20 year old pretends to be woman to go after 16 year old high schooler in WoW

Now this story merits a double post today. Judging by the source, it occurred down south in Tacoma, Washington (not far from Vancouver, I don’t think). Allow me to provide you with a shortened version. If you have time to read, here is the long version.
This guy travels across the US/Canadian border to go to a high school to meet this 16 year old girl. What she doesn’t realize is that they’re Guild mates in the game (A Guild is like a recognized group of players who play together like a team).

When the student arrived at school that Monday morning, she was called to the front office and told a man was waiting to talk to her about college. It was Gregory-MacIntyre. The girl had no idea who he was.

“ustin introduced himself as Greg, and told her he was Vera’s best friend, the affidavit states.

The student knew Vera. Vera was the Canadian college student she’d met on Warcraft and MySpace, the social networking Web site. Vera was in her Warcraft guild. She was the friend who talked about fashion and Calgary College and how much fun it was to party there.

So the guy hands her a bunch of gifts which includes his car keys, a tank top,”The OC” season one DVD box set and a brand new laptop computer.

It turns out the guy masqueraded as his friend Vera. His Myspace picture is that of a woman. That’s a pretty stark deception right there, if you ask me. It was one hell of an elaborate deception. It’s been done before in the past in various stats involving IRC, chatrooms, and other forms of sociality.

Furthermore, Vera had problems with someone pretending to be her on such social web sites. Go figure, eh?

My Response

I don’t think there would’ve been a problem if the guy comes out in the open and says who he was honestly. If they wanted to meet, that’s okay as long as it’s in a public area with a lot of people (like a shopping mall). It would have been even better if the girl went to meet the guy with a few of her own friends who might be football players or wrestlers.

Hell, if I wanted to meet a female player in real life, I’d say lets go get some coffee then hit up a LAN center or something. But that’s just me.

But to pretend to be a girl? What the hell is wrong with you? Is he really that desperate? Way to make us all look bad. By us I mean Canadians and WoW Players. No, not just WoW Players, ALL GAMERS. The media already seems to have a negative stereotype of gamers. NOT ALL OF US ARE TWENTY YEAR OLD GUYS WHO PRETEND TO BE GIRLS TO PICK UP OTHER GIRLS.

Two years, less a day, in my opinion. But honestly, society has some serious wackos out there. There’s a reason why I’m studying Criminology. There’s a reason why I chose the path I did. I could’ve gone into sciences or business. There are three things in the world that seriously piss me off:

  • Sex predators
  • Child stalkers
  • Pathological liars

A few days ago, I read a few posts by Kestrel about girls existing on the internet. That’s fine and dandy. We live in an age where male dominance over the IT sector is slowly beginning to dwindle. Dungeons and Dragons just ain’t for guys anymore. But even if you have a picture of yourself on the internet, I will still cast serious doubt. With the existence of social networks such as Myspace and Facebook, it is no longer difficult to rip off a friend’s picture and use that in a deceptive fashion.

In my Criminal Justice courses, we learned about the concept of the presumption of innocence. In a nutshell, you are innocent until proven guilty. It’s one of the few foundational principles in most western democracies. Similarly, I operate under a gaming doctrine of the presumption of masculinity. You are male until proven otherwise. Unless I can HEAR your voice and compare it with your actions in game, you’re still a man. I think most people can tell the difference between an 8 year old kid and a 22 year old female gamer. If you want more credibility, put it on your facebook profile or Myspace that you’re a WoW Player along with your character information. Frankly, the more evidence that leads to your femininity, the more likely skeptics will be convinced.

Why is gender such a big deal anyway?

I think it’s because of this dominant belief that not a whole lot of gamers are women. Ten years ago, games used to be the domain of men. Arcades would be flooded with male gamers playing street fighter. Counterstrike and Quake 3 public servers would be filled with guys fragging each other.

Until a girl would say something in game.

Then it seemed that the world stopped. Guns dropped to the ground. That all of a sudden, there was this goddess that was sent by the heavens to help light the way for all geeks in their never ending quest for supreme nerditude.

Then some guy would walk up to a female gamer, open trade, put in 20 Large Prismatic Shards, and hand it over free of charge.

Why?

Cause he wants some.
That stuff (Prismatic Shades) doesn’t come cheap anymore. To offer it so freely, I think, is akin to buying love. Even when I played Guild Wars, I’d get whispers saying “Hi, I’m a girl, can I have some Platinum?”

I don’t care if your reproductive organs are on the inside or the outside. You’re not getting my gold. I don’t think there should be any special treatment allowed of anyone because of their gender.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against girl gamers. I absolutely LOVE girl gamers. I think it’s great that girls are getting into gaming. But what I DO have a problem with is girl gamers who use their sexuality to exploit other players and Guilds. I can see why Nihilium doesn’t allow women into their Guild because it would cause too much drama. Hmm, guess that wasn’t true after all. Thanks for the correction MK.

Look, I treat all my friends and guild mates equally with respect and dignity. Treatment should never be based on gender because it’s not fair. Why does she get her repair bill paid for when she was AFK for half the fight while I have to some how come up with 35 Gold on my own busting my ass for flasks, pots, and ensuring the MT was alive? If I were to show favoritism or special treatment of any kind, I would base it solely on performance. Nothing more and nothing less.

Thanks for reading, and I know that this sounds a lot more aggressive than usual, but nothing gets me more riled up than reading stories like this. I also want to reiterate that not all female gamers act in such a manner. I’m in no way trying to paint them with a bad brush.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. I’m going to have to disagree with you a bit, Matt. I may even answer some of you points in my blog–not to get into an argument but simply to illustrate a different point of view.

    I’ve been gaming online for over 15 years. Even in the very beginning, there were a LOT of female gamers–a lot more than people suspect, because there were so many “cross-playing” males, who really are the culprits when it comes to why there’s still such a prevalent misconception that female gamers (and females on the Internet, in general) are a very small minority of the whole.

    My philosophy has always been, “What you see is what you get.” So sure, sometimes I’ve been mistaken (never really embarassingly so…more an “Well I’ll be damned” sort of way). I mean, if a guy wants to portray a gal, I guess that’s his business–and if he wants to try to fool people, that too is his business (until and unless it begins to have a negative effect on others, such as the story you led with).

    As for Nihilum’s stance on “no women”, I have a serious problem with that. First, I abhor discrimination, and sexism is one of the worst forms of sexism. Second, their fear of drama by letting women in the guild causes me to seriously, gravely, question their individual and collective maturity, common sense, intelligence, and fitness for our society.

    The only people “exploited” are those who allow themselves to be exploited.
    =================
    BTW, every time you comment on my blog, I have to actively allow it — for some reason, I think your URI triggers some anti-spam action. I will try to figure it out so your posts aren’t held–it’s not me, honest! 🙂

  2. Ahhh Mattikun, blaming all us female gamers for what goes wrong in the gaming society? Though you bring up good points..I was taken aback the other day reading a forum post on the 2.2 PTR forum. A guy, who plays a girl character, was asking people where he could get a voice synth because he didn’t want people using the in game Vent to know he is a “he” and stop him from getting free stuff, since his char was a chick. Gives all of us girl gamers out there a bad name.

    I sugguest before you think “hey shes a chick, lets give her the item she really wants because hey, I might get some” do what My dear Matt does, its a guy unless prooven ON VENT elsewise.

    -Sami out

  3. It’s about time someone disagreed with me at some point. But that’s okay. Even if I may not agree with your views or anyones views, I will always value and respect them. That’s the whole point of blogging right?

    With Nihilium, I also don’t agree with their regulations and conditions that they have set. BUT I do understand why. But when you’re ranked first overall around the world, it’s your rules that fly. I guess they wanted to cut down on any potential for drama. They seem to operate under a business model to solve complex raid encounters quickly without any difficulties.

    And when/if you do respond on your blog, shoot me a trackback so I’ll know and follow up on it. Clearly you’ve got a huge lead in the gaming scene then I have and there’s obviously a large generational gap between the two of us. I’m guessing you grew up with pong whereas I had Super Mario World? =)

  4. Nihilum allows females. The no-female thing was a just a bad joke. There is at least one female in there, now. (Source)

    Personally, I operate under a male character = 99% chance of being male, and female character = 50/50 chance male or female. I am a numbers person, and since it was actually surveyed to be that at one point, that is what stuck in my head. (Source)

  5. @Matt: You guess right (I’m a grandfather, after all!). 🙂

    I’m not sure our views are all that far apart; I just think in my world, I’m happier assuming (and yes, I know what happens when one assumes) that a male character is male, and a female character’s player is female, until shown otherwise. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t jump to (sometimes incorrect) conclusions based on someone’s behavior.

    With respect to Nihilum, I think you’re spot on: Their guild is a business; I’m fairly certain many, if not most, in our blogging community would not be comfortable in that guild, for any or all of several reasons.

    Do I think guys pretending to be girls, so they can get “good stuff” is “bad”? Yes, I do. I don’t care for deceit.

    Likewise, I don’t care for girls who play their femininity (and we can certainly stereotype them in the same manner we do pimply-faced, overweight barely-pubescent males) to get “good stuff” either.

    Incidentally, I should make it crystal clear that the guy in your lead story …well, let’s just say it’s a good thing for him the young lady isn’t my daughter or granddaughter…

  6. Odd, Matt. I keep seeing a lot of “blame the woman” in your post. Just to take an example, you (originally) said you understood the male only rule because women bring the drama.

    Bull. Yes, there are some women who try to get people to give them stuff (and men who pretend to be women to get stuff). Back up a step to the question of “why”. Why does this happen?

    Because men do it – they toss gifts at women whether asked or not. And a fair chunk of them – not all, but enough to be significant – do it as an implied trade of favors for relationship (sex).

    Like Kestrel, I’ve been around for a while (approaching 50 in another couple of years). I played wargames before they were on computers, and shifted to computers when that happened. And played in arcades when I could, and… in short, I’ve been in the environment. Only I had some female friends who liked to play them too. And a couple of them gave me an insight that may clarify the point for you. It deals with arcades.

    The reason the (or at least these dozen or so) girls didn’t go to the arcades wasn’t because they didn’t like the games. It was because when they went they had to deal with the boys. The ones feeling them up, or giving them quarters or free games and then acting like (or openly demanding) a ‘quid pro quo’.

    Your opening story is a variation on the same theme. Some guy is trying to buy love – or at least a sexual relationship.

    His pretending to be a girl doesn’t bother me — no more than the women I know who use initials or masculine names in the phone books, or who play male characters in games, or… His playing a female character bothers me even less – my current main is female. (As I said in an early post, I’m not roleplaying, and I’m not ‘becoming’ the character, and if I have to look at a character for a few hundred hours I would like to enjoy the view.) It bothers me that he used the female persona as ‘bait’ to get close to women – to try to slip past their defenses. He’s not the first to use that by more than a generation. (If my memory’s not going senile, there were some cases in the 1960s of males joining something similar, only it was letters exchanged as part of a women’s rights organization.)

    The point I’m trying to make is that while I agree that this individual is bad, and that he’s making WOW players (and maybe Canadians) look bad, the rest of your claims have a glaring error in base assumptions. If men weren’t buying – no, if SOME men weren’t so socially blind as to think sending a drink to a woman in a bar means she HAS to have sex with him, a lot of this wouldn’t be a problem.

    Does this excuse the gold-diggers? nope. But if there wasn’t gold to dig, they wouldn’t be mining.

  7. I have yet to see the ways in which the reprehensive gaming behavior you’ve mentioned is in any way different than that which happens in real life, aside from some pixelated cleavage. (gg Mozilla spellcheck. “pixelated” is spelled wrong, but the suggestion is “pix elated”. *eyeroll*)

    Gold diggers exist in the real world, and people who lose their mind and their pocketbook when in the presence of someone they’re trying to impress also exist.

    Both behaviors are bad, but they’re self-sustaining.

    I’ve had a lot of bloggers refer to me as “he” when linking to some of my stuff. In truth, it doesn’t matter either way. My gender should have absolutely no bearing on whether or not I’m taken seriously, either as a player or a blogger. Whether my voice is a baritone or a soprano is no indication of anything at all, from personality to skill.

    However, all that aside, the avatars we choose in-game will and do have an effect on how people treat us. I can understand why someone would choose a female toon without there being some underlying golddigger or sexual predator mentality.

    Bah, I’m veering from the topic. I agree, the problem comes in when deception is employed in order to gain favorable treatment or manipulate emotions.

    This behavior isn’t new to the internet, and I find it sadly ironic that newspapers are treating it like some new phenomenon.

  8. Lilsheshe says:

    As a woman who plays wow I have seen women take advantage of there sexuality. I have seen the giggles and the flirtations and the on line affairs with numerous of people to get what they want. I find it nausiating. The truth of the matter 90 percent of the time the woman sitting at the other end is a troll. Geek world is not just for men anymore.

    As for guys pretending to be women, I have had the pleasure of seeing that as well. I always find it quite amusing how guys so quickly hand out gold for a flying mount to a character they think is a woman when they dont have one themselves and feel so violated when they later find out it was a guy the whole time and feel “cheated” and “hurt”.

    I have never used being a woman to further myself in the game but I do know some women and men (pretending to be one) have. To all of you who so willingly give out gold and other crap cause you THINK they have a boobs or have a sexy voice and want to whine about it later that you got ripped off or later found out she/he was just using you. Please do all of us real women a favor and keep it.

    I agree with Matt… Never assume a woman is a woman. Please also if you know they are a woman please do not be extra nice and flirtatious and send gifts etc etc. unless the response is mutual. Sometimes its just plain annoying.

  9. Doc Holiday says:

    I once thought Matt was a woman. His IRC name was “Trish Stratus” and the converstations I had with him/her lead me to believe I was dealing with a woman/girl. God was I disappointed to find out he was a man. I havent been able to get rid of him since

    True Story

  10. Haha, Doc, that was a running gag that me and my friends had going at the time. I think our tags were [UPS]Trish Stratus (IS HOT), [UPS]Jessica Alba (IS HOT), [UPS]Natalie Portman (IS HOT), etc, etc. Unfortunately, IRC limits us to a certain amount of characters in the client, therefore you probably had a wrong idea to begin with. ^^

    Odd, Matt. I keep seeing a lot of “blame the woman” in your post. Just to take an example, you (originally) said you understood the male only rule because women bring the drama.

    I don’t have a problem with women at all, Kirk. I know it sounds like I do. If I wasn’t so fired up yesterday after reading that news article, I would’ve re-wrote it and toned it down a bit. It’s just the troubling ones I have issues with (or the guys who pretend to be :S). It’s been to my experience and observations that there have been cases where the mere presence of a woman in a Guild or any kind of gaming group causes a slight shift in behavior even if she doesn’t say or do anything. Actually, your drink example’s a good analogy. I never thought about it like that before. But as time progresses, that attitude seems to shift down. It’s probably not applicable across the board, though. I just find it absolutely amazing. It’s very scary, but still intrigued.

    Is there anything as gamers and wow players that we can do to stop this kinda thing? I’m sure you’re all aware that the above story could’ve gone in a completely different direction entirely (worse). In a case like this, the teen was obviously lead on and had no idea that her guildmate wasn’t really who she thought it was. It’s more of a safety conscious issue for me. That teen could’ve been someone I knew.

  11. I just worry that posts like this perpetuate the stereotype that all women gamers are looking for handouts and are the sources of drama. I’m a woman gamer who has been active in online communities all the way back to when I used to host a BBS in my dorm room in college, and single player games before that.

    Women gamers want to be able to play the game just like anyone else. We don’t want handouts, and we don’t want men fawning over us. My guild has a pretty large proportion of women (including our main tank, a 16 year old girl who is awesome at it,) and any man or woman that started to show that drama causing behavior would get a good talking to. It probably helps that we have a good spread of mature players, and several couples.

    If you’re unsure of someone you know and whether they’re male or female, get them on vent or something, imo.

  12. Doc Holiday says:

    You know Matt there used to be girl in your guild who joined and basically was your typical bubble teehee im just girl give me loot cause im cute stero type. I cant quite remember her name but she was a feral druid. She is in a different guild now and is a big forum troll on the Ner’zhul boards.

    I remember Chrysantha (another very good female gamer) saying she’s the type that gives female gamers a bad name

  13. Athryn, that’s not something that will be a big concern as much anymore in my opinion. The WoW gaming base and population has shown itself to have plenty of dedicated and mature players. Some of these posts should help illustrate that, I hope =). What’s a BBS?

    Doc, I think I know who you’re talking about. But I’ll talk to you more about it later.

  14. Haha, I feel old now. 🙁

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system

    BBSes were the online communities that predated the internet. 🙂 They had the same kinds of communities though, albeit on a smaller, more local level.

  15. Matt, “What we can do.”

    It’s largely a matter of awareness. No, I’m wrong. It’s a matter of ACTING on our awareness. “Dude, WTF, why’d you give that stranger 1000 gold?”

    Or my personal bugaboo. “Dude, we raped him.” I tolerate a lot of language – have no problem with most gutterals and anglo-saxon terms and so forth. That one, though… it’s got a contextual undertone that perpetuates what I see as a major problem. I know from bitter experience what happens if I try to squelch it in general chat – direct or whisper. But when seen by a guildie or in a group, I let them know that for a number of reasons I’d rather they didn’t use that term.

    shrug – ymmv

  16. As far as the story is concerned, that is quite disturbing. And, as a father, I would find it unacceptable for a 16 yr old to be meeting-up with a 20 yr old that they met through the game under any circumstances.

    Also, the male-chauvinist-pig in me 🙂 is a little offended at the amount of power you place into the female-gamers hands as well. The male gamers give them that power, and encourage the behavior you protest against when they “give in” to the “flirty” female’s request(s). In my opinion, short of meeting the individual in person, there is no way to validate their gender or most anything else about them. So, I treat everyone the same (gender-neutral) and expect the same.

  17. Athryn, sounds like a message board from the way you describe it. But after reading the Wikipedia article, I don’t know what to think now. Looks like the infant stages of the internet.

    Kirk, it’s unfortunate that language like that has evolved into everyday gaming use. I know I’ve been guilty of using it on more than one occasion. I guess it’s best to remain ever vigilant about the players we’re with.

    Dyn, okay, you win. I will concede the fact that the only sure fire 100% way of verifying identity is to meet that player in person at a LAN center so they can prove their character is theirs. That may or may not violate your rule number 1 however.

    You know what would’ve been funny? If they both turned out to be guys.

  18. Oooh I got linked to… thank you very much for the link =D

    To be 100% completely honest I’d been wanting to post a pic of me on my blog for a while now, just because I think it’s nice to have a face behind the words (maybe that’s just me though) and I wanted to offer that, Kestrel’s post provided me with a good excuse to go ahead and do so 😉 So it really is me, no trickery involved, though obviously I see your point (and I am in no way insinuating that you think the picture is not me, by the way! I definitely understand you are just making a point.)

    When online or on an online game or whatever, I like to point out as soon as I can that I am a girl, mainly so that the correct pronouns are used when referring to me (it’s a bit disconcerting when people refer to me as “he”, which happens a lot– I guess that’s what happens when you play a female night elf? XD) but other than that it’s not a big deal, honestly I don’t think I’m treated very differently when people think I’m a guy vs. when people think I’m a girl, maybe I’m just not paying attention? *shrug* Oh wait, okay, I do get the occasional cyber request, but a guy playing a girl toon would get that too, so the gender of the player is irrelevant there =P

    In the end I never really saw the big deal with “zomg girls play games too!”… My response is more of a “Yeah, I thought everybody knew that already” thing, it’s definitely fun to joke around with though, hence the post on my blog which was meant to be playful and silly ^^ as well as handily show my readers what the author actually looks like! If you want to talk about a place where I really am one of the few females then let’s talk about the Linux/open source community (which I am also a part of), there are far more video-gamer-chicks than there are Linux-chicks like myself =P So maybe I’m just spoiled when I say that I don’t see the whole “girls playing video games” thing as a big deal.

    I really don’t know where I’m headed with this huge rambly comment, so thank you again for the link. =D And I may now have to start keeping an eye on your blog, so… be afraid?

  19. By the way that picture of me is horrible, if I was a guy I would have chosen a picture of a different girl to stick on there to fool people with. Haha XD

  20. It’s okay Pike. Yours was the only one I could find under such short notice. You’re on my Google Reader list for the time being until the next month when I rotate and refresh my blogroll. SO BE WARY!

  21. In the end I never really saw the big deal with “zomg girls play games too!”… My response is more of a “Yeah, I thought everybody knew that already” thing

    Exactly the point I’ve been getting at all week. 😀

  22. I’ve only recently fount your site Matticus, and enjoy seeing your perspecive. I’m a female gamer, and I was surprized to discover that one of our male tauren hunters was actually a female. She explained to us over vent that she doesnt want the whispers/special attention, so she rolled a male. Also, another guildie father was introducing his daughter to wow, but stressed that she had to play a male character for her first toon. This way she could hopefully avoid unwanted attention while learning the social aspect of the game.

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