World of Warcraft Stories

Another time-suck, in the theme of last Wednesday’s post.

There is a game called World of Warcraft, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). You’ve probably at least heard of it, and there’s a decent chance you’ve played it at one time or another. I have played it off and on for about five years and have always been primarily interested in the RPG part of it. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that part of my rekindled interest in writing stemmed from creating stories and characters for the game. I stopped playing about a year ago because I began to write seriously and WoW can be a bit of a time-suck. By “a bit” I mean it will take over your life if you let it. However, the latest expansion dragged me back.

Previously, the amount of time required for the game would have cut into my reading AND writing time, but as with social media I’ve simply learned to budget my time a lot better. I think it may be a symptom of that “growing up” thing I’ve been told we all eventually succumb to. Anyway, this go-’round I’m committing much less time to the game, which is good. But not what I want to talk about today.

For those who don’t keep up on these things, the game designers, Blizzard, come out with what are called expansions periodically. New level caps, new quests, new continents usually, new characters, etc all added to the original game. The most recent expansion is called Cataclysm, and for very good reason. They pretty much remade the entire game-world, tearing it apart in a giant cataclysmic event and starting all over. They’ve done a lot of things differently this time, but the most notable is the continuity of the writing. There are stories everywhere now, and they lead directly into other stories as you progress through levels. I have been having an incredible amount of fun seeing and participating in these stories. Some of them are hilarious (Northern Silverpine, entrance to Hillsbrad Foothills, Kezan), some are sad (Hillsbrad Foothills) and some are simply epic (Southern Silverpine, Darkshore, Gilneas). They are told through a mixture of quest-chains, NPC (non-player character) dialogue and cut-scenes, all of which incorporate your character in an important, if not starring, role. It’s almost like being the main character in your own novel, since there is a certain element of choice involved. You can pick and choose which quests you want to do, and in which places, depending on your preference (or what you think your character would do), which changes the way you see the overall story. Also like a novel, there is only so much choice available to you.

One thing I’ve begun to do since I’ve started to write is to find stories in places other than books and movies, and to look for the writing techniques underlying these stories. WoW is just the most recent place I’ve discovered a wealth of stories. It’s amazing the treasures you can find in unusual places, if you only look.

Oh, and if you do happen to play the game, look me up sometime. Cenarion Circle US server, message me for character names. For the Horde! (And occasionally for the Alliance!)

Currently Reading: “Measure for Measure” by William Shakespeare

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