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Drama Mamas: When NSFW guild chat aggros a parent


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 the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

We are planning a special Drama Mamas that talks about the results of our advice -- good or bad. Some of our letter writers have responded in the comments, but we'd love to hear from more of you. If you have had your letter answered here and would like to be included, please send us an email at DramaMamas@wow.com letting us know how your situation turned out.

Now on to this week's letter:
Last Saturday night very late in the evening and pushing into the early morning, our guild chat erupted into the usual filthy conversation as drunk people came home and got online, and those of us that were online slackened our usual standards to join in. However, this time, one of the guild members exploded after about half an hour of this, claiming that her 12-year-old child was on, that we had scarred him for life and ruined his childhood. I helpfully pointed out that perhaps she was not being the best parent for allowing her young child to be playing the game very late at night with an unfiltered chat box -- not the best move I have ever made.

This has now blown up to the point where I have left a guild I was very happy in to attempt to ease the obvious grief that the guild leaders were getting from this person. Unfortunately, this has not stopped it, as many of the guild members who were involved are still arguing about the situation and are disappointed that I have left. This guild member is now going to report us all to Blizzard and attempt to get us all banned from the game permanently. I was hoping for a neutral view on this.

During the day and early evening, I am very aware of my language and, barring a few slips, keep it clean and healthy, since I try to avoid offending anyone especially those that are of a younger age. However, once the clock ticks past 10 or 11, I feel that it is acceptable the let loose somewhat. Clearly, if I am the only one in a guild who thinks this, then I have my answer. But if the vast majority of a guild partakes, is it not this person who should be finding a new guild that fits with her ideals?

Also, am I likely to get a ban? I have put a lot of time and effort into five level 80s and a few in the 70s. I have no doubt I could start again. But I seriously doubt I would bother and would drift away from the game I have come to love.

Drama Mama Robin:
I'm rather irritated at Enraged Mom for her outburst. Late-night Friday and Saturday conversations in battlegrounds are some of the most offensive I have ever seen. And trade chat at any time of day on most servers devolves into NSFW discussions without warning or reasonable segue. I highly doubt that your raunchy chat was more offensive than the horrific public chats this 12-year-old has been exposed to in WoW. I also suspect that the things he hears at school are more offensive than anything he read in guild chat that night. So, if you are feeling bad for "ruining" this kid's childhood, please don't.

I don't think Blizzard will ban you for this. You didn't have this conversation in a public chat. Nor does it seem that you continued the late night talk after Enraged Mom complained. And you were unaware that the underage kid was listening. Bans usually come from forcing offensive speech on someone else without their consent and that doesn't really apply here. Of course, it is at Blizzard's discretion to ban as it sees fit, so I could be wrong in this case.

You already know that accusing Enraged Mom of bad parenting was not right, just as she wasn't right to throw a tantrum in guild chat. The real problem here isn't you or the other guilty chatters or even Enraged Mom, it's the guild leadership. Where are they in all this? Of course, with a clear written policy, this all would probably have been avoided. If you're supposed to keep it family-friendly at all times, then Enraged Mom should have reported you all to the leaders and they should have acted appropriately. If it is clearly written that NSFW chat is OK on late nights, then Enraged Mom would have known not to let her son play at that time and any outbursts would have been inappropriate.

I think the leadership should quickly do the following:
  • Determine the members they want to keep. If they want to keep Enraged Mom and child, their policies will be different from if they want to keep you and your naughty late-night chat buddies.
  • Post a clear guild chat policy.
  • Announce the guild chat policy. Current members need to determine if they want to remain and not be left to randomly check guild info.
  • Limit guild membership as appropriate. Players need to know beforehand what kind of guild they are applying for. If you are going to allow NSFW chat in your guild, you need to state clearly to all potential members that your guild is not family-friendly. If you are family-friendly, then you need to make sure you don't get any trade chat rejects.
You can't force the leaders to do this, particularly since you are no longer in the guild. But, since you like your guildies, do get in touch with the officers and find out what the official policy is. Also, find out if Enraged Mom is going to remain in guild. If she isn't, I still wouldn't return unless they take the above steps, else this kind of thing may happen again.

Drama Mama Lisa: As Robin notes, this is clearly a situation for the guild leaders to handle. As for a possible ban, I'm afraid that decision will rest with Blizzard -- a pointed reminder that in-game chat, like anything on the internet, has the potential to be made or considered public.

There are a couple of other points from your letter that concern me. The first is how quickly you left your guild when problems occurred. Let's review Drama Mama Lisa's Three Rules for Leaving a Guild During Drama:

  1. If you really wish that things would just work out, then help them work out. You can't do that if you leave. Furthermore, bailing out during times of upheaval is a sure contributor to increased chaos. You're not doing anyone any favors by quitting at this point -- it's the virtual equivalent of leaving the room and slamming the door behind you.
  2. Don't leave if you don't intend to stay gone. Never leave a guild to prove a point or to "make things easier" on someone else. Most especially, never leave a guild with the idea that you might go back "if" or "as soon as" things change. There's a name for players who leave guilds at the drop of a hat, nursing their fragile, emo souls until begged by former guildmates to rejoin the flock: drama queens.
  3. If leaving is the right thing to do, do so openly and with class. If you try to sneak out, you're sure to stir up still more rumors and drama. Make a short, businesslike post on the guild forums (or guild chat, if there are no forums; make your statement, then log off to avoid further discussion and drama -- you can remove your characters later, at a less trafficked time): "I've decided to play with another group of friends, so I'll be removing my characters in just a bit. Thanks for having me, and best of luck." Whatever you do, do not reference the current guild drama; this is about your departure, not a chance to fire off a parting shot at a situation in a group you've chosen not to be a part of. (Here are more tips on how to leave a guild with class.)
Another concern I have based on your retelling of the facts (and I'm quite aware that things may look different from Enraged Mom's point of view) is drawn from my experience advising gaming parents of gaming kids. The situation as it's presented here doesn't look like effective monitoring of a 12-year-old who's playing World of Warcraft.
  • "Last Saturday night very late in the evening and pushing into the early morning ..." The fact that this was a very, very late hour should be throwing up red flags for most parents. Is that to say that it's open season for potentially offensive language and behavior after a certain hour? Not necessarily -- but it's certainly a factor in warning parents to proceed with additional caution.
  • "... our guild chat erupted into the usual filthy conversation ..." Wait -- this pattern was "usual"? What was Enraged Mom waiting for, an engraved invitation to log her child out of the game?
  • "... one of the guild members exploded after about half an hour of this, claiming that her 12-year-old child was on and that we had scarred him for life and ruined his childhood." Wake up, Enraged Mom. It shouldn't take 30 minutes for you to respond to something that's scarring your child's life and ruining his childhood.
Enraged Mom, if you're out there and listening: Any guild that does not have explicit, written guidelines about family-friendly behavior is probably not an appropriate fit for a 12-year-old. Your guild sounds like a nice one -- but as you've seen, adult guilds are made to accommodate the normal social patterns of adults, not children.

What you're looking for is a family-friendly guild that's designed to accommodate kids who play. You can't go by the "family-friendly" label alone; find out what the group's in-game goals are. If you're looking for a group that won't penalize you for the occasional baby wake-up in the middle of a raid, you're looking for a different guild than one that makes a suitable hangout for a 12-year-old. Both groups could be considered "family-friendly" -- so ask!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. 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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