Ghostcrawler in Review, Part 1; No Good Deed

Over the next few days, I will take an in-depth look at Ghostcrawler and just exactly what he means to the community.  Today I will tackle the overview and assess where we are currently in the relationship the player base has with Ghostcrawler.

Adam Holisky over at wow.com had a pretty astute post on the vocal minority in WoW, and though I wholeheartedly agree with him, I think it is important to remember the vocal minority have been the primary catalyst in social change over the last half century.  Because it would only be asinine to try and compare DKs angry over scourge strike and the civil rights movement, I will refrain, but it is important to at least be cognizant that different people approach reform differently.

For those of you who believe the player base has no right to question the intent of the development team because if given the opportunity, we would likely just program our respective class into god mode, I will remind everyone there was a time when certain developers did essentially the same thing with respective classes and specs like the tanking warrior.  Of course it was all performed under the guise of the hybrid tax, and as long as we give something a really nifty name and remind everyone it is done for a greater good, it makes it OK right?

One of my favorite blogs is Player Versus Developer because Green Armadillo does a great job of highlighting where games get it right without being a fan boy as well as illustrating where they get it wrong.  The Ghostcrawler experiment isn’t melting down like Chernobyl because of a development flaw though.  It’s unraveling at the seams not because of IQ but because of EQ, or emotional intelligence quotient.

An Adolescent Relationship

Any of you who have played WoW since before the Wrath beta are probably somewhat aware of the change the developers, Ghostcrawler specifically, have taken to their presence on the forums.  Many people forget blue trackers weren’t all that necessary because blues never said anything, comparatively speaking of course.  Ghostcrawler was a refreshing change to the communication we had become accustomed to receiving from the developers.  I would argue it was such a dramatic change, one so alien to the player base, we all were wondering who this new Ghostcrawler was and exactly what made him different.

We were so thrown that we all gulped down the Kool-Aid which claimed Ghostcrawler was a female.  Stop and think about that for a second.  Ghostcrawler was so different that we all just believed the boy’s club known as Blizzard’s development team had been infiltrated by a female.  I am sure someone could write an entire book on the way the situation played out and how it reflects our patriarchal centric perspective, but that’s a subject for another day and a another much more qualified person.

I was one of those people who loved Ghostcrawler, and still do actually.  I loved what he meant to the community, when discussions first surfaced about the success of the Ghostcrawler experiment, I touted him as a Renaissance man, the Leonardo Da Vinci of Blizzard HQ.  I was convinced he was the answer to all of the problems surrounding the game.  The problem though, is Ghostcrawler has lost focus, and allowed himself to be provoked.  The great responses turned into petty back biting to people who were calling him and his team out, sometimes with valid concerns and sometimes with pointless complaints.

The self-righteous members of the community were able to expose GC for what he really was, a normal guy trying to do a good job who sometimes failed epically.  When I fuck up at work, my boss bitch slaps me, but when GC fucks up there’s somewhere between a few 100 thousand and a couple million waiting to bitch slap him.

Ghostcrawler stepped in and a contentious relationship between the players and developers turned into a “friendship” of sorts, but he learned it’s not exactly a relationship where your friends are willing to give credit when it’s due or offer forgiveness when you err as we are all apt to do from time to time.  In all honesty, many of the players do in fact recognize the successes of the development team, but the vocal minority Adam hit on overshadows the masses.

The erosion of the friendship was blatantly obvious when GC first decided to step away from the forums, and then decided to not step away from the forums.  It reminded me of witnessing a junior high drama fest when a girl gets upset and threatens not to talk to her boyfriend, and then the boyfriend begs for forgiveness and the girl then says, “Well OK, if I’m that important to you, I’ll take you back.”  Of course, all of this has culminated in the most recent GC fiasco where if you read his responses, he’s defending point after point and barely behaving like you would expect the lead systems designer of the most successful MMO in the history of gaming and more like the adolescent emo who had rumors started about him.

It was clear from the first couple of posts, the thread was intended to be a trap for GC and he willingly walked right into it.  It was a thread which had no business getting a nod from a blue, much less the voice of the development team at Blizzard.  GC should have stayed above the fray like a watchful general instead of riding into battle with reckless abandon.  The GC response did exactly what most of us would expect; it derailed the thread and turned into the self-appointed Blizzard champions battling the forum trolls all in the name of the great and powerful crab.

I was even left wondering if GC was sitting in his office in the middle of the night playing the Wicked soundtrack and singing along to No Good Deed.

One question haunts and hurts
Too much, too much to mention:
Was I really seeking good
Or just seeking attention?
Is that all good deeds are
When looked at with an ice-cold eye?
If that’s all good deeds are
Maybe that’s the reason why
No good deed goes unpunished

Tune in tomorrow, same bat channel, for a look at why Ghostcrawler is way too good for the forum format, why Blizzard should rethink his presence there, and ideas on how best to utilize his assets.

  • Theranos

    I agree on you with mostly everything but there are some definite areas that need looked at. If you had looked at the thread, you would know that he did all of that on purpose, he was, “Tanking all the trolls in one thread”… Honestly, this post is very trolly in and of itself, I mean you make some good points but then you fly into rant mode towards the end. As I posted on wow.com, GC is doing his part and if he stays, leaves, flies off on a rocket ship to Blizzard’s moonbase, the communication won’t be halted. I don’t think he’s harming the WoW Forums at all, and if anything is making it a more light heartened place. I mean cmon, WoW forums are either in two states, Trollville (coming to facebook near you) or are like Eve Online where it is seriz bizness ALL THE TIME. Forums were never meant to be in those extremes. The Forums were meant as a place to hangout, talk about different aspects of WoW and pass on feedback. And if you think I made that up, call a public relations rep on the phone, they’ll tell you that almost word for word.

    We need to stop analyzing GC as some super hero god that should act like a saint online. As you said, he’s a normal person, he represents Blizz but if he acts in a specific manner that is “unorthodox” it is because Blizz sees that as an appropriate way to handle the situation. They put HIM there for a reason, instead of, say, Mike Morhaime. Hell, just imagine of Chris Metzen was in his place, he’d not only give sarcastic answers half the time but edit / retcon the entire thread.

    Just please, for the love of Rawrcast and our eyes, tune the haterade and rantpower down a bit if you continue this series. It’s more annoying that it is a good read. It has potential.

  • Stompalina

    I, for one, appreciate Rhab’s opinion. It is all perspective. Love him, or hate him, Ghostcrawler has changed our perspective of game developers. And, as the article explains, his openness has change what is expected of him.

  • Mike O’Hara

    I think the trolls have finally gotten to Ghostcrawler, and the “vocal minority” is slowly taking over the official forums. While there are great external forums out there (like Elitist Jerks and the WCRadio Forums) that have zero-tolerance policies towards the behavior that has become commonplace on the official forums. It’s been my stance for a long time that Blizzard is/has long overdue for a database wipe of the official forums along with more strict moderation policies. The stricter the moderation, the better.

  • Kevan Smith

    Judge the game, not the creators. Consider this example: Many people revere George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and other founders of the U.S. But, they were slaveholders and philanderers. We still have a pretty nice place to live. It’s good to see GC on the forums and all, but in the game is where things really count for WoW.