Somewhere, in the last couple of years, the art of constructive criticism when it comes to Blizzard Games has been lost. A part of it, undoubtedly, is wrapped around the means by which die-hard fans have been recruited into the Company, recognising that those people with an interest in the game are more likely to work harder, be less stressed and generally more productive. The flip side of this, of course, is that, you don’t want to be critical of your friends’ dream job, because for most that’s what it continues to be.
In fact, for their sake you ought to look past the shortcomings of the product you are presented with, simply enjoying what you have.
Except, in this case, there remain errors in decision making that continue to make no sense at all. Removing the ‘personalisation’ options that Class Order Halls provided, redefining the Red/Blue divide, placing key items that champion diversity outside of the actual MMO (presenting it in comics and animated shorts) smacks, at least where I’m standing, of trying to please everybody whilst actually not upsetting portions of what can be a very conservative playerbase. Quel’s question is an extremely relevant one, and asks the designers just how much the soul of the game matters.
We get you’ve employed fans who can do the maths, and work out the technical stuff. We also get you have people who can draw and design the art. However, and this is crucial, where are the fans who write the stories? Where are the Terran Gregory types hiding out who could not just shoe in a LGBTQA+ story-line for the sake of appearances, but make everybody cry over it’s execution? I don’t just need that in something THAT IS NOT PART OF THE UI. It has to exist in the Lore books. Why doesn’t it already?
Part of me can guess an answer to that, but let’s move on.
Once upon a time, I solved my life’s problems (briefly) by doing just this, but the reality now is that honestly, seriously, it will NEVER be an answer to use a game as a substitute for existence, especially one that often mirrors reality with far more viciousness than is actually the case. The other reason why criticism is now a dirty word is wrapped very tightly around Social media, and how Internet trolls continue to destroy those people already at a disadvantage.
Because of this, there has been a backlash. You can’t criticise MY game, or MY friends, because that means you are a Social Justice Warrior, or a Gamergate sympathiser… this attitude is now beginning to negatively impact the ability of anybody to stand up and accurately find fault or suggest shortcomings in any games. The only way things ever get better is when there is a two way, sympathetic dialogue between both parties concerned. Instead, everybody’s using everything as advertising whilst nobody dares stand and point out what could be better.
During this pre-Expansion period, everything has been very precisely engineered and executed. When certain employees now react with almost predictable enthusiasm to their own company’s tweets, there are no surprises, and very few changes at all from what has come before. In fact, as I watch other people get excited over the possibility of mercilessly slaughtering their ‘friends’ and destroying their homes, I wonder if we’ve learnt anything at all.
This game really does need work.
Sometimes, setting fire to things is not the answer. Fighting is great but it gets boring after a while. Being first is fabulous, especially if you get paid, but what about everybody else? When I think about why so many people have an obsessive interest in returning to Classic Warcraft, the notion becomes less and less ridiculous with each passing day. Sure, there was still War back then, but it wasn’t dressed up as in-game advertising, it was the game itself.
The bigger point however is that you’d go back to Classic because nothing is better than it is now, it’s all worse. Considering how I see this game now, with the need to keep people engaged and locked into daily game-play above actual, tangible progress on the same things that other Blizzard games excel at… maybe this is a watershed. Can we finally see a game that evolves away from the misogynist, gung-ho sensibilities of the past into a better, more meaningful adventure. More importantly, if the majority is happy to watch their world burn, will anything ever change for the better?
Does anybody else really care or are they simply too busy living their idea of the dream?