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Another WoW moment, pardon the pun

Bogost elucidates the reactions in society to the use or misuse of the Manchester Church in ‘Resistance: Fall of Man’.  Similarly to this situation, there may be backlash from religious organizations on the use of memorials and other monuments.  The makers of World of Warcraft (WoW) created static tombstones which were released in the 1.0 patch, some of which include:

“In loving memory of Anthony Ray Stark”

A friend of the developers of the game who died in a tragic scuba accident

Shrine of the Fallen Warrior

A monument of a developer who died of heart failure at age 19.

Death and tombstones are often a religious matter to many people.  When a game company decides to put a mass memorial in a game, will it strike argument and conflict between the developers and the family or possibly a church?  Is this intrusion on the family?  The article goes further.

An avid player died in his late twenties and his guild and friends assembled to march to the cathedral and create a mock ‘21 gun salute’.  A close friend wrote a poem in his remembrance and petitioned to blizzard to have it included in the game in some form of a memorial.  Blizzard then made a quest from an NPC (non-player character) in a courtyard of one of the largest cities that when talked to recite the poem and gave a quest.  The quest was to travel to a distant town and give the letter to another NPC named Caylee (The name of the player’s main character whom passed away).  The NPC’s armor and weapons are still the ones that were left before the player died.  Sometimes, social action can be more important these online interactions can be as strong as real life interactions.  To some people, these games are more than just fiction and are a community and a part of their reality.  Blizzard is pushing for stronger interactions between players.
These various uses of death, memorials, and quests are a great way to make a sense of community and bring more action to society.  One of the hundreds of ‘easter eggs’ in WoW is quest line in their second expansion Wrath of the Lich King.  This quest line is a tedious and long lasting trek to heal and help a terminally ill NPC who in the end dies.  This was a direct metaphor to a developer whose child battled cancer.  In the last part of the quest line, High Lord Fordring (the NPC) says, “He has departed, hasn’t he? I felt a small bit of light leave the land.”
My respect for Blizzard as a game company has multiplied tenfold.  This article has taught me that even though my interactions with these ‘strangers’ online isn’t the strongest, these ‘strangers’ interactions may be to them.  To some, their ‘friends list’ is more than just a group of like-minded gamers and that your interactions online have an impact on others.

Here is the link to the article:
http://gamestudies.org/1201/articles/gibbs_martin

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Another WoW moment, pardon the pun

  1. I think these are fascinating stories. Our next book goes into great detail on the social life surrounding WoW.

    Posted by Alex Reid | May 31, 2013, 12:30 pm
  2. The MMORPG world is one that I’ve always intentionally avoided, mostly because I value the other parts of my life. The unique camaraderie, like the one you discuss, develops out a unique blend of shared imagination, desire for adventure, and youthful enthusiasm–all awesome things. Game worlds like WoW inspire a sense of community and fellowship that really, genuinely matter to the serious players. I usually try to “max-out” my characters in single-player offline adventures (get my dudes to lvl.99 in RPGS, find all the secret weapons, etc.), so with an almost ceiling-less experience like WoW I could see all my free time evaporating very easily.

    If these stories were interesting to you, you’ve gotta check out some of the nonsense that goes on in this game EVE Online. Wildly fascinating stuff.

    Posted by bretth2 | June 1, 2013, 4:55 am

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