Thursday, July 03, 2014



I spent a fair bit of time in the Podcast yesterday asserting that ranting away on Social Media is no hard and fast guarantee that you'll ever affect change in game design. Because the Universe has a thing for thumbing its nose at people like me, I wake up this morning to discover that change isn't maybe as stationary a behemoth for Blizzard as it might have been previously. First up, an Elite version of Thrall's mate, now exists in the Beta now exists in Beta. There was an awful lot of dissatisfaction that she did not travel with him to Draenor from certain quarters when the Expansion was initially announced, and the fact this NPC exists at all makes me think that maybe, just *maybe*, there's the slightest hint of the possibility of change on the wind. Then there's the story that I heard via Twitter that TOTALLY disproves the theory that Social Media never changes anything, because that's patently not the case here.


The initial reasoning for the Men Only Tournament (that South Korea is trying to get e-sports Olympic recognition and therefore 'sports' need to be segregated according to gender) is all fair and good in its own context. However, JUST STOP THERE. Let's just celebrate the fact that Common Sense has clearly won the day and mark this one down to Stupidity, shall we? What it does demonstrate however is that there is not simply the desire for organisations to change, but to be seen to be doing so very publicly in response to this kind of critical reaction. Polygon covered this story yesterday too, and here's a quote from their article:

Blizzard has been in contact with the organization about the segregation imposed upon tournaments of its card game Hearthstone and understood that it updated the rules "to make it clear that their Hearthstone tournament will be open to all players." 
"One of our goals with eSports is to ensure that there's a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games," Blizzard said in a statement provided to Polygon. "We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal."

If you wanted a clearer position on how Blizzard feels about this issue, I doubt you'd get it as succinctly. It's certainly a much-needed and public assertion that the company aren't interested in exclusion, and I suspect it will go some way to redress some of the negative press the Company's taken in the last few months on that position. However, there will be those for whom this isn't going to be enough, and that's perfectly understandable. Forgiving people is, after all, a pretty tough ask when you've seen enough wrongdoing to make you believe that it is impossible to ever forget. It is also, especially in the current media climate, far easier to apportion blame than it will ever be to consider the merits of forgiveness.

Speaking from personal experience, I'm extremely grateful I'm surrounded by people who are prepared to forgive.

Deliberate use of GIF to mask personal content.

Forgiving someone is pretty much always a HUGE ask. Some people never will, because it is always useful to have those issues as a flag to wave at someone else. 'You've always hated women and you'll never change' works just as well as 'you've always been a depressive and you'll never change' in my mind, and I've been in both those situations at close hand. I've done a lot of stuff in my life I really am less than proud of as a result of any number of external or internal factors, but the key to evolution is the understanding that you can STOP. It's not out of your control, it isn't the fault of the people who made you the way you are, it is in your own hands to affect change if that is really what you want. The key there is YOU, of course: for whatever reason these things happen, there is the opportunity to stop, take a step back, and alter behaviour. Then it comes down to whether the rest of the World is prepared to accept you as you now are, or wants simply to consider you as you were.

If you try to affect a change, then I think you deserve at least some measure of respect, and an opportunity to demonstrate the move is deliberate and being planned to last long term. The problem then comes with how you personally deal with the consequences. That's purely and utterly subjective. Personally, if people had not forgiven me, I wouldn't be here right now. My life would be completely and utterly different and it is only thanks to the generosity and understanding of a number of individuals that I have the chance to live this life, which is frankly an entire World away from what might have happened. So, if you ask me how I feel about forgiveness I think about the people I know who have recovered from addiction issues, and the people who have walked away from abusive relationships, and I consider the far too many people I know who have to deal with prejudice and marginalisation because of the sexuality they ascribe to. All of these people, all their stories, and I wonder why forgiveness is the most difficult thing to do. I suspect it is mostly because it is the most powerful of redemptions. To forgive really does demonstrate what an utterly amazing human being you are.

...aaaand there's another one.

That's why, Blizzard, this is only a first step. I'm still here: I never left the game or used your views as a means to justify my actions, because that's not the kind of relationship we have :P What I think needs to be more public, and hopefully will become so over time, is the understanding that you, as a company, have a duty of responsibility to the Industry, as a clear market leader. To make the World generally a more awesome place for your families and everyone else, that means working from a textbook that's prepared to embrace every possibility. I've seen an absolutely insane week of US News in which judges have decided that companies have the right to dictate employees lives, and I'm sure that this version of the future really isn't one that anyone in their right mind wants to have to live in either now or in the years to come. I know how hard the first step to change can be but if one person is capable alone of such things, then everyone can help to move the World forward and not send us back into the Dark Ages for a second time, because I've seen that Apocalypse movie and its not much fun.

Admitting a mistake is progress. Forgivness takes time. Just remember to keep moving forward, and to only look back as a reminder of why you began to walk away in the first place.


dobablo said...

Hurrah for actually seeing change.

Having said that, I don't think the updated Aggra model is a change. I'm not expecting her to do anything more than cameo during the invasion event.

Erinys said...

I did see a screenshot somewhere, possibly on MMO Champion which had Aggra somewhere on Draenor with Thrall. Hopefully it is indeed a sign.

Grimmtooth said...

It's all well and good to be happy about the change (I am), but in my mind, Blizz only gets a Joker Slow Clap for this. Why?

Because they signed up for it in the first place in the state that it was in before it became public knowledge. Make any excuses one wants for this, but a company that big is bound to be all lawyered-up and know exactly what it was signing for.

It wasn't until this blew up in their face that they got tetchy with IeSF. Well bloody good job to them but maybe next time they should get in AHEAD of Twitter and effect positive change?

I realize I'm asking a lot. But they're one of the biggest game companies in the known universe. I have faith they can handle it.

Evan Losee said...

No wonder most companies would rather deny/change the subject! 21st century businesspersons wouldn't know what to do with a long-term plan if it fell from the heavens and landed on their presentation boards! Everyone is solely consumed with the short-term buck, even at expense of the long-term millions. Hopefully this is a sign that Blizz has more sense than most. Only time will tell, tho