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Drama Mamas: When the game is no laughing matter

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced WoW players and real-life mamas -- 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.

Text communication is a touchy creature. The simplest of situations can spiral out of control in the space of a single chat pane, when players blunder along without considering the disparity between the words they've actually typed versus the message they intended to communicate. We all know how easily humor (and especially sarcasm) can fall flat on the internet. Emotes and the oh-so-snappy "LOL" seem especially prone to offending others who aren't on the same wavelength. Disaster strikes when players stop reading and start reading into what others say.

This week, we'll help several players who find themselves caught up in a web of pride, honor and misrepresented intentions -- all over a loot situation that would have been simple to resolve with clear communication.

Dear Drama Mamas, As a priestess who is devoted to the Light, I follow a flock where I make sure that everyone is happy and content. A few moons ago, I had gone on an adventure with several of the flock to the Halls of Stone, where we faced off against the Titan's creations and helped Brann Bronzebeard find out about the mystery of the dwarves. When we had finally retaken the Forge of Wills, we had found a weapon in possession of Sjonnir the Ironshaper, The Fleshshaper. Oh, what joy our rogue companion felt when we had finally gotten the weapon for him. Alas, that joy was suddenly shattered, as the other priest of our troupe had rolled his need dice accidentally. Our companion rogue burst into a fury like Ragnaros the Firelord, spewing out his frustration upon our dear priest, who had simply laughed off the whole affair.


Heeding no attention to his beseeching, our dear rogue-turned-Firelord crafted a path of flame, inciting a rebellion upon or once peaceful flock. Our flock had then divided in half, those who supported the Firelord and those who supported our priest. My kind personality dictated that I remain neutral, one half of my spirit telling our fellow priest that what he did was wrong and to apologize (which he eventually did) and another part of my spirit telling the infuriated rogue to clam down and that what he was doing was pointless and unnecessary; that we would hunt for another Fleshshaper (which we did). But alas, my pleas were unheard of as the drums of war beat, both sides bickering until finally the shepherd of our flock returned, setting things right.

Even after the tragic event, the remains of the battle still stood. Several of the flock still hates the Priest for what he had done, yet fewer look downward on our fellow rogue. ... I have tried to console our fellow priest, and at the same time, attempt to convince our rogue and his subordinates to apologize for what they had done. Both of my attempts have heeded no results. ... Had I been wrong in what I had done before and am continuing to do? Should I attempt something else? Oh, forgive me Light if I had failed thee. Sincerely, A Burdened Priestess


Drama Mama Lisa: Let me ask the obvious question first: Why in tarnation didn't the priest simply trade the item to the rogue right then and there? As of Patch 3.2 (August 2009), players can trade soulbound items with other raid or group members who were eligible for the loot for two hours after it was looted. I can only hope you didn't know about this change or that the incident in question occurred more than "a few moons ago," because this sort of mix-up should truly be trivial to handle by today's standards.

More importantly, though, I want to shine a light on the spark that lit this inferno of hurt feelings. I even formatted the original letter to make it stand out, singeing an ugly, ashen hole right there at the end of the first paragraph, before the jump: "... our dear priest, who had simply laughed off the whole affair."

I understand that the mislooting priest was probably attempting to minimize the importance of his gaffe. His (probably nervous) laughter was undoubtedly intended to demonstrate a complete lack of interest in looting and keeping the blade. But how do you suppose that laughter felt from the other side? "He's laughing ... He doesn't even care that he just ruined my shot at a fantastic drop! ... No matter what I say, he keeps blowing me off. What a jerk!" Several weeks ago, our Drama Buster of the Week warned about the dangers of "LOL," a term that can just as easily be taken to mean you are laughing at someone instead of with him. Now, my friend, you've seen that hypothetical situation in action.

Loot issues belong firmly on the no-laugh list, as does any issue that has to do with the perceptions or feelings of your groupmates and guildmates. It's true that laughter can be good medicine -- but as a tool in text communication, it's volatile indeed. Don't try to slither out of awkward situations with emotes and "LOL." There's no /respect buff in the game; this is a concept you have to communicate with the right words. When you make a mistake, you owe it to everyone involved to communicate with sincerity, rather than off-handed laughter. Say what you mean! Mean what you say!

Listeners have a responsibility, too, to respect others enough to take them at their word (especially when raging emotions may be whispering something different in their ears). The rogue should have kept his wits about him and looked past the laughter to the real message on his screen, that this incident was a misloot. There's a time and place for laughter and responding with pitched emotion, and there's a time for clarity of communication. Connecting with other players is best done in black and white -- and "read" all over.

Drama Mama Robin: Have a seat, priestess, and let us discuss your story. If you seek confirmation that your deeds were good, I grant that. Your actions were exemplary. Even if you had come to us with this problem while it was occurring, however, we would have been just as powerless as you. It is the rogue and the priest who needed to seek advice and without seeking it, they do not wish to receive it unless it reflects upon past actions pleasantly. You should take solace in the fact that you are unable to command others to behave appropriately and therefore share no blame. Do not allow this incident to distress you further. But let us visit the Caverns of Time. One of the Keepers owes me a favor and will enable us to visit the event again.

The priestess and the drama mama travel to Tanaris and are able to obtain access to a small section, invisible to regular visitors. They enter a cave where the priestess's story is just beginning. The dice have been rolled and the priest has taken possession of The Fleshshaper. The rogue expresses shock and the priest laughs just as Robin makes herself visible to the assembled party.

Robin: Rogue, take warning! Let your behavior be the guide of the one who has wronged you!

Rogue: It is he that should show the way!

Robin: No one doubts your right to be angry. Show your true worth with calm words and rational actions.

Rogue: I will once he apologizes.

Robin: Clearly, your skills in battle are not based on your maturity. Priest! Stop laughing! Explain yourself.

Priest: I have erred, but errors occur. Unless you can transfer ownership of this weapon to the rogue, we might as well see the humor in this.

Rogue: Your laughter is insulting! Who is with me?

Priest: Your reactions are ludicrous along with the situation. Surely you can obtain another weapon of equal or better quality in the future. Laugh with me.

Robin: Rogue, be calm. Priest, apologize.

Rogue: Never!

Priest: Never!

Robin: Silence! Look at your future! Is this what you seek?

Using a staff and an unspoken spell, a magical light shines on both the rogue and the priest. It is just a flash, but the expressions on both faces change.

Robin: Priest, have you anything to say?

Priest: I was shamed by my mistake and irritated by your strong reaction, hence my laughter. However, it is my fault and I am truly sorry. I will petition the authorities immediately to have ownership transferred and will accept punishment from our leader. Please accept my apology.

Rogue: (bows) I do accept your apology. Will you help me gain a replacement at the earliest opportunity?

Priest: Name the day.

The time travelers make their exit.

We have changed nothing. This was just a vision we were able to experience magically. But as you can see, calm behavior and honest but constructive words would have changed the outcome greatly. Thank you for your story and be well.

Drama Buster of the Week

If the tank or healer in your dungeon finder group is struggling to keep up with your blistering DPS, lighten the load -- literally. Dial back the intensity by switching out to some lower ilevel gear. Not only will you smooth the group's performance by shrinking the awkward imbalance, but you may find that attacking the content wearing appropriate gear injects an element of strategy and fun into instances you've run again and again.


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@WoW.com.





Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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