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Drama Mamas: Reading is hard

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

"Reading is hard." We've seen that snarky little comeback all too often around WoW.com comments, the Blizzard forums and various cracks and crevices in between. Judging from the number of comments we get from readers for whom "skimming" has obviously replaced "reading" (yes, all of you who bunnyhopped over the point of last week's advice on playing a character of the opposite gender – we're looking at you!), we might be inclined to concur, in a most un-snarky, literal way.

What concerns the Drama Mamas is when players blunder through their game without really reading what their fellow players are communicating, both explicitly and between the lines. We all know how easily humor (and especially sarcasm) can fall flat on the internet. Disaster strikes when players stop reading and start reading into what others say. It's all too easy to miss connections when we stop "listening" halfway through. Players can even do this to themselves, second-guessing situations and making assumptions that prevent them from truly enjoying the game the way they'd like.

This week, we'll help two players slice through their anxieties and clearly communicate their wishes. Say what you mean! Mean what you say! And in the meantime, we urge all our readers to read up, line by line, when other players have something to say. Don't seize upon a single phrase that inflames your sensibilities while heedlessly abandoning the rest. Connecting with other players is best done in black and white -- and "read" all over.
Is the grass greener over there?
Dear Drama Mamas: The guild I belong to is very small (maybe 12 players at 80), but all of us know at least one person in the guild in real life and a few of my guildies are very good real life friends of mine. I'm looking to progress to more difficult and interesting content -- but at least half of the guild isn't there yet (or they aren't able to play very much right now). I've recently made in-game friends with a few different raid-happy people and have gone with them on a few non-official runs. And I loved it. And then one of my new friends invited me to apply to her guild -- a guild that raids four times a week and seems to be making good progress through the latest content.

I know that once I start school again I'm not going to be able to play much, so I'd like to get in as much content as I can while I have the time. I also feel that my guild isn't really ever going to be capable of raiding on a regular basis. In some ways, I feel that playing with my friends is the most important part of
WoW -- even if we're not able to do any sort of progression. On the other hand I REALLY, REALLY want to raid and I'm REALLY bored with everything else. Signed, Confused

Drama Mama Lisa: I think you'll have better luck, Confused, if you're simply honest about what you'd like to do.
  • Make the leap. Join up. See how you like the raiding lifestyle. You may love it ... You may lose interest after the initial adrenaline rush ... Or you may not find the schedule or the guild such a good fit after all. You'll never know unless you try.
  • Don't burn any bridges with your casual friends. "I'd like to try more raiding, and I've got this window to try things out before I get back into school" is different than "You all suck Cracked Eggs and I never want to hear from you again."
  • Wait and see how much school actually does change your schedule. People who are passionate about a hobby manage all sorts of tricky maneuvers to keep things moving productively in the face of work or school. If it turns out that you love raiding as much as you think you will, it's not unreasonable to think that you'd want and be able to find a way to overcome scheduling hurdles.
You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Speak up, then dive in! No matter how things turn out, with something you obviously care so deeply about, you won't regret having given it a shot.

Drama Mama Robin: I know from experience that you can have it all. You just need to be completely honest with both guilds.
  • What to tell the old guild Tell them what you've told us: you really want to try out raiding but still want to remain friends. Ask them for a chat channel so that you all can have a friends chat, regardless of guild.
  • What to tell the new guild You really want to try out raiding but aren't sure if you can do it when you return to school. If you are honest about your prospects, they are much more likely to be understanding when your schedule changes. As Lisa said, you may find out you can still squeeze in a little raiding and still keep up with all your studies. After all, leisure time is important.
If you have to drop raiding when school starts, the raiding guild may still allow you to remain and raid during holidays. If not, you won't have burned any bridges with your more casual guild and will be able to return to them. Enjoy both eating and having your cake.

A toad in your "greener pasture"
Dear Drama Mamas: Earlier this year I left a small, casual guild I had joined to seek greener pastures with a large, casual and raiding guild. The casual guild was filled with members who did very little else but beg for higher level members (specifically me, as the only guild 80) to help them with runs/quests/etc. and displayed very little gratitude. I'm a veteran casual player since 1.7, and I don't mind helping out or passing along some wisdom when I can, but I have no interest in helping people who expect to be "babysat" or catered to without some form of consideration or any thanks. After leaving, I severed ties with most of the guild and was accepted into my current guild, where I help the lower level players when I am able to, but members are understanding if I am unable to.

All these months later, a member of my former guild suddenly reappeared after a long, prison-related absence from the game. I greeted him back warmly, but now I can't get him to leave me alone. He whispers me every time I log on, has whispered me from alts, and has had other people whisper me to ask if I'm ignoring him when I'm AFK. It's getting to the point where I'm starting to feel harassed and don't even want to sign into my main, the only character he knows about. I know I'm going to have to ask him to stop pestering me, but I'm not sure of the most firm yet polite way to go about it. Sincerely, Harassed Ex-Guildie

Drama Mama Robin: Harassed, you've got yourself a parasite. Having other people send you messages to see if you're ignoring him is particularly emo (also ignorant of how WoW works -- you get a message when you try to whisper someone who is ignoring you). Because of his excess neediness, this is not likely to end well. But here is something to try:

I am very busy these days with my new guild. If I don't answer, I'm either AFK or busy fighting. Please just ask someone else if I don't answer. You may try finding a guild that is able and willing to help you more.

Go as far as helping him find a casual guild, and hook him up with a leveling guide. Then make yourself unavailable on your main for a week or two in order to wean him off of you. Hopefully, your raiding guild will be understanding of your playing alts exclusively for a little while.

If that doesn't reduce his pestering to something you can deal with, then you have to close the door on this guy. Just before putting him on /ignore, tell him:

I am sorry that you can't respect my time.

Good luck with Mr. Ex-Con.

Drama Mama Lisa: Now that you feel cornered, Harrassed, I suspect you may not be able to realistically enjoy chatting with this friend without feeling put-upon. If you'd like to try, you need to figure out when you'd actually be willing to visit.
  • When is a good time for you to chat?
  • Is there a good time?
  • Are the only good times to chat so specific that it falls to you to initiate conversations?
  • Are you interested and willing in initiating conversations at times that are convenient for you?
You might be able to manage his pestering with a strategic AFK message. Especially if you communicate with guildmates more via voice comm than text chat, try setting an AFK message during raids. To set an AFK message, go to your Interface Options and uncheck "Auto Clear AFK," so that your AFK status remains in effect while your character is active. Then type "/afk Raid in progress; unavailable for chat," or whatever message you choose. Anyone who whispers you will automatically receive that message in reply.

If in fact you were just being polite upon his return to the game, then follow Robin's advice to loosen and then sever ties to this relationship. Be sure to explain why you can't talk -- "The stuff I run with this character now makes it really hard to chat when I'm playing. Sorry, gotta run ..." – and then let any additional whispers go by without any reply at all. You might have to repeat this a couple of times on additional days before he gets the hint. If he doesn't, it's time to /ignore.

Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Drama Mamas

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