Women in WoW – Why it’s not about preaching but all about teaching

This is yet another post about women in WoW.

I wasn’t going to write this but then whilst reading the news about the tragic events in California, I found myself being redirected to a number of sites where the venom spewed out against women made me feel sick. I learnt that my worth is entirely dependent on the eggs inside me, that as a white, educated women I’m letting the planet down by not reproducing and that my husband is a weak pathetic man for wanting our marriage to be a partnership of equals. I know these are extreme views and that I’ve seen the same sort of rhetoric from the other side of the spectrum in the shape of one of my tutors at University who when drunk once admitted to thinking we should exterminate men having first harvested their sperm but couple that with Blizzard’s attitudes as vocalized by Rob Pardo and I can’t help feeling we have a huge problem. You can read a transcript of some of the interview with Rob Pardo  here as well as an interesting article on the subject. The whole interview can be listened to here.

 

The Comic defense

I read a lot of comics too as a child/in my early teens. My father has always been fond of routine, in fact sometimes growing up I think he forgot I was his daughter, not one of his men and so every Saturday at 2pm, when my mother and I returned from shopping in which ever town we were currently residing, we would head onto the base for coffee (my parents) and cherry coke (for me, the only day of the week I got a fizzy drink until I was 16). Daddy would buy every newspaper he could lay his hands on and I would get one or two comics. Now because my father struggled to tell the difference between a 10 year old girl and a 20 year old squaddie with tattoos and a crew cut, he would pay for what ever comics I put on the counter and my tastes quickly changed from the likes of Mandy to 2000AD, the Eagle and Wildcat. I fell in love with Judge Anderson,  Tyranny Rex and Halo Jones because they gave me hope, I could be a master criminal, a soldier or whatever I wanted to be. Yes, they all have sexualised bodies but then so do the men in these comics. For every women in a skintight jumpsuit, there is a man with his top off showing his six pack to the world but the important bit, at least to me was the characters themselves. Women who are respected in their fields, women who are capable, competent, powerful and treated as equals. If reading comics taught the Blizzard staff to draw women as sexy and sexualised then it should have also taught them to write women as more than just helpmates, mothers and stereotypes or are we just meant to assume they just looked at the pictures?

It’s also a self fulfilling  problem, Rob and the other Blizzard designers use the comics they grew up with as a defense for not trying to portray women as anything other than mothers and wives in skimpy clothing which then leads the next generation of developers to grow up playing WoW and say “oh we grew up playing WoW.. this is how we see women”.

 

It’s all women’s fault

But it’s a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. “

I read English Literature at University and in my final year, one of my tutors came into class and handed around a sheet of paper covered in paragraphs from various books. None of them were labelled and most of them were fairly obscure missing out character names. Our task was to try and determine from around 100 words whether each one was written by a man or a woman. Naturally we assumed that we would be able to tell the difference but apart from the ones we could identify because we recognised the text, we failed miserably resorting to guessing. In order to create interesting female characters you do not need a vagina, literature teaches us this over and over again. Shakespeare created a diverse range of female characters, from the villains, to the strong sensible women who saved the day to the simpering milkmaid types. Brecht’s Mother Courage got a German feminist newspaper named after her for a spell and Dickens wrote some fabulous female characters. I particularly loved the calculated cruelty of Miss Havisham and the sheer wickedness of Madame Defarge. Yes, you could argue that both of these are simply portrayals of Mother Nature at her most capricious but you can’t deny their fascination. I could go on with more modern examples but I feel if men could manage it when women didn’t have the vote, then there is no excuse now.

I suppose what angers me is that I feel it’s a gross simplification to assume you can’t write strong female characters because you aren’t female. The ability to make decisions, to be driven by something other than hormones, to be capable and competent, these are not the preserve of men only. Women are not just emotions on legs, we are as diverse as the characters we are asking for. I played with action men just as much as I played with barbie dolls, I had toy guns and toy rolling pins, I loved sharks and dinosaurs more than fluffy toys.

If setting out to make a character female and strong is too hard, then write a strong character you are happy with and make it female. The characteristics of a leader don’t change whether it’s a man or a woman, the only real difference is the physical body. If we look at female politicians versus male, the vast majority of what drives them is the same, ambition, ego, arrogance.

 

Missed Opportunities

When I first saw the teaser video for MoP, I thought of Conan Doyle’s the Lost World. That Victorian “boys trip” into the great unknown with epic mustaches and lots of testosterone. Fast forward to now and it seems we’re doing Victorian Literature yet again for Warlords. Now that would be ok (and I use the word loosely) if this was roughly 1900, when women were still effectively property, disenfranchised and not treated too dissimilarly to children. However it’s not, the rest of the world has mostly marched on. We aren’t going back to our Draenor and so if the timeline has changed in some ways, why can’t there have been some seismic changes in terms of female characters. Couldn’t Griselda Blackhand have taken on her father in a coup d’etat  and won. Why does Yrel need a lover who happens to be both dominant and male? Take Onyxia, she started out wonderfully, lurking in Stormwind Keep clearly plotting to overthrow the kingdom and ended up in a cave in a marsh surrounded by eggs….. I think that’s what is frustrating, Blizzard do try, take it so far and then revert to type. Tyrande cleaved to Malfurion and became a Victorian stereotype with an overdose of emotions thrown in to make Varian look good, having previously managed to lead her people absolutely fine. Jaina, Sylvanas, Mankrik’s wife… the list goes on.

 

End Game

In conclusion, I know all creative endeavors are personal. I know having something you slaved over, shedding blood, swear and tears for criticized is painful but ultimately Blizzard have a massive audience and a percentage of this are young. Just as Blizzard learnt from the comics they read as boys, this next generation will learn from WoW. We all want WoW to be fun, after all, gaming is a release from reality. It’s something we do to unwind and to relax. However “fun” and “We’re not trying to bring in serious stuff, or socially relevant stuff, or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that” are not mutually exclusive. In fact I’d argue that managing to write half a dozen female characters that women can identify with shouldn’t be classed as “preaching”, merely good storytelling with one eye on the future generations. Once again we return to Adrienne Rich and her poem “Diving into the Wreck“.

a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Gaming is not the preserve of men, any more than sewing is done only by women and the sooner companies realise this, the better for all of us. Going back to my first paragraph, when you have men out there who for whatever reason refuse to see women as anything more than their bodies, having these ideas reinforced by mainstream gaming companies like Blizzard is dangerous. We’re not asking for real world parallels to be drawn, just for Blizzard to accept that their excuses are not good enough and to try and improve their track record when it comes to anything which isn’t male, heterosexual and macho.

I don’t need to see Emmelina Pankhurst, Gnome inventor and Suffragnome chaining herself to railings in Ironforge although to be fair that would be pretty awesome.

Cross Faction Conversations

Warning: Bad Language ahead.

The other night I was minding my own business popping on and off different characters when I noticed I had a pending battle net friend request.

WoWScrnShot_012014_231856

Now previous to logging my latest lowbie Druid I had helped Mr Harpy once in a 2 v 2 against a Mage and Death Knight, both of whom out geared his little Fire Mage and both of whom were in Dun Morogh. I then logged onto another character to continue faffing around with my alt collection.

My issue with this is as follows. Blizzard doesn’t allow us to speak the same languages in an attempt to cut angry communications between the factions and yet this rather upset player just had to click on my character to whisper me this  abusive message. I know I’m especially sensitive at the moment as my depression is staging a rather determined coup d’etat but why should I have to read the rantings of a complete stranger who apparently wished to engage in world pvp and than decided that they didn’t without them having to go through the hassle of making a lv 1 character on my server, logging in, escaping the start video, putting me on ignore to stop any return comments I may wish to make and then typing out an essay on why I suck. Now I know that plenty of pvp heroes do exactly that as illustrated by exhibit A below:

WoWScrnShot_012514_194742

This charming missive was sent to Mr Harpy by a Lv 90 Deathknight who he encountered killing level 12s in Westfall but why make it easier for everyone to throw their toys out of the pram.

I would much rather that you could indicate that you wished to become “friends” with someone and then they had to accept either out of curiosity or because they knew who you were before chatting was allowed. I’m sure there are lots of friendly messages passed back and forwards this way but it only takes a few people spewing hatred (this is one of the “nicer”messages the two of us have received) to ruin what was meant to be fun pvp and your night playing WoW.

Failing that, let us learn other languages properly. I would imagine a proper epic quest chain with lots of random wandering around Azeroth, collecting of weird ingredients, single person scenarios and much reading of dusty tomes (probably the sort which spawn angry ghosts) before you mysteriously understood what the other faction was saying.

Some Minor Glyphs are more Equal than others

I’ve had a hate hate relationship with minor glyphs ever since the start of MoP. Playing a Holy Priest didn’t exactly leave me with much choice outside the cosmetic and whilst I’ve nothing against cosmetic, when other classes have something useful to fill their slots it’s a little frustrating.

Sure things like being able to sprint over water and fall great distances safely are essentially niches but they take an existing useful spell and add something to it, making it more useful in certain situations with no negatives at all. Perhaps it’s easier for classes like the Rogue who despite having three specs has only one role but Priests have definitely suffered when it comes to fun minor glyphs which give you an edge over the cosmetic ones.

Confession is amusing for about 10 seconds, although if you could edit the confessions to suit the people you cast it on, it could have far more potential (although I can see why Blizzard would never ever allow this). I do like turning into a Val’kyr  but wish it altered the spell somewhat, perhaps you stay “alive” for three quarters of the time the normal Spirit remains for but it allows you to cast smite too. Not having to die to get any use of the glyph would be even better though. There are 10 Priest minor glyphs, four of these are Shadow specific, 1 Disc and 1 Holy. Of the four non spec specific spells, 3 are straight up turn this spell effect into that one and the final one is confessions.

Which brings me to the Monk. Here we see a variety of minor glyphs, ones which completely alter spells giving you variety and extra options. Take the Windwalker glyph Blackout Kick:

Use: Permanently teaches you this glyph.

Your Blackout Kick always deals 20% additional damage over 4 sec regardless of positioning but you’re unable to trigger the healing effect.

For situations where you don’t need to heal yourself, this is a great glyph. I admit my Monk currently rocks the completely cosmetic glyph of Crackling Tiger Lightning but my other 2 slots are filled with mostly practical glyphs and besides pretending I’m a Sith Monk is useful, honest. I fell in love with the glyph of Zen Flight the second I tried it out. Okay it’s not as fast as my mounts but you can cast it whilst falling, always handy especially when you’ve used crackling lightning to punt a mob off a cliff and had a slight accident whilst trying to loot it. You can cast your proper mount whilst smugly sitting on your cloud having not fallen to your death. You can mine on it four foot off the ground as well as complete pesky pick up quests under the noses of aggressive mobs. You can pose on it and chill out on it and perhaps most importantly you don’t need to die to use it.

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In many regards I wish Blizzard would return to the three type model for glyphs. Major spell altering ones, which always do something nice to your abilities, lesser ones which like the Blackout Kick above offer you a situational choice and finally the minor glyphs, always cosmetic and always fun. At the moment it feels like discussing minor glyphs is comparing apples with oranges which is wrong because it should be apples with apples and the Priest ones shouldn’t be windfall, mushy and filled with maggots when compared to other classes with their shiny pink ladys and golden delicious.

Kismet: Luck or Fate

This is a post which was originally going to be a bit of a rant, however much to my surprise, it’s turned out as the opposite. Whether that’s due to luck or fate, you can be the judge.

I recently realised that all my comments on other WordPress blogs were disappearing straight into the spam filters and didn’t take long to figure out the culprit…. Akismet. Experimentation suggested it wasn’t my email address causing the problem but my Blog because if I tried posting with just a name and email address, things worked fine. This was further supported by the fact that google short links would work for around around 12 hours before they too hit the spam folders.

I flicked around on the web and found story after story of woe. In fact after reading my 15th or so negative report, I was actually considering renaming my blog as clearly harpies are frowned upon. However Mr Harpy (the sole voice of reason most of the time in our house) suggested emailing them to explain the issue and so, grudgingly we did. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting a reply and this was definitely supported by the number of people posting about Akismet and the nigh impossibility of getting yourself unbanned.

Which brings me to today, in between people telling me “oh I found a comment of yours sitting in my spam folder”, I got an email from a nice gentleman called Mark.

Hi,
Sorry for that – I believe it is fixed for you now.


Mark  

A spot of random testing later and yes, it seems that it has been fixed and fairly quickly too as it took them less than 48 hours from the issue being raised for them to get in touch to say it was sorted.

So it’s time for Happy Sprout to make an appearance and yes, I’m ever so slightly addicted to this Chibi-maker.

happysprout

Dog eat Dog: or why I’d rather save the Vermling and feed the player base to the Sha

I’ve always been a firm believer in the WoW community, that regardless of the depths some players sink to, that they are the minority but now after levelling and starting the daily grind, I’m starting to wonder.

The sheer number of players who are so focused on achieving their own objectives that they’re happy to step on other people amazes me. You pull mobs next to something you need to pick up and next thing you know four other people are trying to nab it whilst you beat up it’s guardians. Spectral guise has turned out to be priceless in buying enough time to grab pickled vegetables or loot some artefact. I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me but I never go for anything that someone else is fighting next to on the principle that they wouldn’t be fighting some trash mob if they didn’t want whatever it was. I’ve noticed as well people with mobs on them running straight for the nearest player aoeing in the hope that they can shake off a few without having to kill them. It doesn’t matter if the guy aoeing happens to be struggling against his own mobs and might die because helping out would slow them down.

Best of all are those who come running up to something you’re already looting and then turn around and /spit on you because you “ninja’d” THEIR item. Had a couple of hilarious conversations with irate questers who seemed to think that just because they’d set their sights on looting a specific item everyone else who was closer to said item should have read their minds and walked away. When me, Mr Harpy and the Godmother were running some Alterac Valleys for achievements and fun, we encountered perhaps the most amusing example of this to date. So there was Mr Harpy, tagging Snowfall for his graveyard achievement, the last thing standing between him and Master of Alterac Valley when this Gnome Priest uses leap of faith to pull him away and promptly starts tagging itself. Of course I arriving at this point, promptly pull the Priest away in turn who then starts this massive rant in both whispers and chat about how unfair this is. Regardless of how we worded it, he didn’t seem to grasp that I’d basically done the exact same thing that he had, only my timing was ever so slightly better. Had he arrived first and been tagging, I wouldn’t have touched him because it’s the wrong thing to do unless they do it first of course because greedy people don’t deserve to profit from their badness.

I do wonder, especially now most people have hit 90 and are doing the dailies whether Blizzard should have adapted the archaeology model into working with quest items too. So that instead of 1 jar of pickled vegetables spawning and being contested by the fifteen or so people within ten yards of it, jars would spawn and would only be visible by you and your party members. This would make people slightly less aggressive in their looting tactics and perhaps speed up the dailies, which right now could really do with a speed up. I know doing them all is optional and on paper it’s easy to say only do x, y and z today but once you start getting close to certain rewards, it’s not that simple. Factor in pressure from raid guilds and arena teams and the situation gets worse.

 

 

The Destruction of Theramore: How I would have designed it.

I know I and quite a few others have been pretty critical of the Theramore event so I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and describe how I would played out the destruction had I been in charge of the design team. On the plus side it would have been epic but on the negative, MoP might have had half the budget but omelette/broken eggs and all that.

There will be some spoilers for the Tides of War so if you haven’t read the book feel free to look away now.

An event as momentous as the destruction of Theramore should be available to more than just those players at the level cap, therefore I would have made the first stages available to everyone of a level high enough to play in Dustwallow Marsh. Hitting level 35 especially after the changes they made to the level sizes would be easily within reach of everyone. The final “world event” bits would be available to everyone regardless of level.

So in the Beginning (Phase 1): This would have started around five weeks before the expansion start date.

Horde: Start with a spot of bullying in Orgrimmar helping Malkorok  (if you haven’t read the book lets just say he’s a really nasty Orc) weed out some of the more “misguided” of it’s citizens. After all, Garrosh needs to know he can trust you and what better way of discovering if you’re made of the right stuff by sending you out to do his dirty work. Once Garrosh felt you were loyal to the cause, you would be despatched to Dalaran to pass on a secret message to certain Bloodelf.

Alliance: Theramore is in danger and the heroes of the Alliance are once again called to Stormwind. Despite being battle hardened, you know little about spycraft and spend a few hours learning from the master himself, Mattias Shaw. From sneaking around the Palace learning a few dubious facts about Harrison Jones (I always knew he was a bad man!) to weeding out a Horde spy in the basement of the Blue Recluse you have to prove your mettle to the best S1: 7 has to offer.

Rewards:

Horde – Mind-forg’d Manacles (five hour cooldown, not usable in combat): A vanity item equipped in the bracer slot which allows the wearer to disappear in a cloud of smoke a la vanish. A must for all good spies and anyone fancying a career in the circus. Unfortunately where you reappear can’t always be relied on, 98.3 percent of the time it’s twenty yards away, other times it might be on a different continent. Wearer beware and all that.

Alliance – Binded Briars (five hour cooldown, not usable in combat): Basically the same as the Horde version only with a more flowery name.

Phase 2: Around three weeks before the expansion start date.

Would have seen both sides head towards Dustwallow Marsh. The Alliance to Theramore itself and the Horde to  a zeppelin parked in the hills between the Barrens and Theramore. This phase would involve a daily style hub, one for each faction with a range of quests involving both subtle spying and actual skirmishes. Everything from aerial missions to try and discover what the opposing faction are actually up to, a spot of deep sea diving to plant mines/defuse them depending on your faction and collecting ingredients to weave magic spells to either weaken or strengthen the city walls. If you were Alliance that might involve going out alongside Shandris Feathermoon or General Marcus Jonathan or as Horde you might find yourself standing next to Baine in the battle lines.

In general though, there would be an increase in troop movements with the Alliance and Horde armies amassing ready for battle. In the cities, even those of the Eastern Kingdoms there would have a been a larger martial presence than normal too as both factions geared up for full out war.

Phase 3: A week before the expansion start date.

For the Alliance the actual explosion would come as the end of a daily. Players would complete the quest as normal but at the end would be shown a cut scene of the zeppelin flying over Theramore, Kalecgos trying to fight it off and then the huge purple glow as what was once a thriving city became nothing but a few burnt out buildings and a massive flickering crater.

At this point the Scenario would become available for characters in their 85th season.

On the Horde side, things would be slightly different. On the completion of your daily if you were 85, you would be offered the chance to queue for the Scenario and when that was over, you’d see the same cut scene as the Alliance. Players lower than 85 would just see the cutscene, the same as the Alliance.

Scenario: Basically as is currently is, rewarding the mini mana bomb and the tabard respectively.

Phase 4: The aftermath. Starting one day after the Scenario became available.

This would be a bit of a world event. It and it’s rewards would be available to everyone regardless of level and regardless of whether or not they’d completed the scenario. So for example lev 1s could take part and get involved.

In Orgrimmar the Horde would be celebrating the destruction of Theramore with victory marches, fireworks and speeches. Tables laden with food, roasted clefthoof imported from Outland and other expensive and delicious foods transported from the far reaches of Azeroth. Baine and Vol’jin would be noticeably absent. Just like with the Wickerman festival, things would kick off with a speech from Garrosh every night at 7.00pm server time. During the day, drunken celebrating soldiers would be sprawled around their benches sleeping off the excesses of the night before or talking up their part in the war effort.

In Stormwind the civilian population of Theramore (at least those who were safely evacuated) would be set up in a small refugee camp within the city walls. A new statue would be erected in the graveyard to give remembrance to those that died bravely defending their home. Instead of a victory march, there would be a vigil in the cemetery with candles and speeches from Jaina and Varian, remembering the dead and spurring on the living into seeking justice for their friends and loved ones. Again, things would begin at 7.00 pm only this time the event would start with the refugees moving slowly from their camp to the graveyard, in single file with their candles in hand.

Once players had witnessed these events, they would receive a “reward package” containing various vanity items.

Rewards:

Alliance:

  • A wand which is usable by everyone which conjures the smokey golden image of little giggling Gnome girl. At night if you’re by any street lamps which aren’t currently lit, as she floats past, they would automatically light. A permanent version of the one mentioned in the book which made me cry so much.
  • A trinket which allows you to summon a blue haired Nightelf warrior to fight alongside you for five minutes.

Horde:

  • A wand which summons the image of a blackrock Orc, despite him only being there as a shadow any NPC Horde characters in the vicinity will immediately start talking about their allegiance to Garrosh and how he’s ten times the Warchief that Thrall was.
  • A trinket which allows you to summon a Bloodelf Mage in a Sunreaver outfit to fight alongside you for five minutes.

When all four fade into nothingness, the last thing they would say is “Remember Theramore”.

Basically I’d want the scenario to feel like a chapter from the story rather than just a random event dropped into the game. I also think that the game world working more closely with the book would have the added and extra benefit of then making people who perhaps wouldn’t normally buy tie in books decide that yes, they would like to read the whole story to help put things completely into context.

How would you have done it?

Random Battlegrounds: Blizzard’s own Stanford Experiment

Today I want to talk of many things, primarily the three Gs of PvP, gear, graveyard camping and griefing with a slight focus on community. The PvP community understandably gets a bad press a lot of the time and I want to look at why and perhaps more importantly what we can do about it.

First up,

Graveyard camping. Now Cynwise has started a great series about the maths and logic behind graveyard camping (WSG and AB) which you should definitely go and read if you haven’t already. Now in the games I play, I see three separate but common reasons for graveyard camping occur over and over again.

1. 40 man premades in AV/IoC which are designed purely for this purpose. The idea is to trap as many of the opposing team in one location and farm the reinforcements down that way. They let the other team take the mines as well as any other nodes to keep the reinforcements as high as possible and then set about farming their way to the Bloodthirsty title. Whilst these are beatable,

for the average random team there is nothing they can do but choose not to res, afk or get farmed for fifteen to twenty minutes.

2. The second type occurs primarily in the 10 or 15 mans, when one team is vastly stronger than the other. The first clash goes very one sided very fast and then the bulk of the winning team scenting blood flood towards the graveyard. Keeping them penned in or dead helps you win faster because that way they are demoralised, trapped and not beating up your flag carrier or running/destroying vehicles in SotA.

3. The third type like the first occurs primarily in the 40 mans. Perhaps the other team are doing a far better job of defending than you and so the only the way you can win is by pouring back into your own base, wiping them on the boss and then camping them at the graveyard.

Now I don’t particularly like graveyard camping in which the flag carrier sits in the camping pack nor the premades set up purely for that purpose but in general I’m fine with the concept. If the discrepancy between teams is so great that you’re being camped at your spawn point, then it’s likely you’re going to lose regardless. The opposing team showing pity and moving back thirty yards so you can try and scatter, having buffed up is not going to make much of a difference. In fact from my perspective it’s worse, I don’t want to be zerged by five well geared melee who pitied me first, I’d rather they just squished me like a bug underfoot without first pretending to offer me a chance when we all know the reality is that the only option is die or stop ressing.

I’m sure if you ask many people, graveyard camping would come under the heading of griefing but in PvP, that’s such a massive and inclusive category. I suspect if you asked fifty people for their opinions, you’d get a huge list of things, sure they would have commonalities like cheating and botting but griefing is in the eye of the beholder. For example I class people who saunter in into lev 85 wearing gear that’s two expansions out of date or do less dps than (I am a Disc Priest remember) to be griefing me and I’m sure the DK called “Your Mother” when you translated his name out of their native language felt griefed when I took out my Mummy issues by throwing him off the LM repeatedly whilst giggling at him. The same goes for the guy who hit 85 yesterday and is on the receiving end of a rant from some one in arena gear who is sick of losing. However when you delve a little deeper, the root of the vast majority of issues seems to be a common one. Frustration, anger at losing, tired of playing with randoms when the other side are premading, sick of having no healers when they have three. Rather than accepting that life isn’t unfair, some resort to cheating or botting and others yell, swear and name call.

In many regards, it’s as if Blizzard are setting us up to fail. Random battlegrounds are not just a stepping stone for many, they are something people with gear do for fun and there in lies the rub. I played six games last night, five of those were lost and won by gear and bots (the sixth was AV). When five of your team die to one Ret Paladin in the time it takes to levitate from the Lumber Mill to the Blacksmith, it causes issues. The same for the SotA in which we ended up camping the graveyard because it saved us having to chase vehicles. I wasn’t healing, I didn’t need to, I was staring at my screen pretending I was a proper dpser as these people with no resilience repeatedly splatted. Before the game even started, the result was clear. It didn’t matter how well I played in either of those games, my part didn’t matter and that is annoying. We won half but apart from the AV one side or the other ended up graveyard camping because the overall item level cap was just too big.

At the moment, random battlegrounds are the Azerothian equivalent of the Stanford Prison Experiment staring the geared as the Prison guards, the bullies and the aggressors and those without as the Prisoners. Even with the patience of a saint, it’s hard to keep your tongue when for the fifth or sixth time in a row you end up with people who haven’t gemmed, enchanted or bought any PvP gear at all. Who flop over dead the second someone glares at them and then blame you for not keeping them alive even though according to the combat log that Mage did 120k damage to them in 2 spell rotates. In that AB I referenced earlier, just like Prisoners in that experiment, they turned  on each other in an attempt to prove to the “guards” that they, unlike the others had value. Under pressure, the community devolves at a frightening rate earning us a horrible hateful reputation. In many cases, they don’t even have to be losing to attack others, even a slight setback can cause an outburst. The current battleground system with it’s random teams, premades and gear differences is set up to turn people against each other.

Now I normally try and play the peacekeeper, amongst my own team at any rate. I’m sure the Horde who see a pint sized green haired thing charging at them would find that hard to believe but having done my own fair share of bullying as a bitchy teenager, I grew up into a woman who full well understands the harm that words thrown out so casually can wreck on those they’re aimed at.  Last night however, I found myself close to breaking point. Words of contempt bubbling up like bile in my mouth, I wanted to tell them why we were losing, that no it wasn’t because the Alliance sucked, no it wasn’t because we were facing a German team, it was because we were infested by bots, lazy players and idiots. People who seemed incapable of taking responsibility for themselves, who were too mean to buy gems, enchants and the basic blue pvp set. Who would rather cheat or bot because it’s easier than spending your own time but who find it acceptable to waste the time of others. I ended that game, not only annoyed with them but mad at myself because I’d come close to slipping, to losing my temper.

Now I’m not laying the blame for the toxic community solely on Blizzard’s shoulders but there are a few quick fixes which  go a long way to removing some of the ignition points.

  • Come down on the botters and the cheaters like a ton of bricks. Ban their accounts permanently or at least remove all the honour/conquest points they’ve accrued plus the gear they’ve spent it on.  The punishment for this has to be something which makes doing these things pointless.
  • Improve the matchmaking system so that premades meet premades rather than randoms. I.e. if I queue as part of a 5 man premade, I’ll be matched against a team compromising another premade.
  • Ban the AV preformer, scripts shouldn’t be able to access the battleground queuing system. Not only would you stop teams coming together with Real ID specifically to farm randoms but this would also cut off  one avenue for the bots to exploit.
  • From the second arena season of an expansion onwards, divide the end-game random battlegrounds into two dynamic brackets based on gear. That way you have the first bracket where 100k health meets 100k and a second one where gear beats up gear.

It’s rare in winning games or even closely fought games for one team to turn on each other and this little list would help make all games that little bit more even. Of course we’d still have to deal with bad language, lev 1 whispers from the opposing faction and emotes but it would definitely be a step in the right direction to ironing out some of the issues.

As for what we can do, well next time you hit the level cap on a character please put a bit of effort into a character before setting foot in a battleground. For the rest of us, yes it’s frustrating but it’s hard to fight properly when you’re spamming chat with expletives. At the end of the day, we reap what we sow and one way or another, we’re all in this together. You might not say a word in battleground chat but that still makes you apart of the problem, just as you’re a part of the issue if you turn up naked or sit afk in a corner for the entire duration. Take advantage of that Stanford herd mentality, call the bullies and the bots and cheaters out and more often that not, the majority will support you.

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