I encourage persons who play World of Warcraft (or other Blizzard titles) to reach out to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org with their own concerns about Activision games and accessibility. The following is my letter and video to the developers of Activision-Blizzard.
To The Blizzard Developers,
I am writing you on behalf of persons with Misophonia, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Autism. I first would like to commend your team for taking accessibility seriously and making many changes to help disabled players. However, I would like to share with you some ways that World of Warcraft remains inaccessible for me and numerous other players.
I have played World of Warcraft and other Blizzard titles since 2010. I have loved the storylines and would have considered myself a “WoW fan” for a very long time. Unfortunately, my misophonia (a fight/flight reaction to sounds and visuals) became a prevalent reason for me quitting the game that I loved). I am applying these suggestions to both Classic and Retail.
I am sharing some screenshots of achievements/characters as I would like to point out how committed I was to WoW before my sensory disorder became unbearable.
I must say, having to give up WoW was very hard on me. I’ve felt sadness and frustration that something I used to love so much now causes me pain. While I understand it is not the developer’s fault, losing this game (which had helped me through some rough times) was very hard on me. I still remember the first time I stepped foot in Azeroth on a Night Elf. Eventually, I moved over to the Horde and Eversong Forest became my home. I still get nostalgic in Silvermoon!
Being able to play again with fewer barriers would mean the world to me! With that said, I have outlined some concerns and my proposed solutions:
The following effects/sounds/features had an impact on my disorder. These “triggers” cause an extreme disorienting feeling, dizziness, and a painful sensation when the fight/flight arousal is enacted
- Other players “bunny hopping”/jumping
- Chewing/Whistling/Clinking (metalwork) sounds
- A plethora of spells cause this effect, including our own. I stopped playing my Paladin during BoA due to triggers with spell effects
- Spinning hammers on Paladins
- Bursts of light (common on priests and other healers)
- Shaman’s spinning element shields around them
- Many of the player effects of Warriors, Demon Hunters, Monks, etc.
- Any flashing lights/etc
- Spinning in-game features such as mills
While I understand that solving accessibility issues is very hard, especially when relying on coding and development issues, the following changes would be very helpful for the mentioned disorders.
- One or two SMALL servers that are NOT CRZ linked and therefore do not have players that are brought in (smaller populations = less triggers). Also, it would be amazing if transfers were allowed for long-term players.
- Ability to choose groups of sounds more specific than “effects, music” etc for example, the possibility to remove noxious sounds (chewing, whistling). Playing without sound is currently the only option, but this also removes non-bothersome, game enhancing sounds.
- The ability to hide other players (on client’s end) even if only in PVE game modes (having war mode off is a good accessibility compromise, despite loving PVP, I understand the impossibility of not seeing other toons)
- A similar suggestion is the ability to see ghosts of other players. For example, a toggle could turn other player models into shadows without effects/jumping so that their relative space is still shown. I got this idea from the Corgi toy in game which changes other players/npcs to Corgis – I have actually used this to hide triggers
- More advanced spell hiding (personal spells, other player’s spells that are considered “important”—there is a possibility for scrolling text logs for those who still need some guide, personally I’d be fine with just the combat log.
While I understand that WoW is an MMO, it is an unfortunate fact that for many, the public-nature of the game can be very isolating. I am writing because I love this game and I do not want to give it up. I have paid a lot of money trying to server transfer from different realms to try and get away from people, only to no avail as CRZ/server populating merely filled the gaps.
Thank you for your time and consideration, I am available to elaborate or provide further insight. I will also be sharing this email on my website for transparency with my fellow sufferers.
You can learn more about misophonia here: https://www.misophoniainternational.com/what-is-misophonia/
Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.