Another mark in the “Blizzard is evil” column: their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” handling of a guild in World of Warcraft that advertised itself as “GLBT-friendly.” In brief, when a player sent a message over general chat recruiting people into her “GLBT-friendly but not GLBT-only” guild, she was given a citation for violating the game’s policy on sexual harassment.
The policy, at least its online version, is on this page and only disallows language that “insultingly refers to any aspect of sexual orientation.” But apparently (in case there is another policy/agreement document somewhere less accessible), the policy is that you can’t mention it at all.
The responses from Blizzard game managers in that article are worded about as poorly as they possibly could’ve been — if they’d been outright offensive, then at least it would’ve been taking a stand one way or the other. What they did instead was try to make it sound as if they were looking out for the members of the guild and pre-emptively preventing harassment. Which is self-serving, chicken-shit behavior that in a lot of ways is even more offensive.
Advertising a guild as gay-friendly would invite its members to harassment? I hate to break it to you, Blizzard, but it’s an online role-playing game. Heavily populated by adolescents and shut-ins who never developed past adolescence. You’ve already got harassment. It’s built-in. Some of these people must have “omg ur so GAY!” and “Alliance fags!” on macro.
Now, you’d have to pathetically thin-skinned to get upset by that, but that’s not the point. The point is that for Blizzard to claim that the real world and game world are completely separate, and that it’s not mentioned at all, isn’t even disingenuous — it’s outright denial.
And it’s perfectly reasonable for somebody to want to reinforce an environment where you can just be comfortable knowing that if you mention your gayness or lack thereof, you won’t get dogpiled for it. The examples usually brought up are just saying stuff like, “I have to go AFK to pick up my boyfriend” when you have to leave in the middle of something. Hell, I’ve run into that when I’ve been playing and there’s downtime, and other people mention their relation to each other. I’ve seen female players say, “so-and-so is my husband” and a conversation starts about how it’s nice to see couples playing together.
I’ve been in situations where I started to type that I was playing with my boyfriend, but just didn’t bother because it would be too much of a hassle to explain. That’s not flaunting your deviant lifestyle to anyone, it’s just being able to talk without having to be constantly paranoid about saying The Wrong Thing.
So it would seem a pretty clear-cut case to me, but then the article goes on to mention two guilds called “Stonewall Champions” and “The Spreading Taint.” Great job, guys. Nothing like playing a MMORPG to make you feel that you’re constantly surrounded by morons, the shallowest dregs of humanity.
Blizzard and its supporters can back-pedal as much as they like, claiming that it’s for the player’s own good and it’s part of the stated policy and that whether a player’s gay or straight doesn’t make any difference at all. It’s just a game, right? Yeah, of course it’s just a game, but their response is nothing more than doing what people have been doing for way too long about this stupid issue — shutting their eyes, putting their fingers in their ears, and just hoping it would go away. And now, no matter how it plays out, it’s going to be portrayed as a bunch of whiners asking for special treatment so they can “flaunt their sexuality” in front of everyone.
It’s enough to make me want to quit the game entirely, except I just got these boots that give +10 to my agility and they’re simply fabulous.