February 20, 2011 7 Comments
I’m going to forgo this week’s My Week in Azeroth segment to touch on something that will no doubt be brought up time and time again on this blog: the races in Azeroth. Particularly, the Forsaken. Don’t worry, for the two of you who enjoyed last week’s article, I’m bringing it back next weekend. I’ve found myself having very little time to do much on the internet, much less play WoW, so the post I’ve wanted to write all week has been pushed aside again and again.
To preface, let me make a couple of things clear: 1) if you follow me on Twitter, or take two seconds to browse what I’ve tweeted, you’ll know that I am an unabashed fan of the Forsaken; 2) I know my way around Azerothian lore; 3) there are no playable races in-game that I find to be boring. What I mean by the last part is this: the human model, in-game, is horrible unless you are playing a female. Humans in World of Warcraft, however, are incredibly interesting (tell me with a straight face that the formation of the Defias and the reasons behind it are not really, really cool storytelling). I joke about punting gnomes, as do a lot of Horde players, but honestly I can’t get enough of their architecture and characters. Blood Elves, while I hate their casting animations, are some of the slickest guys you’ll ever see, with a mean streak in them a mile and a half long.
What I find throughout my time playing World of Warcraft is that I’m drawn more towards races as opposed to factions. I think that the Alliance and the Horde are cool and that they’re both as morally gray as the other. They’re both interesting to me. Yet time and time again I wonder why I haven’t picked one side to be fanatically devoted to and I’ve only been able to come up with one reason: I love the races. I love the lore behind the gnomes and dwarves as well as the orcs and trolls. They’re all so fascinating to me. I suppose that if you spend enough time reading the pen-and-paper resource guides to WoW as much as I do, you get a feel for more that happens in Azeroth. More than you would playing through one quest hub/zone.
Some people play through Hillsbrad and come out of the experience hating, loathing, the Forsaken. I read about Brann Bronzebeard’s travels through Brill and about how he has come upon Forsaken losing their minds to the Scourge again and how he’s seen friends or family around the increasingly insane undead shudder and cry out with fear and I see a race beset on every imaginable side by adversity and the rage they possess at simply existing. The smallest things, to me, shed scads of light on things I had previously thought illuminated. There is more than just the Horde, or the Alliance: there are the dwarves and the humans and the tauren that make up both sides. That’s something that I think slides past some people’s mental sieve.
But, if more people cared about a particular race, would this cause a problem? Would we niche ourselves even more than we already have? There are players out there who will never, in their entire life, play an Alliance character, and vice versa. Were there more people who identified and cherished a select few races, could there bloom a group of people who will never, in their entire life, play anything but a blood elf? The stagnation in both cases is astounding: so much is lost by simply only playing as an Alliance, or a dwarf, or a Forsaken. So much lore passed by, so much immersion and emotion thrown to the wayside simply on the basis of perceived superiority.
Keep in mind that this is coming from a person who loves the lore in World of Warcraft. I’ve stayed up entire nights because I wanted to continue a quest line that just never seemed to end, or farmed something on the offchance that I’d have a new vanity item named after a really cool dude. If you’re still lost: I’m kind of insane and often have too much time on my hands. This post is a call-out to those who enjoy their MMORPGs as story-rich as I do. If you’re the kind of dude who only plays blood elves because you like their model most of all and not because they are, without contest, the slickest motherfuckers this side of the Dead Scar – power to you, brother, rock on in your play time.
When the urge to finally write this post was coming upon me I put the call out to Twitter, asking if anyone was as proud of a specific race as I was. Rades was quick to say that there were, in fact, those kind of people out there. (I’m actually kind of ashamed these people slipped my mind…) Antigen, Jong, and Rhidach are all members of the Blood-Elf Appreciation Club (23rd chapter, order of the wombat), Vidalya of various-blogging fame has an intense love of draenei (which is great, ’cause someone has to), Rades himself is a self-professed fan of orcs and Forsaken (I’m getting to him, I think), and Faeldray is a lover of all things tauren. These are, of course, member of the WoW blogging community, with a voice louder than my own and interests known by quite a few people, so there’s always a chance that we’re the outliers of the playerbase.
Idea: people have an intense love of one race and, instead of saying “yeah man I play on the Alliance, but more importantly dwarves” they just say “I’m an Alliance player”. Is this a lie, though? Is there anything inherently misleading about the label – or are they the same thing?
The logistics are slightly confusing at this point, but Loa help me I’m charging forward pretending like I’ve got a clue.
What about you, those two readers I have? Do you have a race you love above all else? Why? I’d love to know in the comments!
(Oh, and speaking of the Forsaken, I have five ideas about posts concerning them… You’re in for a treat.)