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As part of my ongoing search for interesting ways to occupy myself while waiting for Bad Monkeys to be published, I've started playing World of Warcraft. This is not an entirely pointless time sink. I did some freelance work for one of the local software giants last year, and it's conceivable that at some point someone will ask me to be a "creative consultant" on an MMORPG, so I figure it can't hurt to have some actual play experience.

Before hiking over to Fred Meyer to pick up the game client, I read a bunch of player and game designer blogs, and found some interesting essays. One issue that gets mentioned periodically in game design circles, in a "We really should do something about this...someday" kind of way, is that the vast majority of computer game designers are white men who, lacking anyone to tell them otherwise, sometimes make decisions that needlessly alienate millions of potential customers.

For my first World of Warcraft character, I decided to play a troll of the hunter class. About an hour into the game I got sent on a quest to a seaside village called Sen'Jin, populated by my fellow trolls, and while interacting with the non-player characters I realized that we were all speaking with Haitian accents. A particular shade of Haitian accent, seemed like: repeatedly, as I finished an exchange with a quest-giver or a shopkeeper, I was warned to "Stay away from the voodoo, mon." Gee, I thought, that's odd. Why would trolls talk like black people?

Seeking answers, I turned to the racial history section of the WoW manual, and read the following: "The vicious trolls that populate the numerous jungle isles of the South Seas are renowned for their cruelty and dark mysticism. Barbarous and superstitious, they carry a seething hatred for all other races..." Ah, I thought, of course. That explains it. Trolls talk like black people because they're superstitious jungle savages.

WoW, indeed.

Naturally, this got me curious. Was this an isolated horrible worldbuilding choice, or was there more? After leveling up my troll a bit, I started another character, a Tauren druid.

Taurens, as their name suggests, are a minotaur-like species (although my female druid looks more like a bipedal dairy cow). But they really should have been modeled on bison rather than cattle, because it turns out Taurens are actually Native Americans of the Mix-n-Match tribe. Environmentally conscious citizens of the plains, they live in both tipis and longhouses, and carve totem poles. And their signature greeting is "How!", an expression I haven't heard since the days of F-Troop.

Again, WoW.

Don't get me wrong. World of Warcraft is as fun and addictive as you've heard, very well done in most respects. But in a game meant to appeal to a mass audience, this sort of stuff is just incredibly dumb.


Jul. 1st, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of enjoying the solo adventuring right now, but at some point when I'm ready to try raiding I'll take you up on that. What level are you guys now?
Jul. 1st, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
The thing is, if you create some characters there now you'll have more of more different levels to choose from when you do want to party up. And many guild members play solo often; there's never any obligation to get into a group, although it's usually more fun that way.

We've characters of darned near all levels at the moment, and traditionally a few folks have started new characters to join a newcomer. I started a new one just yesterday to "remind" myself how to play a hunter.

We don't raid often; we more often group up for the 5-member dungeons, although a few of us occasionally join forces with a larger guild for raids.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
Is it possible to move characters between servers?
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
Yes, but typically it costs $25. If your character is under level 40, it's more efficient to start a new one.

In any event, since you can have characters on multiple servers, you should start a new one on Malfurion, and we'll show you a good time.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
Are you guys Horde, Alliance, or both?
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Strictly Horde on Malfurion. We have a small cluster of mostly low-level Alliance toons on Zangarmarsh, but they're rarely played without a special event.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
Also, I take it everyone's name begins with V?
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:08 pm (UTC)
Not strictly, no. But most characters have a V-name.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
When you come to Malfurion, do a /who Consummate Vees and ask darned near anyone for an invite. Not everyone has privs, but they'll know someone who does. Just mention that you're a friend of mine, and that'll be the password.

If you're looking for me in particular, I'll likely be online a few times today as Vorusk or Verxes (or possibly Vecna or Vashon).
Jul. 2nd, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
Whoops, life just took a turn for the busy (but in a good way), so I may not be Warcrafting much for the next couple weeks. But I'll definitely look you up on Malfurion once I get spare time again...

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