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Thoughts on April Fool’s Day Festivities

by - 10 years ago

It’s hard to believe that two days ago people were fretting about whether or not Blizzard would actually show up to April Fool’s day. They absolutely did, and in a big way. All of the Blizzard games save Hearthstone offered up something for our perusal, and for the most part, they were all amazing. My personal favorites were Blizzard Outcasts and the 6.0 patch notes for World of Warcraft. Having played a warrior in vanilla, the ‘warriors have been nerfed because reasons’ line really cracked me up.

Unfortunately, while there was a lot of humor to be had, the day will likely be remembered for the Artcraft offering above anything else. Chris Robinson had hinted that we’d see a new installment of the Artcraft series, and fans eagerly waited. The regular looks at race redesigns have been decidedly important as concrete information about the upcoming expansion has otherwise been hard to come by.

The art crew clearly had fun with this one, made plain by the explanations behind their decisions. Regrettably, while their tone was obviously cheeky, there were a number of volatile elements in place. They essentially created, and then chuckled at, an unattractive female character. Obviously, that was not the intent, but if there’s one thing we learned from the ‘boy’s trip’ debacle of BlizzCon, intent is rarely factored in when it comes to these things. Or, if it is, it just doesn’t count for much.

Initially, it seemed the community was going to let this one slide under the radar as a gag that simply didn’t hit the mark. However, as the day progressed more and more people began voicing their displeasure with the April Fool’s joke via social media, blogs, et cetera. Some claimed it was sexist, others began complaining about the lack of hard information about Warlords of Draenor, and then some other particularly callous individuals began making fun of those who were offended simply for being offended. It was not a bright moment for our community.

That brings us to today.

The argument continues, but there’s real potential for a middle ground and an opportunity to learn something from all of this.

Aside from the Draenei Artcraft, Blizzard did a stellar job. The other offerings were hilarious, well-received and brought fans a lot of joy. There’s a common theme to them, as well. They focused on the characters from their respective universes, parodies of other popular titles and poking fun at themselves. The other gags did not deal with gender, body image or anything that generally stands to make people feel bad about themselves. While the intent was never to cause harm, some did take offense from the joke that dealt with gender and body image. That’s something to respect, going forward. Stick to what makes people laugh, and if you are going to make jokes like this going forward, don’t be surprised when there’s negative reactions.

Conversely, if you’re one of those individuals utterly outraged, take a minute to consider the following. Blizzard does not hate your gender. It did not create this joke blog entry to demean you. Try to see this for what it was, something meant to inspire laughter. It didn’t quite hit the mark, but that doesn’t automatically damn the rest of the day’s work, nor the company as a whole.

I’d hope that yesterday’s festivities can be remembered as largely being successful. A lot of good times were had, and it seemed like the Twitter storm only started brewing after people failed at Happy Reaper for the 800th time. Clearly Happy Reaper was the real problem. Jokes aside, despite our multitude of arguments, we are in fact a community, and in theory we all want to make our personal space on the internet better. It serves all of our interests to consider intent, and also, perhaps more importantly, the feelings of others before voicing our opinions.

posted in Warcraft
JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been involved with Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. JR was also a co-host for 6 years on the Hearthstone podcast Well Met! He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013.

14 responses to “Thoughts on April Fool’s Day Festivities”

  1. Keif says:

    Great words Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Snacks says:

    I’d hope you take a moment to realize why folks would be upset about this, rather than pontificate and finger wag down at folks for being angry. You probably won’t, and have no intention to now that you’ve editorialized on the matter, but when Blizzard is one of the best at not being a sexist organization and manages a stunt like that you realize we demand so very little of the video games industry as a whole and that bar is still routinely failed.

    • ZenStyle says:

      I don’t want to assume. Please explain to me exactly why folks would be upset about this. I have ideas, but again. I’d rather hear it from someone who understands that side of the equation better than I do.

      • Snacks says:

        The joke is “haha ugly woman” in pictures and “haha inbreeding” in words. I’m struggling to understand your failure of empathy.

        • ZenStyle says:

          I apologize that you feel that way. That’s not how I took the joke. It felt to me like the art team was trying to create an outlandish looking character based on memes and some tongue and cheek responses to player input over the years.

          I realize that I’m not the sort of person who would be offended by it, however. In respect to those who are offended I made the point that Blizzard needs to back off from this type of joke in the future or simply accept the fact that they’re hurting individuals in their fan base, which is obviously not the correct choice.

          • Snacks says:

            In saying that Blizzard needs to back off from that kind of joke, we see the real, honest, sad truth: that when they reveal the new model (which, by their previous standards will be excellent) people will fall over themselves to tell people to get over the joke: and these will be the people who weren’t hurt by it to begin with, because it’s very easy to dismiss a wound that isn’t yours.

          • ZenStyle says:

            Fair enough. I do appreciate you taking the time to try and explain it to me!

  3. Trin says:

    For as long as I can remember I was always “That chick” who hung out with the guys. Years in a computer lab, playing games and making boys cry then decades in a male dominated corporate career. Let’s just say I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study men in their natural environment, and girls, some of it ain’t pretty!! I can tell you that as the only female in many raids or the only woman at a business meeting, when the men around you joke with each other in front of you as if you’re one of them, that’s kind of a big deal!

    It means you’re respected enough and trusted enough to be included in their world of
    humor, however twisted it may be! Yes, men can be completely clueless as to what is appropriate, but in my experience, they rarely mean to insult anybody when they make stupid comments (create questionable April Fools gags). It’s the woman who can take a joke that get asked back to the next raid or corporate retreat.

    In a perfect world, nobody would ever say or do anything to hurt anybody else, intentionally or otherwise, but this is the real world and sometimes you’re going to see or hear something that can be either taken as a joke or taken as a call to arms. It’s up to you (I’m talking generally now to all humans) to decide how you take something and that choice determines the kind of environment you exist in. I’m just saying that being easy to get along with makes it easy to get along with others…

  4. Quorra says:

    I understand that people got offended by the fake draenei model. I wasn’t offended, because I didn’t see the model and automatically assume it was a slight towards my gender and my gender’s place in video games. I saw a silly looking goat-girl with a teenaged-derpy face. I have a hard time understanding how people took the image of her so personally or that it’s how Blizzard feels about females in gaming, but I do understand that people feel that way. (That’s fine, people can feel however they want.)

    Jokes are not one-size-fits-all. It’s okay to think a joke isn’t funny, but thinking a joke isn’t funny doesn’t mean you are better than someone or even necessarily have the “right” opinion about said joke. Being offended doesn’t grant a person this special right to be catered to. This goes both ways of course — just because I go non-offended by something doesn’t mean I’m the right opinion, either.

    I am not saying there aren’t clear issues of inequality and objectification with women in games. There are. But this fake spacegoat girl being proof of them? I don’t agree with that at all.

  5. Angelica Reid says:

    its a character with a derpy face and funny explanation. If it had been a male character people wouldn’t have even made a deal about it. Too much sensitivity and people trying to make drama over anything these days. Pajamathur was definitely my favorite post of blizz’s.

  6. Rongar says:

    I probably fall under said category of “callous people”.

    While I would never laugh at someone for taking honest offense at something being said (it is simply impossible for me to put myself completely in someone else’s shoes), I can still choose to see the humor in what Blizzard attempted to do – regardless of whether it was in good taste or in poor taste.

    Ultimately, Draenei are supposed to be – despite certain human features – horned, half-goat blue-skinned aliens with tails. There were times when Blizzard made some rather thoughtless remarks (e.g. the “boy’s trip to Draenor”), but in this case, I personally cannot make the leap for myself that this is an intentional put-down of women.

    Yes, video game companies can do better. Yes, there have been horribly sexist and racist video games and story telling in games. Blizzard’s record isn’t spotless, but overall they do far better than most game makers, and on a consistent basis.

    On the flip side, there are game publishers trying in earnest to find the right balance between strong yet realistic, confident yet not sexualized, relatable female characters in an escapist medium. On top of that, there is an expectation that a company like Blizzard be thoughtful, socially responsible, and equalitarian, while at the same time giving us engaging characters with stories that don’t end up being vanilla. It sounds easy, but is rather challenging to do well. It is simply impossible to please 100% of an audience 100% of the time.

    I certainly could not do it.

    Anyone has the right to be offended by this, as much as I have a right to shrug this whole thing off for what I saw it as – a silly drawing. At the end, I am fairly certain this does not make me a bad person, nor does it make Blizzard a company that intentionally sets out to offend their female customers. They simply cannot (in every sense of the word) afford to do that.