There are a whole bunch of video games and game series that are out there. Every day there are new ones being thought up, produced, programmed, shipped, you name it. For a game or game series to be very successful, there has to be something about it that appeals to a large amount of players. Something that will catch the person’s interest and keep them coming back.
World of Warcraft has many different things that people could say is its catch: the design of raids being available to both the casual and hardcore player; player vs player in arenas and battlegrounds; talent trees and glyphs; the world environment; the lore and game story; plus a lot more, these are just a few.
I’d like to focus on the last piece, which is the thing that has personally kept me in the game: the lore and game history. Anyone can create a game story and be done with it. Blizzard has given us so much more with the history of the game universe. Throughout all the games, there has been these little bits that show up that have us asking for more information, and what’s even better is that they’ve given it to us. The explanations given by Chris Metzen and the lore team, along with the novelizations by some amazing authors has expanded the game universe to something that anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre would appreciate.
The first novels that I bought were the original Warcraft novel treasury (including Lord of the Clans, The Last Guardian, Day of the Dragon, and Of Blood and Honor) and the War of the Ancients trilogy. I had already read through WoWWiki and the World of Warcraft encyclopedia online to get as much information as possible, but I wanted more. Through these novels I was able to get more of the immersive world by getting a glimpse of these authors’ works.
By this time, I had played through all of the original games and was still a regular subscriber to WoW. Even though some novels were simply a retelling of the games (Tides of Darkness, Beyond the Dark Portal, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King), it was a different angle than what was originally shown. It was when I read Christie Golden’s Rise of the Horde that showed me how a book based on a video game series can appeal to a wide audience.
Rise of the Horde shows the escape of the Draenei, their settlement on Draenor, and the change in the Orcs from a nomadic society to a bloodthirsty horde. It shows the parents of Thrall, one of the best characters in the entire game, and how they stood apart from the mob mentality and kept their traditions intact, making it possible for Thrall to become a Shaman after he was born. It shows Orgrim Doomhammer, another one of the best characters, and how he rose up to second in command of his clan and set the stage for the future.
Through all of the novels, website information, in-game lore, and various other things, one thing is very clear: the story matters. The story is very important and isn’t just thought up on a whim – it affects the game as it stands and what will happen in the future.
Remember what happened when they made the official story for the Draenei? Originally the lore said that Sargeras was corrupted by the Eredar, a malevolent species bent on the destruction of all life. After his encounter with them, Sargeras decided to do a massive clean-up on aisle everything and start to purge the universe of those he didn’t like, which was pretty much everything. When the Draenei came around, they changed the story so that Sargeras corrupted the Eredar, and a group escaped and fled to Draenor and became the blue-skinned space goats we have today.
When this was first announced, there was a huge uproar on all WoW-based fansites and the official forums. Retconning isn’t unusual in franchises, but it is looked down upon greatly. Chris Metzen made a post admitting that they screwed up, but that they were going to stick with this story. So if you have a copy of some game stories from the original WoW and previous, you might get a little confused.
This also serves as a good point in that through all of the stories that they’ve given us, this is really the only big screw-up that there has been. There’s the minor one here and there, but thankfully this is the only one that’s major.
Thank you Blizzard for making all of your universes so expansive. Thanks that there are so many facets to the game, that even if there wasn’t a game at all we’d have a story to read and enjoy. As well, a big thank you to all the authors who have published work in the Warcraft universe. You face a lot of scrutiny, and I give you great credit for that. Lastly, thanks to the up-and-coming authors who are wading into the world of writing. Those who write fan fiction and webcomics, your work is truly appreciated.