Sunday, May 03, 2009

An online community is still a community

I've been meaning to put this up for a while now, but keep not getting around to it. I realize the topic of this post may initially look a bit dorky, just bear with me, it's really not. Yes it involves Warcraft (David, I can already hear your eyes glazing over), but just ignore the game jargon and it's a really great story.

This story was posted in the Warcraft Europe forums a while ago and it's about this guy that comes across a newbie asking for help:

So off i went, with a lvl 34 Human Warrior, and helped this fella out with a few of his red quests.. We chatted a little whilst we played, and it came to my attention that this wasn't a very old player, as he kept on having to go "becuase dad neds 2 chek the emall" he also clearly had no idea how to play, kept on pointing at random objects and saying "coooooooooool!!", and by the state of his outfit, it looked like he hit mach 2 and collided with a Dorthy Perkins store.

A few weeks pass, they stay in touch now and then, but then he sees the kid again, this time getting cyber-bullied in-game.

Anyway, a few hours later, i get a message from this kid "i got kicked from my guild :(" i tried to cheer him up, but it wasn't happening.. And to be honest i couldnt be arsed trying, and i was tired and logged off.

So yesterday ... i see this kid sitting next to the mailbox, no guild tag, people bouncing around him having fun.. And theres him, all alone, no-one paying attention to a "noob".. Now i know human race facial expressions never change, but as far as avatars go, this one looked really depressed.

So i message him asking if hes cool, and he tells me hes thinking about quitting, becuase he gets bullied alot at school, and his ex guild mates all said really horrible things to him, and that he knew some of the kids in reality, becuase they go to his school, and are beggining to bully him in school about how he plays WoW etc. We all remember how it was.. I remember i used to get bullied in school for not having any toys, or having an old version of a toy.. Imagine it now, you get bullied about it at home AND school too.

So he decides to do a really nice thing

So what did i do? I took the kid shopping is what i did... Bought him his epic (ground) mount, a load of nice armour off AH, which i made sure was well colour co-ordinated AND gave him very nice stats for his level. Bought him 2 very nice rare axes (fotgotten the name) and got a guild mate to put +15 agility on each one.

I also bought him a host of accessories, fun stuff, like a mana wyrm, somedeviate delights, an Orb of deception.. yunno.. all the "coooooool" stuff.

OK I realize that may have gotten a little thick for anyone that doesn't play the game. He later says that he spent about 1600 gold on this little shopping trip. Just to put that in perspective, if you added all the gold up on all my characters across all the servers I've played on, you'd have about that much. This was months of work that this guy spent on the kid.

Then (and this is my favorite part), he gets a thank you letter. Not from the kid, but from the kid's father:

I want to thank you for helping my son in this game, he's been so excited for days about the new things you bought him, hes also been having a tough time in school latley, and we agreed we would get him this game as an escape, although latley its turned into nothing more than another source of bullying and abuse.

Thanks to you the little chaps smiling again.

Once again, lots of thanks!"

So yeah, maybe people think playing the game is a bit dorky, but this is the sort of story that restores my faith in the humanity of dorks.

I just realized that it's a very fitting coincidence it's currently Children's Week, when players can take an (in-game) orphan around, show him different parts of the world, and buy him treats and candy.


Ian said...

Good post. Got me thinking...about the fact that I have no idea how I ended up adding your blog to my RSS reader, but having done so I realised you were worth reading. But because I mostly read this in an RSS reader, I have never gotten a sense of who you are, or who you're really writing for. But having read your blog for the last 2 years or so, I still feel a sense of community as I read what you write. A sense of connection. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

zzzzzzzzzzzz... *wha?*

And I also have to joke about taking children around so that they can accept candy from strangers. Oh wait, isn't that Halloween? It used to be, anyway.

But seriously, I totally appreciate this. It's a great story. I'm encountering very similar things in the Second Life world; a few people have been incredibly helpful and embracing of someone (me) who was, essentially, a stranger. It's great to see, no matter which platform or which crowd of "dorks."