I’ve been slowly wandering through the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Cultural appropriation aside, I’ve been quite enjoying myself. The pace is nice and relaxed, the quests have been charming, the world is beautifully designed with bright colors and attention to detail. However, I ran into a quest line in Valley of Four Winds that felt just a little too problematic to completely ignore.
In The Farmer’s Daughter, Den Mudclaw (a Pandaren farmer) asks you to sneak down into a virmen hole to rescue his daughter. Naturally. Virmen are these creepy rat-mouse looking critters that are obsessed with carrots and stealing things from farms around the Valley of the Four Winds. Yes, it’s a damsel in distress again. The farmer’s daughter character stereotype is problematic in itself, being that it references a naive yet promiscuous young women who is always the object of sexual attention to provide the hero with a always willing yet “girl next door” romantic love interest.
However, it gets worse. When you finally get past all of the virmin in this hidey-hole and find Mina Mudclaw, she is standing up on a raised area of the cave surrounded by these creepy rat people. Who have been forcefully making her do “horrible, horrible, silly things” with carrots.
You could see this through a pretty innocent lens, since she also mentions that they keep throwing carrots at her. It’s not an ultra blatant rape-joke, but it’s quite clear what the innuendo was supposed to be here. You are seeking out the naive farmer’s daughter, the object of all sexual affections, who happens to be captured by a group of rabbitpeople who are making her do horrible things with carrots. It doesn’t involve much imagination to figure out what Blizzard was trying to hint at here. And I’m not the only one who caught on.
I was hoping Blizzard had learned from previous critical analysis of problematic quests within World of Warcraft. It’s not a game that generally features strong female character design, so I don’t look to it as the shining example of how things should be done. But it definitely took me out of my zenlike experience in Pandaria when I stumbled across this quest.