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Drama Mamas: Namecalling

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.

Things don't have to be serious to potentially cause drama.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I have a in-game pet peeve that I could use some advice in working through. In short, it's being called by my class in randoms. For me, it's like nails on chalkboard, being called "Hunter, trap square" or "Priest, on adds". Now, I've been playing since BC launched, so you'd think I'd have a tougher skin when it comes to something seemingly so small, but I really don't. I used to have a lot more tolerance, but I really think upon reflection that people just used to use names more often on my server in pugs. From my perspective, when you call someone by their class, you're relegating them to being an object, an npc that you're directing what to do and where to go. Excuse me, but I'm a person who chose their toon's name with care when I created them literally years ago for most of them. If I can take the time to type in the first four letter of your name in party chat, can't you do the same? I'm okay with using roles (tank/heals/dps), since those are groups of people who are doing the same job in the group. That's not derogatory.
I don't have this problem when it comes to pug raids (mostly because there's usually more than one toon per class) or guild runs ("where everybody knows your naaaame..."), but randoms is where it bites hard. I've thought about making a macro to spam at the beginning of runs ("Hi! I'm Me! Please use my name, not my class in chat. k? tnx."), but I don't want to be passive aggressive or open up a debate when I just want to run the dungeon. I have seriously thought in the heat of the moment about just ignoring directions from the tank (sorry, but most of the time, you're the ones giving the orders) since you have the time to type up orders, yet no time to look up and type my name, or giving a snappy bite-back ("Yes, Warrior.").

I do realize that most people really have no clue that this peeves me off; that's why I'm looking to you for advice on how to communicate this without coming across as an ass.

Thanks!

I'm A Name, Not A Class
Drama Mama Robin: I think there are two types of pet peeves: rational and irrational. I'll give you an example of two of mine:
  • Rational Rogue is spelled rogue, not rouge. Rouge is a cosmetic. Rogue is a sneaky thief. The class is a rogue. Rouge is something I get from MAC.
  • Irrational I don't like to be called Rob. It's a boy's nickname! I don't mind Robbie or Bobbi, though. I know they are also boy's nicknames. I prefer Robin, but if you insist on calling me a nickname, don't call me Rob.
Now, the thing about pet peeves -- even if they are perfectly rational -- is that they are really, really insignificant as compared to real problems. If The Spousal Unit were to call me Rob in the throes of passion, that's still my name. Not a real problem. If he were to call me Betty -- well, then we have a problem. A Real Problem. When I was younger, calling me Rob at a sensitive time like that would have really ticked me off. Now, I would just laugh it off. Laughing about the little things is a great way to keep your stress down. Leave the stress for the big stuff: the Real Problems.

I'm going to be honest with you, Name: I think your pet peeve is irrational. With all the things that are going wrong in PUGs -- all the offensively funsucking things that could be said -- the one that really gets you going is being called by your class name? Regardless, I offer you a two-step program to minimize your annoyance: communicate and smile.
  • Communicate At the beginning of the run, please don't give a "don't" to your random team. But do give a friendly greeting. "Hey, I'm Boadicea. Call me Bo. :)" Now you've told them what you want to be called and let them know in a friendly manner. By the way, telling someone what you want to be called is not being passive-aggressive -- but not answering unless someone calls you your name is being extremely passive-aggressive.
  • Smile If your teammates still insist on calling you Priest or whatever, smile through it. It's not a Real Problem. Now if the hunter doesn't follow the agreed-upon loot rules, or the rogue runs ahead and pulls before the healer is ready, or the tank uses a racial epithet, then by all means speak up (politely) and take appropriate actions. But if the tank is too busy trying to get you successfully through the instance to remember that you like to be called Mireille, please just smile and say, "Yes sir, Warrior-guy!" or something else appropriate. Then just try again next run.

Note: If your name is hard to spell or hard to pronounce (sometimes it's hard to wrap your brain around someone's name if you can't pronounce it in your head), please come up with a nickname you like to be called (like Bo above). Or if your name gets abbreviated to something you also dislike, choose a nickname to use instead. For example, I'd rather people not shorten Peenk to Pee, so if they absolutely can't type out all 5 characters -- well, then I mock them and say call me P.

One thing that might help is to remember that a member of your class is not an object, but a person. So when someone calls you Priest, it's a title, not a diminishment. Be proud of your class! You're good at it and obviously like to do it, else you would play something else.

Drama Mama Lisa: Now, I'm not saying calling someone by a class name automatically makes somebody a jerk of the highest order -- far from it. But it does most assuredly tell you that they're not immersed and fully invested in the moment. It tells you they're most likely there to get their "work" done and get on with things, that whatever you're pugging together is not where their interest and energies lie.

Is that attitude offensive? It might be, depending which side of the fence you're on. It stings to be treated like a cog in the wheels, especially if the person doing the labeling is a raider and you are a more casual player for whom instances are the main event. You want to be able to relax, sink into the game world, connect with others, and actually play the game -- as opposed to being a tick mark on somebody else's checklist.

Still, not everyone is going to feel this way. There's nothing inherently wrong, after all, with racing through PUGs. And you can't let that fact ruin your own enjoyment of the game. Robin's advice may well help you deal with the inevitable -- but it is inevitable that someone will end up calling you by your class or role. Understand that those other players are just trying to get through a part of the game that's no so fun for them anymore. If anything, you might feel a wee little snippet of sympathy for them. /sniff, sniff

And hey -- yeah, you over there! If you're one of those guys who actually calls others by their class names ... Naw, you're not off the hook -- it's true, you're being a little brusque. As I'm a Name points out, it really doesn't take more time or effort to type out the first few letters of a player's name; you don't have to puzzle out the entire, arcane patchwork of every mangled, pseudo-Celtic mélange. You may find pugging to be one more dreary task on your to-do list -- but whatever your personal feelings may be, you've put yourself out in public with other players, and it behooves you to wipe the pizza sauce off your chin, pull up your big boy pants, and act like a civilized person. Social niceties are, indeed, nice! Represent yourself with class!

Before we all pack up today's picnic, let's remember one more reason someone might call players by class instead of by name. Names in WoW are hard. Even that one vowel you changed because your preferred spelling was taken -- perfectly logical to you -- is just another annoyance (Was that -ae or -ea? Is that male? Female? How do you say that, anyway?) to a groupmate who's trying to race through typing out a strategy.

If your name is anything but utterly obvious, don't take being addressed by alternate forms personally. Take it for what it is: the mark of a player who's probably more focused on getting his stuff taken care of than he is adventuring with a party of fellow Azerothians. For what it's worth, dude probably knows the basics, so you're likely to get through the instance with minimal time and effort ... and on to the next group of potentially more friendly players all the sooner.

Better luck next group!

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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