This week, we tackle a topic that I find rather scary, as a mother of a budding drama queen and gaming geek.
This may be way beyond the kind of thing you can help with but my guild has recently suffered a few bits of drama that have revealed a worrying situation and I'm having a hard time working out what to do next.
About a month ago a young girl (mid teens) joined the guild, we don't have a specific age range although as a casual end game guild we expect a certain level of maturity. She didn't interact much with the guild although one guy who helped her out a bit she really latched onto. She wouldn't run heroics unless he was there and they often moved into different vent channels to be alone. After a couple of weeks we had to kick her from the guild as she simply couldn't take criticism. It also turned out that she had recently been pulled out of school due to depression although some of the higher level officers in the guild were speculating on if that was genuine or was an excuse.
So she was kicked, the guy who she had been hanging around with started complaining that she was stalking him, despite several people telling him he should ignore her he kept her on his real friends list. Then one night he got drunk and started harassing a female member of the guild basically acting in the same way he described the girl acting towards him. For some reason he ended up forwarding her an e-mail the girl had sent, she forwarded it onto the guild master and myself and he was quickly booted from the guild.
The reason for the boot was that the letter made it clear that the girl was obsessed with him (to the point of offering her virginity to him), the guy was nearly twice her age so this in itself was worrying. However, the main reason for the boot was the clear indications that he was encouraging it, including her apologizing for the times he said she was ignoring him. At that point we didn't want anything to do with him in the guild.
Since then we know that he is still in close contact with her, they can often be seen doing dailies together for example. The girl has clearly put herself in a very vulnerable position and all the evidence suggests that he is taking advantage of it. I have raised a ticket in game to see if they can contact her parents, I know they play the game but don't have any idea who their characters are but maybe the billing information will help. The ticket appears to have reached the front of the ticket queue and is presumably being passed around internally at blizzard as the estimated response time has said "soon" for over a day.
I'm not from the US so don't actually know what kind of laws or organizations there are for these kinds of situations. I feel it is very important to let her parents know so they can decide how to pursue it, but so far I've not been able to connect her name and e-mail address to anything that might give her parents name or e-mail address.
Any ideas how I can proceed? Or even if I should?
Hope you can help
Powerless To Prevent
Drama Mama Lisa: Powerless, the actions you've taken are entirely reasonable and responsible, given your relationship to the pair involved. That said, I don't think further action would be either reasonable or responsible.
Despite the decidedly suspicious appearance of these former guildies' current behavior (somewhat complicated here by the fact that you haven't shared any details about "all the evidence" that you cite), you really have no proof that the guy hasn't decided to fly right and give this girl some friendly support. While I support your effort to contact the girl's parents based on the past warning flags alone, it's important to remember that you really have no idea what the current situation actually is. Nothing good can come from pressing on about a situation in which you're now completely out of the loop.
All that aside, the worst possible thing you can do right now is to create more drama. Please don't do or say anything to anyone involved in game. We all know what happens when circumstances and authority thwarts young love; don't build romantic walls this young lady will feel irresistibly compelled to scale.
While we obviously can't guarantee that Blizzard will act on your in-game petition, we've found that the company's been pretty responsive to situations that pose a real-life danger, especially when minors may be involved. You might try a final contact to Blizzard via telephone, where it might be easier for you to express the gravity of your reservations and more difficult for a rep to gloss over the situation.
Drama Mama Robin: I would like to point out specifically what made your guild's actions both reasonable and responsible, Powerless:
- Actions speak louder than words. You let the behavior of your guildies speak volumes. And you act when their behavior makes other guildies uncomfortable.
- You don't act precipitously. You gather evidence and make rational decisions.
- You went through the proper channels. Contacting a GM was the exact right thing to do. They have the information and the power to at least inform responsible parties, if not authorities.
Everything that Lisa says is correct, so I'm going to turn my attention to readers who are parents. How do we prevent our minor children from putting themselves in danger? We've seen many times before that online relationships can be intense for adults. They can of course be even more so for teens. After all, everything is more intense for teens.
- Ask to meet online friends. You ask to meet their offline friends, right? Since we've established many times that real people are real people no matter how you communicate with them, you should treat online friends the same way you do physical ones.
- Put gaming computers in a central location. Teens have been communicating surreptitiously since the dawn of man, but there's no reason to make it easy on them. You don't need to look over their shoulders every moment they are online, but this will put a damper on inappropriate relationships and behavior.
- Play WoW with your teen. I'm not saying to play together all the time or even that you have to group together. But do play on the same server with overlapping play times on a regular basis. In this week's letter, guildies were able to see the issues in this relationship long before the email was forwarded. You can observe interactions and behavior in the same way, without invading privacy. I wrote a lengthy guide on this subject a year ago, if you'd like to read more.
It's a fine line to walk between allowing children enough personal freedom to grow, while still protecting them from danger. If you are a parent, how are you dealing with protecting your teens online?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.