I’ve written before about how you should just ignore the haters and like the games you like, and by and large I still absolutely stand by that statement. That said, being someone who’s new to World of Warcraft, I’m continually reminded that I probably am not wanted and that I should stick to people I have vetted outside of the game itself.
How did I reach this conclusion? By the needless upset of those who were enraged by the whole War of Thorns thing in WoW.
Just in case you weren’t following along, I’ll summarize. World of Warcraft has this chain of quests, see, leading into the launch of the next expansion. These quests steps move into the irreversible direction of seeing Teldrassil, the World Tree in Darnassus, put to the torch by Warchief Sylvanas for reasons that I can only assume run no deeper than “Rawr.”
People lost their minds over these events and to a certain extent I can appreciate why. The Horde – or at least the few races which I’m familiar with – carry a sort of honorable code of conduct in their dealings, but this act of aggression looked ready to paint the entire Horde with the Bad Guy Brush with no really clear tactical advantage to the maneuver unless one thinks it over carefully.
Worse yet, the animated short showing the event itself seemed to delight in the cruelty of the act. As one of the writers of Massively OP put it, they just showed a straight-up war crime and that bothered people deeply. As it should. Particularly since there’s going to be a significant gap in between those events and the events of BFA.
So yes, to a degree I can appreciate the freak-out. But the level of the freak-out was above and beyond what I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing as someone barely remotely associated with the WoW playerbase. So I can only imagine what those more entrenched in the game than I must have felt like.
But here’s the thing, too; when people in the game, no matter how much of a minority they may be, raise utter hell over something so trivial as a quest step that tells the opening beats of a greater story, that doesn’t really want to make those like myself who are just starting off and maybe looking to play with others want to reach out.
I mean, people were so agitated over a pair of quests and an animated short. If that’s the length of their fuse, why would I want to enter dungeons in a tank role and admit to being new? What sort of flip-out sessions and pointless rage would I be subject to then?
Now granted, that iron has cooled a fair bit thanks to the recently released “Old Soldier” video that Blizzard put out. But that still doesn’t really ease my worry. If anything, seeing the perceived community at large change their mind with such ease doesn’t speak to me of an MMO community that’s well-adjusted and welcoming. It feels more like a bunch of whining puppies waiting to be sated with a meal, except significantly less cute.
This is the same sort of roiling wave of rage that’s snuffed out or nearly snuffed out other games, too. WildStar, for all of its early design flaws at launch, has largely righted the ship in that regard, but people have so gleefully poisoned the well against it that nobody even cares to play it and the game feels like its on life support. And trust me, I’d love nothing more than to Healsling with friends, but nobody in my friend circle cares.
No Man’s Sky, too, was very nearly crushed under this same wave. Again, the reason for the rage is justified – the devs over-promised and under-delivered – but the viciousness and bile retched in its direction was so acrid that only now are people starting to get over it, helped along by several big updates to the game including the recently-released NEXT.
Which, actually, leads rather neatly into the point about countering this anger – being just as relentless in effusive praise. No Man’s Sky has perceptually become a happier game and a happier playerbase because of the heaps of praise and joy and delight, a wave that’s just as large as the rage campaign levied against it but far denser and thus more effective at scrubbing the stigma clean. Which, guess what, makes people want to play again. And having more people to play with in a multiplayer and MMO title is a good thing.
All I’m trying to say with this blog post, ultimately, is to try to consider the wider implications of your rage, no matter how justified it may objectively be. There are more people on the outside looking in than you think, and if all we can see are people who are miserable and angry at everything about the game, we’re not going to want to play with you.
Hell, even though I’ve given Blizzard my money, I still don’t want to play with WoW people. I know, maybe three or four people that play the game that I know aren’t counted among that teeth-gnashing crowd. That’s all I care to know of WoW’s playerbase.
And hey, if BFA happens to turn things around and if the story happens to soothe your complaints about the story that led to this point…express that. Because, again, there are more people watching than you think. Especially with a game as big as Warcraft.
This blog post is part of Blaugust Reborn, a month-long celebration of blogging for both new and old blogs. If you’d like to learn more or even join in yourself, click here for details!