As the final wing of World of Warcraft’s last raid for Legion is released on their LFR system, things will be slowing down content wise for World of Warcraft until WoW’s next expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is released. For many this is a time to play other games, but for a community of roleplayers, this is the time where they can truly immerse themselves into their characters and roleplay to their heart’s content without the allure of raiding and doing content splitting their attention.
Many World of Warcraft players treat roleplayers like a lesser form of a player, they’re typically the butt of the community’s jokes. But they’re possibly the most dedicated fans of the game, being able to entertain themselves between content luls by creating storylines with each other, each day being different/more fun than the last. They create their own content, their only limitation being their imaginations and their ability to work together.
The largest role play server for North American players, Moon Guard, is known for its infamous Goldshire Inn, but it also had another reason to rise to infamy in the past year, cyber-bullying. In the year I have spent as a part of this community, I have witnessed people threatening to DDoS people and I’ve seen groups work to infiltrate guilds in order to destroy competition. Unfortunately these have become common complaints on the Moon Guard server, people trying desperately to hold on to influence they have on it.
For roleplayers, there is a saying, “Keep the OOC and the IC separate”. OOC is Out of Character and IC is In Character. OOC communication and feelings are what the person, the player, feels when they communicate as themselves. In Character is what their character says and how their character feels in the game. Any Dungeons and Dragons player will instantly recognize this as In Game and Out of Game. But it seems for some groups on Moon Guard, the separation of IC and OOC is impossible. They resort to bullying, DDoSing, Guild infiltration, manipulation, and orchestration of a myriad of schemes, just to ensure they can remain influential.
Through the course of this rather long article about the community of Moon Guard, I will be showing you screenshots, quotes from players of the community, and my own experiences in the dangers of playing on this once beloved role play server. Some of what you see will be graphic, words will be vulgar/racist and I will do my absolute best to keep everything as anonymous as possible.
The biggest source of drama happens in a no man’s land, where the Blizzard GMs can’t find you. This land is a program called Discord. Until communities launch with Battle for Azeroth, Discord is the go to spot for roleplayers to create massive networks where they can create a community, and really build RP under their vision. This is where the downfall of Moon Guard’s good nature took place.
This conversation on Discord is about a RPer being threatened of being DDoS’d by another player, a now common worry for those on Moon Guard.
A recent Blizzard ticket response shows the biggest problem on Moon Guard, people using third-party applications in order to hide their malicious intent.
I recall having a discussion with one of these people, someone who hides behind their computer screen, relying on anonymity to conduct their malicious orchestra of personal attacks. Once I told them off after a series of terrible interactions, I received this message, attacking my job that I had at the time.
I went around asking roleplayers their thoughts on all these attacks and how they felt knowing it was happening on their server. Many of them knew of these happenings and a few even depicted being afraid.
A long time roleplayer wrote, “I come to play this game as a hobby, and I’m afraid to get involved in the community because if I offend the wrong person they’ll try to ruin my life.”
Another roleplayer explains their view on the server, “I just see MG as a large social spiders web. You have to know how to navigate it. If you don’t and if you say something dumb/step on somebody’s toes, you’re in trouble.”
Someone explains that it’s the prominent community leaders to blame for these actions, “This is an issue that affects everyone online. It can be found in everywhere from forums to emails. But, enough on that. More on how this affects our server itself. Cyber-bullying can be done easily on Moon Guard, as, unlike people who are simply on a public forum, which our realm has, it can be done by ‘those in power’ on the server. If someone ‘in power’ on the server, who will remain unnamed, decides to throw their weight around, they will have no problem making waves on MG (Moon Guard).”
Another player describes that while they believe Moon Guard is a good server, toxicity is present, “Moon Guard on a whole I believe to be a good server. I’ve never regretted joining it. But… it does have a toxic side that is very nasty to those who fall victim to it. The toxicity stems from the sense of anonymity that people feel when online. Online, only our friends know who we really are and because of that, people often feel safe or confident enough to act in ways they normally wouldn’t and say things they normally wouldn’t, especially abusive or threatening things. Compounding that is the ever present mob mentality or ‘us versus them’ attitude it which friends staunchly defend their friends or guildmates, or attack people they don’t like, without looking at the facts or seeking both sides of the story.”
They go on to explain, “Making things worse is a pervasive sense of entitlement among some players who have been roleplaying on Moon Guard for a long time. They feel that this experience and history with the server entitles them to either recognition or respect, or a right to control or govern whatever sphere of roleplay they are involved in. In other words, they feel as they can dictate to others and are justified in acting badly if people don’t do what they want. Sadly, these players tend to have a lot of friends to support them in their actions and will sometimes actually join in on the toxic behaviour. I’ve known people who have had the worst rumours spread about them, who have been harassed from one server to another until they eventually quit RP or the game entirely, and who have been hacked or doxed. Often, the harassment will spill over into real life. The response from Blizzard to IRL harassment or doxing seems to be to take it to the police. That doesn’t achieve much if people are frightened or unwilling to do so, or unsure about how to. Blizzard needs to remove these players from the game when provided proof of harassment, etc. etc. as well as suggesting a report to the police.”
Some believe that change is possible, that the culture of the server has been heading in the right direction over the past year, citing a kind of revolution. They state that the prominent members of the community who commit these acts are afraid of losing their sway, “There’s been some conflict, sure. You get small groups of players who are used to being the only game in town, so to speak, for their sort of RP. So when they find out someone else is trying to open shop, they’ll naturally do things like creating guilds or groups to compete directly with the new guy, pushing silent boycotts, and sometimes a little bit of ‘borrowing’ of good ideas from the perceived competition. It happens. But they shouldn’t worry about becoming irrelevant or not being important to the community! Every player has the power to make Moon Guard better, especially the people who’ve been there for a long time and have name recognition. Moon Guard is so huge, we need all the talented players we can get to help share the epicness!
In the last year here on Moon Guard, I’ve been privileged to witness this amazing revolution in the community. So many players and guilds have come together through events, campaigns, and holiday celebrations who have never interacted before; the world of Moon Guard RP is getting bigger, not smaller! And it’s been incredible to see groups who have never before trusted each other, lay aside the past and move forward. That’s what revolutions are about, moving forward from the past.
There are always some holdouts who are used to the way things have always been and don’t trust the new ways and the new faces. It’s understandable, we’re all human, and we all resist change in some ways. But I’m confident that the fun and creativity and sheer unadulterated epicness we’re experiencing now will eventually show them that there’s nothing to fear!”
While I was asking members of Moon Guard for quotes, two things remained a constant. People wanted to ensure that they remained anonymous and people asking me if I was sure I wanted to write this article, citing potential backlash that I could face for bringing these issues into the light. The fact of the matter is that this article had to be written. What I uncovered on Moon Guard is but a drop in the bucket compared to how much cyber bullying occurs all over the world. That is why people must stand up and report any instance of cyber bullying.
I reached out to Blizzard Entertainment for comment but they did not respond.
If you need a number to call to report cyber bullying, look up your local police station or see this article by ABC News with a plethora of resources. http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/bullying-cyberbullying-resources/story?id=15962497