April 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Awesome. One of my favorite people in the world started a blog a few weeks back, and it really seems to have gotten off the ground in its latest few entries. Let me tell you about it.
I mean, come on, how can you not be enticed by their very first entry, which introduces the group like this:
TEN YEARS OF WARCRAFT.
THREE NIGHT ELVES. (and one hulking, confused tauren…)
ONE LORE BLOG TO BIND THEM. (FOR PONY!)
Right? But there’s more to it than just the fact that I want to have a slumber party with these ladies, and interview them for my dissertation, in the “girls + new media = the antidote to Zuckerberg” section. There’s also some serious general interest thoughts, which I’ll guide you through here in a minute.
Let’s start with the first post-intro post, Lani’s “Around the digital campfire: the MMO as storyteller.” This post is a review of Deuwowlity’s thoughts on why, in some fundamental ways, the MMO experience can never measure up to the experience offered by literature. Lani agrees with this thesis, insofar as it addresses the media landscape such as it exists now, but she says that it is silly to assume this is because of some inadequacy inherent in the medium. In other words, while she agrees that, judging from her four years of experience with the game, the tales told in WoW remain more disjointed and less immersive than a book of comparable significance, she argues that this is because the game is still experimenting with its combination of such disparate elements borrowed from other media, such as the narrative elements of literature (quest text, written dialogue, in-game books), of film (cut scenes, animation, spoken dialogue, background music), of comics. While this kind of multimedia experimentation is nothing completely new in the history of art, Lani’s point that each medium must come of age on its own terms, and is entitled to its own experimental stage, where its possibilities are gleefully and ambitiously explored, is absolutely vital to understand in these conversations about medium specificity. This is so not only because it enables us to get away from untheorized hierarchies of art, but also because it helps us to maximize our aesthetic appreciation of artworks from across media, historical periods, and storytelling communities.
Next up, Cat’s Ishnu’alah, Lok’tar Ogar: Language in Azeroth, and Why it Matters. Once again, immersion is the topic here, although the focus is on invented languages and immersion in storyworlds, rather than the modes of immersion proper to particular storytelling media. Borrowing from Charles Taylor, Cat argues that Azeroth is, in a sense, a ‘world of our involvements’. It is to an extent one step removed from Taylor’s example in that it is an invented world, but…the idea that examining the conlangs of Azeroth (regardless of whether or not they are fully functional languages) can still shine light on its inhabitants’ cultural priorities and values. For my own purposes, I’m interested in how the second part of this post will take up the different modes of user involvement enabled by the conlangs of Azeroth, as well as the undoubtedly fascinating information about the inhabitants’ cultural priorities and values discernible from this kind of language analysis.
Finally, we have Perculia’s Curating Azeroth: Museums, Scholarship, and Archaeology Fragments. This entry is so full of fascinating information about the history of museums in the Western world, as well as in the world of Warcraft, and it is so good, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s beautifully written, and it makes a compelling case for archaeologists to take an interest in the MMO, if they haven’t yet. Let me just quote the introduction, and seriously, tell me you’re not enticed:
Azeroth clings to history just as surely as it destroys it. Cataclysm brought about many changes—yet monuments still remain. The inhabitants of Azeroth are bent on twisting history to suit their own narratives—much is forgotten and obscured, but small things are strangely preserved. With the simplified questing path in Cataclysm and the emphasis on the player-as-hero, this may not seem apparent at first. But archaeology (in theory!) provides that sense of haphazard discovery, a slow reveal in which the player is a bit-player in a dynamic culture instead of the savior of the future.
I mean, right? That’s gorgeous. The internet is real life, okay? Okay. It’s happening. Now, go check out Flavor Text!