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Puerile

The slow-motion train wreck that is Blizzard right now has entered into a new, greasy-diesel fire phase.

Since the lawsuit and frat-boy/Bill Cosby culture was exposed, it appears that WoW has gone under the politically correct microscope. Which… seems a bit overkill – you could see its puerile humor from space with your naked fully-clothed eye. Paintings of scantily-clad women are being replaced with fruit, NPCs like Master Baiter are getting renamed, along with some Achievements:

In the upcoming Patch 9.1.5, we’ll see:

  • ‘My Sack is Gigantique’ renamed to ‘My Storage is Gigantique.’
  • ‘Bros. Before Ho Ho Hos’ renamed to ‘Holiday Bromance.’

Next on the chopping/editing block were emotes which “seem[ed] to have harmless intentions at a glance, but when used while targeting another player, their intentions can turn unexpectedly suggestive or intrusive,” per a developer’s note. /Pounce no longer says “Azuriel pounces on top of you” but rather “Azuriel pounces towards you.” Because of the implication.

Speaking of which, the latest news is that several in-game joke/flirt lines are getting the axe. A full spreadsheet can be found here, but some highlights:

  • [Blood Elf female Flirt] Is that a mana wyrm in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  • [Blood Elf female Flirt] Normally, I only ride on epic mounts… But, let’s talk.
  • [Draenei Female Flirt] I want you to *lick and splat* my *gurgling noises* *slurping noises*
  • [Pandaren Female Flirt] Oh, I’ve never done THAT before.. Uh… You’re not doing it right…
  • [Pandaren Female Flirt] Let me show you my kung fu grip.
  • [Blood Elf Male Joke] Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
  • [Pandaren Male Flirt] Hey, hot stuff. Want to try breeding in captivity?
  • [Pandaren Male Flirt] Nice pants. What’s the drop rate?
  • [Goblin Female Joke] I’m a modern goblin woman. Independent? I still let men do nice things to me. But I stopped giving them any credit.
  • [Goblin Female Flirt] So then, he asked me to go up on him!
  • [Goblin Male Flirt] I like my women the way I like my fuses: Short, fast and ready to blow.
  • [Goblin Male Flirt] I got what you need. *sound of zipper*
  • [Orc Male Flirt] That armor looks good on you. It would look even better on my floor.
  • [Tauren Female Flirt] I’ve got big, soulful eyes, long eyelashes and a wet tongue. What more could a guy want?
  • [Tauren Male Joke] Homogenized? No way, I like the ladies.
  • [Night Elf Female Joke] Oh, look, I’m dancing again! (Darkly) I hope all your friends are enjoying the show…
  • [Highmountain Tauren Female Flirt] You don’t need to be from the Skyhorn tribe to join the mile high club.
  • [Dark Iron Dwarf Male Flirt] Interested in joining the mile deep club?
  • [Lightforged Female Flirt] Let’s go back to my ship and twist our nethers.
  • [Lightforged Female Flirt] I admire a soldier who can… remain… at attention.

I planned to stop after just a few, but then I pulled a Blizzard and kept on going.

It’s actually kind of amazing, right? I haven’t played Amazon’s New World, but I cannot imagine it having flirt/joke lines like the above. Or, really, any other commercial MMOs. Not even TERA, if you can believe that. Which I guess may be why so many people are up in arms over the potential removal of said emotes. If you want sexualized prepubescent catgirls, there are plenty of options, but if you want T for Teen jokes, WoW may have been the last call.

Amusingly, the Reddit thread I linked a moment ago has several people smugly pointing out that while WoW is getting censored, FF14 has:

FFXIV literally has a quest about 2 catgirls fighting over who gives better handjobs to a guy named Captain Longhaft.

It’s crazy that even just a thought that can lead to another thought that can eventually lead to a though about sex is too much for a Blizzard dev. Just imagine if they ever saw this quest, they’d pop a blood vessel.

They posted that, unironically, as though that quest was something to be proud of.

Go ahead and watch that video, by the way, because it’s actually worse than it sounds. The captain in question rescued the two catgirls from child prostitution, when they were still too young to join his crew, then accepted them once they got older. I was half-expecting there to be a final gotcha! wink about the innuendo being just that, but… nope.

When they returned to me years later as women grown – strong and beautiful – I swore that I would have them! In my regiment, that is… That they know how to properly sheathe my blade is an extra benefit – albeit a most welcome one. And with that, I must return to my post.

I routinely read manga, so I am used to the cognitive dissonance that comes with Japanese media having compelling narratives and then an 8-year old girl in a micro-bikini masquerading as an ancient dragon/vampire in the same story. Which adds absolutely nothing of value to the narrative, by the way. It’s beyond a trope – it’s a badge of shame that’s beyond my ability to even rationally consider “cultural differences.” And this is how you know how gross it is: who is it for? Seriously. Who? Who gets mad enough to not buy something without softcore loli porn in it?

It would not surprise me then that the Venn diagram between those people and others quitting WoW over joke/flirt removal is just a circle.

In truth, I do understand some of their points. The devs can go through a decade of crusty socks in WoW’s closet all they want – and they probably should! – but the endeavor rings a bit hollow when the present plot revolves around genocide and other ultra-violence. That’s a decidedly American trope: sex bad, violence good.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut… it’s not really sex that’s getting censored, is it? Maybe more like the frat-boy jokes that were funny 15 years ago, back when I was an actual frat boy playing WoW for the first time. Maybe nothing of actual value is being lost here, and WoW will continue being shit because of shit narrative and shit gameplay decisions, not “political correctness run amok.” It seems like a lot because there is actually a lot that has accumulated over the years, and if Blizzard wants to change their company culture, they will have to do it one dick joke at a time.

In the meantime, there will be counter-culture backlash. Because of course there will.