World of Warcraft tweaks another NPC name and more dialogue to reduce transphobia, racism, and sexism

    
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Point.

Not every movie or reference ages particularly well. Case in point: World of Warcraft had an NPC named Finkle Einhorn as a reference to the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a 1994 film with a central plot point that has aged about as well as milk left in the sun from a transphobic cow. The character is being renamed in patch 9.1.5 to Pip Quickwit, with a few other items changed as well due to the new character name.

Needless to say, this is part and parcel with other changes already being made to the game, with a number of other dialogue changes made to also ensure that names of changed locations and NPCs are being used correctly. There are also more dialogue changes made to reduce certain sexual references or some dialogue implying that a male character was female and some lines removing the racial epithets calling Orcs “greenskins.” It’s a fairly long list of changes, but it’s consistent with the other shifts being made to the game’s content within the context of the patch.

Source: Wowhead; thanks to Joey for the tip!
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In the summer of 2021, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. As of fall 2021, multiple state and federal agencies are currently investigating the company.
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Unnar Thor Thorisson

This is just ridiculous now. Did anyone actually read the changes here? Like, the entire Abernathy thing. Just the whole of that character’s existence in the game. How is that still there? They took out the explicit statement of invasive surgery and torture, but left in the fact that he has an actual mind-controlled sex slave and everyone is complimenting him on it. Meanwhile they take out paintings of women and replace them with paintings of fruit.

Like, don’t get me wrong, this whole inane effort was always a smokescreen, but this approaches self-parody. And Wowhead’s reporting on this is “Oh hey they removed a transphobic reference, and here’s a few other tweaks.”

I never imagined that they cared, but if there is a more obvious example of the devs and writers patently not even understanding the criticism, I cannot imagine what it might be.

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Andrew Clear

And to think that Square-Enix doesn’t give a damn and has a lot of crazy innuendo in their game….hell leveling white mage gives you the “I got the magic stick” achievement.

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Utakata

Since the lines where written out in Japanese first, I wonder how the interpretation may lead to more innocent conclusions other than what it’s more pervie English players are coming too on that. /shrug

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Loopy

Somebody call Games Workshop and let them know their entire faction needs to be renamed!

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Totes McGoats

The Johnny Awesome questline is a national treasure – can’t believe they are changing it. I will never understand why having characters casually murder other characters is fine, but referring to a male blood elf as female (a joke I suspect almost everyone who plays WoW has privately made at least once) is beyond the pale.

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IronSalamander8 .

I had to look this up as I saw that movie only once and a long time ago. And I do recall it now, so I can definitely see them changing this.

To be honest, even changes I find a bit head scratching, like the Blood Elf woman hair color one (although that troll spa one definitely came off racist so it had to go, never liked that one), but hopefully it helps the people working there that had to deal with the abhorrent behavior.

There’s a long, long way to go though.

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Bereman99

If I had to guess on the hair color one, it’s just cause it was added when the barbershop did not exist in the game, and now that it does the joke just doesn’t make sense.

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IronSalamander8 .

That’s true. Although it still comes off as harmless enough, unlike some of the others.

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

The Finkle Einhorn thing was long overdue.

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Andrew Clear

I would think that thousands, to millions of the players had no idea what is was even referencing.

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Bryan Correll

Yeah, I saw Ace Ventura once waaaay back in the day. It wasn’t a good movie even then and I couldn’t possibly name any characters other than the one whose name is in the title.

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

They are preparing for PEGI-7 rating and console release, I guess.

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Rndomuser

Making changes like these is like trying to replace incandescent light bulb with a LED bulb in a passenger cabin of a boat which has a hull almost rusted through and covered up with barnacles, with water almost reaching the top of the hull due to overload, powered by worn-out coal-fired steam engine and manned by a crew which hate their job, hate the captain (who also hates them) and hate the passengers.

There are many things that made WoW unpleasant for me, from low detailed art style (which made me to never care about my character’s appearance) to the shallow and very restrictive gameplay (which in some ways breeds toxicity by itself) and to the fact that Blizzard didn’t take most player reports seriously (including reporting obvious sexist/racist trolls which I’ve done many times and many of which were ignored), and I never saw these things changing in any significant way, even now, and such insignificant fixes like changing text used by NPCs or even removing emotes feels like Blizzard wants to give an appearance that they “care about making their game less toxic and overall more pleasurable environment” even though they genuinely do not care about it. At least that’s how all these insignificant and irrelevant (to me) changes feel like.

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Bruno Brito

EDIT: Someone delete my other comment please, i tried to edit it and broke the clock.

The more i read about these changes, the more i ask myself how much actual offensive stuff this game had, and…well…i’m glad they’re changing it? I guess?

Sigh. On one hand, it’s not something from Activision, it’s actual employees trying to make the game more pleasurable for those who have it as a safespace. It’s something i commend.

On the other hand…how much does this really change? The game still has a weird direction, it’s riddled with hostile features that insults it’s own playerbase, and bleeds players left and right.

I think it’s a great start for people who actually need those changes to feel safer, and i’m glad they’re happening, but…if this is the most you can do, when the top level of the decision making on the game itself still fosters toxic cultures, terrible gameplay and such?

Like, “we fixed everything that made our game a cesspool of bigotry, so now everyone can suffer through extremely terrible design together.” doesn’t sound like a good prospect to me. And how much devoid of toxicity and frustration can your workplace really be, when at the end of the day, you’re STILL having to work on a game that doesn’t follow the direction that you wanted to make because of how metric-based their readings are? How free of toxicity can a game really be, when it’s core design is literally focused in highly-competitive gameloop? If you cater to manchildren, that will seep into your culture.

There’s also the fact that none of this actually solves the real issue, but i didn’t want to touch on that, since it’s already debated to hell and back.

If i’m talking specifically about WoW, i feel like the game needs a complete change of focus/direction to actually be a more pleasant experience, and not just a “non-bigoted” ( sanitized ) mobile-like frustrating mess that still forces players into one of the most toxic enviroments inside a game ( competitive-time-gated-raiding ) and treats everything else as second rate.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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Loopy

i feel like the game needs a complete change of focus/direction to actually be a more pleasant experience

I honestly don’t foresee this ever happening. Not in the current game and not with the current dev team. The WoW as it is will not be salvaged. Not because it can’t be, but because it’s too late. The current game has grown into a shadow of itself, and the playerbase that remains is aligned with it. It would be the final death knell to take it into a completely different direction.

At this point, the only thing that Blizzard can do is to create a new game. One that isn’t just filled with constant memes and jokes. One that doesn’t disrespect your time. One that doesn’t take you on a slow train ride through the mountains. One that doesn’t forget the journey. A true roleplaying experience. Coupled with positive corporate changes that actually matter and not fruit bowls – that’s when i would consider coming back to Blizzard for.

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Josh

I’m of the same mind.

Honestly as much as I loathed BfA, Shadowlands has done more foundational damage to the IP than any expansion before.

Without a serious, serious, serious shake up I’m not sure what can be done to salvage this mess.

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Bruno Brito

Nothing. Considering that it’s pretty clear that Activision doesn’t give a shit what happens to Blizzard, i’m willing to bet the changes will have to come from Blizzard itself. I don’t foresee a new lead designer for instance, so either Ion starts to actively care for other activities or the game will just trudge along as it has been.

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Josh

Setting aside the big giant predatory elephant in the room.

This game was in dire straits even before…well before. Ion’s game direction and design philosophy simply does not work and he never should have been allowed near the director’s chair. Additionally Danuser’s narrative guidance is absolutely abhorrent.

At bare minimum (and again this is ignoring the nightmare inducing work environment) WoW needs someone else leading it both mechanically and narratively.

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Bruno Brito

The more i read about these changes, the more i ask myself how much actual offensive stuff this game had, and…well…i’m glad they’re changing it? I guess?