A few weeks back, for a period of 24 hours, WoW was all about the Water Striders. Namely a change that had come through datamining one of the latest Alpha patches that showed in Legion, Water Striders would only perform their trademark water walking ability in the zones of the expansion they were available in. (That meant Azure Water Striders would only work for Pandaria content, and Crimson Water Striders would only work in Draenor).
I had a couple of rants on both of my podcasts that week about these proposed changes, and I was disappointed. It wasn’t that I shouldn’t complain about changes, it’s that I need to realise that sometimes people are listening to what I have to say and perhaps I should look at setting a better example. Don’t get me wrong – this post isn’t an apology. My feelings were real and other peoples’ feelings are also real, and I can’t apologise for that. What has led to this post is the notion that my outburst has contributed to the toxic environment that is currently so loud, and I don’t want that to be the case. I want to encourage thoughtful, constructive, passionate, discussions.
Unfortunately the suggested changes were still fresh in my mind when I sat down to record the 2 podcasts I co-host. And whilst I have been disappointed/concerned about other Legion changes proposed, this was the first one that I really felt instantly negative about. Too bad for me that I was recording 2 podcasts that night and the topic came up, and I let my initial feelings be the first thing that was publicly heard. I’m not happy about that. Because what it shows is me displaying the exact type of behaviour that frustrates me to no end from players. Even more frustrating – I didn’t get the opportunity to share my more calm thoughts because the proposed changes were reverted the next day. But that is no excuse.
My reaction was from my gut. It came from a place of having spent an exceptionally long period of time partaking in an activity I’m not a fan of (fishing) to get a mount that I wanted mostly for its utility, and partly for the completionist in me. The frustration was raw. And again, I’m not dismissing feelings here. What I’m annoyed about was that I didn’t take a breath. Instead, I became another instrument in the rant orchestra; something I don’t want to play in.
I try to avoid the WoW forums, MMO-champ comments, reddit etc. when there are things to discuss, because for the most part, there is no discussion. It’s mostly a cesspool of self important toddlers throwing tantrums and cussing out developers for not doing things “the right way”. It honestly makes me sick. There are ways to disagree with proposed changes without resorting to “you don’t know what you’re doing”, “do you even play Warcraft?”or “you’re useless, go die in a fire.” As I write this, there are threads on the WoW forums complaining relentlessly about class hall portals being available in Dalaran instead of being a personal spell. Now this is Alpha and things are of course likely to change (and often!) We never had those spells. They have not been “taken away” from you. And yet, the riots are happening.
It’s ok to be disappointed or angry about a change you see in the game. It’s understandable – people don’t particularly like change, so it can be difficult to have an initial reaction other than “oh what now?”. Go ahead – feel that. It’s totally ok! But what I want people to do is to take a deep breath and move away from their computer and go somewhere else until that initial feeling has passed on. The angrier you are, the longer you stay away. And like a rational adult, process why it is you’re feeling that way. Is it really the end of the world that X spell now does Y? Really?!
Blizzard doesn’t change things just for the hell of it. There is always thinking and reasoning behind what they do. Sometimes these changes don’t align with what you have in mind. You know why? Because you’re not the only person playing this game, and that change was not for you. For every change that you feel “breaks the game” are a whole crew of people breathing a sigh of relief that the change was made.
For myself, I want to do better about broadcasting more considered thoughts rather than the guttural reactions that seem to be everywhere on the forums etc. I want to contribute to thoughtful discussion about the game we all love so much. It’s fine to have a gut reaction, but I don’t want to add to the cacophony of moaning and complaining about every little change Blizzard puts out. I want to present the reasons why I’m having that reaction, and explore options about whether this is something I can just get over, or if it’s something that I feel needs alternatives suggested.
And I would also like to challenge others to do the same. Because whilst you may not care about the Water Striders changes or class hall portal location, chances are that one day there will be something that strikes a nerve with you and you’ll want to react. Go for it, but think before you respond. Remember – there are real actual live people behind every twitter/forum avatar. Blizzard is made up of human beings, and they deserve to be treated with respect (the same way we all do).
You can bitch and moan about changes – everyone is entitled to how they feel about a change. But don’t let that be the only reaction you have. You are capable of many emotions – get past the initial anger/disappointment and do something constructive with it. Post a thought out reply on the forums, tweet a dev, write a blog post, choreograph an interpretive dance – whatever floats your boat!
At the end of the day, Blizzard can do whatever they want. But they cannot please everyone. If you don’t like what Blizzard do to the games you play, that is totally ok – maybe you’re best finding a new game to play that makes you happy.
P.S – this has been sitting mostly finished in my drafts folder for weeks!! Lazy Cinder!!