Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Think I Misplaced My Ovaries

Under the heading of 'bad assumptions', I had one of those WoW moments last week where I can't decide to be amused, offended, or baffled.

Last Wednesday I had the day off but the kids were at school and my wife was at work.  Woot!  WoW time!  Well, Blizz decided to perform the downtime on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so I got a late start on any goofing around.  I finally got logged into A-52 early in the afternoon, and Neve quickly got into first a Dark Portal and then a Magister's Terrace run.*

The group was chatty enough, which was good because we wiped repeatedly on MgT.  I'm pretty sure that it had something to do with the three Death Knights in the group, two of which didn't know what to do at all.  I described them in guild chat as Larry, Moe, and Curly, and you can just imagine the ineptitude at play.  Sometime after the third or fourth wipe, we took a short break to repair our gear.

"Do we have enough time to finish this?" one of the DKs asked.

"Sure!  I'm on leave!"  "I can.  School's on break."  "Same here."

"I'm fine," I replied after checking the clock.  "The kids don't get off of school for a couple more hours."

That announcement kind of brought the others up short.

"That's cool!  I wish my mom played WoW."  "Same here."

I'll be honest.  I didn't know what to say.

I know plenty of women who play WoW (it was Soul's wife who got me into playing in the first place), so I don't think it unusual.  I know moms who play during the day, too.  However, these kids made the very incorrect leap from "kids at school" to "mom", and I felt I ought to set the record straight.

At the same time, I wondered whether it would do any good to say anything.  Any striving for accuracy aside, was it such a bad thing to leave them thinking that I was a woman?  There wasn't anything resembling flirting going on, and there definitely wasn't any preferential treatment my way.  The first rule of WoW is that you don't know who is on the other end of the computer unless you get on Vent or Mumble; making assumptions in an MMO can get you in hot water. 

In the end, I decided to just not say anything and just keep running the instance.  You could argue that it was dishonest to let them believe otherwise --and I'd not disagree with you, either-- but what kept running through my mind was that I play with the people they imagined me to be, and that maybe it was an eye opening experience for them.  If there was more asshatery going on --as opposed to ineptitude-- I might have responded differently, but I figured there was no sense in busting their bubble over that.

*I finished up the BC Dungeon Achievement at-level, since I know that I probably won't be able to solo these later instances as a Mage until L85, and MGT probably not at all.


  1. I think the misconception arose not because they thought you were a stay at home mom because you were playing while the kids were away, but because you heavily implied that when the kids got home from school, you would be the one to deal with them and tend to their needs. Menfolk don't deal with the kids! Menfolk hand the kids some jerky and get back to instancing. GRUNT.

  2. I had a very similar experience in a WOTLK heroic once, where one of the dps said that he had to brb to feed the baby and people automatically assumed that the person in question must be woman. They, too, commented on how "cool" that was. Like you I wasn't sure whether to be offended that people automatically associate childcare with women or be vaguely happy that at least the idea of women playing wasn't something bad in their minds.

  3. If people in my PuGs tend to make assumptions about me I usually don't bother to correct them - unless their assumption is offensive (and it's usually pretty harmless).

    The most common one I come across these days is when another member of our party does something girly (I usually can't identify exactly what it is) and someone else in the party starts in on "you must be a girl - i never play with girls in WoW!".

    I could speak up and reveal that, actually, I'm also a girl. But I'm usually happier for the topic to just move on.

    BTW if you play in the late afternoon 4-5pm I'm always surprised at the number of surprising "can we finish this run faster? my girlfriend's almost home". I can't help but envision leagues of cute guys lounging around supported by their girlfriends so they can play video games all day!

    Makes me laugh every time.

  4. Haha, I don't have kids Redbeard but I imagine I would have been similarly confused. Do I take that as a compliment? Be insulted? Correct them? Whaaaa?

    I think I would have ended up saying nothing, as you did. They were happy/content with their assumption, and it's just a random group with people never to be seen again, so oh well. Funny story and everyone walks away pleased.

    Also, thanks for the shoutout on Larisa's list! I am just catching up on blog posts over the last few weeks and saw you had my name. I appreciate it!

  5. @Zelmaru-- /grunt /grunt And here I thought that I was in the 21st Century. Oh well.

    @Shintar-- Well, in my experience feeding a baby takes both hands --if you're a guy, that is-- and probably takes about 10-15 minutes. I've been in pugs where if you disappeared for more than a short bathroom break they'd /vote kick you. I don't know which to be more amazed at: that they didn't /vote kick him, or that he was able to continue a pug while feeding an infant. (Why does the image of the woman with the kids in The Guild pop into my head?

    @Cassandri-- I must not get on the same pugs you get into, because I think I've had only one "you're a girl" argument in a WoW pug the entire year I've been pugging. Could it be a different mentality on the Oceanic servers? Or maybe I was just lucky. (Probably the latter.)

    I do tend to get a late afternoon run in if I worked straight through lunch, but I haven't had the "my GF is coming home!" argument to speed up a pug. I suspect that the guys in question were supposed to be doing something else, and they didn't want to get caught goofing off on WoW instead. Of course, their GFs might disapprove of WoW and MMOs, but that's a whole other ball of wax.

    @Rades-- I'm not so sure about the random group part; the Druid was also from A-52 (surprising these days with the way the servers for LFD are configured), and he whispered me afterward that if I needed a healer in a pug that he'd be happy to join a group I was in. The implication was that I knew what the hell I was doing. (Me? Go figure.)

    Oh, and you're welcome on the nod on Larisa's list. I enjoyed your NANO writing, and although I never commented on it, I thought the Letters from Northrend very well done.

  6. You're overlooking one thing here - your character is a female.

    I'm sure that has a great deal to do with the perception you gave off. A female blood elf - does it get more girly? Oh, right, male blood elfs...

  7. @Soul--

    A female Blood Elf girly? Have you seen the attitude they give off? They'd just as likely kick you in the groin as anything else. Now, if you've got a female BE toon jumping around and dancing all the time, that image gets blown out of the water, but most of the time Neve was doing a /facepalm.

    And the male BE's are only 'girly' compared to male Draenei and Humans. Considering that Q has no neck and a torso that would make a linebacker proud.... :-P

  8. Oh man, I've gotten something similar to that - the automatic assumption thing, I mean. I'm not a parent, but I am a lesbian - I have a wife/girlfriend/person (we're married all but legally, and I still haven't gotten used to calling her my wife XD) and I talk about her a LOT.

    The most notable time it happened was on an RP server, back in the day. I'd been RPing with some fun people, and they invited me to join their guild, which I happily did. I get in, everyone says "Hi Sian" (my character's name), and we chat for a bit. And then in the course of conversation, I mention my wife.

    Now, I'll admit, MOST people (including most of the lovely bloggers I know) would've assumed me to be a guy based on that. That's okay. Except for the fact that I'd JUST been talking about how hard it is to walk in heels with a few of the guildies. But I mentioned my wife, went AFK for a few minutes, and came back to someone in gchat asking if I was there and someone else (one of the girls I'd been talking shoes with) saying "no, I think his wife needed him really quick".

    I wasn't sure whether to be amused, weirded out that they apparently thought I was a drag queen in my spare time, or facepalmy that they assumed, despite my very female-oriented conversation only minutes before, that because I had a wife, I must be a guy.

    I didn't say anything for a few minutes more and pretended I hadn't seen that, and didn't correct their assumption until a couple weeks later when someone referred to me as male while I was actually active in chat. They were all VERY startled, and apologetic. XD

  9. I never correct people that mistake me for a guy, why whould I :D it's not like sex matters so much, and am not looking for flirting opportunities.

    and like Zel said, the assumption was made purely because you mentioned your kids at school - so surely you must be a woman, because men don't tend to their kids and wouldn't mention them first thing in conversations like that. right? right.

  10. @Syl--


    Kids women's job!


  11. @Apple--

    I wasn't sure whether to be amused, weirded out that they apparently thought I was a drag queen in my spare time, or facepalmy that they assumed, despite my very female-oriented conversation only minutes before, that because I had a wife, I must be a guy.

    Well, you never know what they might have thought. The thing about WoW is that anyone and everyone can play the game, so I just take people at toon value. Although I do have to admit being surprised that a guy I was running UBRS with a couple of months ago was almost 70. And I thought I was the Old Man of the group at 41...

  12. That's really amusing but also, yes, I think it does underscore the way the unreality of WoW makes it a sort of sieve for our absolutely worst kneejerk assumptions. I mean, as several people have already pointed out, there is absolutely no reason why "children and care" should automatically be perceived as being the purview of women, but say a single thing about children in WoW and suddenly Ding!You've got boobs. Something very similar to our tank in a pug - he's, y'know, middle-aged family man and he had to take a quick afk in the middle of a pugged heroic because one of his children was crying. And the group immediately started whinging about the inherent problems of female tanks, having to run off and do girly things like tend to their family. I corrected this assumption but it was still a bit eye-opening.

    The problem is that you can't challenge the wrong assumptions without also accepting the implied undertone which is that not-being the thing they think you are is inherently better than being it. It's like if you're walking down the street and someone shouts "faggot" at you, if you turn round and say "I'm not gay" you're supporting the original premise, which is that it's entirely reasonable to insult people simply for being gay.

    Of course it's easy enough to be all "aren't other people crap with their kneejerk assumptions" but I catch myself doing it as well - I think there's an extent to which it's connected to the fact anonymous spaces lead you to make completely snap judgements on a person based on only incidental evidence, but that doesn't make it okay.

  13. My mother does play WoW, and she instances occasionally (God bless her), and we both find that people generally think we're males. That gets a little frustrating. But one word of warning. NEVER mention you're a female in an RP server. You might as well wear a "Open for whoring" sign.

  14. @Ehna-- I'll remember that about RP servers. I've heard great things about Moon Guard, but at the same time I've heard Goldshire called Pornshire for a good reason.

  15. @Tam--

    I just rescued your post from the spam holding file; had no idea it was there, honest!

    You've got that right about kneejerk assumptions. After surviving the BC gauntlet of bad DK tanks, I hadn't realized just how much it had colored my thinking until I was in HoS the other day on Neve. (I'm only doing these Northrend instances for the Northrend Dungeonmaster achieve, btw.) There was a DK there running as DPS, and he was pretty undergeared for the instance. The poor DK was mercilessly picked on by the tank and the tanks fellow guildie running DPS. Then they kept turning around and pointing Neve out about how to rock DPS. I kept saying, "Um, hello? I have Cata gear on!" But that didn't work. So I just whispered the DK to not let them bug him.