So, I woke up this morning having watched the 7.2.5 cinematic last night, with a very clear belief in my head. Don’t worry, there’s absolutely no spoilers on the thing at all. You can read on without fear.
Popularized by radio personality Jon Hein in the 1990s and early 2000s, this phrase is based on a scene from a fifth-season episode of the sitcom Happy Days in which the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis. This was deemed a ratings ploy, for it was outside of the original thrust of the sitcom.
Wikipedia entry, Jumping the Shark.
Warcraft is still an immensely popular title. It is becoming apparent however that what matters most to the majority of players is a constant stream of new diversions, multiple means to gear characters quickly and a range of end game pursuits; both solo and in organised groups. What has lessened in significance, especially since Warlords, is the relevance of a consistent and coherent narrative to tie this to. In fact, as became glaringly obvious when the Dark Portal turned red and we all inexplicably went back 40 years in time, narrative now seems to be of secondary importance behind reward.
The hire of Christie Golden as a Blizzard employee in May did not go unnoticed in these parts. When considering the various strands of narrative storytelling that exist in Legion, there remains a measure of inconsistency, which would indicate no one person is guiding the journey. It is hard to deny that the Suramar ‘experience’ isn’t well written or presented, and I personally greatly enjoyed my time on the Professions quest lines in Highmountain. The rest of our modus operandi however relies on the re-introduction of a character who was billed as a villain back in TBC, returning with some quite flimsy re-engineering of storylines from Wrath onwards. If you buy into the ‘comic book universe’ conceit, where the same story can be told multiple times, then this won’t bother you that much, I suspect. Those of us who enjoy our tales with more depth however have seen the signs coming for quite some time.
The usage of “jump the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, franchise, or creative effort’s evolution declines, or when it changes notably in style into something unwelcome.
I watched the 7.2.5 Cinematic when it became available because I was keen to know where our story was going next. After the dramatic events of the 7.2 Trailer, confidence was high. However, nothing really prepared me for what was presented.
I am not here to bury Warcraft, and never have been. I am but one woman, with limited time and interest in the game. To me, the entire narrative development from 7.2.5’s cinematic is a MacGuffin, feels completely contrived and is created only to allow the progression to 7.3 with minimal effort. I don’t need to explain anything else: at this point most people won’t care regardless, they’ll just want to know when they can play on Argus. In the end, that is what matters more than having an immersive reason for playing. It supersedes ‘class fantasy’ by quite some way.
The narrative coherence I so hoped would follow from Suramar appears to have completely evaporated.
Maybe the picture I saw of people visiting Blizzard recently who have an interest in Lore, plus Golden’s late Expansion hire, might indicate that history still has a relevance, but I know now it is too late for me. The ‘reboot’ that began with an alternate Draenor now has all too conveniently moved the plot to Argus, and the immersion has gone, possibly for good. As long as there’s plenty of nods to the past plus an endless supply of new models and rewards, most people are just gonna keep playing regardless. This wee woman, shaking her head in disbelief at the contrivance of plot, made a personal realisation yesterday that jumping the shark is as subjective a revelation as no longer desiring to raid. I’m no longer playing this game the right way to begin with, so it won’t matter one iota how I end up not playing it ‘properly’ in 7.3.
I am no longer experiencing this game as immersively as I once did. All I have now is to play.