So, I had a very Catholic grade-school education. I went to a private school and there was a lot of emphasis on learning in an environment that fostered a life of dedication to Catholic values. Because of that and other facets of my upbringing, I have a very rich and developed spiritual life, and I’m happy with that. I’m also not ashamed of it.
When I started going to University, it was the first time I was really exposed to peers that had different faith systems than I did. It was an interesting time for me, and I appreciated the chance to talk to and interact with all these amazingly different types of people. One girl in particular stands out in my memory, though (and of course prompted this post.) She was also a Christian, and although we disagreed often, our friendship is one of the fondest memories I have of my first degree. (The worst, of course, is a tie between having the stomach flu in my embryology lab final and being elbow deep in the intestines of a shark. Oh zoology, you were never boring!)
The point of this philsophical journey into cladistsics and catholicism is that my friend constantly tried to convert me (and everyone who would listen to her) and that annoyed the everloving hell out of me. She made it her mission to make those around her believe as she did, often with very little respect for the beliefs they already held. Even now, thinking and writing about it, I find her behaviour intensely aggrivating but I cannot fault her intentions. She honestly believed that she was doing me a favour, and I can’t blame her for that. She saw something wrong with the world around her and she did everything she could to fix it. Her methods were faulty, but her motivation was good. And that stands true even if you can pave a road to a warmer clime with those good intentions of hers.
As a guild leader I have a responsibility to the members of my guild. I am supposed to define and maintain the goals of the guild and to make sure that all members are working towards those goals. I watch dps meters, I watch buffs, I watch gear and gemming and enchants. I direct and I goad and I show and I tell and I generally herd everyone. Some days I feel like a babysitter. Some days I feel like a gardener. Anyone who leads any team of people working together towards a common goal understands these feelings – these roles that team leadership plays.
The thorny question I have been attempting to untangle lately is, “Where do my responsibilities to the members of my team – my guild – end?” And as a secondary question to that, where do the social responsibilities of each one of us as human beings begin and end?
I like to consider myself a social activist. I believe very strongly in ideals like gender equality, the importance of education, and environmentalism (sorta. But that’s another topic for another day.) And other than participating in a march and camp on the lawn to protest tuition rates way back in my University days, I’ve always striven to keep my activism low-key. As important as I feel the topics near and dear to me are, it’s been easier for me to get a favourable reception and a willingness to listen from people by presenting them with small and subtle doses of idealism rather than shouting and beating them over the head with it. For me, people like my friend who have no desire to listen to the viewpoints of others, but keep banging on about how right they are and how wrong everyone else is do more harm for their cause than good. I think there is an adage about flies and preferred fly-bait in there somewhere.
To borrow a phrase from a blog that I read often, it’s about teaspoons, not dumptrucks. I don’t march, I don’t demonstrate, I very rarely write angry letters. What I do do, however, is to perform small and subtle acts day by day. Because the larger problems of environmental abuse, homophobic murders, wage inequalities based on gender and/or orientation don’t happen in a vaccum, I do my small part every day to add one teaspoon full of tolerance to the world. I recycle my cardboard. I don’t let my sister call things “gay” because she doesn’t like them. I don’t let myself be ignored or silenced at work because of who I am.
How does that responsibility that I have, as a person in this world, to slowly, slowly work for a better life for all human beings translate into Azeroth?
How does my responsibility to lead and guide my guild to more and more boss kills and better and better loot intersect with my responsibility to them as one human being to another?
The world of gaming, and perhaps especially online gaming is not generally known as a bastion of tolerance and acceptance. Gamers are far too often seen as foaming at the mouth homophobes and misogynists and I don’t doubt for one moment that those caricatures are actualized somewhere out there. But I truly believe that the community of Warcrfat players is no different than another other community. We are a segement of society and I’d bet that to a large degree we are a reflection of society in general. There are old gamers, young gamers, fat gamers, skinny gamers, richer gamers, poorer gamers, gamers of all races and orientations.
Our guild is generally very inclusive. Myself and the rest of the leadership have put in place guidelines that clearly state that racist, homophobic, sexist or other objectionable comments will not be tolerated. But, inasmuch as we live in a racist, sexist, homophobic society, these permeating influences seep their way into our online lives despite our best intentions and efforts.
What is my role in all that?
I can’t even begin to tackle this issue. I know that I as a guild leader am not here to be some sort of crazy Though Police. I’m very emphatically not here to impose my political, ideological or religious views on anyone, for any reason. But I also know that I have a responsibility to each and every memeber of my guild to make Impossibilium as much fun for them as I can. And to a large extent that means not allowing discrimination. But where do I draw the line? I can tell people this is a discrimination-free guild. But what do I do when people decide to be racist, sexist or homophobic anyhow?
And, what do I do about the feelings that I, as myself, with my Magical Guild Leader Hat off, should say something to Joepaladin, not as a raider but as my friend that his words and actions could hurt someone? What do I do when they hurt me?
Blizzard has done the architectural work. They have given us this world – the foundations, the geography of Azeroth. How we design and create it’s culture is entirely up to us.
What do you think?