17 June 2009

Merlot gets serious

There's a mage on my server called bumboy and a paladin called gayelf. If either of these names make you snigger this post probably isn't for you.

I'm far from impressed and vaguely offended, but to be honest, I'm not sure why.

First, let's rule out any squeamishness on my part. These words do not offend me. I am not so sensitive that I blanche from a little moderate slang. I recognise that the meaning of a word is not an absolute, that the intentions of the users and the social context of their usage are essential to correct interpretation. What I mean is, my best friends can call me a moron and I will laugh it off, but if my boss says the same thing I may react very differently.

So I need to understand why these players chose these particular names.

Does anyone here think these are gay men reclaiming their sexuality through a video game? Spider pride? No, me neither.

And a quick flick through google effectively rules out any translation errors. We can safely assume bumboy does not, incredulously, mean something innocuous in Turkish.

The most likely explanation is the one I jumped to instinctively when I first saw the names. I am meant to be offended. While I can't hope to fully understand what passed for thought in these players at the character creation screen, it's safe to assume it was not benevolent goodwill to all humanity.

There is something very immature and threatening about someone who chooses a term of hostility as their most visible identifier. It may just be a childish in-joke, not an intentional act of hatred, but it carries the same consequences. The best you can say about these players is they lack empathy.

I may well have over-reacted, it depends on your triggers. What one person may think passes for humour, another will deeply resent. How do you feel about spastic, rapist, spic? In reality, it's not so easy to know where to draw the line.

So while I can't necessarily explain my reaction, I stand by it. Life is full enough of unpleasantness, without it spilling over into a fantasy life that many of us use as an escape from that shit to start with.

7 comments:

Shy said...

Funny enough I never used to like my real name when I was a kid, and when I got to create my own name for my character it just had to be something pretty.

The oddest thing is that these people actually play these oddly named characters to 80 as well...staring at their own insulting nameplate for that amount of hours..wow.

Bob said...

I agree with you in not knowing how to react. I know they just picked the name to be offensive, so if I say something then I am just playing into their intentions.

There is a toon on our server named "Ibeatrhianna". He stood in Stormwind shouting and spamming trade: "Hey everyone! I'm Chris Brown!"

The sad part was that a lot of people LOL'd or ROFL'd him and kept encouraging him.

There are a lot of games in WoW. You can Quest, PvP, BG, Arena, Auction House or just chat. I choose to play my game. I refuse to play into theirs.

stonehenge said...

The sad part is they probably think they are funny when in fact, its in very poor taste. It demonstrates a lack of any form of creative humor and represents an extraordinary level of immaturity. I have to wonder how they really feel about themselves when hiding behind such a name?
Some how "roll eyes" seems insufficent. On a brighter note, I have seen some names that do tickle my funny bone. I road the boat to the Howling Fjord the other day with a Paladin named Cheesenoodle.......

chronic said...

I'm pretty sure those names are against Blizzard's naming policy, report them and let the GMs decide!

valkyrierisen said...

When I run into offensive and deliberately mean names like that, I /ignore and report them. And I really don't care if anyone calls me a "hater" because of it. :)

inmysissyrobe said...

I agree with you, but in an apathetic, bitter kind of way if that make sense because the more you think about it and the more you get offended the more it seems as though, in some vague way, they've got at you - which was probably the point of the exercise.

I don't mind, in fact I actively enjoy, sillyish or fivolous names (I met a Tauren called Adorabull the other day and that pleased me *greatly*) but atmosphere-breaking, pointlessly immature and uninterestingly stupid names make me itch just a little bit.

Wenchie said...

I have to admit, I've never seen the point in names that are apparently just to upset people.

I remember very clearly a character I passed in vanilla WoW named "Wankface". Why? What on earth would make you want to run about with a character by that name?
Is it just the silly schoolboy naughtiness of "look mum, I'm getting away with using a naughty word in public!"?

I did however know someone that had a character name that might have been taken as offensive that actually was an in joke. "Bumhug" was the name, and I can easily see how people at first glance would think it was an anti-homosexual reference. It was actually a nod of the head to Ultima Online's strange random name creation for its NPCs. Occasionally the random syllable pairings would come up with the name Bumhug for their Orc NPCs, which was always joked about as a rather unfortunate random name which sort of stuck as a long standing joke. I imagine he probably offended his fair share of WoW players though.