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WoW for me is about 25% play time and 75% chat time — no joke.  Between my guildies and friends list, there’s always a bunch of people who have something to say; whether I’m sitting in Dal doing nothing or chasing adds in Ulduar, there’s really no getting away from it. 

For the most part, I like the activity as it keeps the game interesting.  There are times, though, when it can get stressful and particularly difficult to manage…especially when impatience comes into play.  It’s easy to forget that chatting with someone over the internet is not, in fact, equivalent to a phone call.  You don’t have each other’s full attention — a fact people frequently fail to take into account when they get upset over delays in response time.

Instead of flying off the handle or dreaming up a bunch of negative nonsense to worry over, take a sec to examine the situation.

Here’s what I figure are the main reasons, from most likely to least likely, why a person may not reply to your whisper: 

a. They might be busy.

Hard to believe sometimes, but WoW is not a chat client.  Chances are your whisper target is doing something while you’re talking to them, so be sure to keep that in mind before you send them another prodding (and often times rude!) whisper.  That aside, a player’s ability to chat is sometimes limited by the class they’re playing.  A paladin, for example, can be safely left on auto-attack pretty much indefinitely while the player does whatever else; on the other hand, a rogue will have his ass handed to him within seconds if not closely watched.

Additionally, there are times in-game when hitting enter to access the chat window simply isn’t an option: in the AH window where you post auctions, for instance, and when composing an in-game mail.

b. They may have missed it.

Most folks don’t split up their chat windows, so they get blasted with lines of text almost all the time — especially when they’re in a capital city.  The various global chat channels move so fast…blink an eye and you may’ve just missed an important tell!  It’s not hard to miss a whisper crammed in between the otherwise impressive ascii STFU Truck and some desperate person’s enchant spam, so take it easy.

Other possibility in this vein?  You might not be the only person whispering your target.  If it’s an involved conversation, your tell can easily be overlooked.

c. They might be AFK.

This is obvious.  We all need to pee or get food or answer the phone, and we don’t always raise a flag each time it happens.  Just because the game isn’t marking a player as legitimately AFK doesn’t mean they aren’t.

d. You’re being willfully ignored.

See how this one came 4th and not 1st?  There’s no reason to default to the assumption that the person you’re looking to reach is choosing to not reply.   Most people reply when spoken to!

That being said, it is possible that your whisper target is through speaking with you.  Usually you can tell why a conversation’s come to an end (e.g. nothing more to say, suddenly busy or AFK, upsetting subject matter, etc.), but if it’s tough to gauge for whatever reason, try to attempt resuscitation once and once only.  Learning when to cease and desist is an art, but it’s worth the trouble experimenting with it in order to get it right.

e. They don’t know how to reply.

There was once a time when I didn’t know what a chat channel was, let alone how to access one.  There are tons of people like this, and it’s important that we show them a bit of patience; those few nice high-levels that showed you the ropes back when you were in Linen Boots really made the game for you, didn’t they? 

f. Their UI chat settings may be set to filter you out.

There are a crazy amount of mods out there, and Blizzard’s made tons of changes to the way the chat UI works, so it should not be a stretch to consider that your UI may not work like your whisper target’s.  Narrow down the possibilities by trying an alternate channel.  At worst?  Send them an in-game mail when you get a chance.

Just remember: if you’re really, truly being ignored by the person you’re trying to reach, WoW will politely tell you so.  If you didn’t get the “You are being ignored.” message when you hit the /r, take a deep breath and try again in 10 or 15.

Communication is what makes the game new each time you log in, so make sure you do what you can to keep the experience a good one for all involved!

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‘Cheapening’ is something you say or do that — without you realizing it — either damages you directly or makes someone else feel like a piece of garbage.  It’s a form of asshattery that’s a lot tougher to manage because, unlike most forms of asshattery, which are overt and intentional acts of disrespect or malign intent, cheapening is an unwitting act of the same nature.  It’s that little thing you do that you either think is entirely innocuous, or that you don’t realize you’re doing at all, that causes very real harm each time you do it. 
 
You can call it what you want or tweak the definition a bit, but in the end it’s a basic thing that you can encounter in just about every social enviroment.  As a social environment, WoW is subject to it as well.
 
Despite the unique challenges inherent to the medium, the fact remains that people man the keyboards that generate the words in the various chat channels and people click the mice that make the game sprites do this or that at any given time.  As a result, it would (the operative term, here, I realize) go to follow that some rules of social interaction apply regardless.
 
‘Don’t Cheapen People’ is one of those rules.  In truth, it has a pretty wide definition that, when broken down, changes depending on environmental factors (such as culture, personality, relationship, type of enviroment, etc.); in short, what makes me feel like dirt may not necessarily make you feel like dirt.  Specifically because cheapening can be defined in so many ways, I want you to focus, instead, on the feelings it invokes  — ’cause those are always universal.  It’s much easier to recognize it when you ask yourself: how would that make me feel?  Those feelings are:
 
anger
frustration
detachment
confusion
abandonment
fear
 
Everybody is human, so everybody knows those.  They taste different to me than they do to you, I’m sure, and maybe you’ve experienced one more fully than I have, but on the whole they’re no mystery — we know what they feel like.  Bottom line is: they hurt.
 
You don’t want to hurt someone in real life, when they’re sitting in your living room and sharing a drink with you, so why wouldn’t that carry over into the /g — i.e. the living room of your guild?
 
It can be difficult to realize that you’re cheapening someone.  It’s even harder, ironically, to realize when you’re cheapening yourself.  Fair enough.  I’ll go over a few examples of the phenomenon, anyway, and hopefully they’ll help you recognize the beast for what it is next time it rears its ugly head.
 
As promised: 
 
what you did: talk shit about the guild as a whole
who it hurt: you
why it’s not a good idea: generalizing is never smart, because individuals within the group will always wind up proving you wrong.  Let other people form their own opinions, or risk looking like a dick.  And I mean hey: what comes around goes around, so keep that in mind.  
 
what you did: ignore or disregard a party or raid member’s opinion/input
who it hurt: the other person
why it’s not a good idea: by doing this, you’re telling the other person that they don’t matter.  The very least you should do is acknowledge what the person said — ’cause then they feel they’ve been taken into account/that they’re part of the group.  People want to be included (it’s part of Maslow’s Pyramid, FFS!), so make sure you get in on that.  This is a great way to teach yourself patience and tone (yes, it’s possible even over chat) control, because sometimes it can be really difficult to politely/appropriately acknowledge something that you feel is worthless. 
 
what you did: spamming the DPS or healing meters only when you’re #1
who it hurt: your audience
why it’s not a good idea: aside from being incredibly annoying, you’re also (potentially) triggering some very negative emotions in some of your fellow DPSers.  I’m not talking about jealousy, so quit pounding your chest.  I’m talking about the darker, stickier emotions that will wind up negatively affecting the morale — in other words, the productivity — of some DPSers.  Not everyone deals with stress or insecurity or what have you in the same way, so if you think you’re making yourself known as a DPS SME by spamming your numbers, think again.  DPSers typically have a DPS meter installed, so they already know what you’re highlighting; if they don’t have a meter, then they don’t care.  If you’re in a raid and you really need someone to step it up, consider rethinking your coaching strategy (we can talk about that in a later post).
 
Sometimes taking a sec to think before you hit Enter is worth it.  Every second you contribute to that end is a deposit in the emotional bank account of a person (or more!) you play with in-game.  If that sounds too warm and fuzzy, then look at it like this: the more deposits of this sort you make, the less awkward it’ll be between the two of you when you win a shared Need roll V.S. some player you’ve been unintentionally disrespecting for months.