Episode #15 – “Be the Potpourri: Discussing Racism in World of Warcraft”

Episode #15 – “Be the Potpourri: Discussing Racism in World of Warcraft”

Oct 15

Our fifteenth episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider with guests Renee and J from ValentineCast about racism, cultural appropriation and finding supportive, inclusive guilds in World of Warcraft. We also talk about dealing with the community and game when it comes to racial issues.

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Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 15, ”Be the Potpourri: Discussing Racism in World of Warcraft.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Hey everybody!  Welcome back to the show. We’re here this week – we’re actually going to be talking about yet another serious subject – as if we don’t always talk about serious subjects here at the podcast. We’re going to be actually talking about racism, racial issues, and culture appropriation in World of Warcraft. We actually have some very special guests with us this week to talk about this topic, and if you’d like to introduce yourselves and give us a little bit of background about WoW and what you do?

J:  Cool. I’m J and this is my lovely knife – wife-

Renee:  I’m also his knife, by the way.

J:  Renee. Do you want to say hi, Renee?

Renee:  I did. I just called me your knife. That was my way of saying hi. Hi everybody!

J:  Yeah, so Renee and I we do a podcast called Valentine Cast. You can find it at valentinecast.com. It’s a podcast that we do. It’s a couple’s cast where we talk about our life here in Louisville, Kentucky. We talk about media, games, and food, and technology as well. So it’s a podcast we’ve been doing for going on 3 years.

Renee:  Well – 3 years in March. It’ll be 2 and half years. It’s not “going on,” if it’s 6 months away. It’s not “going on.”

J:  Sure it is “going on.”

Renee:  Whatever. See this is the piece of what you’ll get when we do our podcast. This is-

Tzufit:  A sneak preview?

J:  So it’s a little preview of Renee riding me-

Renee:  No, no. I just want you to say things correctly to people so they aren’t misled. What?  I was just-

J:  Ok. So with WoW, I began – we both started WoW in Vanilla.

Renee:  2006.

J:  Yep, in 2006. One of the cool things after Burning Crusade came out, Renee and I met one another while we were over 1000 miles away. Then that led to what now is going on 4 years of marriage.

Renee:  Led to him stalking me and then me finally accepting the stalking. It was great. No, he didn’t stalk me. It was good though.

J:  Just a little bit.

Renee:  Just a little bit.

J:  She was worth pursuing.

Renee:  I mean, honestly, to tell you the truth – it’s like to meet someone else who’s black who plays WoW, you don’t understand what that means. It doesn’t happen. When he mentioned that he went to HBCU, which is an historically black college, I was like, “Oh my god. That’s the same one my dad went to!”  I was like, “You’re black?”  He was like, “You’re black?”  We’re like “What?!”  It was just hilarious.

J:  Yeah. I was like, “You’re black and a girl?”

Renee:  Yeah. That was the thing. Out of all the people that I know who play WoW, I know 1 – no, 2 black females that play WoW, out of all the females I know.

J:  There’s Aprillian.

Oh, 3.

J:  Yep, from Control Alt WoW. There’s Jazzchica.

Renee:  And then Sammypans. And that’s it. Don’t tell me you can name another one. There ain’t another one that I know. Don’t you do it. Don’t you do it. I see you over there thinking. Don’t you do it. Anyway, so we met and we got married. So it worked out. We’re still happy, so it’s good.

Apple Cider Mage:  Aw.

J:  It may not sound like it, but we’re very much happy.

Tzufit:  Oh no, it totally sounds like it.

Apple Cider Mage:  No, it definitely sounds like it. Yeah.

J:  I mean if you really listen real hard, you can just tell I smile the whole time that I’m talking to her.

Renee:  Yeah. I give him crap just because it makes me happy.

Tzufit:  I have to say, a podcast about food, media, and video games?  I mean, you’re speaking my language right there.

Apple Cider Mage:  Seriously. Yeah.

J:  Yeah. It’s more just having a conversation with us.

Renee:  Yeah, it’s definitely not a news podcast. We don’t give you the latest, breaking – we tell you what we think about stuff that we find out that week.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s perfect that you’re on our podcast because we feel exactly the same way.

J:  But thank you for having us on!

Renee:  Yeah, we really appreciate it.

Apple Cider Mage:  We always like to pull in people from the community that have a unique perspective and experience with some of the topics that we talk about so it’s not just us blabbering on for hours on end with no interruption.

J:  Right. I would just say it’s Ok – before we get into this topic – if it was just you two. It’s Ok being Caucasian women that you could go over racial issues. It’s Ok.

Renee:  Yeah. I know some people feel like just because they aren’t men or women of color, they can’t talk about race. That’s not true. So I’m glad you all have approached this topic, and I’m glad you all are having us on to talk about it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well thank you. Yeah, we basically – and this is kind of for the listeners as well – our concerns with broaching social issues a lot of times is that while we could talk about them ourselves and we definitely felt that a racism episode was definitely warranted because we’ve covered other things like homophobia and sexism obviously. We always do like to bring in people from the community who have experienced the sort of thing in addition to maybe our perspectives, things like that, because we definitely want to address things in the community as they happen. Getting people to share our space with us, to let them give their opinions, their feedback, is just as important to us as us sort of formalizing our opinions on that sort of thing and having a really good discussion.

J:  Cool.

Apple Cider Mage:  So we’re going to actually just jump right in and kind of get to the meat of the topic. We’re talking about not only, this week, about racism and racial issues as it occurs in the community, because that is certainly a big deal and like things like homophobia or sexism, can make or break people’s participation in the community; but we also wanted to touch on how players of color can find a supportive environment in game to be a part of that is anti-racism or just in general a good place to be to feel comfortable. Also talking about problematic racial elements, racism, and as we saw from our show notes, J brought up a really good point about things like cultural appropriation. It’s a big deal in World of Warcraft. So we were also going to talk about that this week.

Tzufit:  So to start off, one of the things I know, Renee and J, you both said that you had really been able to do was find a very good, supportive, amazing guild that was a great place for you to be. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about your guild and how you found them.

Renee:  Yeah. Well we both – J had heard – well I’ll let J tell this since he’s the one that brought me into it. Sorry babe. Go on babe.

J:  I was going to fill in what you left out.

Renee:  Well fine. J listened to this podcast called ELR. It was started by Scott Johnson. He’s a podcaster and a comic artist. He actually decided to create a WoW guild for the podcast. At first it was called <We Eat Babies.>

J:  Yeah. <We Eat Babies.>

Renee:  That didn’t last long.

J:  Because you all remember when that was one of the sayings that the trolls-

Renee:  The trolls used to say “We eat babies,” so they called it that. It didn’t stay around long, obviously. So they had to come up with a new name. So they ended up calling it <Alea Iacta Est>. So this is the AIE guild. It started small, but it has quickly become the largest WoW guild. It has, last I heard 8000 members.

J:  There are 10 co-guilds.

Renee:  10 co-guilds and all of them are almost full.

J:  Between 8000-10,000.

Renee:  Yeah. 800-10,000 people in the guild.

Tzufit:  That’s amazing.

Renee:  Yeah. It started off as a WoW guild, of course, and it’s extended to other guilds. There are guilds in Star Wars: The Old Republic. There are guilds in Final Fantasy XIV. There are guilds in Tera, guilds in all the MMO space and multiplayer space, there’s an AIE guild. So you always have friends to go to. I’ve never been – everybody’s so nice there. I’ve never been talked down to. Everybody there has always been nothing but the nicest person and understanding and friendly and supportive. So we’ve been extremely lucky. Extremely.

J:  Right. They went from – like Renee said – it went from a WoW guild to just a whole gaming community. With numbers that large, they have a whole bylaws that we have to follow and things like that. Bylaws – when you say, “Oh man, you’ve got all these rules.”  Well there’s a reason why those rules are in because we all know how if you’re joking with some select few and that select few is 1000 people, it can roll into something – 1.) somebody’s going to get offended, because that can happen. Then 2.) someone’s going to take it wrong. Then 3.) it can just turn into a whole bad thing. So some of those rules and stuff like that as far as keeping it all PC. Pretty much the “don’t be a dick.”

Renee:  Yeah, and no cursing. It was so funny. I didn’t realize it. So have you all heard of Veronica Belmont, I assume?

Apple Cider Mage:  No.

Renee:  Ok. Veronica Belmont is – help me out. Buzz Out Loud?

J:  Buzz Out Loud.

Renee:  She started off with Buzz Out Loud and then she went to Tekzilla?

J:  Revision 3.

Renee:  Revision 3. She does a lot of tech podcasts.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh Ok.

Renee:  Yeah. She’s really big in the tech world. So she actually started AIE with Scott and I think it was Len Peralta. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. He’s a comic artist too.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes, I actually know who that is. Yeah.

Renee:  Yeah. So they all started it and she was actually on the day that I joined. I remember it was Easter when you had to put the ears on all the female characters.

Apple Cider Mage:  Over level 18.

Renee:  Yeah. I come from a more liberal guild. Someone said, “Hey does anybody know where the-”

J:  “Dwarf females are?”

Renee:  “Where the dwarf females are?”  And then I typed out, without skipping a beat, “In my pants!”  And then I got a little finger waggling. No no no. I was like, “Oh wait yeah. Maybe I shouldn’t just say that.”  It was just so – that was when everybody was saying “in my pants.”  It was a long time ago. But it was funny. So yeah, I got a little finger wag at that one. I love telling that. It’s great.

Tzufit:  It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the guild.

Renee:  Yeah, it’s great. It was great. I was like, “Ok. I won’t be saying that again,” because it can be construed a little – yeah. When there are kids playing, 8-10 years old, you just can’t say whatever you want.

Apple Cider Mage:  So there are kids – yeah, I imagine there would be kids in a guild that large.

J:  Right, right.

Renee:  Oh yeah. There are whole families who play together. So yeah, it’s a unique space, one that I’ve never been in before. Everybody’s accepted from someone who’s never played an MMO before to people who are some of the top raiding guilds in WoW, and everybody fits together, so it’s great. They have events. They have a craft fair every 6 months or every quarter and you can go and you can be level 1 in a profession and you can leave there at top level. They take donations.

Apple Cider Mage:  Whoa.

Tzufit:  Wow.

Renee:  And you don’t have to pay anything. You just show up. People donate all year long to the craft fair. They have it in Silvermoon because they have to tell the GMs about it because we can take down the server.

Tzufit:  Oh sure.

Renee:  So many people. If you ever want to get involved in a great space, the AIE people – I’ve never had a problem with them. The officers are great. They spend so much of their own time outside of the game doing stuff for the guild. They do the forums. They do the website. They have something called UMAMI, which you can talk across games to people are in AIE. So there’s the UMAMI website that they take care of. Yeah, it’s just great. I can’t say enough about the guild. I love it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. We’ve actually talked about – just due to some of the other issues that we’ve gone over – we’ve talked about how supportive guild spaces are absolutely crucial to the WoW space, I think, especially if you’re part of any sort of marginalized population in WoW. It’s really crucial to have a place where you can go and just have fun and play the game, because a lot of times the game is not really friendly to you just in random places like LFR. So having so many guildies that you can go and you know that you’re all on the same page, it’s really essential, and it sound like you’ve found a really great place that’s not only numerous but also really just a supportive, friendly atmosphere.

J:  Yeah. I’m sure you’ve heard of the guild Taint, that’s on Proudmoore?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes.

J:  Yeah. Taint and AIE, they kind of came together when they put the guild cap on. We spent a lot of time talking with them, trying to figure out how they did it because they actually did co-guilds. That’s where they got some ideas of using what’s called GreenWall, which allows you to have your guild chat, when you have multiple guilds-

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh, sync it all together?

J:  It syncs it all together and everybody can talk just like there’s 1 guild. The guild Taint, they take care of their folks from the LGBT community and friends. It’s kind of like that. It’s that safe place, like you said. That’s the people who you – pay $15 a month to play a game. You want to enjoy that time.

Renee:  Yeah. Oh man. I remember when we had to split into co-guilds. We had like, I don’t know, 6000 people at that time. Can you imagine the craziness of putting everybody in their own guild?

Tzufit:  That would be so much work, yeah.

Renee:  People created software to where you say the codeword and it automatically puts you in the guild. That’s how much people care in AIE. It was great. You just said the word “fert,” because fert is from – it’s like an inside thing – but “fert” and then it put you in the guild and you didn’t have to do anything. It went so smoothly that everybody was in their own guilds by like the end of a couple days and it was great. Yeah, but being supported – it’s huge. Who wants to play a game where you’re constantly being made fun of, ridiculed, talked down to?  Nobody wants that. Well, maybe some people. Maybe if that’s what they’re in to. But if you’re not into that, you don’t want that.

Tzufit:  Yeah. The last thing you want – I think a lot of people play WoW because it’s a great form of escapism. You have a hard day at work or whatever, you come home, you sit down, and you get to just not think about that for a while because you’re playing WoW and you’re having fun. The last thing you want is something ridiculous taking you out of that.

J:  Right. That’s why I never understood – no offense to any PvP players – I don’t see how ya’ll do it. I just can’t do it. I get in there and if I’m on a PvP server and someone’s ganking me over and over again, I don’t want to just log out, wait an hour, and then come back and I’m good. I’m just like, “No.”

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. With the whole PvP aspect kind of fitting into some of the topics we’re going to be talking about today, for me PvP was always really stressful because people really do not filter what they say at all. Instead of it being competitive, it goes straight from being competitive to demoralizing really quickly.

J:  Right.

Tzufit:  PvP is really just an odd subsection in some ways because you would think that the fact that you’re a team competing against another group of real players who are trying to kill you would make you want to come together as a team and work together, but it just seems like that is not what happens a lot of the time.

J:  Yeah, I think there’s just something about when a competition’s happening and you have folks on your team that you do not know – sometimes even if you do know them. It carries across, not just in PvP battles, but like I said before, in other games as well. Like Xbox Live.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.

Renee:  Yeah, I’m not a big PvP person. I stay away. I don’t like to lose so I think that’s my problem. Plus it’s so funny – I play a rogue. That’s supposed to be the class for PvP. Nope. I don’t want anything to do with it. Stay away.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, being able to carve out your own playstyle is, I think, such a big deal, especially around certain kind of topics like sexism or racism. Having that playtime be largely free of stress in all forms is pretty crucial to you staying with the game for as long as all of us have, which is years and years and years at this point.

J:  Exactly. One of the things that – I’m not going to talk about other games, but one of the things that kept me from playing APB was – I’m not sure if you all knew how bad it was, but the developers, the GMs and stuff like that – you could say whatever and they didn’t care. I’ve seen stories, I’ve seen chat logs of how they treated and-

Renee:  Racial slurs, homophobic slurs. I mean, sex – everything and anything went in APB.

J:  Right, and it got so bad there was an uproar from some of the community folk that said, “I refuse to play this game if the developer does not care.”  These people are throwing slanders and stuff like that. They finally, because of the guilt they felt from all the people and probably losing money, they stopped it.

Apple Cider Mage:  That was the MMO that was like with cops, right?

J:  About 3 years ago. Right. Cops and – and it only lasted like 3 months or something like that. But then it got bought out and someone else – now it’s a pay-to-win type deal.

Apple Cider Mage:  So when it comes to World of Warcraft, having a supportive guild is really a first and the most important step, I think, in wading through the community as well. If your guild has your back on a lot of those issues and they don’t make you feel like a different person or stupid or weird, I think it makes dealing with when that stuff actually happens or comes up in the community, which is pretty frequently, easier I would imagine.

J:  Right.

Renee:  Definitely. It’s definitely good to get it dealt with and put it out there. Some people are scared to approach the topic, but it’s something that’s real and it happens. So it’s really good to deal with that kind of stuff outright.

J:  Right. One of the things in our community, too, there is the joke because I’ve been listening to ELR or Frogpants’ shows for so long because Scott’s out of Utah, that I am the Frogpants “original black fan.”  I would call in and joke with Scott and them. I’d say, “You know I’m the only black guy that listens to your show, right?”

Renee:  Yeah. J’s a little famous.

J:  Right.

Renee:  He won’t tell you that, but at DragonCon he kept getting stopped. “Are you the original black fan?”  It was like I was with somebody famous. I was like “Yeah.”  It’s kind of nice.

J:  The thing is, the reason we do that – Scott is very real about – that’s just the whole thing of his community. He wrote about online relationships, not just boyfriend/girlfriend or boyfriend/boyfriend or whatever, just friends in general about being authentic, being consistent, and being honest and also just being open. That’s putting the things that I appreciate with our community. We can talk about stuff and I can sit down and talk with Scott, call-in, and we can talk about race, just kind of like what we’re doing here, and no one’s going to get offended. Really just talk about it and just say, “Here’s the things that are wrong.”  I can be called the “original black fan” and everything will be Ok.

Renee:  Yeah.

J:  Talk about those topics that people may think is taboo. Scott’s also said that he wished he had a friend that was black, a dwarf-

Renee:  Gay.

J:  -and gay.

Renee:  This is his thing. He was like, “They would be the coolest friend ever!”  Scott is – if you all don’t know Scott, Scott is like one of the best people that I know. He’s so honest and pure. One thing about racism – I’ll tell you the worst thing you can do about race is to act like it doesn’t exist.

J:  Right.

Renee:  Guess what?  We’re different. It’s Ok. Culture’s going to be different. When people start saying that that culture – you’re putting them in a box because of that race, that’s different. But there are cultural differences sometimes, for the most part, and they’re there for a reason. It’s Ok to talk about them. Now when you treat somebody differently because of their race, that’s not Ok. But talking about race, I think it’s – I don’t know. Fun I guess is the wrong word. But it’s interesting to me to find out how people’s upbringings are different from other people’s upbringings. It’s just something that’s there and it’s not good to ignore because it’s Ok we’re different. This is like a Sesame Street commercial. It’s Ok we’re different.

Apple Cider Mage:  So you mention that it’s Ok to talk about differences, and I think it’s actually a pretty fundamental thing in choosing a guild that is – and again we’ve discussed this when we talked about inclusive guilds, just kind of across the board – I think one of the key factors is recognizing that there are differences because when you start to recognize that people are going to have really different experiences, it usually means that you’re cognizant of the fact that those differences can have positive or negative effects on the community and that you will protect people from the negative aspects of it. I really don’t like it when guilds kind of tend to sweep a lot of things under the rug, because I think in the case of something like sexism or racism, things like that, if you pretend that it doesn’t exist and that we’re all the same and we’re all just going to play World of Warcraft, I think it does a disservice when something really overt or even casual happens. It doesn’t feel like you’re into really protecting the people that are in your guild.

J:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  It sounds like the AIE community not only does a really good job of just making a supportive space, but also a space where everybody’s unique experiences are valued.

J:  Right. If you have your roleplayers that are out there, you have your folks that just want to do PvP, you have your hardcore raiders, you have your black people, you have your white people, you have all colors, you have different sexual orientations, and everything. It’s more of your experience as a player more so than – and they care about who you are. Also, just with a community that big, there’s also smaller cliques. I’m not using that in a bad way.

Renee:  Yeah, it’s Ok. I think we’re in a clique. You can’t be friends with 2000 people.

Tzufit:  Right.

Renee:  You could try. I don’t know how much – you know.

J:  Right. We have another group of guys that we hang out with that we all met from AIE and we used to raid with and we kind of go from game to game, for that more intimate experience within AIE. With that smaller group, there can be times where, because you know them and it’s a smaller group, you can do a little jokes on – “Yeah, so-and-so’s mom.”  You know, mama jokes and everything.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Renee:  Listening to your all’s podcast previously, I was like, “Is that Ok if I let stuff go?”  I feel like I’m such a horrible person for letting stuff go sometimes. I’ve known these guys so well for like years and years and years.

J:  Right.

Tzufit:  It’s all context, too. Yeah exactly. If you know someone that well, you may have jokes between you that you would never say to another person, of course. I think it’s just completely dependent on how well you know somebody and making sure that just because it’s funny between the 2 of you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something you’re going to toss out in guild chat or in trade chat or something like that.

J:  Right, exactly. I have been close – well, I’m close with all of them. I have gotten comfortable with them. Now I don’t say the word like I used to. I accidentally called one of my raid members, who’s an Italian from New York, I called him the n-word because I got real comfortable. You know?

Renee:  I guess you need to describe how you said it.

J:  I was like, “Man, Loug, you my-”

Renee:  I think it’s Ok if you say it. Or you don’t want to say?  Ok. Don’t say it.

J:  Some people may find it offensive.

Renee:  That’s true.

J:  But I did say that to him and I was so embarrassed because I had got really comfortable and that was at a point in my life where I used that term for a term of endearment. You know?  I talked about this a lot, where giving power to words. One of the things, after I said that, I made sure with those guys. I was like, “Now because I said that does not mean you go to one of your friends like, ‘You know what?  My friend J called me the n-word and it was cool.’”  I don’t want anybody to get hurt. You know what I’m saying?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Right.

J:  Even though we say that words have power, I think sometimes that can be a copout. They say, “You find that word offensive. You’re giving that word power. Don’t give that word the power.”

Renee:  Yeah, I’m sorry.

Tzufit:  I have to say that argument just drives me crazy.

Apple Cider Mage:  Same.

Tzufit:  There’s a lot of – just for an example within the feminist community, and this is probably an older opinion more so than something people would say now, but the idea that the word “bitch” was something that we were going to really reclaim and be proud of and be Ok with calling each other that. It meant like a strong woman or something. I’m really on the fence about that kind of idea. Just because I may use that word that way, there still might very well be somebody who comes along and calls me a bitch and definitely doesn’t mean it as a compliment. Or I could very easily think that I’m giving a compliment and call somebody that, and next thing I know, that’s extremely hurtful to them. When it comes to choosing your words and deciding whether or not that whole concept of “we give words power,” to me it all matters to the person who is going to be offended.

J:  Right.

Tzufit:  It doesn’t matter what I think the word means. It matters what the person I’m saying it to – how they’re going to take it.

J:  Exactly. That’s a fine line of saying “giving words power.”  I can choose not to let the word nigga bother me.

Renee:  Right, and thankfully we haven’t had to deal with that. Well, we had to deal with – I guess we can tell the story.

J:  We had to deal with it a couple times. So there was one time when Looking For Group came out and we were doing the Culling of Stratholme speed run. Oddly enough, it was myself, Renee, and Oprillion.

Renee:  Who’s also black, yeah.

J:  Who’s also black. We were like, “Ok Oprillion. We’re going to take you on this run through Culling of Stratholme and we’re going to get 2 other people.”  We got 2 other people and oh my gosh. There was one person that just kept dropping the n-word over and over again.

Renee:  And he didn’t even know we were black, though.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Renee:  So it was weird.

Tzufit:  He manages to get in a group with 3 black people and that’s what he’s saying.

Renee:  And that’s what he says.

J:  At first we were kind of like, “Hey dude, we’re black. Why are you dropping that so often?”  He just was going on and on and on. So we ended up just muting him instead of kicking him out or anything like that. We just ended up muting him.

Renee:  He ended up dropping out or something like that, but we couldn’t kick him because it was too early.

J:  Yeah, he kept talking and nobody was talking back. It was just one of those odd things that happened. Then I remember when I did a PuG raid where I had to join a Vent. This was before LFR. This was the first time and my last time that I had ever did a PuG event from trade chat that says “join this Vent.”  So I joined Vent and was ready to go raid. Right after the first boss, this one dude was just talking about Nazis, how he was a Nazi. He was dropping the n-word all over the place. I was like, “What in the world is this?”  I was like, “Alright, I’m out.”  I just couldn’t do it.”

Renee:  So yeah. We’ve experienced it from outside of our comfort zone, outside of our regular group of people, is where we’ve experienced it. It didn’t traumatize us, I guess.

J:  Well, I’m from North Carolina. I grew up in Mayberry. It’s a small town called Mount Airy, which is where Andy Griffith was born. Not far from Mayberry is Dobson, and that’s one of the bigger headquarters for the Klu Klux Klan in North Carolina. So I grew up in North Carolina, going to high school and I’ve seen the Klan marching. So, for me, when I hear people talking about, “Oh man. These people are treating me this way,” I’m going come like, “You never had the fear stuck into you of seeing them march.”  You know what I’m saying?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

J:  So I think, for me, seeing that and experiencing that, I don’t take some of this stuff – not seriously – I guess it just doesn’t hit me as hard because I’ve seen so much growing up.

Tzufit:  It’s definitely on a different like part of the spectrum, I guess, than what you’d be talking about.

J:  Right. It’s like somebody saying, “I have a cold,” and I’d be like, “Well do you have lung disease?”

Renee:  That sounds like a one-up-manship to me, babe. You’re a one-upper. It’s Ok. Admit it. It’s fine.

J:  I’m not really trying to one-up or anything like that. Then, too, the kind of person that I am – and Renee will tell you the kind of person that I am. I have really, really, really close friends who are ultimate – nothing’s wrong with them – Tea Party members and stuff like that.

Renee:  I couldn’t do it. You all just don’t understand. You all – the stuff he shows me on his Facebook, I’m like – I couldn’t do it.

J:  And my barber, he’s a white guy. When I got my hair cut this past week, he was telling me how Obama is tied in with the Muslims and how he’s sitting real pretty-

Renee:  The Muslim Brotherhood, by the way.

J:  You know, the Muslim Brotherhood. But, you know, he’s sitting there cutting my hair – but see that’s me because I feel like I know this person and they have their flaws. I have my flaws. But as a person, they’re good people.

Renee:  I have a harder time dealing with that. That’s me. I just couldn’t stay and listen to it.

J:  But I feel like if they go too far, which I have done with some of my friends, when they’ve gone too far, I do bring them back in.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  They have a right to their opinion, but they don’t have a right to offend and belittle people.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. This essentially kind of bridges into what I was going to talk about when we start getting into the community aspects. Obviously J and Renee, you have very different opinions or levels of tolerance and things like that, from just a racism aspect in the community, how is it being perceived as black people when, like you guys said, during the show you were kind of listing off the black people that you knew that played the game. How does that kind of factor in when you deal with the community, when I think the community on the whole doesn’t really express or recognize that many different people who aren’t white play World of Warcraft?  How do you deal with the perception of something like that?

Renee:  No one treats us any differently. If anything, people know us more in the community.

J:  Yeah.

Renee:  Because it’s like, when you think of the black people who play WoW, J and Renee come to mind.

J:  When you all put out the call, apparently you have a few listeners from our community. We hadn’t really heard of you all and everything. I wish we had heard of you earlier. But I’m assuming you may have gotten some responses back from the Twitter call – “Hey, these guys would be great for you.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes, basically.

Renee:  Yeah, because there’s not a lot. We don’t get treated differently, but-

J:  We don’t get treated differently but being who we are, we are very – see, I feel like I’m bragging.

Renee:  No. We can say it without bragging.

Tzufit:  Renee already told us that you’re famous, so you can go from there.

Apple Cider Mage:  You’re famous. You can’t help it.

J:  You know what?  When you listen to your show, who you see on Twitter, who you see on Facebook, that’s who we are. We don’t have this online persona and then there’s this other persona of who we are. Like right now, we have 2 friends up in the front that came to see us from Nashville and they could be doing whatever up front. I don’t know. But we trust our friends and they trust us.

Renee:  Who we also met from WoW, by the way.

J:  But yeah. I think there’s a point where they feel comfortable enough, if there is something they don’t understand, they can ask us. They can say, “Hey, I don’t understand why this would be offensive to a black person.”  Then I can explain why. But for me, it may not be offensive. But I can explain why it can be offensive to someone else.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Renee:  I don’t know if it’s – this sounds almost racist to say, but we’re different from our families and a lot of black culture. We play video games. We play WoW. We’re nerds. I’m atypical.

J:  The blerd.

Renee:  The blerd. The black nerd.

J:  The blerd community is coming forth and it is growing.

Renee:  Yeah. I don’t know if maybe people feel comfortable around us.

J:  So we’re in a guild, AIE. Within that guild, if we get someone that doesn’t like the community, that can’t abide, “Be PC. Don’t be a dick,” usually what happens is the dicks usually get weeded out within 7-14 days on their own. They end up just leaving. They’re just like, “This community is lame. This is just dumb.”

Renee:  Yeah. “No one’s like answering my trolling calls.”

J:  Yeah. “I’m trying to troll folks and if everybody’s like, ‘No you can’t say the dwarves are in your pants,’” you know?

Renee:  Yeah and I was like, “Alright, well darn it.”  I mean I was about ready to leave right then. “What do you mean I can’t say dwarves are in my pants?  I’m leaving.”  But no, because it’s not that important.

J:  Right. Ok. That makes sense. Guild chat is really a PA system. You save that for private channels and stuff like that.

Renee:  Yeah, because I could say that if I was in Mumble with a group of like 6 people who I knew and that would think dwarves in my pants is funny – because, face it, it’s freaking funny, people. I think we’re not treated differently, we’re just more well known just because that’s how it is. That’s just how it is.

J:  Yeah. When we go to Nerdtacular every year, we are usually the only black people there. But that’s been-

Renee:  Changing.

J:  Out of like 500 people, there’s been more people-

Renee:  There was 5 black people out of 500 this past year, so that was a record. That was pretty good.

J:  I feel like I was in high school again.

Renee:  Yeah, he went to a school that was mostly white.

J:  I was my school’s first black drum major.

Tzufit:  I’m curious, and this may be hard to answer because obviously it’s going to be a generalization, but since you are active in so many different games and gaming communities, WoW tends to get a pretty bad rap for our community being especially hostile – and not just to people of color, but just like hostile to everybody, all the time. I wonder how you find the WoW community in comparison to some of the other gaming communities you are a part of or have been a part of?

J:  More tame.

Tzufit:  Oh really?

J:  Ok. So I guess I go by percentage, you know what I’m saying?  World of Warcraft is a humungous community.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  So you’re going to run into more dicks – you know what?  That’s offensive to men.

Renee:  Calling people dicks?

J:  Calling people dicks is offensive to men. No, I’m playing.

Renee:  I mean-

J:  No, I’m playing.

Renee:  You’d rather run around calling them?

J:  Vaginas?  Vajayjays?

Renee:  You are such a vajayjay.

J:  No, that’s offensive to me as J.J.

Renee:  As J.J.?  It’s so easy to offend you today.

J:  I know. Ugh. Stop. Ok. See I think the online community as a whole – when I think about the online community, and I say this as a male, I think the folks that get the worst, the brunt, of it are the women. I know this is not about genders and stuff, but I think that the women get the brunt of it all. I mean you see that when we had Tom Merritt on our show, we were talking about – I asked him, has he ever had like haters. He was like, “No, I haven’t really had a lot of haters in the years that I’ve been doing this,” but I see it more often for his wife Eileen and Molly Wood. That’s where a lot of haters go. They go – I don’t understand.

Renee:  They think women are easy targets, I think. But we’re not, but they just think we are.

J:  So, going back to your question, sorry to sidebar on that.

Tzufit:  It’s Ok.

Apple Cider Mage:  Totally Ok.

Renee:  He tends to do that.

J:  Now as far as like Xbox Live community – that the worst.

Renee:  That’s the bottom of the barrel.

Tzufit:  Yeah, I was going to say. I can’t imagine worse than that community.

J:  From what I understand, League of Legends is starting to run up pretty hard against Xbox Live community, from what I’m understanding.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  Again, that’s the whole competition thing coming in. You know?

Tzufit:  Yeah, that’s a good point.

J:  I just think, for some reason, I don’t understand why, it’s just like in the eSports and stuff, there’s this mental game as well. So if we can break you down mentally by calling you names or anything like that-

Renee:  Calling you a pussy or calling you a woman-

Tzufit:  Yeah, you’re right. It’s very similar to the attitude with PvP in WoW.

J:  Right. So I think World of Warcraft, like I said, has a bigger audience. So therefore, you have a higher chance of running across someone being a dick than you would like in Final Fantasy or – there are some in Final Fantasy. It also depends on the community, too. Some of the games I’ve noticed, like Lord of the Rings Online, that community, for some odd reason, is very, very protective of their image of how people perceive them. So like in trade chat – trade chat is even tame. It’s like when someone comes on there like, “Oh man, you guys suck. You should be playing WoW,” they are quickly shut down by other members or they are ignored by other members and the trolls aren’t fed. That was one of the oddest things I saw in my time of playing Lord of the Rings Online. That whole community.

Renee:  Yeah. I’ve never seen a whole community get together. You know how hard it is for everybody to agree on something.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely.

Renee:  But they shut people down. It was odd, but refreshing.

Tzufit:  Yeah. It’s definitely encouraging to know that  if a community decides, “You know what?  This is not the image that we want for ourselves,” that you can get enough people onboard to enforce that and to make it happen. I wish it would happen in WoW, but to your point J, the community’s too big for that to ever really come to pass.

Renee:  Yeah, true.

J:  I will say, I know for myself and for Renee, when we do play WoW we try to be that light in the darkness. I think that’s the challenge that we all have to do – your listeners, yourselves, us. Even though we see the shit out there, we can be the potpourri.

Tzufit:  The potpourri among the shit. I like it.

Apple Cider Mage:  I like it. I like it.

Renee:  That’s a great saying, babe.

J:  I mean, but really. We have to. We have to be that breath of fresh air. When you get into LFG and you actually say hi before you say, “Tank go.”

Renee:  That’s one thing we always try to do. We try to say hi to everybody in the party when we join a party, because it’s Ok to be nice. It’s nothing bad if you just want to go go go all the time. Just even saying “Good job” if somebody gets an achievement or levels in a low level dungeon, there’s nothing wrong with that. Like J said, in being model people by not saying dumb shit, it doesn’t take a lot of effort and it makes the community better.

J:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. I kind of wish that the WoW community could get on more, though, with treating people better because, like you said, women do get a lot of shit. I think just in general, there’s so many levels of oppressive stuff that goes on because not only is the – and this happens a lot with women, too, which is funny because we’re like 47% of the population in gaming – just because there’s a perception that it’s all men, means that the misogyny and sexism and everything else kind of creeps in. I really wish that WoW would really work on that along with every other thing. There’s some days that go by in trade chat or in general chat, as somebody who spends a lot of time on Timeless Isle all the time, you just see some words and phrases and just general attitudes that just go by that it’s like background noise after a while. It’s like how are you improving the game any if that’s just what you feel like talking about in a video game, because you don’t know who’s listening and you’re making their day shitty by comparison. By just being randomly dickish or, on top of that, being racist or sexist or homophobic.

J:  Let’s take road rage, for example. Let’s say you’re driving a car. Think of playing WoW as driving a car. You can easily be a dick and not let someone in from an exit, or you can be just a regular old citizen, let somebody in and you go along your merry way. You don’t know if that person’s in a hurry to get to the hospital or they might be trying to hurry up and get to their wife or husband or whatever. Just being courteous is-

Renee:  I think I feel a – I don’t know if it’s guilt?  Certain amount of guilt, because I haven’t had to experience any sexism or racism in my gaming communities really.

J:  She’s experienced sexism. Yes you have.

Renee:  When?

J:  When you was like, “Oh. I’ve been waiting for that dagger for a long time.”

Renee:  No, no, no. I did not do that. I didn’t do that.

J:  And the guys were like, “Here Iceflow, you can have it.”

Renee:  No, that’s not – no. I didn’t say that in wanting to get it. I just said it because it was true. Anyway. I do not use my boobs to get things in WoW, Ok?

J:  You didn’t. I didn’t say you did. I just said that-

Renee:  Things are given to me because of my boobs?  Is that what you’re saying?

J:  Yes.

Renee:  Anyway.

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s not her fault.

J:  Wait a minute. That’s a double standard, doggone it.

Renee:  But yeah, I feel sheltered. Like I hear stories. I was telling our friends earlier, I hear stories about how these women go into GameStop and they’re like, “Girls shouldn’t play games.”  I’m like, “I’ve never heard that before.”  I’ve never been told I can do something because I’m a girl. I feel sheltered and a little guilty that I’ve never experienced this stuff that everybody says is so bad. I just feel a certain amount of guilt since I’ve had it so good.

Tzufit:  I don’t think there’s anything to be guilty about. It’s just – the thing that we occasionally run into is people who say, “Because I’ve never experienced it personally, that means it’s not really out there.”  And that’s obviously not what you’re saying here. It’s just making sure that you’re still giving value to the experience of people who have had to go through that kind of stuff and who are trying to fight an uphill battle with it.

Renee:  Right, right. That’s one thing. I know it happens. It happens out there. I’ve just been lucky or just fell into the right group. I think it might be getting better. Cross my fingers. It has to get worse before it gets better or something like that. Something that some people say. The racism, I think, I feel like it’s getting better, the few instances I’ve heard about. Do you think it’s getting better?  I think it helps that you can’t tell what race people are until-

J:  Are you talking about in World of Warcraft?

Renee:  World of Warcraft, yeah. With Xbox, it’ll always be the bottom of the barrel. I don’t think it’ll ever get better. But with World of Warcraft, I mean, I think it’s getting better.

J:  Yeah-

Renee:  In terms of the person on person.

J:  Right, right.

Apple Cider Mage:  Like you said, again it’s really hard to tell what race somebody is. But for me it’s always just been the proliferation of the racist terms, things like that, because I’ve had to deal with it even in my guild, which is a very largely feminist guild. We had somebody that I had to kick out of the guild who was a long-time member. She dropped a racial slur in the middle of guild chat and tried to double down on it. We called her out on it.

Renee:  Wow.

Apple Cider Mage:  “Not Ok. I don’t care if you’re drunk or whatever. You’re gone,” because we have a mixed group of people in our guild. It’s not just all white people. But even still, even if that wasn’t even the case, you don’t get to say that sort of stuff in game and still stay in the guild. Absolutely.

Renee:  I think a lot of people, they get so used to being the only white people around. They just assume everybody else is.

Tzufit:  Absolutely.

Renee:  That’s just how it is. There are more white people who play WoW than black people. But they don’t bother to think. Even if it was all white people, it’s still not right, like you said. So just because someone else is white doesn’t mean they have the same exact thoughts as you. So I think – well good on you all for doing that. That’s awesome.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well it’s kind of part of making sure that everybody is safe because racialized misogyny is a really big problem as far as I can tell in World of Warcraft. I’ve seen it firsthand. That intersection between being pooped on for being a woman and then, on top of that, the whole racism aspect just makes it even worse. I don’t want anybody in my guild to ever have to deal with that because that’s just as damaging, if not more so, to the woman-friendly atmosphere that we try to provide.

J:  Right, right. I assume in that situation, if they had saw the wrong that they’d done and-

Apple Cider Mage:  And apologized.

J:  Yeah, apologized. I was just saying and repent. No.

Renee:  Get down on your knees and say you’re sorry.

J:  I’m pretty sure that it would have been a different story.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely.

J:  But yeah, if somebody tries to double down and try to make – if they start saying, “Well the reason I said that was …”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, right.

Renee:  Just stop. Just stop.

Apple Cider Mage:  So kind of on that note, we did actually outline in the notes some of the really kind of glaring problems with the WoW community and racism of note. This is kind of funny because a lot of people – when we talk about racism in the WoW community, a lot of people obviously know about people tossing out racial slurs. We talked about PvP. This is a big deal. This is such a big deal. It happens a lot in Trade Chat and any place where there’s a lot of random people. But what a lot of people don’t know, and I’ve kind of hammered on a little bit, is when I was at Blizzcon 2011, there were 2 incidents that I could see that I was really appalled about. One I heard after the fact, because I was actually physically at Blizzcon. World of Warcraft had a raid competition. The raid competition was between Vodka and Blood Legion. Blood Legion and Vodka basically were running their own personal stream and then the raid content itself, sans voice chat, which is kind of an important note to the story, were broadcast directly. The audience could watch the 2 teams go at it, but they didn’t hear what the raids were saying. This is kind of a big important part. Basically, as many people found out and was immediately talked about while it was going on, is that Blood Legion, which is a very well known high end raiding guild, was specifically using racial slurs on their voice stream that was being broadcast on the front page of MMO Champion. This was a really big deal because it wasn’t just the racial slurs, but it was quite a few others as well. It was specifically targeting the lead priest of Vodka, Kinaesthesia, who is black. They were specifically mocking him and being racist toward him on this stream. I heard about that like immediately as it was happening because, of course, you know how Twitter and news sites are about that. I was very critical of it because on top of everything else that happened at Blizzcon 2011 with the Corpsegrinder thing and the homophobia, this was yet another instance where Blizzard was supporting people who were openly racist or homophobic and were not promoting a community that was open and tolerant to every kind of player. There was that. Then on top of that, there was the Mists of Pandaria beta. This is actually kind of where a lot – this was kind of a better example of how casual some of this stuff is. Every 3 seconds that you ran through the starting zone when you played the beta, it was every manner of racial slur that’s targeted at Asian people imaginable were in the names of the pandas. It’s like, Ok, so we have this community who have no problems being publicly racist like that. When you can go to one of the biggest events that a company holds and see this sort of stuff, it just makes you wonder. What is the community really thinking here with this sort of stuff, and how widespread is it really?

J:  As far as widespread, I think what we have to forget – what we can’t forget, not saying that this is acceptable, our community is no different than life itself. With that, saying that, there is education and there are people older than you, older people than I that still need to be educated on what is correct and what’s incorrect to say in certain situations, or at all. I guess saying that is, I think, our community feels like because they’re so-

Renee:  What, to gather your thoughts?

J:  I’m just trying to think of how to say this.

Renee:  We’re going to have people in our community who do this. Right?

J:  Right.

Renee:  And it’s not good, but it’s going to happen because guess what?  Life sucks and there are some sucky people in it. So WoW life is not going to be perfect. But what we need is for people to acknowledge this is wrong. If you don’t have that, that’s where the problem lies. If we ignore it, if we don’t say, “Hey, this is wrong,” if nobody speaks up about it, that’s a big problem. So this was a WoW-sponsored event, right?  A Blizzard-sponsored event?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Right.

Renee:  They didn’t put out anything about it, right?  Did they put out a statement?

Apple Cider Mage:  No.

Renee:  And they should have.

Tzufit:  Exactly.

Renee:  I’m sorry because guess what?  It’s your event.

J:  Well on the Blood Legion/Vodka thing, they didn’t do the – from what I understood on that one, they didn’t know that they were doing that.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. That was the only like real kind of sticky wicket of that. They didn’t personally hear, and it’s funny because when I actually had a discussion with Bashiok, of all people, on Twitter about it, he had no idea 2 years later that that was what had occurred.

Renee:  Ok. Well then if they didn’t know then that’s different.

J:  I think your next example here in a second that you’re going to talk about that happened at Blizzcon more so – I think if MMO Champion – I can’t remember. Did they issue any kind of sorry?

Apple Cider Mage:  No.

Renee:  And they should have, because guess what?  Hey. You’ve got to, as a company, you’ve got to take a little bit of responsibility.

Tzufit:  I think, to me, just the bare minimum is that Blizzard in particular, since they were the ones who originally had people there for the event, there should be a code of conduct. If you’re going to participate in some kind of live streaming event for Blizzard, whether they’re aware and can hear what you’re saying on your guild’s channels or not, I think it’s not that much to ask to say, “Hey, guess what guys?  You’re at a public event that our company is sponsoring. We’ve paid for you to be here. You’re not going to say these things.”

J:  Right. I think the thing with that is I think we assume – I think there is an assumption, and I think that it has been a learning thing for Blizzard as a company. I would hope that something like that will come about. But it has to be learned because a lot of times, you have to assume that common sense kicks in for people. But we know common sense is a superpower.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  I took that from Deadpool. I’m going to go ahead and put that out there.

Renee:  You can take that because it’s so true.

J:  But I think, kind of like with our community, AIE, I’m pretty sure some of the things – like if we were there at the beginning of when it was first created, if Renee had said, “Dwarves in my pants,” everybody would have laughed. But as that community grows, you can’t say “Dwarves in my pants,” because that’s going to make somebody else say, “Girls in my pants.”  You know?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  So I think that’s kind of – Blizzcon 2013 was that the second or third one that they had?

Tzufit:  This was 2011. That would have been-

Apple Cider Mage:  That was – I want to say it was the fifth.

J:  Ok. And this was the first time they actually did something like this?

Apple Cider Mage:  I believe so. I’ve gone 4 years in a row and that was the first time I’d seen the raid competition like that. The problem was that, again, they didn’t hear it. Blizzard didn’t hear it. But like you said, with speaking up – maybe if more people had said something to Blizzard directly, they would have known about it and not continued to support Blood Legion in future events.

J:  Right.

Tzufit:  Or even to compare that to the whole incident with Corpsegrinder where they had used homophobic slurs. Blizzard did not immediately come out and apologize for what happened there. It was the outrage that the community expressed that week following Blizzcon, when finally Blizzard came around. Granted, some of that was because Mike Morhaime was on vacation, I think, at the time. But still, anybody should probably have come out and said immediately, “You know what guys?  That was wrong. Here’s a public apology.”  But it took the outrage of the community. I think I understand, J, to that point, the idea that there unfortunately has to be this kind of catalyst moment – this mistake – that then people have to learn from to get to the next point.

J:  Right, right. Now I don’t know a lot about the Corpsegrinder genre. What is it, heavy metal?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. It’s black metal. He was in Cannibal Corpse, which I think is just black metal or death metal.

J:  Which is offensive to me, by the way. No. But actually it is offensive to me because I don’t understand why they can’t have like some R&B concerts at Blizzcon.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Renee:  Well they’re playing to their – I say the same thing. But I guess they’re playing to their – I don’t know if it’s core audience, but I doubt there’s many R&B – there aren’t as many R&B listeners as-

Tzufit:  I’d be shocked if there were that many death metal listeners, but that’s just me.

Apple Cider Mage:  Same.

Renee:  Yeah. I haven’t been pleased for any. Ozzy I was like meh. I didn’t even watch it.

J:  So I guess my question is, with black metal, is that something common in that genre?

Apple Cider Mage:  I don’t know enough about it, but my perspective was – and basically he’s in this band and obviously people at the company are a fan of him. He was specifically speaking about Alliance players. So in that vein, I kind of felt he was actually speaking more to him being a part of the WoW community than him being a part of the metalhead community as it were.

J:  Hmm. Ok. That’s one of the things that I was wondering when this happened and everything. Honestly I thought that’s part of just that genre.

Apple Cider Mage:  That could be very much a possibility. I don’t know much about metal, unfortunately.

J:  Right. But it still doesn’t make it right. But it’s just more – I think that’s why I have friends that are so right wing. I’m the kind of person that likes to know what makes people tick. What makes you be that way?  I really like figuring people out. I think that’s why I surround myself with so many people that aren’t like me, because I’m pretty boring, you know.

Renee:  Oh yeah, you’re so boring.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, totally boring.

Renee:  With not much to say. Let me tell you.

J:  Like you said, I think with Mike taking a week to respond with him being on vacation and whatnot. I think even on that, I think looking back, I think he probably was like, “Maybe I should have said something sooner.”  You know?

Tzufit:  Maybe I should have hopped on the Blackberry there, you know?

J:  Right, right. Maybe I should have got on the Blackberry and wrote it out. But yeah. I think next time something like that happens, I’m pretty sure – if it does happen – I’m pretty sure, or I feel, that they’ve learned from it and they will respond quicker.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. It’s always a hard call because I think that, like you said, the stuff that happens in the WoW community is not isolated to WoW. It is not because of WoW. We’re talking about systemic issues that happen across society, and that’s where people are getting it from. But alternatively, is it a responsibility of Blizzard to be the better people in that instance?  I would say yes. I think that – and this is obviously going to be one of the things we’re going to talk about – some of the content in the game, does that make people feel like they have more pass when the game is already sort of situated in a space that’s not 100% – what’s a good word for it?

Tzufit:  Respectful?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes. Respectful. Good word.

Renee:  Yeah, definitely. Being the bigger person, that’s just because, hey you’re a big corporation. Sometimes you’ve got to put on your big girl panties and be the bigger person and just take it and put out a statement. I don’t know. You just have to do that sometimes. I have to say, it does feel good, because if I don’t know all the racial slurs go on, it’s nice that people kind of see it as wrong. You know?  Even if I’m not there, if I don’t hear it, me as a black person, other people care too. That’s what matters is that it’s not just black people against white people. It’s dicks against non-dicks. That’s how it should be.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. Being a loud part of the community and saying things publically is kind of always my MO. Obviously that’s one of the driving forces of being a feminist is taking the brunt of the hostility and saying, “Hey. No. This is not cool at all. This is completely not cool,” because if one group of people is being dehumanized, that’s not going stop people from dehumanizing anybody else. It’s kind of our job to point this stuff out, because I feel like just from some of the stuff that Blizzard’s done with regards to how they portray women in the game, I feel like that’s kind of part of their culture. Not even just corporate culture, but kind of – I feel like there’s a lot of like white bro dudes that work at Blizzard. I feel like that kind of trickles into the game. I think they legitimately don’t always perceive what they do from the perspective of people that are not necessarily of the same group. I think that’s why a lot of these things happen.

Tzufit:  There’s just a lack of empathy behind it sometimes. You don’t think. This quest is hilarious to me, but – oh. This could actually be really offensive to somebody else.

J:  Right. Then when you start looking at the lore, I mean you kind of have to look at who wrote the lore. The author of that lore is Chris Metzen. Chris Metzen is a great guy. He does great stuff. But you also have to understand, Ok, he’s a white male. Then if you sit down and you read the book from Christie Golden on the Lich King-

Apple Cider Mage:  Arthas, yeah.

J:  Yeah, the Arthas book – you get a different feel for it. It has the same lore, but it has a different feel. You kind of have to see, like you’re saying, the whole you kind of have to see who’s behind or who’s creating the quest and everything else. So I think that is there. Some of it is – it could be ignorance on their part. When I say “ignorance,” that they don’t know.

Renee:  Agreed. J just said it all. I’m like, “Agreed.”

J:  Well, I think too that – Ok. So I’m not saying that that gives them a pass.

Renee:  Oh, of course not.

J:  And I think – see I don’t know what I should say because I talked to someone this week.

Renee:  Just say it.

J:  There are – Blizzard recognizes it. They’re trying to do something. That sounds so vague.

Renee:  But you can’t name names.

J:  Right, right.

Renee:  You know. But you’ve talked to someone who says that they acknowledge that. That’s all you got to say.

J:  I’m sorry. I feel like I dropped-

Renee:  You’re not dropping anything. You didn’t say anybody’s name either. So you’re fine.

J:  Well I mean, one of the reasons too was that – the reason I talked to this person was because we were going to be on the show. I really need to ask you a few things. You know?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. That’s completely cool.

J:  But it is something that they have recognized and something that they do want to create a better community. They recognize it and I’m not saying if it’s going to be in a year or whatever. But they are talking about it.

Apple Cider Mage:  It is helpful because I’ve had to deal with this with Blizzard in particular. I’m sure that I’m on somebody’s watch list or something. But with the Ji Firepaw thing, I created one of the biggest threads on the beta forums all because an NPC was being really gross and skeevy to women characters. I said, “Hey, that’s not Ok and you guys probably don’t realize it, but you’re being creepy nerds with this character,” and they went and they eventually changed it.

Renee:  That’s nice.

Apple Cider Mage:  And then they made the story better. Yeah. So I think they’re open to change.

Tzufit:  I think we have seen a bit of a learning curve with them too, even if it’s just like, “We cannot let this get too out of hand or Apple Cider’s going to make another giant thread on our forums.”  But the amount of time that it took for them to go through and be like, “Oh yeah. Ok. Ji Firepaw is problematic. We should probably do something about that,” versus the latest incident where we had the orc refugee dudes in Razor Hill who were like ranking the lady orcs on 1-10 scales based on their appearance. Somebody makes a post about that and it’s down. They hotfixed that out within –what – like maybe 24 hours after somebody brought it to their attention?  I mean I don’t want to give them like all the credit in the world for, “Oh yes. They have totally figured this out now. They are fully enlightened. They’re doing great things,” but I do think we have seen a learning curve in terms of like if somebody tells us this is problematic, maybe we need to take them for what they’re saying and do something about it immediately.

J:  Right, right.

Renee:  Yeah. At least some games – they’re skeevy and pervy to both sexes. Final Fantasy XIV. We had to rub oil on this old guy and it was just weird.

Tzufit:  For a quest?

Renee:   Yes. But J had to do it too and he’s a guy. So hey. It’s all good.

Tzufit:  Ok.

J:  But I will say though, one of the things that I am proud about that I will say with Final Fantasy XIV, just briefly, is that there is one area that you can walk in. There’s 2 guys sitting on a bunk. One of the guys says, “What’s say you come over to my bunk, squire?”

Renee:  Yeah. How often do you see that represented in an MMO?  Hardly ever.

Apple Cider Mage:  Casually – yeah. Never.

Renee:  Yeah. It was a casual thing. It wasn’t pointed out. Just casual.

Tzufit:  Exactly.

J:  Then like with a female character that was hitting on you and then for me told me I wasn’t her type.

Renee:  Yeah. It was great.

J:  I think that’s kind of cool, personally.

Tzufit:  That was something that we talked about a little bit when we discussed queer characters in WoW. You don’t necessarily need to make this huge lore story with like 2 faction leaders who are 2 women in a relationship or 2 men in a relationship. It can be little flavor stuff like that. It can be that you’re hanging out at Halfhill and there happens to be a lesbian couple there or something like that. It doesn’t have to be huge.

J:  Right.

Renee:  Exactly. It’d be awesome if WoW did little things like that. You know?

J:  But I think some of it too is – so I’m pretty sure someone may find it offensive.

Renee:  I’m sure.

J:  And it could be from both sides. It could be from, “Oh, Blizzard’s just making fun of a lesbian couple in Halfhill.”  You get somebody that’s like, “That’s offensive to me, I don’t think-”

Renee:  But guess what?  You can’t please everybody.

J:  There we go.

Renee:  Yeah. That’s the thing. You can’t please everybody, so they choose to not do it at all.

Apple Cider Mage:  And that’s kind of also sometimes a problem in the other direction. If you can’t represent people in a game, do you just ignore it or do you go with being possibly problematic in the other direction?  Or do you generally try to do the best work that you can to represent everybody in a way that’s fair?

J:  Right. I think that’s where we come down to – where we talk about the trolls, the tauren, and the cultures that they kind of mimic a little bit. You know what I’m saying?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  It’s like Ok. So you can make everyone just look different, but theoretically be the same. That’s just boring in a way.

Tzufit:  Right.

J:  But then you have to figure out – you have to walk that fine line of saying, “Ok. What’s too much?  Where is the nice happy medium of using the cultures that some of these races are based off of?”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely. I think that was a really big gamble with Mists of Pandaria in particular, because – and I know that this happened kind of initially in beta. When you start to bring in cultures wholesale, especially if you start taking from like Japanese culture, Chinese culture, there’s a lot of history there that you are pretty much ignoring and saying, “Oh I can just kind of mash them together and it’s totally fine,” when it’s not because of the cultural history of both of them. But when you do a little bit more of an homage, that’s not a direct interpretation but rather more of kind of a softer inclusion in the game, it tends to go a little bit better. On the whole, though, Blizzard has not had a great track record with cultural appropriation, like you said, with the tauren, with the trolls – 2 of the biggest standouts to me. Let’s just be blunt here. Tauren are pretty much supposed to be ripped off of indigenous and native American cultures. Trolls are definitely islander Jamaican culture, even in how they’re voiced and some of their emotes. I don’t think Blizzard’s had a particularly great history with that at all, particularly with Horde. It seems to be with Horde quite a lot, which I’m not exactly sure why that is.

J:  Well I mean because the Alliance are pretty much your white folk.

Tzufit:  Yeah, exactly. That’s the part that gives me the most pause is that WoW has pretty much created a racial separation in game between the Alliance and the Horde with the way they’ve set up the races that are affiliated with each side.

J:  Yeah. I think in theory that tension is meant to be there. You know?  I know as a black person, I’m not of the islands or anything like that, and I was more offended when people assumed that the trolls were black people.

Renee:  Just they talk with a Haitian or Caribbean accent.

J:  Right. It’s like, Ok. I know that they’re touching on the islanders and with the tauren – my first Horde character was a tauren because 1, I didn’t like the Horde. You know what I’m saying?  Because I started off as an Alliance. I absolutely love dwarves and all that. But I started a tauren because I’m like, Ok, they’re a part of the Horde because they kind of have to be and they really don’t want to be.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Right.

J:  Because before World of Warcraft, I played Anarchy Online and you had 3 factions. You had good guys, bad guys, and the neutral people. I played the neutral people because I wanted to have advantage of it all. You know?  But I wish that was one thing that they did do that kind of what they did with the pandas where it’s like – I wish the pandas could stay neutral the whole time.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  But that’s just a whole different thing that has to be coded in.

Apple Cider Mage:  Also looking from the Alliance perspective, we have Horde having these kind of models and sort of cultural stuff embedded into it as the Horde. If the Alliance are the white people and we have a race in the Alliance that are just actually humans, what about the fact that the model representations in the Alliance and the humans aren’t necessarily representative of how most people look?

J:  Right.

Renee:  Definitely. That’s true. You know what?  When I started WoW, I never thought of them as black and white, I guess, the Horde and the Alliance.

J:  I didn’t think of them that way.

Renee:  I just thought it was fantasy. The Alliance seemed like they had a stick up their butt and the Horde seemed more carefree. So I was like, “Hey, I’m with the Horde.”

J:  Well for me, it was human and elves versus orcs and trolls.

Renee:  Which is classic fantasy stuff.

J:  Right, and that’s how I looked at it. I just knew that I couldn’t create a human that looked like me.

Renee:  Yeah, and it’s tough. I have to tell you, finding characters that look like me is darn near impossible. As is mentioned in the notes, a lot of the times black characters are just white characters with darker skin, because that’s how it is with Barbies when you’re younger, with dolls. They look just like the white dolls, just darker skin. I think more games are getting to it where you can change the nose size, chin size, mouth size, eye size and I can make somebody who looks like me. Make somebody who looks like my aunt or something like that. It’s good to see. WoW’s character creator is pretty abysmal.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yes. Absolutely.

Renee:  I’m reminded every time I start playing a new game. I’m like, “Wow, they give you like 5 faces, and they give you like an earring. Ok. Here you go.”  I’m like, I want more than that, you know?  I don’t know. I don’t know if they ever have plans on doing that.

Tzufit:  They’re working pretty hard on it now. Hopefully – from what we’ve kind of heard through the grapevine, it sounds like the dwarves are pretty much done, but everybody else is still underway.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

J:  I know like with Final Fantasy and Defiance, I’m able to create a black guy that looks like a black guy.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  Right.

J:  My only thing with Final Fantasy is why in the world, if I put a fade or a close cut on my black guy, why is it the only one that’s got to have all these parts and everything else in it?  Why can’t I just have a just straight up fade?  That’s all I ask for.

Renee:  Because black people like ornamentation. We can just be plain fade, J. I’m sorry. We like frills and frippery.

J:  And then if you’re going to do dreadlocks in a game, don’t make them look like the freaking Halloween dreadlock wig.

Renee:  They always look scummy, don’t they?  They look scummy and dirty when they do dreadlocks.

J:  Yeah. I know a lot of people that have dreadlocks that are nice, clean, and tight. They need to do that, not “Oh I got a dreadlock wig from Halloween Center for Halloween and I have it on.”

Renee:  Yeah. It always looks dirty and mangy, like it should be a cat. Like it’s some homeless cat on top of somebody’s head. I wish they – yeah. It’s possible. People can do it. I believe in them. Would it be too bad – like in WoW, they just have the one bald dude, right?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Renee:  For black people. A fro would be nice. Little fro.

J:  No, because – Ok, so.

Renee:  You like fros sometimes, though.

J:  Along with the dreadlocks, if you want to have an afro in your game, don’t make it look like a wig you got from the Halloween Center.

Renee:  That’s true. It’s always huge, right. It’s always like bigger than 2 heads put together is when they do the afro. They can’t just do a nice little small one. They can’t go small.

J:  And then the dreadlocks will clip through a cloak. Just don’t even get me started.

Tzufit:  That’s the problem. It’s a fine line between actually having that representation and doing the representation right.

J:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think a lot of game designers, again, I think unfortunately a lot of game designers and modelers and still predominantly white. They don’t realize that – hello – there’s many different hair textures and non-Eurocentric looking facial features that you should really be including in your game because not everybody looks like that. Like you said, the human models shouldn’t just be a white person with darker skin, because that’s not really how everybody looks. We’re not all white people with just a tan or darker skin. It’s a whole different hair styles, different hair textures, different facial features, different facial structures, things like that.

J:  Let me get someone that I can make lips look like mine, nose look like mine. You know what I’m saying?  Let me do some of that stuff.

Renee:  Yeah, and at least have mixed – like just because my lips are big doesn’t mean I want my nose big too. Guess what?  We’re not all like that. It’s just – there’s some learning to do. But I think it’s getting there.

J:  I’m just going to say right here for a minute. I know I’m going have Apple Cider give you my email address. Blizzard, we know you’re listening. If you need some consultation on female characters, black characters, you can reach Renee and I at TheValentineCast@gmail.com. And then where can they reach you all?

Apple Cider Mage:  We are at justicepointspodcast@gmail.com.

J:  We’ll help you all out.

Renee:  We can be your consultants.

Tzufit:  We would be happy to do that.

Apple Cider Mage:  Seriously. Absolutely.

J:  No, so just let us know. We’ll be down for that.

Tzufit:  I think too, it’s really unfortunate with WoW and the human model in particular because – and especially the human man – because he looks terrible even when you’re making him sort of the obviously default white man. He looks horrible. It is probably – I mean I can’t even say arguably – the worst model in the game. So then when you’re trying to do something where you’re actually trying to give him a darker skin tone, and like you said, because nothing changes about the actual facial features itself, it looks even worse because it’s so badly done in the first place.

J:  Yeah, looks like Snooker just came out from the tan.

Renee:  Worse than Snooker, and that’s bad.

J:  Don’t judge me. We watch Snooker and JWoww.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s Ok. It’s Ok.

Renee:  Yeah.

J:  You know how we talked about that escape from work?  There you go.

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s Ok. I like watching teen supernatural dramas. It’s all good.

J:  Nice.

Renee:  Everybody has their thing.

Tzufit:  Exactly.

Apple Cider Mage:  Absolutely. On top of the model thing, and on top of the things like the trolls and the tauren, I feel like there have been a couple places that Blizzard has really made some egregious errors. Off the top of my head, I’m going to say Uldum. This has been kind of a really bizarre point of contention. They legitimately have – and I know that we’re going to cover this in our 2 part brutality episode – but Uldum features and entire subzone that has little people called pygmies that you do things like lock them up in cages and they’re enslaved and stuff like that. Blizzard’s like, “Oh well we created the pygmies to look like roadies that go on tour with metal bands.”  Granted, the models are little guys that have like goatees and little tattoos and do like the little metal horns, which is – Ok. J, now maybe you’re on to something with the whole metal community. But the fact that they’re called pygmies – no one picked up a history book?  No one thought to do a little research into that?  You made them look like little white roadies, but you’re basically treating them and calling them a very racialized historically gross name. Stuff like that, it makes me wonder who vets this stuff with Blizzard.

Tzufit:  We’ll include a link to this when we put up the show notes on the website. Originally, this was discussed on Decoding Dragons back in 2012. One of the points that the author of that blog post made was that the pygmies, as you see them in the goblin starting area, really are kind of exemplifying that like roadie thing that supposedly they were going for. But that argument that Blizzard made falls apart a lot more when you see the way that they’re portrayed in Uldum.

J:  So do you think some of that – I’m kind of just thinking out of the box. I’m trying to think from pygmies on the goblin island to the pygmies in Uldum. The Cataclysm happens. Right?  So do you think that maybe from the time of – now I’m not giving them an excuse. I’m just trying to think here. From the time that the Cataclysm happened and you get off the goblin island and if you haven’t played it, sorry. It’s a spoiler. The Cataclysm happens and you end up washing up on the Horde shore or whatever. Could it have been something where they could have gotten captured by the people in Uldum?

Tzufit:  It’s hard to say because I don’t think you ever get any indication of whether those pygmies in Uldum have anything to do with the pygmies on the goblin island. They don’t really explain if there’s a correlation or if it’s just like 2 totally different groups of people.

J:  Yeah. That’s a possibility too. I’m going to be perfectly honest. I didn’t know about the whole pygmy thing. So I would have been the one that didn’t pick up a history book. You know?  I was like, “Huh. Interesting.”  There were actually pygmies in southern China from what I read when I actually read on the pygmies.

Apple Cider Mage:  Honestly, a lot of it even could have just been avoided – and this kind of hooks into Pandaria as well. If you had not called them pygmies, I think a lot of the problems would have been avoided because they really look like roadies. They really look like short roadie dudes that follow around metal bands and haul things around. If they had just not picked such a charged name, maybe all the content in Uldum where you’re like locking them up in cages and imprisoning them may have just fit in more with kind of the Warcraft aspect with that zone in general, which – as an aside – also has things like Nazis.

J:  Yeah. If anything, that right there kind of hit me more than that. That’s kind of like, “Man. They straight up put some Nazis in here.”  But they kind of based it off of Indiana Jones, so I can kind of see the throwback there.

Apple Cider Mage:  But like the Decoding Dragons post brought up, originally the Grummels were called Sherpas. Again, they have a race of little people who just kind of look like a fantasy race, sort of like how goblins and gnomes are tiny and diminutive. Obviously we all know what Grummels are really supposed to be modeled after. The Sherpas are a real group of people, however, and they did change the name from Sherpas to Grummels. It makes you realize if they’ve got the feedback on the Grummels and changed the name, why did they leave the pygmies like that?  Again, it’s this inconsistency and not being kind of the more knowledgeable better people as the giant company that has lots of resources.

Tzufit:  Right. You would think at this point that they would assume that they’ve got a huge community and they have lots of people who are looking at it from lots of different angles. So you would think that maybe they want one of those people kind of on the payroll just doing a final check-over. “So you’re putting this quest in and you’re going to call these guys Sherpas?  You know what?  Why don’t we find another name for that.”  I think maybe, just being sort of foolishly optimistic here, that maybe that is again an example of that learning curve because they did not get the fact that pygmies was not a smart word to use. But they did realize that they needed to change the Grummels and call them Grummels rather than call them Sherpas, you know?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, exactly.

Renee:  I think so many people are oblivious. That’s how stuff makes it through. It’s the only thing I can think of. They’re just a group of people – no one knew. No one even thought. It happens all the time in stuff. It happens in movies. It happens in TV. It happens in games. It’s just going to take people getting educated, I guess.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah. I think a lot of it also has to do with once you start working on the diversity of people within the industry, that that stuff starts to change rapidly as well. Look at something like Bioware. I feel like Bioware has a lot more of the kind of diversity ideas going forward in a lot more of their games, in terms of representation. I think that also is kind of reflected in hiring people as well. When you have a team of people who come from different backgrounds, who come from different lifestyles and things like that, you have those sets of eyes to look over something and say, “Hey. Maybe that’s not the coolest idea.”  So I feel like in the gaming industry at large, not even just Blizzard, that when you start to have more people represented, then you’re not going to necessarily misrepresent them in your game.

Renee:  Yeah, agreed. I want that job. I’ll take it. If you pay me $150,000 a year, I’m all yours, Blizzard. Just putting it out there.

Tzufit:  Move me out to California. We can talk.

J:  Technology the way it is, you could stay right here.

Renee:  That’s true, right?

Apple Cider Mage:  Seriously, I’ve always been saying if you want game companies to just hire me to tell their developers that what they’re doing is like sexist, I will be there. You don’t even have to pay me that much.

Renee:  That’d be great.

Tzufit:  We’ve covered most of what was on our list, so unless – is there anything else we didn’t cover that, Renee or J, that either of you would like to bring up?

Renee:  No. I think-

J:  Again, I just kind of want to go back.

Renee:  Ok. You can go back.

J:  I just want to recap for folks. If you take one thing from this, if you take one thing from any of the shows that you go back and listen to from these fine ladies at Justice Points podcast, don’t be a dick and also be the potpourri amongst the shit.

Tzufit:  I know. We might have to steal that and make it our motto if you’re Ok with it, J.

J:  Hey, that’s fine. But seriously, I mean be that shining light or whatever. I’m trying to cover everybody’s situation. So be that light on the hill. Be that shining light. Be the potpourri of the shit. Be the tenderizer of the steak.

Renee:  That makes zero sense, but I’m going to let it go because I love steak.

J:  Ok.

Tzufit:  Right. He said steak, so it’s Ok.

J:  Have you ever had a tough steak?

Renee:  Yes.

J:  See a lot of people think the steak, the best part that makes the steak so good is the taste of it. But if it’s really tough and it has that taste, sometimes the tenderizer – even though it doesn’t get a lot of attention – is very important.

Renee:  So be the tenderizer among the steak. I still don’t like that, but I’ll let that go.

Apple Cider Mage:  As you can see, having a variety of opinions is always conducive to good discussion.

Renee:  It is. That’s what I like. That’s why I love being a guest on other people’s podcasts. It’s great. I love it.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think it’s important to having a healthy community and having an inclusive community, to represent a variety of opinions and perspectives. I feel like a lot of times podcasters feel like they have to kind of be a voice of authority, and especially in matters like this stuff where we talk about some pretty serious social issues. It’s not always good to be the voice of authority in that sort of stuff because there’s a lot of stuff that we’re not authoritatively qualified. It’s always good to listen and get feedback and get perspective. World of Warcraft is really not above that as well. It is a game that I think can only get better if you allow the community to give their perspective, to give their feedback, and to make it a more inclusive space in the community and also the game itself. Going back to the point that you guys made, that’s why it’s really important to speak up. That’s why it’s really important to say stuff.

J:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  We wanted to thank you guys so much for coming on and sharing your thoughts and feelings, and just having a really good time. We had a good time today.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Renee:  Oh, it was great. I loved it.

J:  Yeah, thanks for having us on. I’d be glad to do it again.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh absolutely. If there’s anything you guys ever just want to just chill and talk about or you just want to come and just shoot the shit with us, by all means.

J:  Be the potpourri?

Tzufit:  We will probably take you up with that.

J:  Amongst the potpourri, right?

Tzufit:  Exactly. Yes.

Renee:  Well we’re definitely going to have to have you all on our show sometimes. That would be an awesome time.

Apple Cider Mage:  We will see everybody next week. Can you just hit us with where we can find you again?

Renee:  Sure. You can find all of our past shows and show notes valentinecast.com. You can find me on Twitter @theiceflow, and you can find J on Twitter-

J:  @thecaoboi.

Renee:  Because he’s different.

J:  With my offensive spelling name – no, I’m playing.

Renee:  How is that offensive?  Ok. Alright. You just want to be offensive, but you can’t in that instance. I’m sorry. It’s not possible.

J:  I get people sending me a tell going, “Ni hao.”

Renee:  Ni hao?  Oh, because the Caoboi is spelled – they think you’re some Asian decent?

J:  Yes.

Renee:  That’s weird. But Ok.

Apple Cider Mage:  Well from everybody here at Justice Points, thank you guys so much for being here and we will see everybody next week.

J:  Bye.

Renee:  Bye.

3 comments

  1. Malkazar

    One of the topics you all brought up was the idea that the Horde was comprised partly of races that are derived from non-white european cultures and that the Alliance was mosly European white people.I had not considered that and it makes something I’ve had to consider when it comes to WoW and it’s story telling all the more frustrating. Now, I love this game, it’s been a real inspiration for me and gotten me through some rough times. But lately, I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with video games, comics and really fiction as a whole. The reason for this is that I, as a black bisexual man, feel like these things, like nerd culture as a whole and the people at the top level making these products, especially things that make it to the popular culture and the mainstream media, don’t care about me or people like me.

    When I first played WoW I made a night elf because I though they were cool and the human model was horridly ugly. Then, when I wanted to play horde I settled on a Blood elf and made myself ignore the fact that they were exclusively white looking in appearance. I wasn’t untill I played Dragon Age: Origins, a game that aggressively does not want the player to make a non-white person, and tried to make an elf that looked like me did I realize how insulting it was that I could not make a decent looking black person. Thus, most of my alts are night Elfs because they are the closet thing I have to black person that I can identify with. I’m at the point where if I see a piece of entertainment media(games, comics, TV ect.) does not chose to acknowledge that black people exist and do it respectively, then I don’t put my money to it. I’m having that issue with WoW. I hate that the only way black people exist in any meaningful way is ostensibly and through the filter of fantasy monsters. If the Alliance had black characters that were interesting and had stories behind them then the idea of playing as a Troll would not feel bittersweet. I could get excited about it instead of feeling mildly patronized. Instead it feels like Blizzard is saying, “Non-white people can exist in this game, but only if we dress them up as non-human creatures.” I really want to believe that this is just unfortunate circumstance and not ignorant racism, but its really hard. It’s really hard to understand why the only human characters that matter are white and mostly male. It’s really hard to rationalize why non-white people and cultures exist only as non-human creatures. It makes me have to like this games inspire of myself, sometimes. I say sometimes because I’ve been told fictional stories of white people my entire life so I’m used to it, but because I’ve played game and read stories and seen movies where I, as black person, get to be the protagonist, I’m aware that things could be better and more inclusive and am ravenously intolerant of mediocre, same old stores. That goes double for the stories that are nearly exclusivly for black people, specifily things like “12 years a slave” or GTA: San Andreas, that type cast people of my skin color into slaves or convicts. Tired of it.

    I’m also immune to the idea that because we have characters like Wrathion, who is a brown looking human, we don’t need any more. He’s not enough. It’s insulting to think so. I think I’ve ranted enough, I could go on but I don’t want to sound redundant, so I’ll end with this. If Blizzard really is working to improve their storytelling, in terms of inclusion, I want this by the next expansion. This is one of those times where they need to stop being so slow and conservative. I’m tired of having to rationalize and make excuses and just hope it gets better. This games is on the razors edge of being great, they just have to push and not be idiots. I want to make my knight in shining teir armor paladin and have him be a black man and it looks nice and not like come blob of old brown pixels. It’s not hard, I’m not asking a lot. The things you all have talked about on this podcast are not really hard fixes for Blizzard, but I struggle to believe that they are mature enough as a developer to act quickly and with respect.

    Love the show, I appologize if there are any spelling errors, my phones spellcheck is iffy :/

    • justicepoints

      Thank you for this comment! It is very insightful and brings up a lot of things we were trying to discuss on the episode. Representation is so important and so much of our popular media is whitewhitewhite and so I can imagine the difficulty in supporting media that represents you is vast.

    • justicepoints

      Also, I just added line breaks so your comment wasn’t a wall of text, sorry! – ACM

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