I think we can agree on that there wasn't much at Blizzcon 2010 that stuck out. Here's my quick summary out of my memory:
- Arthas has been killed 489 000 times. Is the content accessible for everyone these days? I'd dare say so. And I'm not miffed. The fact that I see Kingslayer titles everywhere doesn't take away the fact that it was a fun fight and that I was insanely happy as we beat it the first time back in the spring.
- Cataclysm will be available for downloading on beforehand for those who buy the digital online version. Count me in! Sweden at midnight in the beginning of December is freaking cold.
- Chances are that I've gotten lost in Sunken Temple for the last time. They're not only finally offering maps for the old instances, but also rebuilding the ones who suck most badly. Yay!
- They're adding information about the abilities of the bosses to the maps, giving us less reasons to tab out and look at out-of-game resources for hints. I've got mixed feelings about this. A little voice inside me reminds me of how fun we had during our blind raids when we refrained from looking at the strategy videos in advance. Once again they're taking away a bit of the mystery and challenge in the game, assuming that players don't want to find out things for themselves. But then the more pragmatic part of me says: so what, don't lie to yourself - everyone checks out the resources anyway. Thy're just making us a good service as they integrate it into the game.
- The new login screen is pretty. Some players apparently don't like the sound of Deathwing, following the debate at MMO-Champion. I bother more about his underbite.
- Mike Morhaime isn't as charismatic as we'd like him to be.
- Another pet that looks like a miniature druid will be on sale soon. There's something compelling about having a miniture version of your own character. WTB mini gnome! With pink pigtails!
- Some poor guy managed to break his own leg as he was participating in the dance competition. That's what I'd call dedication! I hope he got a special prize.
- And talking about dances, they're still working on that dance studio. At least they claim they do. But no promises about when we'll see it. I don't think they'll make that mistake twice. I wonder though how outdated the dances will be once they're launched. They're often based on some popular music video. Will anyone remember the original?
Bringing in the trolls
I might come back those topics and a few other tidbits from Blizzcon in the following weeks, but the fact remains that the overall competition for our attention is underwhelming. This means that even the slightest slip of the tongue from someone could render a mentioning in a Blizzcon commentary blog post. There's so little else to talk about. Bare this in mind as I'm approaching the next part of this post of this post. I'm going to ponder a bit over a very small thing, and I know already as I'm writing this that it might annoy a couple of readers.
This is as good as to ask for trolls. Any post that touches the slightest on the gender topic will lure them out from their caves. Actually I could as well give the word to them right away, they'll speak up eventually anyway. I think I'll go for a lovely piece of work that turned up on another recent post:
"You rage because you don't like how pixels of a female model look in a computer game?? You're either intolerant/discriminatory or it's just subconscious envy, which is even worse. You make smart women, naturally born with big boobs, feel bad. Then, I guess you're one of those persons who wear tight turtle-necks in RL don't take this literally). May I suggest that you go outside, walk in the park or talk to real people more? Blogs written out of rage are always failures. Always."
It's good, isn't it? No, don't thank me. All credits to "Derrek" for this one!
So now, that we've established that I've probably got a turtle neck and carry a subconscious envy of big breasted girls and need a walk, I'd like to talk about a statement from Blizzard that rubbed me a little the wrong way. I'm thinking about how they chose to answer one of the questions that came up in the open Q&A panel:
"I love what you guys have done with WoW, I love that there's a lot of strong female chars, though I wonder if we can have some that didnt look like they came out of a Victoria's Secrets catalogue? "
"Which catalogue would you like them step out of then? We feel ya, we want to vary our female chars more in the future. So yeah we'll pick different catalogues. "
So. What kind of an answer is this? I'm not sure what they're trying to do here. I suppose it's intended to be somehow funny, but I don't think it is. Actually I don't think it would have been that hard to give a proper answer. There's no reason for Blizzard to fall flat on the floor, unconditionally apologizing for the stereotyped female bodies. Even if we bash them sometimes for their shortcomings in this area, they're actually far better in this aspect than many other games I've seen.
What they could have said
Rather than answering in a snotty, dismissing manner, they could have discussed the question properly. Let's say I would have been a Blizzard employee, sitting in that panel, how would I have replied?
I think I first would have talked enthusiastically about how important the strong presence of women is in the game, maybe mentioning that a large part of the player base is female, and what a great change this is to how it used to be back in time. I would have said something about how Blizzard takes those questions seriously and how they listen carefully to the input they get from players - women as well as men. Then I would probably have questioned the claim that all female characters look as if they came from an underwear catalogue. Some do it, no doubt, but far from all. I would have highlighted the huge variety there is, and said that there are many options that are pretty far from the traditional photo model.
You can make your female warrior into a mighty tauren, you can create a badass dwarf chick who looks like most women do, with broader hips than they have in any catalogue, or you can make an wrinkled gnome lady with a face that is grim rather than cute. Unfortunately very few players do. For some reason the "pretty" female models are way more popular. Regardless of this, I would have said, Blizzard will keep creating a variety of looks, keeping them available. But in the end it's up to the player to choose.
But they didn't say any of this. Instead they said that they'll add some more catalogues apart from Victoria's Secret. I don't think it was even remotely funny. It's possible that it was honest, but most of all it was lazy. I would have expected Blizzard employees to be a little bit more polished and PR minded. They're big business now, not a basement company and they should have the resources to get some proper training.
It's not as if I'm raging. I'm not overly upset and it's not the end of the world; it's just a minor detail that popped up in the Blizzcon flood of pseudo news. But after all those years in the spotlight, Blizzard should know how to answer a standard question such as this one in a proper manner.