January 25, 2010 – 9:34 am
Starting off this week of guest posts, I’d like to introduce Falconesse from WTT:RP. She’s an awesome RPer and author, and I’m always amazed at her ability to take a really difficult, nuanced subject and turn it into a clear and easy to understand blog post.
While this subject isn’t nearly so heavy, it’s still excellent – and one that hits close to home. As a healer, I very /very/ rarely join random dungeon groups, PUGs, or join in when people are asking for help filling a group, because so many times “Hey Anna, can you come heal <instance>” turns into a multi-hour headache. But as DPS? I’ll go every time. (Still doesn’t mean I like putting groups together on my own though!) Enjoy!
Not long ago, Cynwise asked a very interesting question to the twitterverse:
Anyone else have trouble asking for a dungeon run but are perfectly happy to give one? It’s not like this isn’t a social game or anything.
My immediate reaction was “Oh, hell yes.”
It’s a little silly, isn’t it? I’ve been playing for five years now, and love the people in my guilds to pieces. My husband plays. Several real-life friends play; Yva’s been my best friend since way before WoW came along. I’ve grown very close to people who live scattered across the country, none of whom I would have met if it wasn’t for the game. I’ve flown out to visit them, some have flown out to stay with us. We’ve exchanged phone calls and Christmas presents. We’ve leaned on one another when real life started hurling lemons.
In my head, I know that, at any given moment, I could call out in a channel full of my guildmates and get something together. I know that I could poke Bricu — who’s been my partner in crime for going on three years now — say, “Hey, let’s go run a heroic,” and he’d say yes. Yva’s just a phone call away. I could shout into the other room, and Gharr would heal or tank something for me hordeside. There are ten people on my gchat list right now I could ask to run a dungeon with me, and that’s just among the friends whose lights are green.
But will I ask any of them?
/shakes her Magic 8 Ball
Outlook not so good.
So why don’t I?
The most obvious answer, I suppose, is lack of confidence. Setting up groups, explaining fights, understanding how other classes work, I’m not very good at any of those things. If we head into a dungeon and things go pear-shaped, I feel like having the little crown on my avatar’s head means I ought to be able to figure out what’s wrong and get it sorted. Even if I’m running with a group of people who already know what they’re doing — and most of the time, the other four people in my group could run the instance in their sleep — I feel like it’s my group, therefore it’s my responsibility to see that it succeeds.
Right alongside the lack of confidence is shyness. Yup, even with people I’ve known for years. They’re not in a dungeon right now, not setting up their own run? They must be doing something more important. Maybe they’re RPing or farming or questing.
Of course, when I’m out farming or questing, I’m often happy to volunteer for a dungeon if someone else is putting it together. When I’m RPing, I’ll usually decline, or check in with my RP partner to see what they’d like to do. Even so, if I’m willing to take a break from whatever I’m doing for a dungeon, wouldn’t others do the same when I call out?
/shakes the 8 Ball again
Signs point to yes.
Right. So. What can we wallflowers do to get up the confidence to put our own runs together? Here’s what I’ve got. Let me know what other suggestions you have!
Start small. Recruit just ONE person to do something, someone you’re already comfortable with. Go up against an elite mob (Chillmaw might be a good one), pop into Wintergrasp, even meet at Cantrips and Crows for some RP. Most importangly, do something fun — are you both 80? Revisit some old-world dungeons and see how far you can get two-manning them.
Ask a friend to co-lead. Do you have a friend who’s not at all shy? Let them know what you’re doing, and ask if they’d be willing to back you up. (Hint: They probably will.)
Start easy. Call out for dungeons you’re comfortable with, ones whose fights you know well enough to explain if need be. If you’re not sure about all the mechanics of a fight, it’s okay to say so; someone else in your party can probably help out. If you’re all shrugging at a mechanic, there’s no shame in looking up the fight on WoWhead, WoWWiki, or other sites that have strategies.
It’s okay to give someone else the hat. Putting the group together doesn’t always mean you have to call all the shots. Often, I see the tanks given the lead so they can mark targets. If you are the tank and you’re not quite sure which mobs need to die first, see if someone else in the group is willing to mark the pulls, or at least let you know which ones you should be marking.
Do a little research on other classes and roles. You don’t have to know every single ability for every spec for every class, but it doesn’t hurt to talk a little shop, either. Do you have a friend who loves to roguespam? Has your RP partner been playing a resto druid since launch? Ask them to give you a rundown of their key abilities. If you’re in a raid, chances are you’ll hear the names of spells and abilities banded about while fights are being explained. Listen for them, and (when you’re not mid-bossfight!) look them up, or ask a friend who plays that class what those abilities do. What does Tricks of the Trade do? How does Shield Wall work?
Do a little research on the dungeons. Once you’re ready to put together parties for harder content, read up on the boss strategies that are out there. There might be a few different ways to get past a fight. Be ready to adapt if you need to — talk it over with your party if something’s not working.
The most important thing, as always, is to have a good time. Run dungeons with people you know, and with whom you’re comfortable. If you take someone who gets upset at every wipe, you’re going to come out of the instance more frazzled than you were before going in. That defeats the purpose.
Fill your group with friends, RP between bosses, and, most importantly, have fun!
January 19, 2010 – 3:06 pm
A touchy subject, to be sure, but one that doesn’t have a lot of attention paid to it. Blizzard does a really nice job of laying out what they determine harassment to be (read here: Blizzard’s Official Harassment Policy ), but there’s not a lot written about what to do if you are the target of a harassing player.
That said, there are some different things to consider at this point, including the different levels of harassing behavior. Not every harassing player is created equal, and the response to each one will be different.
It’s very easy to pop into town and see some new moron spouting racist, sexist, threatning, or derrogatory language, right-click ignore them, and go on your merry way. I’m not talking about that kind of harassment. On another level, we have the frequently spotted, often naked RP griefer. That’s the subject of a separate post, and one that you’ll see soon! Let’s leave that particular character behind for now as well, though, since it is worthy of a separate discussion.
Which leaves us where I want to get started.
What do you do when someone is personally going out of their way to harass you? This might be someone you know, someone in your guild or in your raid, someone in a chat channel you frequent, or just someone you picked up for RP. The key here is this:
Harrassment happens when someone contacts you in a way you don’t like (or are uncomfortable with) and continues to do so even after you ask them to stop.
By that definition, it doesn’t matter who they are, whether you’ve been in a guild with them for years or just met them in a PUG, what you know about them, or anything.
There are three key parts to the Official Annas Definition of Harassment though, each of which is important:
- Someone makes you uncomfortable, disturbs you, upsets you, or threatens you.
- You ask them to stop
- They refuse to stop, make it into a joke, defend themselves/call you oversensitive, or otherwise continue to do that which you have asked them not to do. (Possibly demeaning you and your feelings in the process.)
It’s not a complicated list, and it doesn’t have to extend over long periods of time, make you feel all skeevy, make you think about quitting the game/transferring servers, or any other horrible thing. Someone does something; you ask them to stop; they keep doing it. That’s harassment.
I want to stress, however, that you do actually need to ask them to stop, and you need to state it clearly, firmly, and in no uncertain terms. Nobody around you is a mind-reader, and JoeNoobface may actually just be a clueless noob that doesn’t know that his rape jokes are somewhat offputting. Most people, when asked “Hey could you please not do (whatever), it makes me uncomfortable and is kind of skeevy” will apologize and hey – problem solved.
If they do NOT stop, particularly if you are the target of ongoing threatening/sexual/disturbing/uncomfortable whispers, you have come to #3 on the list and will need to make some decisions. I don’t recommend being rash, but I don’t recommend putting your own comfort, enjoyment of the game, and (in severe cases) mental state below “not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.” Temper this with your best judgment (and the help of people you trust, like your guild leader).
I would suggest, at that point, cutting off all communication with the harasser. Regardless of their motivations, whether you think they are/were a nice person, or whatever, they are blatantly disregarding what you want from a game that you are paying money to play. Nobody deserves that!
Here’s how to go about it:
- Put them on ignore. Yes, that includes on all of your alts. The person who is bothering you has already shown that they don’t care about your feelings or opinions because they have ignored your request either to stop doing something or to stop talking to you altogether,. Putting their comfort above yours – when they obviously don’t care to honor what you want – isn’t a good idea, and drawing it out will only increase the chances of drama. Besides, that’s why the ignore button is there.
- Put their alts on ignore. Yes, that includes on all of your alts (even your banker), and yes, it includes any cross-faction alts you might know about. If the harasser creates a new alt or logs onto a character you don’t know about, report them immediately and add the new name to your ignore list. Actually. Ignore them first, and THEN report it.
- Remove yourself from any chat channels that they are also in. This includes guilds. DEFINITELY talk with your Guild Leader, raid leader, and/or whoever manages the channels before you drop them like a hot rock, though, since those people are very likely your friends and you may not need to drop them all – your GL may choose instead go /gkick or channel ban the harasser.
These steps are particularly important if you think that the person in question is deserving of a temporary or permanent account ban – you want to have taken all the steps that you can to make yourself totally unavailable to the harassing person.
Now, that third step is particularly sticky, and I really don’t like it at all – it’s isolating, and it rewards the harasser while punishing the person who is being harassed. Unfortunately, there’s not another way to deal with it outside of getting the harassing person removed from the channel/guild. Which is why you really should speak with the GL/channel manager before dropping out. Explain to them why you need to not participate in the guild/channel anymore, state your experiences calmly and rationally, and bring along a bit of evidence (screenshots are good) of you asking the person to stop and their refusing to do so if you can.
These tools – the ignore feature and the report feature in particular – are there to give you a measure of control in the situation. Yes, they might not be fair (and in some cases they are decidedly UNfair), but they do succeed in getting your game experience free from the influence of the harasser.
Occasionally, these situations will make their way out of game – either because of guild forums or the realm forums, or because this was someone you thought you could trust and gave them an IM name or an email address (not every creepy person on the internet has a creepy name and goes around advertising their creepiness).
There are ignore and report functions on most guild forum sites (and they are both there on the realm/Blizzard forums as well) if both of you are guests. If the person is in your guild, however, you’ll probably want to take further steps. This is absolutely another time when you should speak with your GL, because most guilds are not fond of harboring people with such outright disregard for others. Whether your GM decides to ban the harassing person or not is in the hands of the guild leadership, but you can always ignore a poster even if they choose to let the harasser stick around.
Most instant messaging and email programs also have ignore or block functions (in gmail, that function is done through creating a filter) – however, do not throw away emails or conversations if you can avoid it. Once this kind of situation progresses to out-of-game contact, particularly if the harassing person went digging for your email or IM that’s posted in a guild forum, the situation changes from being in-game harassment to being on-line harassment and potentially on-line stalking. (Yes, it’s a scary word.) On-line stalking, if it gets very serious, can be grounds for contacting another person’s internet provider and/or the police.
Throughout any situation like this, remember that someone else choosing to harass you is not your fault.
It doesn’t matter if this is someone you’ve known for a long time and the conversations just kinda got weird, and then they got really weird, and now you’re uncomfortable and freaked out. Someone who is your friend, when you tell them “please stop” will do so. Common courtesy. It’s like finding out that one of your friends really doesn’t like being hugged. If a good friend said to you sincerely “Please don’t hug me, it weirds me out and makes me uncomfortable,” you might feel a little embarrassed, and you might not really understand, but you’d also probably not run up and hug them all the time either.
Above all, don’t be afraid to take whatever steps are necessary to remove a poisonous or harassing person from your gaming time. You deserve to not have your feelings hurt, to not be made uncomfortable, and to enjoy the time you spend in game. If someone wants to stomp all over that, there are ways to deal with them that are quick and effective. Take advantage of those tools and don’t let other people ruin your game.
This isn’t a light subject, nor is it a particularly fun one to talk about. Please be gracious in the comments – especially if someone chooses to talk about a past experience with this kind of thing.
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January 18, 2010 – 9:44 am
I’m back, at least for a week, and then I’ll be off into the great vast realms of AFK-land again. Here’s a bit about what’s been going on.
- Annie Mae is 77, and beginning her work for the Argent Crusade. While I don’t intend to have her go for the Crusader title, I do intend to make her some cash and finish out her major city reputations.
- Annylais is 64, working on 65, and hanging out with the Cenarion Expedition in Zangarmarsh. She is currently specced feral, and I’m liking it quite a lot. Particularly pounce and feral charge-cat, which have the best animations ever.
- Aely is splitting her time between Icecrown (when she’s on duty) and Stormwind (when she’s not). She’s moved out of her little apartment in Old Town temporarily, as the political climate there has been bad enough that she was affecting the business at the Silver Shield. She’s currently living over in the Mage District. (And no, she’s not as disappointed about that as she could have been…)
- Plotbunnies! They are many and multiplying. Keep an eye out for some crazy stuff to start happening!
- I am considering “reskinning” Anzefi back to Alliance as a dual-class option for Aely. Part of me would really like to play my priest again with my friends. Part of me says there’s no way Aely would go along with it, as she is a PALADIN dammit, not a priest. Having her dual-class would give me the ability to play her more in situations where I don’t really like being a holy paladin (like heroics), and would let me RP with her more while having the opportunity to play more than one class. Suggestions/ideas wanted.
- (Please to not have those suggestions be “BUT ZOMG ANZEFI ROCKS” or something of that nature. There are a number of reasons that I can’t really be playing hordeside right now that I’d rather not discuss, but trust me to say that I’m not considering this lightly. I really like Anzefi’s character a LOT, and don’t want to lose it either.)
A reminder that if you’ve got ideas, I would love to have a guest post from you for next week when I’ll be gone again! You can email me at toomanyannasATgmailDOTcom if you want some help turning a vague something into a post to show here – and, of course, if you’ve got a blog, I’ll be linking back to it!