Oh! It’s so hard to chose! Certainly the most recent example of this happened just last week. I was working on the Wrathgate quest line minding my own business when I arrive at the quest to kill Thel'zan the Duskbringer. I almost failed the quest I was laughing so hard after reading the lich was none other than “Father Inigo Montoy”. The Princess Bride happens to be one of my favorite movies and I have in fact quoted Inigo Montoya in a post here at PPI. Discongruency is an aspect of humor and this irrelevancy in the middle of what is a sober quest chain was priceless.
Another one that I liked was Lord Serpentis who proclaims that he is the serpent king and he can do anything. I’m dating myself here but I have actually visited the grave of Jim Morrison. Can you imagine that Elnia was once huge fan of The Doors. That should make you laugh. “If you give this man a ride/sweet family will die/killer on the road.” I sing that sometimes when I am grinding mobs.
Sometimes I do wonder though if all the humor in the game is intentional. There is a quest that rogues get to start lockpicking at level ten. There is a paragraph in the text that reads, “The Hidden Circle has values. We value valuables. Can ye understand?” Even now typing that brings tears to me eyes. I’m not sure I do understand, actually. Isn’t valuing valuables what makes values valuable? Or is it that valuable values cause rogues to have valuable values? I don’t know. But in homage to that line I have come to define an ethicist as one who values values.
Yes, I do think the sense of humor in Warcraft is under appreciated. It’s easy to take the game too seriously and get caught up in the search for epics and gold and forget to laugh when the laughing is good. Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry and you will cry with all the other raiders complaining about Blizzard making the game too easy.
My favourite pop culture references are definitely the ones I find on my own, stumbling upon them by accident.
For instance I remember how I smiled when I noticed that The Ocular, a thing you are supposed to destroy in the quest “It’s All fun and Games”, looked very similar to the eye of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings movie.
But unfortunately I don’t see much of those things without anyone pointing them out to me, since I seem to be playing WoW wearing an eye bindle, as I pointed out in a post from October 2008. At that point I had finally recognized Jhordy Lapforge and Scooty, and was quite enthusiastic about it, being a hopeless Star Trek fan. And I still love them.
It was the finding of the excellent Wowwiki list that opened my eyes to other references, such as Scooby Doo’s collar appearing in the form of Alterac Valley Marks and the Pink Floyd quotations in The Triage quest at Theramore. And in the post I pointed out how stupid I felt for not noticing it by myself.
The only explanation I have is that I often suffer from tunnel vision, being too focused on my game play to pay much attention to the details. Probably I’m also rushing the content a little too quickly, often trying to get things done efficiently rather than enjoying the ride. Which is isn’t a good thing, but that’s how I play the game.
I thought I could as well go back to the list and check out what jokes and references I’ve missed in WotLK. And I didn’t get disappointed. Of course there was a ton of new ones, including some more Star Trek love.
There’s Sailor Picardo and Sailor Philips, deckhands of the Kraken, likely to be references to actors Robert Picardo and Ethan Philips, who played the characters of The Doctor and Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager.
In Borean Tundra, there are some evil gnomes, acting like the Borg: "We are Mechagnome...resistance is futile" "You will be assimilated or eliminated."
And in Grizzly Hills, Datalore Smallsphere associates to Data and his twin android Lore.
In Blizzcast 12, the interviewed developers briefly touched upon the topic of the pop culture references and the humour in the game. Tom said that that they have a whole bunch of class clowns working at Blizzard, so that it “inevitably finds its way through”.
Those class clowns however, aren’t only up-to-date with popular games, rock music and movies. They also occasionally show that they have a broader education. For instance there is the quest Horn of the Ancient Mariner , referring to the 18th century poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge. Of course you COULD argue that the Blizzard staff rather have listened to the Iron Maiden version of it, but I prefer to think they didn’t.
And then you have Drottinn Hrothgar, with the same name as character in the epic poem Beowulf. The Old Gnome and the Sea achievement refers to a short story by Ernest Hemingway and Parts for the Job contains a Fresh Pound of Flesh, associating to The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare.
Whenever I see one of those notches to players who don’t only consume pop culture, but also read classical works, I feel Tickled Pink. It clearly shows that WoW is aiming for a very broad and diverse audience.