Keep Your History Away From My Internet Dragons

Spoiler Warning.

You have been warned.

I am not happy about the Uldum quests involving Schnottz, otherwise known as Nazis. Do not want.

It Just Does Not “FIT”

We’re going to play a game. Remember, like in the OLD Sesame Street. I can even hear Cookie Monster singing now.

One of these things is not like the other… one of these things is not the same…

  1. Dragons
  2. Arcane blasts coming from one’s fingers
  3. glowing magical weapons
  4. portals allowing instant travel between locations or points in time
  5. Floating cities and islands
  6. Nazis

Did you guess which one doesn’t fit?

This is a fantasy game, boys and girls. My toon is such a fantasy that she doesn’t ever pee unless it’s part of a quest. Why on earth do I want real life butting in?

I Chose WoW, not a World War II Game

If I wanted to blow up Nazis, I’d pick a different game. A game about… World War II.

It’s not that Nazis are portrayed one way or the other that I find offensive. I find it offensive that they exist at all in my game. I play my game to get away from reality, not to have references to one of the worst things that reality has contained.

The fact is, nobody’s relatives have ever been killed by a dragon, dinosaur, wizard, or ogre.

How Far is Too Far with Sensitive Issues?

You know, I get that WoW has a lot of pop culture references.  Some people are cool with them, and some people are not.  I, for one, find their prevalence in the expansion a bit too pervasive, but I’m not passionate about it.

I also get that the Schnottzi’s in Uldum come in because of Harrison Jones, to recreate a pop culture movie reference. Which I don’t like, but doesn’t bother me. Now, when you start getting references to real Nazi stuff (Fashionism?  Gobbles? Really?) OK NOW I AM UPSET.

Everyone has issues to which they are particularly sensitive.  Some people earlier this summer took offense to the fact that the Goblin starter zone pushed a heteronormative (and revenge-filled) agenda. For me, I take offense at Nazis.

The fact that finishing one of the quests required dressing up in a Schnottzi uniform made me want to vomit in my mouth.1

Too Soon?

Maybe it’s OK to allude to Nazis plainly because it’s been a long time.  I, of course, disagree with this, but we can talk about it, right?

Suppose one of the quests had been to take your Zepplin and crash it into the Horde’s “2 turrets” to bring them down. Would that be ok?  Hell no.

Oh… but September 11 wasn’t that long ago.  How about some other sensitive issues?

Suppose, as a green orc, you were given a quest to enslave pink orcs because… well they’re PINK! Is that ok? I mean, slavery is much further in the past than Nazis… To me, of course, the answer is still hell no, that is not ok.

How to Fix

Omg Blizzard, quit trying to bend every quest to an immediately recognizable reference (pop culture or otherwise)! I’m totally ok with killing twilight cultists or a rogue band of bloodthirsty owlkin. Whatever. Finding a pop culture reference is no longer “fun” like finding a secret Easter egg, but rather the norm to be slogged through. And in the zeal to create those references, there have been some serious missteps – not just Schnottzis…. but that’s the subject of another article.

Further Reading

Welcome to Spinksville: Tell me why (I don’t like Uldum)

EDITED TO ADD: COMMENTING

Because we have new guests from Wow Insider here, I’d like to remind people about the commenting policy and to keep it civil, even if you agree or disagree with me or one of your fellow commenters.  I have turned on comment moderation for this post.  Please be patient, since your comments may take a few minutes to appear.

  1. In fact, I tried to add images (other than cookie monster) to this post and just could NOT bring myself to do it.

Comments

Keep Your History Away From My Internet Dragons — 59 Comments

  1. I blew through the Schnottz’s Landing quests, so I don’t remember what exactly we were doing for him, but…Nazi’s were the villains in at least two of the Indiana Jones films. As you know, Uldum is 50% an Indiana Jones parody. For that reason, I did not find Schnottz any more annoying or inappropriate that Harrison Jones, which is to say, it was a little annoying.

    • I started to care when it deviated from the movie and I realized they were referencing real life Nazi stuff rather than just Indiana doing XYZ.

      • Yeah, I completely glossed over that stuff when I was playing (and reading your blog). I do remember Gobbles, but that didn’t bother me too much. I certainly remember the quests for Schnottz, but I don’t recall exactly what I was doing or why.

        I guess it could be rationalized by saying that Dr. Jones dressed up like a Nazi a few times in the movies, and we are just doing the quests to infiltrate the bad guy’s camp.

        Finally, it is a parody (like the Producers or the million times they have parodied Hitler on the Simpsons). They are not glorifying Nazi’s, but making fun of them. It never struck me as particularly funny, however, and poorly-written parodies can be offensive. It’s also forced on people who may not find any Nazi parodies humorous.

  2. @Lou
    Like written in the article there are plenty non-indiana jones references, such as the gobbles or fashionism jokes. and a big part of the entry questlines are in fact about “spying” on groups of people (from merchants to artists…) and see what they’re up to – which is a clear reference to the STASI.

    It felt quite wrong being forced to play thorugh these for me personally and having to assume accompliceship. and it’s not just about where you are from and our cultural backgrounds IMO – it’s also about respecting what might be offensive to someone else.

    and just like Zel said, I’m not ‘prepared’ for this kind of scenario in a game like WoW. I don’t play WoW for this and I find it horribly wrong that hitler has become a “pop culture reference” (wtf?). also the fact that some people are saying “come on, WW2 was soooo long ago” is incredibly worrying.

    Great post btw.

        • I’ll clarify in case you’re concerned about censorship: I deleted it because the comment was uncivil, not because it disagreed with my point.

          • dont worry, I was more concerned with myself replying to an imaginary commenter, it’s happened before! :P

    • “It felt quite wrong being forced to play thorugh these for me personally and having to assume accompliceship”

      I’m with you – I was first pissed off to find Belloc (the Horde archaeology trainer, ffs!) there in league with Schnottz. He’s a freaking Horde trainer, he shouldn’t be helping the bad guys! Then I had to help both him and Schnottz further their nefarious agenda and the more quests I did the more irritated I became that I had no choice in the matter.

      Also, because it became more about RL references rather than Lol-Indiana-Jones, I was deeply uncomfortable when I discovered all the Generic Celebrities being held against their will, and a little afraid for them as I helped them escape.

    • Just a random history nitpick:

      The STASI were East Germany’s secret police. It’s far more likely, if they’re making a secret police reference, that it would be to the GESTAPO, the Nazi equivalent. Not that there was really much to choose between the two;

  3. Hear, hear. And they can take the stupid motorcycles with them, too. Talk about taking you out of the moment!

    I’m just about done with that zone and every complaint I’ve seen here and elsewhere is pretty much valid. I haven’t hated a zone as much as this in a long time.

    And at the rate this is going, the next expansion will be “World of Warcraft: Harrison Jones and the Elven Cup of Immortality.” All Harry, all the time.

  4. I skipped most of the Harrison Jones stuff because you can get to 85 without touching it, it doesn’t give reputation, and the rewards are sort of meh. If you’re a quest completionist then I guess you have to do them, but it’s an eminently skippable part of the game.

    Maybe if enough people skip it Blizz will get the idea.

  5. “The fact is, nobody’s relatives have ever been killed by a dragon, dinosaur, wizard, or ogre.”

    My cousin was killed by a level 9 wizard in a horrible LARPing accident so don’t tell me what has and hasn’t killed relatives missy!!!!

    *cries

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  7. I didn’t mind: I think a lot of the Schnottz bits were “Hogan’s Heroes” references if I’m not mistaken, or “The Great Escape”. I can sort of see how someone would be mad at it but…. at this point Nazis are about the only group of “real life” people we’re allowed to totally hate.

    Personally I was more surprised at some of the pygmies and such in Uldum who could be taken as Arab-stereotypes of various sorts…

  8. I think it’s interesting to see who is and isn’t offended by these quests. Being Austrian myself, I’ve been brought up to be extremely sensitive about the issue, cringe at the way it is often handled on English and American tv and wince every time someone uses words like “grammar nazi” or breaks Godwin’s Law.

    But the Schnottz quests didn’t affect me at all. Maybe because the original Indiana Jones films already weren’t entirely serious, so it was like a parody twice removed to me. I didn’t even think of nazis when I did those quests, I thought “stereotypical Indiana Jones bad guys”. And I have to admit I giggled at a blood elf practicing “fashionism”. >.>

  9. Now, while my opinion on this might have been different if I was Jewish, I think that you’re looking at this the wrong way.

    Blizzard pulled in several different pop culture references to make this story line, and they didn’t idolize the Nazis – they mocked (and in the end) defeated the Schnotzii. If I remember correctly, you don’t put anyone into ovens or internment camps – you actually free them and eventually bring about the demise of Schnotzz.

    I agree that the pop culture references are a bit much now – and the goblins are just over the top – but I still enjoy the game for what it is. An escape. Maybe you don’t like torture quests (though you’ll notice this time around you can let the captive go).

    What I have found most surprising is that this, or Camel Tow, or the Homonormality have taken the front seat – but a quest where you lure children (oh, but they’re NAGAS) away with an inflatable toy – and then use them as hostages – hasn’t hit my radar at all.

    I’m sorry that you found the quest line offensive instead of entertaining, as I’m sure it was intended. At least you know you can skip over it now.

    • Naga hostages? I haven’t seen that one. Maybe it’s a hordie quest. I think there was a quest about using a stick to torment the baby gorillas in Scholozar Basin that made me feel queasy.

    • Oh yeah, I felt nasty doing that one and actually found myself worrying whether the little naga were okay in the end… and Zel, it’s one of the early goblin quests – not in the immediate starter zone, but on the Lost Isles.

  10. I’m surprisingly going against the grain on this one. I did kinda blast through the schnottz quests because as much as I love Indiana Jones I kinda agree that they went a bit over the top and it sort of took you out the moment. The first few ones were fine but they started to get more tedious as the quest chain went on – but I liked the ending bit. So yeah fully support the idea that they ‘over referenced’ the pop culture and it kind of distratced you from the fact that we’re playing a game about killing internet dragons. And this coming from a die hard Indy fan.

    That said, I can’t say I was at any stage offended by any of the content; I even smirked at the Fashionism joke. No before I start sounding off like a complete arse let me explain. Sensitive issues are… well sensitive ofc. But refusing to reference it, being unprepared to be satirical about it or just downright ignoring it is, in my belief, wrong. By being overly sensitive to issues it is easy to gloss over the parts you don’t like and by not learning by history you leave yourself wide open to repeat the same mistakes. Germany has, for a very long time, failed to come to grasps with a truly despicable period of it’s own history because it has refused to deal with it – instead it banned any Nazi reference and even today a WW2 game is not allowed any overt Nazi reference (no swastikas for Wolfenstein 3D in the German version). This is a gross denial of an entire nation’s past which, regardless of how horrific it is, should not be ignored or censored. Often the best way to come to terms with great tragedy is to satirise it. In fact Charlie Chaplin (who was Jewish) dealt with the rise of facism in Europe by producing the 1940 comedy film The Great Dictator. It is not only a very warming film but also very funny.

    As much as I may have found the excessive Scnottz quests and pop culture referencing a bit much, and agree that this is a fantasy genre game not a WW2 game, I think taking a knee jerk reaction to the quest line merely because it intimates about a very unpleasant period in human history is perhaps not the best approach. It does not glorify facism, prejudice or other unpleasantness and at all time Scnottz is represented as the bad guy and you are merely involved to achieve your ulterior motive of stopping him.

    Believe me when I say I am not unsympathetic to those who might find the reference distasteful, in the interest of disclosure both my grandparents on my father’s side were in Nazi forced labour camps during the war for being a) Slavic b) part of the Polish Free Army (nb. forced labour camps were not the same as concentration camps, under the Third Reich plan the Slavic peoples were to be the slave race to their ‘Arian Masters’ – they were only shot if they disobeyed). This is not to say that my family history makes my point any more valid than yours, it’s just that I am aware of the discomfort such a subject can cause but still maintain my position on the matter despite being acutely aware of the atrocities committed during that period of history.

    And OMG I realise I have just gone off on writing a complete novel in your comment section lol. Apologies but I’m kinda of passionate about issues like this. In short; excessive pop culture references especially those breaking immersion = bad, historical references, even the ‘uncomfortable’ stuff = not bad, unless it glorifies it in some way.

    • I see where you’re coming from, but I actually think trivializing the past is a much quicker path to “glossing over” and forgetting about how truly horrible some chapters in man’s history have been. some things should never be forgotten, some things are never so ‘long ago’ that you should forget them. to forget is to repeat.
      so, for me being sensitive is to acknowledge and respect and be very much aware of something – whereas joking about it or making it part of ‘pop culture’ is taking it further and further away from people’s awareness and where it should be in their minds, IMO.

    • All good points, ones that ATT and I talked about while I was thinking of writing this article. Bugs Bunny also did satire about it. I guess though that it’s hard to be taken out of the game genre for satire, though well-meant. If I’m watching SNL (Bugs, Chaplin), I’m in the “frame” of mind, so to speak, to receive a satire on Nazis. If I’m playing Wow it’s jarring like HUH WHUT?

    • Syl makes a great point about glossing over by removing the more horrific aspects of something, one that I hadn’t actually considered if truth be told. Where do you draw the line between being sensitive towards an issue and just downright ignoring it.

      And another fantastic point Zel about being in the frame of mind, I can completely understand the idea that because Blizzard was so desperate to include the pop culture reference it kind of jarringly cut into the whole Uldum quest sequence. The fact that they are parodying Nazis (even Hollywood Nazis from a film) is made all the more poignant by the fact that it seems so blatantly out of place within WoW. Another point I hadn’t considered.

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  12. I live in a country (Belgium) that was occupied by Germany in WW2. One of my grandfathers fled the country to go where it was safe (Sardinia), the other was an Italian soldier and therefore fought for the “bad guys”. I tell you this just so that you know that WW2 is not something I’m out of touch with.

    And yet, my feelings when I read your article are “poor you, you could not handle dressing up in a Schnottzi uniform and it made you want to vomit in your mouth”.

    I wholeheartedly agreed with the article on Spinksville and everyone is entitled to their opinion and has different sensibilities. But while that article was clearly from someone voicing their opinion, yours is aggressive and serves to tell Blizzard they were wrong to put something in the game *you* don’t like.

    Want to hear a little secret? There are loads of things I the game players don’t like. Some don’t like pvp, some don’t like raiding, some don’t like farming… Guess what? Most people simply pass on what they do not like and focus on what they like. You’re basically saying that Blizzard should only cater to your taste and let me tell you, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    Would the game be enjoyable without these quests? For sure, and not having them in would be far different than not having pvp or raid. But I don’t get where your seeming anger is coming from…

    • I respect your opinion on this. There are a lot of things that people don’t like and there is certainly no pleasing everyone. What might offend me might not offend someone else – and vice versa. However, I think Blizzard should be mindful that with such a broad audience, they might do well to steer clear of hot button issues, particularly when they do not advance the lore of the intellectual property.

      • As I said, I agreed with the subject matter, just not the way you presented it here. Let’s even remove the nazi from the equation? Do we need Indiana Jones in our WoW? No, it doesn’t add anything to the story being told. Now, when you add a hot topic that can rile people up, as it should given the history of WW2, that could have raised a second flag at Blizzard. But for all we know, it might have and they decided they were fine with it and that just a minority would get offended.

  13. For the love of god, nazis have been the butt of jokes and satire for decades. They’re in books, movies, comics, video games, the list goes on. Now, I didn’t like Uldum either, and for the exact same reason: The Schnotzz quests were stupid, heavy-handed, immersion-breaking, and no fun at all. Harrison is one of the worst new characters in the game.

    I am NOT however clutching my pearls and getting all up in arms because Blizzard dared to use nazi satire. I am irritated with them for it because as someone else said elsewhere, it doesn’t say much for your own worldbuilding skills if you make half of an entire promising zone something like that. There wasn’t even anything to do with the titans until HoO!

    But no, I am not “offended” over fake nazis running around. At least, not in any way but my intelligence.

  14. I find it offensive (and I am being serious here) that you are seriously offended by a video game reference to old American film and TV refernces about World War II. This isn’t a glorification of the horrible and inhumane things done by NAZIs. It is a fsking parody about bumbling spying, silly accents on American TV, dumb Indy plots, and NOTHING in there is offensive until you rake over it with your misplaced sensitivity.

    I think you should learn to laugh at things. Laughing is how we deal with life.

    • Some people are terribly offended by some other game aspects, and I can’t see why they are. However, I do respect that they might feel that way, and don’t devalue their opinion on it.

  15. It is better to put on a pair of shoes than to try to carpet the world. You don’t like doing quests that reference Nazis… so my recommendation is, don’t. I have a feeling that (amazingly, for I would never have guessed) Blizzard forsaw some hyper-sensitive whiners out there that wouldn’t like dressing up like a Schnottzi, and so made it a fairly non-crucial quest line, unless your chasing rewardless achievements.

    Therefore, there was ample opportunity for you to stop and move on to a different quest line. Instead, you chose to perservere, slog through the quests you hate so much, and then blog on the Internet that “Blizzard is bad, they shouldn’t have done that!”

    Well, I enjoyed them. I loved every minute of it. I loved the cheesy German accent, I loved the reference to fashionism, heck, I even loved smacking stacked midgets (exscuse me, pygmies) with a giant mallet. I still do that daily quest from time to time, even though I’m exalted with Ramkahen.

    So please, next time you see something that offends your sensibilities (which I’m guessing is often) don’t grab your keyboard and whine to the whole world about it, just quietly move on. There will be less whining in the world and less watering down of entertainment content because “well, this is going to offend some folks, better not do it.”

    • Rest assured, I will not be doing it in the future. However, since the quest lines are now so linear, it is sometimes impossible to unlock the rest of the content without doing the content that you might not like. If you find the quest in the goblin starter area that assigns you a boyfriend/girlfriend offensive, you will never get your goblin out of that area. Now that I know that this questline is not “mandatory” or even beneficial, it’s different. But at the time, I did not know that.

  16. Just to jump in as I havent seen it in my read through.
    “Gobbles” is actually a reference to Southpark. Not to Joseph Goebbels. who didn’t take part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (though Hitler did). Unless the blizzard development team were intent on showing Goebbels as a “turkey” pet of Schnottz who gets turned into roast turkey simply for the comedy value. Surely if it was Goebbels then he would have been another one of the WoW races with some sort of nefarious experiment, which also doesnt feature in the Indy movie this is a parody of.

    It is interesting that your perception of Nazis and fascism led you to that mental leap. Fascism is certainly not solely represented by the Nazis and there are other forces in WoW that have done far worse things than Schnottz.that you could find a way to draw parallels to real life.

    • If indeed it is a reference to South Park, then the devs are relying on people to make that connection – and I think that’s an awfully big assumption when not everyone has seen South Park.

      • Heh. Maybe, but one of their obscure pop references in Archaeology references a fairly popular, and exceedingly crude, webcomic. Check up the dwarf skull goblet, and then look at :

        http://oglaf.com/skulls/ (SFW, but the rest of this comic strip is, bluntly, sex farce. BE WARNED.)

        I doubt many people at all made that connection. It may not even be the base reference, but it’s there nonetheless.

  17. In order for satire to work, you need a to have knowledge of the base material. People who didn’t get this are probably unaware of the Great Escape, and Hogan’s Heroes.

    Also anyone complaining about the immersion breaking needs to find a different game, WoW is and always has been loaded with allusions to things outside the WoW multi verse. If you hadn’t noticed that up until this point its time to quit WoW and read/watchTV/see a film/Listen to some music.

    Go to any book store and pick up a copy of For Whom Barad Tols by Hemet Nesingwary.

    • (1) exactly. I would say that my knowledge of base material is about 50/50. I think most people are in the same boat – depending on their generation they will have incomplete knowledge.

      (2) Wow has always had pop culture references, but this was pervasive and copycat in a way that had not been used before.

  18. Nazi were killers of innocents. To be forced to ally with them as a spy and carry out jobs for them is not heroic. Further, as some have said to mix in the world war 2 drama via arti gunning troops (a daily quest that gives Cat rep too) in a fantasy area that could be devoted to more Cat on Cat battles or perhaps Undead or Titan stuff would be great – but yes as was said they waste a slew of quests and areas on a bad parody that at times becomes offensive on many levels.

    I do not have quite enough money but if I did I would buy out Blizzard and use the template for a Ferun or world of Grey hawk D and D game- there you have a universe that is free of parody and takes itself seriously – Blizzard seems to have grown so well with WOW they perhaps feel there world can not be wrong and they must shamefully mock their creation with other world parody.

    As to offensiveness in this in general there is one line in Deep holm where a old stone guy is calling you a “wanker” as well as a repeatable quest where you go in and kill 22 unarmed and unarmored civilians who look completely like harmless townsfolk- I think this is catering to the Grand Theft Auto mentality of brutal predatory lust to overpower and murder hapless and harmless persons.

    The meta game parody on the trappers and skinners and the peta druids was well done but the Nazi line is poorly done and offensive.

  19. I wasn’t too put out by the Uldum quests — I think because I read them as Indy/Hogan/Steve McQueen/South Park and not as historical — but I’m not about to tell anyone else how they should feel about them.

    I do appreciate that Blizz let us sidestep these. There have been quests requiring us to torture people that simply weren’t skippable in the past and those really didn’t sit well with me. It turns out that I feel much more heroic when I’m saving the innocent (I think my favorite Wow moment was being followed by my army of murloc babies) than when I’m tormenting the weak.

  20. Good points. Ok, they overdid the German accents. It’s kind of a bit offensive to plenty of people who play WoW in Germany.

    And yes, it doesn’t fit. I sympathize.

    I’d also like the following to be noted in your post, for the record, and hear your opinions on that as well:
    Spaceships.
    Tauren on ostriches.
    Shaman spaceship people
    Horde paladins
    Rockets to ride
    Rockets to ride for you and a friend
    Tauren on zebras and camels
    Automobiles and trikes
    Motorcycles
    Helicopters (technically a whatchamacallits)

    I am NOT implying that you’re wrong about the Nazis in WoW. I am implying that you’re right and there’s more stuff that you’re right about that you didn’t talk about that maybe you should but you might not have that opinion. Run-on sentences are cool, btw.

    • I don’t think most of that stuff that you listed makes ANY sense in the game. Especially since there’s no indoor plumbing. Some of it can be explained away by gnomish/goblin engineering, which sort of does fit. But spaceships are ridiculous. And if we’re going to accept spaceships, the spaceship dwellers should have brought toilets too. Toilets are far less technologically taxing than spaceships. Did they have outhouses in the spaceship? Inquiring minds want to know.

  21. Forgot:

    Worgen DKs. Nice contortions they made to make that happen.
    Clicking a button and POOF! you are now adventuring with random people in a random place doing random things to random people and animals. Doesn’t really fit with the whole “WORLD” concept.
    Gnomes carrying weapons twice the size of them.
    Boss size – bigger is better. Until tanking or melee dps’ing means you’re staring at …feet? Knees? Ankles? I am tanking you by holding your attention by cutting your toenails with my Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Nailclipper.
    Tauren priests and paladins.
    Dwarf shamans
    Worgen priests, mages and warlocks. I’m a ferocious werewolf! No wait – I’mma standing in the back waving my hands and being nice or waving my hands and saying bad things (i.e., cursing you) so I don’t have to bite anything – but I’m still bad and ferocious!
    Flying mounts that meant going /AFK was now a very secure, safe thing pretty much anywhere. And the world was just something that passed by underneath you. Great addition to the game, but now there’s no danger or excitement or immersion since there are approx. zero NPCs/mobs in the air that will attack you. You can’t even initiate pvp. The exciting and dangerous and immersive and non-loading screen WORLD of warcraft with a very safe and secury whole lot of nothing just straight up over your head. No worries. Just go AFK. The exciting and dangerous WORLD full of adventure and threats and emotionally charged stories and important quests and …whatever, will be available as soon as you fly back down to it.

  22. I think you need to refresh yourself on your Indiana Jones movies.

    http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Gobler

    Yes, the fashionism could be a step too far, but the turkey is a reference directly to the movies, as is most the rest of the quest chain. It’s totally up to you however if you like that or not. I did.

  23. It’s certainly an odd one. But it’s also worth thinking about how much we detach ourselves from reality in Warcraft. I mean to get to the level where you finally get to meet the Nazis, you have to kill hundreds of thousands of people. And a similar amount of animals. Some in dubious situations – I still remember Westfall and going around executing people that were basically union members.

    But we never really think of it as ‘killing’ when we do. It’s some game-ified version of killing that is detached enough that it isn’t real.

    For me it’s the same with the Nazis. I mean you were okay with the Indiana Jones references, so I assume you’re okay with the Indiana Jones films too? And the hundreds of other war films that use the Nazis as enemies. Not to mention all the books. Games are different, but that’s down to player agency. It is a little dodgy if they’re like “you’re a nazi, go kill people” but WoW never goes there. They are the enemy, you go kill them.

  24. I sympathize. I got through the quests, it didn’t bother me as much as it did you, but I’m glad my alts can skip them. The accents were horrible (please, if you’re going to do a fake German accent, “the” becomes “ze” not “zhe”) and the Nazi questline was too drawn-out and unfunny to justify such a sensitive reference.

    I don’t know why WoW players (and people in general) are so desperate to deny that anything could possibly be offensive to anyone ever, and patronizingly lecture/shout down anyone who suggests otherwise. God forbid you should have an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. -.-

    Thanks for the interesting read. Ooh, I see you blog about priest healing. Bookmarking :)

    • Yay! I’m always surprised when the site gains attention for a post that isn’t in the “normal” stream of writing, so I’m delighted that you went through the site itself to see what we mostly talk about.

  25. So let me get this straight:

    In Classic, we had a quest where we are asked to kill the natives of the area for their TEETH, so the questgiver could turn them into cheap jewelry, and another where we were asked to kill desert nomades at the behest of the local water monopolist. Doesn’t bother you.

    In BC we had an entire raiding instance devoted to killing a troll that was victim of an imperialist war by the alliance, got mutilated by the victorious elves and didn’t wanna take it lying down. Doesn’t bother you.

    In Wrath we had a torture quest. Doesn’t bother you.

    In Uldum itself we get to burn infantry soldiers alive from a save distance as a daily, and another where we’re to capture Pygmies to be used as slaves or theme park attractions (http://www.wowhead.com/quest=28351“). Which, your “To me, of course, the answer is still hell no, that is not ok.” w.r.t. slavery notwithstanding, doesn’t seem to bother you at all.

    But a pop-cultural reference to Nazis, especially one that is actually interesting in that it contrasts the contortions Schnotz’ guests go thru to explain why what he’s doing is not wrong to their terror when he changes tune, well that “made me want to vomit in my mouth.”

    So to summarize: xenophobic, racist, supremacist, and simply homicidal quests are ok – references to 3rd Reich are not. Sorry, but you have a few too many blind spots to complain.

    • I never claimed that every other quest in this game is ok. This one is the one I happened to choose to write about for this one article. Don’t create an inconsistency when there isn’t one.

  26. There are two things, right now, that bother me about the questing in WoW.

    The first is the deluge of pop-culture references. When I saw Jones in Grizzly Hills, I thought it was a clever inversion of the typical escort quest (the objective, for those who don’t remember or didn’t see it, was: Be escorted to safety by Harrison Jones) that referenced a popular character.

    Fine.

    But when they’re basing entire bloody zones on it? I’m just getting to utterly sick of the relentless pop references that I’d be quite happy if they were all just excised from the game entirely. I’ve said for years that Blizzard primarily just steals other people’s ideas and repackages them: they’ve certainly made my argument a hell of a lot easier to demonstrate.

    The second is that there’s a significant number of quests where what you’re asked to do is objectively evil. Slaughtering sentient creatures for no better reason than “NPC X doesn’t like them.” Invading a people’s homeland just because. Murdering people and raising them into slavery. Torturing people. Literally stealing the food out from your ALLIES’ MOUTHS. There seems to be no low to which the game’s “heroes” will not stoop.

    If there was an alternative, I wouldn’t mind. But a lot of these you kind of have to do. For example, if you don’t torture that NPC in Northrend, you don’t get access to any of the Coldara quests: that’s a massive chunk of XP you just won’t get. Sometimes it means missing out on really exceptional gear that can’t easily be replaced.

    I really wish, in these cases, there was a harder but more morally acceptable alternative offered.

    Both the above just say to me that Blizzard is becoming increasingly lazy when it comes to actual writing: why come up with an original or reasonable plot when you can just copy+paste a movie script or make up some stupid reason to kill everyone?

    (Note: this is not to say there’s no originality or cleverness in WoW; the above are generalisations. Never trust sweeping generalisations, including this one.)

  27. I think one of the greatest differences in view comes from how people are escaping reality. Some people escape reality by trying to be the white knight saving the damsel in distress and slaying the dragon. I, however, love being the awful, terrible, hypocritical, person. My favorite game growing up was Dungeon Keeper. When playing Black and White I remember during one of the beginner quests you had to get a magic stone from a lady, and she wouldn’t give it to you until you saved her sick brother who wandered out into the woods in a fever delirium. The good option was to save her brother, the bad option was to destroy her house and retrieve the stone from the rubble. It delighted me when the developers put in a secret double-evil option where you go out into the woods, murder her brother, and throw his corpse at her feet to scare and intimidate her into cooperating.

    I love that in classic wow on the horde side you got a quest to stop the humans from invading Orc territory and harming Orcs just for being different, then from the very same quest-giver at the same time, a quest to kill Quillboars for being different and invading their territory. I love that they put in a few more lines of dialog in the Coldera torture quest, knowing that people like me would hit him a few more times after getting the info we needed.

    But what I love most is that so long as it gets the results needed for the side I serve, I am branded the hero of the day.

    That being said, I do think that we will see more good and evil solutions to completing quests coming down the pipe as more expansions come out, since they seem to be taking the questing experience in a more single-player RPG direction.

    Maybe one day Lunk from Searing Gorge will finally get his kill-free adventuring experience.

  28. I felt the same way about these quests. You can’t be familiar with Holocaust history and dare to make these jokes.

    But the fraction of a fraction of a percent of human beings who have read an actual history book about the Holocaust or attended a lecture series is all who are going to care. And they are not exactly the core audience for WoW. The commenters who disagree will mostly do so out of ignorance. It has not been long enough, and will not be long enough until the survivors and all who remember them are gone.

    Someone raised the torture quest, which was indeed troubling. But I thought it was a cultural refernce to the Milgram experiment, which was performed in a successful attempt to understand the psychology behind seemingly ordinary people committing the atrocities they eagerly committed under the Nazi regime. That’s quite different from joking about those atrocities or about Nazis.

    Which is rarely OK. The Producers pulled it off. Hogan’s Heroes pulled it off. Blizzard didn’t pull it off.

  29. I’ve enjoyed running through the Harrison Jones archaeological quests in Uldum.

    One thing I keep in mind is that Schnottz is NOT Adolf Hitler, nor are his mercenary-laborers Nazis, even on a good day. Schnottz is an archaeologist/arcanist with an huge number of mercenaries searching for the rest of the Titan weapon in Uldum for *spoiler* Deathwing. They aren’t attacking the Tol’vir, they aren’t trying to take over the southern part of Azeroth, they are not even aligned with the Neferset.

    There are some cute references to Indiana Jones on the airfield, but for the most part the Cataclysm quests take off on their own directions. The only people who you end up killing are some suspected turncoat sea captains and some mercenaries who object to working for Schnottz.

    The work you do there is no more disturbing than, for example, what you do as Alliance at Star’s Rest in Dragonblight.