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!]