Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gallant Knight

[Background knowledge: World of Warcraft is a fantasy-based multiplayer online role-playing game, where you can play as one of 12 different races split into 2 factions. There are 9 classes - warrior, mage, rogue, priest, paladin, shaman, druid, hunter and death knight. Levels go from 1-85, with your character starting at level 1 - with the exception of death knights, which can only be made if you have a level 55 or higher character, and start at level 55. My character is a female blood elf mage, around level 30.]

I was doing quests in Stranglethorn Vale, hunting wild raptors (the dinosaurs, not the birds) to prove my strength and trying to steal a treasure from the Mosh'Ogg Ogres, when a male blood elf death knight approached me. His first question was: 'Are you a girl in real life? Just asking'.

I hesitated, suspecting that he was going to come on to me, but I don't like lying or making assumptions about other people's intentions, so I said yes. He knelt before me, and then offered to help me with my quests.

I agreed. So he kept the ogres off as I stole the treasure, and helped to kill the raptors I needed. We may have done one or two other quests, I can't remember. Then he asked if I was single or if I had a boyfriend who might get annoyed at me hanging out with him.

OK, here it came. I had to explain. I told him I was asexual. He didn't know what that was, so I explained that I didn't feel 'those urges', and had no desire for a boyfriend.

'You mean you can't love?' He asked. I explained that I could love family and friends, but didn't feel romantic love.

He was very disturbed by this. He told me I should learn to love, and started giving me advice on how to find true love. I replied that it wasn't a choice, it wasn't something to 'learn', just the way I was. He warned me that I might hurt some guy very deeply, if someone fell in love with me and I didn't reciprocate. I said 'maybe'. That would be unfortunate, but not something I could help.

He didn't seem to get it. He seemed convinced that I should become heterosexual. So, out of curiousity, I asked: 'How do you feel about gay people?'

'!!!!!!!!!' He replied. 'Are you a boy or a girl? Were you born with a penis or not?'

I told him once again that I was girl, and he relaxed somewhat and told me he thought being gay was sick. Then he corrected me on my terminology, saying with girls it's called lesbian. I didn't argue terminology with him, even though I think it's kind of silly to have two separate terms for male and female same-sex attraction and I've heard people use 'gay' for both sexes. Instead, I said that it was part of diversity, that not everyone was the same and I didn't think they should be. He finally gave up on convincing me to be heterosexual.

He didn't make me angry, I want to make that clear. And though he was prejudiced, he was clearly a nice person. He reminded me of the romantic ideal of a knight in shining armor, who feels that women are to be treasured and protected like precious jewels. He wanted me to find a guy who liked spending time with me, not one who just wanted me for my body, and was willing to advise me on how to do that. Although I'm pretty certain he was coming on to me, he wasn't pushy about it. I suspect if I'd told him I had a boyfriend, he'd have gracefully backed off without resenting the time he spent helping me with quests.

But his worldview was not one that allowed for sexual diversity.


Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...

It's interesting to think of the meditation of sexual identities and games in these massive-roleplayer games.

It's rather more nuanced than the "mean boy on the XBox" that I've been getting elsewhere. (Have been reading lots of blogs where the guys are very enthusiastic about the world-building aspects of games, as well as the social interactive qualities).

The death knights are on very high levels.

And at least he learnt something about asexuality, which isn't often confronted in these games.

One role-playing game I like at a distance is probably Runescape. I don't have the grunt-power or resources to be playing World of Warcraft on a regular basis.

I do like the stories and art which come out of that milleu, though.

5:15 PM  

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