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Drama Mamas: Raiding deaf

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.

Imagine there are no funsuckers. It's easy, if you ... turn off trade chat and don't guild with the ex-guildies of this week's letter writer.
I started playing WoW right after BC came out. For the most part I was a solo player, so my own problems never really reared their head. It wasn't until my first guild that I ran into problems. You see, I'm deaf. I wasn't born this way, but I lost my hearing in high school as part of a degenerative disease I have. It wasn't until a few years ago that I managed to get cochlear implants to restore my hearing, but they're not what I would call perfect. My implants do work, allowing me to hear for the most part, but that's not without problems. Some tones or particular nuances of sound are still lost; and it's physically impossible for me to use headphones, since I don't hear with my ears anymore, but this odd little disc stuck to my head near the back of my ear. Due to how it works, the headphones simply no longer work; or if they do, it produces a massive feedback loop in my head which hurts to no end.
While I was in my first guild, I managed to level up to seventy pretty quickly, and found myself being wrapped up in the raiding schedule. It started as just working as a fill in Tank for when the others couldn't go, before I was quickly finding myself being wrapped up as the guild's main tank. Unfortunately they required vent, and upon finding that I was unable to use it, promptly Gkicked me. I rather suspect, they thought I was lying, but I guess that's really beside the point. As one of them said "You can't preform at optimum level if you can't hear." No matter that I had carried them through most of the end game raids at that level and had started Kara with them.

So, out on my arse, I found myself getting a ton of harassing hateful whispers from former guild mates, people I thought were my friends no less. In the end I actually had to contact a GM to get it to stop, but the general hostility I felt and the random comments in trade about how not to go on a pug with me because I was "defective" (as one player called me) prompted me to simply quit playing. Eventually I would come back, and quickly changed servers, faction, name, and sex, and started over.

That brings us up to now. Recently, I joined another guild and find that they are wanting me to start taking more of the tanking duties to take up the slack for losing their regular tank due to war. (The guy got sent to Afghanistan.) All their raids require Vent, and I find that I'm worried I will have a repeat of the former problems. While I know I could simply tell them I'm deaf and leave well enough at it, the fact remains that the guild is a raiding guild (it wasn't when I joined) and that there is a strong chance that I will be kicked for my disability. As it stands, there is no current rule in WoW that prevents such behavior, though there are some of us who feel it is in bad taste at the very least. With no "Equal Opportunity Act" to protect the disabled such as myself, and the ever looming day of having to explain to them my history and what my disability is, I find that I'm starting to enjoy the game less and less; thanks in no small part to the drama.

Please, help me here. HOW do I tell them without making it into a huge drama fest like the last time?

Tone Deaf
Drama Mama Robin: Before answering you, Tone Deaf, I had to get over my rage at how you were treated by your ex-guildies. Well, I'm not really over it -- I'm just not succumbing to it. Much. Grawr! Okay, I feel better now. Here's what I think you should do:
  • Talk to the guild leader and the raid leader (if they are different) as soon as possible and together, if you can. How they respond will affect everything that follows.
  • An email would be best, whether in-game, via forum messaging (if they check theirs), or if you know their out of game email addresses. This will allow them to (hopefully) get over any negative knee-jerk reactions before they respond.
  • Keep it simple, but warn them of past bad reactions.
  • Request a time when you three can discuss the situation further.
  • Ask for their discretion, if they want you to leave because of your disability.
An example of what you can say is:
When I told my last guild what I'm about to tell you, I was subjected to such verbal abuse that I quit the game for a while. Unfortunately, I am deaf and am unable to use Vent. If that is a problem, please keep this to yourselves, and I will quit the guild quietly. If you are willing to work with me on this, let's set up an in-game chatroom and talk.
The first sentence sets them up for something much worse than they are probably expecting. It also illustrates why you didn't mention it before and how evil people can be. I really think it will warn them not to be Those Guys. You want to keep your request reasonable and unapologetic. People tend to live up (or down) to your expectations, so giving them the facts simply and without drama will hopefully result in them treating you in kind.

If they want to work with you, they will inform the rest of the guild the steps you all agree on, and the rest of the guild should follow suit. Yes, there's a risk, and I understand your reticence. I do think (and hope), however, that these guys aren't Those Guys. /hug

Drama Mama Lisa: Tone Deaf, have you tried running the sound through your speakers? If the stumbling block is actually the headphones themselves and you can still hear moderately well through regular speakers, you owe it to yourself to test out the possibilities as soon as possible.

Anyone else have good adaptive solution to this challenge? Please leave us a comment below!

If voice comms are out altogether, however, yet you're still managing to build a reputation as a reliable tank, your guild may be open to taking a look at macros. We're not talking about painstakingly pre-coding the evening's encounters into a virtual encyclopedia of button presses; a little bit of the right kind of raid spam can be helpful for everybody. Our Ready Check raiding column tackled raid calling with macros a few weeks ago. What's good for the goose is good for the gander -- adding an additional layer of feedback will reinforce tactics for everyone.

Without a doubt, missing out on voice chat means missing out on at least some of the camaraderie of the run. However, I don't think you'll be shut out cold. Having raided for a healthy stretch of time with a guy who had temporary voice comm issues, I can attest that once guildchat text gets rolling, even if voice comms are also up to handle business, it's pretty much impossible to stanch the flow.

Still, if neither speakers nor macros work out for you and your guild, Tone, I hope you won't judge your guildmates too harshly. Going back to text-based communication can seem insurmountable to some people, much like playing the game without beloved addons. And even if they agree and all goes well, there's going to be a period of adjustment for everyone (with associated moments of systems failure and irritation).

Either way, do yourself a favor and end the dread of waiting for them to uncover your "big secret." Give your guild leaders a chance to weigh in, as Robin suggests. I agree that setting the tone with a matter-of-fact email will likely melt any resistance and stop drama in its tracks. It sounds as if you're approaching the situation with a healthy dose of self-awareness and openness to the other side of the coin -- my hat's off to you for that. Best of luck finding a solution that works for everyone.

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 robin@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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