The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – or GLAAD – has recently announced World of Warcraft: Shadowlands as one of their nominees for their Outstanding Video Game Award. This is set to celebrate the title’s increase in LGBTQ+ representation both in-game and out.
For thsoe unfamiliar, the GLAAD organization honors media for representations of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities, as well as the issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face in general.
GLAAD applauded Shadowlands for their “new standard of inclusivity,” which they consider a “significant change in setting for the long-running game” – though it’s worth saying this is in reference to the actual setting of Shadowlands. Still, it’s worth pointing out that Blizzard has long been criticized for a lack of diversity in their games, whether it be race, sexuality, gender, or anything else.
One of the more dominant reasons to give Shadowlands this award is the core character Pelagos, a male trans character important to the Kyrian storyline and Bastion in general. Pelagos is also voiced by trans actor Elliot Fletcher.
“Also much to our delight, the expansion dispenses with the dubious notion that everyone in Warcraft lore happens to be heterosexual,” the GLAAD Nominations stated in discussion their reasons for nominating the expansion.
Blizzard has also announced large buffs to the Kyrian and Venthyr Adventurers for the Mission Table in #Shadowlands. The Night Fae Trapper Troop's ability has also been reworked. #Warcraft https://t.co/mupeiiyOLk pic.twitter.com/eihobRtjBM
— Wowhead (@Wowhead) January 29, 2021
“The Night Fae campaign introduces a gay couple through the Night Warrior’s Curse questline,” GLAAD writes in reference to Thiernax and Qadarin, a gay male couple that the players interact with closely through the expansion.
A third point raised is Flynn Fairwind and Mathias Shaw, two male human characters that have been long-standing in lore and commonly shipped by the World of Warcraft fanbase. In the prequel novel to the expansion, Shadow’s Rising, the two are confirmed as gay and romantically involved with each other.
Rather than just being tokens of representation thrown in to appease a crowd, the characters mentioned here are fleshed out and important to the story. This helps with representation by helping to accurately depict them rather than flaunt them as proof of representation and discard them, as many have been accused of doing.
GLAAD also mentioned Blizzard making it so that players can now change their gender in-game rather than needing to purchase a gender change from the shop. This helped undo what many in the LGBT community considered a “trans tax” where players that had come out as trans now had to pay to be represented properly.
All in all, Shadowlands did a considerable amount to push representation forward, and GLAAD seems pleased to see the numerous additions and changes. Blizzard has stiff competition, but they’re well-deserving of the award.