Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Gamergate and You (and me, but also you)

Because I'm a woman who plays mmorpgs, because I'm a people watcher at heart, and because I identified so much with Felicia Day's feelings outlined in her tumblr post (the one in which a gamergater doxxed her) I figured I'd take a crack at this.


I've always enjoyed the sense of connection with people in mmorpgs, currently World of Warcraft, particularly in raiding. Up to twenty-five people working together to do the choreographed dance of mechanics in order to save Azeroth. People putting their personal demons on hold while adjusting to the dynamic of the group in order to make it a productive and fun experience. It's always been my long held opinion that the "baddies" weren't the undergeared or the inexperienced, but the ones who couldn't do this. I'm not talking about social awkwardness either, you'll come across that a lot, sometimes from me. I mean the ones who can't see past their own little sphere, who won't listen, who do their own thing resulting in a wipe because no matter how good they are they can't solo a raid boss - the ones who play like it's a solo game and the rest of us are all NPC's. Playing an mmorpg means playing with other people and getting joy from them; if you can't do that then it's not the game style for you.

But lately I've seen a couple of situations in the past week that let's me know my fellow WOW players are aware of gamergate and they just might not feel about it the way I do. I've mentioned to a couple of people that it feels like winter is coming, meaning the gamergate idiots. I doubt they raid really, because their attitudes would make them incapable of adjusting to the group dynamic. But let's face it, milder forms have always been there. I've had some shocks: I left WOW for another mmo and kept in touch with fellow players through social media, and then I learned that our ideologies don't match. I had assumed everyone thought the way I did because we did the dance so well together. I was wrong. I was left appreciating the fact that they found enough joy in their comrades that it was never brought up. I cut off contact with the ones who held views I truly found despicable. (And to be quite honest and because it supports my statements, those people weren't raiders.)


But Felicia Day perfectly encapsulated my feelings about being a woman mmorpg player lately.

Because after all the years of gamer love and inclusiveness, something had changed in me. A small voice of doubt in my brain now suspected that those guys and I might not be comrades after all.


I had started to feel this way, and it was a hard thing to face. So I took the easy way out: I decided I'm just not having it. I'm a fan of Blizzard, I'm back for Warlords of Draenor, and I don't want to have my gaming experience ruined by turds who lack the self-awareness of a ten year old. And probably haven't been able to raid past LFR. But there's still an element missing in this personal narrative of playing mmorpgs, what is it...oh right:


There is a very understandable reaction to jerks on mmorpgs - ignore, ignore, ignore. This is easy to do when it comes to trade chat, but what about PUG groups, or specific to WOW, Looking For Raid groups? It's a mixed bag of 25 strangers, currently at the end of an xpac which means the dance isn't required because completion can be attained through brute force and standing around. It allows for the idle to let their ids run amok. Insults to anything and everyone in every variety. It can easily become a despicable environment, but because it's almost a required step on the path to raiding and has a long wait time, depending, it becomes a necessary evil. "Time is money, friend." At best I can come out of it feeling relieved, at worst I come out of it weeping for humanity.


I've taken to saying one thing when the conversation in LFR turns towards the offensive:

"You just killed my joy."

The first time I said this I meant it with my entire being. And I was surprised with dead silence. Looking back, I like to think it was the virtual equivalent of feeling the air sucked out of the room with gasps. People were confronted with the truth:

1) We're on WOW to play a game, to have fun first and foremost, and someone just shit all over that. This is not what gaming is about. This is the antithesis of gaming.


2) Because of subsequent comments I could see the dawning realization that they weren't playing with people who were carbon copies of themselves. For most, it hadn't occurred to them out of ignorance. This is the turning point...

3) It can go either way from there but should things go farther south you might be pleasantly surprised to find that others will start chiming up with the same sentiments. Threats to kick might happen. On an optimistic level this is perhaps the bystander effect in action. On the most pessimistic level, number 1 is a priority regardless of someone's worldview and people want to stick to that.


But you know, things might not go south. Someone who is ignorant does not necessarily want to be responsible for emotionally hurting another person. This is particularly true for the young ones, many of who wander through Azeroth thinking they have no place in the (real) world yet and thus could never affect anyone else, positively or negatively. This lets them know that they can and do, and pushes them into new headspace. Where they go from there is anyone's guess, but for the time being they're too bewildered to continue.

Caveat: there are always bizarre exceptions, because as anyone familiar with mmos knows, sometimes interactions can get surreal. One time I said this in response to a racist comment. I was immediately hit with some variation of, "It's ok, I'm gay." To which I could only respond with "That doesn't even make sense, wtf" because that is my way. (And let's be frank: a long lecture about how minorities can have the same biases towards other minority groups as the mainstream and how that's still wrong isn't going to work in that environment. I'm not against people trying, but good luck with that.) Luckily at that point others took over to say no racism allowed. And then the guy got an authentic pat on the back for saying he was gay. I'm just saying, sometimes you just can't predict how things will go and don't overthink it.


So what's my point here, it's way past time for the wrap up:

When it comes time to face gamergaters in game, don't ignore them. Say something. And while this was about me and I'm a woman playing an mmorpg and I encourage everyone to take the small steps they can, I'm mostly directing this towards the guys. Especially if it happens within a group that is aware you're a guy. Because depending, you will carry more status and your words will carry more weight. (So far on WOW I've found this attitude varies by server, but it's a pretty safe bet in the general sense, especially since we're talking about gamergate.)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter