On Health used as a Tool

A screenshot in front of Stratholm from the dungeon "The Culling of Stratholme" - not really important

Criticising polarisation in discourses is a popular sport currently. Rightly so, since its consequences appear to be pretty bad. But at the same time, the discourse concerning gaming sickness gets treated as one of the two poles within the discourse concerning the camera distance restrictions Acti-Blizz apply in Legion (which are live since the pre-patch hit servers).

This is trying to force people with health issues into the camp of supporters of enhanced view distance and unnecessarily devaluing the experiences of people with health issues caused by the pre-patch in the eyes of people who are against a change back to enhanced view distance or just tired by the weak attempts (some/many) players in general undertake to question every design decision by WoW's devs.

Health concerns would strengthen a pro-enhanced-distance view considerably since Acti-Blizz pursue an inclusive design philosophy. For full disclosure: My general stance is one in favour of the new camera distance restrictions. But I wouldn't thoughtlessly put that over concerns of health. This is based in first-hand experience of how it feels to get told that mental health was a non-issue. Some people seem to think that I made stuff up to prove my absurd point and at this point I can merely advise them to go fuck themselves. Sorry, but you crossed a line.

Merging health issues into the camera-distance discourse simplifies them. It then appears to be about inserting a simple on-off switch to fix the problem and Acti-Blizz's silence as merely an act of ignorance, while in fact they could be looking into the issue right now (Originally, the post was written over a week ago. Now there's confirmation that they were looking into it). The German thread gets spammed with links for the camera-distance petition and “it's fine, we already know it's the camera distance”-posts, although people repeatedly object to that simplification. In the current situation, people with health issues get accused of lying by both camera-distance parties: One side claims, they made up their discomfort while the other claims, they lied about using (or not using) the camera distance command. There likely isn't just one solution and that's at least what the devs seem to assume. There is a blue post detailing several issues they were tackling.

Even if the easiest immediate solution would be to turn on the enhanced-distance-option, there are benefits to actually exploring the matter in the greater scheme of things. Acti-Blizz (and depending on how public the issue goes, even other designers) could get into a position in which they were able to avoid some health concerns in future design and across their games.

The Legion-pre-patch changed many things, so firstly among all these changes it would be difficult to make out the single one which caused the health issues. Those health issues started with the pre-patch. Maybe they even predate that patch for some people and when it got little attention, they simply left the game. And it's even dubious that there was just one cause to all the health issues experienced by players.

In this video a strong link is being made between camera distance and simulation sickness although it's one concerning first-person and very close third-person views (such as presumably over-the-shoulder view) internet. That's simply a very different situation from the one we're presented with in World of Warcraft. We can scroll a good distance away from our character and the default max zoom distance has been increased.

That you yourself have health issues playing the game doesn't automatically discharge you from the claim, that you're inconsiderate of other people's well-being. It is conceivable that some people want to play the game the way it was intended to be played without having to feel sick. These people would be interested in solutions other than a change of the maximal camera distance. Furthermore, there are people who never used the command in the first place and feel sick now. They are interested in playing the game in the state they used to play it. Or, to put it in Ion Hazzikosta's words, the way in which they fell in love with it.

Jumping on the rioting MaxDistance-wagon is tempting, but so is voting for Donald Trump for US-citizens (and it's important to note that it actually is tempting, that's the point of propaganda). People actively try to put the people in charge of the game in a bad light. When a week goes by without a dev giving an update on the issue, they start crying that nobody in the company cared about their players. That's verifiably false. If they didn't care about their players at all, they weren't trying hard to push out the upcoming expansion and they weren't trying to get the first content patch released around three months later. Preparations for the expansion launch obviously aren't done, yet. They had another launch day simulation on the beta servers just the other day. Some people always come with variations of money-arguments, but there is no "money vs. players". Without players, there'd be no money so whatever they do to get your money, they're believing to do in the player's best (although sometimes long-term) interest. Even those economists who may not have the slightest clue on how players work - and importantly only as long as this game stays subscription-based.

So hopefully I succeeded in explaining to you why we should be careful about the effects on camera distance on your health issues.

And in the end: What questions could we ask for getting a better understanding of the situation? We could ask, if we had had those symptoms before. In which areas and in which situations do the symptoms intensify? Did the symptoms (or some of them) occur before we started using the enhanced distance command? Did we ever use it? Which settings and setting changes were used? And which influence did the setting changes have on us?

In case you feel inspired to respond on that: nerdend.news@gmail.com and https://twitter.com/TobiasTegge