Option #3, Intertextuality
As with any new experience, playing a game for the first time can always feel awkward or intimidating. Since World of Warcraft is such a popular MMORPG, I was even more intimidated by the massive amount of players that were undoubtedly better than me, despite being a frequent gamer. However, upon initially playing it, I couldn’t help but find comfort in the familiarity of the realm. The fantastical setting of WoW, including its striking scenes, mystical beasts, and array of diversely enchanted characters, reminded me very highly of The Chronicles of Narnia. I argue that World of Warcraft borrows much of its storyline, characters, and setting from the popular fiction series written by C.S. Lewis.
I will be focussing primarily on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, since it is the most prominent example to support my point (plus there are 7 novels to the series, so expanding upon each individual would take a millennium).
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was published in 1950. Blizzard Entertainment released the first Warcraft game in 1994 as Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, World of Warcraft released in 2004, The Burning Crusade expansion in 2007, Wrath of the Litch King in 2008, Catacalysm 2010, and Mists of Pandora 2012. Therefore, the release dates in themselves lay the foundation that WoW could very well have borrowed from TCoN.
The Chronicles of Narnia is set in the fictional realm of a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals. With the exception of the 5th of 7 novels in the series, The Horse and His Boy, the children in The Chronicles of Narnia are from the real world and play central roles in the fictional realm and its unfolding history. They are crucial for the protection of Narnia, purging it from evil, and restoring the throne. Since the main protagonists are humans of the real world, their only access to Narnia is through magic or gateways. The gameplay of World of Warcraft mirrors The Chronicles of Narnia because (human) gamers serve the primary role in saving Azeroth. The players are the protagonists in the World of Warcraft plot, because without their contribution, Azeroth would fall into the hands of evil. In class, we are playing on the Galakron server on the side of the Alliance, as human characters but with classes (hunter, mages, healers…), along with the possibilities of various other races such as dwarves, gnomes, night elves, etc. World of Warcraft also includes several other secondary characters like dragons, gryphons, white tigers, and giants. These races and characters are reflective of Narnia’s array of creatures, since Narnia’s “Alliance” consists of similarly mystical creatures: gryphons, dwarves, dragons, faeries, gods, nymphs, and so forth. Since I have stated I would be paying particular focus to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe edition, the main characters, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, represent the human “players,” serving the good fight, with special abilities of their own. (Susan & Lucy — hunters, Peter & Edmund — warriors) Also, just as a minor interesting fact, it could be suggested that the name of WoW’s world, “Azeroth” was borrowed from one of C.S. Lewis’ characters in The Chronicles of Narnia’s: The Horse and His Boy. In this edition, a Calormene deity is named Azaroth, who was a female goddess serving for purity.
In The Chronicles of Narnia’s: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the story takes place during the World War II bombings of London (an obvious relation). Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan are sent to a shelter in the countryside for safety, which is where Lucy discovers the wardrobe that serves as a portal to Narnia.
The world of Narnia is having problems of its own as it has been taken over by the evil White Witch. The king of Narnia, a lion named Aslan, is nowhere to be found, which is similar to the disappearance of Stormwind’s king, Varian Wrynn, during crucial times in World of Warcraft. When Edmund arrives in Narnia for the first time, he is met by the White Witch, who deceives him into thinking she is the Queen of Narnia. She further manipulates him by feeding him his favorite dessert through magic, and convinces him to bring his siblings back to her so she can eliminate them (employing full power of reign). World of Warcraft’s black dragon, Onyxia, parallels the White Witch because Onyxia disguises herself as a human noblewoman, which she utilizes to manipulate and control others. When king Varian Wrynn disappears in WoW, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon is appointed to reign, but his service becomes impaired when he falls victim to Onyxia’s manipulations, exactly as Edmund had to the White Witch. The similarities are even more prevalent considering the ancient prophecy that one day four humans will reign over Narnia and overthrow the White Witch’s evil ruling. As Edmund was to be one of those four heroes, destined for success, his service was quickly marred upon encountering the White Witch, which parallels Varian Wrynn’s fate exactly.
Lewis, C.S. The Horse and His Boy. New York: Collier Books–Macmillan Publishing Co., 1954.
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. London: Geoffrey Blessing, 1950.”
“Aslan.” WikiNarnia. Web. 31 Mar. 2015 “Azaroth.” WikiNarnia. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.
“Azaroth.” WikiNarnia. Web. 2 April 2015.
“Calormege Religion.” WikiNarnia. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.
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World of Warcraft. Irvine, CA: Blizzard Entertainment, 2005. Video Game.