The Plural of Anecdote is Data
(Thanks to Narci for the title.)
WoW Insider is on my WoW RSS feed. I don’t always read the articles, but I like to at least glance through the titles since whatever they discuss is likely to be something the community at large is focusing on or will focus on in the near future. So when I see a Breakfast Topic titled “Every Female WoW Player Has Healed At Least Once,” it’s going to stop me for a second.
In the latest Breakfast Topic post, Olivia Grace recounts a recent conversation with a male WoW player who told her exactly this in game. She challenged him on the notion and he backed down. The article goes on to ask readers whether there is any truth to this (common) stereotype, and the author proposes her possible solution:
I have a theory, just a theory, if you’ll allow me. I reckon it might be more that men stick to DPS and tanking, whereas women are happy to try healing. And once they start healing, they find that it’s one of the more varied and interesting roles to play. Especially in PvE, where you learn fights by repeating the same actions over and over, healing is the one role that has the variety. So women stay healing once they start.
Far be it from me to jump down any blogger’s throat for a theory – goodness knows I expound all sorts of crazy theories on here all the time. I just can’t but help be confused by the idea that the description above fits only women – or only men – or only, well anyone. Healing does feel varied and interesting to me, and that’s one of the main reasons why my main is a healer. A lot of people, however, talk about healing as a game of green bars and “whack-a-mole,” which they specifically find uninteresting. If you don’t like healing because you find the variety arbitrary rather than interesting, can I infer that you’re male?
Well, no. That just sounds silly, doesn’t it?
How about if you say you like healing because you think of your character as something of a caretaker, as someone who steadfastly guards over those players who are constantly in the fray? Do you prefer healing because you don’t have to get up close and personal with boss behind, or worry about cleave mechanics, enrage timers, etc. – because you like to enjoy fights, but from a distance? And if so, does that mean that you’re more likely to be a female player?
Comments on large sites like WI and MMO Champion are often painful and notoriously full of trolls, so it’s difficult to have any idea who in the comments to the above article is being genuine and who is merely inciting reactions. Suffice to say that, trolling or otherwise, there are plenty of comments already on the Breakfast Topic post that offer loads of reasons why women might prefer healers and, of course, why men might prefer tanks and DPS.
All to which I say ….
This doesn’t matter!
Ask me why I enjoy healing. Ask me why I was terrified to even try it for the first two years I played the game. Ask me why I am now similarly nervous about DPSing in a progression situation. Ask me why a tank was the first character I ever raided with and why she made me feel like I finally understood endgame in WoW. I would be SO happy to talk to you about any of those things.
But DO NOT ask me for the numbers of how many women play DPS, or healers, or tanks in my guild. Don’t ask me if I know a woman who hasn’t tried a healer – and don’t ask me if I know a man who hasn’t tried one either. Don’t ask me if I consider myself a “caregiver” (whatever that exactly means), and how that has contributed to my decision to have a healer as a main.
Well intentioned or otherwise, all this sort of dialogue does is give people an opportunity to talk about and, therefore, reinforce ridiculous gender stereotypes they have about women in general and female WoW players. Well, that and it makes my head hurt – and come on guys, it’s Monday morning after Daylight Savings Time. Cut me some slack!