Fiction has tropes, and a lot of games are an avenue of storytelling — World of Warcraft has told a lot of stories over the years. One thing I’ve noticed over those same years is that there’s literally nothing WoW fans enjoy more than discussing, critiquing, debating, arguing, and spiritedly deconstructing those stories. We’ve all been there when someone groaned and said “Not another redemption arc” or “Let me guess, was it the Old Gods or the Legion who corrupted them?” These are themes that World of Warcraft has used a few times. There’s the “Ooh, angry woman gotta calm down” trope, we have seen the “War is bad and yet we keep doing it even though we know it’s bad” trope — you get the idea.
And yet, I’m still a sucker for a lot of the themes and the repetitive ways they’re explored in WoW. Tropes aren’t necessarily bad — they’re essentially storytelling building blocks, elements the audience can see and recognize almost immediately. If you watch a cowboy movie and you see two men moving slowly towards each other in the street, hands at their sides, even a passing familiarity with the genre conventions of the Western will tell you what’s about to happen. That’s a trope right there.
This is not me defending the angry woman look out one, btw. That one needs to go away.
So for me, certain tropes — the idea that a single green streak of fire in the sky presages utter disaster, the notion that the more carefree and casual the villain seems the more certain that they are about to blow everything up in a huge boss fight, the notion that yes, war is bad and yet we’re probably gonna have to fight another one anyway are all, when used properly, really fun for me. I dig it when Varian Wrynn screams “For Azeroth!” in the Legion cinematic. I giggled watching the Human and Orc trade weapons while fighting Chen Stormstout in Mists of Pandaria, I actually got goosebumps when Sylvanas yelled “For the Horde!” and I outright hooted at Anduin’s “For the Alliance!” reply. Yes, it’s shorthand. Yes, we see it all the time.
And yet, yes, I’m a mark for it. So what about you? What tropes in World of Warcraft still work for you?
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