Warning About Toxic Roleplayers is a Community Service

A Toxic Roleplayer is a player that employs various methods of emotional abuse to get what they want out of their roleplay partner(s) at the expense of that person’s happiness, including but not limited to a hell of a lot of guilt-tripping, isolation of their victim from other roleplay, jealousy over other roleplay, and making the victim feel like they are imagining the toxic behaviour.  In order to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about here, I strongly suggest reading the Emotional Abuse in Roleplay compilation by Sahnin on Tumblr.  She’s far, far better at explaining this and just how easily it can make you feel like you’re the problem than I am — even though I have been a victim of emotional abuse, I just don’t have the capacity for a decent explanation.

I have dealt with and watched others deal with several Toxic Roleplayers over my time in various RP communities.  Every single one of them was an emotional abuser — that’s why they’re toxic — and resulted in my friends and myself dealing with a lot of stress.  In the case of one abuser, her victims are still dealing with the aftermath of her abuse.  Victims of emotional abuse can suffer from anxiety, depression, various physical ailments (including chronic headaches), low self-esteem, and even more serious issues, most of which require treatment — some of which, like medication and therapy, are expensive.

I bring this up because, this week, defenders of one of these Toxic Roleplayers accused those that warn about her of “being mean”.  They wanted this person’s victims to “get over it” and “grow up” — despite, you know, the fact that these people suffered abuse.  This was not a roleplay issue, it was a player issue.  These people wanted her victims to stay silent.

I would go so far as to say these defenders are guilty of abuse themselves, or at least are supportive of abusive behaviour.

There is absolutely no reason for victims of a Toxic Roleplayer to stay silent about what they went through and dealt with.  Warning others about this sort of roleplayer is a community service because it can and will save some people from stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues that most people just don’t like dealing with.  Telling people about what you went through with this person and what behaviours to watch out for can prepare other people so that they can decide whether or not to engage, and if they do decide to engage, they can be ready to get the hell out when things start to get bad.

If nobody had warned me how much trouble a particular roleplayer was, I may have gotten sucked into the same trap as everyone else.  I’m already suffering from depression and chronic headaches — further stress would make my already iffy physical health even iffier, and at least one or two people can attest to my inability to deal with me even imagining that I’ve hurt somebody I care about.

If you have dealt with a Toxic Roleplayer, or if you know of one, it is of the utmost importance that you pass on your knowledge.  By warning others of this sort of person you help protect your community from a force that can tear it apart by setting members against one another, victims against those that doubt them, friends against friends.  The Toxic Roleplayer often insists that they are not the problem, that everyone else is what’s wrong, they’re the real victim, but as you start asking questions and making mention of your own tale you’ll find that you aren’t the only one.

So, yes.  Warn people.  You’re doing everyone a favour — and if the defenders of a Toxic Roleplayer accuse you of being mean?  Forget them.  You, your mental health, and the mental health of those you come across in your time within your community are far, far more important than the feelings of an abuser.

Resources:

Sahnin @ Tumblr’s articles:

 

Hybrids in World of Warcraft: A Roleplay Guide to Half-Somethings

[TW: Veiled reference to sexual assault.]

 

 

This article is a slightly edited version of a previous guide that was located on the old Troll Bouquet server. The general idea is the same, the language may have changed.

Roleplayers in any medium like to be unique. Some take it upon themselves to create a character that is a hybrid of two races in their particular game – a half-elf, for example – and, although this isn’t a bad thing, it is often done so terribly that many roleplayers won’t even give such a character the time of day, let alone screen time. World of Warcraft provides several opportunities to play such a character without actually breaking the game’s lore, while providing interesting story possibilities and without making too much of a “special snowflake”.

I’m going to get one thing out of the way first: Unless the race is mentioned in this article, it either a) cannot happen or b) the two races have not been exposed to each other long enough to produce offspring that would currently be adults. I do not encourage people to play children in WoW (this is another post), and I also think most people would prefer not to play an infant. I mean, to each their own, but that would be really boring.

There may be exceptions that appear unlikely on the surface, but these should not be attempted by somebody that’s new to the game and unfamiliar with the lore. 

What Hybrids are Available in World of Warcraft?

General Racial Information: This post on the Wyrmrest Accord forums has some great information on the (Horde) races of Azeroth. Bookmark it, read it, love it.

Half-Orc Half-Draenei

A half-orc born on Draenor could be the product of a union between an orc and draenei. The likelihood of this being a wanted union would be somewhere between slim and none, so it would be worthwhile to keep this in mind when pondering the character’s backstory. These characters would look more like their Orcish parent, since Orc genetics seem to take over everything, though they would not age nearly as quickly and they could be larger than other Orcs – perhaps not quite as thick.

What to research: The Draenei settlement of Draenor and orcish/draenei relations of the time.

Example: Garona Halforcen is half-Draenei, half-Orc. Raku, my Orc hunter on Thorium Brotherhood, was also half-Draenei. The potential half-Orc half-Draenei could have been born on Draenor as a result of Gul’dan’s projects, artificially aged and brought through the portal – or the result of an Orcish attack on a Draenei settlement. There are several options.

Half-Orc Half-Human

A half-orc born on Azeroth could be the result of relations between an orc and a human. Again, this would be a less-than-ideal partnership as humans and orcs have never not been at war. Your half-orc, in this case, could be from the Hillsbrad camps – before the Forsaken wiped out Hillsbrad’s human population, there would have been around 450 half-orcs living there – or from as far back as the First War, when the Orcs came through the Dark Portal.

What to research: Half-orcs, the First War, the Second War, the internment camps.

Example: Drann from the WoW RPG. There are not a lot of other examples in the WoW universe, unfortunately.

Half-Elf Half-Human

Half-elves are offspring of humans and elves, usually Quel’dorei (High Elves), and live longer than their human parent but not as long as the elven side of the family. Their appearance varies only slightly: they will either appear as humans of slight build or High Elves of thicker build than their fellows. If a half-elf joined Kael’thas and stayed with the elves in Silvermoon after things went to hell there, that half-elf would have green eyes and be Sin’dorei. The vast majority of half-elves are Alliance-aligned, however, so the chance of this is very small and they would have to do their best to hide the fact that they have human blood.

What to research: Half-elves, humans, high elves, blood elves. You really need to understand the difference between a high elf and a blood elf (it’s political, cultural and related to their magical addictions).

Example: Alodi, from the comics, and Arator the Redeemer in Hellfire Peninsula.

Half-Ogre Half Human

Since Ogres crossed over into Azeroth via the Dark Portal over twenty years ago, half-human ogres may actually exist. They would have rounder ears than humans, pinker skin, and their tusks would not be as large as their ogre parent. Their eyes would also be larger than their human parent’s.

A half-ogre would most likely result from the ogres’ attacks on human settlements, as no human would willingly choose to bed one, and the resulting offspring would have to be 24-28 years of age or younger.

What to research: Half-human half-ogre, ogres, humans.

Examples: There are no half-ogre half-human characters in World of Warcraft or the RPG.

Half-Ogre Half-Orc

Ogres and orcs are natives of Draenor – and don’t like each other one bit. As a result, there are many half-ogre half-orcs roaming about, as evidenced by the Mok’Nathal in Outland.

At one time, the orcs purposely bred half-ogres in order to combine the power of an ogre with the intelligence of an orc, unfortunately, half-ogres are far more stubborn than either of their parent races . The half-ogre population dwindled as many orcs lacked any interest in breeding with the ogres, and who could really blame them?

Half-ogres possess features that are a fair mix of their orc and ogre parents; they’re approximately as big as tauren, if not bigger, and are broad-shouldered individuals with thick skulls, big lower jaws (with large tusks), and small black eyes. Half-ogres are often mistaken for smaller ogres.

What to research: Half-ogre half-orcs, ogres, orcs.

Examples: Rexxar, Leoroxx.

Playing a Hybrid: General Information

When playing a hybrid, one has to remember that many hybrid races did not come about because of happy sexy funtimes – they exist because terrible things happened. They’re often made up of races that, with the exception of humans and elves, absolutely hate each other. The only hybrid that has any possible respect? The mok’nathal, or half-ogre half-orc.

Most hybrids will not brag about their background, especially as a half-elf among the Horde or a half-orc half-draenei among … anywhere. They may try to outperform members of their parent races, they may have a stubborn streak a mile wide and they will definitely exhibit aspects of both parent races in personality and in appearance. Some may even make an effort to hide what they are with the clothing that they wear.

Before deciding to create a hybrid, do some research on the parent races and read the articles I’ve linked here. I’ve given a general idea of timelines in many cases, so try to stick to those as best you can and be open to the fact that not everybody will like your character – if your character is open about what they are, expect and embrace the drama that’s bound to develop.

If you have questions, feel free to post them, I’ll answer to the best of my ability!

Feminism is Important

[Trigger Warning for mentions of sexual assault, anti-feminist anything.]

Now, more than ever, Feminism is important.

In the WoW blogosphere, a lot of people have had some pretty terrible opinions about women in gaming and the Feminist movement.  I will not be linking to those terrible opinions here because I do not feel that they deserve the extra bandwidth, and I am quite happy to report that one of those dangerous (yes, dangerous) voices apparently decided to stop blogging because of the backlash that she received.

In the past one-hundred or so years, women in North America have gained the right to vote, own property, and not be treated as chattel by the men in their lives.  We are not out of the woods yet, and we may not be for some time.

I have been told before that I should stay silent, that there is nothing that I can do and that obviously means that I shouldn’t speak up or attempt to do anything at all.  The problem with this viewpoint is that if we remain silent, if we don’t say, “this is not appropriate” and “this is not true”, nothing will happen at all.  A little bit of progress is better than none, and the angrier we are about it, the more likely our voices will be heard.

Before the internet, before WoW and the WoW blogosphere and a certain livejournal community, I thought “Feminism” was a four-letter word.  I wasn’t a feminist!  I thought men and women were equal!  I knew that women were not treated equally to men, deep down, and didn’t start to understand that until high school.

You see, there were debates in one of my high school English classes and one of the subjects that was brought up was, “Are women better off now than in the past?”  I stood for the “No, not outside North America” camp where I wound up with two males defending that viewpoint – the other side was all women – and I did much of the research on the subject.  I learned about the situation women in the Middle East were in, the plight of women in Africa that are dying from AIDs because they can’t get access to condoms that would save their lives (it’s not their place), and on, and on.

I did most of the debating for my side.  I think the males were hoping for an easy mark, but I didn’t care because I had this knowledge and I wanted everyone in class to understand.

I didn’t really start to “get it” until after starting into WoW and discovering WoW communities on Livejournal, which then lead to me finding various social justice communities and bloggers that made me understand that the opinions I had were shitty and dismissive of other people.  In the past three years, I have changed a lot – for the better.  I have a lot more growing to do, a lot of myself to learn to understand and accept.  I still have a ton of baggage from growing up in a society that says that women must fit in this one box and they are not allowed in other boxes, that women are at fault for their own assault if they don’t follow a certain set of rules, and many other troubling things that eat away at you and cause you to lash out at other women because that is what society has trained you to do.

In some ways, I guess I understood that this idea of women only doing certain things was Wrong.  I wanted to be a Paleontologist (until I learned they only made $35,000 per year, and at that time I was made to believe that I had to make $100,000 per year to be able to survive — bullshit), I played with “boy toys” (I was derided constantly as a kid for wanting to play in the sandbox and play with toy cars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles “like a boy”) and constantly tried to tell other kids that there was no such thing.  I only wanted children ’til I was 14 because I didn’t understand what was involved and I thought that was what I was supposed to do.  Once I went through sex education (thank goodness) I realized it was not something I actually wanted, no way, no how, and developed a very strong “DO NOT WANT” feeling in regard to child-rearing, pregnancy and childbirth.  I also understood, vaguely, that sexual assault isn’t the victim’s fault – but it still took me over twenty years to realize that I had been assaulted, myself, regardless of the age of the person that touched me.

Perhaps the groundwork for those changes in view had been laid long ago, subconsciously, and I just didn’t realize it.

The Feminist movement isn’t perfect.  In its current form, its erasure of women of colour is extremely troubling, extremely problematic, extremely wrong; its treatment of trans* individuals as not one of us is extremely wrong.  White women talk over black women when we should be stepping back and letting them talk, because they go through shit we can’t possibly understand because we are white and our capacity for understanding the plight of women of colour is not… quite there, so we have to learn to listen, too.

Even with its imperfections, it is important.

By the way? A trans woman is a woman.  There are no exceptions.  If you identify as a woman, you are a woman, that’s it, case closed.

Apple Cider posted a very important article on the subject of Feminism in light of discussions this week (I use the term “discussion” loosely) that I implore everyone to read.  Do it.  Read it.

Decoding Dragons has a post on Sexism & WoW that’s collected interesting, pro-feminist articles in one spot for easy reading.  Check that out, too, and add Decoding Dragons to your blog roll.

[TW: Anti-Choice Jerkery] IMPORTANT AND SLIGHTLY OT: Anti-Choice Motion Invading Canada

In a grim reflection of what’s going on south of the border, the Canadian government will be considering a personhood motion in parliament at the end of April and will be voting on it in late spring or early fall.  Motion 312, coined by Conservative MP and anti-choice activist Stephen Woodworth of Kitchener Centre, is a motion to make fetuses be considered as people under the law in an attempt to re-criminalize abortion.

This is bloody ridiculous.

Canadian law already states that a fetus does not become a person until it leaves the womb – perfectly reasonable, absolutely nothing wrong with that.  This preserves the rights of pregnant people (most anti-choice people think that only women become pregnant, completely ignorant of the fact that trans men exist), something that’s important and actually recalls that someone becoming pregnant doesn’t suddenly stop being a person.

If Motion 312 is passed, this will change, and the anti-choice (“pro-life”) groups will win one stage of their war against bodily autonomy.

Say NO to Motion 312; sign the petition, send a letter to your MP, keep this circulating.  Let Canada know that this exists and that it is an issue.  Read and share the reasons against Motion 312 and let our voices be heard: the government does not belong in your uterus, or in mine, and it needs to leave the laws alone, as they are.  A fetus is not a person.  Until a fetus is born and can exist outside the womb, it cannot be a person.

If you are for Motion 312, you are against me.  You are against everyone in Canada that could ever become pregnant.  You are telling us that we are not capable of deciding what’s right for ourselves and our bodies and you are the enemy.

When a person becomes pregnant, they do not suddenly cease to be their own person – they do not suddenly need to give up everything for what’s growing inside them.  They do not need to face prosecution for, say, a miscarriage, something going wrong with their health, anything that threatens the fetus – no, the fetus should not come first.  There is something wrong with us as a society when we start trying to protect a fetus instead of the person carrying it.

Stand for choice.  Vote NO on Motion 312 and let that anti-choice jerk know exactly what you think of his attempts to invade your uterus.

This seriously makes me want to get my tubes tied now as opposed to when I become sexually active.  Seriously.

Bullying: It’s a Thing, Even in WoW

Lodur over at Way of the Totem posted about (Trigger Warning for mention of suicide and other related things) his experiences with bullying and an instance run this evening brought the topic to mind again.

I’m a fat chick.  I was bullied as a kid because of my weight and because of my interest in “boy’s toys” (hint: toys are toys they are not meant for one gender at a time), so the subject of bullying is one that hits close to home.  Any one of us that doesn’t fit societal “norms” is bullied every day by the media and the idea that what we are isn’t “normal”, but that’s another topic for another day.

Over the past decade or so, online bullying has stepped into the spotlight, and rightfully so – anonymity of the internet makes it so much easier for people to say nasty shit and not suffer the consequences.  The concentration tends to be on getting the victim to “buck up”, to not be so “weak”, and it’s rarely on the bully to … fix their shit and stop being a dick.

As a result, it is considered acceptable to be a jerk on the internet and that just isn’t right.  It’s a set of behaviours that the gaming community seems to support by virtue of not stepping up and saying “that is not okay”, or by turning the complaint around to hurt the victim of the behaviour.  When a woman says “I did not like the behaviour of this major gamer toward me”, the proper response is to call him out on his shit, not to tell the woman, “Well, you came into this hobby knowing what to expect so you should just deal”.

Several weeks ago, I wound up in a Wailing Caverns with a bunch of people including a low-level druid.  The druid decided to go bear form, and I was annoyed at first because he wasn’t the tank, so I expressed my annoyance and received no response.  It wasn’t until he got lost by running off to kill raptors on his own that I realized he was new to the game and my attitude changed entirely – I ran off after him and got him to follow me to where the rest of the party was, and I started giving him advice alongside the tank.  He seemed to warm up to us, and the guy that wanted to call him names was shot down relatively quickly.  The run was pleasant, despite the silly stuff that was happening, and I learned a valuable lesson.

A lot of us are far too quick to jump on somebody for being “bad” at this game, when we’ve had years to get used to how it works, years to understand its mechanics and the resources available to get better.  A lot of people immediately jump to insulting someone’s intelligence, their home life, their sexuality, and everything under the sun over their performance in a video game.  This is not acceptable.  I do not care if you are in a high-end raiding guild that’s pushing progression content, it does not give you license to be an asshole to your fellow humans.

Last night, I ran into an individual who felt that “retard” was a totally cool thing to call somebody that didn’t seem to understand the game.  Another low-level druid was not doing very well when it came to dealing damage (people actually pay attention to damage meters in Stockades, really?) and seemed to be utterly clueless about what they were doing.  The shaman in the group decided it was a great idea to be an asshole to this person and call them a “retard”, I reported them, and both times a vote -kick was initiated I turned it down (I’m assuming the healer did, too, as I think he was of a similar mindset to me).  At the end of the run, I told the druid where he could find guides on balance druidry and wished him better luck with other runs.

There’s a real person on the other side of that computer monitor.  You don’t know what their life is like, you don’t know if they’re using the game to escape from a shitty home life or anything about them, really, and assuming the worst – getting on the offensive right from the get-go – isn’t awesome at all, it’s just plain shitty.

Bullying is a problem, online and off, and it will continue to be a problem as long as we, as a community and as a species, continue to support the bully’s right to say whatever they want to without consequences … and as long as we continue to just let the victims flap in the wind.