As you no doubt know (since I recently reminded you), I /flirt with all the long-haired blood elf men ever to see what they will do. Most of the time, I get ignored. This is most likely a consequence of being
short and green unconventionally attractive. (If we’re going to be sensible here, it’s also a result of WoW being a game.) Occasionally, the flirtees will /flirt back, or tell me /no. Every now and then I’ll come across a real gem, like the guy who told Alexalis he was a bit out of her league because of his amaaaazing hair. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just for sheeyits and giggles – an experiment for laughs, if you will.
I was in a Terrace LFR a week or so ago on Electrika, testing out my new wireless router. After we beat the Sha (uh, adds? Anyone on adds? Seriously, anyone, please kill adds), I spotted a likely test subject and shot off a /flirt right before he dropped party. I didn’t think a thing of it. It’s not Serious Business to me, and since blood elf men are a dime a dozen, I’ve been ignored before.
When I dropped the group and zoned into the Shrine, however, the guy actually slapped me. This was a new reaction! How interesting! Then this gal messaged me:
Which brings me to this question: how should real life relationships be reflected in game and subsequently be treated by others in WoW, if at all?
I’ve only ever dated a couple of gamer guys, and both were more into console fighting games than MMORPGs (though I did drag one into a short-lived Ragnarok Online addiction). Generally, I’m of the stance that as long as things don’t get hot and heavy (the partner in question doesn’t ERP, get emotionally involved or actually meet the person), then things are cool. I don’t particularly care if some random player /flirts with his avatar or not, since for all I know, the person doing the flirting could be a 50 year old guy living in a different country.
Yet this chick (and her guy) obviously had a far different take on the issue. To her, the /flirt emote always has intent to pursue behind it, and the intent itself is offensive. She finds that it puts her and her relationship on the defensive, which is tiresome, even more so because it (apparently) happens regularly. I suspect that she is tired of being flirted with specifically because she is female, as well. This further contributes to her irritation when I flirt with the wrong guy.
In real life, it’s much, much easier to pick up on “we’re in a relationship” cues than it is in game. Then there are general “rules” that are followed by most – such as, you can look, but you can’t touch. In the digital realm, however, these cues are much harder to come by and uncertainty poses a challenge – how are people supposed to behave if they don’t know? If we continue to distinguish between “real” and online game life, should others respecting your relationship even matter? After all, in that case, it would have little effect upon the real world. Should /flirt be considered an innocent transgression by the unknowing, or a romantic aggression by someone who does not care?