Posted tagged ‘communication’

Constructive Criticism, What’s The Problem?

March 6, 2011

I was reading Rhii’s last post about how she felt guilty that something she said was followed by her raid leader’s resignation. Now, Rhii’s a gentle soul and I’d be shocked if she mustered the cruelty to say something so horrid that it would ruin someone’s raid leading confidence. A resignation following something she said was most likely coincidence. So that’s not what made me react. What made me react was her (seemingly) gingerly approach to constructive criticism.

(EDIT: After some clarifications from Rhii, it seems that I misinterpreted her approach to CC, which was in reality: “maybe my guild is going overboard with CC, only pointing out the bad calls and ignoring the good ones”. Which, since they’re a new guild, is sort of normal, they’re just trying to find the best communication style for them. But remember folks, be honest and help each other improve, but don’t forget to raise a glass to the good times! Work hard, party hard!)

Discomfort with constructive criticism is one that I see echoed quite a bit among bloggers and among many players I’ve shared raids with: constructive criticism is hard, it causes drama if you’re not super ultra careful, you need to be an adult to handle it

Are us WoW players so terribly socially inept that the words Contructive Criticism need to be capitalized? Is it such a big deal that we need to warn people about it? That we need to debate the terms and conditions of our constructive criticism?
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Just Because They’re Video Game Characters Doesn’t Mean They’re Not YOURS

July 30, 2010

I know this video is old news, but earlier this week, a discussion with Deyndor on Twitter about domestic violence reminded me of it. Ignore the really, um, silly, article containing the video. For those who didn’t watch the video (I’ll confess I didn’t have the heart to watch it either), it’s a girl deleting her boyfriend’s WoW characters. Anyone who enjoys dramatic threads in the customer service forum knows this kind of thing happens all the time and isn’t overly shocking.

What weirds me out is how the perception people have of this.

Oh, she must not have known how much characters can mean to a person.

It’s true, World of Warcraft can be very addicting.

It’s not a big deal, characters can be restored.

Maybe the story needs to be told in a different way:

This girl went uninvited into her boyfriend’s personal space and broke his stuff in an effort to control him.

Sure, it’s not as spectacular or as sickening as pushing a pregnant woman down the stairs, but it’s still a form of violence. It’s disrespecting your partner’s personal space, it’s trying to control someone and it’s putting yourself in a position of power over them. A romantic relationship isn’t a parent-child relationship. Neither person has authority to “confiscate” anything from the other.

Maybe the abuse in that video’s relationship will stay at the deleting WoW characters level, maybe it’ll escalate, who knows? I sure as heck wouldn’t stick around to find out.

Would I be upset if a boyfriend deleted my WoW characters?

I’d be devastated. Not over of the missing pixels on my screen (after all, those can be restored easily), but over losing the trust I had in that person. Over realizing that this person has no regard for me or my personal space. Over discovering that someone I cared about would want me to be distressed.

I’ve dumped boys over less. I’d rather curl up with the vibrator every night for the rest of my life than have to put up with that kind of bullshit. (Vibrators are much lower maintenance anyway.)

On Having a Partner that Plays Too Much

I’m not disregarding the frustration that comes from disagreeing on “how much is too much” when it comes to gaming. Even though I’m a gamer too, I’ve seen been in the “ITS NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO WORK MY ARSE OFF AND ALL YOU DO IS SIT AROUND AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES” camp many, many times. (I’m sure I’ve been in the opposite camp as well, but guys don’t complain about that stuff much.)

The thing is, when we’re not talking about video game addiction (I’ll get into that later), it’s up to both partners to find an acceptable solution. Trying to control the other person doesn’t work, or, at least, it doesn’t work in a very satisfying way.

There are plenty of ways to go about it. I had a guildie who was fine with raiding only one night a week. Another reserved Friday and Saturday evenings for elaborate date nights. Another had a wife who actually encouraged his gaming so she could get dibs on to the TV remote control. And Honorshammer once wrote a beautiful post about being a gamer in a healthy, happy relationship. (Even if the religious context doesn’t strike a chord with you, what he says is still applicable to non-Christians.)

Just like any other aspect of a relationship, communication is key. And if you can’t come to an agreement, you’re either not compatible, or one of you isn’t in the right state of mind for a serious relationship. You probably notice it other aspects of your relationship too (whether you admit it or not) and character deletion isn’t going to change that.

When Addiction Comes to Play

There are entire books written on gaming addiction, and I’m no addiction specialist, so this is going to be short and superficial.

Any type of addiction is a sad occurrence. It’s devastating for the addicted person and it’s devastating the friends and families losing the person they love. Unfortunately, though, it’s up to the addicted person to realize they’re out of control and to take the measures needed to rebuilt their lives. Sometimes it takes losing everything. Oh, from the outside we can let our friend know where they can find us when they’re better and be supportive and encouraging when they’ve decided to get a grip back on their lives. But ultimately, it’s their lives and they’re the ones who have what it takes stop the downward spiral. We can’t try to drag them back up, or cling to them as they pull us down with them.

Again, character deletion isn’t going to fix anything. Unless you’re in a position of authority (hint: in a relationship, you’re not), taking the object of addiction away from an addicted person accomplishes nothing but turning them against you. (And when you are in a position of authority, you still turn them against you.)

It’s Not About the Game

The bottom line is, invading a partner’s space, betraying their trust and trying to control them without their consent is wrong and not conducive to a happy relationship. True, video game characters don’t cost anything, aren’t essential to your day to day life and are easily restored. So what? They’re still your belongings and if having your stuff destroyed is your idea of a happy relationship, well… I got nothing.

On the flipside of the coin, as a gamer, if you’re not interested in investing yourself in a relationship and putting your partner’s needs first, then don’t. Society tries to drive into our heads that two-manning life ALL THE TIME is the only acceptable way to live, but that’s a load of crap. There’s nothing wrong with being single if you feel like being single. And there’s everything wrong with making commitments you’re not interested in keeping.

/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.

The New Recruit or How I Almost Got in a Fight with a Sexist Jerk

April 8, 2010

EDIT: Due to this post getting way more attention than I expected, I feel the need to make a few clarifications.
1) This was a one time event that I felt like talking about. A one time event. I write 1500 words about something when I find the topic interesting. It doesn’t mean it’s in the end of the world.
2) After reading the discussion surrounding this post on my blog and on other blogs, I realized that I’m really not being fair to my GM here. Yes, I pointed out his faux pas in the story. Leaving it out would have ended my tale rather abruptly. I (stupidly) wanted to keep explanations brief and simple and focus on myself and on my part in the story. I (again stupidly) left out everything else going on in the guild as well as how he scolded our little troublemaker and patiently listening to my complaining. He also let me get away with this blog post which definitely earns him props. (I’m nervously anticipating his rebuttal blog post, though.)
3) I know troll commenter Kimbo personally. Don’t let him annoy you, his ego would explode and that would be a pain to clean up ;D

I’m acting out of character a lot lately. First a whiny post. Now I’m going to go into guild-related specifics, using a pretty harsh tone. Before you know it, I’ll be making posts about Paladin Cataclysm changes. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But anyway, an interesting situation in guild came up recently and I found it worth talking about.

The Story, part 1: How it all started.

On my guild’s application template, there’s a “tell us a joke” section. It’s a rather brilliant idea and tells you a lot about an applicant’s personality. Most applicants tell really lame jokes, but end up being ok people, just not very funny. This one kid, though, had “woman’s rights” as his joke.

While I wouldn’t qualify that as exactly offensive, I had to roll my eyes. Real mature there, kiddo, real mature.

When one of the officers replied with “invited because of joke“, I still wasn’t offended quite yet but was getting a little annoyed. After all, my eyes were becoming sore from all the rolling they were doing.

Things got a little heated when our kickass (female) bear tank cocked an eyebrow. The kid replied with a sarcastic remark. Having enough, I jumped in with a sarcastic remark of my own, pointing out how he was really impressing the women in the guild.

His answer? “Oh yeah, that’s what I play WoW for, to impress women.”

Is that a challenge, little boy? Are you challenging me? I accept your challenge little boy.

I wanted to take him on then and there, but instead I bit my tongue and left a note for my GM.

Let’s play Find-the-Line

Our guild chat is rated well beyond PG-13. Racist and pseudo sexist jokes abound but, for the most part, no one is bothered. Why was this particular behaviour unacceptable to me? Where’s the line?

The line is different from one person to the next. When it comes to sexist jokes especially, tolerance levels vary from woman to woman. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who had to fight her whole life to be listened to and respected will probably find nothing funny in sexist jokes. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who accepted it as part of life will probably be pretty difficult to offend. A woman who, and I fall into this category, grew up in a female dominated world and sort of takes respect and equality for granted will be somewhere in the middle.

What about this behaviour crossed my line?

1- All I knew about this guy’s personality was negative. The main reason none of the other guys’ pseudo sexist remarks bother me is because I’ve either had normal, enjoyable conversations with those guys in private, or I’ve had strange, irrational conversations with those guys in private, which had them excused as “raving lunatics, not responsible for their words”. All I had seen from this applicant was a very lame attempt at humour and blatant disrespect towards myself and another guildy. Not even good enough to be lumped into the “raving lunatic” category.

2- He didn’t know when to stop. When in doubt, don’t take chances. My guildy and I were subtle in our warnings, but when you have two women, strangers, coming at you with displeased tones after you showed some sexist attitude, you’ll want to test the waters before adding fuel to the fire. Not knowing when to stop is a red flag.

3- An application thread is supposed to impress. When I read an application thread, I see it as the best this person has to offer. This is them selling themselves, trying to impress their future guildies. Obviously, the best this guy has to offer is pretty crappy.

4- The timing was bad. Pseudo sexism was getting stale. We were in the middle of a roster turnover. I was burned out and sick IRL. Sure, he couldn’t have known that this was not the time act like a moron, but when you don’t know what kind of group of people you’re talking to, you should play it safe. Social skills 101.

The Story, part 2: It only get better!

Here’s where things take a strange turn. Our 10 man runs are organized on our offnights. One team runs on Wednesday and one team (my team) runs on Sunday. The kid signed up for Wednesdays’ 10 man. Guess who leads the Wednesday team? Heh. All I can say is that she was far more polite than I would ever be in explaining to him that 10 man teams require a certain level of respect and maturity, qualities he would need to display in order to be considered for a spot. (I would have just flat out told him I have a no asshole policy. In my opinion, he was beyond redemption. He could go die in a fire. Like I let him do several times during Tuesday’s raid.)

Here’s a condensed version of the exchange that followed:

Kid: The GM said I could put smilies when I’m being sarcastic to show I’m joking.
Me: It’s obvious when you’re joking, it’s the nature itself of your joking that’s unacceptable.
GM: Well, what else is he supposed to do?
Me: Usually when you offend someone without meaning to, you apologize.

He did privately apologize to our bear tank. I asked for an apology as well. I didn’t receive one, but I can’t say I was too surprised. After all, he doesn’t need anything from me. (That he knows of.)

Now tells us what you learned…

Did I handle the situation as well as I could have?

No. Of course not.

Honestly, and I know it’s strange, I’ve never encountered this sort of thing before. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been in female dominated environments. Grade school, high school, college, my psych undergrad, pharmacy school, every job I’ve had, the females outnumbered the guys by a lot. Among my siblings, I was the only girl, but I was the oldest and the strongest, so it was a non-issue. I’ve never really had to stand up for myself as a woman. Even in WoW, my old guild was mainly composed of thirtysomething, highly educated, upper middle class, working professionals. Anyone who displayed immaturity in an application was turned away and anyone who offended guildies during their trial period was given a swift /gkick with very little discussion.

When dealing with the pseudo sexism of guild chat, dispelling the joking with more joking usually works pretty well. If I get a “yes, mom” from a guildy I happen to be scolding, I’ll play along, asking if he’s eaten his vegetables. If a conversation takes a turn for worst, a snarky comment of a warning will generally get the other person to back off.

This guy was either utterly clueless, or had no regard for others whatsoever. Either way, it’s very difficult for me to respect such a person. I don’t want to raid with him, I don’t want him in guild chat. The fact that I’m even blogging about this shows a lot.

Still, I recognize that being direct is the way to go for these situations. To me, it’s obvious that you should apologize when your attitude offends. But apparently it isn’t obvious to everyone. Or instead of making a sarcastic remark when he crossed my line, I should have flat out told him on the spot that his behaviour wasn’t cool and that I’d like for him to change his attitude. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not, but he wouldn’t have been able to use “I didn’t know any better” as an excuse.

The “Panties in a Wad” Fear

A large reason that I get nervous about flat out telling people they’re going too far is the “Panties in a Wad” fear. Basically being accused of exaggerating or blowing things out of proportion. The second us girls disagree, it’s “OMG, drama!”, “OMG hissy fit!”, “You must be PMSing!”. This is how we’re taught from a young age to not speak up. Enraging, yes, but once the message sinks in, it’s difficult to unlearn. So we communicate with hints, until we reach our breaking point and it all comes rushing out, reinforcing the notion of women throwing hissy fits and starting drama.

Is the “Panties in a Wad” fear justified? Probably not. Especially not in this guild where, despite our huge member diversity, people are pretty accepting of each other’s limits. Actually, I didn’t even realize how ingrained my panties in a wad fear was until I scolded this kid on the forums and immediately wanted to crawl under the floor afterward.

Moving Forward!

I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to play out. At this point, I’m more entertained than anything else. It’s hard to stay offended given the hilarity of the situation. Still, should the question be asked, I plan on enforcing a “no asshole” policy for my 10 mans. I am going to focus on being direct (I’m sure my guildies will loooooooove this, hahaha) and I’m going to work on getting rid of my panties in a wad fear. I hope for many panties in a wad accusations following this post so I can practice not caring.

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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