TechRadar has an interview up this week with Blizzard’s Steve Danuser, currently the lead narrative designer on World of Warcraft, and Johnny Cash, senior game designer and LGBTQ+ Advisory Council member, and no, it’s not just another preview of Shadowlands’ story. Instead, it homes in on Blizzard’s new push into being more LGBTQ-inclusive with its storytelling going forward.
This past summer, for example, we covered Madeleine Roux’s Shadows Rising, the Shadowlands prelude novel, which as our review noted gives shippers a nod by expanding on the budding Flynn Fairwind and Mathias Shaw relationship as well as casually drops in several other references to LGBTQ relationships. That was all by design.
“We could have had them just be friends if we wanted, but we felt like man, they have a much deeper connection, and it’s something that could feel like a really genuine relationship,” Danuser says. “It just felt really right for these characters.”
The interview also discusses the NPC Pelagos, who is effectively the game’s first clearly telegraphed transgender character, with accurate pronouns as a result of staff and player feedback. And of course, gender changes will now be available in-game, not in the cash-shop, alongside other tweaks to the customization and barber tools that detangle those options from the character’s gender. As Danuser puts it,
“We have a team that has a lot of different people with different viewpoints and backgrounds, so it’s important to us to tell stories that we care about, that reflect our concerns, and also make Azeroth a place that is representative of lots of different points of view, and very welcoming. […] Whatever your background is, there’s a place for you in this world.”