Game > Lore

I read a lot. As far as WoW goes, some of what I’m read­ing are excel­lent WoW blogs, but I also fol­low stan­dards like WoW Insid­er and mmo-cham­pi­on (whose cov­er­age of Wrath has been amaz­ing). I enjoy it all, but not all of the enjoy­ment I get is inten­tion­al. Peo­ple who com­plain about lore in WoW make me smile.

I guess that hav­ing a steam­punk motor­cy­cle means that Bliz­zard has com­plete­ly ruined… some­thing. I mean, I don’t know what that is, but as you can see in this Mas­sive­ly arti­cle, it seems to be pret­ty bad. Read those comments!

For this group of peo­ple, I think that see­ing a motor­cy­cle in the game seems to have com­plete­ly destroyed their sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief, or serves as the last straw in the ongo­ing destruc­tion of such. My ques­tion is, how have these peo­ple not been tripped up over any num­ber of oth­er points before this one?

  • Char­ac­ters car­ry around an entire armory’s worth of equip­ment in one bag. One light feath­er takes up exact­ly as much room as twen­ty feath­ers, while twen­ty-one feath­ers take up twice as much room as one feath­er. One feath­er also takes up as much room as a horse. Also: hors­es in back­packs. I mean, why does any­one have a sta­ble? I would think that there’d just see be one small silk pack in the back of the rancher’s house. You buy a horse, he reach­es into the bag o’ horses.
  • Weath­er fol­lows polit­i­cal bound­aries. It is rain­ing in Dust­wal­low Marsh, but not in the Bar­rens. Step left, rain. Step right, sun­ny. Rain. Sun­ny. Rain. Sun­ny. I’ll stick with the rain because hon­est­ly, I only vis­it the Bar­rens when I real­ly need to.
  • Too many pop cul­ture ref­er­ences to list, most of it good for a groan or chuck­le. For exam­ple: every last dance. (And I am dis­ap­point­ed that there has­n’t been a Rick Ast­ley dance. Cross­ing my fingers.)
  • Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion is weak. Nobody has a last name. Or, you know, fam­i­ly. Well, NPCs some­times do, but you don’t. Also, nobody’s named the same because there’s an invis­i­ble glob­al nam­ing com­mit­tee. Oh, and your friends cease to exist fre­quent­ly, but it’s cool because they’ll like­ly be back tomor­row, resum­ing the exact moment that they depart­ed from. It’s also real­ly easy to deduce some­one’s guild affil­i­a­tion, even if they’re not wear­ing a tabard… because it’s spelled out in text float­ing above their head, along with their name. At least you nev­er have to wor­ry about for­get­ting your one-night-stand’s name in the morn­ing. “I had a great time last night… Silen­ceikeely­ou. Call me!”
  • You can whis­per in any­one’s ear from across continents/dimensions. Wait, I hear whis­pers all the time in real life, too. Nev­er mind.
  • A new fan­ta­sy race was recent­ly intro­duced when their space­ship crashed into the plan­et, and that space­ship grew a new island or some­thing. Come on, peo­ple. On the fan­ta­sy whack-out scale space­ship > motor­cy­cle.
  • The world is sta­t­ic. A game expe­ri­ence where noth­ing you do in game leaves a mark on the envi­ron­ment. You’ve been able to attune and go kill Onyx­ia for four years. There was a time in the life of this game where you could see Onyx­i­a’s head hang­ing on the gates of Stormwind every all day, every week­end. Because Onyx­ia died all the time, the heroes brought her mon­strous head back to Stormwind all the time (in a back­pack), and the city con­grat­u­lat­ed all the time by hang­ing her head out­side the front gates… yes, all the time. And yet (ancient spoil­er warn­ing), there she was in Stormwind Keep! Glar­ing at you! Then being exposed as a drag­on and whoosh­ing off to her drag­on lair, wait­ing to be slain and hung on the gates! But no wait, five min­utes lat­er in Stormwind keep: Glar­ing again! Also, not just Ony. Every ene­my in the game. For this rea­son alone, I can’t imag­ine role­play­ing in MMOs as any­thing but very, very dif­fi­cult. “These trou­bled times remind me of when I killed the ban­dit lord Van Cleef, lo those many months ago–” “But Lor­dazure­fox, I just killed him last night, what are–” “OOC SHUT UP YOU’RE RUINING MY STORY!”

None of this con­cerns me in the slightest–that list is not a dig on the game. Hon­est­ly, I smile. Because it’s a game. A game for the play­ing. It’s pos­si­ble to have good sto­ries in games, but MMOs in par­tic­u­lar are dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble to pull this off.

WoW hap­pens to be a very fun game that’s sto­ried as well as is rea­son­ably pos­si­ble. It’s cin­e­mat­ic at times, but nev­er a sto­ry. It’s a game, and Bliz­zard will always choose a bet­ter game over sto­ry integri­ty, because peo­ple aren’t pay­ing them a month­ly fee for the story.

More Words!

6 thoughts on “Game > Lore”

  1. One of the fun things that role­play­ers do is come up with log­i­cal expla­na­tions with­in the uni­verse’s stan­dards for why many of these hap­pen. In par­tic­u­lar, the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion is eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed using a mod with more infor­ma­tion, such as sur­name, titles, and phys­i­cal appear­ance. Many role­play­ers assume that cross-envi­ron­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion occurs due to nifty gnomish/goblin (your choice, though draene­ic could also be applied, I sup­pose! That’s some­thing to con­sid­er…) devices. 

    It’s fun. You deal. The thing to keep in mind is that the world is the way that it is and that we should­n’t try to go about the efforts to jus­ti­fy every­thing that hap­pens. We watch a show about drag­ons or space­ships or faeries or angels or dev­ils and don’t sit there and try to jus­ti­fy why those things exist in that uni­verse and not our own; it’s called sus­pen­sion of belief. So, if play­ers and mobs are inca­pable of sus­tain­ing a phys­i­cal and last­ing death (oth­er than the “DELETE” option), or if we’re capa­ble of car­ry­ing items in bags with almost no lim­it, why do we need to come up for a rea­son why it occurs? It does. The end.

    Per­son­al­ly, I feel it’s Bliz­zard’s game. There are already ele­ments of steam­punk with­in the uni­verse and we’re grad­u­al­ly gain­ing new tech­nol­o­gy as the years pass. Why should it be so sur­pris­ing? Bleh!

  2. I smiled a lot read­ing this post (not only because of the link lovage, thank you! :)). When you think about it there are many pret­ty illog­i­cal things in the game. Just as there are in Star Trek and all sorts of oth­er fantasy/sf fic­tion. Just think about the breath­ing… is there real­ly atos­phere on those lit­tle astroids you can fly to? Where are the ladies rest rooms? Is it only some quest ani­mals that have that kinds of phys­i­cal needs? The list is end­less when you think about it.

    There have been some fun tries to explain stuff. I just loved the things done at the blog Cope:, look­ing into the nat­ur­al sci­ence aspects of the world.

    In one way I can agree that since there are space ships, why make such a big deal about motor­cy­cles? You’re per­fect­ly log­i­cal. But to be hon­est, I’m no fan of motor­cy­cles myself. I can’t give you any con­vinc­ing rea­sons for it, but to me it just does­n’t fit in. I guess it reminds me too much of the real world. I don’t want to see cars or traf­ic lights or TV mon­i­tors either… I think Bliz­zard has suc­ceed­ed in mak­ing a nice mix­ture of fan­tazy and sci­ence fic­tion, a spe­cial blend of their own. But motor­cy­cles? That’s nei­ther… it’s just to plain. Imo.

    Oh dear, THIS was a wall-of-text-kind-of-a-com­ment! Proably I should bet­ter had made a post about it. Maybe I will one day. Any­way: thanks for a fun post to read.

  3. “Come on, peo­ple. On the fan­ta­sy whack-out scale space­ship > motorcycle.”

    Thank you, I got a real­ly good chuck­le out of this.

  4. I find the peo­ple who get upset about things like the motor­cy­cles aren’t the RPers. Any­one who com­plains about the motor­cy­cles was­n’t pay­ing atten­tion to the planes, zep­plins, trams and submarines.

    The RPers use WoW as a set­ting and rarely use quests/bosses etc as part of their RP. If you need a vil­lian you have some­one play that vil­lian. The game part is what you do when you’re not RPing, not often actu­al­ly part of the RP.

    1. @Asu — Wow, that’s real­ly inter­est­ing. I had no idea that peo­ple active­ly took vil­lain roles, that’s a lot clos­er to clas­sic pen and paper role­play­ing. Although, with­out com­plete con­trol of the envi­ron­ment, would­n’t you need a large “sup­port­ing” cast to make it work? Or do you just inter­lace the RP sto­ry with the WoW environment?


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