Goodbye WoW, hello disappointment

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.

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7 Responses to Goodbye WoW, hello disappointment

  1. Chris says:

    i’m a guy gamer and i agree with your comments. i know a few girls in WoW and they take some serious shit from immature 12 year olds. All the assholes are either geeks or kids who havent even grown hair. WoW was sort of a dissapointment, not with gameplay but also because of cheaters and deuche bags who find random reasons to make things hard on people. blizzard charges 15 fucking dollars a month so they should at least make the experience fun for everybody and boot out cheaters, sexists, hackers, and people who ruin the fun for everybody.

  2. tekanji says:

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one out there who was turned off by WoW’s lack of interest in obtaining and maintaining a friendly community. Now that you mention the price, it seems that WoW is one of the more expensive MMOs I can think of (I’m pretty sure FFXI was 10 bucks, and I think Puzzle Pirates was in that range too), which I think puts even more onus on them to at least make a token effort to uphold their own “code of conduct”.

    Also, your comment about “geeks” is interesting; being a part of both the gaming and the geek culture (they overlap, not surprisingly) I’ve found that the “boy’s club” mentality is pretty similar. Many of the male hardcore geeks I’ve known had a hard time looking at women as people, although I’m not sure how much of that was the culture perpetuating itself rather than a severe lack of social skills. Saying this, I’d like to point out that most of my friends (male and female) are geeks like me so obviously we aren’t a one trick breed. But, then, most of my friends are gamers, too, so the same holds true there. ^^;

  3. Qit el-Remel says:

    Did you try using the “report harassment” function? It’s there. The moderators can’t watch everyone all the time; but I know from experience that if you *report* the harassment, they take it very seriously.

  4. Pingback: Official Shrub.com Blog » Blog Archive » World of Warcraft: Sexist by Design?

  5. tekanji says:

    Qit el-Remel said:

    Did you, by any chance, try reporting the harassment? As I have stated earlier, it’s been my experience that they do take such reports seriously. (Especially if you quote the entire offending text in your GM ticket.)

    And what would they have done if I had? For the invasive tells, they would have said to use the /ignore function (which I already did; it doesn’t really do much when the /tells come from different people every time). For the crap over the general chat channel, assuming I wasn’t told that it was none of my business they would be more likely to tell me to turn off my chat channels (which is what I eventually had to do). And for the in-guild stuff, I felt that it was a guild matter that should be handled internally.

    Was I wrong? Maybe. But the lack of proper moderation on the forums informed my decision in part. If Blizzard doesn’t bother to uphold its clearly stated guidelines on its own forums, why would I expect in-game GM’s to do so?

    My mom did report harassment once. The GM said that he would deal with it, but refused to tell her what kind of action was/would be taken. On a whim, my mother put the harasser on her friends list for the week to see if his account got suspended or something. Since he didn’t log off after she informed the GM and he logged on the next day, it doesn’t look as if the harassing player was dealt with very seriously.

  6. Smiley says:

    I realize this is a little late, and you may not even be interested. However, I would like to let you know what DOES happen when harassment is reported.

    When a harassing player is reported, immediately a GM contacts that player. The player is informed that they will be recieving an email shortly, detailing the situation. The GM then gives them their warning. At this time, the GM returns to his other duties, but a black mark is put on the account of the acused player. Full details are recorded from the conversation, saved on file, and used as referance materiel in the event of future situations.

    Now, this is to protect the acused player as well. They only end up fishing out a few posts when dealing with harassment, and many players get goaded into saying things. I, myself, have been acused of in-game harassment when I used some unkind language to tell another player to grow up and stop acting like a twit. Was I breaking the Code of Conduct? Yes. However, if I’d had by account suspended for a week because I stood up for my friend, whom had just been repeatedly bashed by the player that reported me, I would likely have left WoW myself.

    At any rate, going back to the procedures. When a player gains multiple complaints about unwelcome tells, inflamatory/rude/offensive remarks, and anything else that breaks the Code of Conduct, it is compared against previous violations. If the last offense was a very long time prior, chances are they will get a warning. They might get as much as a days suspension. If the last offense was relatively recent (within a month or so), then they start taking a little more notice. If the offense is along the same general lines as the last complaint, they take it a little further.

    In the case of a similar/nearly identical situation, he player will be informed that they had been warned once, and would be dealt with. At this point, the player is disconnected and banned for a week.

    In the case of a vaguely similar/different type of situation, the duration of the banning will varry dependant on the severity of the circumstances.

    Along with the reason for the banning, the player will recieve instruction to brush up on the Code of Conduct again, and keep it in mind for when they return to Azeroth. Now, if they get ANOTHER complaint against the same player, and at this point they don’t care how long it’s been since the last offense, you will be looking at either an extended banning (sometimes with requirements like an apology letter for the player they insulted which needs to be accepted by the offended player), to complete disconnect from WoW for good. Their email, credit card number, username and password become immediately locked, and can never be used again. If the case is severe enough, the player may also face criminal charges for harassment, possibly stalking if the victim is the same person each time, and could be fined a fairly sizable chunk of change.

    Blizzard does take their Code of Conduct seriously. However, they have to protect everyone involved. In the incident where I was the accused individual, I was standing up for another players rights, my temper got out of hand, and I used improper language before promptly booting the player from the group. He proceeded to whisper me, which I responded to with similar harsh language, and he reported me for assaulting him in whisper messages. This sort of thing happens alot. But if you don’t file complaints, then you are just as much to blame.

    YOU have to take action, otherwise nothing will get done. Do you honestly think that GM’s have the time to sit in general chat in various areas of the realm they monitor (if they are lucky enough to only have a single realm they monitor) and watch for people breaking the codes? They get messages nearly constantly, from one person or another having an issue with their quest, or such and such a mob, and harassment complaints from other people. They don’t have the TIME to watch what is being typed in every whisper, every general message, every guild conversation, every party chat. You know how boggling it can be to keep up with 25+ people having a conversation. You look away for a second, and you just missed 10 lines of text. If you don’t tell them, they don’t know. If they don’t know, they can’t do anything about it. If they can’t do anything about it, then you end up leaving the game for reasons that COULD have been dealt with. It’s not different people every time. It never is. There may be 2 or 3 dozen people, but that’s it. If everyone reported them whenever they acted out, they’d be gone quickly, dealt with harshly, and Blizz can keep making money. So now, they lost you, who seem to be a conscientious, polite, intelligent and worthwhile person, and instead kept one jerk-off who is likely making other people feel just as helpless.

  7. Dan says:

    I know this is late, but I had to say something.

    I’m sorry, but Smiley is full of it regarding turnaround time for complaints. GMs do not “immediately” respond to complaints. It’s hours, often days later. And it’s been that way since this post was made. In fact it’s been that way since before the first expansion, because I have been reporting people for this kind of crap since that time.

    Further, no, it is NOT girls’ responsibility to report this. Blizzard created this boys’ club environment with their sexist advertising, writing, and design. I was crushed when, after enjoying the strong female night elf voices in WC3, I got to see those voices attached to jiggly, vapid morons. The mismatch is bordering on cognitive dissonance, but the player base doesn’t care because these are the exact kind of assholes who are so blinded by their own privilege that they instantly assume anyone who complains about ANYTHING must be wrong. After all, if Joe Average isn’t being inconvenienced, then that must mean nothing’s wrong, right? Bollocks to that!

    Blizzard needs to get off their butts and do the legwork to make their games a place where more women WANT to be, not where they’re expected to a) stand in the back and heal, and b) spend their “fun” gaming time typing out reports of all the hateful bullshit guys throw at them. Blizzard made this space, and it’s up to THEM to make it right by changing the culture of their game. But I suspect that will never happen.

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