It's Not Easy Being Deaf In World Of Warcraft

Earlier this year World of Warcraft player Unwelcome suffered an accident that permanently robbed him of his hearing. Feeling alienated and shunned by his real life friends, he returned to World of Warcraft for some online alienation and shunning.

The loss of one's hearing is a tragic and traumatic event, but it doesn't necessarily mean an end to gaming. Many popular games offer subtitle options for the hearing impaired. World of Warcraft itself is quite deaf-friendly on a basic level, overflowing with text-filled quests that don't require aural cues to complete.

It gets a bit more complicated when you're in a raiding guild, however. Unwelcome found himself living up to his name when he recently returned to his raiding guild of four years. He detailed his experience in a post on the World of Warcraft forums.

So i came back to wow. Now I've been playing with my guild for about 4 years. We have all become close friends. We have even done some rl guild parties. I explained why i have been off for so long to the guild. I explained my condition. Everyone was pretty supportive for about 5 minutes.

Do you know what the first question i got from my guild leader was? He asked me if i could still use (popular voice chat program) vent (Ventrilo). I told him no, but tried to assure him it wouldn't be a problem as i usually research the fights beforehand and use dbm.

He tells me that i can't raid unless i have vent. Guild rules and all. I was pissed. After a huge blow out between us i get removed from the guild and put on ignore.

Before we condemn the guild leader for throwing Unwelcome out of his guild, he did mention there was a major fight between the two of them, and we aren't privy to what was said during that fight that resulted in him being guild removed and ignored.

Keeping a deaf player from raiding with the guild because he can't hear spoken raid commands doesn't strike me as intolerance so much as laziness and complacency on the part of an organisation that is used to performing tasks in a certain way.

As the many respondents to Unwelcome's original post have made clear there are plenty of ways to get around having a deaf raiding party member. Text-based macros containing instructions are easy enough to set up, and with proper study of the raid encounters instructions almost become unnecessary.

But when you've spent years getting used to doing things a certain way, throwing a wrench into the works can be very disruptive. Some rise to the challenge and adjust; others don't.

Unwelcome was quite despondent, but the World of Warcraft community at large rallied behind him. A community not exactly known for its sense of community were quick to fill his forum thread with supportive words, and while some argued that his guild leader was well within his rights to ban Unwelcome from raiding, the arguments are generally well-spoken and without malice.

Originally putting the call out for a deaf-friendly guild to join, Unwelcome has decided to make something of That Canadian Guild, formed with his brother on the Llane server in the aftermath of the incident.

As for the World of Warcraft community, I wouldn't worry; I'm sure they'll get back to calling each other names as we move into the new year.

Kicked for being Deaf [World of Warcraft Forums - Thanks Trakata!]


    Does the guild leader realize that its just a game?

      I'm not sure if any WoW players realise that.

      That argument is a bad one as it goes both ways.

      a) It's just a game: Cool so we'll learn how to change our game style to help you my hearing impared friend.

      b) It's just a game: Cool then grow up and friggen get a life and move on with it.

      If it's just a game you give both sides fair ammo against each other. And yeah if it is just a game go find another guild that will help him. I would be surprised if there wasn't a few Guilds that are already set for Hearing impared people.

      Sucks though. But I guess some people are serious about their gaming :s

    I hate to think what the DotA community would do to him....

    I read this when it was on the forums. I hardly see why it needed to be posted on Kotaku. There's been cases before of deaf players posting their bad experiences in WoW due to vent or team speak.

    Laziness and complacency may as well be intolerance in my opinion. If you don't make the effort to make a disabled person's life easier then you are no better than those who shun the person.

      Could not have put it better myself. I also feel sorry for the poor bloke having to put up with such a close-minded guild leader after such a terrible thing has happened to him.

      as I said in my post below, I don't take it as rude when someone is looking out for the larger population rather than my own unique disability. Thing is, I am NOT entitled to be able to play in a certain guild nor is anyone obligated to accommodate me. Yes it is nice if there is a guild out there that will do that but no one needs to be compelled to do so. Being disabled does not in any way give me special rights to gain accommodation by everyone and their brother. I do not interpret the lack of accommodation as either lazy or complacent at all.

    This article reminds me of:

    Which was quite inspiring. Not sure if they're still around though.

    Looks like someone...

    *glasses on*

    Couldn't handle the music.


    Yes, this GM acted like a dick. But then again, the 'it's a game' does work both ways, this deaf boy can just say no and do something else.

    And I'm still not sure what kind of player he is. If he's in a hardcore/server first/sponsored raiding guild. I'm sorry, but you really can't raid without vent. Or you might, but it'll be torture and he'll be inconveniencing the other 24 or so players EVERY raid night.

    I'm a WoW player of almost 4 years and am partially deaf so I sympathise with Unwelcome. While I'm not totally deaf, being on Vent means that I have to have the speakers turned up so loud that the noise would constantly wake up my housemate from a deep sleep after his night shift. :( So, it was much easier to not use Vent in the long run... likewise, using headphones made peoples voices too muffled to understand... and I'm talking about $150 headphones!

    Admittedly, I have had some really great raid leaders on Zangarmash who took the time to give me a quick run down on each boss as we got to them. Likewise, I would say 95% of the raids I was in, the vast majority of raid members... either full guild or pug were incredibly accomadating.

    However, since switching to the Nagrand server for the Aussie timezone, I've had some really bad experiences that left me wanting to reach into the computer and killkrushdestroy some peeps.

    I know I can't judge a whole server due to some overwhelmingly bad experiences... but it's hard not to. So, I would say that the level of acceptance you recieve on a server will vary with that server's overall community.

    I am hearing impaired myself and although I am not deaf, I have, at best, a difficult time with vent, teamspeak or any voice-based communication system. All of my close friends are aware of it so it eliminates most of the problem with them having to repeat themselves sometimes in voice chat but when it comes to guilds, for the most part, I avoid voice-focused guilds like the plague. Having to explain to a large group of acquaintances how my hearing is a problem is just not feasible. Even more so, expecting said group to remember, and accommodate me in large raids or parties is just not reasonable. Most people that are not hearing impaired are aloof to what hearing impairment or even deafness means. Too many times hard of hearing people are interpreted as being rude or not paying attention well enough. Being able to hear well is taken for granted by far too many people.

    That being said, although I think kicking out Unwelcome from the guild on the surface seems rude, without knowing the details of the fight, I cannot judge the guild master by that. Also, even as a hearing impaired person, I still beg the question, is it rude to say that vent use is expected as a rule or is it more rude to be an individual with a unique problem that expects the large group to accommodate you? *shrugs* having this problem all my life, almost, I can say it is self-centered to expect things to be accommodating to my unique disability and I have made my own accomodations.

    I came here from googling looking specifically for a guild that was hearing impaired friendly. Hopefully I can find one, but if not, maybe it's time for someone (or me) to start one that is focused in this way! :)

    I have never commented on Kotaku before but most of the time it's really kind of trivial game stuff (no offense) but this was a good and important article that needed to be posted. Thank you for that!

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