Posted by: Sean | June 4, 2009

Apologies for sporadic updating

No long update today, I’m afraid. I truly miss my great blogging chair. Even without it, I was able to find some seats that facilitated blogging, but this bus I have to now catch just has nothing.

So as not to leave you all without anything, I put forward a theory: World of Warcraft is more responsive to comedy play than dramatic play, because we have a long-lasting acceptance of comedies in which Status Quo is God. Dramas, by contrast, are expected to grow and change in a way unsupported by an MMORPG format.

Discuss!

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Responses

  1. I think there’s some truth to your theory. Drama generally requires something to *happen* to the characters, but what can meaningfully happen to a WoW character? Death is meaningless in the context of the game. I suppose you could voluntarily take certain steps for drama’s sake, like being “banished” from a certain city, or dying permanently (i.e. deleting your character) but those are damned inconvenient for the player and hard to justify without a big audience.

    I think there’s another reason for the preponderonce of comedy in WoW, though. Comedy is just easier. Drama requires an emotional investment in the characters, which I think can be tough to sustain, especially in a video game where the characters are less real and it’s harder to care about them.

  2. Status Quo is God and Everyone is a Bad Ass.

  3. The site you linked criticized Inu Yasha for it’s perpetual tension between the two main characters. I think, however, that Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actress explains, in its own surreal way, why we gobble that stuff up: the chase—the perpetual tension—is the part of the arc we love the most, not the resolution.

    With Millenium Actress and Inu Yasha, there’s always the hope and chance that the audience will be rewarded with love requited at last. However, that tension isn’t at all what I feel when I play. MMORPGs are decidedly less exciting in their feel (except, perhaps on major patch days or high population PvP servers).

    When I first created an RP character in WoW some years ago, I was appalled by how frivolously some players handled their characters’ stories. A light back story and a sprinkling of motivation and Presto!—you have an RP character. I couldn’t get past the idea that my own character’s story would have to find some kind of resolution, but I couldn’t figure out how that would work in a world where enemies always return and cross-faction conflict can neither be escalated nor resolved. I was definitely looking for drama; was I upset because I could only find comedy? If comedy equals status quo, then yes.


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