going to do this all in one post. I realized as I was writing, however, that the part on giving can stand alone. I also want to draw attention to both sides of gifts: the giving and the receiving. To make this more easily digestible, I’ll leave the part one giving here and will put on the part on receiving tomorrow.

The Elegant Art of Complaining

January 25, 2010

You never know who you'll have to complain to

Sometime back, I received a comment, I can’t remember from whom. He mentioned how many of his guildies were terrible at complaining. Most of the time, he couldn’t even tell what it was they were complaining about. As I thought about it, I realized he was absolutely right. Many of us suck at complaining. Big time. It’s no mystery why: from the cradle onwards we’re told that big kids don’t cry, to suck it up, to stop whining, to QQ moar. As a result we don’t get what we want from life. Our jobs, our romantic relationships (and I know this! People who suck at complaining in relationships always come crying to me – there’s a reason why us crying shoulder types are generally single. It’s called disillusionment.), our social life and, yes, WoW are less enjoyable because we can’t complain properly.

All hail the typical pop psychology intro. I’m going to keep it up, with some…productive? tips to get the most out your complaining. Since this is a WoW blog, I’m sticking with WoW related examples, but, really, talking to humans skills tend to apply wherever you talk to humans.

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Topic to Ponder: Sexism or…

January 12, 2010

Yes, once again I’m stuck in an airport. After staying up all night getting ready for the flight, I arrived at the airport, only to find out my flight’s been canceled. In the past 6 hours, I’ve done some achievements I’d been putting off in WoW (until servers went down for maintenance), ate some overpriced airport food and read several chapters of the book I’ve been trying to get through since this summer. Now I’m just staring into space and letting my sleep deprived mind run wild.

Since writing my posts on the Treatment of Women in WoW (Part 1 and Part 2), I’ve been particularly attentive to gender issues in the game. I’m noticing behaviors I hadn’t remarked before, I’m more conscious of my own behavior as a female player and I’m remembering various issues from the past.

In pharmacy school, they constantly remind us to “treat the patient, not the test results.” It basically means that while test results will give you some general information on your patient, they don’t show you the whole picture. And in some occasions, the test results might even be mistaken. In every day (and WoW) life, I’m a huge proponent of “look at the person, not their gender.” It’s the same principle.

However, some time back, in my old guild, I encountered a situation where I couldn’t do that. The situation can be summed up to one line:

15 year old girl looking for guild.

The decision to decline her application was unanimous.

It had nothing to do with her application itself. It had nothing to do with her character or her estimated playing skill. It had nothing to do with her personality and potential for “drama”.

It had everything to do with us not wanting her exposed to flirting or obscenities from men older than her father and anything that may entail. While the /g environment was pretty mild, fact remained that it could get pretty mature (or immature, depending on how you look at it) at any time. We didn’t want to be responsible for exposing a teenage girl to that. Oh, bad behavior coming from her peers would be one thing, but from us, it was a different story. I was also personally concerned about what her parents would feel if they read /g over her shoulder. It wouldn’t take much to land us in trouble with them.

Furthermore, there’s no control over what goes on in whispers. We liked to believe that all our guildies were good people and not perverts, but really, you never know. The last thing we wanted was to read in the paper that she’d run away to meet up with some weirdo she’d met in our guild.

It’s an unfortunate reality. We had to turn her down based on her gender. Yes, it was the combination of her age and her gender, but it was nonetheless her gender that forced us to turn her down. You just can’t consider a teenage girl applicant the same way you would a teenage boy applicant. The implications are just too different.

Even in day to day life, I don’t treat teenage girls the same way I treat teenage boys. With teenage guys, I’m very laid back and I’ll typically speak to them at their level. I’m very tolerant, and if I do have to call them to order, I’ll do it with humour or I’ll use intentional ignoring. With teenage girls, though, I hold myself to higher standards, as if I’m trying to set an example. I might even bring my mommy side if needed.

When I sit and think about it, I get sad. It’s awful and it’s sexist. Gender shouldn’t be the determining factor as to which opportunities are available to us, even in a silly video game. Yet even with my love of problem solving, I don’t see a solution.

Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2

December 31, 2009

Welcome to part 2 of a topic I’m sharing with Anea from Oh look, it’s an alt! (She doesn’t have her take up yet, but I’m sure she will soon!). This is a direct continuation from part 1, so I would recommend reading that first if you haven’t already.


OMG It’s a GIRL!

Ah, the joys of speaking on vent for the first time in a PuG. Most of the time, my delicate, sultry feminine voice (for the record, I talk off key so my voice is actually horrid) doesn’t cause too much of a commotion. Every now and again, though, it happens. “OMG WE HAVE A GIRL IN THE RAID!!! SQUEEEEEEEEE

I can’t help but feel a wave of pity whenever that happens. You have to wonder what kind of sheltered lives some people have. But if it makes them giddy and happy to have a woman in the chatroom, I’m not going to burst their bubble. I roll my eyes, smile and ask if everyone is ready to start the fight.

Women are cute and cuddly – every man should own one.

To be honest, I don’t really notice sexist jokes. Mainly because I’m far too busy making sexist jokes against men. But because I know this bothers a lot of female gamers, here’s how I handle it.

If I want to call a group to order, I have two lines to choose from.
1- Now children, less chatting, more killing.
2- (In a mockingly annoyed tone) You’re such boys.

Otherwise,

Why do all men like smart women?
Opposites attract.

When would you want a man’s company?
When he owns it.

What are my four favorite animals?
A mink in my closet, a Jaguar in my garage, a tiger in my bedroom,
and a Jackass to pay for it all.

Why did God create man?
Because a vibrator can’t mow the lawn.

I strongly suggest any woman who spends a lot of time in testosterone-filled environments have a list of sexist jokes on hand.

The “Aww You’re So Cute” Card

I like to think I’m pretty tolerant. I’m as much of a bra-burning feminist as the next female WoW player, but I can understand that boys will be boys. I get over stuff easily and can take most blows with humour. But there’s one thing that just gets under my skin.

Me: Well, I think XYZ about this topic.
Male WoW Person: You’re so adorable.

This is different from flirting. Flirting is flattering. This is an insult. The message here is “your role is not to give your opinion on this intelligent topic, your role is to be cute”.

On the rare chance that it is a huge turn on to hear a woman’s opinion on a topic (back to sheltered lives, I guess), there’s still a time and a place for everything. Right now we’re discussing this topic. If you want to gush about the sexiness of women who get involved in discussions, you’re welcome to do so after we’re finished.

In my experience, this doesn’t occur very often, and it’s generally very, um, simple, men who play the “aww you’re so cute card”. My guess is that they, themselves, have nothing to offer to the conversation and are just looking to draw attention to something else. It still bothers me, though. I like conversations.

Of course, now my guildies are going to read this and will say “awww you’re so cute” everytime I say something. =/

I’m going to go easy on you because you’re a girl

Well Intended Guildie: Does our language offend you?
Me: No.

Me: But I’m kind of offended that you think I’m offended.
Well Intended Guildie: Oh…sorry…really?
Me: (laughing) You dummy.

The woes of being a modern woman.

On one hand, I’m always delighted when someone takes into consideration the fact that I might not have the same sense of humour, the same ways of communicating or the same tolerance to teasing as the guys.

On the other, I’m not exactly a porcelain doll either and I like when people can just be themselves. I enjoy being considered one of the gang and I get very annoyed when I realize someone is walking on eggshells to avoid offending me. Plus, as hard as I try to be classy, I have the dirtiest sense of humour in the world. Being deprived of dirty jokes is a tragedy to me.

And if I’m confused on how I expect to be treated as a woman, I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for those around me!

I’m not going to deny the fact that “locker room talk” often conjures flashbacks of being in the sixth grade, sitting in the back of a schoolbus and thinking that the boys around me are so stupid. I’m also going to say that I empathize with women who don’t like the use of certain words (“rape” is the typical example). While I’m extremely lucky those words don’t evoke anything to me, I can definitely see why there’s nothing funny about them.

At the same time, I appreciate that sometimes guys need to be guys. And I have to admit that I secretly laugh at things I shouldn’t.

Of Sexism and Harassment

I’ve seen many complaints on message boards from women saying they weren’t treated as equals in their guilds. I’ve seen women (well, generally younger girls) get badly mistreated in trade chat. I’m not going to pretend it never happens. Obviously it does. There are ways to avoid sexism though.

Pick your battles. Your average trade chat jerk is the male version of the girl who posts pictures of her boobs all over the internet. Same for the dumbass pug guy. They’re not flamboyant misogynists, they just want a reaction. The more you react, the more they’ll do it. Unless you enjoy arguing with them, they need to be ignored. If you can’t tune them out, leave trade or find a new PuG. Yes, there are situations in life where you shouldn’t give in. You know, like when your job or safety are in question. But this isn’t a battle worth fighting.

Choose your guild carefully. If you play a lot, these are the people you’ll be spending a lot of your evenings with. It’s worth going the extra mile to get an idea of how they view female players before you join. Do they have female officers? How do male and female members interact on the forums? Don’t buy crap about “stuff being worse elsewhere”. There are a lot of excellent, open minded guilds out there.

Don’t automatically assume it’s because you’re a woman. I remember the first few times I tried to raid lead. It was awful. I had ZERO authority. It would have been so easy to assume that they wouldn’t listen to me because I was woman. Instead, I prepared better for my raids. I pushed the group harder. I spoke more confidently. Magically, everything fell into place.

In the end, WoW is a social game. It’s a game, it should be fun. It’s also social and subjected to the same issues you would get in the offline world, with the addition of anonymity allowing people to get away with just about anything. As a woman in WoW, my power over how I’m treated lies in setting my boundaries and finding fellow players who can respect them. It’s not the place to try to change mentalities. Should us women be trying to change mentalities? Yes! But in the offline world. Volunteer at a woman’s shelter, educate yourselves about social issues, heck educate yourselves about everything, read, be strong and positive role models to young girls, do what you love with your lives, take care of yourselves. We have enough to battles to fight in the real world to waste our time arguing with people in WoW.

Of the Treatment of Women in WoW, Part 1

December 29, 2009

Anea from Oh look, an alt! mentioned on Twitter that she was thinking of doing a post on the treatment of women in WoW. I jumped in and said that I’ve been wanting to do a similar post myself. We then decided to do our own “mini shared topic”. I’ll admit I was worried about starting some controversy. Not that it’s a horribly offensive topic, but it’s so incredibly complex. I tried to address it briefly and still ended up with two posts worth of text. As long winded as I am, there’s no way I can do justice to it in a couple of simple blog posts, so please keep that in mind when reading.

Now I’m assuming here she meant treatment of women players in WoW. Because that’s what I’m going to talk about. Since I don’t exactly have what it takes to conduct a scientific study of wow life as a woman, I’ll stick to my own experiences, my opinion of them and how I deal.

Yes, I keep my girly flower out.

My Perspective

Somehow, I get the impression that my perspective of my gender is somewhat unique. I’m fairly young, in my mid twenties. I’m (happily) single more often than not and thus self reliance is a way of life. I grew up surrounded by women who were doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, police officers, accountants, yet who were also beautiful and elegant. I don’t understand why “the average woman” is often portrayed as someone meek, dependent, dumb and overly sensitive. It’s entirely possible to be a woman, be successful (however you define success), self reliant, intelligent yet feminine. None of these traits are mutually exclusive.

So back to WoW.

Why do I feel like a visible minority?

WoW Friend X: I bought this new gadget today.
WoW Friend Y: I bought this new video game today.
Me: I bought this super cute dress today.
WoW Friends: *change topic pronto*
Me: :(

I know there’s sexism and harassment of women in WoW. But what I find hardest to adjust to is just the basics of being a minority. I have no problems with boy talk. While I haven’t been one of the boys since I turned 10 and sprouted boobs overnight, I still enjoy the company of guys. I love video game talk, I like hearing about the TV shows they watch, I love drinking contests and I find guys to be absolutely hilarious. However, there are topics I have to avoid around the guys. Well, unless I purposely want to make them squirm (as if I would ever do such a thing!). Me, I love pretty things. I’m all about beautiful dresses and flowers. Apparently most guys are not all about beautiful dresses and flowers. I also have no problems candidly talking about my feelings. Apparently the guys do have problems candidly talking about my feelings. Talk about culture shock!

I enjoy the rare times I get “hang out” and have girl talk with other women in WoW, especially other single women. It seems your life changes drastically when the “r” word comes into play and I find that I just can’t relate as well to married or seriously committed women.

The Problem with Other Women

As much as I look for the camaraderie of other women in game, whenever I meet new players, I’m more worried about my treatment at the hands of the women than of the men. We tend to be more judgmental about the other women our social circles than the men are. If a woman is too quiet, she must be a snob, if she’s exuberant, she’s an attention whore.

Among the younger women, there seems to be a disdain of all things “girly”, as if to be good at WoW, you have to be some sort of man wannabe. I really hate reading “I’m not like your average girl, I’m a good player”. I can never say it enough, being feminine and being a good player are not mutually exclusive.

(The sad thing is I’ve encountered many women in game who claim they are not a typical women in one breath and will brag about which guildie is their boyfriend in the next. I’m sorry, but basing your self-worth on who you’re sleeping with as stereotypically, degradingly girly as you can get. And yes, as much as I hate it, the rare times I’m in a relationship, I totally do it too.)

While I find it silly to flaunt being a woman, it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal and no one cares.

Hey Babe, You Come Here Often?

Oh yes, flirting. I get a lot of it, I think most female gamers do. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it usually doesn’t bother me. On most occasions, I enjoy it. I know it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just good laughs and it’s flattering. Nonetheless, there is a certain etiquette for flirting.

Familiarity: Flirting that is flattering when coming from a friend I hear on vent every night is downright creepy coming from a stranger in a PuG raid.

Respect for your spouse: Even though I’m not a relationship-type person, I take commitments very seriously. My own as well as other people’s. If someone talks to me in a way that I judge disrespectful to that person’s spouse, I will be offended.

Keep it to compliments: Any kind of flirting that implies sexual actions is creepy. And this is coming from a fairly “liberated” woman.

Flirting is not a substitute for regular communication: As shy as I am, I can carry on a normal conversation. I expect that those I interact with on WoW also possess this skill.

I like getting flowers in game: Just sayin’

Note here that I will rarely flirt back. It’s been my experience that guys tend to get the wrong idea too easily. Oh, I’ll make the odd remark about someone’s hot voice or I’ll playfully throw in some “<3"s when someone does me a favor or makes me laugh. But unless someone is a very close friend, that’s as far as I’ll go. Being a rather playful person, I hate to be limited, but I’ve been a girl on the internet long enough to know my boundaries. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

So ends part one. Part two is mostly written, but I’ll let this half be digested first. Coming up: dealing with sexist jokes, being disregarded as “cute”, being labeled “fragile goods” and more!


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