There is a tavern in Goldshire, a starting area of World of Warcraft, that has long been infamous as a hangout for the ‘Erotic Roleplay’ community. ERP, as it’s known, has long been a staple of the roleplaying community, Silvermoon was for a very long time known simply as ‘Cybermoon’ for the sheer amounts of erotic roleplaying going on in those tavern backrooms. During a recent interview with Motherboard player ‘Klara’ spoke out about how the tavern was a playground for players looking to enact rape fantasies.
When a character (usually female) shows up at the inn, they can expect to be propositioned for sex, chased, and be on the receiving end of magic that has white light, to simulate ejaculate. During their investigation Motherboard was frequently harassed and whispered by players, asking things like how much a session would cost. Some members of the group admitted that they felt it was much hotter when the victim ran, because it “was like real rape.” Of course, the players themselves believe fully that this is simply a form or ERP, and not hurting anyone.
Virtual sex has been around since humanity has learned to draw the right cuneiform shapes to suggest that one person would like to, in some way, be with another person. Fantasies, including domination and submission, have been around for even longer than erotic hieroglyphics. There are people who enjoy aggressive sex-positive fantasies even ones that include consensual rape play. Essentially that means that one person agrees to be dominated in a violent manner, usually replete with safewords, and while it’s at the far end of extremes of Sub/Dom relationships, correctly done it can be fun for people who are both into it. Some people enjoy violence as part of consensual sex, and it can be a completely safe and healthy practice if handled correctly.
There is, however, a problem, that’s not what this is. Klara, an online escort for Second Life describes the tavern as . . .
…a disturbing scene: “A female human really wanted to 69 with me as a few paladins watch and simulate ejaculation through spells that emit white light.” Klara responded with a very clear “no!”, to which the players responded by surrounding her and harassing her further. Klara escaped the uncomfortable situation by completely logging off and quitting the game. “I deleted my character and since then have never been back,” she said.
Some who read the interview with Klara clearly felt that the title of ‘rape’ is a step too far.
A ‘rape tavern’. Okay. If this doesn’t devalue actual rape victims, I don’t know what does. A digital ‘rapist’ can be easily blocked.
— Kristi (@xkristi_kat) September 26, 2017
Others felt that the whole concept of being sexually harassed through a digital medium was laughable.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHARAPEHAHAHHAHAHA. I don’t think these people know what rape is.
— Justice Schroeder (@iamredjustice) September 25, 2017
She’s a paid cyber escort in Second Life. Is she offended by the lack of professionalism? — Dinkledash (@Dinkeldash) September 25, 2017
Of course, others took to the other side of the aisle, seeing in this “Rape Tavern” the same story of sexism that we have seen before.
— Daniel Barranger (@zoltan__v) September 26, 2017
There’s an inn in WoW where aggressive players act out their rape fantasies on unsuspecting victims. https://t.co/CsgSBs9ahJ
— seattlette (@maevealleine) September 25, 2017
I don’t like writing articles like this. I like writing articles about how there’s a Collegiate World of Warcraft competition, about how Blizzard released their new charity pet to aid in disaster relief and I like writing about groups like Games Done Quick raising money for hurricane relief. I want to shine a spotlight on everything that we as gamers can do right. But over and over again, we seem to be facing issues of our community not respecting women. From sexual harassment to doxxing, the gaming community continues to show a toxic face to the world around us. Yet, we have shown, as a community that we have an incredible potential for positive change within our world. It is time for us to look inward, and eject the harmful, hateful and hurtful from our community. It is up to each of us, both as players, and as people, to be better.
Where does this leave Blizzard? One one hand, the freedom to be and do whatever you want, short of cheating the game, is part of the draw of a massive multiplay online game like World of Warcraft. On the other hand, they risk alienating players who don’t enjoy that treatment and could possibly end up on the wrong end of a fairly big issue. However, at the time of this writing Blizzard has yet to comment on the recent findings regarding this “Rape Tavern”.