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Drama Mamas: Being deaf and raiding

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.

I had to edit this week's letter for length, but it's still a long one so that you can get the whole story.
Howdy Drama Mamas,

[...]

To begin with, I'm a male deaf gamer. I've been very blessed with great support systems in all areas of my life and have made friends both on and offline who have been extremely supportive of everything that I do. But I'll also be the first to tell you that I'm not perfect but I do try to avoid drama where I can.
Most of my WoW career, I've had at least one friend in every guild I've belonged to. That's made entering such guilds easier. All of my friends knew how to communicate with me (gchat, party, etc) and, if we got stuck, helped facilitate accommodating me within raids since I couldn't use vent (pre-plan encounters, have a raid warning for possible audibles if necessary, some as simple as just using the word "AUDIBLE" so I know that the plan changed and can follow accordingly). We've done this with me mostly as a healer, and, to a lesser extent, DPSing. I've had my share of shining moments and my share of mistakes just like anyone else.

Well, after playing with friends for 4 years, many of those friends have drifted away in search of other pursuits. Those raid teams are now being filled with people where vent is almost a must, none of them like communicating within guild chat and dungeon runs with them are nearly always "silent" for me in that there's no cutting up in party chat, although every once in a while it's apparent that they're in vent chatting things up (links and snippets of conversation appear in party chat, that kind of thing). My success with those raid teams also plummeted since no one was taking the 5 mins or so pre-fight to go over what our strategies were, even after repeated, polite requests to do so.

The lack of inclusion within those guilds became bad enough that I went hunting for another guild that I could raid with and I did so specifically as a dps player (hunter) because I wanted to finally level and raid as dps after having played primarily as a healer for 4 years. I also did this *without* taking a friend along for once. After a challenging search, I found a 25m guild that was wiling to give me a shot and seemed friendly and open to accommodating me. I got my character moved over to the server and settled in and got to the business of raiding. The first couple of weeks were okay, although tentative attempts to interact with folks in raid or guild chat didn't meet with much success but I continued to try and I continued improving my character. I've not been benched and I usually do my job well enough so far as I can tell. I'm not usually the lowest dps but I don't expect to be the best either. Rather, I focus more on being a utility player and provide interrupts, dispels, snares and CCs when needed, asked or unasked, as well as effective dps. I've not been told not to do so, but I've never been assigned either. I also make sure I'm as prepared as I can be by looking up fights we're likely to be working on. That way, no one has to tell me the basics and they can just give me the bits needed to work with the team as a whole. So far, though, I've gotten no feedback on my performance, positive or negative. I've asked several times if there were areas I needed to improve and I've gotten the generic "you're doing fine".

Here is where I need your advice. Recently, while working on Ji-kun (that dang bird), the raid leader assigned me to stay on the platform for our first several attempts. I accepted this. No big deal. After several wipes, the group assignments flashed up and I was assigned to a platform. I barely got out a question of "I'm in an egg group?" before the countdown to pull boss went out. I'm rather stunned that no one had taken any time to communicate what my responsibilities were. The good news is that I knew what to do with regards to how to get to platforms from prior research and raid finder. The bad news is that I didn't know exactly which group to follow, so several times, I took feathers from folks who should have had them. We wipe...we gather together again, someone has logged and is replaced with another player. Group assignments flash again, I'm not in an egg group...okay. I'm disappointed that I don't get a chance to redeem myself and I feel a little like I was set up to fail. Then comes a public comment from the raid leader: "{my char name} is no longer in an egg group". I'm not sure how to take this comment. I let it go in order to get to end of raid as then was not the time to address it.


After raid, I whisper the raid leader and let him know that I felt like I'd been set up to fail and that I was disappointed that I didn't get a chance to perform the task assigned with some more communication beforehand. His response was that I'd been replaced with the player who had joined the raid late because he'd done it before. But he made no attempt to address the first part of my statement...and immediately after he responded to the second part, he re-logged his character instead of finishing the conversation. I'm not sure how to take that, either.

[...]
Not sure what to do...any advice? Thanks in advance!

Silence Not Golden

Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: Considering they were initially willing to accommodate you, this guild is certainly uncommunicative -- at least via typing. Good leadership includes letting people know how they are doing and how they can improve. Good leadership would have told you what to do when put in a new role. Good leadership wouldn't have logged out mid-conversation.

I agree that you were set up to fail. And I can see why you think you may be considered a necessary nuisance. It's almost like they regret taking you on and are just going through with it because they have to. Having to communicate via typing can be a big change for people used to only vocal communication. Maybe they thought they were ready for it more than they actually are.

You seem to be doing all the right things. You're preparing for the encounters by reading up on them and examining possible roles for yourself. But you need to be informed of your exact role when it is relevant. If they don't see that, it's going to be a recurring issue.

I think telling the Raid Leader that you were setup to fail -- no matter how accurate that statement is -- was perhaps a bit too critical of his performance. A gentler presentation of the problem might have gone over better. Perhaps if you had said that you were sorry that you didn't perform your role correctly but you think you needed a bit more information in order to do so. The damage has been done, but you can still recover. I would definitely approach the RL again. Don't do it right after a raid or right before either. Try to catch him during a time when he doesn't have those responsibilities to be immediately taken care of. Ask him if it is possible for you to get a little bit more direction when your role is changed. Also suggest that if you receive more feedback regarding your performance, that you will be able to learn to do better as needed.

If your RL is unwilling to communicate these things to you -- if he just blows you off again -- then I think you need to look for a new home. When one form of communication is not available to you, you have to be with a group that is willing to communicate the only way you are able to. You were clear before you joined them. This is not on you. But it is on you to decide whether to stay with this group who won't talk to you vs. finding a new group who will.

I suspect that this is just growing pains. If you are diplomatically clear with your RL about what you need, hopefully he will get the hang of typing the pertinent info as necessary. I really hope I'm right. Good luck and let us know what happens.

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: Robin hits the nail on the head when she observes that text-based raiding is more difficult in practice than the noble idea of it is in theory. In fact, I have a 15 Minutes of Fame interview coming up with a guild that specializes in text-based progression raiding for primarily deaf players. It's not a simple thing to coordinate a raid group entirely by chat text, not at all.

Macros could help lighten the load on your raid leader, providing he's willing to spend the time up front to prepare them. Even so, macros probably wouldn't have prevented the confusion in your particular situation.

Let's face it: Frantic typing isn't as efficient or as effective as simply calling things out over a headset. Going back to text-based communication can seem insurmountable to some people, much like playing the game without beloved addons. As you've discovered, even when they've agreed, there are going to be moments of systems failure and annoyance at its limitations. I hope you won't judge your guildmates too harshly and that you'll also allow yourself the space to cut yourself loose if the irritation persists. Drop me a line at lisa@wowinsider.com if you find yourself needing the name of that deaf guild before the feature runs -- but I hope you'll get over the hump and be happily raiding by then. Best of luck!
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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