Ji Firepaw - Harmless Panda or Supervillain in Disguise?
Ji Firepaw, a major player in the Pandaren starting zone, but a small player in the grand scheme of things in World of Warcraft, has caused quite a stir lately. What is this uproar about you ask? A smidgen of quest text found in the Mists of Pandaria beta is what has managed to spawn a wealth of outrage, a contingent of supporters, and has made it so that no WoW fan will likely forget the name Ji Firepaw anytime soon. The question is, is Ji Firepaw the sexist pig many have made him out to be or is he merely a harmless panda with a rather obnoxious personality?
Sexism in the Mists of Pandaria Beta?
The quest text in question was found in the starting zone for Pandaren’s in the Mists of Pandaria beta. Here players encountered a overly friendly, and some would say slightly creepy, Ji Firepaw. When speaking to Ji, players would discover that he offered up two slightly different comments based on if you were a male or female character. Below you will see the quest text laid out for you as it appeared in game for both male and female characters (before the change was made to it):
“Hello, friend! You’ve got a strong look to you! I bet you’re all the rage with the ladies! Join me! You and I are going to be good friends!”
“Hello, friend! You’re some kind of gorgeous, aren’t you? I bet you can’t keep the men off of you! Join me!”
I didn’t have the opportunity to experience the female version of this quest text myself, since I typically play male toons. However, my wife, who had made a female toon and played through the entire starting zone had never made mention of this quest text to me. This was surprising, considering the reactions of many other players. Perhaps she had failed to mention it to me but had been silently seething with inner rage?
Ji Firepaw - Harmless Panda or Sexist Pig?
While I personally didn’t find the text offensive, albeit a bit creepy, perhaps I was just wasn’t getting it. So I went to the person who generally helps me solve these types of conundrums; my wife. When confronted she conceded that she did remember the Ji Firepaw quest in question and that she had brushed it off, hardly giving it a thought. When I questioned her on why she didn’t find the quest text offensive as so many others seemed to she pondered the question for awhile and then explained her reasoning to me like this:
Ji Firepaw is a character in a game, much like a character in a book. When reading, I find characters I love as well as characters that I hate to the very pit of my soul. While the characters in these books are sometimes offensive, disgusting, and do and say things that are highly inappropriate, they are what help to make the story interesting. These varying personalities come together, much like the real world, to create a fantasy realm that feels real (even though it is not) and keeps the reader, or in the case of Ji Firepaw, the player, interested and engaged.
To my wife, and many others like her, WoW is a virtual world, and to get offended at things happening in a world that isn’t real, to characters that are equally unreal, seems rather pointless. She points out that having a bunch of NPCs with generic overly polite personalities would be boring, and makes for a pretty poor gaming experience. In her opinion, forcing WoW into a PC bubble, because some people find something offensive, could lead down a dangerous path (similar to the one taken recently by Mass Effect 3) of normalization that would leave the game feeling flat and lifeless.
To her, Ji Firepaw simply had a flirtatious personality, much like those you find in real life. She read the quest text, rolled her eyes, and moved on. Changing Ji Firepaw’s quest text and thereby killing his original and unique personality was, to her, a step towards turning in the game into something it never has been; a happy fun play ground of feel good. WoW in itself is about war, plague, combined with great heroes, and terrible villains.
To her, Ji Firepaw simply had a flirtatious personality, much like those you find in real life. She read the quest text, rolled her eyes, and moved on. Changing Ji Firepaw’s quest text and thereby killing his original and unique personality was, to her, a step towards turning in the game into something it never has been; a happy, fun, play ground of feel good. WoW in itself is about war, plague, combined with great heroes, and terrible villains.
Why this particular quest text has been singled out amongst all the other potentially offensive tidbits found through tout the game is a question she cannot seem to find an answer to. There are racists, sexists both male and female, do-gooders, and a hundred other personalities, all of which come together to make the great story we call World of Warcraft. Apprently many others didn't feel the same. Which is why Blizzard felt they needed to censor Ji Firepaw's dialog.
As mentioned above, the quest text has since been changed in the most recent version of the Mists of Pandaria beta, and the debate is over, at least on Blizzard’s terms. However, the quest is still being talked about across forums everywhere and the debate rages on. Do you think this quest text was so offensive that it needed to be changed? Or do you agree with my better half on this subject and think Ji Firepaw should have been left in peace? Share your thoughts on Ji Firepaw in the comments section below. Remember, this is a touchy subject, so try to keep comments on an adult level.