Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
 
Avatars and playing pieces

In games that are sports or party games like Musical Chairs every player represents himself. But in board games or computer games we are represented by a playing piece: That can be a shoe in Monopoly, a white rectangle in Pong, or an Italian plumber in various Mario games. How the playing piece looks usually has no real influence on the game, you could take the thimble instead of the shoe in Monopoly without that changing anything. And in many games you don't even get a choice, if you want to play Tomb Raider, you have to play Lara Croft.

But then there are MMORPGs, which often start with some sort of customization, and which call your playing piece an "avatar". Not only can you dress up your avatar, but what kind of avatar you choose, and whether you dress him in robes or plate mail suddenly makes a difference to the game. So you invest more time in leveling you avatar up, and finding gear for him. What you play and what you wear might even influence what guilds you are invited to, and thus what content you can see. So somewhere along the line some people begin to identify themselves with their avatars.

The problem is that avatars aren't people, and the rules governing the behavior of people aren't the same as those governing the behavior of avatars. For example in World of Warcraft, if you do PvP, or in Warhammer Online, your avatar is a racist. Who is your friend and who is the enemy you have to kill is solely determined by the race of your and the other players avatar. Dwarves kill orcs, but they don't kill humans, except in duels and arenas. And while racism is obviously a bad thing for real people, it is a good idea for realm vs. realm game to function, because you need to somehow identify your enemies, and it fits very well with the underlying fantasy lore.

So as Wolfshead says: "Our virtual sanctuaries should be places of refuge that [are] free from the intrusion of modern day politics; we go there to role-play and escape the real world, not to bring all of its issues and problems with us." Ultimately your avatar is just a playing piece, and reading too much into his gender or race, and then projecting real world politics onto that, can only be a bad thing.
Comments:
You may feel that your avatar in an MMO is functionally identical to a white line in pong but you know it's more than that. As well as being a token with which to play the game, it also reflects the way other players perceive you in game. ie. it's your token with which to socialise.

In a way, the token represents you as a player in online interactions in game.

So it's really not surprising that many players do identify with their avatars. You think that's a bad thing? Well, it happens to be a very human thing. I think we (as in humanity) is still learning a lot about how people choose to interact online and how we project ourselves. But selecting and decorating our avatars is definitely a part of it. For example, look at peoples forum avatars? How do they pick those, and why? They are there for players who like to represent themselves as an icon, and a lot of people do.

But you say that's a bad thing.

Well, Wolfshead comes across as an insensitive fucktard who doesn't even understand that people might play in a way different from himself (he even says 'we go there to role-play' but we all know that a lot of people don't, that's why there aren't that many RP servers around.)

Why exactly is it a bad thing that people relate to their online avatars and want to project themselves online? Because I don't see it. And I don't see promoting diversity online OR in real life to be a bad thing either. We all know damn well that in game 'racism' isn't the same as real life racism and its facile to even make the silly argument that it is. If there were in game Nazis who killed in game Jewish characters, would you still argue that it wasn't racism? To my mind, the lines are blurred and if we want to learn how to live online we have to respect that.
 
I think this is a case of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Is it so horrible that Massively Multipleyer Online Role Playing Games expect people to roleplay, at least minimally? MMOs like Second Life, Habbo Hotel or Metaplace are different, and customizability there is always a plus.
 
I think the bad thing is when you or other people forget that what they look at are avatars. And essentially everyone who plays an online game with avatars role plays to some degree. Unless there are people who really do not immerse themselves the slightest into the game they play, but I doubt that, as it would not be human.
 
I play a gnome and actually accuse even my fellow Alliance of being racists as they are always making gnome jokes :p
I also call them classist snobs as they call me a "rouge". It's good fun.
 
In our house, we don't have "avatars" or "toons". We have characters.

They don't represent us and we don't confuse their actions, motivations, prejudices and peculiarities with our own, any more than we would confuse our own feelings or actions with those of the characters in a novel or a movie.

Our characters aren't interchangeable, one with another, even though the common factor is that all are played by us. We assign personalities to them, according to the lore of the world they live in, or by whim, or both. We then have them act, with varying degrees of consistency, according to those assigned personalities, which develop over time. Some may have similarities to others, but each is unique.

We don't label this as "roleplaying", just "playing". It's what we once did with our stuffed toys or our dolls; this one's the brave one, and this one's the silly one and this one's the quiet one. MMOs are a place where adults are allowed to play like children again.
 
Tobold, is this just a denial post because you're currently playing a fairy?

^^
 
First, thanks for linking to a very nice read, I liked Wolfshead's post. Personally, I am a woman and a feminist and I'm not offended by the Noblegarden event, and I completed the achievement on my female main character.

I think it's worth noticing one thing that Blizzard does that I find very right: They give us some room for interpretation. It's not only a fixed script we are foreced to follow in the event (male avatars throw bunny ears on female avatars). Sure, the achievement with bunny ears on females over lvl 18 is clearly a reference to a real life practice one might find funny or stupid. But if you want, you can play around with the event. A simple example: The game also allowes you to put bunny ears on male avatars if you want to do it. The achievement where you need to wear a tux and kiss someone in a dress can be completed with any avatar gender combination that suits your fancy. What's so sexist about male avatars in pink dresses? Something quite different than traditional gender roles comes to mind ;)

I would have been a bit annoyed if the event was organized in such a way that playing around with the rules was not an option for me as a player. I think I would dislike it more as a gamer than as a feminist, though. I mean, if my female avatar could be as strong as the men, but putting bunny ears on them were beyond her skills? It wouldn't break the game in any way, but it would make me less interested in getting the ingame item that lets you put bunny ears on people (I find it a great tool to have around for when someone says something stupid about females/homosexuals. Quite often they have male avatars in my experience. 1-2-3-Bunny ears on them!)

So for me it comes down to that I like games that give me some leeway. Another example: As long time readers of this blog will remember, there was a controversy about marriages in LoTRO. If I recall correctly in the beta marriages was possible between any two avatars, but in release this was changed so marriages could only be between a male and female avatar (I am not sure how they did it for dwarves which didn't have two genders). In the following debate some people argued for their right to marry which avatar they wanted, while some people argued that this was against the lore of Tolkien's world. Yet another group pointed out the obvious fact that a) the game company could do as they pleased with the game and b) noone forced anyone to play it. Personally I disagree with their conclusion not to allow gay marriages in LoTRO, and think they could learn from how Blizzard give players freedom to act in for example Noblegarden. (This disagreement did not stop me from playing and enjoying LoTRO for a while). Now lots of people will say that there are no same sex marriages in Tolkien's books, and I agree with that. However, the amount of female adventuring heroes isn't that high either in the same books. Allowing them to run free around the countryside in plate armor is not exactly in the spirit of Tolkien either. Or what about how hobbits can overcome their lesser strength with the hobbit-stature trait, giving us tons of hobbits who are as strong as men? Claiming lore as a reason to not allow player freedom with marriages yet still modifying the facts of the game world to accommodate the desires of a probable majority of players is a combination of commercialism and political correctness. That that debate seemed to end with people arguing for the game company being the protectors of the Lore against gay rights activists, instead of the obvious case of a game company not wanting to offend against some players wanting more freedom to play around, could only happen because sadly too many of the people wanting to help the poor oppressed gay hobbits (or in the Noblegarden case the poor oppressed women of WoW) don't understand games.
 
I do agree with Tobold on this one.
Enough Prokofy Nevas already...
 
There are no Orcs in the real world. The apparent Horde vs. Alliance racism doesn't touch people very deeply (even though I've bantered with allies in RL, so it still exists on a superficial level). If all horde races had dark skin and all ally races had light skin, we'd be talking about something very different. But I don't want to spend all of my time arguing examples.

Clearly there are MMO players who invite a personal connection between the Real World and the MMO World. I totally understand that not all MMO players create that same connection, which is obviously fine. But if people like Tobold and Wolfshead pride themselves on their ability to distance their personal experiences from MMOs such that they just want to sit and play the game, then why oppose others' way of playing the game? Clearly they are able to distance themselves from racism, torture, and violence. Is it so much harder to similarly distance themselves from the game when other players want to use the word "gay" on the forums and in their chat functions?
 
I sure do love the "Britney" dance of my ladies in Guild Wars..../sigh

What were we talking about?
 
Right, time to play the Devil's Advocate.. While I do promote roleplay to maintain immersion, many games do take some breaks from "reality" to maintain fun and do so according to contemporary norms. And it's not just about games, every other medium has problems with this. Try watching an old movie or reading an old novel. Even Shakespeare had problems with the Merchant of Venice, where Shylock is either a villain that got off too easily or a victim who got screwed out of what was rightfully his, depending on your point of view. Finding a solution that's acceptable to everyone is a daunting task, especially when we as a society can't agree on what is right in the first place! No wonder many developers just try to sweep the whole thing under the rug as quietly as possible.
 
Although it might not be entirely applicable to WoW since gear has different colors, what about implementing a color-based "good" vs "evil" labeling? Similar to Team Fortress 2, players of the same species can battle each other. But the side they've chosen is represented by their clothing or tabard.
 
>>Claiming lore as a reason to not allow player freedom with marriages yet still modifying the facts of the game world to accommodate the desires of a probable majority of players is a combination of commercialism and political correctness.

Wait, so you decry the rights of the deveopers for sticking to the lore as it pertains to the -original- writer/owner, while at the same time decrying -political correctness-, the very mechanism you should be thanking for giving feminism, gay marriage and such the power base they now enjoy? How fitting it is that you're now trying to do to games what people do to political issues in the real world by apply ideations of "political correctness" and "commercialism" to those things they dont agree with in an attempt to get things changed. /sigh

Tobold and Wolfshead are so very correct. We should protect our games as sanctuarys free from projections of race, religion and politics if they have no basis in the lore or design of the game. If they do, and games are developed that allow people the ability to celebrate certain religions, lifestyles or political stances, then good for them. Let them play those games until their hearts are content. But please, dont interject socio-political issues into something that very obviously wasnt, by design, meant to include or support it. The Magic Circle is porous enough already as it is.
 
"then why oppose others' way of playing the game?"

Playing the game is just that: playing the game. That means doing the quests, kill mobs, raid, doing heroics, chatting in {wotlk hub city}, and what have you.

Feeling offended is not the game. It may be a game to some professional offense-victims, but it's not WoW. And that's it. Most of the paladins of virtue, who shoot at and stomp anything that even in the most tangential way appears to be sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobe, whatever, do so in search of attention. Often what would be a single event where no one read nothing into it becomes the cause of the day... Who wins from it? Just the denouncer, who gets some attention and no one else.

From all this crap what do we have:

1) interaction between players will become more sanitized (for when toontown-like autochat with WoW?)

2) true and relevant feminist causes will lose credibility (yes, the histerics that complained about a game, what the hell do they want now?)

3) some people are bound to have the wrong idea of feminism or even to develop anti-bodies against it...

And yes, the only one who wins is the attention whore who stirred up the shit in the first place. Good job, you tool.
 
I wonder how all this ties into user racism towards an in game faction race?

I dislike orcs. They're hideous bloodthirsty monstrosities, and even the cuddly ones in Warcraft have a nasty history of having burned, slaughtered, and pillaged their way across an entire world.

In fact, the WoW ones present an interesting dilemma, because they fall into the modern trend of the "good ogre" or the "misunderstood monster" which is such a popular trope these days. Some of us that grew up with a more traditional exposure to Trolls and Goblins can't make that adjustment as well as others, and I can't help but wonder if such attempts are a not-so-subtle attempt in modern writing/artistic circles to pontificate on the evils of racism. "Orcs are people too!" I believe they do that to the detriment of an equally important human need, one which has few if any outlets in today’s world.

Am I like the old WWII vet that doesn't like the Japanese because they killed most of his friends, or am I one of those people looking for a true evil enemy to unleash some righteous wrath on; which is a real human desire and need, hence all the prevalence of “good vs evil” stories throughout the ages?

In many ways, I think fantasy and fantasy games, fulfill a need that our modern world rarely ever provides: the need to have an unquestionably wicked foe to fight. Righteousness, or the desire to combat evil, is something that seems to be placed in man since his making, but like so many of the gifts given to us, it is often twisted into a corrupted form. Righteous wrath and a desire to fight wickedness can be twisted into racism and intolerance, but the core desire, to oppose corruption and wickedness, is an intrinsic human desire. We need a clear evil, and the means with which to oppose it. fantasy and fantasy games often give us a form of this.

I think that in many ways, game worlds like WoW, that attempt to blur that line (Lets make Orcs misunderstood and used etc.) are actually bringing the real world into the gaming world in an unexpected and not necessarily healthy way. My villains from my child hood have been made grey, and in the process, that outlet for combating evil has been undermined by a mound of moral relativism. Thankfully, Arthas is still evil, and I can let loose on him without guilt.

I still don’t trust orcs.

So there, WoW made me a racist. Discuss.
 
@ Cliff:
I don't like black%white axis of evil stuff. Except from a very few modern politicians everybody knows it is unreal and I feel cheated by a non-credible gaming world if my opponents do evil just because they are evil and not because they want to achieve something.
 
Feeling offended is not the game. It may be a game to some professional offense-victims, but it's not WoW.I wonder if the best way to solve the problem might not be to lead by example.

When you see a mean old bigotphobe spewing hatred against racists and sexists, it's easy to get outraged and screech, "Political Correctness! Political Correctness! Silence that monster, so that no one can hear its opinions and be swayed by them!"

But maybe it would be better to just lean back, take a deep breath, hit the "ignore" button, and go back to playing the game the way it was intended to be played? I mean, if we let bigotphobes offend us and try to silence them, then doesn't that make us just as bad as they are? (It might even make us worse, since bigotphobia is in some sense morally defensible.)
 
@Chris As I understand the term political correctness, it is in essence about trying to minimize offense to gender, race etc. As I understand commercialism it is in essence about making a product that will sell/appeal to as many customers as possible. According to my dictionary to decry is to publicly denounce something, that is, to say it is wrong. If you also understand the word that way, then you've read the opposite of what I wrote at least one place. To clarify what I think: Following the lore to the letter = Good (if you're making that sort of game). Following the lore on some things and not on others = Also fine (if that's the kind of game you prefer to make). Being strict about lore in some cases and being liberal in other cases, and using being true to the lore as your reason in the cases where you are strict = I don't believe you. Lore can't be the sole motivation if it can be changed at some times and not at other times. I then believe the motivation to be a combination of a commercial one and of and trying to be PC - which is exactly what we often get when people come from outside of games on a crusade calling names. I believe that if game companies care less about things being misunderstood (like Blizzard with Noblegarden) we end up with more freedom as players to do different things. The point I was trying to make is that I think Blizzard did that really well with Noblegarden - that they gave players freedom to do different things. You say "But please, dont interject socio-political issues into something that very obviously wasnt, by design, meant to include or support it." If a game supports something in beta, I think it's a fun option and it then is removed citing what I find a hypocritical, inconsistent argument, I don't really see how disagreeing with the developer's choice fits what you write there.

(Unrelated to gaming, I think you are wrong that political correctness is the reason for the "power base"/support of gay marriages and feminism/women's rights. I think people who support gay marriage and/or equal rights for men and women most of the time do it because they believe it to be right, not out of fear of offending others and a desire to be politically correct).
 
>>I feel cheated by a non-credible gaming world if my opponents do evil just because they are evil and not because they want to achieve something.

I know your comment was directed at Cliff, but WoW gives the player the ability to play both sides of the equation- Alliance or Horde. Sorry if you feel cheated, but Blizzard gives the player a chance to understand what both factions are trying to attempt, and why they are trying to attempt it. All popular notions hold that the Alliance is much stronger than the Horde, but ask any Horde player and I'm sure they will disagree with that notion. It's all about perception, and how our "Real Life™" influences- education, religious teachings, ect- mold how we perceive these things. You may look at a game like WoW and see a black and white application of good vs evil, while someone else will see rampant sexism or racism. What we must learn to accept is that the designers create these worlds and then invite us in to play. We, as the players, should decide to play the game, or not to play the game if any of the aformentioned devices causes them that much grief.
 
>>As I understand the term political correctness, it is in essence about trying to minimize offense to gender, race etc.

You would be correct. However, the term has morphed into a tool that is often used to cause paralysis and manipulate those in positions of making decisions into pawns of knee-jerk reactionism. Much of what you say in your post has occured due to the latter, not the former intent of political correctness. I dont have any issues with what you are describing, because Blizzard is just as much at fault for capitulating to the loud and obnoxius syncophants as anyone.

>>I think people who support gay marriage and/or equal rights for men and women most of the time do it because they believe it to be right, not out of fear of offending others and a desire to be politically correct.

What you say was true when the ideology that political correctness first formed was implemented, but as Wolfshead rightfully points out, Political Correctness now allows "..identity politics shakedown artists who are in the business of extorting money and influence.", and that is what Political Correctness has sadly come to represent when applied to gaming.
 
@mazement

You fail. I'm not against denouncing racism, sexism and the likes. If you had at least read what I wrote apart from that sentence you would have understood it. One thing is activism, other is attention whoring. Screaching of sexism due to the bunny ears would be the same thing as saying that Orcs are in fact black people and undead european in order to state that WoW is racist. Or that the fact that there isn't fat characters in WoW is an offense to all the fat people.

Just play the fucking game. If you want some activism I think everybody can find real causes to fight for. Oh, yes, those do require more work than a few angry posts on the internetz...
 
One more thing. Don't pull a righteous victim act. Nobody is trying to shut you up. Pointing that you are wrong is not censorship. But the politically correct crowd are not given to debate. If they say it's racism/sexism/lollypopism then it is. And you shut up, you bigot!!!
 
@Wyrm

Dude, chill out. It's only a game!
 
This whole conversation just gave me a "Big Brother" sort of shiver. I've always considered games to be a form of artistic expression and the idea of restrictions being placed on those games to adhere to 'political correctness' tickles me in all the wrong places.
If you don't agree with the atmosphere of the game, don't play it.
 
Sorry.. by atmosphere of the game I guess I should clarfiy and say 'atmosphere of the lore' as depicted by the developers. Not by the players. We choose to play in a world the developers make for us. If you don't agree with that world then you shouldn't be playing there.
 
@Mazement

I am chilled. Or when you take a shot is all fun and games but when others shoot back is all the rage. Come on... As for "It's only a game", please write that 1000 times. And also "I won't read anything into a simple game just to play the offended victim."
 
If I understand you Wyrm, you're saying that concerns over LGBT terms in game and the Noblegarden bunny ears achievement and so on should never be raised in the first place, regardless of the truth or lackthereof of the complaints themselves? Fair enough. I wholeheartedly disagree with you, especially because as Syrien noted, I believe most protesters raise questions not out of a sense of political correctness, but because they feel something actively bad could be made better.

Ultimately, your request that no one ever complain about Real World issues as they relate to games is naive. And it goes back to my ultimate point anyways. Our "virtual sanctuaries" are not, were never, cannot be, and ought not to be places where we force everyone to turn the real world off. Some people play games like that, and then it's totally fine. But we can't force everyone to come to an online community that plays host to 11 million people or 50,000 people or however many subs TOR will garner and then say "You can't be yourself here." Super Mario does that. But MMOs aren't trying to be Super Mario.

Your rages about the mere existence of feminist/LGBT/social criticisms is more comical than Tobold/Wolfshead's "head in the sand" philosophy. But I think you're fighting a war that you'll inevitably lose (within the context of growing MMOs).
 
@Nils

> "Except from a very few modern politicians everybody knows it is unreal"

Does something have to be real in order for it to be desired? Isn't that the point of fantasy? I don't think Dragons are "real" but I enjoy stories about them.

What I was trying to get at is that sometimes people WANT a black and white world because it is simple and easy to figure out which side is the right side. When you spend your life, day in and day out, dealing with all the complexities of our world, there is a frustration. I belive that racism, sexism, nationalism, and pretty much any other ism you can mention along those lines comes from a desire for the simple, good vs bad that we all desire. It is that desire that gets corrupted and turns into all the things people are debating here. The desire to be on the right and to stand against the wrong. bigots and bigotphobes (as it was elegently called above) suffer from the same cause in different ways.

These games can help fulfil that desire. That is why it is fantasy. I suspect anyone who desires a great deal of realism in their fantasy and games doesn't get enough of it in their daily life, and that probably means they have a pretty nice life. I have an aunt who is a Nurse who can't stand anything that is realistic. It hits too close to what she sees everyday and she doesn't need that in her leasure time. She is not alone.
 
Indeed, Keith and Cliff. If I log into an MMO, it's because I'm stepping away from the idiots in the real world.

Beyond that, the devs have every right to direct and constrain their game as they see fit. (We have no "free speech" rights in the game world, we just have what the devs offer us, plain and simple.) If I don't like it (either because it's too restrictive or too loose), I have every right to log off.

That's one benefit to a healthier competition in the MMO genre; people can find games that suit their tastes better, rather than trying to bend Blizzard, Turbine, EA or SOE to their will. (And while we're talking sexism, why *isn't* Age of Conan the poster child of the discussion? Is it too obvious that they are just doing their own thing, PC whining or no? If you really want to "right the wrongs of the universe", why pick the low hanging, sensational fruit of WoW? I can't help but think it's just a ploy for page hits and attention whoring.)
 
@Christian

Dude, there is no rage and that is the whole point. This politically correctness thing is fast becoming the new witch hunt. In US, about 40 or 50 years ago there was a rage on communists and that did a whole lot of good. All of a sudden everybody was a hypothetic red and every piece of writing or celluloid was careful scrutinized in order to find some communist propaganda in them.

If people pick on the littlest things they only lose credibility for the important ones. Like the boy who cried wolf. And Tesh said it all. In AoC there are even slaves. But, yeah, since no one knows about AoC is much more fun and rewarding to feel insulted at an 11 million players game.

And the point I was making is also validated by the subtle insinuation that I myself am a bigot because I haven't joined the chorus of the offended virgins. You don't even know me...

This isn't a battle, these were just posts on a blog. As for playing the game "as yourself" I don't even know what you mean. I used to play a Night Elf Druid and I can't imagine any game situation where my sexual preference, political position, sports preference, skin colour had anything to do with it...

People who go to virtual worlds just to relive real world issues are akin to that joke about american tourists who look for macdonalds as soon as they land on a foreign exotic country.
 
In many ways, I think fantasy and fantasy games, fulfill a need that our modern world rarely ever provides: the need to have an unquestionably wicked foe to fight. Righteousness, or the desire to combat evil, is something that seems to be placed in man since his making, but like so many of the gifts given to us, it is often twisted into a corrupted form. Righteous wrath and a desire to fight wickedness can be twisted into racism and intolerance, but the core desire, to oppose corruption and wickedness, is an intrinsic human desire. We need a clear evil, and the means with which to oppose it. fantasy and fantasy games often give us a form of this. But if righteousness is ingrained in the human psyche/soul/whatever and we need evil villains in the game.. who's going to play the villains?-) If we follow that line of though through, there are certain unfortunate implications. Either you're wrong about the universal righteousness and people playing evil characters are evil, or that there's a double standard: People playing evil characters are required to roleplay, but people playing good characters are not.
 
> Either you're wrong about the universal righteousness and people playing evil characters are evil, or that there's a double standard: People playing evil characters are required to
> roleplay, but people playing good characters are not.

I did not mean to imply that the simple desire for righteousness actually MAKES you righteous. It is still pretend and role-play, every bit as much as role-playing a villain is. It can be a healthy kind of pretend though, that could one day make you a better person, but that is in no way a given.

I was basing these statements as much on storytelling and fantasy in general, since many folks don’t role-play, but rather experience “the story of their character” through a first person perspective in a game, like an interactive book. When there is an element of role-playing going on, then sometimes (a lot of the time) people want to play bad guys too. That usually has to do with the utter freedom inherit in that. The important thing to note is, most folks (at least those with their minds clear of the trap of moral relativism) recognize an evil character as evil. We have a lot of things motivating us. Not all of them are good. The promise of freedom (from all rules and morality) and power are big ones. I used to play as a black knight on the playground, but interestingly enough, I always made sure that I died, because hey, the bad guy has to die at the end right? There is a reason why there aren't many stories where the villains win (when put in comparison with the stories where the heroic types win). It is not ultimately something most people want to read or see.

The most intense evil, real wickedness, ritualistic human sacrifice, rape, defilement, etc. etc. is generally not something people want to act out, either. I would argue, that if you really do get into that kind of thing, then there certainly is something bent inside of you. However, if you like to pantomime the more generic villain, grand standing it up in black armor or whatnot, then it is really more about the power and freedom to be "wicked," in a generic sense. I suppose it depends on how seriously you really take it when you pretend it.

It's not so much a double standard, as it is the dual nature of man. We are creatures pulled by both sin and virtue, but most often caught in the middle. A person playing a righteous character is not necessarily righteous, nor is a person playing an evil character necessarily evil. I think both are role-playing for different reasons. I was simply talking about one side of this coin, as to why people role-play heroes, and like to see stories with clear good guys and bad guys. It wouldn't be role-playing if they actually WERE heroes. In fact, it is very likely they would be off doing something suitably heroic. I think the same can also be said for evil people. Most folks aren't that extreme. Most folks are a watered down kind of hero, doing small kindnesses, or watered down villains, causing small hurts through any number of means.
 
Most folks are a watered down kind of hero, doing small kindnesses, or watered down villains, causing small hurts through any number of means.Cause..

I was basing these statements as much on storytelling and fantasy in general, since many folks don’t role-play, but rather experience “the story of their character” through a first person perspective in a game, like an interactive book...and effect. Many people do play as themselves, and a savvy businessman will make the content to fit the majority's expectations to have the largest possible target audience. And as the concepts of morality change, so does the entertainment. The gray-and-gray morality is simply the most recent change among many. Black-and-white morality went out of fashion together with the Soviet Union, even if it made a recent resurgence with the rise of Radical Islam.
 
Technically it's not PC to support LBGT, if your group or circle doesn't support same-sex marriages. Look at Miss California, and her support of opposite-sex marriages (her words).

Thing is in most MMOs you play a character, a toon, an avatar. You run around and play the game. The key difference with an MMO is that you also socialize. You talk to other people. You chat.

MMOs are different from Mario where you can play in immerse yourself in running to the right. They're not Final Fantasy X, where you are a Blitz playing imagination who is helping a summoner save the world. MMOs are a blend of Game and Social Networking (what with guilds and chat channels).

Because of this, there are certain restrictions and allowances that have to occur, especially when it comes to Real world things such as homosexuality. If you want to play something that won't be affected by other people then play an offline game, where short of killing a bunch of gay people because of their sexual preference you won't run into this sort of thing.

What I'm saying is, don't log onto an MMO to escape reality. The social aspect of it prevents that from happening 100%.

As for Lotro restricting homo-sexual marriages ... that's only a factor if such a thing actually DOES something in game. WoW has had several online marriages, of all varieties, and it's not an issue, since it means nothing and anyone can wear a wedding dress. But as soon as Lotro says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and such marriages allow for something, then they as a company have put something in their game that brings the real world to the game world.
 
Pangoria, Second Life is a MMO, WoW is a MMORPG. There is still a difference, you know.
 
@Pangoria Fallstar If marriage does something in LoTRO is a matter of perception - if I recall correctly it does show up in game/on inspect or whatever. It does something just like a title like "the Noble" does something in WoW. I quit LoTRO before player housing came into the game (due to preferring WoW), so I don't know if marrying someone changes how they can visit your house.
 
>>Because of this, there are certain restrictions and allowances that have to occur, especially when it comes to Real world things such as homosexuality. If you want to play something that won't be affected by other people then play an offline game, where short of killing a bunch of gay people because of their sexual preference you won't run into this sort of thing.

Yet again you've done a fine job of interjecting the "Real World" into something where it is not required. It may exist, but the game itself is not a platform for the interjection and discussion of such "real world" issues, no matter how much you want them to be. The /ignore function(in WoW at least) is usually enough to prevent the occasional outbreak from becoming immersion breaking to a fault. I'm there to escape real life, not to entertain the homos, homophobes, feminists or anyone of the sort, so /ignore, or /whatever else will work to keep these people silenced in-game.

>>But as soon as Lotro says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and such marriages allow for something, then they as a company have put something in their game that brings the real world to the game world.

But as soon as Lotro says that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and such marriages allow for something, then all of the real world, gay marriage supporters come out of the woodwork to interject their self serving views on -EVERYONE- else who plays the game.

There, fixed that for ya.
 
It's only a problem I think when certain popular real-world viewpoints are denied. Notice no one here is wondering why we can't have polygamous marriages in MMO's? Polygamy is probably a lot more common, especially if we are talking about historical MMO's. It's just not popular though, in the same sense GLBT issues are. GLBT stuff is actually driven mostly by the straights because it's the progressive thing to do, not so much because of the actual number of people inconvenienced by such.

Also there is a gameplay aspect because so many people crossplay gender, and may not be able to "marry" an ingame lover because they happened to pick a female toon to stare at while they played.

Tobold's argument though is kind of odd. You can't make MMOs free of politics because the people behind the avatar at heart are political animals, and the game is group based so politics will surface. No one can make themselves politically free enough to suspend all reaction to things they dislike. Also, the decision to include or exclude that content specifically is a political decision. in Lotr I don't think marriage as an issue is taken up at all. Tolkien was catholic, so if you asked him personally he's say no, but there's not much about marriage period in the books I think.
 
>The gray-and-gray morality is simply the most recent change among many. Black-and-white morality went out of fashion together with the Soviet Union, even if it made a recent
>resurgence with the rise of Radical Islam

I think it is out of fashion, largely because business men and artists who serve them are trying to please as many people as possible. It is hard to make any sort of strong stance other than "we don't have a stance" when you do that. The second best thing for a business man would be to find the most popular stance, and get with that, if people aren't buying the ambiguous angle. The third would be to carve out a niche in the least popular stances, and corner that demographic. Black and White morality ebbs and flows with the times. It is most popular in times of turmoil. This isn't exacly something that came out of the Cold War era and then just went away with political change. Reagan didn't invent it, nor did Radical Islam.

This also does not necessarily mean that clearly defined evil and good are not something people desire to see play out nor does that mean it is something people don't actually experience. I qualified my comment about what "most" people are, because unfortunately, my family has had intimate knowledge of some of the most terrible evils a man can commit against his fellow man, and I can attest that there really are evil people out there. It's out there, and that is what the stories focus on. They focus on the (thankfully) unusual, not the usual. Most stories are not about "most" people, especially heroic fantasy, even if the hero starts off as an everyman, he is thrown into unusual circumstances and off we go. They are about heroes and villains, tragedies and triumphs, terrible war and grand peace. World of Warcraft is not “World of Farmcraft,” or “World of Nebulously Ambiguous Political Maneuvercraft.” Most of the people I know prefer stories that are NOT like their own life. I would much rather run around and slay orcs than play a simulation of my own life, getting a job, arguing with my boss, etc. etc. Of course, that is out there for those who like that sort of thing too, but even those things include robots and whatnot to spice it up.

We need to understand reality better. As in, people's desires are real, even if you don't think the object of their desire is. Great triumphs in peace and war have come out of these desires, and that makes them very "real." Black and White morality is something that has been around for a long long time, and will come back again and again, because it promises something that many people desire. That is a reality, not a fashion statement.
 
@Chris: In the end what I'm trying to point out is that Real people play the game, if a gay guy plays the game, I doubt he'll want to RP a straight guy, just like a straight guy may not want to RP a straight man. In these games, where they can "be" someone else, yet still be themselves, or even be their true selves in a way, it is important for them to be able to do it.

What you're saying is don't ask don't tell. What I'm saying is, if they want to tell you they're gay, let them, you can then say, "Cool, but could you sheep the moon now?".

@Wyrm: the MMO is still there, so it still counts.

@Syrien: I have no idea about Lotro, I was just saying if there is a benefit (such as summoning each other or whatever) then there's a reason to argue for same sex, otherwise, it's something that can be asked for but not imposed on them.
 
Pangoria, why is your freedom to bring the real world to a game more valid than my freedom to enjoy what I paid for? For your information, I am an activist against bullfighting and meat industry. I fight those all the time in RL. Yet, when I used to log on WoW was to get some respite from the real world. More and more i'm begining to belive that gay or not, feminist or not, whatever or not, people will bring the real world to a game when they can't or don't want to handle real world itself.
 
@Wyrm In my experience, despite this discussion, homophobia and sexism is brought into games much more often by players than feminism and GLBT activism is. A true "noone brings their RL here" stance, including any -isms and prejudices, would probably benefit for example homosexuals much more than the average player. Unless I avoid all pick up groups, quit trade channel, avoid battlegrounds and are very careful about which guilds I am a member of, I can't avoid having to listen to people say (slightly) offending things about race, sexuality and gender in WoW, things far beyond what I meet on an everyday basis in real life. ("Hey guys, I know how we can increase our dps on next try - let's all imagine that the mobs are pakis!" is an example of the kind of statement I'm thinking of). So if it is true that people bringing the real world to a game can't handle the real world itself, then there's a horde of insecure white heterosexual males out there who find the diversity of real life too much to handle. Personally I believe that people, unless maybe if they are in very serious roleplay, always bring themselves to the game world - it's sort of hard to avoid, and not a sign of not being able to handle the real world. (I see Chris advocating the use of the /ignore function, and I do use it for the extreme causes, but a certain level of real-world-prejudice is something you can't hide from if you want to play the game, at least not on the three servers I have experience from.)

I must admit I only read Wolfshead's post first in this discussion, now I went back and read the post he is referring to. In the thread on the forums that the original writer talks about, someone ask that the achievement be completable by putting bunny ears of one avatar of all races, but without the gender requirement. I think it is a reasonable request to make if you dislike the real world reference of the achievement. If anything this would make the real world link less obvious (I don't think anyone want to argue against the notion that the achievement is in part a joke about Playboy Bunnies?). Basically someone are asking for something that makes it easier for them to enjoy what they payed for, to use Wyrm's words.
 
I'm curious as to what the distinction is between "real world" and "in-game stuff". I totally understand the desire to immerse in a world that isn't our own. "Arise, soldiers of Stormwind! Here be dragons, and here be our vengeance!" is clearly legit. "Sheep the moon pl0x" is also legit. What about "Market prices of Widget are falling due to a decresed demand for WidgetSword now that Uld is out"? Is the reference to real-world economic theory break the immersion too much? Is it inappropriate to say "Haha, Gluth hits about as hard as Aquaman"? And if it's okay to have the in-guild conversation "Hey guys, sorry I'm late, I got held up in traffic. You'd think they could do road construction at any time other than rush hour!!!", then why should TOR declare it's not okay to say "Hey, sorry I'm late. I came out to my parents earlier today, and we were talking about it for a long time. I'm really happy that they're so supportive of gay rights"?

If people have concerns like that, they're going to bring them up using available channels, like forum posts, asking to remove certain words from the filter for whatever reason. How does an interaction on a forum, like the reasonably civil one at Bioware, at all devalue the game that the rest of us bought and play?

If a player can't handle interactions with real people and be part of the shared experiences of an MMO community, then they probably need to be playing a single-player game.
 
@Syrien

People should grow a thicker skin. When you feel insulted, it's your personal option. You chose to feel insulted at a comment some twat made. If you want to sue and denounce every stupid people in the world, be my guest. I prefer to reserve my censure when the odd comment becomes a violent verbal harassment or when misogyny/LGBTphobia becomes discrimatory or even violent. But raising hell because some twat said this or that is gay doesn't make sense. I know a lot of gay people and I have some in my extended family. Some of then do not like to see the word gay thrown around, some don't give a shit. But all of them say it's stupid to raise hell just because some kid misuse the word when he clearly didn't do it in order to hurt or insult. Educated and polite people won't use it so you know who to hang with.
 
@Christian

You're right. I will from now on fight to have Blizzard remove any kind of animal cruelty from the game for it will generate bad examples to kids. I will campaign in the game instead of playing it. For it is important to use that medium to spread my personal agenda and to mold young people into my own conception of the world. Becasue if I say hunting is wrong, then it is wrong. period. All the people in WoW who slaughter animals for quests or crafting do so because they are a bunch of sadists or are in the way to become one. Same as that 14 year-old who used the word gay in relation to a particularly flamboyant character he saw in game. BURN THE HOMOPHOBE!
 
@Wyrm I don't really see where I argue for suing and denouncing all stupid people in the world, I'm stating that there are stupid comments in for example pick up groups in WoW, yet I still do them, in a game, for fun. You argued that people bring real life to games when they have a problem with real life. I tried to argue back that people bring real life to games because that's what people do, activists and twats alike, and tried giving an example of it. No matter the thickness of people's skin I still think that your idea that bringing real life to games implies some failure with handling real life is wrong, and not backed up by any good argument.

The original poster in the forum thread about Noblegarden writes: "Honestly, why can't this achievement be fulfilled by putting on a pair of ears, regardless of what gender your character happens to be, and go dancing somewhere? That's what the title alludes to, if you ask me." Now people suggest changes to WoW based on their personal preferences all the time. I don't see it as wrong or raising hell to suggest this change to an achievement in WoW. I certainly don't see it as a particularly important issue either. But I find it intriguing that so many people can get genuinely upset over someone suggesting a change to something in WoW that in their own words don't matter (referring to the forum thread).
 
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