Archive for the “Soapbox” Category

Last night, I lost a good friend. A true friend.

A friend that has been there for me for six years, keeping me safe, always looking out for me, protecting me from the evil that lurks in the dark corners of the world.

Watching.

Waiting.

My Blizzard Authenticator finally died.

I feel cold and alone, now. I log in and wonder, have they found me? Is this the moment when they sense my weakness and attack again?

Will I find my character standing there, naked, wearing only a cock ring?

I purchased my authenticator in the very first wave when they were released, shortly after the original Blizzard announcement in June of 2008.

In all that time, my little Authenticator remained faithful and true, and served me well, granting me safe access to a world of wonder.

Keep in mind, I am one of the many who have had their accounts hacked in the past. Oh my, yes. Such a lovely little Christmas present THAT was.

Since today brought the announcement of the Warcraft 10th Anniversary and we’re all being invited to take a trip down memory lane, I invite you to click that link to an old post of mine from 2007, wherein I regale you with the drama from my account dickery hackery lock on Christmas Eve, 2006. You might detect a touch of vitriol as I discuss in extremely accurate (and profane) terms my Blizzard customer service experience circa 2006.

Blizzard, you’ve come a long way. But let’s be honest, you had a long way to go.

Love ya. /mucha smoocha

Oh damn, was I pissed. PISSED.

That was then and this is now, and my happiness is brought to you by the letter AUTHENTICATOR BITCHES.

Wait, that ain’t a letter, except by the editor.

I still remember the day the postman rang once, and brought me my little bundle of joy.

That moment is one that can still bring tears of joy to my eyes. Such strong, true feelings.

Okay, so the feelings are mostly FUCK YOU HACKERS DIE PRICKS MUA HA HA HA HAAAAAA. Ha. Ahem.

They’re still feels.

Fortunately, my period of vulnerability will be a short one.

Replacement authenticators are available on the Blizzard store for only $6.50, in stock, free shipping. Yes please and thank you.

You might prefer the totally free mobile authenticator app, maybe you think you don’t need any but hell, free Core Hound pup, why the heck not.

Me, I like the tangibility of my security solution.

I like to have that physical embodiment of solid protection, like a Paladin bubble protecting my account from all the little hacker pricks the world over.

Holding the Authenticator in my hand feels like… victory.

My PSA to you, if you’ve been using an authenticator as long as I have, think about replacing it soon, and ABSOLUTELY make sure you enable SMS protect on your cell phone of choice with Texting plan, it makes updating your account, changing passwords and removing dead authenticators absolutely hassle free. Word up.

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I long for the day World of Warcraft openly embraces being an Event Driven game.

The early promise of World of Warcraft for me was an online persistent fantasy world to adventure in.

Raiding didn’t enter into it. Raiding as a thing wasn’t part of my lexicon, it wasn’t what everyone talked about.

Everyone talked about the races you could play as. The character classes you could be. The way you could get quests from characters in the game that weren’t controlled by a GM or other players, and whenever you played, what you had done in the past carried on in the world to be shared with others. Persistent.

I remember in the early days talking with my friends Manny and James about World of Warcraft and the potential of games like it. Back when the idea was new and fresh and who knew what the future of such games might hold?

We’d talk about what new things online games might bring, like player-created quests and storylines with XP and rewards, or monster NPCs controlled by other players when taking a break from their player characters.  Or smaller-scale MMO games with special events where live GMs might be in control of key main NPCs or commanders, and you could join their army as a player character and fight in one of these vast wars as the GM-controlled commanders led you forward into battle.

Early days full of promise, where the main draw of World of Warcraft and other MMOs was in how similar they were to tabletop pen and paper role playing games, and not in how they were different.

In every game where there are levels and experience points, there comes a time when you have to address… what do you do when you hit the level cap?

In tabletop games, at least in my experience, you either retire the characters and make new ones (usually in a new game system that just came out), try a few runs in a world where your old characters are now the new high power NPCs that rule the area your new players play in, or nuke the game from orbit and reduce everyone in power from some calamity, it’s the only way to be sure.

In a programmed always-online persistent world, the level cap happened, and it made us stop, look around, and go… so, what now? Where has the story gone? What do we do when the quests have all been done and there is no GM across the table to improvise?

The response was to have raids. Big raids. Raids with lots of players against static content, one big battle that you fight over and over and over. Every week, over and over.

Why? Loot. Upgrades. Shinies. More power.

If we’re capped, then what difference does that make?

Ah! What comes next. The big question. Are we done, or is there more to come?

And so a game that lured me (and my friends) in with a lush fantasy world, leveling, questing, rich story and familiar classes and races where the point was to adventure in new lands and meet new peoples became a game where I waited for the next scheduled event to begin. We began playing the waiting game, spending time on alts and pvp waiting for the next new event that would move the story forward one chapter at a time, adding new raid battles.

Events that had a beginning, a middle, and a definite ending.

We played World of Warcraft one way at the beginning, and a different way at the level cap. We had to, once at the level cap our actions to grow our characters were complete.

Do you remember when the majority of players only had one main character, and those with alts were few, and mostly those that couldn’t stick with one thing long enough to max out?

An Event Driven game does not keep you in with long and exciting questing adventures, it keeps you in by having a timed event that you must take part in while it is active to gain the rewards.

While an event is going on, you have filler content, preparations, small quests or gathering to do, but the focus is the big battles, and each event includes it’s own end because if you fight a big battle, once you’ve won, you know how that story ends. The only question remaining is how many times you’ll have to repeat that same battle until the timed event is over, and everyone has been given a reasonable chance to finish it before the next event comes out to push the story forward one more chapter.

That is what World of Warcraft really IS now. It’s not the subscription based role playing game that I at least still think of.

It’s an event driven game, and how engaging the game is can be traced directly to how long it’s been since a new event was released to take part in and stir the senses anew.

Each event brings new rewards for taking part, new parts to the ever-growing story, new bits and pieces of shiny things like mounts or armor or titles. Or achievements.

The death of an Event Driven game is lack of events. You’ve got to have a new event ready to go as soon as the last one gets stale.

There is a point to this, and it’s one that has been bothering me with every ‘expansion’.

Blizzard does not act as though they realize what kind of game we’re playing. They act as though we continue to play World of Warcraft as a questing and leveling experience, even as more shortcuts to max level are baked into the core experience.

You have to ride the wave of new events to keep the players pumping quarters into the change slot. If you distract us with new shinies, we keep collecting them.

I want to collect them. I need to collect them. if you give me more shinies to chase, nobody will get hurt.

There is an interesting series of articles at Venture Beat that Albert Reed, the CEO and co-founder of Demiurge Studios has been writing about their extremely successful game, Marvel Puzzle Quest.

This is a series that you should take some notice of, because this is welcome candor from a man that is focused on how to separate a player from his money, and what methods he has used to become ever more successful at it.

The third chapter (there are eight so far, and each one is extremely good reading) discusses how Marvel Puzzle Quest has really taken off by embracing being an Event Driven game. If you read it and other articles in the series and really think about what is being discussed, there are a lot of similar elements going on in World of Warcraft, but they’re not shown the same level of awareness.

They’re not even close to being the same kind of game, but we are all video game players, and most of us seem to respond to the things that an Event Driven game offers, and that World of Warcraft gives us in spurts and false starts.

World of Warcraft expansions and content patches give us a new chapter to the story, and the main instrument in that chapter to advance the story are multiplayer raids with ever-higher power loot items as rewards.

The catch is, of course, when there are no events… we are all left flailing around looking for something to do to fill that time, and I at least usually feel as though somehow I am to blame for not being able to find something fun to do in the game.

That moment, that point in the game at the end of a content patch or game chapter where I have completely exhausted the raiding by doing the same ones thirty or more times, repeatedly, is exactly the moment when a new event should begin.

The lesson that Marvel Puzzle Quest and other games is teaching us, is that those events do not all have to be major battles or world-shaking story arcs. They can be smaller stories, told on a more personal scale, with smaller rewards of a more cosmetic or even temporary nature, but because they are new to us, they keep us engaged.

World of Warcraft had that same awareness, once upon a time. There was a time, a long, long, LONG time ago, when the seasonal events in game were something new to look forward to.

The problem is, once released they have been abandoned, and rarely get refreshed for a new year.

For several years now, the only question we have is, “Did they bump up the power of the drops from last years event? No? Pfft. Well, maybe my 8th alt can use a mole machine to get to BRD.”

I get the feeling from Blizzard that they’re not looking at the upcoming calendar year and discussing what content will be released at what time to space things out right, and have plans in place to provide filler events at key droughts.

Or, worse yet, they are planning it by the week, but they are including out-of-game Blizzard events like the release of a Diablo 3 expansion as WoW content.

Content from a company that is not actually in the game is not content, it’s competition.

Break my immersion in your game with a different game and you have no assurance I’ll ever return.

I’d like to think that the developers lift their heads from the gorgeous art they are creating and the quests and NPCs and zone terrain, and have a team meeting where someone breaks down the upcoming year one week at a time.
“Okay, now we’ve got 52 weeks in the year, we’re on week 22. What do we have going on that week. How many weeks since the last new thing to do? What, 8 weeks since a big content patch with raids and Tier armor? Two months, that’s a long time to be hitting the raids for progression, people will be needing a palate cleanser. What do we have new coming to break it up? yeah, Tim, what do you have?”

“Maybe we could have a one week event where we use that great design work that went into the Argent Tournament and jousting. How about we make that week a new max-level jousting tournament? Phase the argent tournament area for max level characters only with a bread crumb from the faction leaders, add a new questline, update the vendors with some new rewards with a new currency token that expires just like other seasonal currencies. Players can joust against familiar NPC opponents that will be exciting if we tweak them right, or PvP against other players. They can use the tokens to maybe buy pieces for a transmog set of jousting armor without stats, something that will look neat for roleplayers, and a new armored mount as the most expensive reward to keep people tilting all week. By the time the event is over, people will see raiding as a fresh break from the tournament, and an opportunity to show off their new pets or mount of armor look.”

“Okay, what about week 23? The week after a jousting tournament, do we want to give folks time to recover after spending a week playing more than average to try and earn those tokens?”

It just makes sense to me that you as a game designer, maintaining a game where time played is your number one asset, would be looking at the content in your game on a week-by-week basis to make sure you have planned for each week to have something that will keep players engaged and looking forward to logging in, but not feel like it is their job to have to log in and clock in those hours each day.

So you have planned events with just enough time for the majority of players to complete everything, and then you move on to something else, and some events be intense battles and major upheavals and others be story builders and setups for the events to come.

An event doesn’t have to be the release of a full raid tier. An event cane be a fresh week of seasonal content that is actually fresh. It can be a small quest chain that is newly added that leads you to search places around the world seeking treasure, such as the treasure maps of old.

What an event has to do is give you something fresh to do, have the chance to offer you a reward no matter how small it is, and be something that breaks you free from a daily grind if only for a little while.

Sometimes, like in the first half of Mists of Pandaria, it seems Blizzard does everything right. And then we come to where we are today, and look around, and wonder… “Are they playing the same game we are? Or are they playing the alpha and have forgotten we’re stuck in the Timeless Isle, and all we want is to grab the skipper and Maryann and get the hell off?”

However World of Warcraft started, whatever the original goal, it’s event driven now.

As much as the game has grown and matured over the years, the philosophy behind content scheduling seems to be lagging a bit behind. I hope that the planning improves soon, because I’ve seen some of the new competition coming up, and while there is no such thing as a ‘WoW Killer’, there are certainly some developers who seem to be chomping at the bit to entice players away by promising them frequent content updates.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how big the content update, because when you’ve had nothing new to do for a half a year, anything starts looking pretty damn good.

If you be standing still while the lean and hungry go racing around you, maybe you be moving too slow, mon. And maybe you be the meal they waiting to eat.

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Let’s talk about this web series Blizzard and Paul Jr are doing, okay?

Azeroth Choppers, a show whose time really hasn’t come.

Here, check out the most recent episode.

You’d think I’d love this show, because it’s got two things I really like; World of Warcraft and Orange County Choppers…. oh wait, I mean Paul Jr’s custom bike builds.

Thing is, I don’t like it. It’s not even okay, it’s annoying as hell.

In fact, I’ve got a LOT of problems with this thing. Enough that I want to drop the flag and call bullshit on the whole thing.

The first and least irritating point about the whole scheme is, not once, in either episode, has anyone mentioned that the World of Warcraft developers and art crew have already designed two choppers and put them in the game.

If the whole point of the show is to see how incredibly awesome and cool it is to have this guy design two Warcraft themed motorcycles, one Alliance and the other Horde, why in hell wouldn’t you mention that you’ve already done your own take on it yourselves?

THEY”RE ALREADY IN THE GAME, DAMNIT.

If you didn’t play World of Warcraft, you could be forgiven for thinking the choppers on the graphics intro to the show were created specifically for the intro, and weren’t really in the game.

Not once, at any of these meetings where artwork was passed around, ideas traded, concepts tossed out, not fucking ONCE did anyone happen to mention, “Oh yeah, and we already designed our own take on these two faction choppers, here, check it out, tell us what you think.”

Not once? Really?

Or… did they intentionally not film any of that because this is supposed to be some kind of wonderful new collaboration?

Bullshit.

If this is to drive enthusiasm with the existing fans of the game that also love badass hogs, then why not show us exactly what Paul Jr thought of the Blizzard designs already in the game.

Seeing what Paul Jr, a master custom bike designer, thought about the existing bike designs would have been actually relevant to the show and to Warcraft game fans. It would have been an awesome thing to see. Pretending they don’t even exist feels like they’re aiming the show at everyone except WoW players.

I for one, having long familiarity from watching OCC and the bike build offs, would have loved to have seen what Paul Jr thought of their designs from his experienced artistic eye.

Guess talking about chopper design in a video game in a TV show about chopper design in a video game was too much like crazy talk.

I mean, come on. They’re passing around these beautiful full sized high-rez concept art pieces, but nothing about the in-game choppers? No big pictures of bikes with sidecars, the PWN license plates, the trikes the Goblins use, none of that? Not once while talking about what a Horde or Alliance motorcycle might look like did the thought come up.

Bullshit.

Fine, let’s move past that.

Let’s move on to the big “who are you, and what did you do with Blizzard” part of the whole thing.

What we supposedly have here are some of the real powerhouse artists and creative people in Blizzard going to another artist, one that works in chrome and steel, and commissioning two custom pieces of artwork inspired by World of Warcraft.

We’re talking the BIG TWO, here. Chris Metzen and Samwise Didier. These two guys are amazingly talented creative geniuses who have created something that has absorbed my free time and my life outside of family for over eight years.

But let’s not bullshit each other here. They are the heart of a company that is world famous for their mantra – “We’ll release it when it’s done.”

“When it’s done.”

Think about it. Before there was a crazed fan base or a WoW, there was a company named Blizzard that had made it’s bones by saying they wouldn’t release crap just to make a ship date. They’d release it when it was done and up to their standards, and if you want it you’ll just have to wait instead of playing some buggy half-assed shit pushed out the door to turn a fast buck.

So what are we getting here, from these creative giants that have spent years putting quality and artistic vision and excellence before bullshit ship dates and arbitrary deadlines?

In the second episode, we get “We gave you ten weeks when we first commissioned these bikes, but now we’re telling you you’ve only got five. Because fuck you it’s dramatic.”

What the flying fuck is that about? No explanation why.

Put episode one and two together, and what you get is, “Hey guys, glad you could come to this meeting where we are supposed to talk about the design sketches and concept art for what the bikes will look like. What’s that Paul Jr, you say you already have platforms made with frames and tires and shit? ALREADY? Wow, totally blown away. Oh, and I guess it’s a damn good thing you’re already that far along since surprise, we just cut your time in half, hahahaha fuckers.”

Horse puckey.

Either it’s all pre-scripted bullshit for artificially pumped up drama, “oh wow, impossible time to complete, impossible man, oh my god what’ll we do, oh wow.”

OR.

Or it’s all true, it’s not scripted and fake, and the time being cut really was a surprise for Paul Jr, and especially for his two build teams.

Probably not, but let’s pretend. Let’s pretend that it’s being honestly presented.

I’m not going to bitch about not adding more people to each team in the face of changed deadlines. In complex systems, adding more people to a project can actually make things take longer if the existing people have to take the time to train up the new people.

On the cynical side, if they brought ten more skilled craftsmen on board to complete the builds, where would we get the fake drama from? Also, how would we get to know the builder’s personalities if there was an army on the build? And we probably shouldn’t outsource components to other machine shops in the area that had extra waterjet or CNC capacity to make the deadline, because there isn’t much thrill in competently getting things done. Without raging around kicking things and whining about deadlines.

Regardless, we’re pretending that this is all honest and on the up and up.

WHAT THE FUCK are these two artists or Blizzard management in general doing going to another artist and telling them there is a deadline that must be reached and to hell with quality craftsmanship and beautiful art?

Blizzard setting arbitrary deadlines for another artist? Really? We don’t care if it’s ready or not, you have to make the ship date? REALLY?!?!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

Either way, it’s got no heart.

Don’t get me started on Chris Metzen representing Alliance. Yeah, like he has ever, ever shown a preference for Alliance. Yep, when I think Alliance fanboy, I think Chris Metzen. Talk about scripted for TV.

It’s just a shame. I love me some OCC, I’ve enjoyed all the bike build shows that have been on for over a decade.I’m personally more a fan of Russell Mitchell and his Exile Cycles, when I finally buy one of my own that’s where I will go, but I still love all the build shows.

I still sit around the office with my maintenance crew and we’ll talk about some of the builds that Paul Sr and Paul Jr have done. I think the Dragon bike that OCC did was amazing, and showed what they could do when given a rough idea and were let loose.

Just, why? What benefit do you get from telling an artist working with chrome and steel that he has to rush it?

The carry away here really is, either the whole thing is completely fabricated made-up scripted bullshit, or they really did just tell an artist that the quality and craftsmanship of his final creations isn’t important, just throw some shit together in red and blue with spikes on so we can get this show pumped out to the fans.

Such a great idea for a collaboration and a show that had me so enthusiastic, and here it is I’ve watched episode two, and I’m laughing.

I’m laughing, but it’s not funny. It’s sad.

Holy crap Samwise, Metzen, you’re supposed to be living the dream! Making your own rules, having a blast, showing the world that the old labels of geek and nerd and all that other crap dumped on computer programmers and graphic artists is so last century, you’re fucking AWESOME, you’re Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta, you’re geniuses that have done it YOUR way and now you make the rules in the new world, you are the ones everyone else watches and tries to race to catch up to

This is what you come up with?

Is this really the best way you can think of to get the greatest custom Warcraft-themed bikes that ever were?

Because if you’re not trying to get the greatest goddamn custom bikes to fit your vision for Warcraft, what the hell is the POINT OF THE SHOW?!

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KittyPVP

Some days, it feels like I’ve been writing here forever, other times it’s like my first post just went up yesterday.

Mostly, it’s the yesterday thing.

So many things have changed in just the short time I’ve been writing, and whatever direction my writing takes next, I want to get this one thing out there.

We can spend so much time championing the things we believe in that it’s easy to lose sight of the world as it is right now. 

When my first post went up, I was considered crazy for including my real name on my website. It just wasn’t done. You hid behind a pseudonym, you don’t put yourself out there bold as brass. There can be repercussions, your work might find out you play games, or talk about things. 

Times have changed. There can still be repercussions. Retribution. People will still attack you for speaking your mind, if they don’t agree with what you’re saying. But I’m no longer thought crazy for doing it, most folks are fine with putting their name to their words.

Everyone has always had a voice, but now you can make that voice heard… or at least put it out there for anyone to find.

Today’s social media reminds me (in a good way) of the old film Pump up the Volume, with the ham radio operator broadcasting his complaints about his high school and having fun playing rap music and being a goofball. He was unique at the beginning because he had the equipment, he had the know-how. He touched a lot of people, and many of those people wanted their OWN voices to be heard. At the end, the credits were overlayed with all these pirate radio stations springing up everywhere, inspired by his example to share their own voice and to listen. To no longer be alone.

I’m not the trailblazer on my blog, not by a long shot; I’m just one of the many people who have raised their voices to be heard, on blogs or podcasts or videos or whatever social media is the flavor of the minute. More people like me join every day, talking about everything and nothing, as we choose. HOW we choose.

Changes.

Everyone has a voice, but does everyone have an audience? No.

Is everything sunshine and daffodils and long walks in the park? Hell no.

Changes keep rolling on, building up all the time.

Things change, and they’re still changing all the time. Nothing stands still. The only certainty in life is shit be changing all the time, yo. Yes, even now.

But the one big change I have seen is how, when someone stands up and speaks their mind, others rise to challenge it, to oppose it, to debate it.

It’s taken for granted and that amazes me. Have people forgotten the past so easily?

Being able to challenge someone in public, to argue with them and have your own voice be heard, your counter-argument, your words of opposition, your reasoning… that is massive.

Yes, I’m saying that it is a good thing. A great thing.

It’s not about challenging someone and winning an argument, or converting them to your point of view, or humiliating them or striking them down or raising up a mob against them.

It is about having another point of view brought up, recognized, talked about, SEEN.

When the challenge is made, when the issues are discussed, when the controversy makes us all talk about it… our children hear. And they get to hear ALL the sides of the debate. The debate exists, and informs, and they learn.

Our children get to see us question authority, question why things are the way they are, why people think they way they think, why we believe what we do and get to hear the reasoning, the justifications, and in some cases get to hear people caught out in lies.

This is what is important. The argument. The discussion.

The world doesn’t end with our generation. We’re not the final form. Our preconceived ideas are not the ultimate end result.

As we fight to change things, as we champion our causes, the next generation is being born and growing up surrounded by the argument. They are having their ideas formed amid freedom of research, sharing of ideas, and some of the most incredible propaganda bullshit I’ve ever seen. But they still have it all right there in their face.

Our children still hear and see racism and misogyny, but they also see it challenged wherever it is visible, and seeing it hidden and concealed in shame is a lesson all on it’s own. 

People stand up and are heard, challenging what we see as hurtful, hateful, oppressive and wrong. That is the miracle to fight for, to keep alive.

We are no longer a people that pretends we didn’t see the wounds. That pretends we didn’t hear the hate. Some do, but the next generation is building on this and taking it for granted. 

This is my point. This. This huge change.

It’s not that shit is all better. It’s that when someone speaks their mind, it gets challenged immediately and everyone EXPECTS IT.

It is now okay and accepted for there to be immediate debate over what people say.

When the debate turns into one side trying to destroy the other emotionally, financially and even with physical pain because they don’t agree, that is where shit goes off the rails. But the argument, the immediate challenge… that is precious.

This is the most incredible victory for our future I could imagine.

This is what our future will be built on. That someone can speak their mind and have it spark a lively debate without fear of being stoned to death. That is where we need to always be heading.

Phil Robertson is asked a question in an interview, he speaks his mind and it sparks a lively debate.

That is a good thing. That is a GREAT thing! Never lose sight of that one fact; it is right and good to challenge people on their beliefs, and have an open discussion. An OPEN MINDED discussion.

Bring it all out, talk about it, get everything out there. Get some thinking going on. Show our kids that we can talk about these things like adults, apply some serious thought to them. Challenge age-old preconceived ideas and test them. Shine the light on our beliefs, ask where they come from, why are they this way.

You may not change minds that are set, that have been raised believing that anything that challenges your blind faith is a test that must be resisted.

But the discussion will be heard by more people than you know. And seeing one person defending calling a type of love evil or a sin, and someone else saying that love comes from God, that Jesus IS love… it can help the open minded to think. Really think, not rely on blind jingoistic rhetoric.

Our greatest task is to encourage the debate, the argument, the discussion without going too far the other way. An open-minded exchange of ideas is what is grand and good.

It does not matter what the subject is, if someone speaks their mind it should be an opportunity to stand up and say, “I do not agree with you, I think this whole other thing here. I’m not saying you’re evil or wrong for thinking your way, but this is what I think, what I see, and I’d love to talk about it.”

I’m not saying that you shut someone else up. You don’t act to silence the voice you don’t agree with. Debate, yes. Challenge, yes. Silence? Why should you be able to silence someone you disagree with? Sure, silence them, but only if we get to silence you when we don’t agree with you, too.

Who decides which voice is allowed to be heard? Those with the power to enforce their decisions on who is permitted to speak.

THINK about it. If you desire the freedom to live your own life in accordance with your faith and belief system, then you MUST allow the free and open exchange of ideas. Give someone the power to silence the people you hate, and sooner or later something you think will add you to the list of the silenced. If not you, then your children.

It is not right to try and hurt someone else for thinking differently that you do. To silence them, to attack them, to gain vengeance upon them. 

There seems to be this idea out there that if someone speaks their mind, and what they think doesn’t meet the proper criteria, then it is an offensive and hateful attack that deserves the ruination of the speaker’s life, driving them to hide in their home, lose their jobs, and be hounded by the media around the clock. Anything is justified in punishing these evil beings, including having their families physically threatened as some kind of ‘justice’.

Try and have perspective. If you’re offended by what someone says, then open your voice and challenge the ideas, win over the hearts and minds through passionate debate and a coherent, well reasoned argument.

Stop with the violence. Do not give in to your own hate, even if hate is what you think you see. Hate is ugly. Even if your cause is wonderful and your passion is real, if you are consumed with hate then you are doing more harm than good. People with open minds will see your hate, and rightfully judge you by it. 

Challenge what you see is wrong and rejoice in having the freedom, the power to do it. Just don’t let the power of the mob make you feel the worm has turned and it’s time to get even, to gain revenge for every wrong, real or imagined, that you think has fallen your way. 

Again, the fight is not to convert the person whose words you challenge. You can’t expect someone to just abandon deeply held convictions because you said so. If you expect someone to respect the depth of your own feelings, then you MUST have the capability of respecting that they may feel theirs just as strongly.

The fight is to present a competing idea, to present more than one point of view, to get everyone seeing that there is not just ONE ‘right’ way that everyone must obey or fear ridicule.

The violence towards those that speak what they believe… that is the danger I see for our future.

There are those who have felt powerless for so long that I think  now that they feel the thrill of being a part of the mob, the taste of blood, that they want more. They want to see the people who think differently from them torn from the herd and thrust into the center of the pack to be ripped to shreds and satiate their lust for vengeance.

Now is the time to recognize the dangers to our freedom. The very act of challenging what you disagree with is already so powerful that it changes how our children see the world. If you unleash hate and violence on anyone that thinks differently, and it’s okay, oh well they aren’t like us… that message will get taught to our children also.

The right to challenge what we see as wrong with reasoned debate… that is so wonderful. It is the very best of freedom of speech. To hear someone say some stupid bigoted crap, and be able to stand up and disagree.

Maybe you don’t see it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazy. 

~——————~

That really ends the relevant part of what I wanted to say. The rest of this will be personal stories that directly relate to where my head is at lately. If you read this far, thank you. I hope you have a blessed Christmas, I really do. God bless you.

~——————~

I’m in my mid-forties. I see my son growing up, I talk with him all the time as he plays Minecraft and I play WoW by his side, and it shocks me how different he is from me at that age.

He sees the debates, he hears the arguments and the way people say something and get called on it all over the place. He sees that it is right to make that stand, and to have that discussion. He sees that you don’t ignore it, or pretend it didn’t happen so as not to make a fuss.

What I’m going to say doesn’t prove anything. It’s just what I see in my own life, my small little section of the country. And it gives me hope.

My son is ten years old, and he goes to a private Catholic school. He’s in fifth grade. He’s gone to this same school his whole life.

I’m not Catholic myself, although my wife is. I believe in God, and I have spent an amazing amount of my time really thinking about it, feeling my way through.

What I am, is a guy that grew up in one of the more violent inner city schools in the country, and I wanted what I think most people want; a better life for our children. Wrap that little sucker up in duct tape so he doesn’t get hurt.

So, a Catholic school promised a far lower chance at the kind of gang violence that was normal in my Miami public school. Oh yeah, and it had a very good academic record. Like I care, my grades were horrible. If he gets hooked on learning, he’ll learn whether grades reflect it or not.

It’s been a balancing act.

I don’t want him to be taught hate towards lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender people, misogynistic ‘the man is the MAN and priests speak the direct word of God’ crap, or intolerance towards other religious faiths. I don’t want it either blatantly being beaten into his head or have it seep into him through constant immersion. I watch for signs of that like a hawk. You have no idea, simply no idea. It is my one greatest fear for him, that he learns prejudice without us seeing or knowing.

I read, understood and thoroughly grok the Illuminati trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. I am a true believer in freedom of thought, of raw information and analysis. I just don’t think you need drugs of any kind to expand your consciousness. I get high on my own imagination all the time without drugs. Um, except caffeine. LOTS of caffeine.

So I’m nervous, sure… but his school is a place where bullying and violence simply does not exist. Does. Not. Exist. The people there are so square you could use them as a foundation for the pyramids.

When I was the age my son is now, I carried a gun and knives to school on a regular basis. I lived in fear for my life. I will never forget that. It’s probably fair to say that I’ll never get over it. My son, he just… I’m not blind. I know how clueless most parents seem to be, but my son truly does not know how deep that rabbit hole of desperate fear can go.

His only real worry is not getting an A on his report card, his only stress is how much homework the school piles on each day. He doesn’t have that fear for his life, he hasn’t felt what it’s like to be hunted by people in a place you are required by law to attend, and for that I am truly grateful.

Cassie and I have stopped attending the actual church services because of how bad the sermons got about homosexuality. I live in Minnesota and yeah, it’s been pretty bad. But it’s not in the actual classrooms.

Even if he is seeing it, Cassie and I are a competing point of view, and we’re there more than the school and his peers are. SO FAR. I know that will change, but so far, so good.

It’s hard for someone to sell the idea that other people are evil because they love each other, when there is a competing point of view to be shared. Jesus is love, and I can make a pretty good argument that if two mature adults feel true love for each other, then that love must be a gift from God because love is such a fragile, precious thing.

It’s hard for someone to argue against it, at least honestly, without resorting to “but this book said so”. As I said earlier… hate is pretty ugly. So is fear.

For the record, that is what I personally believe. True love between mature, consenting adults is a gift from God. I truly don’t give a shit, in any way, what race, color, creed, biology, whatever. I am not a champion of a cause, I don’t march, it just seems so clear that I don’t get it and I never will. Love between consenting adults is love, period. Acting as though it were evil or a sin is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand or comprehend. And trying to make it illegal? Just, wtf over.

Evil to me is any mature adult trying to take advantage of an innocent child. Children aren’t capable of understanding what they really feel, and look to older authority figures for guidance and direction on what they need to do to be accepted. The abuse of the innocent, especially by those in positions of authority, that is evil.

But again, I’m NOT an activist. It’s like saying I’m an activist for gravity. I’m watching people saying gravity is evil, and I just… how? It’s gravity! How do you deny it exists, or try to say this kind of gravity is okay but that kind is wrong? Just, OMG I’m going insane.

My son, he asked me the other night, all on his own, if we could talk about the dinosaurs and Adam and Eve.

He tells me that for years now he’s known that the school teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and Adam and Eve, but it bothers him. If that is what happened, where did the dinosaurs come from? He’s heard several things, but he’d like to know what I think to help him make up his mind.

That is my hope for the future, right there. An open mind, willing to get a few different points of view and make his own decision on what he believes. And a desire for empirical research. :)

Even with all of this, I face the fact that my son is white, and he’s a guy, and he’s going to a Catholic school. For a lot of prejudiced people of my generation, they will assume and treat him as though he’s a selfish, privileged racist hate-mongering bigoted misogynist, a potential militia member and a probable white sheet wearer to boot. Who would probably own slaves if given half a chance. 

I’ll do my best to raise him so that when he is treated that way, he can calmly challenge that thinking with a clear, coherent and reasoned argument. Not with hatred, or fear, or violence.

I’ll try. Even though I myself think the people who act that way to me are worthless assholes that need to have some sun shining on the mold in their brains. Or a good ass kicking.

Sigh. I guess that whole non-violent thing is kind of an ongoing project for me.

For every person that stands up and challenges what you think is wrong, thank you. You are building the future I want my son to live in. I don’t care what it is you think or believe. What is important to me is that you stand up for what you believe in, and make sure your voice is heard.

Just please, try and temper your passion with a sense of proportion.

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One of the things I like about World of Warcraft is the rich story and the wide variety of characters that I’ve come to care about.

These are characters that I’ve talked to, done favors for, fought beside and generally been a huge pain in the butt to over the years.

Any RPG is going to be like that, but there is something about the World of Warcraft story that has me actually wondering what those characters are doing during the parts of the game where the focus is on something else.

“What has Sylvanas been doing while we’ve been fighting Sha in Pandaria? What plots are bubbling just beneath the visible surface?”

“How has Kalecgos reacted to the changes in Jaina, and her actions in Dalaran? Is everything still all right with a girl and her dragon?”

“Why was Tyrande Whisperwind suddenly bloodthirsty and impulsive in the scenario ‘A Little Patience’? Was it simply poor writing for a priestess that has successfully led her people for thousands of years, and suddenly displays less wisdom then Varian? Or is there something unseen going on that may turn up later? What if she has lost part of her deep connection with Elune, and is feeling horrible pressure without that reassuring presence?” – just complete tinfoil hat speculation, by the way.

I like these characters, and I want to know more about them, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what the future holds in store for them. And of course, I want to know when I get to see them again and go on missions for them. Or attack them in their capital cities. :)

Of all the characters in World of Warcraft, it is the future of Jaina Proudmoore that is worrying me the most.

I’m just going to say it.

I don’t want a WoW version of Dark Willow.

If that’s what happens, if that is the direction the story is heading, well, that’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

Jaina has been one of the strongest people we have worked alongside in Azeroth. And her greatest strength has been her displayed adherence to principles, touched with compassion.

I have seen her sometimes portrayed as the peacemaker, but it always seemed to me that she was less concerned about peace for the sake of peace, and was more focused on wanting to see to the truth of things, no matter who was speaking, no matter what form it took. She did not trust based on appearance, she did not lend the words of someone more weight simply because their tabard was blue rather than red.

She judged intent by actions, not words. She acted on her judgment with conviction of purpose, even when her judgment was that the Orc invaders of Azeroth were acting with honor and her own father was acting from hatred and prejudice.

Jaina wasn’t soft, and has never acted soft, she has instead always been driven to see a thing clearly as what it is, and to act on that vision. To try and convince others to see things as she did. And when they wouldn’t, when she saw them determined to act as fools, she tried to do what she could could to minimize the inevitable damage they were going to cause.

Badass.

Oh yeah, and she’s the most powerful wielder of magic in the world.

Total badass.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the Dark Willow storyline as it played out in Buffy. As much as my heart ached for what happened to her and Tara, as pissed off as I was that Whedon felt the need to ruin the one perfect relationship in his show, even then I knew we were watching something that was going to become legendary.

Time softens the wounds, but leaves behind the memory of a truly epic transformation.

What I have a problem with, is that it feels Jaina is being groomed for that kind of descent.

You’d think we were past that. Tides of War saw Jaina faced with the tragedy and grief, and suffused with rage akin to Willow when her beloved Theramore and all the family she cherished, the people she took responsibility for were destroyed. Jaina had her moment where rage and grief overwhelmed compassion, and she had her dark transformation. She went all billy badass and wanted to wash Ogrimmar out to sea, let Garrosh have fun swimming with the fishies.

Frankly, I was rooting for Jaina. Except I would have liked to have seen her use one of those thingies Mages can do, wtf are they called, oh yeah, PORTALS, and open one of those bad bears inside Garrosh’s throne room. From inside a volcano. Lava bath for Mr Garrosh, will you accept the charges?

But yeah, we saw that side, but she didn’t go through with it. She had enough strength of character, of sheer will to still listen through her rage and hate when Thrall and Kalecgos tried to reach her.

I would have liked to see more Jaina beating Thralls ass, while I’m on the subject. You know, I blame Thrall for the entire Garrosh saga.

I can see why he would have been motivated to do it. I never forget that Thrall was standing beside Grommash against Mannoroth when Grommash sacrificed his life to take the demon down. I played through the Thrall and Garrosh questline in Outlands. I always keep in mind that Thrall feels guilt over Grommash dying for the Horde and Orc people instead of Thrall.

Was it a shit decision to give the leadership of the Horde to the hotheaded Outlander son of Grommash, a boy that never really LIVED through the aftermath of the Second War? Hell yes. Garrosh just didn’t have that shared experience of being defeated by the Alliance, of experiencing the containment camps and the misery, the despair. the apathy. That was something that happened to some other Orcs, and just like most youth, he seemed to feel that it would have all been different if he had been there during the Second War, if HE had been the one in charge.

Stupid decision. Of course I blame Thrall. And I blame him a second time after playing through the Thrall and Aggra questline in Cataclysm, and seeing the firelands version of Thrall raging against Garrosh, his true feelings exposed, because he rightfully blamed Garrosh for the death of his friend, Cairne.

Thrall felt rage in his heart against Garrosh for killing Cairne. It was exposed, and at Aggra’s direction we helped him to calm down and regain control.

That doesn’t change the fact of his feelings… and yet, unless something Horde side in the story is vastly different, he never acted on those feelings. He never confronted Garrosh. He never called him to account for his part in the massive disrespect he showed to Cairne.

I have heard the Garrosh apologists when the duel with Cairne happened. I read the book, I understand.

My problem from the beginning was the disrespect Garrosh showed Cairne, and the complete lack of honor given to him, the disregard for his words of advice, his council.

It was Cairne, Thrall and Jaina who combined their magics to purge Grom Hellscream of the demon blood. Remember that? Cairne, Jaina and Thrall. They worked together, wove their magics together, and it was only because they did that Grom was freed.

And Garrosh is going to face this wise old tauren chieftain who redeemed his father and gave him the opportunity to die a hero instead of a blood-drenched betrayer of the entire Orcish people, and blow him off? Talk down to him?

Oh, and now that you’ve killed one person that helped save your father, let’s go drop a mana bomb on the other.

FUCK Garrosh. And Thrall let that shit go? Yeah, I blame the entire Garrosh problem on Thrall from the get go.

Got off track, sorry about that.

We’ve seen Jaina have her transformation, face her dark night of the soul, and sure Thrall and Kalecgos talked to her but it was her own compassionate spirit and determination to see to the truth of things that saw her return. Changed, yes. Less willing to listen to the counsel of fools, yes. And why not? Action, not words.

Since the fall of Theramore, it just feels like she’s not done changing. She came back changed, but those changes aren’t done. We’re not seeing just a Jaina with a new attitude, a new view of what she will permit to exist around her unchallenged.

It feels like every time we see a new chapter in the story of Jaina, we’re seeing her less interested in the truth. She isn’t looking as close before taking action. She is making decisions based on her own prejudice instead of a thorough understanding of the facts.

And I hate it.

She isn’t her father, I thought that was the whole point.

I am truly afraid she is being groomed to follow in her father’s footsteps, to come to the decision that in the end her father was right to believe the Horde would never change, and to seek their total destruction regardless of the actions of a few.

I don’t want to see such a strong, principled character, someone who to me represented strength of character and clarity of vision, slide down the slope to become another bigoted, hate-filled genocidal tool.

I don’t really see where else her story is going, though. I was in hope that we were seeing a hard-won wisdom in our words with her at Anduin’s behest while we were seeing the beach landings. Then the purge of Dalaran happened, and that was a thing.

Then we had the whole thing with Jaina and Blood Elf ponytail on the Isle of Thunder. I thought, just for a moment, that maybe Taran Zhu got through to them both, what with the hole in his gut and all that.

But we see the ending cinematic for the Siege of Ogrimmar, and what strikes a foul note? Jaina urging Varian to slaughter the Horde leaders right then and there, “end it” once and for all.

End it? What, all of them?

And once you’ve ‘ended’ the threat, what do you do?

Concentration camps? Or do you learn from past mistakes made by your father, when he ‘let’ the Orcs be kept alive in the camps instead of exterminating them and ‘ending’ the threat?

I don’t like where that little snippet in the cinematic leads us, because that isn’t a Jaina that is true to who she was, someone who is stronger than blind hatred or prejudice.

So.

We’ll see what we see, but I guess my real question from everything we’ve seen so far is, has anyone seen any sign that Jaina is overcoming her hatred? Have I missed a short story or a piece of lore or questline recently where we see that she is changed, yes, but still possessed of her wisdom, strength of character and principles?

Oh yeah, and can I get in one last fuck Garrosh?

War Crimes trial my butt, I want the ghost of Cairne to come back like Uther and shove the bloodhoof runespear right up his ass. RIGHT up. And Magatha too, of course.

I guess, best case, I’m hoping the War Crimes novel by Christie Golden (which I am very eager for) will bring those visions of the past to life, and by living through them a second time give Jaina a chance to grieve, and find some small sense of closure.

Damn, 1900 words. I am very sorry for rambling on that much.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.

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