Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Ninth Wave

Hovhannes Aivazovsky, 1850.

I am, as many of you know, a great fan of context. Take this painting, for instance. I didn't know until yesterday that this composition (The Ninth Wave) was the inspiration for the second side of Kate Bush's 1985 release 'Hounds of Love', which in turn is what was, back in the day, a classic example of the 'concept album.' All the tracks join, and have the theme of a woman, shipwrecked, trapped in the water waiting for rescue. In all of those years, nearly thirty of them, I never knew this painting was the starting point for Bush' inspiration. Suddenly my entire view of the experiences I had as a young woman listening to the album have shifted, subtly altered, all with this single point of context. It's amazing what happens when you learn some backstory, and being blinkered to knowledge will ultimately leave you less of a person as a result.

It doesn't stop us doing it, myself included.

This is the perfect moment therefore to stick my cards on the table and admit I've never read a SINGLE book of Warcraft 'lore' because actually, there are moments when you don't want context to ruin what you create for yourself. I have, I now realise, effectively begun to live in my own Lore-inspired version of the game.

In the beginning, there was the Portal.

There's no avoiding Lore in game, let's face it. You can choose to effectively mute all the faffing about Races and History and The Future if you so desire, but understanding WHY things happen remains fairly important to most. I suspect that why so many people have an issue getting their brains around the whole 'we're going back to the past that isn't actually OUR past it's just a version that saves us having to remake all those globes of Azeroth' conceit that Warlords is based on. In the absence of Ms Golden's novel I decided I'd start making up my own justification for a trip Back to the Past (part two of which should be with you some time next week if my Beta Reader's able to give it a poke) but actually, even when that's released, I'm not interested. I have long been of the assertion that if it doesn't exist in game, it shouldn't be canon to begin with. However, with a game the size of Warcraft, and with the resource base already in place, I realise that's actually pretty narrow minded. However, I'll be brutally honest: I don't care. I don't need to know the lineage of every generation of Night Elf back to the Well of Eternity. Understanding the story shouldn't require a reading list in a computer game, it really ought to be there for you to absorb by osmosis, which is effectively how I've learnt the story of the game in ten years, give or take.

I know that's not the whole story, but I'm okay with that. I also understand and respect the significance Lore has for a section of the community. I just wilfully choose to utterly ignore that. I feel the need at this point to explain why.


I do my best to cope with everything Modern Life throws at me but Damon and the lads were right, some days it's utter pants to try and cope with the utter avalanche of information we're forced to process. The same is often the case when you enter a game: so many things to do, where do I start, what is important... and no more so has that been true during this Expansion. The sheer amount of stuff to do remains staggering, and wanting to do it over and over again on alts after I was pushed through it at breakneck speed on my main... I don't blame myself for detaching from many things during Pandaria, least of all a lore storyline what made me fight a war I didn't want, and then forced me into situations I felt distinctly uncomfortable in. I still feel my faction made all the wrong choices, and the guilt in my mind over the Sha's possession of the land and the population is still close and raw. Even though I know the consequences were inevitable, this does not stop the disquiet. I have followed the letter of the Lore for many years, but now it is not enough.

I need something else, and I won't get it from just getting more background information. Reading is not the answer. Living is.

These spaces intentionally left blank.

I want to remain in this world, but the Lore motivation for doing so is vague and disinteresting. Everything else is fine: friends, gameplay, goals, all remain strong and intact but when asked of my characters 'what's the motivation here?' then I will falter. This is where my own Lore has appeared to fill the gap, a motivation as yet unwritten to pull my Hunter to the Dark Portal when it turns red, that will have nothing at all to do with the Orcs, and likely (I suspect) to be all about the Draenei. It will be a place (I hope) to finally put her demons to rest by combining the story I am given with my own personal spin on events. The fact I am still here and want to do this is the greatest testament to this game I could give: I feel as if my journey isn't done yet, that there are as yet adventures to experience and stories to be told in Azeroth and beyond, but I've switched off the History Channel to do it. I understand how important the past is to our lives, but for THIS life, this journey, all that matters is the moment, the here and now and how I live within that.

In this version of Modern Life I choose to be blinkered, and it suits me just fine.

My farm remains untilled as a result: I know I could be making money, but I'd rather focus on the other things, away from the 'storyline' that Pandaria gave me. My Hunter left the land a while ago and is back living in Stormwind, and that's how it will stay, because I can already hear the Portal's call, and I want to be close when things start to happen. I don't want to miss a thing when it does, because that means it's almost Expansion time, and that makes me enthusiastic and excited, despite everything else that has happened in the last three weeks.

I still love this game: long may it continue, but on my terms.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

"Back to the Past (part two of which should be with you some time next week"

...with Part Three coming out last Tuesday and Part Four sometime in 2006.