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Blizzard Removes "Greenskin" References In World Of Warcraft

image courtesy of Activision Blizzard

Blizzard has removed the majority of "greenskin" references in World of Warcraft, a phrase often used by humans in-game to refer to orcs.

In a recent attempt to bring World of Warcraft more in-line with modern audiences, certain references and dialogue remarks have been toned down or removed from the game. Bar a few exceptions, phrases containing the term "greenskin" have been altered or removed completely.

The term "greenskin" has largely been used in WoW by Alliance and human NPCs to refer to orcs, with the intention of it being a slur. The obvious conclusion here is that the phrase has been removed in order to avoid comparisons to real-life hate speech; it's not uncommon for video games to be this on the nose about real-world issues with their racial allegories. Of course, if it's not serving a valuable purpose it begs the question as to why it exists in-game at all.

Other sources, such as Wowhead, have also pointed out that the removal of the term might be to avoid potential conflict with the Warhammer series. Warhammer features a race of orcs and goblins called Greenskins and, with Games Workshop's tendancy to trademark certain terms, Blizzard might be trying to cover themselves in the long run.

Blizzard Removes "Greenskin" References In World Of Warcraft

These haven't been the only references to receive changes recently; the NPC Finkle Einhorn has been renamed to Pip Quickwit. The character name was originally an blend of Ray Finkle and Lois Einhorn, from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Events in the film related to the characters have been widely criticized as being transphobic, and thus such references are not warranted in-game.

Dialogue which contained sexist language has also been rephrased, whilst sexual remarks often spoken by NPCs in Karazhan and the Black Temple have been toned down.

The changes come in the wake of the various lawsuits and investigations surrounding Activision Blizzard regarding sexual harrassment and discrimination against female employees. Many prominent senior Blizzard employees have left the company as a result of the lawsuits, such as former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack.

In the recent 9.1.5 development update, the WoW team said: "in a game that has thousands of art elements and a word count in the millions, we recognize that these updates will amount to very few total changes overall. Nonetheless, we believe these changes are worthwhile. World of Warcraft is meant to evolve over time, and every day, new players from every walk of life and every corner of the world experience our in-game content for the very first time. As a team, we want the world they see to stand as an expression of our talents and principles."

"Goofy jokes and occasional mature innuendos are part of WoW, and probably always will be. Still, we want to remain mindful of whether certain elements of that world are welcoming to all players. In short, we want our jokes to be inclusive and not punch down."