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Drama Mamas: Racism and setting social standards

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers 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 love updates! We've already heard back from the writer of last week's letter, Hacking a friend's account.
Hi, I recently sent in an email to the Drama Mamas; it was the "hacking a friend's account" one. Just sending this in to say thanks, he gave me a ring today, I manned up and answered it and probably wouldn't of done if not for you. We made up, both said sorry and I gave him his password back.

So all's well that ends well -- and sticking with a common theme, an end to situations that have no place in our game is what's on tap this week, too. The topic: racism and hate speech. (Before we begin: Standard warning for comments -- we'll be removing those that veer off the subject of handling racist hate speech in game, so please stay on topic and keep the language civil so we can have a productive conversation.)
Dear Drama Mamas, I have a fairly high tolerance for trade trolls and hecklers alike, but I just can't seem to handle it when people I've been placed into a random heroic dungeon with start spouting racist remarks. I was on my 80 rogue when I entered the Oculus as my daily random. So far things seem to be going great, we get to Mage-Lord Urom, and we get it done with no problem; then for no apparent reason, one of the other DPS spouts off in party chat, "omg nigger spic jew" "noob." There was more but you get the idea; in fact, he covered most races, actually, and ended it with noob for some reason. I waited a minute to be certain I had actually seen that, then responded with, "What is your issue?" "I'm Jewish." He responded with "noobe" (yes, he/she added an "e" to the end). I voted to kick him and the group backed me and he was kicked, and I reported it to Blizz.

So a day earlier, I was in a random on my level 40 hunter and in Scarlet Monastery cathedral. The tank pulled big right inside the cathedral and we wiped. He blamed my pet (which was attacking a mob he had already pulled but was running away). I defended myself and responded with it wasn't my pet, and even my husband (who was sitting right next to me) said you pulled too big. Okay, I shouldn't have brought my husband's opinion into it, but the next part was worse. He responded with, "Your husband is gay," to which I responded, "What are you, 12?" He then said, "Yes, and my mommy says you're black and we're gonna hang you later southern style." The healer replied with "I'm black," and dropped group, as did everyone else. I took a screenshot of the conversation and reported it to Blizz.

Then to top it all off, about 2 days ago, someone was yelling in trade chat "LF white healer for ICC-25." It seems lately there is racism everywhere in WoW. Is this normal or am I just unlucky? Do other people find racism in Azeroth too or is it just me? I can't sit by and say nothing while someone makes racist comments, so how can I handle this without causing drama but still managing to do something about it? And does Blizz do anything about racism or are we as players just subjected to whatever people want to say no matter what context it is, no matter how offensive? Please help, Intolerant of Intolerance
Drama Mama Lisa: Intolerant, you have more control over this situation than you may think. Let's break it down point by point.

Is this normal, or am I just unlucky? Maybe both. Inexperienced people (I'd say "players," but this attitude is certainly not exclusive to WoW players or gamers in general) often believe that what happens on the internet is not "real." They don't understand how to conduct themselves in public on the internet, mistakenly believing that their online behavior is somehow exempt from the usual guidelines of socially acceptable and ethical behavior. These folks just don't get it yet. They also tend to believe that the internet is a great place to score some public attention, even of the negative variety. For these social newbies, it's all about rocking the boat and getting attention.

Do other people find racism in Azeroth too, or is it just me? Oh, it's not just you -- these types of players are everywhere. Judging by the similar approach of these incidents, it appears that your local varieties have noticed one another and are playing copycat, too.

How can I handle this without causing drama but still managing to do something about it? Report the incident immediately to Blizzard. Robin has a great checklist of how to respond to hatemongers and how to report hate speech; I'll let her detail the process more.

Does Blizz do anything about racism, or are we as players just subjected to whatever people want to say, no matter what context it is, no matter how offensive? Hate speech is against Blizzard's terms of service. After reporting an incident of hate speech, you'll receive a canned reply thanking you for your time, promising to look into the incident. That's all you'll hear, since privacy issues prevent Blizzard from divulging actions against player accounts. We do know that most hate speech perpetrators get hit with consequences ranging from temporary chat bans to permanent account bans.

Here's where your consistent, reasonable, mature reactions come into play. Your reactions and attitudes are every bit as influential to the tone of our online community as those of the hatemongers. Every time you respond to hate speech with restraint (don't give these people the negative feedback they crave) while taking steps to curb their ability to act out inappropriately, you help counteract the effect they have on others and spread an attitude of empowerment and respect among other players. Hate isn't the only speech that's contagious; your reactions can be equally powerful in creating the online world you want to live and play in.

Drama Mama Robin: Hey, Intolerant. The gang of kids (either by age or maturity level) who think hate is cool are definitely going for the shock value. They want you to argue with them -- well, "argue" is not the correct word. It's not like they want to have a logical discussion with references to philosophy and history. As Lisa says, they want you to have a negative reaction. It's their whole point. So no matter how infuriating these haters get, you should always keep your cool and don't set them up for the next hate comment.

That's the hard part, I know. Not reacting with a "What's your issue?" and "What are you, 12?" is difficult. It's natural to want to snipe back. But resist, please. Here are my revised steps for handling the hate:
  1. Stay calm.
  2. Write down the hater's name and server, being careful to include special characters and notice odd spellings.
  3. State in party chat that the hater's behavior is unacceptable and, if the hater doesn't recant, call for a votekick.
  4. Rightclick, ignore the hater or /ignore name-server. This will not only ignore him but make it impossible for him to be in your future random PUGs.
  5. If the votekick did not work, drop out of the group.
  6. Use the in-game help function to report the hater. Never skip this step, please. Click on the ? on your toolbar, choose Report Problem (no need to speak to a GM); and then give the name, server and incident.
If the hate speech happens in a public chat, skip steps 3 and 5. Do not engage the hater.

Blizzard GMs are extremely busy, but they take these incidents very seriously. They will act on it as soon as they can -- and usually more swiftly than you expect. I recently had to report someone (we'll call him Spammynobrains) for harassment. Within about a half an hour, they had given Spammynobrains a two-hour ban. I know this because Spammynobrains logged on his other account to tell me. (Yeah, now you see where he got his nickname.) So when I reported him again (duh), the GM responded back with some interesting advice:

Of course, there is a difference between specific harassment and using hate speech in a more general way, but I think this advice applies to both. For your own sake, limit your contact with haters as much as possible.

Drama buster of the week

One of the best ways to build a positive, enjoyable atmosphere is by using language that makes things feel more fun, not less. Gamespeak is silly and fun -- but come on, we all know how mocking and sarcastic some of these terms can be. Much of it ends up being a real drag on positivity: facerolling, facepulling, noob, huntard, toon, being carried ... Being aware of the inflections embedded in the terms you use in everyday chat goes a long way in making sure you're not putting off an unfriendly, arrogant, elitist or even downright hostile vibe.

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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