Can We Not, Razor Hill?

Misandry the undead mage glares at two gross orcs.

 (Tried really hard to make the title an homage to the infamous A Chorus Line song, “Dance: 10, Looks: 3″ but it didn’t work out. Pretend I did. – ed.)

Patch 5.4 just hit and with it a wave of new content. Unfortunately I am not here to talk about the excitement of Timeless Isle or Flex raids just yet. It came to my attention this morning (hat-tip to Lhivera on Twitter) that someone from my server had posted on the general forums about two gross sexist NPCs that had been dropped into  the game due to the changes in the patch.

Turns out that as of only two days ago, there were now two refugee orcs hanging out in the Razor Hill inn that have a discussion that highlights the looks of the other refugee woman stranded at the inn while Ogrimmar and all points surrounding are in utter chaos. If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s the fact that both orcs are using the “rating system” of ranking a woman’s beauty on a scale of 1 to 10 and not being precisely kind about it.

Orgrimmar Refugee says: Oh, look at her over there. She’s be beautiful. A perfect 10!
Orgrimmar Refugee says: A 10? Ha! Maybe in Razor Hill. In Orgrimmar she’d only be a 6.

I skimmed the thread before it got deleted – it was the usual hot garbage with a couple of bright spots where people were defending the OP and calling stuff out. The real sickening part of this for me though was just how normal people believe this stuff to be. Rating women like they are consumer products is objectifying, dehumanizing and hurtful if you have to deal with it, which a lot of women do. Ranking women reinforces the idea that the only thing of value we have is how men judge us based on arbitrary notions of what they find attractive, or more bluntly, “fuckable.” It’s coarse and piggish.

I was dismayed that this was even in the game, especially as of the latest patch. Here we are not talking about content that’s been embedded in parts of the game from years past but something someone recently felt was okay to stick in a little corner of the game, with all the added contextual grossness due to the fact that it’s displaced citizens describing a woman away from her home. I thought that Blizzard had gotten at least slightly better since the Ji Firepaw fiasco, that maybe we had started to get on the right track away from some of the more dudebro aspects of design. It’s been elucidated to me that developers take pride over their NPC creations, no matter how big or small, so who takes pride in this? Who takes credit for this? Why did someone feel comfortable sticking street harassment in here? It rightly makes people feel uncomfortable playing, like this world isn’t also ours to partake in.

Thankfully, as a small silver lining, CM Zarhym tweeted in response  (right before I put the blog to press) to several concerned parties on Twitter that this gossip text was being removed. Swift action is one of the best courses of action for something small like this, but I think we still need to get at a place where people consider that these things are a) not normal b) are hurtful to quite a few of us that play the game. I still hold out some shred of optimism that World of Warcraft overall is improving, but a lot of that is due to those of us in the community who feel more bold to call this stuff out. There’s a sea change coming and I suspect it is because of the efforts of bloggers, Twitter folks and forum posters that are doing most of the work.

Misandry the mage yells at these bags of amalgamated hubris.

Misandry the mage yells at these bags of amalgamated hubris.

Still, much gratitude to the community team for passing this internally and getting it changed so quickly. It was really weird to fly into Razor Hill and have to skip over the cool lore events that are going on there to check out two nameless orcs critiquing an orc woman’s looks rudely every minute or so. We ultimately need to keep pushing for a game that builds a world where the shitty things we have to contend with in real life aren’t the same things we run across randomly in game from NPCs.

(Thank you to Misanthropology 101 and Ember Dione for their blog posts.)

9 Responses

  1. What annoys me the most about things like this is how it keeps on recurring, even after they have had to walk a bunch of crap back to the office after being called out on it.

    I guess it’s a lot less work to just let stuff slide and react to little firestorms like this than it is to have someone proactively auditing this stuff? If I was the project manage, I’d be getting tired of my employees getting me in hot water over and over again.

    “We take this stuff seriously” starts to mean NOTHING if it only occurs in reaction to something. When they start being proactive, they won’t HAVE to say that over and over again until it loses all meaning.

  2. In a final and interesting twist, the hotfixed removal of the offending NPCs was not included on their official log of hotfixes for that day:

    http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/10932273/54_Hotfixes_September_12-9_12_2013

    Which at this point, you know what? Fine. They fixed the problem and I’m willing to let it go at that. But the official strategy is pretty clearly to pretend that this never happened, hence the deletion of both the original discussion thread and the omission of any record of the change.

    As far as Blizzard goes, I guess those orcs never existed.

  3. And freedom of speech gets the loss again. Two orcs opinions offended real life.
    Meanwhile, a kid just shot his own grandmother in the back of the head cause she turned off his video game grand theft auto :(

    • We refer to this as a category error. The offensive speech has nothing whatsoever to do with the dead grandmother.

      Would you tolerate living armpit deep in sewage because “at least I’m not getting hit in the face with a hammer every morning” No, you wouldn’t. The fact that something else sucks more does NOT make the lesser suck meaningless.

      And one last point: WoW is a commercial product, the consumers of that product have every right to object to the content of it. And they can hope or even expect that those objections will change things. Those objections and Blizzards response are in no way related to the idea of Free Speech in a Constitutional sense.

  4. I don’t get how this stuff keeps happening. Did/Do they not learn from past mistakes of this same nature? How many times do people need to point this out to them before they understand that this kind of thing isn’t acceptable? It’s kind of sad and really disappointing. On one hand it’s great that when they get called out they take steps to repair it but then on the other hand, it shouldn’t exist to begin with.

  5. Honestly, I would have loved to see first orc’s dialogue remain unchanged and the response to the original “rater” make a more direct statement about how inappropriate it was–could have been a nice opportunity to take a miss and turn it into a win. Something like, “Keep saying that crap and you’ll be likely to lose an important body part. You sure you aren’t a Garrosh sympathizer? Oppression is more his style…”

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  7. How is this at all sexist? If one NPC said to the other “hey she looks like a 10″ and the other replied “yeah, but she definitely doesn’t deserve the right to vote or have equal pay”, THAT would be sexist. NPCs talking about the looks of other NPCs is not sexist…

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