For over two decades, fantasy virtual worlds have been the most inclusive and welcoming participatory entertainment experience ever created in the history of mankind. Instead of passively watching a TV show or a film, MMORPGs allow you and thousands of others to transport to different persistent worlds and play an active role in them. Some virtual worlds even allow players to shape the destiny of their world.
Whether it is a high fantasy virtual world like EverQuest that allows players to create emergent narratives, or high fantasy worlds like World of Warcraft that have scripted narratives, both offerings are dependent on the players to truly bring those worlds to life and fulfill their fullest potential as realms of healthy escapism.
In MMORPGs like WoW, you can choose from 14 different races, each with their own distinct culture and lore. You can be either a man or woman. You have any number of faces and skin tones to choose from.
No one is denied entry into MMORPGs. No one is discriminated because of their race, creed, religion, or sexual preferences because when you decide to become part of a virtual world, you’re real-life persona is irrelevant as you are role-playing a new person, with a new name, new race, and new gender if you so choose. Those who choose to reveal their personal information to other players are violating the spirit of role-playing and are destroying immersion for themselves and others. And they do so at their own risk.
Your real-life animosities, cultural expectations, racial or ethnic feuds, personal grievances, social causes and activism, sexual preferences, political and religious beliefs have no place in a fantasy virtual world. Your skin color, your majority, minority, or victim status in the real world has no currency in a fantasy virtual world. It is a privilege not a right to be a part of a MMORPG. As a player, you must do your part to blend in with the setting of virtual world and follow the rules and conventions set up by the developers.
Everyone starts out in fantasy MMORPGs as a level one character. This is a facsimile of genuine equality that philosophers have dreamt about for hundreds of years.
But as you will see in this article, all the wonderful benefits that are accorded to players in a fantasy virtual world are not enough for a tiny, shrill, and entitled minority. Developers that continue to capitulate to these malcontents are about to experience the unintended consequences of their arrogance as their fragile worlds will soon teeter on the precipice of ruin.
This piece that follows is a harsh but much needed wakeup call for smug developers that put public fame and social validation before good game design principles. These wayward devs need some scared straight style tough love and an no holds barred dressing down after having lost their way after burrowing deep into the identity politics rabbit hole seeking the temporal glory of public approval.
I’m going to cover a lot of ground here and take the reader all the way back to the roots of the high fantasy MMORPG genre.
The Unsung Heroes of Fantasy Virtual Worlds
In the beginning there was the RPG. RPG stands for role-playing game.
In a high fantasy MMORPG — an online role-playing game — you are not simply playing yourself, you are actor playing a character. But unlike a traditional actor, it is you the gets to write the script every time you log on and role-play your character.
You are given all the tools you need to leave the real world behind and become an active participant in your adopted world via the process of role-playing. You’ve got your new body, a new race, even your new sex (if that is what you desire), and your new face. Now that rest is up to you to integrate with this new world in a manner that does not break the immersion of the virtual world.
Players who choose to faithfully make an effort to role-play in a fantasy virtual world deserve the utmost respect as they are the highest embodiment of what it means to be part of the MMORPG community. These unsung heroes walk among us and greatly enrich the lives of the players around them and are the true ambassadors the virtual world experience.
These people never make the headlines. They do not have a sense of entitlement. They pay it forward. They don’t complain on Twitter. Their contributions to virtual worlds are often overlooked and they certainly don’t get hired at Blizzard.
Their actions speak louder than words. The good role-player invents a backstory and moral alignment for their avatars. They invent a way of speaking via the chat interface that allows them to fit in to the world but also distinguishes them and enriches the experience of other players around them. This is the distinctive appeal of fantasy virtual worlds and MMORPGs that is available in no other form of entertainment medium.
Just like an actor who leaves his real world identity behind and plays his or her assigned role, it is the obligation of every player in a MMORPG to leave the real world behind and embrace the new world with their new persona.
The venerable MMORPG that started it all was EverQuest. The motto of EverQuest was especially important in setting the tone and the expectations of the player. It was simply this:
You’re in our world now!
That motto was a bold proviso for the player to leave everything behind in the real world and embrace a magical digital world called Norrath. Every player who played EverQuest was obligated to fit into the world and play their role accordingly.
Sadly, after 20 years of MMORPGs, the deadly ideology of identity politics has consumed the hearts and minds of the California based video game industry. The fantasy virtual worlds that we knew and loved are under relentless attack by neo-Marxists who are hell bent on using video games to promote the divisive notion of diversity, inclusion, and representation.
Even more troubling is that there are now people employed at Blizzard who hold senior positions who religiously played, studied, and analyzed EverQuest who have abandoned the concept of role-playing and traded it in for the fleeting praise of representation virtue signaling.
The Fallacy of Representation
Representation is the exact opposite of role-playing. It tells you that you do not have to make any effort to adapt to the environment, the culture, the setting, the racial makeup, and customs of your newly adopted fantasy home away from home. The people who believe that their real-life personas and lifestyles should be represented in a fantasy virtual world are arrogant, lazy, and have a sense of entitlement. They are completely ignorant of the most basic tenets of role-playing and the benefits of it and what is expected of them in a virtual world.
The thoughtless virtual world developers that pander to these people should know better. By giving credence to the misguided concept of representation and pandering to a tiny minority of activists, they are eroding the very foundations of the unique experience that they are being paid to provide people.
The Plague of Identity Politics Spreads to Blizzard
Recent interviews with high level Blizzard developers provide us with more evidence that the cult of representation and identity politics ideology is spreading through Blizzard Entertainment like the Bubonic plague.
First it starts with hiring lots of non-white male, females, and LGBTQ humanoids. Then those who are hired purposely spread this contagion of wokeness to the content in Blizzard’s video games. More on this later.
Steve, What Happened?
Blizzard employee and Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser’s current design philosophy is the main focus of this article. In the early days of EverQuest, he created a terrific website called Mobhunter which provided some much needed critical analysis of EverQuest. He was a player on my guide server when I was a Senior Guide in EverQuest, I had the pleasure of taking some of his petitions. He was articulate, kind, knowledgeable, and helpful. I even met Steve briefly and introduced myself at the SOE EverQuest Next Reveal in Las Vegas in 2013.
For years, I have been rooting for Steve. He was deeply involved in two failed projects: Curt Schilling’s Project Copernicus MMORPG and SOE’s ambitious EverQuest Next MMORPG. When he got hired at Blizzard I was genuinely very happy for him because after years of bad luck, he would finally be involved in a project where his work would see the light of day.
Given my admiration for Steve and his talent and tenacity in the industry, I take no pleasure in having to take issue with his recent design decisions in his capacity as Lead Narrative designer for WoW.
In a Tech Radar article entitled World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will begin a more LGBTQ+ inclusive future for the game, Steve made revelations about the inclusion of more LGBTQ propaganda in the new expansion.
But, there is one paragraph in the piece that is extremely troubling that demands a full analysis:
Steve Danuser: We have a team that has a lot of different people with different viewpoints and backgrounds, so it’s important to us to tell stories that we care about, that reflect our concerns, and also make Azeroth a place that is representative of lots of different points of view, and very welcoming. Whatever your background is, there’s a place for you in this world.
Everything about this nonsensical statement is an example of progressive moral preening or what is known today as virtue signaling. This claptrap sounds like something out of a gender studies textbook in college or propaganda from a state broadcast in North Korea.
Let’s unpack this paragraph, bit by bit and analyze its veracity.
Steve Danuser: We have a team that has a lot of different people with different viewpoints and backgrounds…
Even in 2020, most developers in the industry are white males. This is an undeniable fact. However, in 2017 this demographic became an embarrassment to Blizzard when a leaked internal memo was unearthed under Mike Morhaime’s leadership.
Blizzard decided that:
- merit no longer mattered in hiring
- there were too many white males working at Blizzard
So, they decided to launch a globally diversity initiative to increase the number of women, LGBTQ people, and minorities in Blizzard’s workforce.
This is a very clever two step strategy that has been used all over the world for years to weaken white Christian nations by increasing racial diversity and promoting deviant behaviors like homosexuality.
Here’s how they do it:
Step 1: increase racial diversity via immigration and student visas
Step 2: now that the population is racially diverse, the authorities claim “we must ensure that all existing jobs are diverse and represent the population.”
Do you see how this works? Because Blizzard did the exact same thing.
Step 1: create a global diversity initiative to hire more women, minorities and LGBTQ people.
Step 2: now that they are hired, we must ignore the white males at the studios and listen to the newly hired women and minorities and reflect what they “care” about and change the content of our video games accordingly.
Steve Danuser: …so it’s important to us to tell stories that we care about, that reflect our concerns
Here Danuser admits that Blizzard only cares about including content in WoW about things *they* are interested in and never mentions what the players might be interested in. This is an absurd statement. Most American companies find a target audience then proceed to create products and services to satisfy that audience.
Any company that serves its loyal customers for 16 years, and then one day, decides that those loyal customers are no longer important and focuses on people who are not even customers is on a certain path to financial ruin. This is exactly what Blizzard did with WoW.
There is also no rationale provided to justify why this is important. Danuser just makes the claim and never backs it up.
I could care less what Danuser or any other Blizzard employee cares about or what stories they want to tell. Danuser is not an author with a list of literary masterpieces to his credit that might give anyone a reason to cling to his every word like readers who seek to glean pearls of wisdom from the masters such as J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or even a J.K. Rowling or a George Martin.
In a few short years at Blizzard, somehow Danuser has managed to cloak himself in a mantle of authority and wisdom. With Chris Metzen gone, he’s all Blizzard has. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
This statement from Danuser directly contradicts his statement later in the paragraph, about making WoW more welcoming. In reality, Danuser reveals his hand and let’s the cat out of the bag with a frank admission that Blizzard only cares about creating content and telling stories that they approve of. Ergo, we can reasonably expect more LGBTQ and diversity, inclusion, and representation content to satisfy the self-important Blizzard devs and activists on Twitter as per their pony-tailed, male feminist cult leader’s directive.
So let’s ask the question:
Why should players have to tolerate for even one second a MMORPG that is a vehicle for disseminating your concerns — the concerns of your employees — instead of the wants, needs, and expectations of their existing customers?
I don’t know any people in the real world that talk like that. I have every reason to believe that Danuser’s imbecilic statement was carefully crafted by the Blizzard HR and Diversity Department.
Ready for another doozy? Here we go:
Steve Danuser: ….and also make Azeroth a place that is representative of lots of different points of view, and very welcoming. Whatever your background is, there’s a place for you in this world.
Why does Azeroth have to be more than just welcoming, now it has to be very welcoming?
Why does a high fantasy MMORPG have to be welcoming at all?
What evidence is there that MMORPGs have not welcomed people?
Are there any credible report of gangs of griefers waiting in WoW newbie zones for new characters to materialize and then proceeding to harass them?
The word welcoming is such a useless and tiresome buzzword. Even mainline Christian churches now use that specious word. It has become so overused that is has been rendered meaningless.
As I mentioned previously, the purpose of a MMORPG is to “role-play.” You are a guest in the fantasy world. You’re responsibility as a player is to role-play an existing race and class and to make every effort to fit in to that world. As a player, the implied social contract is that you must ADAPT to the fantasy world, the world does not have to adapt to YOU!
When an actor plays the part of a character in a play or film, they do not play themselves. Rather they play the part written for them by the author. The actor serves the play/film; the play/film does not serve the actor.
These basic truisms of fantasy virtual worlds and the importance of role-playing are lost on Blizzard narrative developers like Steve Danuser. As a narrative and lore expert there is no excuse for his ignorance and negligence about understanding, promoting, and defending these concepts — he should know better.
Why does Azeroth after existing as a fantasy virtual world for 16 years in MMORPRG form and 26 years since the release of the Warcraft RTS, suddenly have to be a world that has different points of view?
Should the Tolkien Estate capitulate to demands that J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece the Lord of the Rings be retconned with the infusion of present day activism, different points of view, minorities, and LGBTQ humanoids?
Please amplify what you mean by different points of view. Could it be that this is code for 47 different types of sexual “orientations” and genders?
Will the values of a billion faithful Christians be represented in Azeorth? What about the billions of Jews, Hindu and Muslims who exist in the real world? Can they expect to find their values represented in Azeroth too?
If not, why not?
What about the myriad of political and social ideologies that exist in the world? Will they be represented in Azeroth?
Again, if not, why not?
The promise to be all things to all people via representation and welcoming is a tall order Steve coming from a man sitting on a high horse. How on earth to you plan on making everyone on Planet Earth “very welcome” in WoW. Did you even bother to think this through before you made such a preposterously stupid statement?
Steve Danuser and #Bitchgate
Steve Danuser has changed WoW lore before for dubious reasons. In August of 2020, Bounding into Comics reported that a WoW player noticed that the word “bitch” was removed from important dialog.
In a now deleted tweet, a defensive Danuser admitted no wrong and refused to apologize for the decision. He even had the audacity to claim that the word “was never coming back” which essentially denied the WoW community any sort of appeal on the decision.
Eventually, after the firestorm of outrage ensued, Danuser went on to explain that a Blizzard employee was playing WoW with one of his children and thought the word seemed out of place.
It is madness to think that important lore decisions are now being made to retroactively to meet with the approval of the sensibilities of a child. There are thousands of things in WoW that might upset a child. Will the corpses that hang from trees in Tirisfal Glades near the dreaded Scarlet Monastery now be removed and replaced with patio lanterns and piñatas?
Danuser didn’t even have the integrity to let players know of this change, as this was done with no fanfare like a thief in the night. How many other things has Steve Danuser changed in WoW that players have not yet noticed?
Why is Blizzard is Okay with Hiring Racist, Anti-White, Anti-Male Writers?
As a white traditional Christian conservative red-blooded American Trump supporting male. I certainly do not feel welcome in Azeroth when Blizzard has hired openly racist, anti-white, anti-male authors like Madeline Roux and many others that routinely spew a steady stream of hatred to white males on their Twitter feeds.
Not only that, Blizzard specifically asked her to create a story about two homosexuals that was shoehorned into her WoW: Shadowlands expansion prequel novel called Shadows Rising. From the same Tech Radar piece:
Developers mentioned the pair to Madeleine Roux, the New York Times-bestselling author of the book. She enthusiastically picked up that thread, and the result is a (very PG-rated) flirtation between the two men as part of its storylines.
Earlier this year, thanks to the great research work done by the Disney Star Wars is Dumb website, I was the first MMO website to publish an article exposing her racist, anti-white and anti-male Tweets and her ties to Blizzard Entertainment. Here’s a list of other news stories racist, anti-white, anti-male female authors that Blizzard has hired:
Queen Madeleine Despises Old White Men
Madeleine Roux Lies About Her Brave And Bold Tweets
World of Warcraft Shadowlands Novel Author Madeleine Roux Mocks Fans In Response To Discovery Of Racist Anti-White, Anti-Male Tweets
Here are some videos that expose the same problem courtesy of a comprehensive list from Disney Star Wars is Dumb:
Note: this embarrassing story has not been covered by the identity politics hacks masquerading as journalists at Blizzard Watch, Massively Overpowered, VentureBeat, Polygon, and Kotaku.
Steve, with all due respect, how can you talk about making Azeroth welcoming to all with a straight face, when you hire and work with vicious vile female authors that despise white males who are the primary demographic who play WoW?
Last I checked, you are a white male Steve. How do you feel about being insulted by Madeline Roux for characteristics that you were born with and have no control over?
Were you involved with the hiring of Roux and any of the other female authors that openly profess to hate white men?
Did you even bother to check her Twitter feed before you hired her?
Did you speak out in the hiring process and complain or did you sit back and allow this?
This female author was hired on your watch. The buck stops with you.
If female authors like Roux made anti-black, anti-LGBTQ and anti-female statements, does anyone think they would not be hired by Blizzard in the first place?
We all know if the situation were reversed, they would be fired in a heartbeat without question. Given this toxic, dystopian, poisonous culture, does anyone wonder why Blizzard has lost most of their original employees?
Blizzard Makes Christians Feel Unwelcome
Steve Danuser claims, that everyone has a place in Azeroth. Is there a place for me and others like me?
It’s time to take off the gloves. As a Christian I do not feel welcome when Blizzard promotes and normalizes fornication, sodomy, lesbianism, transgenderism, and other forms of sexual degeneracy by their pandering. I find those things extremely offensive. If only there was a Christian employee at Blizzard who could stop by Steve’s office and bring up these points.
My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my Roman Catholic faith considers those “values” grave sins that call out to God for justice and will lead anyone who commits then and promotes them without repenting, to eternal damnation in the fires of hell.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20
This is no joke Steve. You have no idea that you are playing with supernatural fire and if you don’t repent, your mortal soul is in serious danger, all because you desire the fleeting praise of men instead of humbling yourself and obeying Almighty God.
Blizzard is now creating content that offends billions of people of traditional faith — Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindi — that find your promotion of the LGBTQ agenda extremely offensive and disgusting.
It gets worse, as Danuser and Blizzard are committed to implementing widescale representation throughout WoW and other Blizzard properties. But it’s never clear what representation actually means. All that matters is that the leftist approved fashionable buzzwords are used.
Steve Danuser: This is a beginning for us. It’s not “well, we did that, and now we’re all done.” We always think of more quests, more stories, more art to make and more systems to build. We’ll absolutely be thinking and looking for more ways to allow further representation in the future.
So this is just the beginning of your neo-Marxist crusade. Expect Danuser and Blizzard to ratchet up the pandering to the microscopic LGBTQ demographic and various “downtrodden” victim groups. If they run out of marginalized people to emancipate, maybe they’ll invent some new ones.
The most marginalized and most persecuted people in the world are Christians not the LGBTQ community. You can be sure that Steve Danuser and Blizzard devs who are trapped in their Orange County Dalaranesque bubble will NEVER acknowledge that. They will continue to believe the urban persecution myth that the gay movement has been successfully spoon-feeding them for decades.
Steve Danuser’s Strategic Woke Tweets
Steve has black belt in Twitter. He has a sharp wit and knows how to play the Twitter game like a grandmaster. After the George Floyd fiasco and BLM riots, he’s become increasingly woke and is looking and sounding more black by the day. He uses the latest lingo found on Black Twitter, a scholarly repository of deep erudition. Phrases like “y’all” (Steve is not from the South) and “fam” are now part of his routine Twitter vocabulary.
Steve is a survivor. Steve is also very clever. Steve is adept at strategically virtual signaling to his boss J. Allen Brack and the gaggle of feminists and trans people that follow him on Twitter. He says the right things to impress his male feminist boss (to keep his job and pay his mortgage) and to keep the praise coming from his followers. The spice must flow!
Here is a Tweet Steve made when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away:
I’m not sure why Steve Danuser is calling for a revolution after the death of Ginsburg. Maybe he got her mixed up with bloodthirsty communist mass murderer Che Guevara who also wanted to expedite a revolution and didn’t care how many people had to be murdered to achieve his Utopia.
Ginsburg was an ardent proponent of a woman having the right to murder her baby in the womb. Ask the 60+ million babies that have been aborted in America if Ginsberg was a blessing. I think they’d say otherwise.
Here’s another example of Danuser’s moral preening on Twitter:
What he really means is:
Please vote for Joe Biden.
This public service message brought to you by Steve Danuser, guardian of democracy, moral conscience, and political science expert at Blizzard Entertainment. This Tweet is a not so subtle reference to the “voter suppression” myth that Democrats have been peddling for 40 years.
There is zero evidence to suggest that anyone — including Republicans — are suppressing anyone’s vote or trying to “stop” them. Requiring that U.S. citizens and only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote and those persons are required to produce photo identification is not voter suppression.
This is Steve doing what he does best: grandstanding to his 7,000 plus Twitter followers and being politically correct so that his hippy dippy boss J. Allen Brack will notice and he can keep his job and perhaps get a promotion for having the correct thoughts.
That coveted VP position is getting closer and closer.
Well played, Steve.
Et tu, Ion?
One person I thought was too sensible and pragmatic to drink the representation Kool-Aid was former lawyer and Elitist Jerks guildmaster and present day Blizzard dev Ion Hazzikostas. I was wrong. In the end, all Blizzard employees must genuflect to J. Allen Brack or look for another job.
Ion Hazzikostas: But, walking around Stormwind, walking around other parts of the world, you will see guards and random civilians that have these looks as if they’ve been there all along. Because frankly I think we see this as correcting an oversight on our part, over the years. And just trying to improve representation more broadly. We are custodians of a fantasy universe and a world that we build and we don’t want to not do the right thing because we feel shackled to a decision that was made creatively in a different era that was fifteen plus years ago.
What oversight? Do you mean the oversight that for 26 years since the release of the first Warcraft RTS in 1994 to 2020 with WoW — that Azeroth, a high fantasy kingdom modelled after Christian medieval Europe, isn’t full of black and Asian people?!?
Ion sure got woke in a hurry.
Former Blizzard executives like Rob Pardo in many design presentations over the years, always made the point to to explain that the magic of their design decisions was to always sell the fantasy.
The fantasy of playing the Alliance in WoW — like most high fantasy — is based to a great degree, on all of the tenets of Western civilization and Christianity that existed in medieval times. The romance of Arthur, Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, the quest for the Holy Grail, to Robin Hood, fairy tales, folklore, legends, and finally to J.R.R. Tolkien, are the indisputable narratives that are the foundation of this noble genre that resonates with Europeans and Americans. That is our cultural heritage and our tradition that we should never apologize for.
The new ideology of representation (which was invented and foisted upon the American public 5 minutes ago) erodes the Alliance human fantasy by creating a multitude incongruous and inexplicable races all clumsily shoehorned into Azeroth.
Similarly, part of the fantasy of playing a Horde troll in Azeroth is a respectful homage to black people from Jamaica. Are they going to make white trolls now with British accents all in the name of representation and diversity?
So where are all those multi-racial humans who just happen to look like Asians and Negroid races coming from Ion? Did they just sprout from the the soil?
In a previous article, I pointed out the ridiculousness of representation. I even offered Blizzard solutions to make it seem legitimate. They could have created their own mysterious islands that were shrouded in the mists so that each new humanoid race could actually have an authentic homeland to justify their existence. I suppose, Blizzard was too busy virtue signaling or just plain lazy to bother.
What Would J.R.R. Tolkien Do?
Once upon a time when giants walked the earth, we had real men that created wondrous, majestic, dark, and gritty fantasy worlds. J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard of Conan the Barbarian fame were those famed pioneers that become the grandfathers of high fantasy and the sword & sorcery genres. These men were protective of their magnificent creations and didn’t suffer fools gladly. They were not debased men who would sell out their lore to the highest bidder and lobotomize their lore to appeal to the popular fads of the day.
In all questions of lore both in fantasy and in video games, there is one test that has never failed to give me clarity:
What would J.R.R. Tolkien do?
The high fantasy genre was bequeathed to us by J.R.R. Tolkien with Middle-earth, Gary Cygax with Dungeons & Dragons and many others over the course of decades. With his ridiculous statement, Hazzikostas is recklessly discarding that proud tradition and throwing it into the gutter.
If you don’t know whence you came, how can you know where you are going?
This is what happens when you hire guild leaders instead of people who actually understand what role-playing means and the deeper things of virtual worlds that go beyond the banality of theory crafting courtesy of Elitist Jerks and their ilk.
The reality is that Ion Hazzikostas is doing the bidding of his pony-tailed coiffed, Morhaime hand-picked overlord and is dutifully engaging in moral preening about “representation” in Azeroth. He has no respect for the lore of Azeroth, to him it’s a pliable and disposable if necessary.
Don’t worry, when this specious “representation” fad is dead and buried, Blizzard will be onto the next fad boldly proclaiming obeisance to whatever it may be.
Hazzikostas is part of the problem at Blizzard. He, like Danuser, and everyone else that works at Blizzard have sold their immortal souls for a few years of human respect so they can grovel at the feet of the alphabet people freak show and impress their allies with their wokeness. They have no idea what eternity is and the fate that awaits those that disobey God.
Pro Tips: How to Make Your MMORPG Welcoming Without Pandering to Victim Groups
Better graphics and symbolic overtures to minority groups and victim groups do not create a welcoming, environment — players do. That’s right. Players.
There’s an old saying:
You get the government you deserve.
The same is true of MMO communities:
You get the MMO community you deserve.
Rob Pardo designed WoW to be accessible and make more profits. He knew full well that there would be a trade off for this. He made a Faustian bargain and that sacrificed the quality of the community for mass acceptance. Twenty years later, we’re still cleaning up his mess.
Salvaging the inherently toxic WoW community is no easy task but it could be done if Blizzard showed a modicum of will to do so.
If Steve Danuser and Blizzard really wants to make WoW truly welcoming I have a number of actionable solutions that require no virtue signaling and pandering. Here’s what I would propose:
- Strive to improve the quality of the WoW experience by improving the character and behavior of players via game mechanics. Make content that requires more cooperation which gives sociable and polite behavior currency and fosters a more civil community
- Educate new and old players on the the benefits of role-playing
- Empower and reward civility and role-players so that positive social behavior is promoted
- Start a WoW Guide Program where players can aspire to be volunteers and be goodwill ambassadors and give back to the community where they can actually “welcome” new players and assist them with any questions they may have
- Create a Quest Troupe where volunteers can hold public events like invasions and community quests which would foster good will
- Clean up server wide chat chat channels and remove recidivist obnoxious trolls and miscreants
- Discourage ganking and griefing on PVP servers by imposing harsh penalties and bans for repeat offenders
Sadly, WoW has one of the worst and most notorious MMORPG communities in existence. To this today, sexual perversion, hatred, drug use, trolling, and the most vile and despicable topics you can imagine are a constant theme of discussion on many server wide WoW channels like Trade Chat and LFG channel. It has been this way since Blizzard launched in 2004.
A bit of history is needed to understand the WoW community. Back in 2004 when WoW launched, The Bnet kiddies (migrants from other Blizzard games) were a pox upon the WoW community. They were loud, selfish, entitled brats that had no appreciation for the sense of community that was created by serious MMORPGs like EverQuest where player/class interdependency was an integral part of the experience.
Ever since day one, WoW has been a game that has required no socialization to progress and advance your character. You can level all the way to the level cap and not have ever spoken a single world to a fellow player.
When players don’t need each other to advance and when reputation no longer matters, players can afford to be rude and anti-social. Conversely, when players are required to group and join guilds to progress, they must possess good social skills and exhibit politeness — these are qualities that have been missing from WoW since it was released.
The Opportunity Cost of Identity Politics Virtue Signaling
Blizzard’s fixation with identity politics is not a harmless obsession. Many things that need and deserve attention in WoW have been put on the backburner because of it. For years Blizzard claimed that fishing would get a complete overhaul — it never happened. Since 2004, the voice emotes of characters and NPCs has never been overhauled or expanded, and to this day, we have the same tired old jokes, greetings, etc. from almost 20 years ago.
Identity politics virtue signaling costs both time and money that Blizzard could be spending on useful things like fixing bugs and working on current content or using those savings to pay Blizzard employees a living wage in Orange county.
Every minute that Blizzard devs spend meeting with the monthly LGBTQ council and the woman’s council, that is time that could be spent making WoW better for everyone — not just the precious alphabet luvies.
Every dollar that Blizzard wasted on Black Lives Matter propaganda, LGBTQ pandering, and setting up infantile safe spaces at BlizzCon is money that could have been better spent for the benefit of the entire community.
Fantasy virtual worlds are not supposed to nor are they obligated to mirror modern day social ideologies and agendas. Fantasy virtual worlds should be oases where the player can escape the drudgery, insanity, and political partisanship of the real world and briefly visit worlds of magic, wonder, mystery and danger with their friends.
The fundamental value proposition of fantasy virtual worlds is that it affords players that chance to indulge in a unique blend of participatory and collective escapism. Blizzard’s actions under the leadership of Mike Morhaime, J. Allen Brack, Jeff Kaplan and now freshly minted wokesters Ion Hazzikostas and Steve Danuser exhibits a complete and total failure to appreciate and understand that undeniable fact.
This butchery of the lore for political purposes has also happened on Chris Metzen, Alex Afrasiabi, and Christie Golden’s watch. All of them are guilty of selling out their fans and their lore to the highest climbers on the victim totem pole. They should be ashamed of themselves for allowing WoW lore to be vivisected and disposed of in such a disrespectful and barbaric manner.
Millions of people have played WoW since its release in November of 2004. Since then many of those players have become emotionally invested in the world of Azeroth as it was presented to them almost 16 years ago as a place where we could escape to — free from the politics of the real world. Azeroth is sacred ground for WoW fans and the lore and cannon of Azeroth is also sacred.
To go back and change the lore to suit the political and social agenda of the elites who reside in Southern California in 2020 is a travesty of the highest order. It shows a complete lack of respect for the original developers that conceived and created the masterpiece that was Azeroth in its pristine and non-politically correct state. It shows an appalling disconnect with the rank and file players and utter contempt for all of us that forged friendships and created special memories via thousands of hours of inhabiting the high fantasy world of Azeroth for all those years.
Why is Blizzard committing this lore sacrilege?
Despite the fact that not one shred of evidence suggests that anyone wants these changes, they are doing on behalf of a tiny minority of people — the LGBTQ demographic — most who don’t even play video games let alone MMORPGs. They are also doing it on behalf of racial minorities that allegedly don’t feel represented in Azeroth.
Even if the concept of representation was legitimate — it is not — where is the evidence that LGBTQ and racial minorities are not playing WoW due to their lack of representation?
Answer: there is none.
If there was, Blizzard would be shouting it from the rooftops. What Blizzard is doing is blatant moral exhibitionism and cynical corporate posturing.
Blizzard players have never been polled on any of these fundamental changes in WoW lore. It was all imposed from the top. Blizzard claims that “all voices matter” — this is hollow marketing speak. It’s a big lie. All voices are equal, but some are more equal than others especially if you happen to be at the very top of the victim totem pole like transgenders are at this point in time.
The diversity and inclusion claptrap that Hazzikostas and Danuser are proclaiming sounds formulated, scripted, and hollow. I guarantee you that both of them and most other Blizzard employees have been required to attend diversity/inclusion/representation indoctrination sessions. They sound like they have been brainwashed by critical race theory hucksters like Robin D’Angelo who recently gave a talk about so-called “white privilege” at the Blizzard campus. These guys now sound like Soviet era robots spewing Marxist claptrap.
What Blizzard is doing has crossed the line from game design and entered the chilling realm of social engineering all directed from on high by a sanctimonious cult-leader with a ponytail and a PRIDE pin hand-picked by the prime instigator of all this madness: the wolf in sheep’s clothing Mike Morhaime.
If Blizzard truly cared about LGBTQ people, they would be doing all they can do speak out and stop the officially sanctioned executions of these people in some Islamic countries where the LGBTQ lifestyle is illegal and punishable by the death sentence. Being the cowards that they are, they would rather virtue signal by including a few more gay and trans characters in WoW then do anything of substance that would actually advance the human rights of LGBTQ people around the world.
If Blizzard cared about people who suffer from the mental illness of gender dysphoria that causes shocking high rates of attempted suicide, instead of promoting it as normal, they would tell the truth about this horrific problem instead of putting people who suffer from it on a pedestal. Telling people the truth is compassionate, lying to them and telling them they are normal is not compassionate, it’s neglect and abuse.
Coming from a company that does business in Communist China where millions of minorities such as Muslims and Christians are enslaved in concentration camps making plastic junk for sale in Walmart, this is hypocrisy of the highest order.
There is simply no excuse for Ion Hazzikostas allowing WoW lore to be easily violated by neo-Marxist identity politics charlatans. He was once a lawyer. He if anyone, is trained to put up a vigorous intellectual defense for his clients. Today his clients are the rank and file WoW player community, and he has abdicated his responsibility to competently represent them.
Then there is Steve Danuser, the current Lead Narrative Designer for World of Warcraft. If we are honest here, he is a poor man’s Chris Metzen. This man is a learned person with a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature. Perhaps he forgot to read Orwell’s 1984 and Politics and the English Language, or Huxley’s Brave New World, or Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago that warned about the dangers of groupthink and totalitarianism. I’m genuinely disappointed that Steve is rolling over so easily and allowing the official lore to be cancelled, besmirched, and replaced with identity politics pandering.
Steve plays a good game both impressing his boss with all the correct Tweets about social causes and impressing his Twitter followers with his woke wit. One gets the feeling, that average rank and file WoW players are not his major concern nor are they his primary constituency as he shapes the episodic narrative of Azeroth.
Is there anyone left at Blizzard Entertainment that will stand up for the integrity of their lore?
Where on earth is Chris Metzen in all of this? They are gutting his lore and he is as timid and silent as a church mouse.
A public statement from Chris Metzen would stop this nonsense at Blizzard dead in its tracks. Other writers and authors have stood up the madness of identity politics including Salman Rushdie, J.K. Rowling, John Cleese, and Stephen Fry just to name a few.
What do Orwell’s 1984 and Overwatch have in common? They both have prominent characters named Winston. The main protagonist in 1984 is Winston who is the hero of the novel. He hates Big Brother and totalitarianism. There’s a high probability that Overwatch’s simian Winston character was named after the Orwell character. Clearly, whoever created this character — perhaps Metzen — either read 1984 or was aware of the significance of this name and leveraged it for street cred about Overwatch trying to fight the bad guys. The fact that Blizzard has become Big Brother is probably completely lost on the people that work there.
If any of these Blizzard developers had a shred of integrity they would stand up and speak out about how the lore of WoW is being lobotomized to appease the sacred cows in the progressive’s left catechism of lunacy.
Where is Alex Afrasiabi? Once upon a time as his alter ego “Furor Planedefiler,” he rallied disaffected EverQuest players and bravely stood up to SOE’s John Smedley. Why isn’t he speaking out about the ongoing crucifixion of WoW’s official lore? Where is he?
Nowhere to be found.
There can be no doubt that Blizzard Entertainment has been infiltrated by a cadre of opportunists who are using identity politics virtue signaling to advance their careers.
When I heard the news that more LGBTQ content and further attempts at representation will be included in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion I felt like I was sucker punched. Even though I don’t play WoW retail, I felt a deep sense of betrayal and anger at the egotistical tin pot overlords at Blizzard who believe they know better than everyone.
For over 21 years I have lived, breathed, and even dreamt about MMORPGs. Although it’s a cliché, MMORPGs like EverQuest and WoW really did change my life. Seeing the Azeroth I knew and loved being changed and altered, is akin to going to the town you grew up in and seeing your quiet street where you once played ball hockey as a kid turned into an ugly concrete shopping mall.
I’ve studied MMO devs closely both in word and action. I’ve even debated a few of them and it never ceases to amaze me how little they have in common with die-hard fans. Over the years, many of them — not all — end up losing their passion and become part of the sausage factory that is the video game industry. It’s shameful, how they use their passion™ to get into the industry then quickly let it atrophy and become spineless and mindless company automatons for a few more shiny shekels and the praise of a few hundred LGBTQ activists on Twitter and a chance at winning a meaningless DICE or GLAAD award.
I think part of the problem is that low testosterone middle-aged game designers like to see themselves as sugar daddies and love impressing young, woke females with “I’m helping to change the world” posturing. These desperate sexually frustrated beta males must believe that by simply dropping vapid phrases like diversity, inclusion, and representation into their interviews, that somehow that makes them sound woke, intelligent, virtuous, and even desirable to these women.
Of course, there is the intense social pressure of groupthink and conformity at work too. It’s much the same mentality that wealthy progressives exhibit when they place Black Lives Matters signs on their lawns. They foolishly think that these signs will protect them like a magical talisman. As history teaches those with the wisdom to learn, eventually the revolution will come for them too.
Sexual tension is another reason why females mixed with males in the gaming industry is a ultimately recipe for disaster. This is a common problem that is plaguing the tech and gaming sector. Too often, middle aged men feel that they must be woke to impress young females who work for them.
The truth about the video game industry is that it is overwhelmingly a male dominated and that’s perfectly good and normal. Males love to play serious video game more than women, so naturally most of the developers end up being men.
Here’s a picture of indie gaming company in Austin. Included in this photo are devs who used to work at Blizzard. There is a total of 34 people in the photo and I blurred it to protect their identities. There are 30 men and 4 women. This is what my Seattle studio looked like when I worked there 14 years ago. This is what Blizzard used to look like once upon a time.
The more women that end up working in a video game studio, the more problems arise with inter-studio dating, and with radical feminism creeping into the studio culture.
You see, if you’re a hardcore, loyal fan, you really don’t matter to the suits with ponytails at Blizzard. You are a reliable, disposable sucker. They would gladly sell you out, to get a few more illusory subscribers by creating “welcoming” content. If you want to know a hard truth, here it is: no matter how much leftist propaganda they try to shoehorn into WoW retail, they think you are stupid and that you’ll continue to dutifully pay and play.
And sadly, they are right. No matter how intense the promotion of identity politics is in their MMO and no matter how many token gay, lesbian and trans characters are foisted upon them, many MMO fans are so hopelessly addicted to their pixel opiates that they will happily keep playing undeterred and loyally purchase expansion after expansion.
Do you really want to give money to a video game studio that treats its loyal fans with such overt contempt?
How both Ion Hazzikostas and Steve Danuser can wake up and look at themselves in the mirror each day and continue to commit design malpractice by allowing identity politics propaganda to ravage the authenticity of World of Warcraft is as another famous Winston once said: is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
I wonder how much Ion Hazzikostas and Steve Danuser are really committed to their “values.” Will Ion and Steve lead by example and resign their positions immediately and give them to a downtrodden LGBT person or a marginalized minority?
This would take actual conviction and courage. It’s far easier to tweet about diversity, inclusion, and representation while you grandstand to all your Twitter followers and the compliant video game press.
Don’t hold your breath. Do as I say, but not as I do.
A word of warning to Amazon Game Studios and their upcoming Middle-earth MMORPG. Don’t you dare try to include even a whiff of LBGTQ and representation pandering. Tolkien fans are in the millions and are serious people with deep passion and formidable intellects. Do not underestimate them. They will never allow you to get away with it like cowardly WoW fans have allowed Blizzard to eviscerate the lore of Azeroth. Don’t be stupid and awaken a sleeping giant.
In a virtual world lore matters. Lore is the bedrock of everything. It is not mere window dressing, it’s critical to promoting immersion and the sense of place that players crave when they escape to their alternate reality.
Changing the lore for political and social expediency is game design malpractice of the highest order because by doing so you’ve destroyed a key building block of certainty that players have come to expect from your world. Once you concoct a dubious rationale that lore can be changed for the slightest reason, you’ve punctured a hole in the believability of your world and eroded the trust of your players. Then they will forever have the feeling that they are walking on quicksand because nothing is certain, and nothing is cast in stone. It is a dagger placed in the heart of verisimilitude.
Trashing your own lore to please a tiny group of activists who follow you on Twitter is like burning the furniture to keep your home warm. It’s unsustainable. It is utter madness and a display of hubris on the part of the cultural arsonists and timid quislings who now work at Blizzard 2.0.
The highly paid lore vandals of Irvine California remind me of the barbarity of ANTIFA and BLM tearing down historical statues and vandalizing Roman Catholic churches all over the world and then having the audacity to celebrate their hooliganism as “progress.” This virtual world iconoclasm and nihilism is one of the most tragic and shameful things I’ve ever witnessed in the video game industry.
Someday — either in this life or the next — the reign of cultural terror that is identity politics movement will come to a crashing end and rest assured that all of the people that participated in this unholy crusade will face a day of reckoning.
Where to begin…!
You are spot on. It hurts my head to think about this.
MMORPGs were fantastic worlds to interact in. To roleplay, to socialize, to have fun. At this time people were Warriors, Hunters, Druids, Mages, Warlocks, Priest & Paladins, whatever they want to be in this world.
Enter an era of waning success for MMOs in general and for the studio Blizzard also in particular.
First slowly, then with force and quite suddenly we have hypermoral virtue signalling everywhere, games trying to educate and form their players. Overwatch is riding diversity and identity politics hard, WoW is following in lockstep.
When playing a MMO, do people really look for inclusive quest design and a progressive world? The kinda of diversity that is so diverse that any disagreement gets people fired, belittled, called a racist, Nazi, whatsoever or outright beaten up or even killed in real life?
It doesn’t stop there. Politics makes it into high fantasy worlds. Not just as rare joke in a side quest by a junior questwriter, now they are pushed and demanded by the lead designers.
These attempts to influence players do not only destroy immersion, they don’t substitute for great ideas and making an amazing game rather than thinly veiled propaganda.
Blizzard already lost their can’t fail image long ago, now there are doubts if they can deliver at all. Such hypermoral politicking won’t save them, it is maybe the last nail driven into their coffin.
The sad thing? Lots of other “game companies” drank the same koolaid and turned into oh-so-progressive companies that forget because of excessive virtue signalling to actually develop any game at all to the end. Go woke, go broke, feel good while running the sinking ship even faster down.