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Saturday, November 23, 2013

And They All Stink

We're not even a full two weeks removed from the euphoric experience of Blizzcon, and it's already business as usual again.  Back to our groups.  Back to our lives.  And back to the QQ about planned changes to the game.

I was excited about my re-roll (which ended up on Aerie Peak, for those of you keeping track) and positive about finding new friends to run with.  Heck I still am - who am I kidding.  I'm just distracted already - by the usual stuff.  You know, change is announced, not everyone likes it, and the community decides to either stick up for their beloved game or the feelings of betrayal that the game has stirred within them.

And thus the World of Warcraft community is turned against itself, as a marooned crew of compatriots left without any content to sustain themselves on an island of tired gaming.  Nerves withering as the hunger sets in, ultimately resorting to cannibalism. 

If you're reading this, you're a nerd.  Your nerdiness registers somewhere on the nerd scale.  You are a unique nerd, never fitting a single stereotype, but those stereotypes exist for a reason.  Nerds tend to be passionate about the things they enjoy - be it sports, video games, fishing, etc.  Many types of nerds in the world. 

Usually it's good to be around folks that share the same interest.  So why are so many of my fellow WoW nerds fighting about flying in WoW?  Why are they getting tactical over the lack of strong female characters in the game?  Well, folks are different - even like-minded nerds.  And their passions flare over different things. 

If we didn't love the game, we wouldn't play it.  And that's what makes changing it so dicey.  Balancing boredom with new experiences necessitates some level of change.  But inevitably, there are changes that crunch on somebody's toes.  And, like any nerd that feels their fun getting taken away, that gets folks fired up.  The problem gets many times worse when that initial set of folks voice their displeasure, and those who love the game and don't feel the same way feel it's being attacked and rise to its defense.

Within a week we go from an awesome community of one of the greatest games ever, to fueding factions, tossing about pronouns like "you people" and "those guys", among other less savory colloquialisms.  And this starts a cycle of back and forth that brings some element of the Middle East to the World of Warcraft.  And honestly, it's kind of depressing.  Because I like most of you guys, and I don't have a dog in the current fights.  And I'd like nothing more than to get back to having fun with all of you.

Those upset about the changes - you should be able to voice your displeasure without taking shots at anyone.  Your thoughts and feelings are valid and should be represented and heard in a civil manner.  Had I personally not done likewise when automatic bans were going out for transferring 100k between my accounts on the same Battle.net account, then the practice might still have carried on to this day.  But you've gotta be civil about it.

To those upset about the perceived and possibly real attacks on the game you love - understand those guys are nerds just like you.  They want to have fun, too.  To try to tell them they have no right to feel something, is to deny the very nerdom we all embrace that makes this community great.  Folks are going to disagree, and it's up to us whether we let it divide the community.

And to the Community Managers - I think your company's stock is better served by being more understanding, rather than kicking up embers as you "take a stance".  All that happens when you do is one part of the community becomes alienated - and if you misjudge the size or impact of that community, then you've bought the farm with that stance and you're stuck pissing folks off no matter what you decide.  Your developers are going to do what they're going to do.  Your job isn't to make the community deal with it, it's to get them to buy the finished product and have fun.  If you're not going to win when you engage a customer, maybe you shouldn't engage them.

These schisms inevitably devolve into the sort where folks start plastering their opposition with generalities that don't really apply to the individuals.  And at that point, it's very hard to stop the cycle, and it has to simply run its course.

I thought this would run its course, but it's still kicking around.  I doubt this post will help.  If you've hung in there this long, you know this isn't a gold post.  I try to stick to goldmaking here, on the podcast, on Twitter.  I try to stay away from politics, current events, and sports - I try to focus on what bring us together.  And maybe I should have left this alone and stuck to gold here.  And you've every right to think & feel that, and I'm okay with that as long as you don't take a shot at me. 

At this point, though, somebody has to decide that enough has been said, and I have to quit writing about a topic that keeps me away from playing the game with you guys - the folks who want to keep flying, and the folks who don't - the folks who want strong female characters, and the folks who don't.  You're all cool, talented, folks, and I've been there, and I get it - but I think that's been enough for now.

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