Humour in WoW: Yea or Nay?

6 05 2009
The only robot that does calisthenics before trying to destroy you.

The only robot that does calisthenics before trying to destroy you.

Blizzard tries hard to make us laugh at various aspects of the game, from achievement names (e.g. I Could Say That This Cache Was Rare) to NPCs (Haris Pilton). I’ve heard different opinions on the injection of humour into what is otherwise a serious fantasy world. Some think that, to take the example of XT-002’s childlike voice (take a listen here if you haven’t had the pleasure of engaging the deconstructor yet), it ruins what is otherwise a very well-designed raid instance. Others, like me, just enjoy having a laugh or two once in a while and can ignore the fact that XT really doesn’t fit in with the rest of Ulduar. Consider Ignis, who spends the entire encounter yelling very angry things at the raid (he is most certainly serious business).

So where should Blizzard draw the line?

Is it okay to have comedic achievement names, but not NPCs? Achievements are not as much a part of the fantasy world of WoW as they are a game mechanic, like your user interface. Since I personally have very little interest in the lore of the game, pop culture references and in-jokes in WoW always make me smile. From an RP perspective, however, I can see being annoyed at the anomaly that is XT in Ulduar. All the other bosses are either serious and angry with you (ala Ignis) or driven mad by Yogg Saron. How do you reconcile the two together?

I think it might be impossible to really mesh humour and WoW and make both sides (people who like lore and people who don’t care about it) happy. On the other hand, the people who don’t pay attention to lore probably don’t feel that strongly about the humour either, since they (and I) are mainly playing the game for its mechanics. The RPers and those who really enjoy the feel of the game, especially in the raid instances, where it really counts, would benefit more than the other side in having their raid instances be mainly serious and in-character for a fantasy world. If I had a say in the matter, I would probably leave humour out of the raids, since that is where the main storyline of each expansion seems to play out. I love killing Mr. Bigglesworth as much as the next Death Knight, but I do admit it makes me take Kel’Thuzad a little bit less seriously.

Humour has a place in the game, after all

If raids aren’t the best place for comedy, what might be? Blizzard takes advantage of more in-character types of humour, such as all things engineering and many things to do with goblins and gnomes. Having NPCs in the game make jokes, like player characters can do, would be a great place for some comic relief since it would stay within the realm of what’s possible and plausible in a fantasy world. Achievements and quest names are an excellent place for pop culture references, but having these inside the game itself can be a little distracting.