So there I was last night, winding down after a long day by playing a Balance druid (I chose Resto as my second spec so I could do heals in dungeons, that’ll be a nice learning curve for me) in Outland. Side note: Anyone else notice how every new WoW continent, no matter how high-level, eventually develops a zone known for Barrens chat?
ANYWAY. There I was, hanging out, occasionally tuning in to guild chat, when all of a sudden it happened, as it usually does. One of the guildies made a misogynistic joke. Normally I just put whatever asshole does so on ignore, but I actually liked this guild.
So I spoke up. Not cute, not funny, cut it out.
Of course, the usual “I was just joking” and “it’s only offensive if you’re too sensitive” came up. Since I’d already said something and I had reached my daily tolerance level for bullshit, I typed back. It is offensive, and it’s inappropriate in guild chat. There’s trade and Barrens chat for that sort of stuff, not here.
By that point I was already planning my exit from that particular guild, even though I liked it a lot. Speaking up in MMORPGs can get you harassed unmercifully, never a pleasant thing to begin with. It was as simple as typing /gquit, but I was in the middle of killing a bunch of arrakoa (another side note: Ysera’s Gift is pretty fucking awesome if you’re a Balance druid, you can survive multiples piling on you quite handily) and I didn’t have a free hand to type with.
I’m glad I didn’t, because something happened.
One of the guild officers whispered me to apologize, and to make sure I felt comfortable staying in the guild. He also thanked me for speaking up and helping to keep guild chat from becoming a sewer.
Not only that, but the other person–the one who had cracked the misogynistic joke–backed off. I suspect, though I don’t know, that he had whispered the officer and got told to cut out the bullshit.
I’ve been playing WoW for years at this point, since before Burning Crusade even–I remember when you didn’t even get a slow mount until effing 40, for God’s sake–and been in and out of several guilds. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this sort of situation resolve with an apology and people acting like adults. The guild officer, while a little rough around the edges, apologized for his own “LMAO” at the joke, and also said something very striking.
That was my old self, and I’m trying to do better.
Which just outright floored me. I’m used to the abuse, the harassment, the casual misogyny, the rape jokes, the nastiness. I guild-hop and toon-hop when it becomes overwhelming, stop playing for a while, and go back when I can handle being in an environment that bears a suspicious resemblance to a sandblaster if you’re female. What I’m not used to is collusion in making at least one corner of the gaming world a place it’s inappropriate to flood with bigoted jackassery.
I’m trying to do better.
Those five little words, and the attendant actions, kept me in the guild, and will keep me in the game a little longer. I’m sure the original teller of the joke was sore about it, given how he kept trying to bait me afterward until the officer told him to find something useful to do.
I want to repeat that this is literally, absolutely, the first time that I’ve seen speaking up about this in an online gaming environment hasn’t ended with verbal abuse or worse. I’m not sure how much of it was just stars aligning and how much is the fact that women gamers are speaking up in greater numbers, often at tremendous cost.
Either way, I’m okay with it, and if that guild officer ever comes across this I just want to say: thank you. Thank you very much. If you’re trying to be a better person, dude, it’s working.