Villainous Vixens: Rebutting the “mad maidens” principle

(See WoW Insider’s “Open Letter to Jaina Proudmoore” for backstory. Be warned of 5.4 spoilers!)

If it comes as a surprise to anyone that I love ladies behaving badly in Warcraft (and other storytelling mediums), then I invite you to take a gander at my two Blizzard Story contest entries, where I think about Blood Queen Lana’thel and Leyara’s histories, respectively.

It’s hard being Alliance for all your WoW-playing career and having a fascination with villainy, because they tend to either be a part of the Horde (Sylvanas) or quest/dungeon/raid bosses (Keristrasza, Leyara, BQL, ad nauseum).  The Blizzard Story contest is, at the moment, defunct, but I had been planning exploring a Sylvanas story after reading Dave Kosak’s short story, Edge of Night, because I did find it very interesting that she wasn’t present at Arthas’ death.

A lot of this is born out of my frustration that women in Warcraft tend to be pushed to their limits by the storylines, and then callously abandoned to their fate (often death, at the hands of us “heroes”) when they’re deemed irredeemable. Keristrasza was captured, abused and forced to be Malygos’ consort after she murdered his previous one, and you have to kill her in the Nexus, an act which the wiki entry for her states “a sad, but necessary end.”

so much dragon rape in this game!

so much dragon rape in this game!

Lana’thel is forced into service for the Lich King when she faced him at Northrend, armed with her former friend’s blade Quel’delar, which she was overwhelmed by Frostmourne, and forced to serve him. (Sensing a theme?) Leyara’s grief and anger at the Horde, and her father-in-law’s madness leads her to ally with the minions of Ragnaros because she doesn’t feel she has anything left to live for (and she doesn’t even make it into the dungeons, you kill her during a quest chain.)

This female madness issue didn’t start with Wrath, nor end in Cata.  In Pandaria, where strong emotions are made physically manifest in the Sha, both Suna Silentstrike and Liu Flameheart become infested with Sha, and the players are forced to kill them. It would not be so very telling if not for the fact that Tarah Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, is similarly affected, but in the dungeon where you encounter him, all the player needs to do is drive the Sha out of his body, and defeat it.

If that’s the case, why did Suna and Liu have to die? Their grief and doubt – at the loss of a beloved husband, the fear of failing your god – are perfectly reasonable within the context of their stories, which were created by the writers and quest developers. Why do the women of Warcraft only get one chance at redemption, and then only through death?

What’s even more fascinating is that this is a narrative that’s not just played out in the game and supplemental materials, but also in the fan base. Jaina factors into this because like Suna and Leyara, she’s lost loved ones, people she was a leader to. Her story has always been one of courage and of loss.  SPOILERS for 5.4 to follow the cut:

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State of the Union

See? Topical!

If you’re here, you’ve noticed I’ve moved this blog over to WordPress. This is part of my push to get myself writing more, blogging more, and generally being more present, whether online or off. Welcome if you’re new, welcome back if you’re a reader from before.

Please excuse the mess of some of the posts I ported over from Blogger – the formatting copied in bizarre ways and I’m in the process of tidying them up.

I’ve kept busy, even if I haven’t been writing, doing really important things. World-changing. Life-shattering.

Busted.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t been doing anything super important.  But I’m trying! This week, for example, marks the first time in therapy since my early college years.  I have no doubt she will have plenty of suggestions to keep me busy not being a caterpillar wrapped in a fear-cocoon.

Here is a list of other items on my table for the near future:

  1. Creating an abstract and paper to submit for the exciting-sounding Feminists in Games conference. I haven’t done any academic writing in seven years, so I don’t even really have a thesis yet, but by golly, I have ideas flying out my butt.
  2. Start the complete re-write of Paucity. Yes, two Nanowrimos weren’t enough to get this beast done – the beast, I might add, being a young adult novel that I started writing to take a break from my ~heavier~ novel.  Now I’m trapped in its merciless claws and I won’t be free until I have something resembling a cohesive story.  New additions and changes include the addition of an enormous river otter goddess into what I envisioned as a previously atheist society, a plague outbreak with magical origins and pirates.
  3. Blogging more! World of Warcraft is releasing a major patch soon, and I have no doubt there will be plenty of changes to talk about, as well as publically pulling out my hair when items no. 1 and 2 aren’t going so well.
  4. Reading. Endlessly. I would love to keep up with my Good Reads account, but I tend to finish books so quickly, it would be a part-time job rating and reviewing even just the new books I read/old books I re-read. All the same, I would like to start reviewing writing more often – nothing like reading incredible writing to help tone up your own.

Once again, welcome and welcome back. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

Sorry for Beta Rocking

Ye watchers and ye holy ones
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones!

There’s not much to report on, but the paladin glyphs look very exciting and showy!  Lots still not yet implemented, but in addition to having four wings during avenging wrath, you can also call down holy fire, and have your judgment spell match whatever weapon you currently wield at the time.

Man, I sure hope that’s conjured water running down my leg.

For laughs, take a look at what happens when the game decides to drop you in the middle of Jade Serpent Temple instead of Wayward Landing like you expected.  If the Sha are one of the major enemies we’re facing in Mists, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed with the models – they are scary as balls.

How LFR Saved my Marriage

No, not really. But snappy title, huh?

I’m going to come right out and say it.  That controversial thing. I love LFR.  I think it’s a great addition to the game, and if I could change it, it would only be to wish it had been in from the beginning of Cataclysm.

But for the grace of God the Aspects go we…

 

It came up in discussion yesterday when one of the forum MVPs brought a forum thread to my attention.  Particular the comment that said one of the problems with LFR was that there were no instant consequences for wiping – they could keep wiping over and over again.  We ended up having a good laugh over this, which spawned the shortlived hashtag on twitter #LFRwipeconsequences, but it’s a good example of how ludicrous the expectations of LFR really are.  The consequences of LFR versus a normal raid (say with a guild):

1) The obvious one, applicable to both: you wipe. Wiping is a consquence!
2) LFR: the repeated offenders get vote kicked.  Usually this is pretty easy.  LFR replaces the lost members in seconds. Guild run: Officers talk it over, talk to the offending parties.  Maybe they get benched for the night.  A new raider has to be found and brought it.
3) LFR: the good players get frustrated and leave. Guild run: the good players reform their raid team. This takes time.

I would hazard there are more instantaneous consequences during an LFR raid than a guild run, where officers are trying to balance downing bosses with a harmonious, happy, well-fed raid team.  Now, the replacement solutions are equally quick and easy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly in a case like mine where I play and raid on a PST server despite living EST.

Another frequent complaint is the idea that you’re not making friends in LFR (and prior to this, LFD) because you form up, kill bosses, drop group, etc.  Untrue.  We’ve actually added a handful of re-rolls and recruits to our guild since LFR started by meeting fun and sassy cats in a raid group.  On the other hand, when you just want to get in, kill some bosses and go, you can do that without a problem.

Our guild does have a little ten man raid group that could and for someone who is a ‘you kind of have to be there’ learner like me, LFR does help me learn the encounters.  Instead of learning 5 or 6 abilities each fight, I’ve learned most of them on LFR already, where a misstep doesn’t mean a wipe, but practicing the motions is still good for me. When we do normals, now I’m learning one or two more abilities instead of all six at once.  it’s a good system that works for me.

Madness will consume you.

But really, the coolest thing of all was finishing off a flawless LFR run the other night with my husband, who works anywhere from 60-80 hours a week.  We used to raid together in TBC before his job made it impossible to keep up with farming, strat-research and the late hours.  He enjoys learning his class and playing well, but the sheer amount of work that regular raiding requires was beyond his time constraints. LFR has let us raid together again and it doesn’t matter to either of us it was a nerfed encounter.  When Deathwing fell and we got to watch the end cinematic together, it was awesome.

I love LFR! How about you?

Heart’s Blood, White Ribbons (Trigger warnings for rape)

Whenever I make the statement that while I don’t believe men can be feminists, I do think they have roles to play within feminism, there’s inevitably one or two men (or women!) asking, “Well, like what?”

Guys, here’s your chance.

The White Ribbon campaign is an international awareness movement devoted to stopping violence against women. A lot of their promotional materials are devoted to educating and encouraging men to take up action against men perpetuating violence against women. Before the derailing penny gets laid on the tracks, let’s cover it:

Yes, men get raped too. Their assault is typically perpetuated by other men. Yes, women have committed rape – but they account for less than 2% of all sexual assaults committed, and this includes: statutory rape (teacher/student), abuse of their own children or abuse perpetuated on another woman. So of that already tiny percent, an even smaller percent is female-on-male abuse. Savvy? When I say his/he when talking about rapists, I’m not just blowing smoke up your ass.

Now, I often feel very strongly about violence against women, both for personal reasons and the more lofty goal of, “it’s fucking gross, don’t do that shit”. But whenever it happens within something you consider your community, you get reminded of how very far men have to go in telling each other not to rape.

One of the gold-making bloggers, Alyzande aka Gold Queen has been extremely candid in blogging about her recent experience with violence and rape. (TW for suicide at link.) Because she is a woman on the internet, being honest about her experience, people think this gives them license to be gross dicks about it, judging her or doubting her story.

Protip men: when I said there are things you can do to help feminism, this is a key one. Support survivors of assault. Don’t heap on the victim blaming. If you can’t help yourself from the latter, please kick yourself firmly in the nards.

BUT.

Some WoW bloggers have used this as an opportunity to spread love and support for Alyzande personally, as well as information and education on the international white ribbon campaign. I don’t know who initially made this image, but it’s perfect:

Click the ribbon.  Do one of the things suggested on the site, especially if you’re a guy asking “Okay then, what is my role in feminism?”  This is it. Do this.

Son I am Disappoint

I’m back from Blizzcon and in true con fashion, I came home with a tiny attached guest – the common cold.  So I’m sitting in my alliance hoodie with a box of tissue soul-bound to my hand.  In spite of the backlog of work emails sitting in my inbox, I’m actually glad for the respite and rest, even if it does involve nails in the back of my throat.

Blizzcon was a whirlwind of 17 hours days, goggling at gorgeous cosplay, being Canadian in an American’s world (“It’s in the bowl over there.” “Bull?” “Bowl.” “Bull??” “No, the bowl. BOWL.”) and awesome panels. But.

But.

(Trigger warning for suicide after the jump.)

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