The Angel in the Guild

Melody Lutz | 23 Oct 2007 12:06
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As a woman, O'Reilly has no problem finding out what her fellow guild members want. "Men are emotional around me. Men pursue intimate personal relationships with me, because they're uncomfortable being intimate with each other." And if they don't tell her, she asks. "I'll get on late at night with someone, after a raid, and ask, 'Do you want loot? Do you want friendship? How do we keep you? How do I make you happy?' If a guy asks these questions, it's kind of awkward. But since I'm a girl, they answer."


While O'Reilly considers this intimacy a byproduct of her carefully cultivated friendships, she acknowledges that these men may have something more in mind. "Maybe every single one of these guys is courting me, and they think we're just talking about our similar interests. But the way I see it is that they're giving me important information." Information she shares with Exordium's guild master - and her real-life lover, Matthew Gihring.

O'Reilly and Gihring became friends in Anarchy Online and started playing WoW in 2005. Although their main characters were in different factions - she was Horde and he was Alliance - O'Reilly created a human Priest to talk to Gihring on the Mal'Ganis server. She modeled her character's appearance after her own ash brown hair and petite frame, but satirically based her priestess' interests on the "Angel in the House," the Victorian ideal of women as selfless caretakers.

"I made her skills tailoring, cooking and skinning animals, to imply that she could take care of the men's kill for the day. I joked that she was a housewife - a priestly, motherly type. I never thought she'd end up as my main, until I realized how good Matt's guild was and thought it would be fun to join." Soon after she joined Exordium, Gihring began divulging his leadership problems to her. Their bond strengthened, and they began dating.

While O'Reilly notes that her constant access to Gihring helped her mediate guild conflicts, she says it also discouraged some male members from talking to her - or respecting her. "You always have this bias; 'Oh, she's just the GM's girlfriend.' So I prefer people not to know. And sometimes if there's a conflict that Matt has to resolve, and it's my word against another member's, especially if it's someone Matt knows in real life, they'll say, 'Why do you listen to some girl you met online, and not me?' Even if something is true, if [it] comes out of a girl's mouth, it can be interpreted as drama."

The presumption that girl gamers instigate drama is widespread in MMOG communities. Consider, for example, the infamous March 2007 WoW Insider post about top Euro guild Nihilum's no-girls recruiting policy. The application, reposted by blogger Amber Night, insists that "if you do not have a penis, you must not continue this application" and asks whether or not "you suffer from any of the following: desire to cause drama, inability to take abuse, monthly vaginal bleeding."

O'Reilly understands where they're coming from. She's witnessed female gamers balk at raunchy male teamspeak and thinks many women have unrealistic behavioral expectations in a game dominated by men. "People say things like 'don't be a pussy' and women will say, 'I'm a woman, you can't say that,' and get furious and log off. But that's just how 40 men act when they're in a room together. It doesn't have anything to do with her. It's like, what do you expect? It's like walking into a strip club and asking the women to put their clothes back on."

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