Why Does Genocide Matter-Now?

Wyrmrest Accord
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There's a lot of casual genocide in WoW.

Sargares wiped out entire planets and races of people who fell to corruption.
Eredar targeted the Draenei as they fled Argus
Trolls killed Elves, Pandaren, and anyone else as they expanded their territories
Mogu frequently warred with themselves as the curse of flesh spread.
Satyr's were slain till near extinction after trying to over through night elf society.
Orcs committed genocide on a mass scale to the Draenei in the formation of the Horde.
Arthas raised entire human kingdoms only to force them back into service of undeath in addition to Stratholm.
Garithos slew the newly formed Blood Elves.
Centaur campaigned to slaughter the Tauren for a thousand years before being saved by the Horde.

And that's just with me picking and choosing things along the timeline without having the current events experienced by the player character in WoW.

So why is there such a sense of outrage 'now', from a player standpoint, in a world that treats murder and the disposability of lives almost cartoonishly casual?

Keeping in mind that I get that the narrative experience from the ground floor, what stakes that the characters in the setting are supposed to feel is different. For them, the gravity of a life loss and the events that constantly seem to be happening is a real thing to them and I am not discounting that. But the reaction from the playerbase seems to be constantly eager to cry foul over the “complicity of the Horde” in regards to genocide when nearly every faction worth it's weight and then some has been operating that the best solution to any problem is to kill it repeatedly.

While it may have to be with the weird place where WoW wants to take itself seriously at times but the suspension of disbelief is delivered poorly can I have explained to me why is there an emotional fixation on the Horde, but every other group, even the characters themselves seem to be free of scrutiny? I mean I remember forum threads of Sky Admiral Rodgers for “High Queen” when she called for fleeing Horde to be machine gun down(which again, I feel is justified in the context of her character) and few(if any) Alliance players feeling any sort of being bothered with that route of the story.

Even what constitutes as a “war crime” gets muddled in a setting where using chemical weapons is bad but not having your face ate alive by locus, fireballs, shadow magics, ice picks, and a variety of unconventional as well as gruesome manners we players thin out entire populations is entirely acceptable, even encouraged.

Am I the only one who feels like folks are still being a bit dramatic? Why is it a cruel, unspeakable offense now, 15+ years later in the franchise?
09/19/2018 10:34 PMPosted by Lianshí
So why is there such a sense of outrage 'now', from a player standpoint, in a world that treats murder and the disposability of lives almost cartoonishly casual?

people are weird
09/19/2018 10:34 PMPosted by Lianshí
There's a lot of casual genocide in WoW.

Yeah, and it's super gross, and always has been. Warcraft would be better if none of the stuff you mentioned happened, or all of it was retconned.

09/19/2018 10:34 PMPosted by Lianshí
Am I the only one who feels like folks are still being a bit dramatic? Why is it a cruel, unspeakable offense now, 15+ years later in the franchise?

I don't know how to explain to you that people have empathy.

Also, can we have a forum agreement to at least wait like, a week before having this kind of thread?
Actually, I think that was pretty unfair of me, so let me try again. This is mostly borrowed from a post I made in a recent thread, but I think there's so much outrage now because genocide isn't why people show up to Warcraft, but the narrative is making them look at it anyway.

It's like watching Schindler's List at a birthday party. If you showed up to eat cake and have a good time, it's just going to kill the mood and make everyone upset.

I still stand by the statement that Warcraft would be better without all the genocide, though. You can have a war plot without it. Not everything has to be Game of Thrones or The Witcher, and I think those series' success is at least somewhat responsible for what we're getting now. But Warcraft's over-the-top stakes and grounding in the race-based traditions of fantasy make it really easy to make every war feel like a race war for your people's survival. I don't think the devs do much of anything to mitigate that.

So no, I don't think people are being dramatic about all the genocide; I think they're just now noticing it and they hate it because it doesn't jive with what they show up to Fantasyland for.
Lianshi. In all actuality, I can pinpoint when it first became a thing. Genocide in WoW was first attributed to Garrosh Hellscream in the War Crimes novel. It was one of the charges listed against him by Taran Zhu, and it fits the description of what he tried to do with the True Horde, what with wiping out all non-Orcish life. And since then, it's become a bit of a hot topic in WoW.

Naturally, what the Horde tried to do in the First and Second wars could count as such as well, but that was the first time it appeared in the WoW canon.
Because the player for the first time is being kinda forced to do it or at least support it. All the genocides you mentioned we're NPCs and/or before Vanilla.

Burning alive thousands of people, spreading the plague etc are things Garrosh claimed as no no's and HE was responsible for tons of war crimes, they even wrote a book on it called War Crimes....

I don't think people are being over dramatic at all, Sylvanas is crazy evil and now that she control's the Horde she is going to do on a larger scale what she has always been doing.
Times change and so do people.

When you're 10 and playing WoW, you know that Genocide is certainly awful but you can't really grasp the concept or the implications of such a thing. As an adult you know better. You better understand how and why such a thing happens, and it's awful because if you're a person willingly taking part in Genocide, then there's nothing to be done for you. IRL normal people have a hardline stance on it. It's an unforgivable evil plain and simple, so seeing multiple sentient races willingly line up to commit genocide after genocide even in a game is borderline incomprehensible.

How are you supposed to look at the story in which one group of people is commiting Evil at the fullest capacity and cheer for them? Gunning down unarmed soldier is certainly full blown awful. (I'm really not a fan of Rogers myself) But we have entire museums and momuments dedicated to the effect of Genocide IRL. This isn't an apples and oranges comparison. This is apples and watermelons. Two Evils certainly suck. But one of those Evils is a hell of a lot heavier to deal with and has much longer lasting consequences.

From my own personal standpoint, I think the whole genocide concept within WoW is OLD. It's been god knows how many years, and every day there's a Genocide. For some it's slightly less offense and more boredom with the concept. The issues from previous Genocides haven't even been close to resolved and yet here comes another one.

I also believe there's some frustration with the playerbase in how it's simply not getting resolved within the story no matter what happens. You're playing a game where people are committing unspeakable atrocities that we as a species are supposedly repulsed by and naturally should be up in arms about, but on Azeroth the reaction isn't shown to be as strong or overwhelming. Like yeah you can assume that the Night Elves are pissed as a unit, but we're not really seeing it. (But they may be exploring that in 8.1. So I'll hold out for that.)

tl;dr Times and people's tastes change, and Genocide no longer has that 'cool' shock factor. People are sick of it. And no one in the story seems to be paying for these crimes in the slightest.
I think because it's reached the point of being just absurdly bad taste.

As you say, it's an overused trope to the point where ridiculousness battles grotesqueness in how swiftly it's trotted out. When it was a distant thing that happened to the Draenei and the Blood Elves, it was shocking. But we are now in the midst of the Horde attempting their second racially-motivated war and the sheer vileness of using it as an off-hand plot device both demeans it and insults the player to the point that it demands commentary.
Putress did nothing wrong.
Why is anyone bothered by people being bothered by genocide? Ever?

What jumps out at me isn't so much people being unhappy about all the genocide as people trying to handwave or justify or defend it, or failing those, complain about the complaints. And sure, a bit of that I can understand because it's new to have genocide pushed on us as something half the playerbase are railroaded by the plot into participating in.

I keep seeing Alliance people upset about the genocide, and Horde people upset about the genocide and really upset about having to contribute to it, but then a smaller contingent of Horde people who are like "well actually if you think about it..."

Genocide is more bothersome now because any of us who like to play our Horde characters have to watch our Horde characters throw the switch and most of us are not happy about that. It's especially bothersome now because it's brought genocide apologists out of the woodwork and we're having to deal with the sudden realization that there are a surprising number of those among us which wasn't a comfortable discovery either.
It turns out people were okay with romping through a cartoony dungeon killing zombies and demons but aren't so okay with burning thousands of innocent people to death.

It doesn't help that the Teldrassil stuff was used as an opening.
Players deep in the game, especially on RP servers, aren't known for their ability to separate real life from that of a video game story, let alone separating real life morality for the one the story is trying to tell. In real life, we all know that genocide is a bad thing and wiping out a ton of people is atrocious. Within the context of the game world, however, it's not a good thing necessarily, but it's far more common and more of a reason to call to arms than be associated with any kind of real life equivalent of the Hague.

That doesn't necessarily mean that Blizzard is doing this very well, mind you. They still have to create a suspension of disbelief, and a lot of problems might be occurring from their ability to translate their ideas into the medium. But the idea of genocide within a story being a regular or at least understandable occurrence isn't anything new. There are plenty of novels, even fantasy ones, where portions of a population are regularly culled, and, while this isn't shown to be a good thing by the reader, it is understandable from the perspective of the characters in those novels and seen as more of a political obstacle to overcome.

Best example I can think of is probably Thanos. Like, he's definitely the bad dude and we all want the Avengers to stop him, but he was written in a way that is at least understandable to the viewer. In a similar vein, even if I don't think Blizz is doing a bang-up job of portraying it, I don't mind the story thread because I can least understand where it's coming from in the context of Azeroth's politics if you put aside real life influences.
Yeah, and it's super gross, and always has been. Warcraft would be better if none of the stuff you mentioned happened, or all of it was retconned.

I respectfully disagree. Some of the events are a bit out there, but the setting, to me, would be lesser without it.

09/19/2018 10:42 PMPosted by Ursuola
I don't know how to explain to you that people have empathy.


Not discounting that but what triggered it now? Is it because the Night Elves, which is still a massively popular race to players, that was on the receiving end?

I mean, let's use the Iron Horde for example. Did they start a war? Absolutely. Did anyone have an issue going into their world and slaughtering them by the thousands? Not one bit. I definitely didn't. This is pretty much the case for every NPC faction, even the less “at stake” ones like the Defias, Syndicate, Gnolls, etc.

09/19/2018 10:52 PMPosted by Ursuola
I still stand by the statement that Warcraft would be better without all the genocide, though. You can have a war plot without it.


09/19/2018 10:52 PMPosted by Ursuola
So no, I don't think people are being dramatic about all the genocide; I think they're just now noticing it and they hate it because it doesn't jive with what they show up to Fantasyland for.


I don't mean this mockingly in any way, but what is the sweet spot between having a fantasy war and “genocide”? A few hundred? A thousand? I feel like what I got from this is that war is fine...until it makes you feel bad?

09/19/2018 10:56 PMPosted by Zhiifang
Because the player for the first time is being kinda forced to do it or at least support it. All the genocides you mentioned we're NPCs and/or before Vanilla.


As I said, I was cheery picking events and going by what the player character has participated in, eschewing individual RP, that body count gets even higher. I mean, individual narratives aside, humans in Northshire pretty much poach the Kolobad and Gnoll populations into the ground for their candles and copper, then proceed to slaughter any thief/highway man with a red bandana for their ties to Defias on sight. No capture, no negotiate, no parley. But murder in the variety of creative ways possible available to your class.

And that's in the first 30 minutes of playing WoW and no-one is bothered.

09/19/2018 11:04 PMPosted by Nethielle
From my own personal standpoint, I think the whole genocide concept within WoW is OLD. It's been god knows how many years, and every day there's a Genocide. For some it's slightly less offense and more boredom with the concept. The issues from previous Genocides haven't even been close to resolved and yet here comes another one.


Honestly, I actually agree with you and this is coming from someone who loves the faction conflict. It's hard to be invested in a war that even I myself and growing tired of, because I've been doing it for as long as I've had a subscription and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

For a game that Ion has said the “World” is the most important character in the Warcraft, I am eager to see and experience more of the world beyond just wanton slaughter. The mysteries, exploration, puzzles and the overall “wonder” of the setting seems to be sidelines for a conflict with few dimensions and that I can see to be frustrating.
I mean, let's use the Iron Horde for example. Did they start a war? Absolutely. Did anyone have an issue going into their world and slaughtering them by the thousands? Not one bit. I definitely didn't. This is pretty much the case for every NPC faction, even the less “at stake” ones like the Defias, Syndicate, Gnolls, etc.


I don't mean this mockingly in any way, but what is the sweet spot between having a fantasy war and “genocide”? A few hundred? A thousand? I feel like what I got from this is that war is fine...until it makes you feel bad?


Are you seriously having trouble distinguishing between combatants and civilians? Does someone actually need to explain why burning a city full of refugees alive is a fundamentally different concept from killing enemy fighters who are trying to do the same to you?

I don't mean this mockingly in any way, but what is the sweet spot between having a fantasy war and “genocide”? A few hundred? A thousand? I feel like what I got from this is that war is fine...until it makes you feel bad?


I feel like it comes down mostly to presentation.

Like, to continue with the Iron Horde example: they came out of nowhere, attacked and murdered people by the thousands, necessitated a massive invasion to fight them back and met us, at every turn, with axes and roars and fire. That was a war.

The War of Thorns was basically Sylvanas attacking unprovoked and massacring a people who were mostly minding their own business because someone hurt her feelings.

Blizzard is good at the former and bad at the latter. As Ursola pointed out, WoW is all about insanely attractive people causing massive magical explosions in between poop quests--it's good at that kind of light, limitless fantasy that's heavy on spectacle. But this latest genocide was delivered totally straight-faced and intended to be sobering and Blizzard...is not good at that. And WoW isn't that kind of game.

So it just comes off as tasteless, clumsy shock--like when a DeviantArt kid transitions from drawing DBZ fanart to drawing moody, angry goth characters. They think they're being serious, but it's just uncomfortable.

As you say, killing kobolds by the boatloads is fine because Blizzard never asks us to feel for the kobolds--they're angry nuisances that want to kill everyone and they always come back. But they wanted to do something serious with this genocide and it blew up in their face.
I don't mean this mockingly in any way, but what is the sweet spot between having a fantasy war and “genocide”? A few hundred? A thousand? I feel like what I got from this is that war is fine...until it makes you feel bad?

It's less of a difference of numbers and more of a difference of scope and attitude.

By scope I mean how much of a given race is a member of a particular political domain. Warcraft is especially bad with this. There's one city that's the Night Elf Capital, another that's the Human Capital, another that's the Dwarf Capital, etc. that govern the Night Elf Territories, the Human Territories, and so on. Every race has their one corner of the map that is "theirs," which makes an attack on that territory feel less like an attack on whatever political entity lives there and more like an attack on the race that lives there.

And as much as people get mad at me for saying so, Warcraft operates on profoundly racial terms. We don't say that the Alliance is made up of the Kingdom of Stormwind, the theocracy of the Exodar, the democracy of Gnomregan, or anything like that. We say the Alliance is humans and dwarves and night elves and draenei; there's exactly one race in the entire game that can join either faction, and there's little evidence that will be repeated anytime soon. When it's assumed in your setting that every member of X race is also a member of Y faction by default, saying "kill all Alliance" comes pretty close to saying "kill all night elves and all humans and all dwarves and gnomes and draenei and worgen and..."

It's debatable how much of this is changeable and how much of this is just baked into the bones of WoW by its creators' attitudes, but it would be a lot easier to not feel like things were genocide if the game didn't sort of set us up to feel that way by contextualizing everything in terms of race.
Oh boy, glad I caught this one early.
09/19/2018 11:23 PMPosted by Azhaar
I mean, let's use the Iron Horde for example. Did they start a war? Absolutely. Did anyone have an issue going into their world and slaughtering them by the thousands? Not one bit. I definitely didn't. This is pretty much the case for every NPC faction, even the less “at stake” ones like the Defias, Syndicate, Gnolls, etc.


I don't mean this mockingly in any way, but what is the sweet spot between having a fantasy war and “genocide”? A few hundred? A thousand? I feel like what I got from this is that war is fine...until it makes you feel bad?


Are you seriously having trouble distinguishing between combatants and civilians? Does someone actually need to explain why burning a city full of refugees alive is a fundamentally different concept from killing enemy fighters who are trying to do the same to you?


Just to tie this in with my previous post, this is a reminder that the concept of "don't kill civilians" is largely a product of Christian-borne U.S. righteous authority post-WWI and is a relatively recent concept. Pre-industrial wars could be absolutely brutal to everyone and were mostly kept in check by the concept of landowners going "If we kill too many people it will affect my tithe."

It's not at all surprising that a video game world with no real religious equivalents telling them not to do bad things would have no issues doing things that we, in real life, only saw as bad within the past 100 years or so. This applies to both sides, lest we forget how often the Alliance likes to default to "slaves are free labor!" in their history.
Because we were forced to be participants. All of Legion set us up as great leaders and bastions of azeroth, and now we're killing people for Sylvanas?

Don't ask me to accept the horde is morally grey and a redeemable faction and then exile populaces for religious reasons and kill innocent people.

You want to be evil? Fine, but do it in Blizzard fashion with a bit of silliness and joy. The burning of teldarssil is a narrative is that telling us, as powerful participants, that we're bad and we should feel bad.

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