From the forums, posted by a troll character named Boomerang:
After watching the Blizzcon panels my wife asked me the following:
"Are we going to get a heroic scenario where we discover the secret location Blizzard has hidden all of their female lead characters so we can liberate them?"
And I have to say that as a 38 year-old, straight white guy, I couldn’t agree more.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to hate one-dimensional stories. I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Joss Whedon (Buffy, Avengers, Firefly/Serenity), Ronald Moore (ST:DS9, Battlestar Galatica), and others who understand that truly great stories need “real” characters from a variety of different vantage points.
I’ve come to understand that so heavily weighting your stories to an all-male cast isn’t just mindlessly sexist, it’s downright bad storytelling as well. And it’s a surefire way to make your story freaking boring (there are others of course, but this is a big one).
Of course I can appreciate that Blizzard has been hard at work, in secret, to build the WoD story and game. In that crucible of fire and secrecy, a lot of ideas are thrown in that will not pass a more public scrutiny. It is in that vein that I offer this post.
Now that you’ve opened up the process to the fans, allow me to help give you some perspective. And I’ll also give you a little reminder that this is 2013, not 2003, and boring one-dimensional stories aren’t going to cut it anymore.
The response from Community Manager Nethaera:
I answered you (I believe it was you) in another thread, but I wanted to reiterate. As with any time we announce new expansions, we haven’t revealed a lot of the story. Some things are just going to have to be experienced or revealed later if we choose to reveal them. That said, there are female characters that will be showing up to be a part of the adventure. I know of one at least that I’m really looking forward to learning more of.
Personally, I’m really happy to have so many in the community come forward and ask to see these wonderful female characters to get more air time. ;) Hopefully the designers will be able to satisfy a bit of this for you.
I suppose it makes it all better, then, because Nethaera says “there are female characters that will be showing up to be a part of the adventure. I know of at least one…”
This really doesn’t cut it, not at all. The attitude of Blizzard is defined not by Community Manager Nethaera, but from the top, as we see in their website material, their trailers, Metzen, and so forth. When Metzen says it’s “more of a boys’ trip” that can’t be countered by Community Manager Nethaera saying there’s one female character he or she is looking forward to learning more of.
This is a serious issue and it’s alarming to hear of this being dismissed as some sort of feminist plea. Don’t get me wrong—the feminists have it right here. An all-male storyline shoves away women who would like to play the game and would like to see the basic gender neutrality in the game reflected at the top level. (It also shoves away men who would like the same exact thing). Blizzard needs to look out at the people at Blizzcon and see all the women there.
But Boomerang makes another good point when he notes that storytelling suffers when only one vantage point is considered. I fear the story will devolve into a testosterone filled aggro fest about whose “axe” is the largest. Take an interesting story away and you are left with a game in which one presses 3 over and over to launch orange things at things with red letters above their avatar.
But there’s another glib response, and it was given by MVP “Snowfox”:
Jaina is not?
Sylvanas is not?
Alexstrasza is not?
Sky Admiral “Put on your big boy pants” Rogers is not?
Alexstrasza has been AWOL since Cataclysm, and Sky Admiral Rogers—the very definition of a throwaway character—hasn’t been heard from since 5.1. Jaina and Sylvanas have both been reduced to “bitch” caricatures. There was an illuminating discussion about Jaina for me last night in vent, wherein people who were far too unfocused for a raid dismissed Jaina as a crazy bitch (and not as someone who rightfully sought vengeance for the wrongs done to her). These are not the shining examples of female characters here. They kind of accentuate the point that Blizzard really doesn’t know how to handle them or how to flesh them out.
Anyway, I remain highly skeptical that we will see any female characters of any note. (Yes, I’ve heard about the Draenei Joan of Arc. I expect she will be Jaina’d or amount to little more than Sky Admiral Rogers, as she doesn’t merit an appearance in the top ten.) Posts from Community Manager Nethaera are not going to make this problem go away. When males outnumber females on a scale of 10 to one on official trailers and websites and when it’s clear that the primary focus of the character recustomization is focused on males first, nothing from any Community Manager can dispel the notion that Blizzard just doesn’t care about females, female players and people who want to see female characters and storylines. Words on forums are lip service.