The Chronicles of Warcraft

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.

Sources:

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.

“Creatures.” WoWWiki. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

“World of Warcraft.” IMDB. IMBD. 2004. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

World of Warcraft. Irvine, CA: Blizzard Entertainment, 2005. Video Game.

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3 Responses to The Chronicles of Warcraft

  1. You’ve certainly noticed a couple parallels, but I’m not quite convinced, as I think you would need to find considerably more (concrete) evidence in the game to support this connection. Most importantly, however, how does noticing this connection allow you to then critically engage WoW? (On a side-note, WoW seems, at times, to consciously avoid being Judeo-Christian by incorporating many other aspects of world religions. The Chronicles of Narnia, as is well-known, are adaptations of Biblical stories. Is there a productive connection or contrast there?)

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  2. cso9 says:

    I believe that the parallels between The Chronicles of Narnia and World of Warcraft can allow one to critically engage with the game because it is borrowing a successful idea for their own benefit. World of Warcraft has been around for quite some time, therefore, Blizzard draws upon what is popular in culture, at the present moment, as well as what has been successful in the past, to keep their system going. Although the original Narnia novel was published in 1950, the movie, which was released in December of 2005, allowed an old idea to be renewed and appeal to the current generation. The current generation’s interest in folklore and mythology may have been generated by the initial release of the first Harry Potter movie, “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” which was released in 2001. I believe that, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, drew inspiration from the release of the first Harry Potter movie, because mythology was becoming more prevalent in the media. Thus, I argue that Blizzard entertainment witnessed this trend of mythology in the media, drew its inspiration from the positive feedback of these movies, and therefore borrowed these concepts to renew their own form of mythology to promote appeal for their game.

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    • My comments above still apply. More to the point, your thinking could be made considerably more concrete and specific. Other than the Azaroth/Azeroth connection, what specific, concrete moment in the game shows a clear inspiration from C. S. Lewis–i.e., one that is clearly referencing or alluding to The Chronicles of Narnia? I’m unconvinced by your reading of Wrynn, as this just seems coincidental, and to be simply repeating a very old narrative trope. There are so many allusions to culture in WoW, that if there are specific references to Narnia, you should be able to find them and demonstrate them clearly.

      Regarding your “critical” engagement with the text, it is not quite there yet, as it is still merely at the level of observation and description rather than analysis and interpretation. Your reading states nothing more than that there is a connection. What specific connection? Why is this an important connection to note? How does it allow you to read the game? Asking yourself such questions would help. Further, like your connection to C. S. Lewis, you have not sufficiently demonstrated in your reply a connection to Harry Potter. Basically, your thinking and writing need to be more careful, rigorous, specific, and concrete.

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