Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

“Erich Lohan says: Head on over to the Blue Recluse. Where everybody knows your name!” (World of Warcraft)

Erich Lohan, an NPC, can be found wandering through the Mage Quarter of Stormwind City. Players can witness him uttering one of his eight phrases advertising the Blue Recluse, a tavern in the Mage Quarter. “Where everybody knows your name!” references the theme song of Cheers with the same title, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” The theme song was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo and sung by Portnoy (Portnoy). Cheers is a sitcom that ran on NBC from 1982 to 1993 and inspired the spinoff series Frasier (Wagmeister).  The show revolves around a bar in Boston and, like the Blue Recluse, is meant to be a facilitator for socializing with other locals. Such a place within a video game is seemingly out of place. The Blue Recluse is one of many bars found throughout the game. The existence of bars is especially interesting because a player can purchase and consume alcohol without any obvious benefit. Alcohol does not increase health or mana as many food items do. Continuous consumption, however, will imitate a drunken state. Thus, the purchase and drinking of alcohol, and the physical bars, contribute to the environment and ambience rather than the action.

The ability to become intoxicated lends to the game’s commitment to developing an alternate reality. Like the song describes, “Wouldn’t you like to get away? / Sometimes you want to go / Where everybody knows your name, / and they’re always glad you came” (Portnoy). World of Warcraft, like many role-playing games, allows its players to dive into a world with supernatural abilities and terrifying creatures but with enough reminders of our human world to make it comfortable and approachable. The reference is humorous, lightening the sometimes darker sides of the game. It is also applicable to multiple generations due to the duration of Cheers and the references to the song in other shows like Friends and Ally McBeal (Wagmeister). Also, though many users remain unaware of the real names of the other players they encounter throughout play, they become familiar with character names. Even for characters entering realms in which not everybody knows his or her name, the developers of Warcraft have made it extremely easy to meet and interact with others, be it physical labels floating above characters’ heads or the many chat options. It is not necessary to literally know everyone’s name but rather to understand and take advantage of what the community has to offer.

Scott Sernau references the theme song in his book, Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy. In a discussion of status prestige, he writes:

“The popular television program Cheers touted the appeal of a place ‘where everybody knows your name.’ I have neither high-prestige clothes nor cars, yet it is pleasant to be out in my small community and be greeted frequently by students, former students, colleagues and community people with a ‘Hey, Dr. Sernau, how’s it going?’ Certainly this is better than life in a community of strangers or being greeted with hostility, suspicion, or a heavy hand on the shoulder … Many people seek marks of distinction and most seek at least evidence of respect. These measures of social exchange, rather than just market exchange, can matter a great deal in determining the quality of someone’s current life experiences and future life chances.” (Sernau 183)

The interactions with other players, but especially with NPCs, within Warcraft, model these social exchanges in the real world. Many are friendly when first greeted but may grow agitated when pestered or will politely remind the user that they have other things to do. Interactions with other players allow the user to learn basic information about other characters. Positive interactions help players to do better within the game. Warcraft is dependent upon players acting together. The game is limited when characters are isolated from one another. Entire features are impossible to utilize alone (i.e., dungeons). Community within the game is essential. A quick line from a character with little complexity represents a fundamental fragment to understanding World of Warcraft: to succeed is “to go where everybody knows your name.”

Warning: may easily get stuck in your head.

spotify:track:2uE8l7sar0JT0tZYhrPz8S


Works Cited

“Erich Lohan.” WoWWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015. <http://www.wowwiki.com/Erich_Lohan&gt;.

Portnoy, Gary. “The Cheers Story.” Gary Portnoy. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Sernau, Scott. Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006. Print.

Wagmeister, Elizabeth. “Supreme Themes: The 60 Greatest Title Songs of All Time.” Yahoo Celebrity. TV Guide, 16 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard Entertainment. 2012. Video game.

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This entry was posted in Reading Response, Videogames, World of Warcraft and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

  1. Very interesting post, and I’d love to hear a bit more about how the game makes Cheers’s theme song impossibly literal: i.e., it is impossible not to know everyone’s name around you in WoW.

    Like

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