Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Harassment in Azeroth

     There's a fine line between ganking lowbies on a PvP realm and hunting, harassing, and stalking them in and out of the game world.  One of my very dear friends has been dealing with this very situation for a while now.  In game, of course, they can use the ignore feature.  But when the harasser gathers legions of alts and friends on other accounts to join in the harassment, /ignore only does so much.  It gets worse when the harasser takes it out of game, going to guild websites and stalking in a far creepier fashion.
     Sadly, this is something that happens far too often.
     Folks, this is a game.  I say that first because I don't want that to be forgotten.  It's a game, designed to be fun, designed to be entertaining, and designed to be SOCIAL.
    When you harass someone, bully them, or treat them in a manner other than how you would like to be treated, you ruin the game.  You also hurt someone.  Yes, I realize that on your screen, they're just pixels, but the same is true of you on other people's screens.
     I don't pretend to know what makes people seem to take such enjoyment out of treating people negatively, but I know that there is no justifiable reason for it.  Certainly not to the extent of going to every safe place they have to further the harassment.
     So before you type that hateful message in whisper, trade, or party chat, remember one thing:  Someone out there has feelings just like you.  Why do you need to destroy them to make yourself feel better?  What could you possibly gain from that?
     People will say "If you don't like it, don't play the game".
     It's not that simple if the bad person isn't limiting themselves to the game.  Furthermore, quitting the game may be exactly what they're hoping for, and that kind of twisted validation will only further encourage such behavior.
     I don't really know where I'm going with this other than to say "Don't be a douchebag, because in the end, everyone gets what they gave."  If you give kindness, you'll get it in return.  If you give venom and hatred, don't be surprised when the target of your cruelty begins to retaliate.  There are legal avenues open to people being bullied, and yes, you can be charged and have things put on your record for bullying across the internet.
    So think before you speak.  Because what you say, regardless of medium, is your responsibility, and you alone will have to face the consequences of your actions.
     I, for one, am a more vengeful person than most, and I truly hope that the end result for this person treating my friend this way is one of legal troubles, financial destruction (lawyers cost a lot when they're defending you) and general loss of quality of life.
     Blizzard is already aware of the situation, but it seems their approach is more of a "protect the subscriptions" and not "protect the customers".  Hopefully, they'll get their priorities right and put an end to this nonsense once and for all.  At least in game, there can be a small measure of peace.

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