With the recent leak of the Vulpera Brewfest Stein icon seeming to confirm the next Horde allied race, it's been an inevitable conclusion that the augmented Mechagnomes hailing from their own kingdom of Mechagon are likely to be the Alliance's counterpart. Speaking as a gnome player and frankly one of the 3% of US players who actually play them according to sites such as https://www.statista.com/statistics/276315/distribution-of-world-of-warcraft-characters-by-race/> and https://www.worldofwargraphs.com/global-stats/races> I'm honestly a bit excited, but the community reception to them has been rather if not disappointed but rather scornful.
Scorn in WoW goes together like Hotsauce on an omlette, but it is something I've been wanting to get to the root of and after a bit of deliberation I get the feeling it has to do with their status as the "joke" race. This was a status that I think unfortunately hasn't been helped at all by Blizzard's writing of the Gnomish people throughout WoW's history, and I think it has to do with the size of their hat.
What is a "hat" you might ask? In Sci-Fi and Fantasy, one of the most common ways to help solidify that an alien or non-human race is different from the human characters is to exaggerate specific traits about the group as a whole. To put it crudely, it's essentially to create and reinforce a stereotype about them. For example: Klingons, Orcs, Orks (From Warhammer) and Krogan are of the "Proud Warrior" hat, with a greater emphasis on Battle Prowess, Leadership and conquest that defines are large part of who they are. Of the four races, you wouldn't expect to see an Ork Banker or a Klingon researcher.
And yet, some of the greatest characters in all of fiction are able to if not able to do it completely, can at least get out from under their hats and often show a side that defies that stereotype.
Urdnot Wrex is very much a pure Krogan, but he has more foresight to think past battle and the next paycheck and focus on problems that go beyond just the Genophage. Provided he lives, he starts to look into agriculture and other options to help provided for the Krogan people beyond just restoring their fertility.
This sort of stereotype defying is actually somewhat common in Blizzard's writing on a smaller scale if you know where to look. Magatha Grimtotem, a conniving and deceptive Tauren in a people who value honor and respect prime amongst themselves and the world. Thomas Zeling, a man turned Forsaken where most people throw away their old lives still cares deeply for his family. Thalyrissa who spurns tradition and the safe road came from a people who basically sat around and drank wine for thousands of years. If you look deep enough you can generally find at least one person who defies their race's hat. Except for Gnomes.
The Gnomish "hat" is supposed to be that they're smart, inventive and always for-thinking in terms of their place in the world. But what it essentially boils down to for most people is this: They're quirky tinkers who spout a bunch of random technobabble while being too busy focusing on dumb things like turning people into chickens inorder to effectively get shit done.
And unfortunately thanks to characters like Wilfred Fizzlebang, Millhouse and Millie Manastorm, Thermaplugg and to a lesser extent Chromie (She's a Dragon, but lets be real she's an honorary Gnome) thats been the common perception to the playerbase.
I think Blizzard has finally noticed this, and they've clearly tried to elevate Mekkatorque into being more then just the gnomish stereotype by having him Lead from the Front during Dazar'Alor, but as cool as the mobile suit is, there needs to be a bit more from gnomes to really get out from under that hat. We kind of need things like Gallywix reflecting on whether or not telling Sylvanas about Azerite was such a good idea, even if he really doesn't care so long as he gets paid.
We need gnomes who don't have anything to do with Tech or Magic. We need gnomes who are more than just technobabble and quirky "lulrandom" jokes. We need gnomes who are more than just their hat. And while I'm looking forward to seeing the Mechagon Gnomes…even I have to admit they're still likely to wear the same hat we've been stuck with since vanilla.
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