The Big Issue : Edition 516
16 THE BIG ISSUE 15 – 28 JULY 2016 WoW account tweeted, “.@robinwilliams Thank you. You gave us so much joy in our lives, and we hope you enjoyed your time in our world. We’ll see you in-game.” To try to explain all this to someone who has never played WoW is to be met with almost uniformly blank expressions. “It’s just a game,” is the traditional response, or perhaps, “but the graphics aren’t even that good.” All those things are, to those of us who played back then, immaterial. As you moved within Azeroth, you experienced milestones, discovered favourite places and forged memories. The variables of the game mean that no two WoW players’ treasured memories are likely to be the same. I picked up the game again in 2014 and played until my poor old computer could no longer take the strain of the game’s considerable system requirements. Now, I get my WoW- lore fix from Blizzard’s electronic card game, Hearthstone. The memory of those days spent wandering beneath the pink and purple leaves of Ashenvale are never far from my mind, though, and to this day I will often drift away and recall the landscapes of my in-game childhood. It was this WoW homesickness that meant I was always going to be front-and-centre when Duncan Jones’ Warcraft movie opened. Hell, I thought, Jones himself is a long- time WoW player, what could possibly go wrong? Throughout the protracted pre- and post-production process, I knew to keep my expectations under control: there is a long and storied history of video game movies, well, sucking, and though I hoped that Warcraft might be the one to break the mould, I knew that Jones’ chances were probably slim. As it turns out, the film is pretty good. Watched and accepted in the spirit of 1980s fantasy cartoons, rather than anything loftier, it’s even fun. I also enjoyed the fact that Travis Fimmel, Australia’s finest contribution to the global beefcake market, played Sir Anduin Lothar as though he was constantly on the brink of tears. Toby Kebbell, who outshone star Andy Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, managed to make the immense orc hero, Durotan, soulful (never did I, a dedicated Alliance player, ever think I would be barracking for the Horde). Beyond the slightly ham-fisted hero’s journey machinations, the real ace up Warcraft’s sleeve was exactly the thing that fuelled YouTube comments sections and my own guided meditations for years: finally, Azeroth was real, and we had returned. Not only was the imagery gorgeous, but the handful of zones that the film’s “cameras” swooned over – Stormwind City, Goldshire, Elwynn Forest, Westfall – were low-level zones, plugging straight into every WoW- playing viewer’s nostalgia circuits as they remembered their early days in-game. I saw the film at a packed session on a Friday evening after it opened – the waves of affectionate laughter that rang out as certain inns and forests appeared assured me I was among friends. In fact, the film could have concerned itself with little more than Anduin and Durotan reading the phonebook – which it more or less did – and I wouldn’t have noticed, because every time there was a sweeping shot of a familiar tree line or mountain range, I knew I finally had my answer: you can go home again. » Clem Bastow is a Melbourne-based cultural critic and screenwriter with an interest in pop culture and gender politics. TARIA WRYNN (RUTH NEGGA), QUEEN OF STORMWIND, ALSO ENJOYS THE VIEWS.