Sexual Harassment & Stalking in MMORPG
By Black Label
August 2006

Sexual harassment can occur anywhere. Unfortunately, it also happens in our MMORPG world. One of the
most important and probably challenging task for a guild leader is to deal with this issue. Like the boss of a
real life work force, you will encounter this issue. If you guild has been around long enough, you will surely
have nightmare stories and lots of drama. Typically, its one of your female members complaining that one
particular guild member or another outside player has been hitting on her and following her.

The following are common complaints from female members being harassed and stalked.
  • “He is always following me where I go. He just shows up at the same zone”
  • “Every time I log on, he is on. So now I am always on “hide” mode.”
  • “He is sending me private tells, telling me that I would look great in a bikini.”
  • “I told him I am not interested but he keeps bugging me every day with sexual remarks.”
  • “He asked Max what my number was and where I lived in real life”

If you haven’t encountered these issues, then you are fortunate. If you are currently dealing with this issue,
then here is what I think are the best thing to do. As a guild officer, you have the duty to make sure your
guild members are happy and can play in a safe and warm environment. Therefore, if the stalking/harassment
is coming from a fellow guild member, you or your officers must step in and intervene. First, interview and
talk to the female player and obtained detail information. Try to understand the circumstances such as the
nature of the offensive act and the context in which it happens. Explain to her that she has to trust you to
mediate this matter and that you will try to seek a fair and quiet solution.

Before confronting the accused, discuss among your officers the situation at hand. You must approach this
as a team if you want a quick resolution. Discuss the alleged incident and the circumstances around it and
determine if this is a legitimate claim. Its one thing to confront someone  when you have evidence and facts,
its another when its based on gossip and over dramatization. Accusing someone wrongly opens up another
can of worms. Therefore, whatever decision you pursue, make sure your officers are on board. Make sure
you understand the difference between harassment and flirting

Get a hold of the member in question and confront him with this issue. Find out if this issue is real or if this is
a drama queen overacting and calling everyone a stalker/harasser for the sake of attention. Get his take on
the situation. If it’s pretty straight forward misunderstanding, then politely ask him to use more caution and
common sense. If he admits to having a crush on the girl, then politely ask him to back off or else an
immediate “quick boot out of the guild” will be handed. Explain to him that although he is an asset to the
guild, that type of behavior can not be tolerated in the guild much like the work place. He has crossed a
boundary. If this occurs again, that player may be forced to leave. If the accused harasser is an officer, then
a demotion may be needed. If the accused repeats this again, then you and your officers must cut ties with
him and boot him from the guild.

If this is occurring with another player, then your powers as a guild leader is diminished. Although some
people will still confront the accused player, sometimes that can be misinterpreted as a guild leader bullying
another player if the wrong words are said. If you know the other guild leader of the accused, sometimes
meaningful conversation can result. Nevertheless, you are confronting someone with only one-sided
knowledge of the incident and will probably be more protective of your own than compromise or admit guilt.
If all fails, I think the best resource to use for this case would be to contact the customer representative of
your MMORPG game and file a formal complaint. The guild leader or officer can contact the accused to
inform them what has happened and let the customer rep handle the rest. They do not take kindly to these
behaviors so any more fooling around and the account gets banned or canceled. If the accused takes it to
the next level and attempts any real life stalking and contacting, then I would advise you to inform the female
member that some sort of legal process (filing suit or charges) needs to take place. You, as the guild leader,
have done all you can do at this point.

Although most of us are not psychiatrists or law enforcement in the real life, we have to realize that we
control this small utopia called a guild. Real life issues such as these will come up. It’s more important to
prevent these from happening than to fix these situations. Therefore, always make sure your rules and laws
clearly state these behavior are not acceptable. Always warn the players and if they refuse to follow thru,
then you must kick them out. You will earn the respect of your guild (especially your female members) for
doing the right thing. But remember, much like real life, the harasser can be male or female and the victim can
be either as well.  
Sexual Harassment
feels bad
feels good
feels powerless
in control
feels unattractive
feels attractive
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