January 08, 2007

Spectrum Rage

I play World of Warcraft. It's an MMORPG, meaning it is played online with thousands of others from around the world. I play in English, which means my server is populated with Britons, Canadians, Americans and New Zealish fowk in large numbers (cycling through depending on the hour of the day).

One constant irritation has caused me to write a macro I spam seemingly ALL DAY that says, "No, I am gay; they are stupid."

That's right, kids; homophobia, blatant and otherwise.

Now, you'd think in a geeky, queer environment like one online would have enough fags on it to "STFU" bashers and gently remind others. However, with the exception of special all-BGLTSI guilds on servers like Garona - one server among hundreds - this remains untrue.

See, people feel free to call each others fags, stupid things "gay", and otherwise remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that people are queer.

I am out on my servers. This is not particularly brave, because the system is anonymous, you can reroll a new character (toon) if the one you are on gets in social trouble, the world is very big and you can find better friends, etc. However, I feel like I'm fighting a one-woman battle sometimes. I'm not even out as trans on any server, if you can believe that; only as a dyke.

But I hear things. People come out to me privately (called a 'whisper' or 'tell'), but they refuse to be out at all even to their own guildmates. I find it frustrating.

The situation for women is better. The game promotes a kind of blind, random sex balance; all non-player controlled characters (NPCs), like guards, enemy monsters, quest-givers and trainers, were randomly assigned a sex. The heavily-armed Warsong Outriders patrolling Ashenvale change sex randomly by day. The night elves have an ancient division of labour between the priests and the warriors, or Sentinels, who are all female, while the males are relegated to druidic studies, but "modern" night elves have abandoned the prohibition on sex-role crossing. Hostile, NPC trolls are sexist bastards, while the playable tribes are not. The minotaur plains-hunting Tauren struggle between traditions of matriarchal leadership and male hunting with the advent of a new spiritual leadership by a male who studied druidic magic with the night elves. Humans are the source of egalitarianism; they don't seem to understand sexism.

In-game, there are many female players; there are all-female character guilds like, e.g. Order of Isis and their male counterpart, Wolfpack. The players might be male or female, but who knows? That's the joy of anonymity.

I still struggle with the appearance of homophobia in the game; it confounds me given the strong anti-sexism bias of the game-makers and the empowerment of anonymous role-playing.

I guess I'll just keep coming out and out and out and out and spamming that stupid comment.

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