On the afternoon of April the first, two fools sat down for lunch. One was the world famous Brigwyn, master of the whirling panty raid. The other? The elusive Cocles of Loregy.com. Blogs were discussed, the idea of guest posts came up, and somewhere between my pancakes (because breakfast three times a day = awesome) and Eddie’s flirtations with our friendly waitress, it was suggested I say hello, because some of Eddie’s readers might be into game lore.
Some he says?
Pah! We are all into game lore.
There is a reason we don’t say “story”, or “plot”. ”Lore” is much more encompassing. Eddie asked me why game lore was so important. That’s simple. Without it, games would be reduced to wire frames of rectangles and cubes bouncing off each other while math scrolls by in the background.
The story is central in lore, sure. Lore junkies like myself can debate for hours over where the story’s branches may lead, but as with trees in real life, it can be easy to forget about the roots and how deep they grow.
Genre is lore. The fact that you wield a sword instead of a laser pistol is lore. Wanting to play the good guys (or bad guys) is lore. Lore touches everything that is right brained about a game. Plenty of us may not care one bit for the story, but we nonetheless love the game’s setting. We may love its aesthetic. We may love our undead dragon mount. Those are all elements rooted in the lore and dictated by the story.
Then what is the best kind of lore? The kind that polarizes. Lore thrives on story, and story thrives on conflict. Alliance, Horde, Republic, Empire. Players who have never read a single quest can still have strong opinions when it comes to factions. A Lorelol Troll can still hate gnomes. This is polarizing lore. It creates reactions on both ends of the scale. This in turn creates the best kind of conflict, the kind found within the player-base itself.
Lore generates rivalries, and gives games their flavor. A game without lore is going to turn bland as soon as the novelty of its mechanics wear out. Even Asteroids puts you in a ship, and has you firing at, well– asteroids. I love that example, because it’s easy imagine that game still working fine if everything was just a rectangle. The right brained aspect, the lore, took a simple concept and made you a space hero.
So yes. We are all into game lore…. even those who skip reading the quests.
One more happy-fun treat before I go. I’ve been asked a number of times by Eddie and others to name the most popular aspect of World of Warcraft lore. That’s simple; it’s the speculation. I’ve been writing about WoW lore since 2007, and I can definitely say that it’s not deep, intellectual, game theory posts that are popular. It’s when I speculate. And why wouldn’t it be? Stories at their heart are nothing but a continuous answer to the question, “What happens next?” Forget nuance, forget theory, I could write about that all day and never interest a ready, but when I discuss what’s possibly up next for Thrall and Sylvanas? That’s when the flood arrives.
That is the heart of being a lore-junkie… it’s being obsessed with question “what happens next”. If you’ve ever found yourself asking that while playing, you may be a lore-junkie yourself.