World of Warcraft is one of the juggernauts of PC gaming: in 2014, Polygon reported that over 100 million accounts had been created in the history of Blizzard’s MMORPG, which initially released in 2004. Since then, Blizzard has released multiple expansions for the game, and more continue to be released every few years. All the while, Blizzard has charged players $15 per month to roam around the massive world of Azeroth. According to our precise calculations, that is … certainly a lot of money.
On the surface, World of Warcraft seems like a fairly bright, cheery game. You run around, smacking rats with your sword. Maybe you get into a dance off in the middle of town. However, there is some serious darkness lurking under the surface here, darkness that we are determined to shine a light on. Let’s delve into some of the more messed up aspects of World of Warcraft together. You’ll never look at Azeroth the same way again.
The "C’Thun Kids" worship a Lovecraftian monstrosity
Goldshire seems like a friendly enough farming community: it is generally the second town that Human characters visit, full of Alliance patrols with low level mobs nearby to help players level early on in the game. Surely nothing could go wrong in this idyllic little town, right?
Goldshire boasts a dark secret: a group of frightening little children who seem to worship C’Thun, an "old god" of the Warcraft universe that seeks to destroy the planet. Endgadget wrote about the children and their odd behavior as far back as 2006. They stand in a pentagram formation. Creepy music and sound files sometimes play when you stand in their presence. Cameron, the leader of the children, occasionally says, "Remember C’Thun? Good ol’ C’Thun." And two skulls, appearing to be those of children, lie in the grass in their backyard. There are no quests associated with the children, either. They are just … there.
Nothing horrifying to see here. The "creepy children" or "CC," as the World of Warcraft community calls them, will just be haunting your dreams now.
You can visit Azeroth’s worst orphanage
Finally, we got away from those creepy children in Goldshire. What do we have here? "Challe’s Home For Little Tykes"?
Darn it, not again.
Of course there’s a creepy orphanage hidden in World of Warcraft. Endgadget reported on it when Blizzard made some changes to the location: Challe, the caretaker, used to be missing. She’s actually on the grounds now! Challe is a troll who watches over the young children who run around the grounds of the orphanage. They chase each other, play in a giant sandbox, and ride on a merry-go-round. But, of course, you know this is going to take a left turn into creepy-town.
There are three cages out back of Challe’s, one of which is filled with mysteriously small (you might say "tyke-sized") remains. There is a wagon full of explosives. There is a dog house full of meat, with no dog in sight. Just what is going on here?
Some players speculate that Challe is eating the children. She is a troll, after all. Another theory is that she drains the life from the children, due to an encounter during the quest "Guise of the Deceiver" that seems to suggest it. Regardless, the moral here is this: stay away from children in World of Warcraft.
A mount for a … mount
World of Warcraft contains a pretty intense grinding element to it, and some people would rather skip that aspect and go straight to the part where they have all the nice things. It makes sense why some people would buy one of those aforementioned boosts, in that case. But what if you can’t afford to drop that kind of money just to jump your character several dozen levels?
A popular story around Reddit claims that some people turn to the world’s most ancient profession. And this rumor seems fairly legitimate.
One of the most infamous stories floating around the World of Warcraft universe comes from 2007, when a woman took to Craig’s List looking for 5000 gold so she could purchase an epic mount. In return, she was offering … to "mount" the person providing the gold. She even offered to dress in costume as her character during the act.
Reddit took care of us and screenshot both her initial post and her follow-up, where she made fun of her detractors. Her final statement was an excellent one: "So talk all the trash you want, I got MY flying epic mount AND I got laid, which is more than most of you failures can ever hope for." She even posted a picture of her avatar soaring through the skies atop her trusty new steed.
World of Warcraft has caused real-life deaths
Moving outside of the game and into how it affects the real world, let’s talk about World of Warcraft addiction. Due to it’s grindy nature and level of concentration required, people can sit and play WoW for extended periods every day, sometimes foregoing sleep, self-care, or care of others. Believe it or not, some people have literally played World of Warcraft to death.
Take the 2015 case of Wu Tai, a man who sat down at an internet cafe in Shanghai, China to play the latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor. The Daily Mail reports that Mr. Wu sat and played for nineteen straight hours, even as he coughed blood into a handkerchief. Other players at the cafe grew worried, inquiring as to Mr. Wu’s well-being and eventually calling paramedics, all while Mr. Wu continued to play. He eventually slumped back in his chair, and paramedics pronounced him dead when they arrived on the scene.
Another horrific example of WoW addiction comes from the case of Rebecca Christie, a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Kotaku reports she was playing upwards of fifteen hours a day and chatting with online friends rather than caring for her three-year-old daughter. Her daughter died of malnutrition and dehydration, and Christie was convicted of second-degree murder and child abandonment. In 2011, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
World of Warcraft has Nazi goblins who are searching for an apocalypse weapon
World of Warcraft loves its references, and one of the most elaborate is found in the area known as Uldum. Here, players encounter an archaeologist/explorer named Harrison Jones, who wears a brown fedora, cracks a whip, and swears that artifacts belong in a museum. The rumor is that below Uldum in the Halls of Origination lies an apocalyptic weapon that could destroy all life on Azeroth. Racing Jones to that weapon, of course, is none other than a little goblin Hitler by the name of Commander Schnottz. And he bears more than a passing resemblance to the infamous Nazi leader.
Schnottz has a nose ring that closely resembles the Fuhrer’s facial hair. He shouts "Nine nine nine nine nine," a reference to a line Hitler shouts in Inglorious Basterds. He leads a group called the "Schnottz Sea Troopers" (say it out loud) and dresses them in fabulous uniforms, referred to as "fashionism." Another archeologist, Belloc Brightblade, even refers to Schnottz as the "furrier," a take on Hitler’s "Fuhrer" title. Killing goblins in WoW is great; taking out a Nazi goblin is even better.
There are some bizarre items in World of Warcraft
With a game that has been around as long as World of Warcraft, there are bound to be some odd items you can come across. Blizzard has always been able to inject humor into their games, and some of the weapons, armor, and other items you can find throughout WoW showcase that not-so-serious take on the world.
For example, one shopkeeper in Icecrown Citadel by the name of Brazie Getz has a… strange collection of items in his room. You can find items like "Brazie’s Gnomish Pleasure Device," and a variety of books about how to succeed with different races of women. Check out the full list on his wiki page. Oh and, of course, Brazie is level 69.
Another strange item in WoW is Chambermaid Pillaclencher’s Pillow. The description reads "This is one big pillow." It may not seem that odd, but a quest boss named Pillaclencher is a particularly busty dwarf who screams that you are about to "face me gigantic pillas!" when you confront her. Naturally, she has an ability called "Smother."
There are plenty of other silly items you can find in World of Warcraft, such as a pair of pants called "Suppository Preventers." Endgadget has a lovely write up on some of the other ones you can find throughout Azeroth.
World of Warcraft makes huge amounts of money, sometimes in unexpected ways
World of Warcraft obviously makes a huge amount of money, but how it earns Blizzard its billions is often somewhat strange. Let’s talk nitty gritty numbers: despite some belief that World of Warcraft is starting to lag, Polygon reports that the final quarter of 2016 saw the highest number of players in four years. At the end of that period, Game Revolution estimated that there were still between nine and ten million WoW subscribers. That means, including no other income, WoW was pulling in at least $135 million per month. And you better believe Blizzard has other revenue streams from World of Warcraft outside of just subscription fees.
The same Polygon article writes that, in 2016, Blizzard made $3.6 billion (that’s billion, with a "B") off of in-game content alone, which includes things like Overwatch loot boxes and World of Warcraft pets. Blizzard will even allow players to buy a WoW "Boost," which will instantly take a character from level 1 to the maximum level cap of 110 without all that pesky grinding. Wrap your brain around that one: players will pay Blizzard $60 (more than the cost of an expansion) to skip the actual playing of the game. Talk about a racket.
US elections have tried to use World of Warcraft against candidates
We’ve determined that a lot of people play World of Warcraft. But what if a government official did? Surely that person’s inability to differentiate between the real world and a war-torn, magical realm would affect their ability to do their job, wouldn’t it? That’s what the Maine Republican Party bet on when they discovered an opponent, Democrat Colleen Lachowicz, lived a horrifying double life as an Orc assassin named Santiaga.
David Sorensen, the Communications Director of the Maine GOP, was so convinced voters would find this appalling that a website went up detailing Lachowicz’s World of Warcraft personality, which was referred to as a "disturbing alter ego." It also listed out comments that Lachowicz made discussing the game, to make sure Maine voters had "all the information they can obtain."
China has serious issues with World of Warcraft’s skeletons
You’ve probably heard of Chinese censorship laws regarding ghosts and skeletons in entertainment: in 2017, Forbes was amazed that Disney-Pixar’s Coco found a release there. The film provides a colorful look at the Mexican afterlife, which is decidedly against section four of the Chinese State Censorship Administration, which states there cannot be media "showing contents of murder, violence, terror, ghosts and the supernatural." That’s a big problem for some of the areas located in World of Warcraft.
So what does WoW do with all the undead creatures running around? Simple: they change all the in-game skeletons into regular bodies.
In 2007, Popular Science reported on China’s new censorship guidelines that then-President Hu Jintao instituted and the effect those guidelines had on World of Warcraft. At the time, 500 players signed a petition asking The9, Ltd., the company that distributes World of Warcraft in China, to reverse the change. The9 declined, stating they preferred to foster a "healthy and harmonious on-line environment." It probably didn’t hurt that 500 players is a small drop in the bucket compared to the then-3.5 million players China boasted.