Unwanted Attention

Stumped for a topic, I was browsing the US guild relations forum when I came across this post.

Here’s the synopsis: female gamer joins a guild with a friend.  She doesn’t like to talk on voice chat, preferring that other players assume she is male.  The friend transfers servers, leaving her as the only female in a 10-person raiding guild.  The GM starts showing an interest in her, asking personal questions, promoting her to officer rank to have “private chats”, and inviting her to visit him for vacation.  She is now faced with the decision to leave a guild that she likes or deal with inappropriate attention from her GM.

I don’t tend to write much about personal relationships because each situation is unique.  I don’t want to disparage the idea of real-life relationships that start in-game, as I have seen it work on one or two occasions.  I’ve also seen it crash and burn, doing damage to the guild and others in the process.

This story has multiple warning flags, and there’s a lesson for both parties to take away.  I’m going to be painting with a wide brush here, so take this as my opinion only.

First, I hate to see situations (in game or out) where someone is forced to hide or suppress some aspect of who they are for fear of confrontation or reprisal.  Outside of the game, those fears may be rational – there may be serious repercussions to expressing yourself.  In-game, we shouldn’t have to deal with the same.

Second, male players (and especially those in guild leadership) need to realize that every unattached female isn’t playing WoW in order to start a relationship.  Really, some people play just to play.  It’s a rare lasting relationship that begins in a fantasy world.

Sadly, the best way to address the situation is (as many respondents to the OP stated) for the female gamer to speak up and be clear with her GM that she’s not interested in him, and that his actions are making her uncomfortable.  Essentially, she has to do exactly what she was trying to avoid – all because someone things that WoW is where he’s going to meet the love of his life.  The only other options are to quit the guild and possibly server transfer.

Wanting to avoid conflict is natural.  I don’t think anyone genuinely enjoys conflict, save for the bullies who use it knowing that most people will back down from them.  Wanting to hide behind the anonymity of your avatar should be every player’s right.  It’s not an excuse to act like a complete ass just because nobody can tie your actions down to a person, but if you choose not to expose any details about your personal life, you should be able to.

Unfortunately, there seems to be this hard-coded behaviour in males when they encounter a female gamer who is meek or timid, or just gives the impression of being so by not interacting like one of the guys.  Some will act as protector, while others will see you as weak and something to be exploited.  This is completely unfair, and for someone in a position of authority to take advantage of it speaks volumes against their character.

Male gamers don’t have this problem – they can choose to be loud and boisterous or completely silent, and they don’t seem (in my experience) to suffer any ill effects.  People don’t think less of them.  It seems that when a guy says “my microphone doesn’t work”, people believe them.

I may be assuming too much, and I may have the female perspective completely wrong here.  Most of the female gamers I know well are of the loud and boisterous variety, or if they’re not they know how to smack the children back into their place if they get out of line.

How do you deal with situations like this?  Does it make you as angry as it does me?  How do we as guild leaders promote an environment where this doesn’t happen, or where there are direct and immediate consequences for those who step over the line?  How else could the female gamer deal with this situation?

Until Next Time