A hostel of the famous MMORPG serves as a landmark for players who take their foot by imposing their violent fantasies on other players.
This article has been published on Motherboard Germany and has been translated by Motherboard.
Klara * enters the tavern of Goldshire. Bare elves and dwarf strippers stroll. She expects cybersex, sensual exchanges, a little role play. But it receives only insistent claims and suggestions of lovers of rape fantasy. Somewhere at the bottom of this tavern that many players will visit at least once during their journey in World of Warcraft, a dwarf yells: “Yeah yeah, cum for everyone! ”
The dwarf is chasing an orc running through the inn, his endothermic peak (a kind of snow cannon) at the hip. A moment later a cat window opens: “Are you hot? What’s your Number ? Those who spend a little time in the tavern quickly cross many local figures. The elves of the night, for example, gallop in lingerie by casting heavy looks at the new arrivals. One of them tells me caps lock: “You’re gonna turn your eye when I’m going to fuck you! ”
Klara comes out. Outside, other players wait for him. They encircle his character and cast spells in the air; their white and luminous clouds fly away and dissipate. This kind of non-consensual cybersex session is classic in the tavern. Klara disconnects. But what happened? She discovered the “Rape Tavern”, the “rape tavern” of World of Warcraft.
The names of the players mentioned in this article were changed at their request because they were afraid of being harassed by other players.
Role-Playing in the Role-Playing Game
In the course of our research, we interviewed more than 40 players on 21 servers and regularly witnessed scenes similar to the one described above in the Goldshire Tavern. We also saw players claiming photographs and personal information from other players.
Unofficially, the Goldshire Tavern is considered the swapping capital of World of Warcraft. Every day, thousands of players meet to play with orcs, elves and pandas, but only by chat. It is not uncommon for avatars to put on underwear during these exchanges, a cosmetic effort essential to set the mood. In any case, that’s what Frank said at Motherboard.
Frank has been visiting the Goldshire hostel since 2009. He usually attends servers for roleplayers, who are considered the headquarters of the erotic community. On normal servers, the tavern is often empty and receives only the visits of the players who pass by there.
“Nobody knows when it started,” says Frank. But all that cybersex has to offer has already been tried here when I started playing this game. At the time, it was important to choose your words well and respect each other, to maintain a certain decorum. There has been a real erotic culture here. But today, most people do not care. ”
Frank refers to a phenomenon that we noticed at the very first moment in the Goldshire Inn: in their tone and overall behavior, the players present are exceptionally aggressive. Speaking at Motherboard, regulars simply referred to the place as “Rape Tavern”, which they sometimes embellished the classic smiley wink.
One player gave us the e-mail address of 26-year-old Klara, who entered the online erotic cats as a teenager. Today, she earns her living as a virtual escort in Second Life. It was through her activity that she got wind of the erotic community of World of Warcraft, which she quickly decided to discover personally.
“It must have been a cool night,” says Klara. I created a mage and spun right to Goldshire. The tavern was armored. All the guests wore pretty costumes or nothing at all. I had never seen so many purple breasts in one go. I thought I was in a real libertine club. A few minutes after his arrival, the first public and private messages began to flow.
“I was asked if I wanted to fuck,” she continues. As it did not seem surprising to me, I asked for the rules of the chat, a stuff I used to do in Second Life. “Several players told him that the virtual sex in World of Warcraft was mostly based on the” animations “of the game. Exit the long and sensual descriptions of moments intimate Second Life.
By their advances, the players were trying to get a simulation of a sexual act using different animations of dance, battle or spell. “I found it rather mundane and I politely refused,” says Klara. I left the tavern soon after. Very soon, I realized that a band was following me. ”
Then, things became disruptive: “A man really wanted to get into a 69 with me while a group of paladins were watching the scene simulating ejaculations using spells that emit a white light. Klara replied with a “no!” limpid, to which the players reacted by harassing it even harder.
Klara escaped by disconnecting and leaving the game. “I’ve deleted my character and I have not been back since,” she said.
“No one helps us”
We have witnessed many similar scenes during our investigation. While we were writing questions for the cat, several half-naked characters came to rub our human. We were asked about our real age, how much “cost [a] session” and whether we “bai [s] for money” in real life. When we decided to leave the tavern, several players followed us outside.
Later, I learned in a discussion that the perpetrators found “very exciting” that their targets were fleeing, because it was like a real rape. Chasing his victim is an integral part of the cyber-rapist role-playing game. This is what prompted them to follow our character outside the tavern.
After three attempts to approach, we decided to change our strategy and to question our aggressor frontally on his intentions. “Rape is also a type of erotic role-playing,” said the night elf who had promised to “kiss me until [I] turns a look” moments earlier. A player passing by there nodded: “It’s just libidinous behavior, nothing more. ”
“Those who do not like it can disconnect whenever they want. “We have this phrase a lot in our conversations with the players. Alex, a World of Warcraft veteran who has witnessed many scenes of sexual violence in the Goldshire tavern by the eyes of his panda character, explains why this thesis is problematic: “Players who play it rapist have a mentality “sink or swim”. Goldshire is their domain on almost every role-playing server, and those who do not like it have only to release. It spoils the party for everyone. ”
Alex also criticizes the attitude of the developer of World of Warcraft, Blizzard: “Nobody helps us. Of course, you can always send a protest message, but Blizzard has been ignoring this system for years. We sent a request for comment to the development studio. After several days of writing, we were still waiting for an answer.
Players who complain about these behaviors may sound whiny. After all, we are talking about incidents that take place only on a screen and in an imaginary world. This way of perceiving things does not do justice to the people affected. Many of the players we have addressed have stressed the great unease that these situations can inspire.
During our interviews, several victims of these attacks told us that they suddenly felt cornered during the attack. The size of Wow’s virtual world has not changed. They were convinced that their characters, with whom they had developed a bond through their adventures in the MMORPG, did not deserve what had happened to them. The feeling of vulnerability resulting from these situations is aggravated by the sometimes racist and sexist insults of the aggressors.
A player shouts “Who wants cum?” in a public chat before emptying his snow cannon in the tavern. Image: Screenshot via Blizzard
The phenomenon of the “Rape Tavern” is not original. The old forum posts from many years describe disturbing situations and require the help of Blizzard. The studio has yet to give a clear position on the issue. In 2010, he announced that “patrols” would be set up at the Goldshire Inn and that players violating the rules of use would be temporarily banned in the event of flagrante delicto. This measure seems to have had little effect on the problem.
For most fans of World of Warcraft, Goldshire’s fate was sealed in 2008 with the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. With one of its new features, players no longer had to meet in specific locations to set out to adventure together. The “Dungeon Finder” allowed them to form groups without making an appointment at the Goldshire Tavern or similar venue. The erotic role-play community, which continued to use the hostel as a club, soon found itself alone. Unfortunately, she felt herself quickly harassed.
What about the miners?
Beyond the fact that the enraged members of this “rape community” spoil the experience of other players, put them in embarrassing situations and even push some of them out of Goldshire, there is another problem: the child protection.
In Germany, World of Warcraft is accessible to all individuals aged 12 years and older. Thanks to a promotional operation, beginners can play free up to level 20. If these new players choose to launch themselves with a human character, they arrive on the map a few cables from Goldshire.
As a result, it is possible that minors end up in the rape tavern, where mobile phone numbers or “real photos” are often requested. This risk should prompt Blizzard to act. The studio must find a suitable response to the complaints of the players.
Goldshire’s traditions and practices are … Individuals. Image: Screenshot via Blizzard
The players with whom I exchanged do not want to hear about scenarios in which they end up talking to a minor. In investigating this article, we heard countless apologies like “the children are sleeping at that time” and “it’s their fault.”
After our visit to Goldshire, we are forced to conclude that the microcosm of this small village operates according to its own rules, even when they violate World of Warcraft’s conditions of use. Each of our visits to various role-playing servers was enamored of encounter with aggressive players: harassment and requests for photographs and personal information were systematic.
Blizzard let the problem grow and take root. This laxity is often interpreted as an authorization to overcome the erotic cats of yesteryear to indulge in genuine acts of in-game rapes.