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Are Quae and Kinelory for the boot too?
January 27, 2006 6:54 PM   Subscribe

LGBT gamers not welcome in World of Warcraft - Despite praise from queer gamers' groups, a feature in the July 2005 issue of Out magazine (sadly not archived online, reader responses 1, 2) lauding the game's gay community, and the presence of hundreds-strong LGBT-positive player groups, developer Blizzard has decided the presence of out gay subscribers would "allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game". Of course, this isn't the first time Blizzard has angered its paying fans...
posted by terpsichoria (66 comments total)

 
Hmmm...two sides, and I'm not sure which is the "best" response. First of all -- and I say this as a complete non-gamer -- what on earth does sexual orientation have to do with playing an online role-playing game? Is sex between the virtual characters permitted? Are there bars in which elves can hit on dwarves, and such? I doubt it - but could be wrong. Assuming then that the WoW is akin to the old D&D environment, I guess I just don't understand how sex would be relevant at all to the playing of the game.

On the other hand -- why on earth would anyone be upset or offended by GLBT "cliques" in WoW? The entire thing is make-believe -- not real -- played for fun -- so why can't Blizzard and the players just live & let live?
posted by davidmsc at 7:29 PM on January 27, 2006


I think it rules that one of the gay guilds is called "The Spreading Taint."
posted by papakwanz at 7:35 PM on January 27, 2006


davidmsc, online RPGs are as much a social experience as a gaming experience. People form gaming groups and make friends based on non-gaming interests the same way you'll have gay rugby leagues or male-only AA meetings (OK, maybe the AA meeting example isn't a good one).
posted by schroedinger at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2006


That's what I was gonna say. It's amazing the lengths that people with excessive disposable incomes and leisure time will go to in order to get upset about something. I like to watch girls go to the bathroom and I work too much to ever muster enough time to even consider playing WoW, where's MY outrage?
posted by wigu at 7:38 PM on January 27, 2006


I like to watch girls go to the bathroom.

Thank you for sharing?
posted by cytherea at 7:45 PM on January 27, 2006


At the risk of tarring my own beloved hobby, it would wreak fundamental havoc if the 12-year-olds had to confront a group of gamers who, when called 'fag0ts', simply nodded and smiled.

Blizzard is protecting the universe from collapse.

I will now read the rest of the articles and try to say something intelligent.
posted by cortex at 7:45 PM on January 27, 2006


"I like to watch girls go to the bathroom."

Thank you for sharing?


Thank you, nothin; I want to see this in Overcompensating next week, Mr. Rowland.
posted by cortex at 7:46 PM on January 27, 2006


Okay, so not a hell of a lot more to read, as it turns out. The primary link article is lousy writing with strong bias, and the rest is doesn't clarify any of the muddy stuff.

Here's a question: do the outraged folks believe that Blizzard would be more tolerant of an explicitly heterosexual guild?

Aside from that, the old discussion of gamer homophobia is tricky; when people use "gay" as an essentially value-neutral insult that has lost any strong connection to questions of sexuality, is it still a slur in any meaningful sense? Does it carry the message of homophobia, or is it just tasteless/sloppy use of jargon?

For the record, I pine for a gaming community that is free from unselfconciously obnoxious shitheels. I could very happily go the rest of my life without hearing something declared "gay" (though these days it's more like "ghey" much of the time) in a multiplayer game. But it's not rampant homophobia; it's rampant shitty conversation bearing out the influence of young, lazy gamers with poorly developed social skills.
posted by cortex at 7:57 PM on January 27, 2006


davidmsc: What on earth does sexual orientation have to do with playing an online role-playing game?

The thing is, massively multiplayer RPGs are social by design - to do an awful lot of the stuff in the game world, you have to team up with other players. The whole point of forming a guild is to have a permanent alliance of players who you know won't steal all the loot, run off halfway through a dungeon and so on. Given the level of both casual and vicious homophobia amongst an awful lot of WoW players, it makes sense for people who don't want to closet themselves while chatting in-game to form guilds where they know they're safe from harassment.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:01 PM on January 27, 2006


What many people find odd is that Blizzard allows guilds based on religion (there are Christian guilds), however not on sexual orientation. I can kinda see why - I'd figure that the GLBT groups might be targets for the Christian guilds.
posted by SirOmega at 8:04 PM on January 27, 2006


I hope to high hell the innsweekly people have upped their ad rates. Not saying this isn't an issue (woah.. triple neg?) , just I've seen this same exact artlcie linked everywhere in WoW land...and now blog land..
posted by cavalier at 8:05 PM on January 27, 2006


I think Blizzard's position is that you're not supposed to make sexuality a prominant part of your character, i.e. advertising that you're clan is GLBT friendly would be similar to saying that you're a heterosexual friendly clan.

Personally, I don't see a big problem with it, but Blizzard's got lawyers and has to worry about lawsuits.

I imagine with enough community backlash they'll revise their policies.
posted by Talanvor at 8:06 PM on January 27, 2006


Everybody knows the homos are too busy destroying the sanctity of marriage to play online games.
posted by orthogonality at 8:08 PM on January 27, 2006


terpsichoria: to form guilds where they know they're safe from harassment.

Just curious, but how would anyone in WoW know that another player is GLBT in order to harass them?
posted by JekPorkins at 8:13 PM on January 27, 2006


how would anyone in WoW know that another player is GLBT in order to harass them?

I imagine it's more an issue of being able to play in group where words like "fag" and "teh gay" aren't constantly thrown around as insults.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 8:15 PM on January 27, 2006


Here's Blizzard's rationale, clearly spelled out in an email to a supporter of the original GLBT guild:

"Many people are insulted just at the word 'homosexual' or any other word referring to sexual orientation"

I'm sorry, but that's fucking bullshit, especially if the reports of the regular use of "fag" as an insult in WOW chat. This is inexcusable cowardice and discrimination. End of story.
posted by mediareport at 8:17 PM on January 27, 2006


Er, "especially if the reports of the regular use of "fag" as an insult in WOW chat are accurate", I mean.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 PM on January 27, 2006


One of my friends informed me that there are a large number of gay guilds that are formed simply to root out the gay players and ostracize them--and that even the gay-friendly guilds can be purposely ostracized. He explained Blizzard's approach may be an overly-protective one designed to minimize harrassment of gay players, but not one set up to discriminate against them because of the company's homophobia.
posted by schroedinger at 8:21 PM on January 27, 2006


Wow, Blizzard is just digging a giant fucking hole with this one.

Sheesh.

And I think Espy has it nailed... the online gaming community has a tendency to be gay-hostile, not to mention ew-a-girl hostile and everything else that 14-year-olds can't handle. I can very easily see why LGBT guilds would be necessary.
posted by selfnoise at 8:21 PM on January 27, 2006


cortex:
Do the outraged folks believe that Blizzard would be more tolerant of an explicitly heterosexual guild?

They are tolerant of explicitly heterosexual guilds. They're tolerant of Christian guilds (the Landover article aside, they do exist), nationality-based guilds, one-gender guilds, single parents' guilds, and so on. More than that, I can point to a number of players who've been kicked from their guild upon the leader's discovery that they're gay. Obviously Blizzard can't force a player-run guild to readmit someone they don't want, but the answer their in- and out-of-game support gives in these cases is that it's an interpersonal issue and should be resolved between players. Which is perfectly fair, except that they're not allowing queer-friendly (not even queer-only) guilds to resolve their own issues.

JekPorkins:
Just curious, but how would anyone in WoW know that another player is GLBT in order to harass them?


As I said in the other comment, it's a social game - people adventure together, but they also chat, form circles of friends who they'll play with regularly and so on. If they really didn't want anyone to know they were gay, someone could certainly exclude themselves from any and all non-game-related chat, lie, or they (previously) had the option of being out and potentially targeted for ostracism from groups and abuse, or joining a queer-friendly guild to chat and play with people they knew wouldn't harass them. It seems a shame that the last option is being removed, and the second is an unpleasant thing to have to do, to say the least. Sadly, that leaves avoiding all chat, which (for many) defeats the point of the game - if you're going to grind through the levels and dungeons without any social contact beyond 'kill that one!' or 'heal me!' you might as well be playing a single-player game.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:22 PM on January 27, 2006


They are tolerant of explicitly heterosexual guilds.

Cite? This would definitely affect my opinion on the subject.
posted by cortex at 8:28 PM on January 27, 2006


cortex, I'd love to cite sources for that sort of thing, but this is part of the problem - there's no persistent log kept of happenings within WoW, and no way apart from shaky anecdotal evidence to compare Blizzard's behaviour on different issues.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2006


Well, that's pretty frustrating.
posted by cortex at 8:40 PM on January 27, 2006


It should be easy to find out if there's a "heteros only" guild though, right? Or a "hetero friendly" guild? I guess I don't quite understand how the guilds are set up. I assumed that one could easily find out what guilds are out there, but maybe they're not really listed anywhere.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:42 PM on January 27, 2006


Two True Stories:

1) So, I'm playing WoW, grouped up with some random guy who happened to be wiping out the same camp I was for the same quest I'm completing. He's playing a female character, but he's quick to tell me he's a guy. I frankly don't care because all I want is to slaughter some furlbolgs and get the hell out of Darkshore, but despite a total lack of encouragement on my part, he goes on this five minute rant about how he *always* plays female characters because he's no faggot, he's not about to sit down for 6 hours at a time and watch some guy's ass on the screen. By the way, am I real girl?

2) General chat- which is chat broadcast to an entire area in the game- for a half an hour, some little twerp spams General Chat with a shittalking session about somebody who beat him in a duel. This guy is a fag! He's so gay! He wouldn't fight him without his pet, what a faggot! Over and over. Finally, another player gets out the cluebat and tells him to knock it off with the gay and the fag. The response? Why? R U a fag? Of course, this turns into an idiotic argument where the twerp calls the Corrector a hundred variations on fag, while the Corrector stupidly tries to explain why this language is offensive. Many /reports are made. The GM response? *wind whistles through the empty crags*

The first story was one weird incident. I've had others like it, but that was particularly memorable. The second is a conversation that is repeated every single day, multiple times a day, in high traffic areas like Ironforge and the Barrens. And that's why I belong to a GLBT-friendly guild.

My guild is the one place where I'm guaranteed a fun group of folks to play with, without having to suffer Joey Knuckles' homophobia, and where I know I will not have to hear a story that ends, "And then I ganked that fag and camped his corpse."

I think this policy sucks, and I think it sucks because it basically says "You have to suffer because that bigot might do something wrong to you." It's a pre-emptive gay panic, she was askin' for it in that tight red skirt, you better be out by sundown excuse, and it's bullshit. I certainly hope they revisit and revise it, or they're losing a customer. (Yeah, I know, woo, 15 bucks a month, oh well. At least I'll feel better.)
posted by headspace at 8:49 PM on January 27, 2006


I can't help there; I've never really gone looking for a guild (and I'm a pretty casual WoW player -- a couple hours once a week.)

Guilds usually come to you, as it were -- guildmembers sometimes throw out recruiting messages in general chat, and guildies may invite an outsider to join their guild after a positive ad hoc group session.

I presume one could essentially scan the existing guilds -- maybe some use of the ingame /who command or an equivilant -- but I don't know if there is any easy way to really sort through the guilds. There are, for one thing, an awful lot of them, some large but many quite small.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that proactive GLBT-friendly players would raise a proportional stink about a guild that explicitly broadcast any sort of hetero-exclusive or hetero-centric thesis; that'd be kinda fucked up.
posted by cortex at 8:52 PM on January 27, 2006


Warning: I haven't played WOW since beta, but I'm always playing one MMO or another.

Blizzard shouldn't be expected to have to hire support staff specifically to deal with the FLOOD of harrassment complaints on both sides this issue that an advertising GLBT guild will generate.

That just isn't fair to them. It wouldn't be fair if they had to start hiring staff just to deal with effects of a furry guild, white supremicist guild, or any single other social hotbutton that will set off fights the moment said guild comes up in the zonewide chat. You can't expect them to provide special babysitters for one small group of people 24/7 just to protect them from the other players.

On the same note it isn't fair to the GLBT guild members that they can't have their guild and actively recruit for it under that heading.

While I can understand Blizz looking at this from a purely economic perspective, I think what they should have done in this case was issue a simple statement to the effect that they respect people's right to free speech of all kinds as much as their right to choose their own sexual orientation. In short: have your guild, but understand that we're not going to be able to protect you from the constant slurs you'll endure as a result.
posted by Ryvar at 8:54 PM on January 27, 2006


I play City of Heroes, another MMORPG.

I am part of a Supergroup with a single other player. He is gay, I am not. Based on his experience in WoW, when he came to CoH, he decided he would rather just play solo than play in a team because whenever he played with teams in WoW, the level of anti-homosexual talk was so great that he felt constantly harassed.

When he did start teaming in CoH, to avoid this, he announced his sexuality pretty early on in his team play so that if the other players were homophobic, they could choose to not play with him or choose to cool it with the language. He told me he had some good experiences and some bad ones this way, but at least didn't have to listen to homophobic banter the whole time he was playing.

When I've teamed with this dude, we have some social conversations (about our relationships, etc), but mostly just have a good time running around killing arresting villains. While there is a social aspect to the game, in the end, we are there to play the game.

In my own experience, I have only encountered a little bit of homophobia while playing - and it is usually pretty clear from grammar choices that the players are either young or not especially well educated. Most of the homophobia is directed at men who play female characters in the game - possibly because some of the boys are hot for the toon girls and want to believe that the people who play those toons are, in fact, hot women themselves.

Ultimately, most MMORPGs are chat rooms with guns and swords.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:05 PM on January 27, 2006


As a WoW gamer, I can't really discuss this seriously. The first rule of Blizzard customer service is it is full of complete fucking idiots. Every week there is some ridiculous story about someone being suspended/warned/banned for something beyond inane, and total incompetence is the only explanation. It is also the explanation here. I highly doubt Blizzard has any real rational explanation for this action. Fortunately for GLBTs in WoW, Blizzard is so inconsistent at enforcing any of its rules in-game that a decision against them will still not affect the vast majority of them.

GLBT friendly guilds have been present in the game since the beginning, and they are not suddenly an issue now; some stupid game master made a stupid mistake. This is simply the result of people reading their customer service handbooks way too literally and being afraid of making a rational decision on their own.

Blizzard shouldn't be expected to have to hire support staff specifically to deal with the FLOOD of harrassment complaints on both sides this issue that an advertising GLBT guild will generate.

That just isn't fair to them.
posted by Ryvar at 8:54 PM PST on January 27 [!]


This argument is extremely offensive. Yes gay people get harassed, how utterly inconvenient for the people that are charged with preventing said harassment. Wouldn't it be better if we could just pretend they don't exist? Or maybe ship them off to gas chambers somewhere? Yeah, if only.

I realize you may not hold to this argument personally, but it is nonetheless distasteful. And paralleling GLBTs with white supremacists? Good lord.
posted by mek at 9:11 PM on January 27, 2006


mek: it is simply unfair to expect Blizzard to hire dedicated staff just for one extremely small group of players, yes. I'm not comparing homosexuality to white supremacy other than the fact that both draw insults like honey draws flies. So would an black-friendly guild, a Jew-friendly guild, or any other kind of special interest that people love to gang up on.

Kindly don't put words in my mouth.
posted by Ryvar at 9:15 PM on January 27, 2006


Consider: if your GLBT guild is EXTREMELY large it might have as many as 50 members. On a server with usually 2-3 thousand active players at any time out of a total character base of 15-25 thousand. If Blizzard had to hire a dedicated support staffer for every fifty people on each server there would be no game for this argument to even brew up over.
posted by Ryvar at 9:18 PM on January 27, 2006


You can't expect them to provide special babysitters for one small group of people 24/7 just to protect them from the other players.

Jesus, Ryvar, that's *exactly* what they're doing, but for *homophobic* players. Again, check the response in the email they sent: Many people are insulted just at the word 'homosexual' or any other word referring to sexual orientation"

Oh, ok, so let's protect them from the - gasp! - horrors that await them if they encounter a glbt player. What the hell is that, Ryvar, if not "providing special babysitting"?
posted by mediareport at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2006


I can understand seeking an explicitly gay friendly guild.

The fact is, guilds have to be a fairly close circle of people, who are able to work together and communicate, often using tools outside the game, including stuff like voice chat.

Online clans/guilds are diverse by nature, and the fact is, there is often a chance that a member of the guild is actually a real bigot, not the 'using the word gay as an insult' insensitive type, but an honest bigot.

Good clans will have policies that make clear to their members that is not acceptable, but good guilds can be hard to find and if you move on to a new game where you don't know anyone, well, I would assume it is very much like a virtual version of the experience a homosexual may face when moving to a new town.

Due to the hatred that is out there, people have to know ahead of time the dynamics of a social situation they may be facing so they don't end up in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation.

The end result is there are gay guilds for the same reasons there are gay bars.

Anyway, this may turn into a PR nightmare for Blizzard no matter what they do. One the one hand you have the gay people you are pissing off and on the other you have soccer moms and dads worrying that little johnny is playing a game with gays over the internet.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:26 PM on January 27, 2006


mek: it is simply unfair to expect Blizzard to hire dedicated staff just for one extremely small group of players, yes.

My point is not only is this a false dilemma, but it's the wrong choice given that dilemma. If this is "unfair," then suck it up and deal.
posted by mek at 9:26 PM on January 27, 2006


mediareport: I don't defend that side of Blizzard's argument at all. It's pure bullshit.

What they should be doing is stating very simply that if a particular issue is part of your guild's promotional or recruitment activities then they won't accept harrassment complaints from you about that single issue until it escalates from name-calling into something more serious (intentionally dropping large groups of powerful monsters on you, etc.)
posted by Ryvar at 9:27 PM on January 27, 2006


mek's hyperbole aside, I agree to an extent - LGBT guilds have been around since the game launched, and they haven't suddenly started requiring a bunch of extra support staff. Blizzard's attitude to complaints about harrassment has generally been to reply with a form-letter platitude and leave the player to sort it out for themselves - all that's being asked is that they leave it that way rather than actively making it worse. Warning and/or banning people who advertise their queer guilds seems to be more work for the GMs, not less. They certainly don't have a dedicated support staffer for every queer guild on every server. Or if they do, none of them ever actually do any work.

Realistically, this is likely some GM with their nose too firmly in the customer service manual rather than a drastic change in policy, example of corporate homophobia or whatever. However, I think it needs to be publicised in the hope that Blizzard issue a retraction or clarification - all a certain subset of players needs is the excuse that they're harassing LGBT people and guilds in WoW to comply with the new official ruling, and they stand to make a lot of players' experience a lot less pleasant.
posted by terpsichoria at 9:29 PM on January 27, 2006


My point is not only is this a false dilemma, but it's the wrong choice given that dilemma. If this is "unfair," then suck it up and deal.

Sucking it up and dealing by hiring support staff for every special interest would involve shutting down the game due to cost overruns. In which case they don't get their guild anyway, and I firmly believe they should have their guild.
posted by Ryvar at 9:30 PM on January 27, 2006


Sucking it up and dealing by hiring support staff for every special interest would involve shutting down the game due to cost overruns.

What part of false dilemma don't you understand? These GLBT friendly guilds aren't asking for hand-and-foot waiters catering to their every minor complaint, they just want to exist without the threat of sudden destruction at the hands of "customer support" staff. Guess how much money that would cost? NADA.

The argument you are making is that some sort of advance elimination of possible causes of harassment (read: elimination of visible minorities) would be financially beneficial, which is entirely different from the matter under discussion, and in is itself clearly discriminatory and in application a violation of constitutional rights.
posted by mek at 9:36 PM on January 27, 2006


I've played my fair share of online games (YEARS playing Counterstrike, some warcraft 3 and a bit of WoW, now I play City of Heroes mostly) and this issue is pretty omnipresent. Counterstrike is/was REALLY bad with the throwing around of gay as an insult. At this point, people say "gay" because basically everyone else says gay.

Frankly Blizzard is just really dumb for getting involved at all here. Telling players to stop being offensive is doomed to failure. Theoretically Blizzard could take a hard stance against homophobic 14 year olds, but, um, that's like 25% of their audience. And this asinine idea of protecting people from theoretical abuse just makes them look like they're encouraging homophobia. Blizzard has no way of winning this once they get involved.
posted by JZig at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2006


mek: I'm not sure we disagree at all then.

I think their guild should be allowed to exist. But it is unfair for any small group of players to expect a wildly different amount of GM attention than everyone else regardless of the circumstances. It is flatly impossible to completely police all public conversations of all five million World of Warcraft customers. Therefore, in order to mitigate the amount of attention the GM staff should have to furnish any special-interest guild, public self-declaration of that special interest should automatically negate your ability to flag harrassment on that specific special interest - at least when we're talking mere chat when there are specific word-filters and an /ignore function readily available.

When the situation escalates into something that the players cannot readily take care of on their own end with the /ignore function, such as jerks training MOBs (dumping large groups of enemies) onto the guild members in question, then it becomes an isolated enough and serious enough problem that a CSR should look into.
posted by Ryvar at 9:44 PM on January 27, 2006


I haven't really played WoW in awhile. Does WoW have a profanity filter by default, and does it block the word 'gay'? City of Heroes has one on the client and blocks 'gay' and 'god' and that seems to sort of work at keeping harassment down. Does Wow do that?
posted by JZig at 9:47 PM on January 27, 2006


JZig: WOW supported heavy modification of the client UI via LUA scripting, when I was in beta. The results of this Google query suggest that is still the case.
posted by Ryvar at 9:51 PM on January 27, 2006


But it is unfair for any small group of players to expect a wildly different amount of GM attention than everyone else regardless of the circumstances

Where are you getting this stuff, Ryvar? It certainly isn't coming from the links. You seem to be the only person here who managed to get "a small group of players is expecting a wildly different amount of GM attention" out of the facts of this case.
posted by mediareport at 10:11 PM on January 27, 2006


I'm not familiar with WoW but I assume that the economical argument is based on people being able to complain about guilds. Why don't they just have a guild moderation system and no complaints about guilds?
posted by Suparnova at 10:23 PM on January 27, 2006


There is a profanity filter, it is on by default, but it does not block the word "gay" or any leetspeak version thereof. I don't know if that would really help, since some of these kiddie gamers have a little too much free time on their hands to think of ways to irritate people.

I don't want people to get the wrong idea, this game has actually been better, in my experience, in having players who are tolerant and respectful, whether you're female, gay, purple, whatever. But front line customer service makes really stupid mistakes that almost always get resolved in a reasonable manner once the managers or supervisors or whatever are pulled in.

I don't really know what my observations are worth, though. I play on a roleplay server and my guild does endgame stuff. We have to get along, or the game starts to suck and we die, and that implies a certain amount of maturity. harassment would never be tolerated in the guild I play with, and I have seen my guildmates take people to task that acted like asshats, whether we knew them or not, guilded or unguilded. But that can be like shouting into the wind. The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is that we're not all jerks. There are *really* only a few jerks. There are way more farmers.
posted by Elsbet at 10:32 PM on January 27, 2006


mediareport - in extremely mass-market games like World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike one encounters millions of homophobic bigots. If you (collectively) openly advertise yourself as GLBT, the verbal harrassment for your guild that results is going to be overwhelming, and the GMs simply don't have time to deal with the sheer number of complaints that will perpetually dog a guild that is well-known for being GLBT.

There are really only a few possible results to choose from in this situation:

1) Actively advertised GLBT guilds are prohibited,
2) Actively advertised GLBT guilds receive less than perfect enforcement of the public chat harrassment/hate speech policies (and make use of the ignore function), or
3) GLBT guilds receive complete coverage per the public chat harrassment policies and the servers fold from support cost overruns.

Blizzard is opting #1 and I'm saying they should opt for #2 in the most minimally offensive way I can think of.
posted by Ryvar at 10:39 PM on January 27, 2006


And I'm pointing out that no one in the linked articles has been calling for the kind of "complete protection" that would lead to cost overruns. You keep bringing it up, but it's not really there.
posted by mediareport at 10:56 PM on January 27, 2006


Based on his experience in WoW, when he came to CoH, he decided he would rather just play solo than play in a team because whenever he played with teams in WoW, the level of anti-homosexual talk was so great that he felt constantly harassed.

What part of playing World of Warcraft involves telling the other players whether or not you like to suck dick? Do you get fewer experience points unless you tell your team that you like the cock?
posted by Veritron at 11:02 PM on January 27, 2006


Oh, please, Veritron; we've already covered this. Use your brain; all it would take is a request for another user to not use "faggot" or something - no dick-sucking involved. But the point, which you seem to still be missing, is that glbt players should be allowed to form their own guilds, like, say, Christian players can.
posted by mediareport at 11:37 PM on January 27, 2006


What part of playing World of Warcraft involves telling the other players whether or not you like to suck dick? Do you get fewer experience points unless you tell your team that you like the cock?

He never told anyone in WoW. He told folks in CoH so that he wouldn't have to listen to it there. Sorry if that was unclear.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:38 PM on January 27, 2006


Joey, bringing up sexual preferences at ALL in the context of a CoH game just seems weird. Given the ratio of hate speech I've seen in CoH (like, maybe one guy in the last year) it seems easier to just quit a team if it comes up, due to its rarity. But, maybe my server is nicer :) I mean, your average pick up CoH team doesn't get passed the level of communication needed for "Stand here and kill things" generally.

For longer term things like a Supergroup, it would definitely make sense to find out if anyone is homophobic before committing, especially given that you lose stuff when you quit a supergroup these days.
posted by JZig at 1:02 AM on January 28, 2006


Just to confirm, for those that appear to have read the thread but not the linked article - a player was given a warning for "sexual harrassment" because she used the word GLBT in public chat. She didn't ask for special protection, her guild didn't ask for special protection and no-one complained about people using homophobic insults. If you go read the guild website they appear to be all about providing a non-judgemental safe space for players of all orientations. I don't see any whining or demands there.
posted by Joh at 1:08 AM on January 28, 2006


It's pretty cool to see that there are GLBT groups in WoW. I've been thinking of getting into it, and that makes me much more interested. I just wonder if I'd ever be able to get it working on Linux...
posted by jiawen at 1:25 AM on January 28, 2006


It seems that it isn't just the players at WoW that are dominated by homophobic 14 year old boys, but the support staff and the management as well.

Personally, I think Blizzard are scumbags. I've been boycotting their games ever since Blizzard vs BNETD and this simply confirms my existing beliefs about the company.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:04 AM on January 28, 2006


cortex: For the record, I pine for a gaming community that is free from unselfconciously obnoxious shitheels.

You ever tried A Tale in the Desert? Not really the same type of game as WoW or CS (i.e. adventure), but free of obnoxious shitheels.
posted by snwod at 3:16 AM on January 28, 2006


Blizzard has responded through CM (community manager) Caydiem, on the US forums. It seems this wasn't the work of an overzealous GM after all, and that company policy is honestly now to prohibit mention of "topics related to sensitive real-world subjects -- such as religious, sexual, or political preference" in-game. Sadly, none of the commenters on the US forum seem to have raised the point that this policy bans any talk of straight relationships, partners and so on as well. Blizzard had better enforce both sides of this ban on any mention of sexuality, as there'll be a lot of people watching very closely.
posted by terpsichoria at 4:45 AM on January 28, 2006


Thanks for that link, terpsichoria; actually, the response the user made to Caydiem's comment was spot-on.

Ironically, odds are this will just come down to Penny Arcade either making a strip defending gay guilds or making fun of them now, and whatever the result is will likely shift the entire debate within 72 hours.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:03 AM on January 28, 2006


I play WoW, I'm in a guild, and I'm the token homo.

I am constantly re-buffing people who generally turn out to be 12 years old for using phrases like 'that was gay' as part of their vernacular. It's offensive. And it's widespread. You see it in the game over and over - since it is a social setting you get to know people (as bet as you realistically can) - and it always ends up being the younger one's that talk that way.

I'm just saying - younger people have no problem throwing around 'fag' and 'gay' - totally unaware of how offensive it is to some.
posted by matty at 8:26 AM on January 28, 2006


snwod: You ever tried A Tale in the Desert? Not really the same type of game as WoW or CS (i.e. adventure), but free of obnoxious shitheels.

I have heard good things about it, actually. However, that fact that I play even WoW is a break in character -- I don't have a great long-term attention span with games, and I play (and, sheeit, pay monthly?! for) WoW because my closest group of friends do so as well. We get together and maraud the landscape as a band of cynical, wise-cracking secular post-humanists, and it's a distinctly non-shitheel time, and so I'm pretty much totally satisfied in my MMO intake.

As for Counter-Strike, well, yeah. What do you do, exactly? I love the game like a child, though my passion for it has largely abated with the passing of time. I still play now and again, and the players on the whole remain somewhere on the overlaps of the unselfconscious/obnoxious/shitheel Venn diagram. One can, with enough effort, find a good server, and back when I played regularly I had a couple standard haunts made up of genuinely smart, civil people their for the game and the social backdrop more than anything else. Griefers of all stripes were kickbanned promptly. It was wonderful.

Tangent: my Big Prediction for the development of games and game design is that, in the space of the next decade, we will see the explosion of boutique/instanced content, and even, essentially, boutique servers, catering at some nominal additional cost to closed and semi-closed groups of players who wish to more actively gate and administrate non-private servers and gaming environments. Wild-and-wooly public servers will of course remain, but imagine being able to do something along the lines of guild administration not at current-group level but at, essentially, a societal level. It'd remove outright the debate over the appropriateness of sex- or religion- or steelydanparity-related groups; there would be no necessary interaction between the GLBTranLand sub-server and the Christend0m sub-server and TheDan[Wo]Men sub-server.

One of the better, uh, socially progressive? experiences I've had in CS was a small group outing to a random CS server: me and a couple of those obnoxious shitheel 14-year-olds from #tapes went out to some random server and, after playfully creating by implication clan [TAPES], answered questions as to what, exactly, clan TAPES was all about. Turns out we were a group of legally blind gamers who got together for audio book discussion sessions, and hence, y'know, TAPES; and when someone pointed out that that was totally gay, we pointed out that we were, yes, actually a groups of gay legally blind gamers. Generated a little bit of congitive dissonance -- CS servers are not great places for give-and-take improv -- but no one took to lambasting us for our professed sexuality, for example.

Don't know where I'm going with that. Consider it a portrait of relatively normal people interacting with relatively normal CS players in a situation that doesn't make for a strong argument either way.

And I guess that's one of the things I've taken from gaming over the years: there will always be insecure little boys playing the game. Insecure little boys don't know what the fuck to make of their own sexuality, and are traditionally pressured to err on the side of macho and hetero. So you've got some sexual tension that, frankly, falls short of anything that could be legitimately described as homophobia or hate speech: these kids aren't on a mission to supress homosexuality, they're just shitheels who picked up this little word group.

That's not to say it's not tasteless. That's not to say it shouldn't bother more civil players, gay or straight. It's just to say that, while there are no doubt genuine homophobes out there in the gaming scene, most of the folks saying "gay" are saying it because it has become a stock phrase, and not because they equate the things they describe with homosexuality. It's stupid, lazy speech, not fucking hate speech.
posted by cortex at 9:22 AM on January 28, 2006


I think what will happen is the GLBT guilds will just think up clever euphemisms. Maybe they can't say "Gay friendly," but if the guild is named "The Brokeback Boys," you'll know what they mean.
posted by Jatayu das at 10:09 AM on January 28, 2006


From terpsichoria's link:

"When my six year is standing behind me reading some of the text, I shouldn't have to try to explain "transgender" to him.
You are the bigot. Anyone who won't take one up the rear from you you label a knuckle dragger. You are also a fool. I hear suicide is popular among gays. Given that any thought?"

Wow, that is just depressing.
posted by sebas at 10:20 AM on January 28, 2006


My sister is an out lesbian, and she uses the phrase "that's so gay" in a derogatory sense. I never have figured that one out.

My guess is, this was some customer service manager being stupid, and it's only official because that one person was. Whatever.
posted by Foosnark at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2006


What was the young woman penalized for? Posting this:

"OZ is recruiting all levels ¦ We are not 'GLBT only,' but we are 'GLBT friendly'! (guilduniverse.com/oz)"

What she got back was a handful of rude and insensitive replies, followed by a citation by Blizzard for "Harassment - Sexual Orientation," which defined in the games' "Terms of Use" as "language which insultingly refers to any aspect of sexual orientation pertaining to themselves or other players."

Blizzard's justification, in a response to an email to her, was, "we . . . feel that the advertisement of a 'GLBT friendly' guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise."

In other words, Blizzard believes that she harassed herself and others by trying to create a GLBT-friendly guild that does not tolerate harassment against players based on their sexual orientation, simply because there is a possibility that by creating a GLBT friendly guild, there's a possibility that it *could* (not will) result in harassment.

I'm sorry, but this simply does not correspond to their definition of what constitutes this kind of harassment. I'm not just saying this because I believe it is a horrible, officious, discriminatory policy. I'm saying it as someone who spent years overseeing LiveJournal's abuse policies, both interpreting *AND* creating the policies involved. It's bad policy and a misinterpretation of both the letter and the purpose of the policy involved.

My advice? Existing guilds who give a crap should post to the forums protesting this policy, and declare themselves to be a GLBT friendly guild, supportive of all of their members, and opposed to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Individual players should post to the forums opposing this decision too, and declare themselves a GLBT friendly player, opposed to discrimination based on sexual orientation too.

In short, if Blizzard wants to cite one person for declaring themselves to be GLBT-friendly, let them cite a thousand. Make Blizzard deal with the flood of criticism and enforce their stupid policy. It's the least they can do, really.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:27 AM on January 28, 2006


I agree that the frequency that gay is used as a slur in WoW is extreme. I play from time to time and it seems to happen every few minutes. I've left guilds because I got fed up with listening to it. I don't believe Blizzard have any kind of explicitly discriminatory agenda, however. Rather, I suspect they'd rather not have to think about it. Their terms of service read like they were obviously written by lawyers to cover the corporate ass, rather than by people who have any profound understanding of the social dynamics of online spaces. There are endless stories of inconsistent application of their own rules, or just as frequent, complete inaction in the face obvious deliberate abusive trolling.

My best guess is that Blizzard simply don't know how to or don't want to deal with the problem with any authority or consistency. They see doing so as expensive and potentially harmful to their profit. Their dilemma is that they have created, own and charge for the use of their world and therefore arguably do have a responsibility to police it. To a greater or lesser degree many of their customers expect it. They'd just rather do the minimum possible and hope any problems go away.
posted by normy at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2006


What a stupid PR move.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2006


Agreed. Stupid, stupid PR move.
posted by darkstar at 3:39 PM on January 28, 2006


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