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Old 06-05-2018, 06:53 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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For my next trick, I'd like to talk about this:

I would like to stick to the first page, as I think most of the useful discussion is contained there.

The Night Elves are a matriarchal society. Their leadership structures are primarily female, and while druids hold significant power and there are male sentinels, I don't think that this is enough to overcome that presumption. Moreover, the marketing, presentation, and theming presents the Night Elves as being an overwhelmingly "female facing" race.

That established, the original poster is first chastised for picking the "wrong place" for such a discussion. I disagree with this sentiment entirely, especially when the OP clarifies the implication that Blizzard was in a sense responsible for these perceptions as a result of their writing. What Blizzard puts in the lore informs us of what it means to play a typical Night Elf sentinel, and when that lore offers us nothing but incompetence and failure, taken to an extreme degree with episodes like "A Little Patience, it doesn't surprise me that perceptions of female inferiority (which I understand will always exist and are not going away - but which I think are influenced in terms of magnitude) would begin to manifest, at least as far as Night Elves are concerned.

Taking that one step further, and without going too far into it, Night Elf men are usually portrayed in better circumstances, though I think this has more to do with their tendency to be shown in neutral content as opposed to Darnassian content - and not a deliberate attempt to show a disparity.

Ok, but if we grant that, I can hear the objection forming, why should that matter to anyone but hardcore roleplayers? My response to that is again to mention the Mimesis effect, which again is the tendency of people playing a role playing game to change their behaviors to fit the roles that have been presented to them. I would go so far as to suggest that this impact could be stronger because the Night Elves have far worse framing and aesthetics problems than they have problems in the actual canon - which usually goes a long way in mitigating those failures, but does so in a way that is either downplayed, or so far outside of the window through which most players will view the game that it may as well not exist.

Link for the Mimesis effect:

I believe I have three objections left to consider:

1. Should women get special treatment?

No, but when we talk about the one female "facing" race among the playable races, they already are getting a kind of special treatment and it's absolutely not favorable.

2. What about the presence of major female characters?

I'll certainly take it, but the general competence of the rank and file I think needs to hold up as well. I have this problem with Warcraft's reliance on hero characters in general though. When Malfurion held off the Orcs at Darkshore, I appreciated it, but what prevented me from ranking it higher was that he did it himself, and we don't see the power of the society behind him. He is powerful, but that moment doesn't suggest that the nation he leads is powerful. The same idea I think applies.

3. What about the High Elves?

You could substitute Stormwind, or any other kingdom that has had it rough, but the High Elves are the best example because they were absolutely demolished by the scourge, and lost their nation in a far more comprehensive way than we have seen with Night Elves. My reply to that is:
a) that we see them in that position during Reign of Chaos only (it doesn't fester and worsen over eight years, nor was it repeated),
b) during that time they are shown as threatening and an absolute pain in the ass for Arthas to deal with, and
c) when it's done with, they immediately recover - leading to a host of stories and lines that we're still playing today.

Other counterexamples don't differ much. The issue here is with how these things are presented, not necessarily with the losses themselves. I also don't need to make an argument about the shade of green of the grass to point out that currently, the Night Elven experience isn't fun, and isn't designed to be fun.

The impacts and the implications of what I've just laid out I would prefer to leave to the reader, as while I have certainly leaned in a certain direction on what I think this means, I also don't want to overstep or say more than I can prove. One of the worst characters I think we've seen from the Night Elves in a while for example is Delaryn Summermoon - a Christie Golden pet character - so I hesitate from calling this a malicious attack on women. I think it's rather a symptom of the overall method of storytelling Blizzard has stuck with when it comes to portraying the faction war. That being said, I think the effects that this presentation have on player perception are worth discussing.

Last edited by Kyalin V. Raintree; 06-05-2018 at 07:07 AM..
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