Updated Sun, Feb 24, 2008 by Xerin
Controversial discussion ahead. See disclaimer at the bottom. Comment on this article.A lot of men are awful at WoW. So are a lot of women.
As you read through the following article you may have a gut reaction to either wholeheartedly agree or wholeheartedly disagree; I would hope that -- in either case -- you catch the nuance of my arguments. This is a gender issue that deals with problematic relationships in raiding guilds; as such, the article does not give as much credit as it should to the genuine friendships and solid couples that are the foundation of many guilds. Understand I do not intend for extremity.
You will find that I clarify twice that there is no realistic difference between men and women in gaming. I do not want to reinforce any view or tone that suggests this; as such, it becomes difficult to expand on the genuinely good aspects of both men and women and the non-gender issues that arise for everyone due to the context of this article.
Bit of background. I grew up Mormon; this meant I was raised in a semi-segregated setting, as many other large church organizations are. There was a Young Men's and Young Women's organization. While Sunday School was mutual, many of our other activities and weeknight get-togethers were based on age group and sex. In Boy Scouts, I would often head on long hikes where we'd head out, play Capture the Flag, fire slingshots at coyotes (this was a bad idea looking back at it), and generally handle all of the mischief that boys do. Through one 50-mile hike, we struggled together, and five of us nearly died on a glacier dropoff (which also marked the first and only time I've heard a Bishop swear). The Girl Scouts in our ward were also going on hikes and other activities -- but not with us. As I moved from this period of my life and graduated High School, I enlisted with the US Marine Corps -- which was so heavily segregated between men and women that women were only trained on the other side of the nation. The only woman I saw during boot camp was a female Drill Instructor (scared the heck out of me).
Some of you reading this are thinking about how old-fashioned I must be. That's fine, I'm not here to change your beliefs. I would suggest, though, that guys are all pretty well the same. We all want to have children. Biologically, our body is not designed for ourselves, but for the next generation. If you doubt this, imagine the pain difference between getting punched in the shoulder and getting kicked in the primal nethers (or, for some of you, the motes).
In other words, the point of gender separation is not about keeping us pious, but keeping us focused.
Now let's put this in the realm of World of Warcraft. In a raiding guild, an organization of dozens upon dozens of men, adding women into the mix causes certain reactions. Especially if she's single. Especially if she's talkative and has a nice voice. Especially if she's posted an attractive picture or video of herself.
For most men this produces no reaction either way. They are either married, dating, or simply level-headed enough to realize it's a worthless pursuit. If there is some attraction at any point, they carry themselves in a non-creepy way and keep private life out of guild business. However, the issues never rise from most-men, they rise from the lowest common denominator -- the guy who starts stalking this particular woman, or gets in a relationship that causes guild drama, or reacts irrationally elsewhere. Sometimes this moves to the point of multiple GM tickets, server transfers, and even phone number changes.
As clearly as I can say this: women are just as capable as men. There is no reasonable difference between them. Even if Warcraft were based on physical strength like other sports, women would probably be stronger than many men playing this game. Sad, huh? I do not want to categorize the two; this post isn't about actual differences, but perceived differences and very real, very common issues.
Here are my premises:
All of this is amplified by the anonymous nature of the Internet. For being the progressive, forward-looking future of our world, there is some irony at how rampant racism and sexism are by comparison to the 'real world.
In an early Karazhan raid our guild completed shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, one very pronounced example of these stereotypes came up. One of the women in our guild, a Harvard student, quickly and correctly identified the Flame Wreath mechanic on the Shade of Aran. Don't move during Flame Wreath. She followed it up by noting that the Blizzard could not occur during a Flame Wreath -- another necessary observation for our guild, given we were doing this long before any guides were written.
She was completely dismissed. Instead, two of our DPS classes began having a shouting match with each other about the mechanic, not listening at all to the women. This led to confusion once we entered Aran's room, as the DPS'ers refused to follow the actual approach we were going with -- hers -- and wiped the raid.
As we came back and reformed in front of Aran's room for our next attempt, one of these men came up with a brilliant idea -- don't move during Flame Wreath. Blizzard doesn't occur during a Flame Wreath, after all! Disregarding the fact that the woman had already pointed this out exactly, and disregarding he was repeating it verbatim, he took credit and the others listened to him.
Some women may lack confidence or be afraid to make mistakes as a result of those sexist overtones. They, like everyone, want to be seen as equals, and be recognized based on merit. However, to become great players, all players must first make mistakes, and have friends and guild members who understand that those are mistakes everyone goes through, not mistakes caused by being women.
If you disagree with the above inequalities, you will probably disagree with the entirety of the following post.
Many women -- certainly not all -- either knowingly or unknowingly inject a large amount of drama into a guild. More often than not, bringing in a new, single female player is a gamble that winds up costing more than it gains.
Let's take the best of the bad scenarios. There is some mutual attraction or legitimate relationship built between a current member and the new female player. This can help the guild in the short-term because both players are working together to help gear each other up, farm gold, and perform other necessary functions; their effort always produces more than the sum of their individual efforts would have.
However, in the long-term, this often leads to a coupling of two people that is similar to cliques in a guild. Cliques are terrible things for an organization, where a small group of people acts totally independently of the guild for a long period of time, while simultaneously taking gear or loot from the guild. If you offend one person in the clique for any reason, no matter how rational or irrational, the others will leave the guild immediately. Further, the separation that they build makes them feel distant from the guild, and allows them to reinforce any bad feelings they have with each other. It's a quick, vitriolic spiral downwards that usually builds from unfounded gossip.
This is what happens with many couples. Though this can happen with either the guy or the girl in the relationship, often the guy will leave with the belief that he might actually get laid by this woman. Yeah, right. This is compounded by the fact that -- from a management perspective -- it becomes impossible to address very serious issues in gameplay with one person without running the risk of losing the other. You lose the ability to say, "your DPS isn't up to par with the others in your class," because that will often be quickly countered by the significant other in private tells, "how dare he single you out, when that other player is performing so badly!"
Another issue that stems from coupling and from established relationships is a difficulty in picking good leaders to advance in the guild. Three times in our guild we had major issues stemming from players who demanded their significant others have full access to Officer chat. This made us very uncomfortable, as we were unable to talk openly about many player issues. This, in turn, led to another problem -- one woman logged in her husband's Forum account, saw a criticism in a business-style memo where we listed DPS issues from our casters, and promptly began sulking and lashing out at us. Posts we thought were entirely private began funneling out to other members. Until we asked all three couples to leave the guild we could not use either Officer chat or our private Officer forums. This had left many of our Officers feeling devalued because there was not a clear communication between them and myself.
Some guys become attached to women to the point that they can't handle the inevitable rejection. They feel so ashamed by the whole ordeal that they feel the whole guild is looking down on them, when frankly, no one really cares. The woman, thoroughly disgusted, often acts completely blameless in the situation -- "but I didn't know when I sent him those dirty tells that he might take it the wrong way!"
As if this wasn't bad enough, there is a tendency among some women to try and flirt their way through the top. This is terrible because it tarnishes the legitimate business and personal relationships between leadership and other players.
I'm not going to say that we should have all-male guilds, and you'll realize this as you read farther. However, most raid guild leaders have thought it at some point. Nihilum even has a joking No Girls Allowed policy due to past drama.
I'm going to name a large number of women who have impressed me. I was not on the best of personal terms with many of them, but it would be dishonest for me to not show respect for their work.
These are strictly women I have raided with or have influenced me directly; this allows me to vouch for their player skill.
Miyu & Mirarain
Miyu was an officer and the Main Tank of a guild named Dawn Eternal; they were worldwide 5th kill on Nefarian at their peak.
Miyu is in every way responsible for my knowledge and success. In Summer 2005, I had never once picked up a shield; instead, I was working on storyline movies and swinging my Arcanite Reaper at Tarren Mill and Southshore battles. I did not know what tanking was. I had not been in any instance since Maraudon. Miyu contacted me regarding the movies; she detailed some things I could do with Adobe Premiere, and I learned a significant amount about technical editing from her. As we gained a friendship, she talked about how much she enjoyed tanking, and what the new content in Blackwing was bringing -- this sparked me to start asking questions. What was tanking? What was raid tanking?
Miyu became my sensei, so to speak. She taught me everything. I learned from her before I ever developed my own style. All of the Heroic Strike information in Miles to Go and Hold the Line? Miyu taught me that. All of the weapon recommendations, all of the Threat layouts, all of the stat allocations from Miles to Go? Miyu taught me that.
Two days after Miyu gave me an extensive list of gear to get, I had farmed every single piece from Dire Maul and Upper Blackrock Spire and talked with her again. I wanted to apply to Dawn Eternal and leave my casual guild, Eventide, behind.
This is where Mirarain comes in. This is the other great Warrior and woman responsible for my success. Her and I were close friends already and I considered her an excellent tank.
I confided in her that I was applying to Dawn Eternal. She challenged me -- What are your goals? Through talking to her, standing atop a perch deep inside Blackrock Mountain, she helped me realize my goal. I was to become a main tank myself, to lead a guild, not simply follow the lead of another.
Mirarain convinced me to begin raiding -- to actually do it -- with Eventide. We joined another guild on their raids, Legacy Reborn, for two weeks before I fell so in love with raiding that we broke off and began our own raids and our spectacularly successful guild.
Miyu and Mirarain were hugely influential to myself. They were both amazing Warriors, both very talented, and both among the best teachers a person can have in life.
Katanaa impressed me for her tanking through PUG runs, as well as her breadth of knowledge in discussions I had with her. She is a talented tank for a top-200 guild, hopefully the Main Tank at this point. There's not a whole lot I can say regarding our conversations; however, I cannot make a post about impressive female Warriors without including her.
This is a difficult post to make because there are several people I am leaving out. I am only going to include three members of the guild, pulling only from the timeframe of Naxxramas, not earlier.
Zancii was possibly the most intelligent person in our guild, perhaps with the exception of Torchholder. She was also one of the best workers. There are two important aspects to cover. Raiding skill and guild assistance.
As a raider, Zancii was the first to touch on Weapon Skill and the relationship with Glancing Blows. As a Rogue, her DPS on boss fights was regularly above the rest of the Rogues, and often above the rest of the raid. She was absolutely reliable as a DPSer on boss fights, and was spot on when she had to handle other responsibilities such as movement.
She also handled our DKP and other aspects of the guild much better than I could. She was quick to handle loot and enter our DKP; she was even quicker to point out some arcane rules in our original loot system, often preventing guild drama from a misassigned item. She quickly sent tells when there were flaws in group organization or in boss strategy.
The guild had three good Hunters through Naxxramas; Rursusferre, Dtaylor, and Iboga. Iboga held her own and maintained confidence and a sense of humor through it all -- though I never got her to agree to kiting Anub'rekhan. She also acted as a counsel to me during the most stressful period of Naxxramas. I doubt she understands how helpful her strength was to me and, in turn, to the guild.
Very, very talented Mage. Her, Guerrundi, and Sinz were the strength of the magic ranged DPS -- outpacing our terrible crew of Warlocks (Darkanthias and Mizim were our only great locks in 2 years of raiding) and often destroying the meters.
Raeyn and her fiance/husband (not sure?) were also enormously helpful to our guild progression in Naxxramas through the sheer volume of farmed materials and flasks.
I've heard it come up quite a bit that women play primarily healing classes; I agree that the trend seems fairly common, but I've seen many great women playing Druids. They seem to really enjoy the challenge of the many facets of the class, not just healing. If I were to suggest a scientific reason, which is subject to being terribly wrong, it may be that Druids offer an opportunity to multi-task, which women are far better at that men.
Everyone listed here is a Druid, but Nadizel is taking the top spot. From the very beginning, she was an essential, talented part of our guild raids (though not tagged with us).
Both Nadizel and her significant other, Clovis, were critical to our healing and to my own sanity. I really can't give enough praise to either of them, and any time you see me mention them, it's always with a compliment.
Nadizel is an excellent gamer. So were our other Druids. We removed several Druids from our roster over time -- all of them men.
Ilmare, Feanore, Lolliepop
Three excellent gamers. Reliable, talented, and great at their roles. All three of them were intelligent, and quick. All three of them were part of a cohesive healing team that near flawlessly got us through Naxxramas when we never had the number of healers other guilds did.
Only throwing him in here because I felt bad listing off our entire Druid lineup without mentioning the one guy that survived through it all.
And, of course...
A guy can't make any post regarding influential and important women without including his own mother, right? So, yes, my mother and sister are wonderful, intelligent, strong women. If you have any issue with this statement, please talk to Mr. T.
If you have issues with women as gamers, or have stereotypes, reconsider them, and understand that they are just as capable as men.
If you are a woman, understand that guilds have often had bad experiences with women, and while it's usually the fault of a male in the guild, it can leave otherwise accepting people with a little wariness. This isn't always sexism, it is just the reality of conflicts that occur when men and women start mixing together.
I understand I am subject to being absolutely wrong. It's true, I'm not a woman, and this is all from a guy's perspective. Please feel free to rant at me.
Want to share your opinion on this? Do you think some immature player's views of women have a negative effect on raiding? Have some other view you want to express. Post it on our forums!
This op/ed is written by Ciderhelm of TankSpot and reposted with permission. The views expressed here are not the direct views of the Ten Ton Hammer staff. This editorial contains some controversial material. If you wish to discuss it, please head over to our forums. This ongoing thread is where you too can share your opinions on women and endgame raiding. You can contact the author on our forums.