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.

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.

Explore posts in the same categories: Internet Anthropology

4 Comments on “Love Is In Proper Gift Etiquette Part 1”

  1. Will Says:

    I, too, enjoy giving gifts to people. Of course, the kind and quantity of gifts are limited by whatever my circumstances might be at the time (or the medium; WoW or the physical world), but it always gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling, and I love that warm, fuzzy feeling. πŸ™‚

    As far as WoW goes, I do like to reciprocate in some way for gratuitous acts of kindness, or things that people went out of their way for. I’ve always had this (probably irrational) fear of making people go out of their way for me, and I like for them to know that I appreciate what they’ve done. So I always like to send a nice in-game letter along with some gold or some items.

    The above also applies to those that I consider my friends, but for them I also like to give a little something when holidays or birthdays roll around. (I always like to learn when birthdays are for my friends.) I like making one of those Delicious Chocolate Cakes and sending it along with some gold and another “birthday present”.

    And this past Christmas, I even sent 50g each and a nice in-game letter to a couple of people that were kind enough to include me in a couple of events. Since I’m not in their Guild, and they had no obligation to include me, it touched me that they wanted to include me; someone that just happned to meet one of them in a Heroic PuG (pre-cross-realm Dungeons). Acts of kindness have always meant a great deal to me.

    I’m also very fond of spontaneous gift-giving. More than once I’ve had a friend make an off-hand remark about the cost of leveling Blacksmithing or some other profession, or needing more for Epic flight, and I’ll send them a few hundred gold after they log out to surprise them when they next pop in. The reactions to those times are always priceless. πŸ™‚

    Male or female, it doesn’t matter to me. I trust that my female friends (who are almost all in relationships of their own to begin with) know that I don’t mean anything inappropriate by my actions. And I have yet to get a negative response from anyone to a gift that I’ve given.

    I’ve even gotten the street addresses of some of my closer WoW friends, so that I can send them tangible Christmas or birthday cards.

    And all that I ever ask in return is a simple “Thank you”. I get them far more often than I don’t, and knowing that I made someone’s day a little better, even if it was just through pixels on a screen, means so much to me. πŸ™‚

    • Ophelie Says:

      You know, I actually have hang ups about giving people gold. I’ll give gold to real life friends that I dragged into the game or to good friends buying their flight/epic flight, but that’s about it. I’d rather go out and farm whatever someone needs than give them gold. I guess gold just doesn’t feel as personal.

      I do like to do the spontaneous giving too. When it’s close friends, I go by a “whats mine is yours” mentality and with other people, it just depends on whether I feel generous at that moment.

      I don’t keep track of who thanks me and who doesn’t after Christmas, but I’d guess it’s about half. It doesn’t bother me because if I’m sending something their way, then most likely they’ve given me plenty (be it time, items, kindness, help, whatever) over the year and the little holiday token is me saying thank you.

      • Will Says:

        Well, I think I may have made it sound like I give gold more often than I do. (Another case of fingers being half a step ahead of brain, I guess.)

        I’m most apt to give gold when I don’t know of anything specific to send someone. Like the two people that took me along on their Guild events. Since I didn’t know what they might want or need, I sent gold instead. Like you insinuated, it’s more impersonal than I’d like, and I try to avoid it when I can. But if I want to help someone with Epic flight, for example, sending gold itself is really the only option. But I always send a letter along with it.

        As for the friend who was leveling Blacksmiting, what I MEANT to say was that I went and got her a few hundred gold worth of Saronite Ore. (Not being a Miner myself, I had to buy it.)

        Your attitude regarding “thanks” is very nice. I’d never really thought of it in those terms, but now that I do, it makes a lot of sense.

        I look forward to the column on gift receiving. πŸ™‚

        • Ophelie Says:

          Oh, I don’t have hang up about other people giving gold, I just personally feel weird doing it.

          I really meant to finish up the post on receiving yesterday, but I was so sleepy all day. Will try to do that today!

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