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Breakfast Topic: Is WoW more than a franchise?


During the movie presentation a fan went up to the mic and asked Duncan Jones if he was going to honor WoW and be sure that the movie lives up to its legacy as more than just a franchise. The fan also added (rather oddly, I might say) that Warcraft belongs to the fans more than it belong to the designers and Blizzard.

And while I don't want to get into an argument about who owns WoW (because that's different from everyone's perspective), I do think it's worth asking a question about what exactly is WoW. Is the world of Warcraft just another computer game franchise, or has it meta-morphed into a medium which transcends traditional forms and functions of video games and entertainment?

To understand WoW's potential transcendence, consider a game like Skyrim. In it we have a vibrant, beautiful world. It feels alive, responsive to your actions, and is so wide and deep that you can get yourself lost in it. WoW has all the same things -- but the game takes it a step further. It creates ownership in characters and reputation therein, so much so that you can eventually supplant your own identity with these characters.

For instance, over the years my nick names in-game have been "Sully" or "Myro" to different groups of friends. Each of these identities I am fully vested in, to that point that when someone says "Hey Myro" over Mumble, I have the same reaction of attention as if someone said "Hey Adam." This isn't just a game, I feel -- it's beyond a game. It's a creation of an identity and a morphed reality.

In some ways the fan asking the question was right, I believe -- WoW has moved from just a franchise of great games into a space that's unheard of in the history of Humanity. It's the world's first true virtual reality -- one where people can live their lives* (for better or worse). Does this mean that the movie makers need to give WoW special consideration in its handling?

I think it does. The impression I got from all the Warcraft panel was that they take what they're doing very seriously. They're not going to put Bill Cosby into the movie just for kicks (/cough Cory Stockton on Twitter /cough). They're going to treat it like a reality, and reflect it as such.

I suspect there are others who might feel different. So let's discuss: is WoW more than a game?

*Living their lives in and around Azeroth is a real thing. In the good way, besides the army of WoW designers and developers at Blizzard, there is a large number of people that work on sites like this who make their living -- putting actual food on the table for dinner every night -- based on secondary content creation for the Warcraft universe. Think WoW Insider, Wowhead, and MMO-Champion, and all the people behind the scenes. And then there is the bad way too, where you just spend all your time in-game and ignore reality. That's not a positive thing, but alas, it is still a thing.

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