Monday, March 15, 2010

More Truth

So I was all set to make a particular post today when I came across this Truth post Bear Pelt put up over on WoW Trotter. And then my mind spun way off into the nether.

Immediately when you hear an individual plays games (particularly MMOs), you immediately form a number of assumptions and opinions about that person. I don't need to list them. You can probably think of a dozen right now. You probably did it between the last two sentences without even skipping a beat.

Does anyone meet all these assumptions exactly? No. It's just a stereotype that we're all familiar with. But stereotypes exist for a reason. While very few people fit them exactly, a large number of people will at least come close. You know, have at least a small number (if not more) of those stereotypical traits. But regardless, we go in with them. And then it's only time and experience and getting to know people that really make us change our minds.

Of course, all this is just talking about the real world. Referring to some nameless, faceless person like, "Oh yeah, I know Rob. He's a pretty hardcore gamer." But in a social and interactive game like WoW, there's a whole new layer of complexity.

In a game like WoW, once we've been forced into that base stereotype, snap assumptions are made on not just how we type in guild chat, but on the toons we play and (unfairly) the roles we fill and how well we fill them. Often times, once those snap assumptions have been made, collated, and reacted to, any evidence that contradicts them goes right through our minds without stopping. Whatever the MMO version of in-one-ear-out-the-other would be. (In-one-eye?)

Sometimes we'll play with someone for years before we realize we've improperly categorized them.

One particular member of my guild comes immediately to mind. He's a guy, but plays all female characters and is very animated and excessively squeees (as Bear Pelt put it) and such. Behaves very stereotypically female. Even on Vent, his voice is somewhat androgynous, which led most of the guild to assume he was female. It was a little bit of a shock to find out otherwise. I still have to constantly correct myself when speaking to/about him because it's just how I've come to think of him over the years that we've been in the same guild.

One of our core raiders who's been running with us for at least two years is only 15. We had no idea until he finally got a headset with a mic for vent. He's always carried himself so maturely, never resorted to txt-speak, etc, that everyone assumed that when he talked about "school," it was HS or even college.

I used to be surprised about how much football chatter goes back and forth in gchat on Sundays. I used to think I was a bit of a special snowflake in that regard. Turns out, not so much.

I was surprised how many of our guild's members (especially some of the more active ones) were actually adults with families. I was never under the illusion that married parents didn't play wow, but they make up a large portion of my guild's leadership, which surprised me at first.

Yes, these examples are all about me. I'm not any better than anyone else in this regard. I do strive to approach new people I meet with an open mind. Sometimes it's easier than others. But the attitudes exist. And the more aware we are of those attitudes, both in ourselves and the people we meet, the easier it'll be for us to enjoy playing this game together.


  1. My first guild had an officer who had to lie about his age in order to be taken seriously by the other officers. He perpetuated the lie all the way through becoming GM, even as he had to move across the country and try to explain why his sister lived with him. He talked big, played at being the english major. When he graduated high school, some 3 years later, he came clean with us... there was shock, but by then, the people who put such a big emphasis on raw age had left, so he wasn't burned for it... he was pitied that he had been forced to lie about it.

    One of the best TBC feral kitties I've ever raided with was 13 when I met him, and he became a good friend. He, among other teens I've guilded with over the years, have proven to certainly be stereotypical boys at times (actually, all the guys I know seem to act like stereotypical boys at times), but can also be remarkably mature when necessary.

    I've also met guys in their 20s and 30s that are the biggest pricks of all time. Some had kids.

    Age, parenthood, schooling, wealth, etc. have no real bearing on a person's maturity and personality: I prefer to judge someone on how they treat others!

  2. Most people don't realize I'm female till I speak in vent. Apparently I possess some sort of typically male pushiness.