So the interesting thing about the criticism concerning Blizzard’s forthcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft appears to be the ages-old battle between the sexes.
I’m still trying to gather my own thoughts on the subject matter, but the consensus from what appears to be a vast majority of the Warcraft community’s female population is that there exists a huge imbalance in representation — though some have largely attributed this to marketing campaigns that appear to solely cater to men.
In fact, for some good reading, here’s a few posts on the subject that all bring up valid and relevant points:
- First Impressions – Alternative Chat, November 9th
- First Thoughts on Warlords of Draenor – Harpy’s Nest, November 10th
- Lords of Draenor: Where are the girls at? – Restokin, November 14th
- Women and Warlords – Mushan, Etc., November 16th
So after all that, I can say that while my female gaming colleagues have a right to voice their concern, as a gay man, I’m just going to say that if ANYONE feels under-represented, well, yeah…draw your own conclusion.
However, blogs such as the ones highlighted have done an excellent job at pointing out alleged flaws in Blizzard’s Warlords of Draenor marketing. I’m not going to belabor the point only because the future story of a future expansion isn’t completely written. So to spare poor Nethaera‘s sanity (the AMAZING community manager in the unfortunate position of bearing the brunt of this debate), let’s talk about what we HAVE seen.
Note: I LOVE the World of Warcraft. I love the story. Yes I drink Blizzard Kool-Aid with my hot pockets and it is delicious — cherry flavor with an orange slice What I’m outlining here is my ONLY criticism of the story. I’m not one to complain or attempt to dictate change. Lest we forget, I simply muse about what I think would enhance MY experience. I felt I needed to disclaimer that. For the most part, I have been a VERY happy Warcraft gamer. And honestly, if this is the ONLY thing I’m criticizing, then you know Blizzard is doing a lot of things right.
I think part of what I find wrong with the female driven stories is that
Joss Whedon didn’t write or create them Blizzard doesn’t seem to know where they want to go with them. First and foremost I’m a lore nerd and gamer. I play games mostly for the story vice the actual gameplay and challenges. I’m moved by my bond with the characters I play as well as with those who propel the story.
Garrosh Hellscream by Callthistragedy1
Garrosh was a very interesting character to follow. His downfall is unique from other “villains” in that he was NEVER, yes NEVER, corrupted by any other force or being other than his own motives and stupidity. Y’Saarj’s heart didn’t whisper empty promises of power. Nor did any of the weapons he scoured all of Pandaria to find. His will was his own, even when he was transformed in the epic final battle in the Siege of Orgrimmar. He wasn’t consumed by the power, HE was the one who CONSUMED it and wielded it. And I find this fact most fascinating. Ok, now hold on to this thought…I’ll get to why I bring this up in a moment…
Let’s talk about Jaina. Arguably Azeroth’s most powerful mage. Somewhere in between Deathwing’s downfall and the discovery of Pandaria, hers is a story of tragedy unlike that we have ever seen in any of Blizzard’s games. The most tragic and unprovoked act of war spearheaded by Garrosh resulted in the destruction of an entire city, Jaina’s city, and the death of some of the most recognizable figures in Azeroth’s history, including the leader of the Kirin Tor, Rhonin. The Kirin Tor, mind you, whose very credo was to be the voice of reason and tolerance to ALL of magic’s practitioners, despite their political allegiance.
Once upon a time, Jaina, had similar views of tolerance. In expansions prior, she herself was the voice of reason, always yielding to acts of peace vice that which would further push war onto Azeroth’s land. What I find amazing is that for so long she held this yearning for peace despite every single tragedy she endured, and hers is a LAUNDRY LIST of bullshit any person has to endure:
- The death of her father in the Orc invasion.
- The mental deconstruction of her boyfriend, Arthas
- The near destruction of the world her boyfriend caused…and his attempt to kill her when it was time to confront him
- The friends and mentors she lost in the two wars on Azeroth
AND THAT WAS PRIOR TO THERAMORE’S DESTRUCTION.
But alas, it was Theremore that became the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Hell hath no fury like a mage scorned and that is essentially what Jaina became. A dangerous and furious force of power with a story this world hadn’t seen since Dark Willow:
Jaina the Kind became Jaina the Pissed Off…so much so that she nearly destroyed Orgrimmar herself. Did we really need a Siege raid? Jaina could have done that shit all by herself, and she nearly did with an army of water elementals had it not been for Thrall and Kalec, more so the latter. They talked her down out of a vengeful rage by appealing to her humanity. And it worked (much in the same way it worked with Dark Willow).
Jaina Proudmoore by breathing2004
So throughout the expansion, we see Jaina working with more gusto to find a way to bring Garrosh down. She purges Dalaran of ALL of those who would ally themselves with the Horde, imprisoning those who refused to leave. She rids the Kirin Tor of their neutral policies and officially declares that while Garrosh leads the Horde, the Kirin Tor would side with the Alliance.
(Note: all of this was detailed in the Jaina-centric novel, Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, written by Christie Golden)
Essentially, for me…I see a woman showing as much strength and fortitude, more than I had seen with any of her male counterparts. What’s interesting to note is that a lot of people seemed to think Jaina was simply going crazy and that the “crazy bitch” (well, Lor’themar called her a “witch” but you KNOW what he meant) would eventually overstep her bounds and we’d have to confront her — possibly Garrosh-style. Thankfully, the crafter’s of Warcraft’s story had the foresight not to go this route.
But, they still messed it all up. Halfway through the expansion, somewhere on the Isle of Thunder, Jaina lost her gusto. Fast-forward to the final confrontation with Garrosh and upon his downfall, all we saw was a mild-tempered mage whispering in Varian’s ear:
“Oh, I’m just going to stand here, looking and talking all sexy and stuff…dismantle the Horde…”
That’s all she was going to do…whisper in his ear!?!?!?!?!? Well, obviously not the part about standing and talking all sexy…but she did just stand there and whisper for Varian to dismantle the Horde.
After the Panda, Taran Zhu, walks in and says “my people have suffered more than any other…”
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME!?
JAINA JUST STOOD THERE AND LET HIM SAY THAT?!!?!??!?!?!!eleven!!one
Let’s think about this for a second:
- It was the Pandaren Emperor who decided to bottle up his negative shit and bury it in the land, which as it turns out was the very reason the land was affected by the Horde and the Alliance’s arrival.
- It was the all the weapons from the Mogu, Mantid, AND Pandaren Garrosh sought to increase his power.
- Had Garrosh not released the power buried in the Vale, the Vale would have continued to house the very corruption that would have eventually overcome the land anyway….
- Oh and by the way, Theramore got blown up — not by some power already buried within the land – but by AN ACT OF WAR.
AND IT WAS TARAN ZHU WHO SAID HIS PEOPLE SUFFERED THE MOST FROM GARROSH?!
I hate to throw race into this but, shit, if Jaina were black, she would have gotten GHETTO on their asses. Hand on her hip, swiveled that head and exclaimed:
“AW HELL NAW, BITCHES!…” Okay, maybe I’ve been loving Angela Bassett too much in this season of American Horror Story, hehehe:
After getting everyone’s attention, she then would have walked to the center of the room, Ice Nova-ing Varian in place while pointing to Thrall and Vol’jin declaring, “Y’all take one step and I’ll sheep your asses and leave you that way until winter when I’ll make myself a fabulous coat….Now, a bitch has some THINGS to say…”
“FIRST OF ALL, WHOSE PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED THE MOST?!”
And proceeded to go on a verbal tirade that would have seen Jaina beat even more, the ever-living shit out of Garrosh, ice-lancing him to the wall as the others could only watch both out of fear and utter amazement, as she tells both Taran Zhu and Garrosh:
“I believe it was MY people who suffered the most. You see, Garrosh, you destroyed this land seeking out powerful artifacts to empower yourself with, when the only thing more powerful than any of the dark magics stored on this continent was a power of YOUR own making…my rage. I’m not going to kill you, oh no. I want to look you in the eye and show you my face. The face of the thousands of innocent people you killed. This face that will be the last thing you ever see.”
As she ice lances his eyes out, blinding him and then walking out of the room (yes, WALKING out because it’s more dramatic than porting, hehe).
And THAT is how it SHOULD HAVE gone down. Instead it was a male-driven conversation where the only woman of power with a vested interest (because, well, Sylvannas couldn’t have been more bored) was kept silent.
But do you see the difference in the spirals between that of Garrosh and that of Jaina?
- One destroys the world to seek power, the other didn’t have to seek that power as it was WITHIN her to begin with.
- One seeks to purge the world of the “impure” while the other just wants vengeance for all that was lost.
- One’s will is so strong that he WIELDS the power of an old god without ever being corrupted by it, the other wields the power of her own RAGE as a result of being tormented by extreme loss only to be told to calm down, “that’s not how we do things.”
- One fights tooth and nail to hold true to his principle, the other just stands there and lets others decide what would be best in the interest of all involved.
- And never ONCE was it outright explained that the ONLY REASON Garrosh took out Theramore was to break the will of the ONLY person he saw as being his true threat. Sure taking out the other leaders was bonus to him, but no. He wanted Jaina out of the picture, plain and simple. He understood her power and knew that unlike facing Varian in melee combat, he wouldn’t be able to compete — a mage overtaking a warrior? As it is in game, so it is in the story, it seems
Sadly, I could keep going.
*spoilers here and there…you know the drill*
So where do we go next? OF COURSE you know Garrosh escapes. OF COURSE. And not only that, but has a time-bending friend (likely, a rogue Bronze Dragonflighter….because, honestly, every dragonflight has to have one or two corrupt members…) that will send Garrosh back to a time when Orcs could not be bested by the wiles of pissed off human female mages.
And that is where we find ourselves in the current battle of the sexes. We don’t know enough of the story yet to see how it all plays out, but I do know that a lot of female gamers are not liking the “manly men doing manly man things” theme that the current previews and marketing would have you believe is the story’s direction.
Quoth the lovely Miss Olivia Grace:
— Olivia Grace (@oliviadgrace) November 15, 2013
I reserve judgement until I actually see the content. But there are some things to think about:
- This is Draenor — and if anyone should be leading the campaign to clean up, yet another of Garrosh’s messes, it should be Aggra. HER HOMELAND IS NAGRAND (rhyme not intended, hehe). So what if she’s a mother. Hey, I hear women are allowed in combat now in the U.S. military, I think it’s high time they lead a few of the Horde’s forces. Preferably with a little more dignity than Zaela.
- DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT ZAELA. A former badass who worked to overthrow a tyrant male leader only to blindly follow another one. Ugh.
- As far as we know, the Draenai have always enjoyed equality between the sexes, especially with regards to offensive and defensive forces. There’s no reason to think that there couldn’t be powerful female figures prominent in the story (matter of fact, there seems to be one in the works)
Lastly — can we get some gay characters up in the story? Enough dabbling. Story, front and center, please, kkthxbai.
But really, I’ve enjoyed the story and gaming experience thus far and the changes they have so far previewed keep me interested. I like to end of positivity so to my fellow gamers, stay passionate. The developers and architects of this universe, thank you for making a game that invokes such passions. And to the community managers like Nethaera, I love you. /hug