Awhile back I publicly berated Daniel Whitcomb of WoW Insider for being a troll. More specifically one of his posts about PvP in the Wrath beta, and the associated video, was an unnecessary troll. He tends to lean toward the controversial style of posting. At the very least, he seems to like putting up posts that make people think, or failing that, pushes their buttons and gets them riled up. Usually, that's awesome because it gets people more involved in the game. Occasionally, it's a pain in the ass.
But like a lot of things, there's two different kinds of trolls; there's your kind of troll and then there's my kind of troll. Today's he's my kind. :P
His latest post on WoW Insider is a firestorm amoung some of the uber-Wow players. It's titled "Varian Wrynn is Right" and is a response, of sorts, to Leslie Smith's post, on the same blog, titled "The State of the Horde and the Alliance." G'head and read 'em both. I'll wait. Don't hit the comments, though. I don't have all day here. Go back and read those later.
I don't usually like to get involved in this sort of stuff. What's become clearer over the last year, or so, particular in regards to Wrath, is that there is a rather vocal minority of WoW players that pretty much say everything there is out there to read. They tend to be hardcore, or at least very dedicated players. This makes sense, of course. The vast majority of players barely have time to play enough (to their liking) much less write in blogs and respond to forum posts. I find myself in that position frequently. Do I wanna play or write? Guess which one wins more often.
That leaves most of the "opinion" and perception of the state of things in WoW in the hands of a few people who, to be perfectly honest, tend to lemming through their views of certain matters. I do it. Frequently. Most of the time, it's great. It builds a sense of community and common shared experience. Sometimes it's not so great.
Yes, there's a point here. Sheesh!
K, G'head and read the comments to those posts 'cause I'm not writing here about the posts themselves so much as I'm addressing those comments. This'll take you awhile, so I'm gonna get a snack.
After reading those, and discounting the asinine QQ, you may have noticed three things about some of the comments.
Comment Type #1 - You read the comment and discover, after flipping back to the original post, that the commenter didn't actually address what was said. They simply restate the original argument to which Daniel had already stated and responded. No counter argument. These basically prove his point, intentionally or not. We can safely throw those out.
Comment Type #2 - These ones try to answer the general theme of the original post by either a) name calling, or b) pointing out something completely unrelated. In most cases both. The most common was to say Wrynn is a dull and cardboard cutout character with no originality and the Horde (and a few Alliance characters) are way better as far as back story and motivation. Yah, cause the "Noble Savage" concept is terribly original. How original is it to post the exact same thing over and over again in the same thread that's already been said exactly the same way by a couple of dozen other people!?! This is a standard and typical move in politics. It's also ignorant and cowardly (See? Name calling is EASY!).
Aside: "The Noble Savage" and the "Mistreated Warmonger Hero" are called archetypes. It's how you handle them that makes them special. Stories about a haunted house are pretty much as standard fare as you can get in horror writing, but Stephen King's The Shining still sold millions of copies and is one of the best horror novels ever written. For a video game, both the Horde/Thrall and the Alliance/Wrynn motivations in WoW are pretty good. They certainly fit and serve the game world archetypes quite well and drive certain aspects of game play in an enjoyable manner. I'm not saying it's Pulitzer material, but it's at bare minimum serviceable, and in many cases, leads to some wonderfully creative play.
Comment #3 - Our final category is the people who actually call Wrynn (a fictional character) a racist and a bigot. A couple even go out of their way to compare him to Hitler! I can't decide if these posts are funny, sad, or disturbing. The political tactic, however, is quite common. Say something outrageous enough, say it often enough, and it'll detract from the fact that you don't really have anything say at all, that your counter point is weak, and you have a mind like a steel sieve. "Cupcakes are delicious!" "Yeah, well you're a bigot cause you only eat cupcakes and not pie! Hitler ate cupcakes, too!" To these people, everyone they disagree with is a bigot, a racist, a hypocrite, or all of the above.
To these last group of people I'll only say: Please meet me in the BGs this weekend. You will, of course, come complete unarmed and naked. Yes, I'll gank you repeatedly for HKs, but at least you won't be a bigot, racist, or hypocrite.
Snarkiness aside, these three types are the most ludicrous of arguments. There are a couple of responses that are well thought out. For example, yes Wrynn may be "justified" in his motivations, but there's plenty of characters on the Horde side that are just as "justified." This, of course, is the real point here. Blizzard is pushing Azeroth, through it's main character's motivations, to war.
I'm probably too much of a Carebear to embrace that idea fully. I actually like the idea presented by several comments where players might have the option of actually joining the Argent Dawn/Crusade or Cenarian Circle as an inclusive faction. Some of my best memories of in-game moments are cooperation with the opposite faction! Probably wouldn't work in game, but it is a neat idea.
That's me personally, though. Friday?
Several commentors pointed out that the Forsaken, for instance, have a right to Lordearon because they were the original inhabitants. They just got killed and raised from the dead, broke free of the Lich King and set up in their new homes. And now their former loved ones want to destroy them and treat them as monsters!
Who can see the fallacy in that argument? :)
Yah. "Former loved ones." Put aside the stated Forsaken goal of destroying all life and making "them" like "us." (Remember, I rolled a Forsaken Warlock as my very first character *because* I wanted to play an evil character for a change. I've played those quests, and it's not some whoa is us oh we're so misunderstood motivation there. They really do want to kill you.)
Wh0 are all these "loved ones?"
They're the original inhabitants of Strom, Arathi, Alterac and Lordearon. The ones that were pushed out by Orc invasions, slaughtered and pushed out by the plagued legions of undead, watched their kingdoms, ancestral lands and height of their civilizations fall apart under political turmoil in the aftermath of war, and finally usurped by their now undead "loved ones" who want nothing more than to murder them mercilessly so that they can all enjoy being undead together.
Haven't these people ever seen a zombie movie?!? Have none of them read The Zombie Survival Guide? For cryin' out loud! When your loved ones turn into flesh-eating brain munchers, you buck up and put 'em down! That's the way it works. Sheesh!
These displaced people don't have a claim that is, technically, even more valid than the Forsaken? I don't RP much, but the back story for Friday is that she is definitely one of these people. Why wouldn't she be fed up with the "peace" between the Horde and the Alliance that has, thus far, not gotten one tiny step toward resolution? Why wouldn't she follow a new, strong leader who wants to take down the groups who have piled indignity upon indignity on her people and people like her? Why wouldn't she want to jump in and take back what she and most of her kind think is rightfully theirs?
I am not my toon. I'm one of those people that doesn't project m'self into the game world with my toon as my avatar. I'm one of those people that sees my toons as companions, separate from m'self. And occasionally as dress up dolls, as well, but that's another post entirely. Friday's motivations are not necessarily mine. Friday and I would probably have a pretty good argument regarding the benefits of peace versus the morality of war with the Horde. Then she'd kick the crap out of me because, unfortunately, I am not my toon. :P
But it makes a great story motivation. And that's where Daniel Whitcomb's post excels. It points out the obvious story driving what Blizzard is doing for the Alliance. It's a story that, if you look at it from the perspective of characters, and not players, it makes perfect sense. Our characters probably have a greater awareness of what goes on in the world than the common citizen of the Horde or the Alliance. We *can* work together when necessary. But those prejudices and, most importantly, perceptions and motivation would still be there for those characters.
I think a lot of people who project themselves into the game, take the motivations of the fictional characters in the game a bit too seriously. I do, to an extent, or I wouldn't have written this WAY too long post. I also think some people bring their own real politics and beliefs into a fictional environment. That's a bit silly. But it doesn't change that fact that the characters, player and non-player, in WoW DO have certain perceptions and derive their motivations from those. Blizzard is using that with the Wrynn/Grom/Thrall/Jaina story lines to drive a story. Will it be war? Peace? Tragedy? A whole reworking of the games political dynamics?
Dunno. But I bet it'll be pretty good to play.