Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sexism and Racism in my Warcraft

Every time I turn around lately, I seem to be running into stereotypes about Warcraft that I would love to deny but I just can't. Warcraft players are immature, racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynists and I want to say, no. My guild isn't. My friends aren't.

Maybe we're a subset, because goddamn, the rest of the community is an exercise in depression.

There are guilds out there that reject you as a raider if you're a woman (read their application requirements). Which. I don't know. The name and the aggressively anti-gender attitude is upsetting but whatever. Their loss. I'd certainly never apply or play with them.

We're so used to terms like "rape" and "fag" being used in PvP and Raiding environments that we just accept them now and create a hostile environment for people who're hurt by them.

When I see people writing feminist blogs about Warcraft and the issues at hand, when I see other blog entries grappling with the impact that casual use of worlds like rape - which, by the way, in a word, promises horrific and very specific violence against a particular gender - I don't understand why the rest of the Warcraft community doesn't want to stand up and say, "Fuck this, I'm not going to tolerate someone using these terms in my guild, in my raid, in my presence, period."

And the thing is, if that happens in my raid, I can step up and tell that person to shut up and if they contest me on it, I will kick them. Hell, before I do a thing, my Guild Leader who's an amazing feminist woman herself, will probably have that person on their ass outside the instance portal.

We won't tolerate homophobia, or sexism, or misogyny in our raids, not because we play with a lot of women, and not because we have people of all sexualities in our raids, but because it's just fucking wrong.

Guild raids are a controlled environment, I'm in a raid with my guildies, and my friends, and they'll back me up. Things are different when you PuG. If I'm in a PuG where I see a lot of this happening, I will drop and go find a non hostile environment. But a few weeks ago, I ran into a different kind of environment and my reaction there was really unexpected.

Halfway through an ICC 25, someone began to sing a Skinhead songs. If you're interested, it was the words to a song called, "The White Man Marches On" that this person wanted to share with us. Look them up.

I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach and no matter how much I want to say now that I pressed that push to talk and said, "Kick him or I'll drop," I sat there petrified instead. A second of stunned silence passed and then Vent broke up with scattered giggles, a few people moaned that "now some bleeding hearts will drop raid" and then the Raid Lead chuckled, and said, "Someone is griefing us, let's just keep going."

And they went on with jokes that were maybe less overt but no less hurtful.

Now, I've been gaybashed in the real world, I've been racially attacked, never physically, but I've had someone walk up to me and a friend of mine and threatened to fuck us fags up if they ever saw us on campus again just because they thought we were gay. Right after 9/11 my family faced a fair amount of discrimination in small upstate-NY towns. My Caucasian wife of six years is frequently assumed to be alone when we're out together.

This sort of experience - vocal violence, aggressive discrimination, casual but unintentional racism - is not something new to me. I felt like I knew how to handle myself in these circumstances, in these situations, but in that raid, I didn't.

I shut down. I didn't say anything. It was just so bleak and depressing. Nobody else said anything about it other than to build on it without being quite so outrageous. I don't know why it bugged me so much, or the way it affected me, but really, I felt even more emasculated that I didn't do or say anything, so I stood there for a bit while they kept pulling trash, and then I just dropped raid and logged out.

Maybe it was the level of violence that the song was promising. Maybe it was something about the casual way in which twenty-four other people took this threat. I don't know.

This doesn't take a lot of effort to work out. Language has power, it affects us in profound ways, and if you don't stand up for your friends and colleagues, then you're letting these insensitive people victimize them.

I don't want to see this sort of sexist and racist and homophobic behavior continue. I don't know that I can really make a difference other than to control the limited environment in which I have influence, but Goddamnit, I'm sick of the casual way these words are used. When words become a casual part of speech and language, they become acceptable, and the person hearing those words is forced to accept them as part of a chain of abuse.

These things are not casual. They never were.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Greatness

Last week's raid was disastrously under-attended but this week we had a full guild run with a couple of folks who came out of the shadows to lend a hand and we cleanly knocked out 8 hard modes and the Full House achievement on Lady Deathwhisper after one false start.

Took just over 3 hours and every boss was a one-shot except for Lady Deathwhisper (took one wipe to figure out how to taunt swap the boss), Blood Princes (tweaked our strategy to go for 2 tanks instead of 3 and it worked just fine, three wipes later, when I stopped exploding the healers or pulling an extra boss) and Dream Walker Valethria (where one of our healers had a misstep but the kill came on the second pull and was super, super clean.)

I think these nine bosses are easy mode at this point. Of course, I'm nervous and excited about Thursday - will everyone show up again? With this team, even with the inexperience and the slightly lower gear-curve, I'm confident we can knock out the last two bosses standing in our way. I've been giving a lot of thought on how to kill Sindragosa and Putricide on Heroic, and I have what seem to be solid strats in mind based on the way other folks have done them.

If Thursday doesn't pan out, I might just extend the lockout since I'm really bored of even the hard-mode bosses and while I enjoy watching guildies get tier tokens, I also want progression at this point, and we've proven our prowess with the nine bosses already. We know how to do this shit. Seeing the guild work last night was really gratifying. The folks we've brought in and our veterans are performing at a very high level and our healers and DPS are just off the charts. Absolutely amazing work across the board.

But at this late, late stage of the game, with so many of us within grasp of the final prize, it's time to bring the beacon in. The next two bosses I kill will be Heroic Putricide and Heroic Sindragosa.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tankadining in Cataclysm

This week was a clusterfuck of scheduling issues and half my raid having RL blow up in their faces. Still killed half the raid on Heroic. Not too terrible. So, I'm going to talk about Cataclysm Paladin Tanking Talents.

I'm feelin' this 3/31/7 build.

Stuff I'm skipping:

Reckoning - same ol' reasoning. More swings might be good for threat, but parry-haste will wind up making us take more damage. No, thanks.

Guarded By The Light - I just hate having to heal myself as a tank. That's not my job. I'll pop Sacred Shield every now and again if I don't have a paladin healer but really, putting up a piddly shield doesn't thrill me when I can use my Holy Power for a Shield of Righteousness/Holy Shield instead.

Eye For An Eye: Magical Attacks only? I'm not the world's biggest fan of reflective damage anyway and this seems like a purely PvP talent an a shitty one at that.

Stuff I'm ambivalent about taking:

Improved Judgment: Ranged attacks? It will be good for trash, but I think I'd rather spend 2 points elsewhere than to pick up something that is useless on most boss fights. Still, I want to get Pursuit of Justice so I guess I have no choice in the matter as Eye For An Eye is even worse.

Divinity: 6% increase to incoming heals? I don't know where the theorycraft hammer will land on this, it could be a lot or it could be a little depending on what healing numbres look like. I dabbled a little bit with the current iteration of this talent before dropping it completely and didn't miss it, but in the current build, I don't know where else I would drop points. More threat in Retribution? I don't know. I feel like I want to focus on survival first and then worry about threat as I need to. This is really big "menh" for me.

Stuff that has left me scratching my head:

Shield of the Righteous and Holy Shield make it seem like you no longer need to maintain Holy Shield - it is instead, a constant source of Block chance every time Shield of the Righteous is used.

So I guess that mean our rotation is starting to look like...
  • Crusader Strike for single targets, Hammer of the Righteous for multiple targets (30% weapon damage = useless for bosses)
  • Judgment (Seal of Truth for bosses due to scale-up time, Seal of Righteousness for multiple target)
  • Avenger's Shield (Procs! Procs! I love procs!)
  • Consecration (with Hallowed Ground, mana cost becomes 17% so while not spamable it can be a longer term part of our spell toolkit depending on the damage output)
  • Shield of the Righteous (at 3 stacks) to proc Holy Shield
In addition we have good old Holy Wrath which is buffed to hit all enemies along with a talent, but I doubt it'll be part of a single-target rotation. I feel like all of this is pushing paladins into AoE territory along with Hammer of the Righteous loosing its target cap.

On an AoE pull (yeah, yeah, I know, no more AoE, we'll see how that goes), you drop a Consecrate, Avenging Wrath, Hammer, Judgment, Shield of the Righteous and go from there and as long as DPS gives you 3 or 4 GCDs I doubt agro would be an issue from there.

I also find it interesting that Shield of the Templar drops the cool-down of Avenging Wrath by a minute so that it can be used up to 3 times in a really tight 5 or 6 minute long fight. Is Blizzard expecting Tankadins to pop wings during fights more often to gain agro leads and then pop it again on CDs as a way of staying ahead of blistering DPS? I hope so, I'm a fan of aggressively pushing my DPS without giving up on my survivability (I can manage ~4.5k on H:BQL now, while our top DPS caps around 21k for that fight). Really looking forward to this.

Compared to our current rotation of Judgment, Hammer of the Righteous, Shield of the Righteous, Consecration and Holy Shield, it's not unfamiliar. If we just had different tools for AoE and single target, it wouldn't feel like much of a change, but the big, big difference are the procs.

Avenger's Shield popping up randomly and Shield of the Righteous crits when you don't have a full bar of Holy Power ready - decisions on the fly! Chaos! Excitement!

*runs around screaming*