Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dear WOW Players

Dear WOW Players,

Over many months now, we've talked a lot about Pandaland.  One of the comments I've heard over and over again is that Blizzard is "catering to Asians" with the upcoming Asian-influenced zones.  You frequently imply that only people of Asian heritage would be interested in anything inspired by Asian geography, Chinese culture, and so on.

It is very, very limited thinking to believe that something Asian or Asian-influenced would only appeal to Asian people.  "Asian things are for Asian people" is so xenophobic and racist as to be nonsensical.  It brings to mind the gender essentialism of, "Boy things are for boys!  Girl things are for girls!  Only boys can be doctors!  Only girls like pink!"

Do you expect that only Korean players roll night elves?  Do you expect that only Eastern European players roll draenei?  Only heavy drinkers roll dwarves?  While you're leveling, do you skip the entire zone of Uldum because you think that only ancient Egyptians play there?

Are you confused when you see non-Italians eat pizza?  Does it irk you to see non-Mexicans eat tacos?  How do you feel about people who aren't Japanese eating sushi?  Are you completely baffled to see someone who's Irish-American order a Greek salad?

Many people enjoy traveling to new places, learning other languages, studying the history of other cultures, getting to know a variety of people, and so on.  For many people, it's fun to dip into another culture.  The tourism industry is devoted to it.

In related news, you may be interested to know that there's no rule that an Asian person seeing something Asian-influenced will suddenly perk up with interest.

If you want to complain about an Asian-inspired expansion, complain that Blizzard isn't being creative enough.  Complain about cultural appropriation.  Complain about cultural and racist stereotypes.  There's plenty to be discussed there.

But complaining that you can't relate to an entire expansion because the new zones remind you of Asia and you aren't Asian is bizarre.  The only way it makes sense is if you're being racist.  The geography in WOW is so varied that I'd imagine that very little, if anything at all, looks like the view from your bedroom window.  Therefore, unless you're upset that you can't relate to Blade's Edge Mountains and you refuse to quest in Zangarmarsh because it's foreign to you, consider why Asian-influenced zones, specifically, bother you so much.

With love,
Frank Lee

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