I cancelled my World of Warcraft account today. Truth is, I haven’t played the account since June. Mind, I got my account in May, so I logged maybe one month of play time. This is in comparison to FFXI, which chained me to my computer 12 hours a day for three months, and Puzzle Pirates, which lasted even into school time for a whopping 8 month addiction.
Was WoW just that bad of a game? Is Blizzard capable of screwing up that badly? Well, yes and no. In the “Why are you leaving?” comment (Blizzard asks, but does it read?), I explained some of my feelings:
There’s just too much unaddressed harassment in-game & on the forums. As much as I enjoy playing, it got too uncomfortable to continue. As a woman and an avid gamer, I feel that Blizzard doesn’t fulfill its own harrassment policy. Also, the hyper-sexualized female characters are a problem. Even my guy pals think it’s over the top. Blizzard already has a strong male following; it has nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the game more attractive to women and minorities.
Being that concise pained me, I assure you, but the character limit was unforgiving. I also apologize for the “guy pals” line, but it’s less characters than “guy friends”.
Now, anyone who knows computer games knows that Blizzard makes a damn good game. I’ve been a fan of theirs since Warcraft II. I own both Diablos and Warcraft III (but not the expansion). I used to play Tower Defense maps all the time before WC3 lost my interest. In terms of gameplay, WoW is one of Blizzard’s best games and it far outstripped FFXI in almost every way. So what went wrong?
Well, after listening to yet another moron bitch and moan about “teh eval femenests” (this after him cracking jokes about abusing women, mind), I realized, “This just isn’t fun anymore.” I couldn’t log on and play for more than an hour without something happening. The comments were like Barrens chat, except that I couldn’t switch zones to avoid them: they’re in general chat, in tells, in the emotes, in chat bubbles, and even in my beloved guild (though we had a policy against that). I couldn’t escape the drama or the harassment.
I mean, being on Laughing Skull is pretty much agreeing to put up with idiocy; it’s a popular PvP server. But it was also there on Shadowcouncil, an RP server with a stricter policy. And yet, it was on that very server that I would get tells like “hey sexy” or people trying to give me free stuff because my female dwarf was “hot”.
After I had seriously considered leaving, I logged on and joined my guildmates in the Scarlet Monastery. I was having a blast going through it, and I started feeling like, “I was going to leave behind all this? What was I thinking?” And then some sexist idiot started harassing a female guild member. He was silenced, but the woman had already left the guild. It wasn’t the first time it had hapened to her and she was sick of it. I could relate. I convinced her to come back to the guild, but that was the last time I played. I was sick of it, too.
Has Blizzard changed, or have I?
Well, I can remember being disappointed in WC2 for not having any female units. I can remember being excited when WC3 came out because of the Night Elves, but I was soon disappointed again because of their representation and the fact that the heroes were still overwhelmingly male (even in the Night Elf race). I remember being angry at the gender ratio, or perhaps the class type, of the original Diablo characters. And don’t get me started on the concept art; the busty Night Elf mascot for WoW says it all. Or perhaps her pole dancing does. No, it doesn’t seem that Blizzard has changed its tune. But, perhaps, that is exactly the problem. In all these years it hasn’t changed, at least not in its attitude towards its female players.
And perhaps part of it is that I’ve changed. Games like Beyond Good and Evil and Eternal Darkness have shown me that there are companies that get it. Why waste my money with the same sexist bullshit repackaged over and over again when there’s something better out there? Even FFXI did a better job of keeping the gender representation fair and balanced.
Still, when all is said and done all I’m left with is a bad taste in my mouth. Like I said, I’ve been a Blizzard fan for a long time. “This time,” I thought, “this time will be different. It’s an MMO. Blizzard has to be more fair; I mean, if FF can pull it off, Blizzard should too.” More the fool I. Oh well. As the saying goes: Live, learn, and then go get Guild Wars.