World of Warcraft

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Name: World of Warcraft
Abbreviation(s): WoW
Creator: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Date(s): 2004 -
Medium: MMORPG
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: WowLegion.jpg
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World of Warcraft (or WoW) is a popular MMORPG created by video game publisher Blizzard Entertainment and set in their already existing Warcraft universe. Its release on November 23, 2004, marked the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. In October 2010 WoW had over 12 million subscribers.[1]

Game World

What started out as a fairly straightforward "Orc vs. Human" universe developed into a rich and diversified world, featuring several other distinguishable races, epic storylines and beautiful landscapes. The two warring sides however, Alliance and Horde, remain.


The Alliance is formed between Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, Night Elves, Draenei and Worgen (Humans with a werewolf curse). The Horde features Orcs, Trolls, Tauren, Forsaken (undead Humans), Blood Elves and Goblins. Pandaren can join either faction.[2]

Game Classes

Depending on their race, characters can be one of these classes: Death Knight, Druid, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock or Warrior.[3]

Fan References within the Game

From the beginning Blizzard followed a tradition of placing popcultural references, often in the form of NPCs with recognizable names such as Lenny "Fingers" McCoy or archaeology trainer Harrison Jones. Furthermore, some members of Blizzard's staff received in-game acknowledgment as well.[4] However, it doesn't stop there.

Over time, references to members of the WoW Community emerged in the game. In Loving Memory is a tribute from his friends at Blizzard to a player who died in his 40s. At Blizzcon 2010 a fan, quickly known as The Red Shirt Guy, brought some discrepancies to the attention of lead designers Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen which resulted in The Wildhammer Fact Checker in-game, of course wearing a red shirt.[5]

You Awaken in Razor Hill

Player Alex Levinton started a game on the US WoW forum in the form of a Text Adventure. The starter entry was:

You are an Orc Hunter and your name is Tednugent. You feel this is an exceptionally clever name, but nobody ever seems to get the joke. You have a Cat for a pet, his name is Scratchfever. You feel this is also an exceptionally clever name. Nobody ever gets this joke, either. You are level 80. Scratchfever is also level 80. You do not remember how you came to be logged out in Razor Hill, but the place looks deserted. There are no NPCs in sight and your Track Humanoids, which is currently active, is turning up completely blank. Scratchfever seems agitated. His Happiness is getting low and you don't have any Meat or Fish to feed him. You have only 500 bullets left for your gun.

  • To the north is the road to Orgrimmar, it travels along the base of a short, narrow, red stone canyon.
  • To the south is that little Troll village you never remember the name of.
  • To the east is Razor Hill's large central building.
  • To the west is a primitive stamped-earth path leading out into the red rock desert of Durotar.[6]

The thread quickly became a huge success, prompting more and more people to give Levinton's character new challenges. Levinton's answers were clever, funny and spicked with jibes and in-game jokes. With the release of the Cataclysm expansion Blizzard honored Levinton's work by implementing Tednug, an old Orc patrolling the road to Razor Hill, accompanied by his trusted cat Scratchfever.

Ezra Chatterton

In 2007, 10 year old Ezra Chatteron, avid WoW fan and suffering from brain cancer, was invited to visit Blizzard HQ with help from the Make-A-Wish foundation. He received, amongst other things, the world's first Ashes of Al'ar (a phoenix mount and still a rare drop to this day), but the developers at Blizzard did more: Together with lead game designer Jeffrey Kaplan Ezra created a Tauren NPC in the starter area of Mulgore. However, unlike other tribut NPCs, Ahab Wheathoof is actually a quest giver, sending the player to feed his dog Kyle (designed after Ezra's own dog). He cannot be attacked, neither by Horde nor Alliance. Ezra also provided the voice-over for this quest.[7] In 2008, Ezra passed away.[8] Afterwards, Blizzard renamed the Thunder Bluff Elder (a spirit only appearing during Lunar Festival) to Ezra Wheathoof.

The case of Ezra Chatterton has become widely known within the community. Fans felt a connection to the boy, not just because of his circumstances, but also because the NPC Ahab Wheathoof is at some point a quest giver for many Horde players. It has become a custom to have small interactions with him, such as greeting or waving. The Lunar Festival, a two-week festival to honor ones ancestors, features an achievement that requires players to visit all Elders, even those in enemy territory. During that time it's not uncommon to observe Alliance players saluting Ezra Wheathoof with respect, before they usually are killed by Horde players or jump to their death from Thunder Bluff.


Being a game fandom, WoW offers multiple media possibilities for fans to be creative: text, art, video creation and music are among the most common fan works.

Fanfiction and Fanart

Due to the variety of in-game plots, races, cultural backgrounds, game classes and relations between the races and factions, Fanfiction and Fanart offers a broad spectrum of possibilities without the need to go AU. Classic Adventure, political intrigues, Fantasy in various shapes - even Science Fiction can be canon due to the space-faring Draenei race. Pairings between different races can also include kinks such as tentacle, furry, bestiality and necrophilia. Dark themes like rape or torture aren't uncommon, considering the fact that there is constant war in Azeroth and Outland.


WoW offers a huge archive of sound files and many fans use these files (especially speech files) to create new works. One of the most successful remixes in the history of WoW fandom in terms of publicity is MrVoletron's You FACE Jaraxxus, a high beat arrangement featuring voice-overs from the Jaraxxus boss fight.[9]

Another classic is the "Moar DoTs!!!" incident, a raid wipe from so-called Vanilla WoW (the early game as it was before any expansions) where the raid leader went into a rage fit in voice chat. His repeated demand for more DoTs has made it into the collective mind of the WoW community, the phrase being used now randomly or to comment a rage outburst. The voice file of that raid has also been used to create remixes, such as the Onyxia Wipe Animation Song Remix, with the Onyxia Wipe Animation being very popular as well. Also the phrase was later used for the achievement More Dots! gained for killing Onyxia in less than five minutes.[10]


Craft of War: BLIND

Blizzard announced 2007 in a "Letter to the Machinimators of the World of Warcraft” that they would support fanwork using video footage of the game as long as there was no profit gained.[11] Thus WoW has developed an active and thriving Machinima Community, with many fans producing their own visual stories or using this form to comment on something. Vids are released to various sites,, or general video portals (Vimeo, YouTube...), to name just a few. Some well known vidders such as Olibith or Baron Soosdon also use their own websites to distribute the vids. Over the last years Blizzard also held a Machinima contest during BlizzCon.

Percula, creator of one of the most famous WoW machinimas The Craft of War: BLIND, states that his video isn't actually a Machinima,[12] but "a rendered animation that's similar to many CG films and television shows. The animations were made by me in a 3D application. I used game assets so I guess you could refer to it as a machinima in that sense."[13] Nevertheless, his video is referred to as machinima within the community.

Vid Tutorials

Vid tutorials are mainly used to describe raid encounters and fight mechanics. With the retirement of popular guide producers Tankspot, Fatboss has grown to be one of the main resources for high quality raid encounter tutorials and many low- and mid-level guilds make use of their guides. High-level raiding guilds often release their own raid encounter tutorials.

Additionally, WoW tutorial vids can discuss many other topics, such as the installation and use of certain Addons, the best way to complete a quest, or strategies for how to make gold. Those tutorials are mostly found on Youtube.


WoW features several soundtracks with epic scores. Rearranging and rerecording in-game music is therefore one of the fan activities connected to this part of the game.[14]

There are, however, original fan-made compositions as well, which are used in machinimas. Christmas Time in Dun Morogh by Pure Pwnage and ROFLMAO Productions features not only the stunning landscape of Dun Morogh, but also a nostalgic song about the carefree time as a beginner in the dwarven and gnome starter zone. Greyfoo's Exodar Disco transforms the spaceship Exodar into a 70s disco, and Xcross - winner of the 2010 WoW Movie Contest: Rise to Power - lets Edwin VanCleef sing Welcome to the Deadmines, to name just three.[15]


In addition to original music, fans also record WoW parodies—usually currently-popular songs with lyrics relating to gameplay from the player's perspective, or lore from an in-game character's perspective. These are similar to filk in other fandoms. Parodies are normally released by the artist on YouTube with an accompanying machinima or a still image in place of the video.