Episode #19 – “Blizzcon Wrap-Up: Orcs, Orcs, Orcs!”Nov 19
Our nineteenth episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider hashing out their feelings about World of Warcraft content that was revealed at Blizzcon. We talk about the lack of women in Warlords as well as Dave Kosak’s “savagery.”
- Wikipedia – “Noble Savage“
- TVTropes – “Noble Savage“
- Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia – “Black Brute” (This link contains very frank discussion on racist imagery regarding Black people in the United States, so racist slurs are present in the text.)
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Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 19, “Blizzcon Wrap-Up: Orcs, Orcs, Orcs!” Many thanks to @IviaRelle for transcribing this episode.
Apple Cider: Hey everybody! Welcome back to Justice Points. We have been gone for, I believe it’s a week, but it feels like a lot longer. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Chuckling) Yeah, it sure does.
Apple Cider: This is what happens when you decide to go to Blizzcon and it turns into not just Blizzcon but a roadtrip and you’re gone for ten days and you’re not talking to your podcast partner for like two weeks and it just gets very crazy. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) Well, I appreciate it, and we’re fortunate that you had enough cell phone service that we were able to talk a LITTLE bit while you were at Blizzcon. And that was good because I think my head may have exploded otherwise, so. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: Absolutely, yeah. I was bursting with FEELINGS (laughing) every day of Blizzcon.
Tzufit: (Laughing) Exactly!
Apple Cider: So, for those of you who either watched the live stream as Tzufit did, or actually attended Blizzcon like I did, we’re gonna be talking about Blizzcon today, what we saw at the convention, some of the community stuff surrounding it, and also just some breakdowns of some of the more problematic aspects of some of the things that got talked about with the new expansion.
Tzufit: Yeah, so, buckle down. It’s probably gonna be a long one. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: (Chuckling) We did want to get to, first, just talking about the con itself because I actually got to go out there and it was a great trip, it was a little bit up and down and I’m not as young as I used to be, and it was a little bit of a tiring trip, but it was definitely worth it. I would say that I would do it again and still get super exhausted and still only get, like, four hours of sleep a night because I got to meet a lot of really cool people, I got to see a lot of really cool things, and I got to meet a lot of fans and readers and other people in the WoW Twitter community and bloggers and feminists and podcasters so… it felt kind of like a business trip but not really.
Tzufit: (Chuckling) And for my side, doing the virtual ticket, I have to say that obviously I was not there in person and didn’t get to meet people, which I would LOVE to do at some point, it was really cool to be able to participate in spur of the moment reactions with everybody on Twitter and kind of feel like you had all of Twitter sitting in your family room with you watching virtual ticket, so that was a lot of fun and I found a lot of new people via Twitter last weekend too, just based on the things they were talking about and the things they were saying. So, it was very fun to have that much sense of community around an event and really, like I said, just have an opportunity to react and see everybody else’s reactions as they were happening.
Apple Cider: I was actually pretty jealous of the live stream people because there were definitely some moments where I was so exhausted that I really didn’t want to peel myself off my hotel bed to go to a panel. And because of that, I actually missed most of the art and lore panel stuff which made me really sad but the problem with going to Blizzcon is you find yourself running out of time really quickly, so I was actually pretty jealous of Tzufit for getting to have delicious food and sit on a comfy couch.
Tzufit: Yeah, the only kind of time restraint that I had was that me and the boyfriend were occasionally getting into arguments about, like, “No, I want to watch the Starcraft finals!” and I’m like, “No, I want to watch the art panel!” but we mostly worked that out so (laughing) there was no bloodshed.
Apple Cider: Well that’s good. It was- that- yeah, that Blizzcon was a lot of fun, a lot of money, and a lot of energy, but honestly the coverage of stuff that we got to see this year was really good, and I was pretty happy with just the amount of stuff that they went into for all of the properties that they showed. Although, honestly, I believe they could expand Blizzcon to a third day.
Tzufit: Yeah, it really seems like there’s enough material there to do it, and I have to say that some of my favourite parts, which I really did not expect to enjoy as much as I did or maybe even watch, were a lot of the live competition things. Like, I watched the Hearthstone finals, and those were a TON of fun to see people who understand that game a whole lot more than I do (laughing) and really watching them get into the interesting endgame aspect of it. The live raid was a lot of fun to watch, and even the PVP matches, those were a lot of fun and the Starcraft matches which, I’ll tell you, I didn’t have the slightest clue what was happening but I was still just like, cheering along because you really kind of got caught up in it, so.
Apple Cider: Yeah, that was the funny thing about the Starcraft stuff, is no matter where you were in the convention center, if the Starcraft stuff was going on, you could hear it in all four halls because you would hear, like, “Oh! OOHH WHOOOAAAA!” you would just hear the crowd shouting. Which is so funny because anytime I try to watch Starcraft matches, it’s literally just things moving on a screen and then the commentators saying words I don’t understand, and then everybody goes crazy. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) Yeah, I have the tiniest bit of understanding of it, but still you get kind of sucked into it and you have a vague sense of what’s going on. So that was a lot of fun.
Apple Cider: Part of the Blizzcon experience that I think is the biggest key for me was that you- if you go to Blizzcon itself, if you sink in the money and the time or whatever, you get to meet a lot of cool people and I really felt like I did not have enough time or energy to meet literally everybody that I wanted to meet. There was, like, dozens of people I didn’t get to meet and I didn’t get to see Zarhym this year and Zarhym has been someone I’ve wanted to talk to other years, and there was quite a few people that I didn’t- in the community that I didn’t get to hang out with, like @hestiahdruid and a couple of other podcasters. But I tried to make- I tried to shake hands and smile and meet as many people as possible. What made it easy is that we got there super early so I got to see people as they trickled into town. I got into Anaheim on Tuesday, which was actually a really good idea because it gave me a couple of days to kind of just relax and kind of ease into it before the whole Blizzcon thing happened, but- man, just SO MANY PEOPLE and we’re gonna talk about it a little bit later but I actually got to talk to a lot of Blizzard employees, actually. I got to talk to Dave Kosak, I got to talk to CMs- Bashiok, Nethaera, Nevalistis who is a CM for Diablo 3. I also got to talk to two really great people from Quest Development, that is Helen Cheng who was a guest on our podcast a couple of episodes ago and Craig Amai who is head of Quest Design, so that was SO cool.
Tzufit: Yeah, it sounds like you really had a lot of- a LOT of great conversations, which is certainly the part that I’m jealous of (laughing) having stayed home with my comfy couch and my good food, I definitely didn’t get to participate in that, so.
Apple Cider: I wish you’d been there because I felt like I was kind of carrying the whole- I felt like I was carrying the whole podcast with me when I went to go talk to people, especially when I met Helen because she was really sad that you weren’t there, but you know, it’s pretty understandable.
Tzufit: (Laughing) Aww. Yeah, we’ll see, maybe if we have a Blizzcon this coming year, we’ll see what happens. I would definitely like to get out there and meet everybody.
Apple Cider: So we did want to touch on the atmosphere of Blizzcon cause it’s- I think it’s a unique experience. I’ve been to a lot of conventions and- it’s very different from other conventions, I will say that. A lot of other conventions tend to be more generally focused and a lot of companies participate with certain products and things like that. Blizzcon is one of the few conventions that you can go to where it’s literally just one company and it’s a very big- it’s basically a big PR event. It’s marketing, it’s Blizzard reaching out to their fanbase and showing off all of their new stuff, it’s getting us excited about products that we’re eventually going to be spending our money on. I mean at the most base, cynical level, that’s what it is but on the other hand it is a way to celebrate the community and celebrate fans and celebrate players and have those aspects kind of played up and I know that that was definitely a part of Mike Morhaime’s big kind of keynote speech as well.
Tzufit: Yeah, and I think it’s really impressive and definitely admirable that Blizzard is so willing to put so many of their employees out there for the community to talk to and interact with, because while we are a great community and a big community, we’re not universally a very nice community. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: (Laughing)
Tzufit: So, I think it’s impressive that people are willing to do that for- certainly I’m sure the payoff to them is some of the really GOOD conversations that come out of it, even if you have to sit through an hour of a Q&A with people yelling at you about something like Have Group Will Travel.
Apple Cider: (Laughing) Exactly! They actually have a lot more people in the Blues booth and the GM booth and they also had a lot of signings this year. They had two signings for voice actors and stuff like that, and that was stuff that really hadn’t been done before, so that was a big deal and that’s basically what I tried to hit. I was at the Blues booth for most of Saturday because I really wanted to talk to and hang out with a bunch of people that I had met on Twitter and wanted to kind of rep with and that was a big deal because it wasn’t just, “Oh, hey, I want to thank you guys for making a great game!” it was also kind of like, kind of a schmoozing opportunity because I really respect all these people but, you know, I also slipped them my business card. I mean, let’s be real, you know? They’re people that I’d really like to create a relationship with, especially because of what we do here on Justice Points and what we do on our blogs and stuff, like, that’s really important to give that kind of feedback. But- I mean, most of the time, I was actually just meeting regular fan people. It was kind of- it was a little bit difficult, I will say it was a little bit difficult because going to Blizzcon, I go as a fan first and foremost, and this was my first year attending as a public entity that people knew, but wouldn’t recognize because I’m not very well-known and I’m not somebody that people- people don’t know what I look like, and I’ve kept that very much a focus so it was interesting to run into people and have people shake my hand and be like, “OH! That’s who you are! Oh my god! Oh hi Apple Cider Mage!” It was really cool, it was also a little alienating, it was a little hard, because I met a lot of people that know of me but they don’t really know me very well, so it was a little bit- I kind of felt like I was lost in a crowd and that a lot of people were there that were very recognizable but I didn’t feel like a lot of people that I hung out with really kind of knew me as a person, so it was kind of different in that respect.
Tzufit: Yeah, I think it’s definitely, you know, kind of a balance when it comes to that stuff, and it’s certainly true with meeting anybody who you know through the internet for the first time, because while I certainly am in no way saying that internet friendships aren’t real friendships, because I don’t believe that at all, there is a different dynamic that you have with people when you meet them in person versus when you know them online, and that can be kind of awkward or a little bit of work to get over that initial hurdle and really figure out, “OK this is how we’re gonna interact with each other when we’re in person.”
Apple Cider: Oh yeah, especially, but it also is kind of like- there’s a real big gap between somebody who just reads my blog and only knows me that way, versus hanging out with guildmates or hanging out with you who- I would like- I would expect who knows me behind the avatar, that sort of thing.
Tzufit: Yeah, that’s definitely a good point.
Apple Cider: It was really interesting too, as a woman, going to the convention didn’t really feel super different though. Obviously I had some concerns because we hadn’t really made any progress with the Code of Conduct thing. For the most part, on the actual convention grounds, in the actual convention center, no problems to speak of. I mean, it seemed like people were being pretty cool with cosplayers this year, asking them to take pictures, asking if people can hug other people and stuff like that. For the most part the con was stand in line, sit in a chair, and people for the most part from what I could see were pretty polite. People would let you come slide by and sit down and take a chair, and no-one said anything nasty to me or anything like that. We were all just there to be nerds, or whatever.
Tzufit: Yeah, I think- and the only thing I really noticed was when Jay Mohr was hosting the talent and the cosplay competition at the end. If he could have managed to not call every single woman participant “my love” repeatedly, I would have been OK with that. (Laughing) But it’s Jay Mohr at Blizzcon, and I can’t honestly say that’s a surprise.
Apple Cider: Yeah, it- I mean, there’s still weird elements like that, like the Jay Mohr thing or the fact that they still have the hired Elf ladies that come there? Like, they hire models to dress up as Night Elves and Blood Elves every year, but they weren’t really as present this year as they were in other years, and I really felt like there was way more of an emphasis on just regular cosplayers and that they were getting a lot of attention and- I don’t know, I didn’t- at no point during the convention did I feel unsafe. Which was actually really good. They had a really good security detail, they had a lot of people working the doors, and that sort of thing. So I didn’t feel unsafe. It’s kind of what happened at all of the parties and the after-hours stuff, that’s kind of where a lot of the problems happened, I think.
Tzufit: Yeah, and that’s not especially surprising, because that’s the point where people have access to alcohol and, of course, you know, things are going to go downhill from there.
Apple Cider: Yeah. I witnessed quite a few things at parties that I really wish I hadn’t. Like- yeah. People, when they get alcohol in them, it just kind of goes south, and I made a really concerted effort this year to not drink anything because, number one, I just was not up to it, it was just not a thing that I could do. I had two drinks at the WoWInsider party, and the WoWInsider party was actually pretty well managed, like obviously there was a line that was all the way down the street, and took you like an hour and a half to get in, but the limit on the number of people that could be there was a really good thing, and the fact that the bars were pretty well managed and stuff. Like, I never felt unsafe at the WoWInsider party, it was- the problem I really had was in the Marriott, in the Hilton, because- I’ll explain to people who haven’t been to Blizzcon before. Blizzcon, the convention center, is this big long building and they redid the front of it this year so that instead of a giant taxi pull-up in front, they changed it so that there’s only one tiny road heading to both of the hotel strips that flanked both sides of it. So, imagine it’s a big convention center, big front doors, and on either side of the patio from the front doors there’s huge hotels. So, if you stay in the Hilton or the Marriott you are literally steps from the front doors of Blizzcon, and they made it this year so that the entire middle place that used to be a giant car-death-trap for pedestrians is now this gorgeous palisade or, like, place where you can walk around. This year it was so nice, they had this giant fountain, and they had this huge walkway, so that everybody coming and going from Blizzcon could have this large place to head back to the hotels without getting run over, and it’s gorgeous and there were like palm trees and they had- this year they had a bunch of food trucks lining either side of the walkway. So it was cool cause you could step out of Blizzcon and get really cool food. The problem is that making it more pedestrian accessible, and the fact that both hotel lobbies for the big hotels that most people stay in, the lobbies are all open and in the case of the Hilton, the lobby is not only open but in the center of the lobby is a bar. Like-
Apple Cider: Not a room, it’s a giant lobby with literally just a bar and alcohol right in the middle of it. So literally anybody can walk in off the street and get a drink there.
Tzufit: Yeah, I can’t imagine how that could cause any problems at all.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I likened it to a bus depot and the problem is that also a lot of Blizzard employees stay there, so a LOT of people show up there because they want to rubberneck and catch a glimpse of Blizzard employees and stuff like that. So, at any time, you’d have a TON of people there and alcohol and just- it was just really not a good combination. Even the couple of days before the con actually got started, it was like a gathering spot and I met a lot of community people that were really cool, but a lot of them were drunk and a lot of them were not very nice, and there was quite a lot of kind of weird grope-y touchy-y stuff that I’m glad that I did not get roped into or anything like that, because I would have gotten really upset, but it made me really feel uncomfortable and so- it- I mean- that’s- this is kind of what I had hazarded against, I was like, you know, if you are drinking and you turn into a different person when you drink, please be respectful of other people, otherwise don’t drink because I knew this was gonna happen, and there was more than one time where a random drunk dude would just come up to me and start talking to me and it made me feel really uncomfortable because it’s like, you don’t- just coming up to somebody randomly and talking to them, even though it might not be an imposition of their physical space, it’s an imposition of their time and I don’t know what you’re going to say, I don’t know what you’re going to do, you’re a drunk guy, you have no responsibility for anything you do so why should I trust your motives or whatever. So, a lot of times I just went home early, and I felt really bad because I usually went with people, and that’s really kind of a no-no, you should really stick with your friends and make sure that they’re safe, but- (sigh) it was really tiring to constantly be there.
Tzufit: This is one of the things that sadly makes me kind of question if I would want to do Blizzcon in person, because for me, I need like, grumpy old ladies Blizzcon where I can hang out in an area with just the people who I really wanna talk to and- obviously I want to meet a lot of people, but I wanna have a lot of control over whether or not I need to hang out in a bar with a couple thousand people to do that (laughing) you know? And unfortunately it sounds like that’s how you really get the opportunity to meet a lot of people, both within the community and Blizzard employees themselves, so- for me it would be kind of a double edged sword, I really would like to do that meet and greet stuff but I would prefer to do it when we’re all relatively sober (laughing) and not in a crowd of a couple thousand people, but I understand that you can’t necessarily have it both ways and with Blizzcon it seems to be that specific way and, for me that’s not so much- it’s not really an attraction, I guess.
Apple Cider: Yeah, absolutely, it might have been a little bit more when I was younger, but now I’m just kind of cranky and just don’t wanna deal with stuff, and it’s also hard.
Tzufit: Yeah, I got it out of my system, kind of hanging around with lots of drunk people or being drunk, in college and every once in a while I love to do that with a couple of friends, but a two-day bender in Anaheim where the drinks are probably three times the normal price, that is not high on my list of to-do’s.
Apple Cider: Yeah, absolutely, especially if you’re like me and you’re exhausted every day, drinking would have just compounded the problem so I’m really glad I abstained from that for the most part, I had one or two cocktails at the WoWInsider party and I had one drink at a dinner with my guildmates, which- that was actually fine, that was actually a fun meetup that I really enjoyed and that was the only time I drank. It was good because then I didn’t have the hangover the next day, when I tried to do con stuff.
Tzufit: Yeah, I guess that’s the other point for me, too, is the con stuff doesn’t start super early in the morning, but it starts early enough that you don’t want to be still nursing a hangover at that point. But I don’t want to be a grump about it! I know a lot of people have fun with that kind of stuff and certainly Blizzcon looked like a lot of fun, I just- you know, it’s just- I wish there was a slightly different environment for it.
Apple Cider: Absolutely. And I also wanted to know, because I didn’t really want this to kind of go un-talked-about, there was a report from somebody on Twitter of potential roofie-ing going on at Blizzcon, which I had never heard of prior to this, and I’m not surprised but it does make me hammer the point of, if you see something like that going on, please stop the person or get them escorted out or make sure your friends are safe because everybody was OK in that situation, everybody made it out safe, but it happened because- people made it out safe because they were looking out for their friends, and it sucks that women would have to do that at Blizzcon, you’d think, “Oh, we’re all just nerds, no-one’s gonna be here to hurt me,” and guess what, it’s- apparently it happened and it makes me really sad because it really makes you feel like you can’t trust anybody and especially where alcohol is concerned, but the fact that somebody went to Blizzcon with that intention, it’s gross and it made me feel really gross and I’m just glad that everybody got out of it unharmed.
Tzufit: Yeah, and it- you know, obviously this didn’t happen at the con itself, because there was alcohol involved so it must have been at one of the bars during the after-parties, and we don’t have a lot of information because it’s based on a tweet that somebody made with 140 characters, so as much as you can get into that. And- (sigh) yeah, it is just sad because really, either we’re talking about somebody within the community who had that in mind, or someone who knew that the event was going on and came into a bar with that intention, but- it’s sad, it’s unfortunate, thank goodness everybody was OK and it didn’t end up being as big of a tragedy as it could have been.
Apple Cider: Yeah, exactly. But let’s talk about a little bit more positive stuff, but also kind of the meat of the episode which is all of the stuff that actually got talked about at Blizzcon this year. There were a TOOOOOON of announcements, there was expansion news and game news and other stuff, it was just- there was so much information.
Tzufit: Yeah, there really were a ton of announcements and lots of quality of life changes that we’re gonna see for stat distribution, for raiding, just LOTS and lots of stuff that’s going to, I think for the most part when it comes to the quality of life stuff, it’s really gonna change the game in a positive way. I think having the flex capability available to all facets of raiding except for the very high-end mythic mode, which is essentially true hard-mode progression, I think that’s great. I think separating true hard mode progression into its own little sphere of existence is a good thing, too. I think it sounds like the changes that they’re making to the raid difficulties, for me personally, I’m really excited about them for my raid team because we’re the kind of raid team who clears a raid on normal and then we do a couple of heroic bosses and then we sort of start to hit a wall, I think it sounds like that this new heroic difficulty, we will probably clear that and it will probably be enough of a challenge to keep us interested. I think it will extend the shelf-life of a raid tier for us, without us hitting a brick wall mid-way through heroic content. So I’m excited about that part.
Apple Cider: Well, here’s my question, because you said you did do heroic modes, now heroic in Warlords is going to be the normal difficulty that we think of now, and heroic is mythic, so you said that your guild does- clears out normal and then does a couple of heroic modes, what is that going to be like considering that mythic is 20, I mean, are you going to have to- are you not going to be able to actually do mythic level stuff in the new expansion?
Tzufit: Yeah, it’s a good question, and I think Ghostcrawler in particular has made a couple of tweets this week trying to clarify exactly how the difficulty levels are going to fall out, but so a couple of answers to your questions: no. I have NO intention of doing mythic raiding with my guild, and I’ve already had this conversation and fortunately I think pretty much most of the guild is falling down on the same opinion that I am, which is- first of all, I raid on a ten-person team right now. There is another ten-person team in the guild that we could certainly merge with to do twenty-person mythic, but I don’t want to. (Laughing) You know? I- and most of the other people on the raid team that I’m on don’t want to either, because that’s not what we’re interested in. We don’t want to do the super high end progression stuff, and we’re OK with that, you know? That’s just- we’re a casual raid team, and we’re fine with that. Now, in terms of whether ten-man heroic, the NEW heroic, is going to be exactly equal to ten-man normal now, it sounds like from the tweets that Ghostcrawler made to try and clarify this, ten-man NEW heroic is going to be closer to ten-man heroic difficulty now, then as you go up toward twenty or twenty-five people, since it’s going to be flex, and you can go between the two- and the reason he said that is because typically, not for every single fight but as a generalization across the board, ten-person heroics currently tend to be slightly easier than twenty-five-person heroics currently. So the idea is that basically the new heroic that has the flex capability is going to even out that difference and so it means that the ten-person heroic will be a little bit harder than ten-person normal is now, but I have a feeling from the way that they’re describing it, that it’s gonna really hit that sweet spot for my raid team and our difficulty level that we want and our skill level that we have. So obviously this is all very up in the air (chuckle) no specifics yet, but just from the information that I’m seeing coming out, I’m excited about it because I think it really is going to be the perfect fit for us, and I do think it will hopefully be challenging enough that we’re not gonna plow through it.
Apple Cider: Yeah, it seemed like they’re really making raiding more expansive for everybody that currently does non-heroic clearing stuff. Now, there’s obviously going to be some people that really don’t hit a sweet spot because they’re either a very strict ten-man heroic guild and they’re gonna have to recruit an entire other team or people that do get pretty far in twenty-five- or ten-man heroics but not quite enough to do mythic level, so it’ll be interesting to see where they tune the difficulty for the heroic level which is going to seemingly be somewhere between normal now and heroic now, and goign to be one difficulty, so it’s really interesting cause they’re basically- they’re getting rid of flex mode as we know it and they’re rolling the flex benefits into new heroic which is technically normal and then mythic which is-
Tzufit: Talking about this is so hard. We need like, five different names for everything (laughing) cause it’s really difficult. But yeah, I think it’s gonna work out well, and I do sympathize with the hard-mode progression guilds out there that are either going to need to recruit ten people for their team or cut five people for their team. However, I think in the long run, this is going to be fantastic for hard-mode raiding in general because it means that there’s only one difficulty level that has to be balanced, you’re not gonna get screwed over in a ten-man raid because it’s easier to do this on twenty-five or vice versa, and it’s also going to make the race for world first a lot more interesting because you only have that one difficulty and because you can’t toggle back and forth with that difficulty, you can’t go down and defeat a boss on heroic or normal once you start the raid instance on mythic, it’s on mythic you’re gonna stay on mythic, so I think it’s gonna make that fight a lot more strategic in terms of, do we want to reset this week and start from the beginning to try and get a little bit more gear or do we need to just keep on going and see how far we can get? So I think it will make- once it gets past the initial growing pains that are pretty inevitable when you’re changing the size of a raid group, once we get past that, I think it’s going to be much better for progression raiders.
Apple Cider: Absolutely, and because they made the other modes flex-capable, it means that you can take a twenty-person team that is designed for mythic through the heroic content first, and then get to mythic, so it’s- I see why they do that, it all kind of interlocks. I’m personally excited about the fact that there’s never going to be a time now where I really can’t field a raid team either for a normal raid, AKA flex, or a heroic raid, AKA normal, because EVERYTHING is gonna be cross-realm, and everything’s gonna be flex-size.
Tzufit: Yeah, everything being cross-realm is so exciting. I’m so happy about that.
Apple Cider: Exactly, because it means you can raid with who you want and that has been something that I’ve wanted for such a long time, as somebody who runs a casual social guild. There were so many nights as a ten-man that we couldn’t do anything because one or two people were missing, and for current content, you just couldn’t sub somebody in, it was really demoralizing so the fact that they’re breaking down those barriers means that I can finally run the feminist raid team of my dreams and have a huge roster and it’ll be great. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: But what about the other casual stuff? The way more fun stuff than raiding.
Tzufit: Well, I’ll let you talk about garrisons because while I’m perfectly happy that they’re putting player housing in the game, cause it’s something that people have been asking for for a long time, I don’t care. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) So I’ll let you talk about that.
Apple Cider: Well, garrisons are obviously a throwback to the RTS games of Warcraft, but they seem to have a lot of additional things that a lot of casual players are gonna be happy to do once they hit end-game and don’t necessarily raid all the time. Garrisons are going to be a customizable upgradeable progression player housing town, basically. If you’re somebody that really likes RTS games and fort-building, or somebody that really likes life sims like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Sims, things like that, you’re gonna really dig this stuff because basically what they’re gonna let you do is pick a plot in any zone, in ANY zone, you’re going to have your own instance garrison. This is kind of like the farm in Pandaria, but it is WAY expanded. I mean, there is TONS of content here. You’re going to be able to level up your garrison at three different points, level one, level two, level three, and as you level up your garrison you get bigger, more elaborate buildings, you get things like followers that you can recruit, your followers can do resource gathering and quests so it’s very similar to something like Star Wars: The Old Republic, if you’ve ever played that, and, yeah.
Apple Cider: They’ve also talked about potentially, with certain levels of buildings, potentially giving you bonuses like if you level up an infirmary, maybe once an hour you get a free resurrection if you die out in the wild.
Tzufit: Yeah, I think there’s some really fun ideas going on in there, and I know a lot of my guildmates are super excited about it and everybody’s like, preparing for bragging rights about who’s gonna have the biggest and the best and the most impressive garrison. (Chuckling)
Apple Cider: Absolutely! AND here’s the additional thing for roleplayers, you can invite up to forty people in a raid to your garrison.
Tzufit: Yeah, that’s gonna be FANTASTIC for people who wanna have guild roleplay events, or server roleplay events, but they wanna do it somewhere that’s not necessarily in a public area where you’re gonna get trolled by half the server. This’ll be great for that.
Apple Cider: Absolutely. I mean, I’m really looking forward to the fact that you can have an instanced bar night or an instanced- literally anything, a party? I’m just- I’m super excited, and the fact that it can be anywhere in the world or a specific number of plots in any zone means that I know my gnome will finally have that little apartment that she’s always wanted maybe in Shadowmoon Valley or something like that, and that’s gonna be super super cool. And it seems that they’ve really developed a lot of persistent content to do every day that aren’t dailies but work towards that kind of character-like progression and I feel that that’s really going to be a big draw for a lot of casual players. I also want them to add a walk-in closet or an armor rack, because that would just be wicked sweet. (Laughing)
Tzufit: Aw heck yeah. If you don’t have a way to show off your transmogs, I have no point (laughing) of making a garrison.
Apple Cider: Speaking of transmog, it’s actually been hinted at by Cory Stockton on twitter that transmog from D3 is actually being worked on to be included in World of Warcraft, so that means that they’re working on a way to have multiple characters be able to pick up multiple pieces of armor and have that armor model be shared in a shared data bank or armory page or catalogue that you can transmog any of your toons into, barring things like armor class.
Tzufit: Yeah, that would be incredibly exciting and eliminate- you know, they’re already eliminating so many inventory issues with all the other improvements that they’re making to that. This would pretty much- like, my bank would be empty. It would be great.
Apple Cider: Oh yeah, absolutely, getting rid of heirlooms from your bank and making them find an account page, same with toys, like that’s such a big deal because I know especially after Mists of Pandaria, our bags are CRYING after Timeless Isle.
Tzufit: Yeah, between Timeless Isle and then so many quests along the way in Pandaria have fun little puntable marmots and stuff (laughing) so.
Apple Cider: Absolutely. Those are the things that I’ve been most interested in, other than the fact that they’re also implementing the new models and that was easily one of the highlights of Blizzcon for me.
Apple Cider: Especially because I missed the art panel and literally every person on my Twitter list tweeted me the picture of the female Gnomes.
Tzufit: Well, yeah, and particularly the gnome who’s doing the- I took is as a, “I don’t know if…” emote. Like, she’s just- it just seems like somebody read Apple Cider’s blog and was like, “What would her expression be 90% of the time?”
Apple Cider: (Laughing) Exactly! Exactly.
Tzufit: Yeah, I think the- obviously the new character models are extremely exciting, I wish we had seen more of them, I wish that we had seen more women models, but I understand that this is pretty early on in the process. I did get a little chuckle to myself that we saw no hints of a new Human model or a new Night Elf model because those are two that, in my mind, I just look at them and I’m like, what are you gonna do with this? These are so BAD! So I would imagine those might be a little bit further down on the list, because they’re probably gonna take a lot of work. (Laughing)
Apple Cider: Yeah, absolutely. I was not expecting them to be ready for Blizzcon. I was even surprised that they had some of the mockups that they did, so that was a really big deal.
Tzufit: Yeah, and I was really shocked, honestly, that they even had animated ones at that point, so that’s very encouraging. I really, really hope that they roll them all out at the same time because I think it would be incredibly disappointing to get like, all the new Dwarves and then two weeks later all the new Orcs and so on. I really hope they roll them all out at once.
Apple Cider: Yeah, here’s hoping. They said that they might not do that, so we’ll see. However, I know there is an elephant in the room that we have not gotten to with Warlords of Draenor and I know that TONS of our listeners have been waiting on bated breath for us to talk about this so why don’t we just get right into it?
Tzufit: Alrighty, well I’ll set this one up a little bit because I was watching this when it happened live and I know Apple Cider wasn’t able to make it to the panel and when I get there I’ll explain why I knew while I was watching it, she could not be at that panel, so. (Laughing) So anyway, as I’m sure all of the internet has already heard at this point, during the expansion reveal, or this was actually during the Warcraft panel, Chris Metzen was asked a question by a gentleman in the audience who asked him a general question about a couple of different cool lady Orcs and whether or not they were gonna be participating in the expansion, because obviously we’re going back to Draenor, lots of famous Orcs are gonna be there, all the chieftains, all the new warlords, so this guy asked about a couple of different lady Orcs and Metzen said yes to all of them, and then he asked whether Aggra and baby Thrall would be coming through- (chuckling)
Apple Cider: (Laughing)
Tzufit: Would be coming through the Dark Portal as well, and Metzen’s response was that no, Aggra and baby Thrall would not be coming because this was more of a boys’ trip. And- and again, I’m sitting there, we were eating dinner (chuckles) and I had made my special Blizzcon chili and everything, and like, the fork fell out of my hand onto the plate and I could see the words as they were about to fall out of Metzen’s mouth and everything happened in slow motion, I’m like, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (Laughing)
Apple Cider: (Laughing)
Tzufit: And at that moment, I knew that Apple Cider could not possibly be in the audience because I didn’t see anyone storming the stage.
Apple Cider: (Laughing hard)
Tzufit: So I knew she wasn’t there, and then again, as I pointed out on Twitter already, I had oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in my oven at the beginning of when this all started, and they were supposed to be in there for eight minutes, and because of all the Twitter storm that happened right after this, my cookies were in there for 45 minutes, so I’ll tell you what, right now, Blizzard, Chris Metzen, you owe me a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I expect those in the mail any day now.
Apple Cider: (Chuckling) It was really sad to me that I actually missed the lore panel and the art panel and for me, I was just like, you know what, I’m sure they’ll be talking about some cool stuff but it’s something that I can catch later, on the live stream. At that point, I was super hungry, I really needed to go eat something, so let’s all be glad I was not at that panel because me on low blood sugar, I probably would have leapt up onto the stage and started trying to headbutt chris Metzen and stuff.
Tzufit: (Chuckling) But isn’t that just how he says hi? Like, he probably would’ve been cool with that. Alright, so let’s talk about it. Here’s my two cents. So, of the defences that I’ve seen of what he said, almost all of them say, “He was excited, he has good reason to be excited, these are his characters that he created and he’s kind of nurtured and followed and voiced over all these years, and so he’s excited about the content. It was a slip of the tongue, it was off the cuff.” And it’s- that argument cracks me up, guys. It really cracks me up because that’s the point. (Chuckling) You know, when someday I write the illustrated guide to sexism in Warcraft, next to my entry for casual sexism will be a picture of Chris Metzen saying “boys’ trip”. Because you know, we’re talking about a senior VP at a company and gaming companies certainly do things differently than a lot of other companies, and sometimes that’s better and sometimes it’s worse, but it is surprising to me that a company knowing that it has a senior VP who DOES tend to say things off the cuff and who, I mean, even aside from the “boys’ trip” comment, he obviously dropped a couple of spoilers about Warlords of Draenor that we weren’t supposed to know yet! (Laughing) He did that a couple of times during that panel. So just knowing all those things about this person, I- it’s mind-boggling to me that the company is willing to make the decision to put him up there in this kind of live fashion and- and more importantly, put him up there and not say, “Hey Chris, you’ve gotta read off this script, you’ve GOT to, man.”
Apple Cider: I think he does try to start with a script and then he just gets, like you said, SO EXCITED, and then doesn’t understand when everybody’s not excited along with him. Like, I really feel like Chris Metzen embodies a twelve-year-old boy, and is REALLY PUMPED ABOUT LITERALLY EVERYTHING AND HE’S SO STOKED AND OH MY GOD!
Tzufit: OH MY GOD THE ORCS! ORCS!
Apple Cider: WARLORDS OF DRAENOR! OOOOOOHHHH!
Tzufit: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s why, and I’ve seen some comments to the effect that he did it intentionally or whatever, and I don’t think he did. I truly don’t. And that certainly would be more problematic if that were the case, but you know what? We got plenty to talk about with the fact that he did it off the cuff, you know? Assuming that is what happened, because that’s problematic too. So let’s talk about that.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I mean, it- the reason that this was such a big deal coming so off the cuff from Chris Metzen was not even the fact that it was off the cuff, a comment about Aggra, a comment about a woman that should rightfully be in the expansion taking place on her homeworld, and the fact that Blizzard should play up ferocious warrior mama characters cause they’re totally badass and awesome, it came nipping on the heels of an expansion announcement that seemed very enthusiastically masculine. Let’s just put it out there. There were a lot of dudes talking about their weapons, being dudes, ton of dudes in the art, it was just like, dude, dude, dude, man, man, man, bro, bro, bro. And I understand why that occurred. I completely understand, cause guess what, it is HUGE marketing announcement, it’s Chris Metzen being super stoked on stage, OF COURSE CHRIS METZEN IS GOING TO BE SUPER EXCITED about “LET’S GO BACK TO WARCRAFT AND THEY’RE BEING IN A METAL BAND!” This is Chris Metzen turbo dream fuel that we’re talking about here.
Apple Cider: This is like him giving birth to a baby and holding it up over the audience and having everybody shout and scream and stuff. So, I understand, this is Metzen’s baby.
Tzufit: It’s his Simba!
Apple Cider: Yes! Exactly, this is the one time in Metzen’s career where I really feel like it’s a nexus of everything that he’s loved working on because it’s revisiting an earlier time in his career as a game designer, as a game developer, as a story writer, and it’s getting to go BACK INTO ALL THAT COOL STUFF AND BE METAL AND OHH BROS WITH AXES AND ORCS AND THE HORDE WOO! Yeah, so, I understand that, but it was really upsetting from- or not even upsetting, but just disappointing, because every woman in the audience, not every woman but a lot of audience were like, “Oh. OK, that’s… that’s cool, I guess, well maybe they’ll talk about all the other women characters at the Lore panel.”
Tzufit: (Chuckling) Yeah, and I mean, that is the thing about the announcement is, Warlords of Draenor was the expansion that I expected to be announced, that’s what I thought was coming, and it may very well be the case that we get a lot of cool stories and representation that happen in the expansion itself, but when you call an expansion Warlords of Draenor and when you’re very specifically harkening back to a time in gaming that’s now fifteen years ago, which even at the time was kind of super masculine, twelve year old boy, ORCS ORCS ORCS MEN MEN MEN, you know? That’s going to feel very dated and very kind of- yeah, like you said, disappointing, I guess, in 2013 because that’s not really where we are at this point. And it certainly feels like a weird step back, in that regard, from Mists of Pandaria where, although we’ve certainly discussed some of the issues with women’s representation in Mists of Pandaria, there are a lot of women in that expansion, there are a lot of lady Pandaren with a lot of agency and diversity running around Pandaria. And I think that the thing about Warlords of Draenor is that, whereas Pandaria has that built into its society, where there’s not a lot of gender specific stuff going on, Orcs don’t have that built into their society. There are lots of lady warrior Orcs, but there are also ladies who are being told, “No, you don’t get to be a warrior.”
Apple Cider: Yeah, it’s really interesting that we’re going back in time for an expansion and not just going back in time metaphorically or literally, we’re going back in time to, yeah, an earlier piece of Blizzard canon or Blizzard lore, World of Warcraft lore. We’re going back to an earlier time that revisits an earlier piece of writing IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the one expansion that has been chock full of new lore, new content, and an almost idyllic meritocracy. I mean, we talk about meritocracy in feminist work a lot and how it’s a complete sham because you can’t have a meritocracy when there’s gender inequality in your society. Pandaren don’t have that. Pandaren are as close to a true meritocracy as you could possibly get other than maybe the Klaxxi.
Tzufit: Yeah. Exactly.
Apple Cider: You know, your worth and your value is completely based on your accomplishments. Women Pandaren and men Pandaren have no difference in the jobs that they do, the echelons of power that they can attain, like- so, it’s obvious to us that when creative development in Blizzard, in World of Warcraft gets free reign to really go and do the stories, do new stuff, that they really go all out and they do a lot of really kind of gutsy things and kind of really expand the world to really include all of these cool women characters. So the fact that we’re going back in time and there isn’t a lot of seeming updates to some of the writing, because guess what? All of the writing, it is a choice made by a writer and made by a group of people that- I’m very cautiously pessimistic that things are not gonna get as updated as, say, Mists of Pandaria. Which sucks because from what I understood talking to some of the other CDev people, this really isn’t an expansion that’s just about men, there are a lot of really cool women characters that they have in the pipeline that did not get mentioned in the big reveal, and it makes me really sad.
Tzufit: Yeah, I think that’s really sad and I think also just to touch one more time about the subject material and the time period, it’s just a confusing decision to go back to a point in time that is so male-dominated and then have to sort of insert these characters that- and that’s kind of an unfair term, because I think hopefully the CDev team and the quest team are good enough at inserting these people into the story that they’re not gonna feel like afterthoughts. I hope that’s the case, but obviously, we’re gonna have to wait and see. But, the thing is that it’s much more a question of having to interject these stories into a very masculine overarching narrative when you’re talking about going back to this point in history rather than the natural progression forward of whatever’s gonna happen in the storyline to us after Pandaria because, yeah, it’s always easier to create from scratch in that kind of way and not be hindered by the decisions that were made in the past and in this case, QUITE a long time ago.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I feel like there’s been a little bit of a seat change with Blizzard between the Warcraft RTS and World of Warcraft games. Obviously they had to get a lot bigger, way bigger development teams, different cooks stirring the pot. So, seeing what they did with Pandaria and even things like Cataclysm and then jumping ahead to Warlords, yeah, it’s a BIIIIG difference, and I feel like- I really hope that people’s work in including women that should rightfully be there because I don’t think Orc culture is devoid of women, I mean, look at Aggra, look at Draka, look at, you know, a lot of these people. Geyah, even. There are women there in that culture and there should be no reason that they shouldn’t be there, especially now that we’re going back in time to prior to all of the Orcs drinking demon blood, of COURSE there should be women there, these are full, fleshed out societies and clans. There have to be women, this is not the Mogu we’re talking about, where the women were slaughtered en masse and they’re all stone so they don’t need reproduction. Now, there’s always women that are gonna be there, women who were hunters, who were fighters, who cook, and who are scouts and visionaries and shamans and wizards and seers and are grandmothers and mothers and sisters and daughters and things like that. There’s always- every culture has women, and every culture has women participating in it. however, this is kind of an interesting point, if we look at our own history as humans, one of the reasons why I think so many fantasy writers don’t quite understand the whole perception of incredibly masculine dominated societies in terms of telling a story years later is because they forget that a lot of history gets written by people in power. So women have existed since the beginning of time but when we think of stories that get written where women are kind of left out, is because there’s no acknowledgement of the fact that whoever holds the pen gets to decide the angle of the story. Even if Blizzard, or creative development for World of Warcraft for the next expansion, decided to not write any Orc women in there, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Orc women didn’t exist. I mean, granted, yes, it’s a fictional story, so they could technically not exist, but logically, they’re- they should be there because even if you want to write them into very minor characters and to kind of skirt them into the background, that’s not how cultures actually work.
Tzufit: Well, and I think also it’s a real cop-out to say things like, oh, you know, that really wouldn’t have been women’s role at this time period because a lot of fantasy literature is grounded in the middle ages, which- first of all, is not especially accurate, and second of all, WHO CARES? You are writing FICTION. You are not writing a biography or a history of something that happened in medieval times. So do whatever you want and if you choose not to include women in that narrative, that is absolutely a choice and not you being hampered by your source material.
Apple Cider: Absolutely! Come on, we’re going back to an alternate timeline to another planet that got blown up by people going through a magical portal by Orcs that drank demon’s blood and we’re going back to keep one of the Orcs from coming back to our timeline and completely pooping all over our planet. Yeah, no, that’s completely a real thing and, uh, yeah, OK.
Tzufit: Yeah, we should make sure we’re being as realistic as possible with that portrayal.
Apple Cider: Yeah. (Chuckling) So, I mean, I- and to kind of put a little bit of a positive spin on this, I absolutely have no doubt in my mind that there are going to be cool women in this expansion. I have the utmost faith in creative development at Blizzard, I have the utmost faith that this is only two percent of what we’re really going to see in this expansion. So in that vein, I feel kind of disappointed that maybe some people’s hard work was overshadowed because of what was very narrowly presented at Blizzcon.
Tzufit: Yeah, and it was- let’s make no mistake, it was wrong of Metzen to throw the “boys’ trip” line out there, whether intentional or otherwise, and it was probably not the best decision on the part of the marketing department to, if we are gonna have this expansion that’s heavily set in a masculine setting anyway, to make a website with ten dudes on it. You know? (Laughing) But as I have pointed out on Twitter, I don’t know- like, I was ready, I was expecting this to be the expansion, so I was kind of mentally prepared for, “Alright, we’re going back to when Orcs did manly things with manly weapons and they were men.” But I don’t know that I would have been as angry as I was about it or have gone to look at the website and been like, “Oh, hey, ten dudes,” had it not been for Metzen’s comment. That sort of trifecta of the comment, the website, and the maleness of the expansion in general, it was really the perfect storm. If any one of those elements had been missing, and particularly if Metzen’s comment had been missing, I don’t think it would have been this really hot topic that it has become.
Apple Cider: Yeah. Chris Metzen really provided a rally point on level with “Hush, Tyrande.”
Tzufit: Yeah, so thanks for that Chris, we do appreciate it, because what I love right now about the whole thing is that any time anybody writes up a summary of their feelings about Blizzcon announcements, there’s a discussion about women in it. It’s like- I mean, I’m having feminist Christmas early! You know? Because every write up, even if it’s somebody who’s never written about feminism or the inclusion of women in World of Warcraft before, it’s in their write up now, so.
Apple Cider: Yeah. It’s way easier to gain support for a feminist ideology when there’s something so blatant that gets tossed out there, whereas when you’re really looking at very deeply critical stuff that’s very subversive or very sort of casual and embedded and not on the surface level of stuff, it’s really hard to get people to all agree. When something is so blatant and kind of out there like the whole “boys’ trip” thing, it makes finding support a LOT easier and it’s been really- I feel like the positive thing that’s come out of this is that it really has started a huge discussion and that Blizzard’s actually this time.
Tzufit: And participating.
Apple Cider: Yeah! It’s been really kind of cool, and in the past I may have felt that Blizzard wasn’t gonna do much of anything with the Ji Firepaw thing, when I first wrote that up, I didn’t think Blizzard was gonna do crap about it, like I didn’t think they were gonna do shit, and they DID! So the fact that we have creative people in the development team that obviously care about what the community is talking about, and we have community reps that actually bring that information back to the developers, I feel like us having this conversation and Chris Metzen making that gaffe is what’s going to finally erode as much of that expectation of one or two viewpoints dominating the discourse. I mean, I really- I don’t think Chris Metzen, or even Dave Kosak to some degree, I don’t think they’re bad people, I think they just have the problem that a lot of other men who are creative or writers or artists, I think that they have a problem where they have a very limited perspective, and they get JAZZED about one thing that they’re excited about and they forget that other people are excited about other things. I will tell you now, if Chris Metzen had got up on stage and been like, “Hey LADIES! WE DIDN’T FORGET ABOUT YOU!” and then showed some baller art of Draka and Aggra like, posing with axes and shit like that, there would have been people rolling in the aisles, I bet you money.
Tzufit: (Chuckling) Yeah, we would have been having an entirely different conversation right now. And I agree with you, I mean I certainly- it’s funny because as angry as I was at the moment that that comment happened, I have spent this week being so happy and so encouraged by just how many conversations are happening. There are two downsides to this that I would like to address, which are, first of all, I think that the customer service reps are in a really precarious position right now because obviously it is the job of a customer service rep, like Nethaera for example, to put out fires. That’s what she does, she’s good at it. However, because that IS HER JOB and she’s doing it, it means that she’s been trying to deal with people’s concerns about everything that we’ve seen at Warlords and I think unfortunately, a lot of negativity and vitriol has been directed at her and I think unfairly. I mean, she’s doing her job because it’s what she has to do and at this point, screaming at a CM because of what’s happening with Warlords on the creative side, to me, is like yelling at a cashier at Walmart because your line was too long. So I think we need to be careful that we’re directing our criticism and our anger where it SHOULD be directed, and I think it’s also probably important that we do acknowledge that our criticism is being heard. I’m absolutely not saying we should stop talking about it, obviously because we’re about to spend two hours talking about it (chuckling) but I think it’s important to know that our voices are being heard and to not be unfair with the criticism that we’re making. Especially at people who are trying to do their jobs. It’s definitely a difficult balance, because obviously we don’t wanna silence any voices, I think it’s really important that we keep talking about it, but I think it’s important that we do so in a way that’s not going to fall into personal attacks against people who don’t- who didn’t make the gaffe, who aren’t part of the marketing department who decided to put ten dudes up on the website or who didn’t say “this is a boys’ trip”.
Apple Cider: To Nethaera’s credit, Nethaera is- cause I also got to speak to Nethaera at length, Nethaera is a very formidable woman and she is a woman of many talents and I believe if there’s any one person to be out in the front for community team, she’s probably the best. I mean, obviously I don’t think people should be really as angry at her in their messages to her, but I think the fact that she is doing such an amazing job and is so skilled and so trained to handle this, I- honestly, that’s what community management should really be, and I have the utmost respect for what she’s doing because that’s her job, that’s her job is to deal with the community, and if it means that the creative people get to work unhindered because they don’t have to deal with all of us fan people (laughing) ranting and yelling at them day to day, then I think Nethaera’s doing her job utterly well, although seriously, somebody buy her, like, an oversized bottle of champagne and a nice outfit or something cause seriously, she deserves some sort of quality bonus pay for dealing with the people right now. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) Yeah, exactly. The other bit that’s concerning to me is that the last time we saw a real push in feminist dialogue in the Warcraft community it was good and it was positive for a week or two weeks or however long, and then there was a pretty hardcore backlash which, at the time, manifested in a lot of posts about how, “Well, I don’t consider myself feminist,” or, “I’m not one of those types of women,” and we’re already seeing a little bit of that starting here and there around the community, and just to respond ever so briefly to some of the criticisms there because I don’t think a lot of them are even WORTH responding to, but two things. First of all, the notion that Blizzard does not want to or does not need to hear our feedback on the story is ludicrous and laughable. They solicit feedback on EVERY ASPECT of their products. They ask for it constantly. So to tell us that we should be quiet about the development of the story, particularly during the period of time when we can actually make a difference about how that story is going to go, that’s just ridiculous.
Apple Cider: Yeah. Look at Ji Firepaw. Look at the NPCs in the 5.4 patch that were hitting on an Orc woman. Look at so many things that have come down the chain that were hotfixed overnight. Blizzard asks for feedback at every step of the way, and it’s one of the reasons why the community team does a really amazing job, is because they collate all of that stuff and obviously pass it back to their developers at every level. Like, I’m- you know, I don’t know how Blizzard works 100% but I know for a fact that they probably spend a LOT of time in meetings talking about this stuff. You don’t get to be a giant game company without really listening to your fans and I feel like Blizzard does that quite a lot more than some other companies.
Tzufit: Yeah. And the second thing I’d like to address is sort of the notion that there have been a lot of women gamers and women WoW players coming out and saying, you know, “This issue doesn’t matter to me because I don’t care if we have women characters in-game. It’s not important.” OK, and that’s fine, I’m sure there are plenty of people who feel that way, but to use that as a silencing tactic is so disingenuous because if you don’t care whether the characters in the story are male or female, then why are you yelling at people who do? If what you’re really saying is, “I’m sick of reading about this on blogs,” or, “I’m sick of reading about it on Twitter,” OK, that’s a realistic argument, and you know what? Go ahead and unfollow those people on Twitter, set up a couple of mutes on your Tweetdeck or whatever you use, and you can stop seeing that conversation. But to say that because YOU personally don’t care whether there are any strong women characters in Warlords or any women characters at all, as a way to say that other people shouldn’t be talking about it, I’m sorry, that makes NO sense.
Apple Cider: Yeah. It doesn’t feel like you’re adding anything to the conversation. It really feels like you just want people to be quiet, and that’s weird to me. That’s really, really weird, and I don’t like it, but- again, it’s part of having a huge active conversation online and all that, but it- yeah, like you said, it really doesn’t feel like, “I don’t have a problem with this,” it really feels like you’re saying, “I don’t have a problem with this, why do you guys have a problem with this? You should really just stop being bothered by it.” And I mean, I don’t know, have you been listening to our podcasts? Have you been reading our Twitters or our blogs? This is the stuff that we do, this is kind of a rodeo that we signed up for.
Tzufit: Yeah, I don’t really have a lot of sympathy at this point. If you’re following me on Twitter and you have problems with me talking about feminist stuff on occasion, when I’m not talking about cats or eating, then you should probably go ahead and unfollow me ‘cause it’s gonna be there.
Apple Cider: And I think that it’s really nice to see the community come together and have these kinds of conversations and be constructive. I mean, that’s how things are tempered and tested and forged and created and improved. So, I understand, there’s gonna be a lot of women and a lot of men that aren’t bothered by this stuff, but let the people who are bothered by it get to have their conversation. Just let them go, just let it go.
Tzufit: Cause it’s not gonna negatively impact your experience for the expansion. You’re just gonna get more cool stories and if you don’t care whether those stories are about men or women, THAT’S FINE! That’s absolutely fine, but for those of us who DO care, we aren’t hurting you. We aren’t making you have a worse experience in Warlords of Draenor by asking for these things in-game.
Apple Cider: Yeah. So… We kind of jump from that. I really wanna talk about what kind of gave me the indication that Warlords of Draenor is not just gonna be about a bunch of shirtless Orc dudes rubbing oil on their pecs or whatever. I got to talk to Helen Cheng, obviously she is an AMAZING developer and she’s SO smart and she’s SO funny and the fact that I got to meet her was MINDBLOWING!
Apple Cider: But during, I believe it was one of the lore panels, was it during the lore panel that she got mentioned? Her character?
Tzufit: Yes, I believe so.
Apple Cider: So, we got hints of a Draenei champion character named Yrel, and I didn’t get to see it first-hand, again it happened during a panel I didn’t get to attend, but Yrel is one of the big Alliance storyline characters that we’re going to be seeing over the course of the expansion, and she was originally pitched and developed by Helen Cheng, which is no surprise (chuckling) cause she’s amazing, but she’s been developed by the entire creative development team and the artwork that they showed during the lore panel was done by one of the male artists at Blizzard who is really enamored with the character. So the fact that this woman is going to be a part of not just the expansion but the Alliance storyline because I know we talk about Aggra a lot, but Aggra would be really probably part of the Horde stuff, or the New Horde not the Old Horde because the Old Horde doesn’t exist in the new story- ANYWAY. This character, Yrel, is kind of like- to me it seems like a kind of growing-up story because it seems like she kind of starts off from really rough beginnings, as just kind of an acolyte or an underling of some description, and over the course of the expansion grows with the players and becomes this force in her own right and really gets developed from somebody who doesn’t really know her way into somebody who has a destiny and a clear vision and is a powerful warrior and leads this charge and she’s holy and religious and is full of drive and faith and- that just says to me that we’re not just gonna have manly men smashing each other’s heads in in this expansion.
Tzufit: Yeah, I’m definitely excited to see how Yrel’s story shapes up, particularly because it sounds like it’s going to be one of those stories like Helen talked about when she was on the podcast where you really do follow a character and in Yrel’s case it sounds like it’s not just gonna be through a zone or a quest hub, but you’re truly gonna follow a character and have that person be your companion for your leveling experience, for the expansion, and I love the idea of that because it really is an interesting way to see a character grow, which can be a difficult thing to achieve in an MMO. So I’m excited about it from a storytelling conceptual side of things, but I’m also really excited about it as a woman who wants to see a cool, interesting woman character that gets to develop over the course of my leveling experience. I can’t wait to hear more about her and get to hopefully hop into the beta and experience some of that for the first time.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I mean, the Draenei are gonna get a buttload of new lore in the expansion, which is great because we’ve only ever really seen Maraad and Velen, obviously, and one other character and her name escapes me at this point, but Yrel really seems to be the faction champion and her race’s champion in a way that Maraad and Velen, I don’t think, are really going to fill. And it seems like they’re really kind of progressing on some of the other stuff they worked on before, like somebody like Lillian Voss, like somebody like Taoshi, or Li Li, these characters that go with you in some way or another from zone to zone or through the overall narrative of all the patches, and it- that really feels like that’s where creative development’s strong point is, and especially quest design, because I believe a lot of the people that do the quest design have to create these really memorable characters. It really feels like that’s where they’re gonna shine, and the idea that we’re gonna get to grow up with her a little bit, that just seems so cool.
Tzufit: Yeah. Now one thing I will point out is that I know I bristled a little bit, and I think you did too, at the description of Yrel as a Joan of Arc character, because first of all, we all know what happens to Joan of Arc (chuckling) at the end of the day, and secondly because Joan just seems to be the go-to person whenever we need to talk about a woman warrior, and that can be a little bit obnoxious. But I think- it’s important to take that comment with a grain of salt, too, because I don’t know and I’m not sure we can know since it sounds like creating a character is such a collaborative process, whether that was something that was in the mind specifically of the person who created Yrel or if that was sort of what somebody thought of her after the fact. It’s hard to know. And I think that hopefully, best and worst case scenario, I guess, is that some dude creator later on was like, “Oh yeah, a strong lady warrior, like Joan of Arc,” rather than that necessarily being what Yrel was truly modeled off, but again, hard to know, won’t really know anything about it until we see Yrel’s story play out.
Apple Cider: I can definitely see the parallels with a woman who is driven by a higher faith and a higher religious experience, and considering that I think she’s either a priest or a paladin, that seems to fit.
Tzufit: Kind of looks like she’s in plate armor and a mace.
Apple Cider: Oh, absolutely, so she’s probably a paladin, and hopefully- maybe she’ll actually know what divine protection is, unlike SOME paladins on the Alliance. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) Yeeeaaahhhh…
Apple Cider: (Quietly) Tirion Fordring…
Tzufit: (Gasps) I wasn’t gonna say it!
Apple Cider: (Chuckling) But- so- but- and then I can also see that it’s really hard to create a modern touchstone for warrior women when, guess what? History has not really been fair to women who were fighting in wars and things like that. So yeah, it feels like Joan of Arc gets way overused. I mean, you could also talk about Boudicca as kind of the warrior woman sort of thing, but yeah, I can understand, there’s not a lot of cultural touchstones to make people instantly recognize- it was a little funny that they picked Joan of Arc cause it’s like, yeah, she fought and had a very persuasive sway, she had a lot of followers, she was very religious, she was driven by the idea that she was speaking directly to God and she was a prophet, and I can definitely dig why they would create that. But then of course she also was condemned as a delusional heretic, and then burned alive, so- you know, maaaybe not the best parallel. (Chuckling)
Tzufit: I mean, I will go on record right now and say that if Yrel dies at some point in this narrative, during this story, or if any of the real trope-y bullshit stuff (laughing) that tends to happen to women warrior characters happens to Yrel, then I’m gonna be angry, and then we’ll talk about it.
Apple Cider: (Chuckling) I have a feeling she’s gonna be OK though. I have a feeling because, you know what, she’s gonna kick some ass, she’s gonna do some great things for the Alliance, and hopefully she’s just one of many cool women that we’re gonna see in the story, that we’re gonna see in the patches, that we’re gonna see in the quests. I have every- I am so positive, I’m so pumped about just seeing who’s gonna turn up in the expansion because we already know that there is going to be some Jaina content, we already know there’s gonna be some Moira content, we already know that there’s going to be Draka and Zaela, cause Zaela is going to actually be a Warlord herself, kind of at Garrosh’s right hand. So, I don’t think we’re gonna have a lack of women, I just wanna see where they go with it, and I know that we’re gonna run into some really cool ladies just questing in all of the different zones, because that was really the strength of Mists of Pandaria is, like what we talked about with Helen, those characters that you get to see in your questing experience and the starting zones that really stick with you, and I think they did such an amazing job on Pandaria, they’re gonna do it again. They’re gonna do it again in Warlords.
Tzufit: Yeah, and just to bring it around full circle, I do have confidence, especially after talking to you about some of the conversations you were able to have with the people who you spoke to, I do have confidence that we’re gonna get some cool stories in there, and simultaneously I don’t think that excuses the marketing presentation that we were shown.
Apple Cider: Yeah, CDev feels like a large group of people that have all really cool ideas and then it just felt like they weren’t being wholly representative because obviously you have to condense the expansion into an excitable three-bullet-point soundbite sort of clip, I guess.
Tzufit: Right, and unfortunately the excitable sounding thing is Metzen being up on stage going, “OOOORCS!”
Apple Cider: Yes! (Laughing) I really, I mean, talking to Craig and talking to Helen really gave me hope because it really feels like everybody in creative development- and this includes the people that you don’t know about, because there are more people than just Kosak and Metzen and Helen and Craig, there are hundreds of people that do the creative side of things that you never hear about, and their work needs to be respected, too. So, I have a feeling we’re gonna see a lot of great things because it feels like they all bounce a lot of ideas back and forth and really develop things as a group. Like, that’s- something that Helen said is that Yrel was pitched by her, but was developed by the creative development team as a whole and she looks kickass from here, so, you know. So we’ve talked about kind of the bigger issues with gender representation but we kind of want at the end of the show to tail it off on some of the other problematic elements of doing an Orc expansion, and that is the fact that Orcs and some of the other Horde races, like we kind of touched on in our racism episode, are based on really problematic stereotypes and archetypes.
Apple Cider: I mean, something about this expansion feels very… savage.
Tzufit: Ohhh my god. You know, (chuckles) like, if you could watch that whole cinematic, or not cinematic, but if you watched that whole presentation and made it through the whole tribal dancing scene with the body paint and the fire, if you can make that without facepalming, basically, I don’t know how you did that (laughing) cause I couldn’t.
Apple Cider: Yeah, exactly. I heard that people were trying to make the Dave Kosak saying “savages” thing into a drinking game, but I hope that no-one actually did because you probably would have gotten carted off the ground in a stretcher.
Tzufit: Yeah, and he certainly has made light of it after the fact as well, and everybody is- I just saw a post on a fansite making light of it too, and, you know, yes, it’s funny, the guy used the word “savage” like five times in a sentence, and it was a grammatically correct sentence, but still. Also, that word has a history, and has a problematic history, and I think that- you know, it’s difficult to make that into an all out joke, and I feel like when we are making such a joke of it, we’re kind of ignoring or minimizing the fact that, hey, maybe there are some issues with the way that the Orcs are being represented.
Apple Cider: Yeah. I mean, Blizzard has really not done a great job at not falling into the idea that has been pervasive in so many fantasy realms, and this was actually brought up by one of my Twitter friends, basically, @Khazar222. He brought up the fact that this idea of a dark-skinned brute (also a problematic term) has existed since sword and sorcery came into being as a genre, and informed Tolkien, and Tolkien was definitely a product of his era, which was, guess what, RACIST! The idea of the dark animalistic brutish warmongering quasi-evil character trope, that’s heavily embedded in racist imagery.
Tzufit: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s- you know, the idea that we’re sort of the white knights coming in to free the savage races from all the violence and all the superstition that they’ve had going on before we came there, I mean, HELLO? I don’t know how else to frame this. It’s really problematic. It’s really racist, and to use it so freely and without any knowledge or thought about all the stuff that’s behind it, and certainly, like you said, it’s informed by prior fantasy literature, and that doesn’t make it OK.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I mean, the use of things like shaman, which is a real term, that is a real thing that- that is like, that is a real thing in real cultures. The idea of these warring tribes and clans is definitely a perception, a very colonialist perception, of things like multitudes of indigenous peoples. Like, we’re not just talking about native and indigenous peoples from America, we’re talking about how they conceptualized tribes from different countries in Africa, pre-slavery, things like that, we’re talking about northern peoples like the Inuit, any nomadic tribes across Asia and Africa and the Americas and so on, this is a HUGE problem that they have presented multiple times in the game across many playable and NPC races. So the fact that we’re going back in time to fight a bunch of savage brown-skinned Orcs that are split up into nomadic clans that live in not only icy climes but hot jungles and they’ve got superstitious warlords and warlocks and people that gouge out their eyes and stuff like that, it’s- it’s heavily problematic.
Tzufit: It’s a way of Othering a whole different culture from yourself, and it’s a way of devaluing that culture and being able to hold yourself up and say, “Look how much better we are because we don’t do x, y, and z, therefore we have the right to go in and take what we want, do what we want, reorganize this society how we want, because they NEED us to, OBVIOUSLY, cause if they’re left to their own devices, they’re just gonna be savages.” And-yeah, that’s not- you know, that’s something that historically has happened for years and years, across all time, and still happens today, and is not something that we really need carried into our fun video games, where we don’t really wanna have to deal with racist elements.
Apple Cider: Yeah, and even if you conceptualize it in a quasi-positive way, which is the noble savage trope, which is something very similar to Tauren, even if you see these people as this amalgamation of peacefulness and gentleness and kindness, there’s still that underside that they’re still too simple, too stupid, too backwards, too uncultured, and still need reformation whether it be religious or cultural or need to be exposed to your hegemonic ideals. Like, that’s- all of that is still really problematic, and if we’re just talking about it from the perspective of the Orcs, even if Orcs are warring or have different ways from the rest of the Alliance or the Horde or any other race, they still have a culture, they have their own language, they have their own society, they have their own power structure, they are a culture in their own right, and we don’t need to go and bother them, but obviously Garrosh feels a connection to these people, and wants to use them as a weapon against the races of Azeroth in this timeline, which is also very weird, if you think about it.
Tzufit: Yeah, that’s like a whole nother potential conversation or episode in and of itself, is Garrosh going back and marginalizing his own race in the past to use them as a weapon in the future, I mean, my god, it writes itself.
Apple Cider: Yeah, exactly, so that was something we definitely wanted to kind of touch on other than just the sexism sort of gender representation stuff, but there was a lot of things to pick apart. Now, when it comes to specifically Aggra and that thing, we actually kind of avoided talking about her because we’re actually going to go in-depth about Aggra and Aggra’s character next week when we do our motherhood episode, so you guys should definitely stick around and listen to that.
Tzufit: Yeah, we’ve been wanting to talk about motherhood and moms in WoW for a really long time because obviously there’s a lot to discuss there, even if what we’re discussing is the lack of stuff to discuss, but with everything that went down with Aggra at Blizzcon we really felt like we can’t wait any longer, we need to have this conversation, so we’re very excited about that and we’re gonna have a special guest talking with us as well.
Apple Cider: Yes, and so we’re really super excited about that, and to kind of wrap up the show, we- I think we both had a lot of fun participating and watching in the Blizzcon experience. I mean, I got to talk to a lot of cool designers, super shout outs to Helen Cheng and Craig Amai for being such great people and letting me talk your ears off about Ji Firepaw. Thanks to Dave Kosak, thanks to Nethaera especially for all of the help and support and cool conversations that I’ve had with you so far. If you guys want to follow Helen Cheng she’s on twitter now, she is @blizzardkismet so you should totally follow her, and you should also follow Nethaera which is @nethaera so definitely follow both of them. Craig isn’t on Twitter yet, but we’re trying to get him
Tzufit: We’re working on it.
Apple Cider: I had so much fun at Blizzcon and met so many cool people but let’s be real, so much of the coverage of Warlords of Draenor felt like dad crimes crew, all up on stage, all of the developers. (Laughing)
Tzufit: (Laughing) Dads of Draenor.
Apple Cider: Absolutely. All dads, all the time, this is gonna be an entire expansion full of dad jokes.
Tzufit: Yeah, and I know that Radez rightfully pointed out on Twitter at some point that Thrall’s gonna walk up to Doomhammer and be like, YEAH, and Doomhammer’s gonna be like, GIMME BACK MY WEAPON YOU CLOTH-WEARING HIPPIE!
Apple Cider: (Laughing)
Tzufit: So I think there are all kinds of- I think there are lots of fun moments in store with Dads of Draenor, and Thrall’s a dad now himself so we’ll see what happens.
Apple Cider: Yeah, I mean, I totally expect him to walk through the Dark Portal with a kid strapped to him, that worked out so well for Dezco.
Apple Cider: Anyway, we’ll talk to you guys next week, thanks for listening. I know this was a long episode, but yeah, have fun and we’ll see you next time.