Love Is In Proper Gift Etiquette Part 1
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.
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.Internet Anthropology