Monthly Archives: September 2013

A dilemma of epic levels

So I canceled my WoW accounts this week.

WoW is a thing I do as a hobby. I play other games, but WoW is the one I could play all day. And I did.

I love playing WoW. As you can tell, by the things I generally rant on here about, WoW is my favorite game and the one I am most critical of.

I left the game over the sexism. It all started with one little thing that pisses me off. Rating a woman based on how she looks. Then calling her by that number. So I started writing about it, but the more I thought about it, the more instances of sexism I saw. It was like when you wipe that one spot on your tv and suddenly realize the entire entertainment center is completely covered in a thick layer of dust.

There were 3 reactions to my defection:

1. Good for you! Get away from that addictive game.

First off, this reaction really bothers me. Yes, WoW can be addictive. But addiction implies that something leads to harmful consequences. Does WoW lead to harmful consequences for me? I have never lost a job, failed a class, lost a pet/child, become ill, or not been able to live my life because of WoW.

Second, I generally play less WoW in a day than other people watch tv. Or look at the internet. Or read. WoW as a hobby, is an entertainment thing just like other games, tv shows, movies, or books. In fact, for me, it can be considered career supporting since it often makes me consider design topics and challenges.

2. This makes me sad.

I was very surprised by this reaction. Several people said it, and when I asked for clarification this is what was said: “It makes me sad, because it’s something you clearly enjoy so much. It sucks when people can’t do the thing they enjoy because of sexist bullshit.”

:'( I love these people. They don’t play WoW. They don’t like WoW. All they know is that it makes me happy and for that reason they want it to be better. For me. <3

3. You shouldn’t quit. You need to stay, so *someone* will be here to call them on their bullshit.

To be fair, this came from 3 people in game and 2 people out of game. This surprised me. Mostly because I was expecting everyone to support my decision fully.

This argument gave me pause. Was there a way for me to play WoW, while still not accepting their bullshit? From my point of view, the only way to make them listen is to hit them where it hurts, their subscriber numbers. Withholding money does nothing at this point because they are so monolithic they wouldn’t even feel my $30 a month. But -2 subs, after the last two years of bleeding over 4 million subs? That would hurt more.

I thought about it all weekend. While desperately wanting to boot up WoW and play, I found myself out of sorts and cranky. Because I wasn’t playing WoW. I played some Skyrim. And Minecraft. And Pokemon. But each of them wasn’t enough to distract me from knowing I wasn’t going to be playing WoW that night. I cleaned, organized, and watched some Big Bang Theory.

And then… an episode aired on Big Bang Theory. It was the one where the girls didn’t go to Vegas and instead stayed and played Dungeons and Dragons with the guys.

I like Big Bang Theory, and I have talked about it several times. It does tend to craft it’s gags from stereotypical nerd culture. And I can honestly say, in the 25 YEARS I have played D&D, I have never played with another woman.

The jokes they made through the whole thing were not funny, and more than a little sexist. As I sat there, already hurting because of the loss of something I loved due to sexist bullshit, I wanted to turn it off. But then I had that moment. Where you hear something you don’t really want to hear, but it makes total sense. I could hear this minister from my youth, standing up there advocating that everyone in our church stop watching TV because it wasn’t Christian and Godly. I actually remember laughing out loud, then getting a ton of nasty stares. Even then I thought, There’s no way I would do that. I was a part of the world, and so was Buffy. And even if Buffy wasn’t very Christian, there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to watch it. And I laughed because I remember thinking there was no one at that church who would be willing to give up TV.

I watch Big Bang Theory, and though I can see the reasons people might dislike it, from my lens it doesn’t strike those same chords. Is WoW the same way? It stuck the chord, but how does that look through other people’s lenses? We can love something while still being concerned and critical over the problematic aspects of it. Thank you Anita.

I think the devs made the correct choice, both on hotfixing it out so quickly and on ignoring it otherwise. Why is ignoring it a good idea? Calling it out, even as being fixed, would just draw the slavering masses of horrid sha who follow these things and attack us “Crazy censoring over reacting feminists”. Even more, they *have* made the correct choice on some occasions – female druids, transmogrification to fix the sexy armor issue, etc.

Here’s the center of this problem : the people making this game (and a large chunk of players) do not care about how these things make us feel, because it doesn’t make them feel that way. This is privilege. They don’t care what someone says about a woman on the street, because no one would do that to them. They aren’t boiled down to a number. They aren’t measured purely on their looks.

Blizzard still needs to hire a feminist (preferably a woman) to their writing team. Her job needs to be to review everything before it goes into the game. To champion strong female lore characters. To champion strong female villains, until we approach 50% female characters. Her job is to prevent things like these orcs and the quests that occasionally go to far. Her job would including speaking up and saying, “Hey guys, include a female in the cinematic.” Even better, hire a woman of color and she can do double duty and make sure they aren’t pissing minorities off either!

The answer is not necessarily removing the offending material either. For example, our orc friends – I think it may have even been better to have a quest where the player has to go tell them off. Then put in a random chance – every so often they would attack instead of slinking off. What an eye opener. How interesting that would be. Even allowing me, as an orc player, to kill them would have been nice, fulfilling the power fantasy and all. (Revenge porn – for street harassed women!)

Blizzard needs to fix their problem. But what about me? How do I fix my problem? Do I cut and move on? Do I stay and call them on their shit? I feel like going back now would make me seem weak and unable to stand my ground. But I do also think now, leaving, and taking my voice away, is the wrong choice. They need my voice. They need me bitching as loudly as I can over it. Because I will. Not every woman who is bothered by it will. But I will. I am not afraid of attacks over my feminist sensibilities. I am not afraid of speaking up. My courage has always served me well, and maybe this is the place to apply it.

DAMMIT BLIZZ. YOU HAD ONE JOB.

 

Thanks to Misanthropology for pointing this out.

SERIOUSLY. How do people NOT get this yet?

The whole “She’s a 6.” or “She’s a 10.” is incredibly insulting. You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Even worse, this is a PLAYER that NPCs are critiquing. Take a minute Blizzard Bark Writer who wrote this and consider… you have ~8 MILLION players. about 3M of them are female. How many women in that group have been insulted by men who called her a 4?

I have. It was a COMMON thing at my college (filled with all those lovely Christians learning to be ministers but that didn’t stop them from sleeping with every woman on campus, passing around gonorrhea and generally being jerks) for guys to call women by their number. Mine was 4 apparently.

My roommate was a 4 as well. Except the one semester I lived with another girl who was barely able to pull mediocre grades, in the freshmen level classes, but she spent 2 hours getting ready every morning… She was an 8. (Her nose was “unacceptably large” – ie it was FINE, but not pug like they wanted.) I was “too fat” at 160 pounds. I was also too “GINGER”. Didn’t matter I had a PERFECT gpa, was active in a dozen clubs, tutored people in subjects I DIDN’T TAKE, and singlehandedly put together TWO yearbooks… Nope, I was a 4, just because I was “fat” and ginger.

Thanks Blizz, you just offended me. You just INSULTED the appearance of the FANTASY character I play. The one place I ALWAYS feel beautiful and amazing… AND NOW I FEEL LIKE SHIT.

I have two accounts. I have *every* piece of WoW clothing from J!nx. I am LITERALLY sitting here in an Alliance hoodie and a Healer shirt. But now I want to go home and change. I want to get my Illuminati hoodie. I want to cancel my accounts.

All because some douche on your team is too stupid to understand THIS IS NOT OKAY. Being sexually harassed by randoms on the street, NOT OKAY. Where is the evil review overlord who should have looked at this and say, eh, not a great idea.

I would think this was just an isolated incident… EXCEPT… I have had to talk to writers about changing THIS EXACT LINE IN TWO OTHER GAMES. I worked at TWO companies where TWO different male game developers thought this was okay. Even more so, when I said, hey you need to take this out, it’s insulting to women, he said and I quote “Uh no it’s not. It’s being complimentary, so it can’t be insulting.”

YES. YES IT CAN.

The point isn’t the NUMBER. THE POINT IS: You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Also, why is it I can’t attack these guys? I want to spread their blood from Orgrimmar to Uldum for this insult.

As I write this, I am getting angrier about the whole thing. I see the trend. I see the casual sexism that has been smeared across the characters in the game. Tyrande removed from her position of power in favor of Malfurion. Told to hush and she listens. I see Sylvanas called a bitch and virtually absent from the expansion. I see Jania on the path to being a raid boss and constantly belittled by Varian, Thrall, and even now Andiun. I see Tiffin in the refrigerator. I see Aggra demoted from badass Shaman to Thrall’s wife and offspring machine. I see Garona demoted to mother of Med’an and lover of Medivh. I see Moira forced to rule with two male dwarves DESPITE having right of succession. I see Vareesa consumed with her husband’s death and vengence instead of CARING FOR HER TWINS. I see Alexstraza is only known for her role as mother. I see Lorna, strong, but then reduced to an object and bargained over.

You know what I don’t see? A SINGLE WOMAN WHO IS NOT DEFINED BY THE MEN IN THE GAME.

(I literally went through the entire list and found: Ysera, Lady Liadrin, Valeera Sanguinar, Maiev may have some of her own back now that Illidan is dead, Shandris, Lillian Voss to an extent – she is very defined by her father and is “subjugated” by Gandling, maybe Aegwyn, but look at how she is portrayed with her interactions with Aran, Medivh, and Saragas? *yay mystical pregnancy* ugh.)

Anyone else notice ALL the offspring of major lore characters are male? Varian, Moria, Thrall, Rhonin and Vareesa… ALL WE HAVE ARE SONS. Sorry boys… you’ll never get married cause daughters are unwanted.

Even worse, is with the exception of Sylvanas, Tyrande, and Jania, it seems like all of the “growth” of these female characters is completely out of game.

I started looking for strong females who didn’t lose their agency when they fell in love or completely become subservient to the men around them and I had to LOOK. I had to go to Wowpedia and look through the Major Characters list. That’s how I found Lady Liadrin and Shandris, the only two who fully fit the bill of having their own strength, power, and NOT becoming a wife/mother at the complete loss of all their own agency. (Even more terrifying is I started doing the count on Major Male Characters to Major Female ones… At the point I stopped it was 10 to 1 and GETTING WORSE.)

Yay. Thanks Blizzard. How about you hire a WOMAN to help on your writing team? Hell, get Christie Golden if that’s what it takes.

I was uncomfortable with the torture quest. I was WILDLY uncomfortable with Keristrasza’s entire quest line and story. (Really guys? NO ONE thought this wasn’t really something we should do?) But each of these hit as an isolated incident. Each of these passed under my level of “Too Far”. However, over the years I have become more sensitive to women’s portrayals in media and games. So I see it now. I see it and it sickens me.

I love WoW… but really taking a look at it… UGH.

THIS IS WHY WOMEN LEAVE GAMES. THIS IS WHY WOMEN DON’T PLAY GAMES. THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE. THIS IS ONE MAJOR REASON WHY. YOU ARE ACTIVELY ALIENATING WOMEN WHEN YOU DO THIS.

I am one of those insane WoW fans, but I think I might be done. Done with this bullshit until devs can learn to STOP TREATING WOMEN LIKE CRAP.

 

Update #1:

Well, they hotfixed it out. That’s a step.

The inherent problem remains though. Are they going to hotfix out Tyrande Hush? Are they going to hotfix in a proportionate number of major lore characters who are women to the men? Are they going to find someone ANYONE on their team to check their shit BEFORE it goes live to say, hey maybe don’t do this. We haven’t forgotten Ji Firepaw yet. This problem is not solved. It’s just hidden once more.

 

Update #2: More lovely words – http://www.applecidermage.com/2013/09/12/can-we-not-razor-hill/