Last week, Blizzard Entertainment released their latest patch in World of Warcraft, called the Siege of Orgrimmar. With it came a lot of new content (including a new island to explore, and a new raid), interesting storyline, and a lot of excitement.
Most people were excited just to be able to be the first to run through the new content, show it who’s boss, and get the new achievements and mad loots.
For me, it has been a different kind of exploration that started when the Mists of Pandaria expansion came out last year.
The WoW storyline has always interested me (enough that I’ve read a few of the novels) and has been able to hold player’s attention for years. The Pandaria expansion added a whole other level to how we think about storytelling.
In Pandaria, a person’s negative emotions (no matter how deeply buried) manage to manifest themselves in a very physical way in the form of Sha.
In a sense, throughout the expansion, you have to fight your own demons. You take charge and purge yourself, others, and the land of these negative emotions that can take over such as anger, despair and fear.
In the new patch content, you have to save others’ souls by purging them of the influence of the sha and save them from being possessed by sorrow, gloom, misery, sorrow and anguish.
There’s even a guardian who blocks your path. When you tell him that you’re trying to cleanse the world and save everyone, he says that you are too prideful to pass. This is where you really have to face yourself, as your pride manifests and you must defeat it to move on.
This is as far as I have made it into the new raid, but I’m intrigued. I feel that most people just move past this deep, potentially powerful, content as though it’s just something else to hack away at. If you look closely, this storyline has some potential to heal. My guildmate even joked about the game turning into a cheap self-help book.
If a therapist played with their client, think about how healing it may be to work through negative emotions and literally grapple with them, and eventually take them down. How awesome might it feel for a teenager dealing with depression to take out the Sha of Despair (who yells out comments about giving up). How empowered might someone struggling with controlling their temper feel when they’ve defeated the Sha of Anger? Those are only a couple of examples.
The last piece I wanted to touch on is the way the game handles good and evil. In general, most people think of the Alliance as the good guys, and the Horde as the bad guys (well, most people who haven’t played WoW or only play a little). In actuality, both sides have their faults and their virtues. They fight against the same evils again and again. They just don’t see eye to eye on how to get it done, and let old wounds get in the way.
In Mists of Pandaria, both sides are put in their place by the Pandaren, who feel them both arrogant and war hungry. The final boss in the new expansion is the Horde’s leader, Garrosh Hellscream. The Horde is rebelling to take him out because they’ve seen him do some horrible things. They team up with the Alliance to try to put someone more honorable and wise in his place.
I don’t know how it turns out, but the fact is that even the “bad guys” can have some humanity. And some acts are just too far past the line to accept.
I’m excited to see what happens…if my guild can ever make it past the second boss.