World of Warcraft is Decadent and Depraved

Oleari joined a guild a little while back, invited by my one known friend on that server, who is one of the guild’s co-founders. (Both guild and friend will remain nameless here.) Guilds in WoW are voluntary associations of players that get certain benefits — a permanent shared chat channel, a shared bank vault, some special mechanics to support raids. As of the Cataclysm expansion, Guilds can also level up, just like player characters, to provide special perks for the members, like experience bonuses or increased speed for your mounts. But the main thing I’m aware of when I play is the chat channel. It’s always there, spewing occasional banter, profanity, and tactics. It’s also pretty much my only contact with the guild; I have yet to do any adventuring with anyone in it. I don’t even often talk on the guild channel, because I don’t really feel like I have a place in the guild’s social dynamics.

But I feel like I have to at least give the guild thing a try for my WoW experience to be complete. It is, after all, one of the things that distinguishes it from the other sorts of games I play, and it seems silly not to take advantage of it. Meet people, without the pressure of actually meeting them! Alas, even that might be too much for a geek like me. People are still people, and anonymous strangers on the internet are moreso.

Just yesterday, I happened to be logged on at the same time as aforementioned friend, and we talked amiably for a bit on the guild channel. After she logged off, someone else addressed me: “Carl, you fuck,” he began. Not quite as amiable, but lacking context, I chose to imagine that he just likes to swear and that it wasn’t personal. He then asked if I wanted to “do” my friend the guildleader. I think I would have been stunned into silence by the impertinence even if I hadn’t been busy fighting off giant spiders at the time. He wasn’t really interested in waiting for my answer, though. He was just warming up to badmouthing her behind her back and accusing her, rather ironically to my mind, of being passive-aggressive.

I don’t know if this guy had some kind of bad history with her or if it was random Internet Misogyny or what. Regardless, I maintained an uncomfortable silence for the rest of the evening, fearing that if I spoke, he’d try to engage me in conversation again. And it was perhaps my silence that allowed me to witness the night’s next uncomfortable moment: two players — I kid you not — using the guild chat to arrange a drug deal.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at this. Perhaps I’m just uptight, or “square” as the kids say. But this isn’t the sort of thing I expect to see while I’m playing a computer game. People are supposed to buy and sell drugs at clubs and parties and raves and similar situations that I can avoid. Computer games are a world apart, more apollonian than dionysian, a place for such as me. But not any more, I guess, or at least not exclusively. You don’t get eleven million subscribers without attracting all sorts. And in the context of the guild, I’m even more aware that I’m a guest in someone else’s house. Whether I’ll stay or not, I haven’t decided yet. It is kind of nice to have my horse run 10% faster.

3 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 18 Feb 2011

    I wouldn’t stick with it – I’d be extremely uncomfortable in that kind of situation, too. People organising drug deals is not typical, in my experience, although guild chat being mostly people giving perfunctory ‘grats’ for achievements is more typical and misogyny is sadly not uncommon (ask trade chat if girls play WoW, or, rather, don’t).

    There are decent guilds out there, though, although I’ll be damned if I know how to spot them now that the Dungeon Finder exists. Used to be it took half an hour to get a group together, and you had the chance of meeting someone pretty cool who could introduce you to people worth talking to.

  2. malkav11 on 18 Feb 2011

    I’ve typically taken the “go where my friends, or at least, a friend are” approach, but that doesn’t seem to have worked out so well in this case.

  3. paul on 19 Feb 2011

    WOW is a great single-player game, but I really haven’t gotten more out of it than that. I’ve done dungeons and a little pvp and joined guilds, but if other players were run by AI, I think I’d like it a little better.

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