I did not always have the best computer growing up so PC gaming was pretty limited. Anything that I could play had to be very simple so real time strategy games were my first “gamer” type games I played. While I did play a lot of Command and Conquer my favorite was Warcraft. I wasn’t around for Orcs vs Humans but I did play a bunch of Tides of Darkness and loved it. It wasn’t until Reign of Chaos that I started to grasp that world I was interacting in was only a fraction of the lore that was available for this universe. When I took on Frozen Throne and ultimately World of Warcraft I did so with a pile of novels written about this universe and a constant presence on wikis trying to find out every little bit of information I could about this beautiful and impossibly intricate universe.
While not limited solely to the Warcraft universe, Chris Metzen has been the guiding hand behind the lore of the world of Azeroth and has been a stronger influence behind my involvement in fantasy worlds than even Tolkien. Because of the massive popularity of World of Warcraft, there is still new information being written to explore the motivations of both good and evil characters. To this day Arthas is my favorite fantasy character of all time and all of this came from the mind of Metzen. He has such a wonderful view of relationships and personal struggle that has inspired writers like Christie Golden to expand the narrative far beyond any video game.
People don’t truly understand how deep the stories and characters in video games can be. Even in something as by-the-numbers as Call of Duty, a deep connected story exists that is largely ignored for a base instinct multiplayer. But Call of Duty lore is not what we tend to think of as a video game world. Other than Warcraft, the first thing that comes to my mind is the jaw dropping story of the Bioshock series. Released in 2007, the first Bioshock introduced players to the city of Rapture and it’s dangerous and powerful leader, Andrew Ryan. This game, and it’s two sequels, have created a large and interconnected universe with emotional connections, dangerous villains, and inspiring heroes all connected by a man, a city, and a lighthouse. What I love about a universe like this is the extended information that is not in the game. Through online wikis and comics you can learn the history of the game’s locations and main characters giving you a deeper sense of the game lore.
I’m bringing all of this up in a blog post because recently Chris Metzen announced that he was retiring from Blizzard Entertainment. Metzen is only 42 but stressed that he was using the word “retirement” because he is not moving on to another project. The worlds and stories that Chris Metzen has created have been an integral part of my, and several other Wampaslayer’s, life and it is an understatement that his involvement in the future of this company will be missed. Still, there are several wonderful video game worlds to discover out there. If you would like to read Metzen’s letter to the community, you can find it here.