Goon Squad downs Tirion Fordring

Michael Sacco
M. Sacco|03.09.10

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Perennial pariahs Goon Squad, Horde-side on Mal'Ganis-US, have really carved out a niche for themselves in the World of Warcraft. Well, two niches. The first is a rock-solid reputation of being the foremost trolls and griefers in the MMO market, period -- a reputation perpetuated by a community that operates mostly on word-of-mouth and lovingly crafted by the guild itself. The second is providing some of the best and most hilarious WoW videos on the internet. This one is no exception -- they managed to score a victory for the Lich King by defeating the dread paladin Fordring.

It's a rare ability, possessed by Goon Squad and a few other community figures, to be able to take the building blocks of the game experience provided by Blizzard -- strictly compartmentalized and defined by sets of incontrovertible rules -- and then cobble together something wholly new and, frankly, ridiculous out of them. You're not supposed to be able to bring together two often-'shipped faction leaders for an impromptu date. You're not supposed to be able to blow the Wintergrasp fortress wall to smithereens in a minute's time. You're certainly not supposed to be able to kill the head of the Argent Crusade who, by the way, should learn to cast Consecrate.

So, you might be asking a valid question here -- what's the point of these exercises, exactly? It's not as if Jaina and Thrall will embrace the fanfiction and shack up, and killing Tirion doesn't provide you with any loot, achievements, or any kind of tangible reward. Why do it?

It's simple. It's an exercise in power over the world, even if fleeting. It's making the rules work for them, not the other way around. We see this kind of behavior in all facets of the game, with varying levels of impact on the game and its players. Antiarc proved that rogues could transcend outdated and clunky mechanics by designing a mod that swapped their weapons for them upon hitting 5 stacks of Deadly Poison on a target, eventually forcing Blizzard to fix it. World-first kills are rife with drama over finding kinks in the armor of the encounter mechanics and tossing Saronite Bombs at them. Goon Squad shut down Theramore by taking its Flight Master on an extended spelunking trip. It's all the same concept. And every time someone performs these actions, it raises a big red flag at Blizzard -- "this is out there and we probably need to fix it." In a way, a public service is being performed even if it might not seem like it at first.

You might call it exploitation, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. Scientists, though, call it emergent gameplay -- that is, taking a strict set of rules and using them to produce results unintended by the rulemakers. It's the ultimate in trolling. And Goon Squad knows it. That's why they're so good at it.
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