Episode #8 – “Nurturing Sexism: Debunking the Myth of Women Healers”

Episode #8 – “Nurturing Sexism: Debunking the Myth of Women Healers”

Aug 27

Our eighth episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider talking about the myth of all women being healers with a roundtable of healer guests – Liopleurodon, Rahki, Scruff and Roger. We discuss why this myth came about, why women become healers, reasons behind healing as a respected role in WoW, and how casual sexism within the community hurts everyone.

Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 8, “Nurturing Sexism: Debunking the Myth of Women Healers.”

Tzufit:  Hello and welcome to Justice Points.  This is Azeroth’s social justice and feminism podcast.  Today we have a whole panel of people to talk to about our topic, the myth that all women play healers or that all healers are played by women.  As always, I’m your host Tzufit here with our second host-

Apple Cider Mage:  Apple Cider Mage, woohoo!

Tzufit:  And we’re going to go around our proverbial roundtable and introduce all of our guests who graciously agreed to talk with us today.  First up, we have Lio.  Lio, tell us a little bit about yourself and where we can find you on the internet.

Lio:  Hey guys.  I’m Tamer Liopleurodon, but because nobody can say Liopleurodon you can just call me Lio.  I run battlepetroudup.com.  You can find me on Twitter @liopleurodonic.  I started off playing – and I’m going to try to hit the cliff’s notes as quickly as possible, because I’ve been playing since open beta, so there’s a lot to cover.  I started off as a priest.  I was a healer priest through Burning Crusade, doing raids.  Then I switched to a whole lot of DPS characters, blah blah blah.  And then I had a baby when Cata dropped, pretty much, so I took a break.  I came back for Mists of Pandaria and I obviously couldn’t be a very hardcore raiding healer anymore, or a hardcore raider at all, so I rerolled again.  I rolled a druid and that’s been my main since right before MoP dropped.

Tzufit:  Great, thank you.  Next up we have Raakhi.  Raakhi, same to you – where can we find you online and tell us a little bit about who you play and how long you’ve played.

Raakhi:  You can find me on Twitter @playafreckles.  I’ve been playing since middle of Lich King.  I started out as a mage and then eventually decided that I wanted to try healing.  So I picked up a holy paladin and I played that toon all the way up through Cataclysm.  Then I decided that I wanted to be a tree.  So I picked up a resto druid, and that’s been my main pretty much since then.  I hardly ever raid with my mage and pretty much all my raiding is on healers these days.  That’s pretty much my history.

Tzufit:  I’m loving the druid representation today.  Next we have Roger.  Roger, where can we find you on the internet and tell us a little bit about your healing history?

Roger:  Well if you love the druid love, you’re going to love it even more because that was actually my first character on retail day 1.  You can find me right now on internetdragons.tv.  We used to do the For the Lore podcast and even way before that, the WoW Dogs podcast.  I started, like I said, way back in the beta as well.  The retail day 1 was when I started playing the druid.  In the beta I was actually a warlock, a little gnome warlock.  I actually still have screenshots of that as well.  I started playing as a druid.  I actually tanked and healed through Vanilla on the druid.  I started playing my shaman in Vanilla as well and he was much more fun to play, of course, in BC and in Wrath, though.  Not quite the same.  Of course I was playing him as enhancement, which at that time it was insane.  In terms of healers, I’ve healed with all of them except for the paladin, I should say; however, my favorites have always been the shaman and the druid.  The druid’s pretty much always been my main.  I’ve always had the druid that I care for the most.  A close second has been the shaman.

Tzufit:  Great, thank you.  Last but certainly not least, we have Scruff.  Scruff, where can we find you online and tell us a little bit about your healing history, please?

Scruff:  You’ll mainly find me on Twitter as @scrufflibrarian.  I’ve also been playing since open beta.  I started off doing DPS and eventually shifted to tanking, which I absolutely hated.  Fairly recently, since Cata, moved onto healing.  It’s yet another druid on the table.

Tzufit:  Oh wow.

Scruff:  Yeah.  So my tree druid is my main now.

Tzufit:  So I guess I’m the only one representing for non-druids or former druids in my case today.  Thank you everyone again for being here.  We are very excited to talk to you all about this.  It’s kind of interesting just from your introductions to hear how many of you didn’t necessarily start as healers, but took somewhat of a roundabout path to eventually get there.

Roger:  I don’t know too much about that, especially for those of us who’ve been playing since beta because if you were playing in beta, if you were a hybrid class – or I shouldn’t say beta.  Sorry, in the first years in Vanilla, if you were playing as a hybrid you were pretty much forced to heal.  You didn’t have any choice in the matter.  You could try to do other things.  Like, case in point, with my druid I also did tank with her a lot but primarily I did a lot of healing, and it’s just because of the way the game was engineered at the time.  It was a thing where they wanted to force you into healing.  You had no choice in the matter.  So I don’t think that it’s that we got to it eventually, for those of us who have been playing a long time, it’s just we didn’t have much choice in the matter.

Tzufit:  One of my guildmates who played a druid in Vanilla likes to tell a story about how the way that the raid group we was with at the time, which was a 40-person raid group, they would assess new druids by making sure that they could run far enough to get somebody in line of sight to be able to Innervate them.  If they could do that, they were probably Ok.

Roger:  Oh yeah, that’s a lot of what you were doing if you were a druid.  You were just there to fill everybody else’s mana pool.  The “real” healers.

Apple Cider Mage:  You could only have 1 kind of HoT on – like if 1 person had Renew, the other person did Healing Touch or-

Roger:  Rejuvenate.

Apple Cider Mage:  Rejuvenate, yeah.  So you had like the Rejuv person and then the Renew person, but you still had to have like 8 druids in your raid.

Tzufit:  And then of course you had the healers who tried to stay out of combat for as long as possible to be able to rez people when they died.  It was a very interesting system.

Roger:  No, I think you mean to say it was a very broken system.

Raakhi:  Yeah, I was going to say I’m not really sure that I’m sad that I missed that.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Scruffy:  When people talk about the good old days, they tend to brush over that kind of stuff.

Tzufit:  Right.

Roger:  Well, good old days, I mean you’re looking at how we had to heal back then as well, too.  You didn’t have the elegance of the add-ons that we have now.  You were literally clicking and then clicking your heal, or using your F keys and things like that, or you had your own macros that you’d developed.  Healing back then was a chore and it simply, at times, was not fun either.  You did it because it was a passion.

Lio:  Let me take a moment to pour one out for original Decursive.

Apple Cider Mage:  As a Vanilla mage, gotta give it up for Decursive.

Tzufit:  I think all of you are here because you responded to our call on Twitter for people who had heard about this stereotype that healers are predominately played by women and had something to say about that.  So before we delve into exactly what we think about that stereotype, let’s try and pick apart a little bit of where that comes from, where we’ve heard people talk about that, the evidence we see of people believing that stereotype.  For example, I know one of the things that I notice when I started thinking about this, is that when I play a tank everybody just by default always refers to me as “he.”  It doesn’t matter what gender the character I’m playing is.  “He” tends to be the default pronoun a lot in Warcraft when you’re in a random group with people who don’t actually know what your true gender is, but particularly when it comes to tanks, it seems that the assumption is tanks are men.  Do we think that the female healer stereotype is related to that or exactly how do we think those two things work out, I suppose?

Roger:  I don’t think that I agree with you entirely, simply because I don’t think that it’s only a problem with WoW.  It’s a problem with gaming, period.

Tzufit:  Oh, certainly.

Roger:  It’s always “he” for any game, even though if you look at the statistics, you’re looking at a 50% cut and in some cases, and in some age groups even, it’s higher for women gamers than men.  But the problem is that it’s the internet, an online game.  So you have this wealth of, without being prejudice about it, young while males, and not always white, but young males that are arrogant and bigoted and those are the ones that are the loudest.  You’re not hearing from the men, say like myself or anybody who’s older or who has an ounce of intelligence, who understands that women game as well.  I think that’s more the problem than assigning stereotypes to who plays what, because I can look at every single alt that I’ve played – which again, since beta, you’re looking at a great many alts because I love playing alts – and I’ve had tanks, I’ve had healers, and I’ve had DPS.  I’ve done many different flip flops in terms of what gender they are, because I like to – certain classes and races I feel work better with different genders.  I’ve never once, regardless of what I’m on, been referred to as a “she,” except for the few times where I kind of like worked as a woman to get some really nice gloves and stuff made for me.  I’m not proud of it but they were really nice gloves.

Tzufit:  Now see, that’s funny, because I have been called “she” occasionally.  It’s very rare.  It’s much more often that I’m called “he,” but I have occasionally been called “she,” which I have to assume is based upon the gender of the character that I’m playing at the time.

Apple Cider Mage:  I get called a “she” when I make a mistake in a dungeon.

Tzufit:  Huh.

Apple Cider Mage:  No, I’m absolutely not making that up.

Tzufit:  No, I believe you.

Apple Cider Mage:  I’ve seen that happen on message boards and stuff, too.  If they’re using a gender neutral pronoun, defaulting to “he” – I’ve just seen people default to “she” when it is a female model make a mistake.  Every other time it seems to be very overwhelmingly referred to as “he.”

Roger:  See I would – not I would disagree, but I would add to that saying that it’s not only “she” but also when there are mistakes made, the derogatory comments about sexuality as well.

Tzufit:  Right, absolutely.

Roger:  So you’re getting all the “gay” comments and everything like that, which again leads you back to the point that I made that you’re looking at these idiot, young men that are just slandering you with what they think is an insult.  It’s not based on any kind of reality.

Apple Cider Mage:  So when we go to specifically attack the myth, I feel like a lot of it started from the fact that – and it seems like most of us on the panel have played since Vanilla or very early on – I want to say that, and I discussed this with my boyfriend actually, that the myth probably started in Vanilla because a lot of women, when World of Warcraft was just coming out, were just starting to get into the MMORPG genre.  Obviously there were women that played Everquest and there obviously women that played DAoC and all of that and Ultima Online.  I feel that WoW was one of the ones that really broke the genre to a lot more of a mainstream audience, and I feel like that myth kind of persisted because a lot of people that jumped onto WoW in Vanilla, a lot of the women were just coming into MMORPGs, like myself.

Lio:  And me too.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I’d never played anything like that before.  Granted, I didn’t gravitate to a healer.

Lio:  For me, I definitely started playing with my husband, which seems like a very common thing that women do.  They see, “Oh you’re playing this game.  It looks pretty cool.  Let me play with you,” and then they see there’s this support class that makes life so much easier.  Let me play that.  That’s what I did during open beta because everyone knew that your character was going to get blown away, so it didn’t matter what you did.  I was torn between a hunter, because I generally like playing snipers in Call of Duty and stuff like that, and the priest.  I ended up going with the priest because all the dudes were like, “I’m going to play a warrior.  I’m going to play a this.  I’m going to play that.”  And I was like, “Well, it makes life like a thousand times easier when you noobs have somebody healing you.  So I’m going to go with the priest instead of the hunter.”  Then I ended up having a hunter alt, and that’s another long story.

Apple Cider Mage:  May I ask the panel, the ladies in particular, when you picked up World of Warcraft, did you settle into a healer role with a partner?

Lio:  I was kind of in a unique situation because my husband had this guild already.  The guild was kind of strange in that it had a whole lot of rules for getting ahead.  We weren’t allowed to roll an alt for the first like month and a half or something like that.  It made tactical sense, because then everyone in the guild would have a higher level character and not like a whole bunch of smatterings of random alts.  At the same time, it was like you have to choose and choose one and you better choose well.

Raakhi:  For me, I just started as a mage and when I switched to healing it was for a complete change of scenery and to do something totally different.  I just kind of went off on my own on another server and even on the opposite faction.  I normally play Alliance and I went and rolled on a Horde server.  I was completely on my own.  So very different from whatever other people have been doing.

Tzufit:  I think I actually come a little closer to fitting that stereotype.  I did not start playing WoW because of my boyfriend.  I met my boyfriend through WoW.  I played DPS characters originally and my first true raiding main was a tank.  She was my main through most of Wrath of the Lich King until the end when I switched over to my druid, which was when I started healing.  I started healing because I was the guild master of a more casual raiding guild at that point, and the guild just had persistent issues having 2 healers on the nights when we needed them, but we always had other people who were willing to tank.  So I finally said, “Well screw it then.  I’ll just level a healer and somebody else can tank instead of me, and I’ll figure it out.”  I ended up loving it.  So I didn’t switch to healing because of my partner, but he and I have certainly leveled many, many tank/healer duos together – but both ways.  Predominately he’s been the tank and I’ve been the healer, which is less because I don’t like tanking than it is because he doesn’t think he’s very good at healing.  So we’ve done a few combinations where I’m the tank and he’s the healer, but he just doesn’t care for it very much so usually if I’m leveling a tank, he’ll roll a DPS to level with me.

Roger:  If I may, you were talking about how a lot of women may have gone into healing in Vanilla just because of how they got into the game and whatnot.  I think that, again, it depends on who you were playing with especially, because I know that in the guilds that I was in during Vanilla, it made no difference if you were a man or a woman.  You were not forced into healing if you were a woman.  The problem was that nobody wanted to heal.  So that’s why people took up healing.  It wasn’t a gender thing at least as it pertains to my experiences at that time.  I know that in addition to being in other guilds, I actually ran a couple during that time as well.  It’s something that I just wouldn’t hear of and the guild members knew that and they could rely on that.  If there was any kind of stupidity like that, it was quickly dealt with.  So we had women doing DPS, tanking.  We had regular runs for a long time with a core group of us on Sundays, and the healers were guys and the women were DPS or tanks and it really didn’t matter.

Apple Cider Mage:  It feels like a lot of what may have been true for some people – a lot of the stereotypes that persist that I think is what started the groundswell of that myth is that stereotypes were being blown up larger than they were in reality due to a lot of sexist norms.  It’s like “No girls could ever play video games in 2005,” despite the fact that they had been playing video games since the ‘80s.  They obviously have to be cajoled into playing it with the game-addicted boyfriend.

Tzufit:  And based on everything that everyone has talked about with healing in Vanilla, you can see how that stereotype would develop, when healing was something that nobody necessarily wanted to do unless they a particular passion for it, and because it was a role that in some cases could be seen as easier – not across the board.  It’s the difference between doing the minimum required and actually being a good healer, which is of course something we still talk about today.  You could get somebody to do the minimum if they didn’t necessarily have a wealth of gaming experience prior to WoW.  Maybe that was a little bit easier of an entry-level than for tanking or for DPS.

Roger:  I’m not sure that I agree with that just based on the experiences that I had at that time.  Healing wasn’t easy.  Healing was definitely not easy back then.  Healing now is much easier, especially because everybody’s in Bind on Account gear and everything else, or once you can get your epics real fast later once you hit endgame.  Healing has a potential to be insanely easy now, but back then it wasn’t.  That’s why again it’s a definition I think that needs to be made that line in the sand where you have the loud, vocal idiots and the rational people on the other side who are like “anybody can heal.”  At the time, the guilds that I was in and the people that I gamed with and everything else, we didn’t assign healing to someone because it’s easy, you’ll be able to do it.  No, no.  We were looking for competent people to heal so that it would be done properly.

Tzufit:  Well, and maybe we should clarify too at this point – I understand that certainly not everyone thinks that only women play healers or that all healers are women.  But what we’re talking about today is really trying to dissect where that myth might come from, because it is something that the community certainly not completely, but certain sections of the community do believe that the myth is the way that things are.  So, yes, we absolutely accept the conceit that it’s the vocal minority who are talking about those things, but that’s what we want to discuss.

Apple Cider Mage:  And we haven’t heard from Scruff, so what is your take on some of the myths about this so far that you come into World of Warcraft with either a partner or that sort of thing, especially as a guy who’s been healing?

Scruff:  Originally when I first started playing, I played DPS.  I came to healing much later on.  That was really just because that was what my guild wanted at the time.  When I first started playing, I had a gap between beta and Vanilla, I came into Vanilla a little late.  They were looking for a ranged DPS so that’s what I was.  The guild that I’ve spent most of my time with had male healers and our main tank was a woman.  So it’s not something that I’ve ever particularly seen in the real world.  I have played WoW with a partner.  We did do the classic I was the tank and she was the healer, but it did not particularly last mainly because we both disliked it.  We’ll do a tank and a healer because that’s a nice pair that goes together and we both hated it.  I hated tanked and she hated healing.  I moved on to be a healer and she went back to DPS.  So if there is any weight to the argument, I personally haven’t seen it borne out.

Roger:  What’s funny is that, from the flipside again this is why you brought the guys here, you’re talking to the women about their experiences for why they chose to be a healer and if it was influenced by who they were with kind of thing, and I know that myself, I did play with my wife albeit very briefly.  She just didn’t enjoy the game that much.  There was no moment where I even considered encouraging her to play a healer.  It was all about what do you want to play and just do that.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  We’ll just roll with it and have fun.  Now I know that I might not be in the majority.  There might be a lot of guys who do try to influence their significant others to choose something just to support them.  I know that at least for myself, and it sounds like for Scruff as well, just play whatever you want to play.

Lio:  There’s play whatever you want to play, and then there’s it’s going to make life a thousand times easier if I just play this particular support class.  You know what I’m saying?  The guys weren’t like, “Oh you have to play a healer now.”  They were like, “I’m going to play this and if you want to play something that helps everyone else do really well, that’s Ok.”  Basically I was the one to knuckle under.

Roger:  That’s something that I experienced the same thing for some of the guilds that I was in.  My main druid actually started as – not the one that I created on day 1, but on a new realm – started off as just feral druid and I loved it.  But the guild needed a healer, and it was as simple as that.  Again, you’re looking at it, and I think it’s the people who are more responsible who think of everybody else, not just themselves, that are the ones that go “Alright fine,” and that’s when I made my priest.

Scruff:  There’s definitely an element of that.  I switched to healing primarily because I wanted a bit more of the responsibility.  I think people that are willing to kind of sacrifice themselves a little for the good of the group are naturally going to be drawn towards the class act types that do that.

Tzufit:  It’s interesting that seems to be the thing that most of us have in common, because as I said that was my experience of becoming a healer as well.  It makes me a little sad because I love healing and, unfortunately, it sounds like most of us didn’t choose healing.  We kind of got to the point where, like you said, we sort of had to sacrifice what we wanted for the greater good of the group.  It makes me wonder how many people out there who would also really love healing don’t necessarily ever discover that about themselves because their group doesn’t have that need at the right point in time.

Roger:  I think it’s fantastic.  I think it’s great because we got to do something because we felt a certain amount of responsibility for the guild, and we were rewarded by discovering something that’s absolutely phenomenal.  To this day, there’s still a lot of people who haven’t yet figured that out – how much fun healing can be in the right circumstances.  So I think it’s great.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well, to jump in here, I don’t want to say “play devil’s advocate” – it’s interesting because I think a lot of the myths that surround the whole women being healers trope, obviously based in a lot of sexist thought, it seems interesting that one of the ways that a lot of people – not just women – get into healing is because they feel that sort of responsibility.

Tzufit:  Absolutely, yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  That would kind of feed into the whole idea that women have to take care of everybody.  Women have to pick up the slack.  So I’m wondering if that sort of deviates from reality in that people don’t really consider that men also step up to the challenge of healing people but does that feed into that myth?

Tzufit:  It’s a super interesting point because that seems to be the common ground that we’re finding is that people who end up healing are people who are willing to change their mind or change what they’re doing because they recognize that the group needs them to do that for the group’s success.  But absolutely that’s something that would be viewed as a stereotypically feminine thing to do because it’s the woman who’s going to take care of the home, take care of the house because the man has chosen the career he wants to do.  So it is interesting the way that those parallel each other or line up a little bit.

Roger:  I think it’s important to note, too, that another reason why there weren’t as many healers back then, which forced people to have to come to terms with choosing to do it for the good of the guild, was simply because leveling as a healer wasn’t productive.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh, painful.

Roger:  It wasn’t something you could realistically do at the time.  So there was no dual spec.  There were no looking for dungeons.  You were stuck waiting for your guild to want to take you along so you could actually level or basically spend all night getting a fraction of experience that everybody else got.  It was that which then created this vacuum of healers, and then it was those people who were responsible and cared about the guild that then forced themselves to make a healer.

Lio:  From my experience, there’s also a hidden selfish benefit to that.  In the particular guild that I was in, there were 3 people playing healers at the time, so anytime anybody wanted to do anything I pretty much got to go.  That’s why I came back after doing DPS for so long and having the kid.  Right now my guild is kind of dead, so pretty much all the raiding experience I’m getting right now is LFR.  I started off right before Cata, I was doing Dragon Soul in LFR as a mage, and my queue time was like 45 minutes.  I was like not so much.  So then I rolled a healer and now my queue time is instant.  It’s fantastic.  So it’s not entirely the megalomaniac “I will heal for you.”

Tzufit:  Right.  It’s entirely pragmatic.  You’re pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to get a faster queue, you’re going to be needed more often in raids, and people need you to be there.  There’s also the part of it that’s kind of interesting, which is you take on the responsibility of healing and all of a sudden you have a lot of control over the other people in your group.

Roger:  Well that’s one thing that was more apparent before than now again, simply because of how easy it is now and how many people can off heal themselves and whatever.  It’s not quite the same now, but back in the day – and it’s not a power trip or anything, but it was the sense of responsibility that you had in deciding there’s 2 people and 1 of you is doing to die.  You had to play tactically so that you made the right choices for the good of the group, not necessarily the individual.  That was incredibly fun.  Even now, you go into a dungeon now and if you queue up and you’re queued up as a DPS, it’s just you get in, you do your job, you leave.  You queue up as a healer or a tank, and I’ve been playing since beta, you still get a little bit of butterflies right before it starts.  What is going to happen here because anything can happen?  There’s a sense of excitement to it that you just don’t get as a DPS.

Scruff:  My current healer I’ve leveled entirely by standing in the inn and running one dungeon after another through the tool.  I’ve done almost no questing whatsoever.

Raakhi:  That’s exactly how I’m leveling my priest.

Scruff:  Yeah, it’s so good.  The queues just pop instantly.  There’s no hanging around and I love that.  What I was going to say – yeah, I’ve found so much more enjoyment as a healer compared to other classes in dungeons just because of that very ability and how you are responsible, how you can carry the group sometimes, like you were saying earlier, whether or not you let the guy standing in the fire die or not.  I’ve felt much more connected to the success of the group as a healer.  I feel like as DPS, you do your rotation, you try not to stand in the fire, and the boss dies or not.  The tank kind of does the dance with the boss and does his rotation.  I found as a healer I feel much more invested in how the group plays out.  It feels so much more variable to me.

Raakhi:  I’ve seen a lot of times, especially as I’m leveling a new healer, that DPS will skip trash or whatever and do whatever they need to do and they’ll come back.  A healer can’t do that.  The tank can’t do that.  I agree with you.  I like being important to the success of the group in a way that I never felt like I was when I was just DPSing and going in and throwing a bunch of fireballs at a boss.  I think that healing is just much more, like you said, connected to the success of the group.  I just find it a lot more rewarding.

Apple Cider Mage:  As somebody who’s been a career DPSer who started to do raiding as a healer in Cata, when you’re a DPSer you are out for yourself especially in a raid team.  You are out for yourself.  If it makes your DPS better you will absolutely take it away from other people.

Raakhi:  Indeed.

Apple Cider Mage:  If you can buffs you’ll do it.  Anything that makes your DPS better than somebody else’s means you’re doing your job better.  When I had to heal in Dragon Soul because my guild needed a healer and I was one of the few people that wanted to do it, it was very different.  You had to be cooperative and play nicely with everybody.

Tzufit:  Yeah, as I always tell my guild’s healers – your cooldowns are not your own.  Your cooldowns belong to me and I’ll let you know when it’s time for you to use them.

Roger:  This brings it right back to what you’re trying to say with why women are primarily seen as healers, and you hit the nail on the head when you’re talking about DPSing and whatnot.  What we have to realize – and it’s not being sexist in any way, shape or form – it’s that there’s a different brain chemistry going on between the genders and different rewards will affect your serotonin levels and how you enjoy a game.  And that is different or can be different between the genders.  So when you’re looking at the traditional male gamer and what will trigger that versus the traditional female gamer and what will trigger that, you’re going to have some differences that are there.  Being able to be in a group and feel that sense of responsibility of actually doing something for someone else and not just having that DPS mentality of it’s all about me being the very best even if I have to stand in fire, but again that healer of – I just want to make sure everybody makes it through this encounter.  That’s a very different trigger for the brain to handle.

Scruff:  The feedback from healing is so much more immediate.  When you’re stood in a crowd of DPS throwing fireballs, it’s very hard to judge, until you look at the reports like if you’re running Recount or whatever afterwards, it’s very hard to judge how much of an impact you’re having.  Whereas if I, as the healer, just stand still and stop healing, it’s going to be blatantly obvious when the tank falls over.

Tzufit:  And Scruff, I loved how you talked about the differences for you in what you like about healing versus DPS or tanking.  It’s very similar to my own experience because as a tank, when I tank a dungeon I do it pretty much the same way every time.  When I tank a raid boss, I do it pretty much the same way every time.  That’s my goal because I want to do it correctly.  I want my damage taken to be predictable for my healers.  I want the way that the boss is turned or the way that the adds are grouped up to be predictable for my DPS so that they can do their job as best as possible.  When I play a DPS, like Apple Cider described, I am out for myself.  I am doing everything I can possibly do to make those numbers go higher.  I am only getting out of fire because it hurts me and I might die and then I might stop doing DPS.  That would be terrible.  But as a healer, my experience in a dungeon or a raid is different every single time I step through that door.  So just because we killed Jin’Rokh one way last week doesn’t mean I’m going to have the same experience this week.  That is why I love healing and why I continue to do it, because it keeps my interest for so much longer than something like DPSing or tanking which, to me, just seems fundamentally repetitive and boring.

Apple Cider Mage:  I kind of wanted to go back to what Roger said and sort of pick that apart because I completely disagree.  I feel like you had it sort of on the money with the fact that there’s people that get different pleasure out of different motivations; however, #1 there’s way more than two genders, #2 I feel like who gets what out of what motivation is not tied to gender, but the myths are slanted in that way – only women could get pleasure out of being responsible or-

Roger:  That’s not what I was implying.  That’s definitely not what I was implying.  That’s why I made sure to watch my words there and say that not even primarily, but a lot or many.  I agree that it is something that is based on your type of personality and that transcends gender; however, the point I’m trying to make is that there are some differences in terms of what stimulates – again, going back to the serotonin – what stimulates serotonin levels for the different genders and that does have an impact in what will cause you a different enjoyment that you get within a game.

Tzufit:  But I think where we need to be careful is one of the things that you highlighted about what stimulates the different genders when it comes to that is the notion that helping other people – or as the myth goes, because women are nurturing, that’s why they would get more pleasure from healing than men necessarily would, and not all obviously.  Just because that’s the supposedly ingrained thing.  What’s interesting is that from what most have us described so far, regardless of whether it’s the men or the women in the group talking, we haven’t talked about healing as a nurturing thing and that’s why we enjoy it.

Lio:  If we can go back to the serotonin thing for a second?  With my personal experience, I got solo server firsts in Wrath – I got hunter and something else.  Nothing will kill your serotonin level faster than having people find out that you’re a woman and say, “Oh, you clearly botted then,” or “Oh, your boyfriend did this for you.”

Roger:  And then we’re going back again to the idiots, though.  And it bothers me-

Lio:  Right, but you get that so much more with DPS than you do with healing.  When I was healing, I never got like, “Oh your boyfriend must have done that for you.”

Tzufit:  It’s more believable that a good healer is a woman.

Lio:  When I was doing Jin’Rokh, I got Jin’Rokh on my own.  I didn’t have somebody come and do it for me.  I didn’t have the hunters in my guild come to do it for me.  I did it by myself and then it’s like, “Oh, well someone else clearly had to help you, vagina-haver.”

Roger:  That’s something that I’ve seen many times throughout many PUGs, and it’s the reason why I go on sabbaticals from PUGs.  I just can’t for a long time because you have these idiots that make comments like that.  I’m not a woman, so obviously I’m not playing like you are and getting it as often.  I’m seeing it third-party.  I see it for everybody.  The hate is just there regardless of what the person is playing, from the experience I’ve had.  So it’s just again those vocal idiots that are ruining it for everybody.

Apple Cider Mage:  I don’t like the conflation of there being a physiological truth determination over things.  A lot of what women are expected to enjoy is sociological, it’s societal, versus biological because there’s so many things we don’t know about the brain.  You could go eons into brains being tied to gender, which is clearly not the case.  But the fact that we’re going to jump into the women = nurturing thing is definitely one of the strangest things I’ve ever come across when talking to people, or men in particular even, about why a woman would want to be a healer.  Not the fact that people in general like to be responsible or to have that different perspective of having the group’s lives in their hands, which I feel is something that a lot of people can enjoy.  It seems to come up again and again – “Oh, women are nurturers.”

Tzufit:  It’s really interesting that when you see this argument made, even when people are making it as – obviously we’re not fans of the term – a devil’s advocate, when people are saying, “Oh, the reason people make this argument is because they think that women are nurturers.”  It’s funny because how few healers do you know and have you talked to if you think that’s really the thing that people enjoy?  Yes, you have the life of the group in your hands, but it’s not like – I don’t shift click and put my little Renewing Mists on somebody and think, “Oh I made them better!”  You know?  That’s the role that I’m performing and I like that role, but I don’t sit there and think that I’m like bandaging up their wounds and making them some chicken noodle soup and those kind of things.

Roger:  So you’re not RPing, is what you’re saying?

Raakhi:  I was about to make that joke myself.

Tzufit:  And I’ve RPed as a healer, too, and didn’t make them that way either.  We’re talking about battle healers.  These are people who are medics in the field and besides that, are they really that different?  If we’re going to delve into the lore, I will delve into the lore.  I guess my question is, since all of WoW’s healers to this point are magic users, that’s what they’re rooted in, different types of magic but they’re all using magic – are the power that they exhibit and the way they use those power that fundamentally different than a mage, than a warlock?  Really, it’s still about the relationship that you’re having with the magic that you’re using, not so much about taking care of the other people in your party.

Roger:  From a lore perspective I disagree with you.  I would say that it is actually about healing somebody else.  It’s not about just tapping into a magic, but that it is about healing something or someone.  When you’re talking about – as a woman it’s not about the nurturing for you, about taking care of someone – I can honestly say from a male perspective, for me at least – I’m married, I’ve raised 4 kids.  It is nurturing, actually, to a certain degree.  And it depends largely on who I’m grouped with.  If I’m just in a PUG then really it’s just about working with the group to try to make it as good as I can.  But if I’m grouped with friends, with family, it is very much about nurturing, about helping them, about making them be able to do the best that they can do.

Apple Cider Mage:  The point we’re trying to make is that the stereotype shouldn’t exist because women are nurturing.

Roger:  Of course.

Apple Cider Mage:  And that’s societal.  The idea that women are the mothers of the world or something like that when a lot of us don’t heal to be a surrogate mom, and I think that men should have the ability to be nurturing too because I think that there are, as you just said, male healers that do like to nurture just as there are a lot of women healers that don’t get into to be Mother Earth mommy-type.  There’s no way I heal my 10 man and go, “Well 9 of you are like my children and I’m going to use Healing Rain.”

Roger:  Yeah, but – hold on now.  You’re kind of mocking what nurturing can actually mean.  It doesn’t have to be something where you’re thinking of these people as your kids and in that-

Apple Cider Mage:  I’m mocking it from the standpoint of I’m tiring of being pigeon-holed.  Let’s Lio and Raakhi jump in on this.  What is your take on the women must be healers because they’re nurturing?

Lio:  Well, I have a toddler, so saying the same thing and doing the same thing over and over and over again and having her still eat paint or whatever, yeah it totally works with the whole like, “I’m going to stand in fire.  I’m going to stand in fire.”  “No, don’t stand in fire.”  “I’m going to stand in fire.  I’m going to stand-“  “No.”  It’s kind of like raising a toddler, really.

Raakhi:  10 of them, all at once.  I don’t know if I do it so much to be nurturing.  My profession is – I’m a lawyer, and so my job is pretty much to run around behind everyone else and clean up whatever went wrong.  So I see being a healer as almost more clean up than nurturing, except when hunters have really cute pets and then I can’t heal them and then they die.  Then I feel really guilty.  But otherwise, no, I don’t really see it as nurturing quite so much.  So maybe that makes it a little bit hard for me to buy into the women must heal because women are nurturing because I don’t do it because I feel like I’m nurturing people.

Scruff:  I feel like it’s so abstract that it’s hard to tie into.  Like I could see – it shouldn’t be this way, but let’s say that druid for example and shaman, I can see how they’ve got this kind of mother nature earth warden kind of nurturing thing going to them.  But you don’t say, “Oh if you’re going to play a priest, you must be religious.”  You’re not petitioning the gods on behalf of these other people.  I don’t feel particularly nurturing when I’m pressing 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4.  It’s just a mechanic to me.  I think I approach this far too mathematically to care about much.

Apple Cider Mage:  As Roger did provide the counterpoint, even if you do take it as nurturing – which is completely valid – it’s not restricted to women.  It’s definitely not restricted to just women.  Out of everything that I’ve ever heard, it was always that particular line and also the fact that one guy popped off to myself and another guildie who was our main tank at the time, also a lady, that the reason women play healers is because they have smaller hands.

Roger:  How the hell is that – what?

Apple Cider Mage:  Because – this is his train of logic – women across the board have smaller hands, therefore they only need a couple buttons to hit when you’re a healer, which is completely not true.

Raakhi:  Not true at all.

Tzufit:  Uh, have you seen a healer’s UI, maybe?

Apple Cider Mage:  That was kind of interesting as well.  It was just such an oddball, off the wall, biological thing.  And that kind of sets us up for the next persistent problem with the thing – people that believe that women are healers because healing is easier.  How do you all respond?

Tzufit:  I will echo what Roger said earlier in the show that healing is certainly easier now than it was in Cataclysm.  I think healing was, in some ways, harder in Cataclysm than it was in Wrath because they introduced this whole idea of triage and mana was extremely tight.  But the thing about Wrath that really has never been true afterwards is that you really held people’s lives in the palm of your hand in Wrath because there were these hits that, if you didn’t heal somebody up to full immediately, if they took another hit they were going to die.  It’s so hard to compare the difficulty between tanking and DPS and healing to each other.  They’re just so fundamentally different.  Your goals are different.  Your setup is different.  For me, I started playing a DPS because I thought it was the least responsibility and I figured that I would get the fewest people killed if I was a DPS.  I have gone 180 degrees from that now because since I’ve become so comfortable healing and moderately comfortable tanking, I am terrified of DPSing because I am convinced that somehow when I DPS I’m going to do a thing and everybody in the raid’s going to die.

Raakhi:  That’s exactly why my mage is collecting dust right now.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and it’s like – I don’t know what that thing is, you know?  I couldn’t tell you what I expect to do wrong, I just know that when I play a DPS I am much more concerned because I’m pretty sure I’m going to wipe the raid.

Raakhi:  DPS the wrong add at the wrong time and all of a sudden some new mechanic’s going to pop up that I never knew about as a healer and suddenly we’re all going to die.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s so bizarre to me as somebody who plays DPS for the most part.  When I’m DPS, unless I have a responsibility, which is now more often than not because I’m in a 10 man and I’m usually the person that has to do all the special jobs like arrange flight groups on Ji’Kun and be the add person on another fight, or the shell-kicker or Tortos.  At no time as a DPSer do I feel like I could potentially wipe the raid, on most fights.  When I was a healer in Dragon Soul, I felt like I had the world on my shoulders at all times.  There was nothing – in a lot of cases that was true.  Look at Ultraxion.  It was on the healers to do Ultraxion.

Tzufit:  Right, except if you screwed up as a DPS on – what was the buff that you would get where you and the tank had to go in the Twilight Realm?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, Twilight something.

Tzufit:  Yeah, everything was Twilight something.  But, yeah.  So if you get that buff as a DPS and you don’t hit it at the right time, there goes the raid.  Healers didn’t get that buff.

Apple Cider Mage:  I don’t know.  Just as somebody who’s been a career DPSer, DPS is stressful because it’s a competition to do as much as you can especially with things like tight enrage timers.  When I heal, I’m a lot more relaxed because it’s a way different perspective.  But on the other hand, if somebody dies, I absolutely feel it.  I absolutely feel it and there’s been a lot of times when you’re in the crunch moments on a fight where there’s a lot of healing going out.  That’s where I get really stressed out.  I don’t know how all of you feel about that.

Raakhi:  I apologize every time someone dies.  I feel so guilty.  I’m like, “Oh no!  I’m so sorry,” even if it was because they did something wrong, I still apologize to them for not being there to save them from their own stupidity sometimes.

Scruff:  Do you feel like it’s a difference in measurement?  Healing, as long as you get to the end of the fight and the fight ends successfully and you’re not out of mana and everyone or as many people survive as necessary, then that’s Ok.  Whereas as DPS there is, in theory, a kind of perfect rotation that will give you the maximum amount of DPS you can do statistically.  Every move you make that deviates from that is a mistake, whereas with healing as long as everyone gets to the end, it perhaps doesn’t matter so much as long as you don’t go out of mana.

Lio:  Meters are kind of a flawed mechanic for healing, too, because the way absorbs go and stuff like that – especially because we’re all druids.  We know those damn disc priests and their damn bubbles.

Roger:  Hey those are awesome.  I have a disc priest.  Disc priest is amazing to heal with.  They are so much fun.

Lio:  Yeah, but their absorbs swipe my Rejuvs, come on man.

Roger:  I’m just saying it’s fun.

Tzufit:  I’m a monk and I heal with, usually if we have 3 healers, it’s me, a holy pally, and a disc priest.  So I don’t want to hear it.

Apple Cider Mage:  I get really ticked off when no one stands in my Healing Rain.  I can’t stand paladins and their single-target BS.

Tzufit:  But yeah, I think that’s a great point because for healers – I have little things that I consider a measure of whether I’ve done a fight correctly, like if I’ve managed to work my cooldowns in the maximum number of times that I should in a fight, and if I’ve used enough of my mana that I wasn’t at full mana the whole time but I wasn’t OOM.  I have little ways that I evaluate myself, but at the end of the day – yeah, if we make it to the end of the encounter and enough people are still alive that we beat the boss, then I’m cool with it.  With a DPS there really is that secondary level of “Ok, we beat the boss but am I the lowest DPS?  Am I the next to lowest DPS?  Was my DPS 10,000 less than it was last week?”  That kind of thing.

Scruff:  That was one of the things that brought me to healing was the DPS meters.  I don’t particularly want to admit that I was bad DPS, but I was usually in the lower half of the table and I hated that.  I used to spend time practicing but I was just bad at it.  Whereas, like you say, with healing it’s much more you either win the fight or you don’t.  Like you say, you have your own little measurements of how you’re doing, but – I don’t know, maybe I just found it easier.  But I hated that competitiveness in the group, when really it should be the group competing against either other groups or the content.  It just didn’t really appeal to me.

Tzufit:  Yes, absolutely.  That’s totally how I feel about it.

Raakhi:  I think that’s why I like 10 man raids more than 25s, because in 10 man it’s usually me and 1 other healer and we work together with the tanks, etc.  On an 25 man I do start to get that feeling again that I felt when I was a DPS about “Oh well your heals per second weren’t up as much as this person’s and so if you use this cooldown more effectively-” and I just wanted to go ahead and do the bosses and do what I could do.  That’s why I like 10 mans much better.  I don’t feel that pressure as much.

Roger:  A lot of that has to do with the guild that you’re in, too, depending on the guild and how many members there are and how the officers are handling the different healers or whatever.  They have to be taking into consideration all of the healers they have in their stable of healers and who should be the ones to go up.  So I think a lot of that has to do with the guild you’re in.  If you happen upon a good guild that is still doing content that you want that is more about the experience together versus just putting the top person in those spots, you’re going to have a lot more fun.

Apple Cider Mage:  Something that I wanted to jump in on, because I just thought of it, as a person who’s done DPS and when I swapped to healing – I wonder if the fact that sexism informs this healer myth also I feel that the competition that comes with DPS doesn’t as much happen with healers.  I wonder that it’s the kind of shitty comments that other dude gamers make to women is why DPS isn’t always as attractive, because I know for a fact that if you’re a shitty woman DPS it’s always blamed on the fact that you’re a woman.

Tzufit:  I’ve had both experiences.  I’ve had both experiences within the same guild where in the 10 person raid that I’m in right now, the holy paladin and I who heal together, we’ve been healing together for years.  So we really joke with each other constantly when we get to the end of the fight about how shitty your numbers were or how shitty my numbers were.  But we both fundamentally know that it’s a joke and we know each other well enough to be completely comfortable doing that.  With him, I really don’t feel any competition at all because it’s just about the two of us working together as a team.  I’ve certainly felt that pressure more in our 25 person raids because there are more people and by the nature of the thing, you don’t necessarily know all those people as well as you know the other people.  You find yourself looking for feedback and unfortunately, it’s really difficult to decipher as a healer how well you’re doing, especially in the moment.  After the fact, once you get things uploaded to World of Logs, you can really sort through all that and figure some things out.  But in the moment it can be kind of difficult.  So you turn to things like Recount and Skada and look at where your numbers are, and I have certainly felt that competition with other women healers.  I’ve felt it with men healers.  I’ve never, at least that I can recall, I have never had anybody say anything to me regarding my healing in a particularly gendered way.  If I do something wrong or if I get somebody killed or my numbers aren’t high enough, I don’t think I’ve had that experience.

Roger:  I think that the difference at least in terms of what I’ve experienced over the years is when you’re looking at the raids and whether they’re smaller or larger, especially larger actually, if you separate it by groups, you’ve got your tanks that are these little military guys.  You’ve got the general ordering down to the other little soldiers.  I’m going to do this, you do this, and everybody’s listening.  The DPS is all just guys and women that are out for themselves, just doing whatever it takes and it’s all about who can reach that finish line first and be the best.  The healers are like buddies.  We’re just having fun together, and it’s much more relaxed and much more enjoyable.  You’re kidding around like you were saying with them.  You’re tossing comments out, jokes.  You’re looking at numbers and it’s all about improving yourself but it’s not about beating each other.  It’s about just working well together.  It’s a much better group to be in, because it’s so much more relaxed and so much more fun.

Raakhi:  Whenever I start a fight or go into a raid, I do feel some tension, some pressure, in order to do well enough for everyone to survive and finish it.  I kind of like that challenge, but that’s a different feeling and it’s a good feeling than what I felt as a DPS where I felt like I was failing or I wasn’t a good player if I didn’t finish toward the top of the charts.  It just feels, as a healer, like it’s sort of this self-improvement challenge rather than having the negative connotations.

Roger:  Do you think also that’s partially because it’s so much easier to replace the DPS?

Raakhi:  I do think that that played into it for sure.  If your DPS was too low – I’ve stepped out of raids because I didn’t feel like my DPS was competitive enough.  But as a healer that hasn’t really happened.  Sure, there is a point where you’re not ready for that content but for the most part, every time that I’ve hit that challenge the response has been, “Well let’s work together to improve your numbers or as a team to reduce damage,” or whatever.  So I have felt like it’s sort of my participation has been dependent upon doing well, whereas as a DPS I have felt if your numbers don’t cut it, and only your numbers don’t cut it, then you’re out of here.

Tzufit:  And this may only be my experience with my guild, I don’t know but I’ll be interested to see if you guys have anything to say on it – I have, over the years, met many people who are not very good at DPS who are completely oblivious to that fact.  They wouldn’t be the people, for example, who would step out of the raid because they realize that their DPS is too low and they are the barrier to us finishing this encounter.  I’ve met a few tanks who don’t realize that they are not using their cooldowns well or occasionally at all and they are the barrier to us not making past this encounter.  I have met very few, if any, main healers – so I’m not talking about people who are alting as healers – I’ve met very few main healers who 1. are not pretty darn fantastic at what they’re do and 2. if they are bad, healers are way more likely to know when they screwed up, at least from what I’ve experienced.  I think that that’s partially because we have so much information at our fingertips at any given time, which is another reason I love healing because you can see – I find it really easy to troubleshoot as a raid leader as a healer because I know who is dying and when, and I probably am about 99% certain I know why.

Roger:  That’s also personality though.  Ironically, going by what you just said, I was literally in a group this afternoon and I was playing my warlock who I’m leveling up.  We got to a tough encounter.  I died, but I’d happened to put my Soulstone on before the encounter and so I just popped up and we kept going.  After it was done, the tank told the healer, “Great heals.”  As we’re running to the next encounter, the healer was saying “Not really, the warlock died.”  So there was that accountability of realizing, “No.  I didn’t do the best that I could.”

Tzufit:  Yeah, and in my experience and this may not be for everybody, I have found that healers – the people I have healed with tend to be better when it comes to that accountability, not just being willing to own up to it, but actually even being aware that they were the problem.  I’ve found that more healers are aware when they are the problem than DPS are aware or tanks are aware.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, I’d agree with that.

Scruff:  I think it’s a visibility thing again.  If the DPS are bad, the fight takes an extra 45 seconds.  If the tank’s really bad then everybody dies.  If the healer’s bad, the warlock dies.  It’s so much more visible.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think again, with what Roger said before, it also has to do a lot with your guild, because my 25 man – this is a true story.  We were doing, of all fights, Valithria, easily the healer fight of World of Warcraft, the one fight where it was absolutely crucial that you have really good healers, and the DPS was being blamed for us not getting the fight down.  It was that bad.  It was like the entire heal team had – for so long, they were just so used to the DPS messing up that they couldn’t understand why we weren’t getting the fight down and it wasn’t the fact that the DPS were messing up with the couple of adds that we have to take care of during the fight.  No, it was the healers not using cooldowns or not doing effective healing, running out of mana, stuff like that.  But they just completely blew it on that one, just completely blew it and wouldn’t own up to it.  It was the one time I felt like healers were just not on the ball despite the fact that that was the one fight where you really have to be on the ball and be accountable for what you’re doing.

Roger:  We’re seeing that a lot more now and that is because they’ve put a lot more incentives for people to play as healers, not the least of which being the queue, like Scruff was talking about.  That’s a very big one and because of that, we’ve got tons of bad healers.  We’ve got tons of bad tanks.  It was something that we could be proud of at one time, that we were healers – and it sounds ridiculous, but that had some weight.  We knew what we were doing.  We were good at it, for the most part.  Your guild could rely on that.  But because of what they’ve done – I mean how many times have you gone into a PUG and the healer is a freaking boomkin, literally, and refuses to respect or anything because it’s so much easier for them to go into the group?

Tzufit:  Yeah, I agree with you but I would say that goes to my – when I tried to stipulate I’m talking about people who are main healers, this is what they do, not someone who’s rolled a healer as an alt or who thinks that because they can queue as a healer even if they’re a boomkin, that that somehow makes them a healer.

Apple Cider Mage:  I also think there’s just that accountability too, in some cases.  I’ve raided with people who are not good healers, certainly.  I think you notice it a lot more because people just are dying all over the place.  You do not progress through raiding as fast when you have a healer that’s hamstringing you.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I think that’s what Scruff was saying, too, that the visibility is just totally different.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  You know, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself or admit it to the raid team that you’re not a good healer, it’s pretty clear that that’s what it is.  You’re not getting past a fight.  People are just dying at a certain point in the fight.  People are just dying all over the place and it’s mechanics where people shouldn’t be dying.  When you have low DPS you hit an enrage timer.  When you have low healers it’s just a nightmare.

Roger:  More HoTs!  More HoTs!

Apple Cider Mage:  But I think we’re getting to the point of the show, and we’re going to kind of wrap it up here because I know we’ve had really awesome discussion about healing in general, but we need to make the point that the show has sort of illustrated where we think these stereotypes of women healers come from – the whole idea that all healers are women, or why women get into it.  But I think to finish off the show, we need to sort represent why that’s a bad thing to think.  Obviously, the fact that we have 2 competent dude healers on the show is probably a good point to make that not all women are healers, that a lot of these stereotypes are really rooted in a lot of vicious, misogynistic, societally-based, problematic ideas.  Let’s get into that.  Let’s talk about that for a little bit and then we’ll wrap up the show.

Roger:  I think it’s bad simply because like any type of prejudice, it’s bad.  It’s something that I’ve always fought against in-game, out of game, that I simply have zero tolerance for and it’s harmful to everyone.  It’s not just harmful to women.  Of course, it’s more harmful to them.  But it’s harmful to everyone because it then teaches other younger predominantly men, boys, that this is acceptable.  That this is alright.  That this is just an online game.  I can call them whatever name I want.  I can insult their gender, their sexual preference, whatever, and it’s alright cause it’s just trash talk.  We’ve actually seen people in e-sports, high up in e-sports, getting lots of money for it, making terrible comments towards women, towards gay people, everything.  And it’s accepted.  Now it’s not accepted by everyone.  It’s getting to the point where we have a lot more people who are realizing they need to be as vocal as these idiots so that the point gets through, and it’s simply not acceptable.  So that’s why it’s not good, because we can’t allow it to continue so that the next generations feel that this is alright, this is acceptable, and it’s just trash talk.  It’s not, and we can’t have it.

Apple Cider Mage:  I would even say that the whole idea of women equaling healers is a harder to uproot and pervasive sexist belief than the harassment that goes on in-game, because it’s not always termed as negative.

Roger:  Well it’s also so deeply rooted in society outside of game, and that has a huge impact in what it then brings to the table once it’s in game.

Lio:  Like you’re a male nurse?  Like that kind of-

Roger:  Exactly.

Raakhi:  Yeah, cause it implies that the man is doing work that is sort of beneath him when everybody knows that things that would be traditionally termed “women’s work,” they’re no less valuable than work that is traditionally termed to be “men’s work.”  I think I just reject the whole notion that – even if healing was very much equated with nurturing, that is somehow something that’s bad or that’s something that people would want to avoid.  I would think that that would – even though that’s not true for me – I would still think that would be a positive thing, because I think of nurturing as a positive thing.

Tzufit:  Right, and that’s the bit that bothers me is that because nurturing is associated with the feminine, that means that since healing is associated with nurturing, healing is associated with feminine; and because it’s feminine it’s going to be devalued.  For me, the sort of quintessential healer jokes that you hear or anytime you see somebody make a webcomic about healers, it’s always the put-upon healer who – “Everybody’s standing in fire and they don’t listen to me, but I’ll heal them anyway.”

Roger:  They don’t.

Tzufit:  It’s certainly rooted in truth and we have all been there, but I guess it bothers me that the community is going to devalue healing because we already kind of feel – I don’t want to say unappreciated by our raid teams, because I don’t feel unappreciated by my raid team – but just because we are the people who help them when they make a mistake and who are expected to make fewer mistakes because of that, since we’re the ones who have to – like Raakhi was saying, we clean up.  When we add to that an additional level of “Yeah, you clean up all the mistakes but what you do isn’t really as important as what everybody else does,” there’s a very real frustration there.

Scruff:  I hate to say it, but I think even if healing didn’t have that sort of devaluing to it, I still think it would be perceived as “feminine,” just because of the societal pressure behind it.  I can’t really see what the game could do to make it seem more valuable because certainly anyone that does it, but certainly anyone that kind of understands the mechanics of it should already know how valuable it is.

Raakhi:  It’s one of those things where if we’re doing our jobs right, nobody knows that we’re there.

Roger:  Exactly, yeah.

Tzufit:  Yes, yes.

Raakhi:  And it’s only when everything goes to hell and we save everybody that someone goes, “Good healing.”  I find that to be problematic too.  I think that when everybody’s looking at their health meters and everyone’s doing fine, I think that there should still be a “Wow, I know that fight was really tough on healers cause there’s a lot of AoE damage.  Good job, guys.”  We don’t notice it until either we finish the encounter by the skin of our teeth or someone screws up and everything goes wrong and the healers save it.  I think there should be more recognition or some way that we get recognized a little bit more, or that our contributions are a little more obvious from fight to fight.

Lio:  Isn’t that the typical misogynist view of women, too?  If the dishes aren’t done and the laundry’s not done then you know that she’s there, but if the household’s running smoothly then you don’t.

Roger:  Yeah, I do both of those.

Apple Cider Mage:  It feels like the reason that – like you said, Raakhi – the devaluing of the feminine is kind of what’s underpinning a lot of this.  Being invisible and if healing is overwhelming thought of as women’s work and the only time you get praised for it is when you completely save everybody’s butts and not when you’re just doing your job competently, it’s the whole factor of why people thing healing is so easy.  Oh, because women can do it.  That’s why they think that it’s not as valuable.  Oh, because women do it.  That sort of feeds into, that’s why all healers are women – because it’s easy, because they are non-competitive so of course they couldn’t be DPSers.  They’re not bossy enough, unless you like to get slammed for being bossy, so you couldn’t possibly be tanks because tanks have to know everything and that couldn’t possibly be a woman in a raid team.  It feels like it feeds into itself on many, many levels and it’s not just a healer thing or a World of Warcraft thing certainly.

Roger:  Can I ask you a question, though, in regards to that?  And this is not by any means meant to sound as if I’m implying that this is being blown out of proportion.  Not at all.  I understand that it is very rough for women gamers regardless of what game they’re in.  However, when you’re talking about that and you’re talking about the opinions that are being given to you regarding healing as a woman and whatnot and your value as a gamer, just how much would you associate in terms of how many years you’ve been playing and how often this has occurred?  As a percentage of your game experience, is it that those bad experiences are so bad and so annoying that they color the gaming from then on, or that it is literally happening all the time?

Apple Cider Mage:  I don’t think anybody’s without confirmation bias if that’s what you’re implying.  Everybody’s perception works like that.  The bad always seems more numerous and more prolific.  On the other hand, I have made it a point to play with people who respect me.  So I would say my experiences are probably drastically lower.  On the other hand – the other other hand, the third hand, the fifth hand – I also announce my gender quite a lot more than a lot of people.

Roger:  Really?

Tzufit:  That’s what I was going to point out, too.  I announce my gender very infrequently.  So for me, I have had a handful of experiences.  I couldn’t tell you how often they’ve been, I’m really not certain.  But I’m sure I’ve probably had fewer experiences than Apple Cider Mage has because I don’t announce my gender, and the fact that I don’t feel comfortable announcing my gender because I anticipate having the experiences that Apple Cider Mage will is also problematic in and of itself.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  I correct people misgendering me in groups.  I obviously have a public face that is fairly well known.  Obviously no one has picked me out in the middle of a random group, certainly, and been like, “Oh, you’re Apple Cider Mage.  You’re totally a completely awful feminist.”  But I also have trafficked in a lot of places like Elitist Jerks.  I was part of the Elitist Jerks forums for 4 years.  I have gone to the MMO Champion forums.  I have been on the general forums.  I have been in trade chat.  I’ve been in general chat.  There is no shortage of men who will say, “Oh well she’s a crappy player because she’s a girl” or “Oh my god, we’ve got this couple that wanted to apply to our raid team and we were so upset because the dude was such a good player but we also had to take his girlfriend and she was just terrible.”

Roger:  See the reason I ask is, again, I’m obviously not a woman so I don’t come across it like you ladies do.  The reason I ask, though, is because I have, however, played the game since start.  So I’ve been privy to the general chat stupidity as well as the stupidity that happens in PUGs.  So I’ve seen a lot of that attitude; however, what I’ve noticed – there’s actually more, at least from what I’ve experienced, hatred that is toward, again the gay slurs, than towards women or gender.  So that’s been my experience over the years.

Tzufit:  It’s important to understand how those things go together, though, and how this is all just about a prevalent attitude where being a woman who games makes you feel like a second class citizen.  When men slur other men with gay insults, a lot of what that is about is feminizing that man.  So it’s saying, “You are less than me because you are more like a woman who is inherently less than me.”  So I think it’s important to recognize too that even insults that are directed at somebody’s sexuality can be problematic for a woman to hear because the reaction may be just as severe as if it had been something directed at her gender specifically.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  “Oh man.  How did you let that whore run you over like a little bitch?  You totally took it.”  You’re insulting another dude, but you’re denigrating him-

Tzufit:  In a female way.

Apple Cider Mage:  In a female way, yeah.  So Raakhi, Lio – have you had similar experiences?  Do you reveal your gender online or when you’re in random groups, stuff like that?  Have you had similar experiences?

Lio:  For me it’s funny because I kind of went undercover when I went with the Liopleurodon handle, because apparently only men can be badass apex predators.

Tzufit:  Only boys like dinosaurs.

Lio:  Yeah, exactly.  So I’ve gotten a lot of backhanded compliments where I correct them and say, “No, I’m a girl,” and they’re like “Oh you tank so well for a girl.  I would have thought you were a guy.”  Like “Oh thank you so much for that.”  I also have another character that’s a mage and she is a blood elf, and I tended to dress her kind of skimpily.  She gets – they know that I’m a girl immediately.  I don’t know why because – whatever.

Tzufit:  Cause guys do that too.

Lio:  I get you know “bitch, whore,” all that stuff.  Yeah, exactly.  I get that a lot.  Like I said earlier with the server first stuff, you get on other people’s Vent and you identify yourself and it’s like – yeah.  A lot of the time they don’t say it to your face, either.  You hear it from the other side, around the water cooler or whatever.

Raakhi:  I don’t go in trade chat.  I have that turned off.  I don’t look at instance chat whenever I’m in LFR because I don’t think anything good really ever comes from paying attention to those 2 things.  Don’t feed the trolls and never read the comments, I’m a big fan of both of those.  I think that trade chat just kind of invites both.  I guess from that perspective, I don’t see it that much now, but that’s because I know where it is and I avoid it.  I don’t announce my gender.  I will call people out whenever they say stuff.  I don’t announce my gender.  It doesn’t seem to really further the conversation when I’m trying to call someone out on something.  However, you mentioned Vent and there’s not hiding gender – at least for some people – whenever you’re talking.  So that’s usually when I’ll see either people be surprised or get comments about it, about being a girl just because I usually don’t bring it up otherwise.  I think it’s prevalent.  Not only are there really bad instances of this, but it’s also very frequent.  It’s both of them.  So yes there’s some confirmation bias, but I think that just objectively looking at trade chat and the comments made in LFR that it’s really definitely there.

Tzufit:  I think it’s important to consider how much we may be intentionally shielding ourselves from.  You talk about the fact that you’re not in trade chat.  I’m only in trade chat on 2 characters and that’s because I’m just keeping an eye on what my guildmates say, basically, because we have a pretty strict policy with that.  I think it is important to keep that in mind and the fact that I said I really don’t identify my gender when I don’t have to.  It’s hard to say just how prevalent it is because the women on this panel are going to such lengths to not have to see as much of it as possible.

Apple Cider Mage:  Because it runs you down.  It runs you down.  That’s why I run a guild of feminists, because if I’m going to pay $15 a month I don’t want people saying I’m a shitty DPSer because I’m a girl.  I don’t want people to use sexist comments.  I don’t want people to devalue my opinion.  I want to be a ruler with an iron fist.  No.  But having a supportive environment of other women makes the difference.  It makes the difference between WoW being fun and WoW being not so fun.

Raakhi:  I don’t play WoW in order to correct everybody who’s making homophobic or sexist comments.  It happens because sometimes I just can’t let it go.  But that’s not why I play and that’s why I take myself out of those types of environments because I know that I’m not going to be able to make enough of an impact to make myself happy.  So I just sort of wind up lurking around safe spaces.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s pretty important, I think, at the end of the day.

Tzufit:  One of the reasons we wanted to make sure we had a diversity of people on today was so that we highlighted the fact that it’s not just women who play healers.  It’s not just men who play healers.  And shockingly, people play healers for all different sorts of reasons.  The last thing we really wanted to touch on was the fact that this myth is sort of prevalent may overshadow or further devalue men who do choose to play as healers.  So Roger or Scruff, do you have any thoughts on that?

Scruff:  I chose healing for an entirely selfish reason.  We said earlier, I really did choose it so that the queue would pop quicker and I could get to see the content and experience that stuff a lot quicker.  At the time I wasn’t guilded.  I was doing a lot of stuff solo, so getting a quicker LFD or LFR was kind of important for me.  I had heard of this kind of lazy stereotyping but it wasn’t something that worried me.  I guess that’s my privilege as a man is that I don’t have to worry about that, which –terrible as it seems – I play the game in a very mechanical way.  I don’t quest.  I don’t particularly read the quest text.

Roger:  Shame on you.

Scruff:  I know.  I know.  I know pretty much nothing of the lore, really.  For me the gendering of the characters, the avatars, and the actual people playing them really don’t matter to me.  That swings both ways.  It doesn’t matter to me who you are as long as you do your job – as long as you’re doing your class’ job then it doesn’t matter to me.  It hasn’t been something that I have given much conscious thought to and I guess in a kind of lazy way everybody on the internet is a man, right?  We all know.  I think again, the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but the only time I have been misgendered is on my healer.  I’ve had characters – male and female – over the years, and the only time anyone’s ever referred to me as female is on a female healer.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Roger:  As a white male gamer, mid 40s, straight, I refuse to feel like “Oh boohoo, this goes against me.”  Like you’re saying it’s devaluing men as healers as well.  There’s so much hatred towards women and various genders and gays that I’m not going to go “Oh boohoo, this looks bad on me.”  No.  I am insanely privileged because of who I am and so I won’t look at it that way at all.  I will look at it in terms of it’s up to me as well to fight against these stereotypes and these prejudices, which as I’ve said before I’ve done throughout all my gaming – any game I played – but throughout WoW throughout the years to the point of actually leaving one of the best guilds that I was in in Vanilla simply because one of the male gamers who was a friend of the guild leader, who was a woman coincidentally and a very good friend of mine, was making some bigoted comments.  I asked him to stop and it got to the point where he actually was creating alts to harass me online.  So I had to leave the server.  It got to be that bad.  But I still will say I have zero tolerance against anyone who says that kind of stuff.

Tzufit:  Thank you so much to everybody who came on and who participated today.  I think what we demonstrated, which to me at least is really the most important thing to get across, was that regardless of gender there are many, many different reasons why people choose to play healers.  From Scruff who’s extremely pragmatic about the whole thing and he wants a faster queue to those of us who have been playing healers for a while who enjoy the control of it or the different view that it gives you of the encounter.  I think what’s essential to take out of this discussion today is that we can’t lump any group of people, whether it’s gender or the role that you choose to play, we can’t say that everybody in that group feels a certain way because, at the end of the day, we’re still all individuals and we still all have different thoughts and feeling about why we’re playing the things that we’re playing.

Apple Cider Mage:  Seriously, thank you everybody for coming to the show and giving your perspective and an hour and a half of your time.

Roger:  Thanks for having us on.

Raakhi:  Yeah, thank you.

Scruff:  Glad to be here, thank you.

Lio:  Yep, thanks.

Apple Cider Mage:  Thank you to all our guests.  We also want to thank our very generous host, which is Safe Shark Hosting because hosting doesn’t have to bite.  Safe Shark Hosting does WordPress migration, WordPress and website hosting.  Also remember that we are on iTunes.  You can comment, rate us, and subscribe if you want to hear us in your ears every week.  In next week’s episode, we’re going to be discussing sex and sexuality in World of Warcraft.  Stay tuned for that it’s going to be a great show.

Tzufit:  It’ll be 5 minutes long.  Don’t worry.

Roger:  It’ll take place in the Ironforge tram on an RP server.

Apple Cider Mage:  Have a good night and thank you for listening.

4 comments

  1. Sidenorna

    Now, I have not restudied on the data so the number could be some what wrong.

    Wile many men play female characters and many women play male characters. It turns out that more male players when playing healers are more likely to play female characters, than if they were dps or tanks. Also females who play tanks tend to play male characters.

    The Data comes form a researcher into well video games, and as I recall a former wow player. His name is Nick Yee.
    http://www.taurenthinktank.com/podcasts.php?episode=45

    PS in my ten person raiding group, there are two women in the team, one tank and one dps.Of the four people who can heal, all are males.

  2. Frey

    Jeeze, that one dude was an insufferable mansplainer.

    • Arcadia

      No kidding.

      “Not saying that gender has anything to deal with ~seratonin levels~ but it totally has something to do with gender!” As tired as it is, you just wanna ask for a citation on that claim.

  3. Kevin Oldscratch

    Great episode ladies! I have played a healer as both a shaman (PVE) and priest (PVP) for many years and never thought of the position as ladies work. I rolled a healer for PVP because I felt that I had more of an impact on the BG if I was healing and was taking my fate into my own hands. I enjoy PVE healing simply because not matter the raid fight you are going to be on your toes because as the raid team gets better and better then take more chances and reduce the number of healers which makes it high octane playing. That and if someone upsets me I let them die.

    There is no substance to healing is a girls job, it’s a type of game play that attracts all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons and I am so happy that you all stressed that point during the episode.

    From my personal and limited observations, the vast majority of the ladies that I know in Warcraft or many other MMOs tend to roll DPS (Hunters, Locks and Mages), very rarely have I been on a raid team with lady healers.

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