*tinfoil hat on*
What happens when someone you think you knew, maybe someone you’ve raided with, or someone that’s been in your guild awhile, turns out to not be who they say they are? And how do you approach that person afterwards, especially if they’ve been malicious to other guildmates?
We’ve all had times when we’ve logged into vent with a new group for the first time and discover that the big beefy male Tauren warrior is a female gamer or that svelte female druid is played by a male gamer – but this goes deeper than those brief moments of mental alteration, to when a player disguises their identity with the express intent of manipulating and/or harming other players. Younger gamers would seem to be more susceptible to these sorts of scams, but a well played fake can convince an entire guild – I know, it’s happened to a guild I was once a part of.
In that instance, a person joined the guild – a girl gamer playing a night elf priest. She posted pictures of herself on the website, joined vent but was mic-less, as were many of us at that point, since we had *just* gotten a ventrilo server, and generally took her place in the healing rotations and roles of the guild. And that wasn’t so bad – she was a little drama-ish, but nothing so serious as to raise hackles about her being there, at least at first.
But over the course of the next 6 months or so she “drew in” a few of the younger male guildmembers, both in and out of game (through a messenger program), creating mini-relationships with them… which slowly turned from cute into downright odd, as she took greater and greater advantage of them, both in and out of game. She also turned her attention on various other guild officers, creating drama and (it seemed) trying to drive the guild apart.
Things went from strange to weird to freaky, but in the end the out of game contact was what did in this player, as his real life friends couldn’t deal with what he was doing and told him to come clean or they would rat him out. And so we discovered that she was really he, in his mid 20’s, and using this tactic to get free gold/leveling/ enchants/reputation out of susceptible young male players (and free loot out of the guild). We have no idea who the pictures on the website are, but they’ve since been removed.
As far as we know, he’s still at it too – in a new guild on the same server. We’re all impressed/appalled by the … chutzpah … he has to keep his character name/server after what was essentially a very public ‘outing’. I saw him in Shattrath last night, sparking this post idea.
And really, in the realm of things, this incident was pretty minor – though people were very badly hurt and trust was broken, no one was actually in real physical danger (which has happened before when players take advantage of other players, particularly children). Yes, people “should be smarter than that” – but in a game where you spend hours raiding together, you do build relationships with people and come to trust them – and those people you run into in warcraft seem “safer” than those in a chat room, when really they are not.
And when that trust is violated, especially in a way that destabilizes a guild or a raid, it’s hard to recover – even when you’re not personally affected by it. My response to the phony I’ve had to deal with has been to /ignore all his characters and do my best to avoid all contact. Partially because I really have developed a distaste for this person and partially so I will not say something nasty, since that won’t make anything better.
Either way, be careful out there! The internet is a big place, and one where anonymity makes it very easy to pretend to be someone you’re not. Sometimes that kind of escape is good – but other times it just opens the door for abuse.
*tinfoil hat off*
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