Fans Extend the Universe Farther than Warcraft Could Dream

I was going to post up a fluffy item creation post today but I got to thinking about other things because I spent a lot of my weekend on other WoW projects as well as hanging out with some fandom friends on Tumblr.

I’m still horrified by the state of lore discussions in the WoW community whenever a good percentage of men want to involve themselves. I went to sign up for Scrolls of Lore this weekend and immediately was greeted by the default avatars being giant pics of WoW races’ asses, most of them being female. Then there’s this thread, made by a friend of one of my Tumblr pals. It is a great OP and I love seeing lore discussion that pokes at how sexist or problematic the writing in WoW is. But it doesn’t take long for people to hop into the thread to make snipey comments about how we’re all wrong and women aren’t treated badly and we must have some agenda.

The rest of the story forum seems to read very heavily in that direction and this is why I really do not like involving myself in lore discussions where it’s inevitably dominated by men. The analysis is thoroughly limited and usually amounts to whinging that a certain character is not written well but nothing about the reasons why that might happen. Women characters are derided along typical lines like being crazy, emotional or unimportant.

But I digress. I came here to be positive.

What gave me utmost hope this weekend was the number of cool people discussing their problems with WoW lore, their awesome headcanons that expanded on the pretty basic writing we find in the game and extended universe. It gave me hope. It gave me ideas. It made me realize that there’s still so many people not getting credit or recognition for writing a World of Warcraft that I’d want to spend years playing in or writing about. A Sylvanas that beckons the Forsaken from their graves due to unfinished business. Gilneans that address class struggles, crusaders that aren’t afraid to hold their girlfriend’s hand. Women leaders that lead and don’t attach themselves limpet-like to their boring spouses, or die because of it. Tumblr gets a lot of shit from the nerd community in general for daring to foment some form of social justice that they find overblown and irrational, but I find the fandom that is outside of the control of pretty heavily purist, male-dominated ideologies to be extremely powerful and a lot more entertaining. Nerds have an unhealthy obsession with prescriptivism despite the fact that treating lore as a pure text when it’s penned by people who are ignorant to larger concerns of representation and tropes is terrible. The older I grow, the more I want to reject lore and canon utterly because it doesn’t represent a world I’d be welcome in, as either a character or my actual self.

What keeps me going is just the fact that no matter where I turn, there’s always some rock I didn’t turn over with people that want to discuss these things. People who are okay with listening to zany-ass ideas, have thoroughly negative conversations about fan-favorites (slaying all your male character faves for LIFE) and generally just not being stuck up about what gets handed to us on a regular basis and doing better. The fact that a lot of these people tend to be way younger than me is also heartening too. It makes me glad that there are people, particularly teen girls who are already into this stuff because when I was 16, I was pretty much in the dark and watching Sailor Moon without a real grasp of what it all meant.

The fact that all of us can come together as a community and have these great discussions across all ages and lifestyles is amazing. Let the haters get mad at Tumblr, or Twitter, or social justice warriors all they want (I’m a social justice mage, by the by.) I’m going to stay here and keep supporting all these rad people coming forward who want to turn this lore shit on its head, who want to share their experiences and be a part of the community.


2 Responses

  1. I too would love to see the writing, and the world, expanded far beyond what it currently is. In addition to seeing more-rounded, independent female characters, I would love to see characters who were not afraid to say that the opposite faction are not monsters, and do not deserve to be exterminated. I would love to see a well rounded character whose motivations are simply pure evil: not warped by an old god, not driven insane by a quest for power, not maddened by revenge, no greater agenda, just an evil sociopath from the get-go out for no one and nothing but themselves. I would also love to see a WoW where characters were not afraid to express love for another character regardless of their gender, but I don’t see that happening under the current rating/target audience bent.

    What we have to look forward to, instead, at least in the short term, are storylines written by the current writing staff, working under the current guidelines; writing what they know/what they are directed to write, by a management driven by what they know and what they want. Like the song, could get better, but it could get much worse.

  2. I’ve also been having some Tumblr-vs.-forum-related thoughts lately. If you post on SoL or the Story Forum, you know that the devs are likely to be watching, which is part of the appeal of these places. When they talk about listening to feedback, these are the kinds of places they mean. As someone who follows both sides of fandom, it’s frustrating to me that Tumblr, and LJ before it, do not get the same kind of attention. I’d like the writers to know that some characters who get bashed on the forums are popular in other places. I want them to know that not everyone cares so much about faction wank. For that matter, I want them to see that getting invested in fictional relationships is no sillier than getting invested in fictional wars, and shipping can be just as thoughtful and insightful as any other kind of interpretation. And really, I’m past caring if this kind of fan culture looks weird or annoying to them. I’m not sure anything can beat some of the shit I’ve seen on SoL!

    I would also very much like to have an alternate venue for discussing lore, without the interpersonal toxicity that happens on Scrolls. I know Flavor Text was intended to be something like that, but it doesn’t really update anymore. I also don’t think a blog is quite the same as an open discussion forum—you have to wait for the owner(s) to post a topic, and then respond to it. I’m also not fond of the setup of Tumblr. What I like about forums is that you can drop into a conversation whenever you want, and you don’t need to collect and maintain followers in order to be visible. Someone recently made a Tumblr post asking whether anyone would be interested in creating a more positive lore discussion forum, but it hasn’t gotten much attention. I wonder if something like this could ever happen. A heavy SJ focus might not be perfect for me, but overall I think it’s something I’d enjoy.

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