Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cataclysm = Global Warming?

It came to me the other night - the World Of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, might be intended as an allegory for global warming. (Yes, you know how I like to sniff these out in popular culture!)

Consider this (I include observations on pre-Cataclysm game play, just to set up how the game world uses lots of real world references):

The WoW world is divided between two super powers, neither of which has a pure record on either human rights or environmental issues. (The one power, The Alliance, is just better-looking, in general, with better dental care.)

Overlapping with these is one race, the Goblins, who seem pretty clearly the industrialists / capitalists of the world - everywhere they go they strip mine, deforest, drain lakes, and build armies of robots to protect their assets or to carry on their plots. When they give missions to players, they never have military objectives (unlike quests given by Horde or Alliance NPCs) - they always want you to steal or acquire some materials for their latest project, or sabotage the competition.

The only other group (that I can recall) that has significant overlap and interaction with both superpowers is called the Cenarion Circle. They are basically Green Peace with weapons. Any mission they give players will be about saving animals or plant species, killing intrusive species, assassinating members of the foresting or mining cartels, or finding samples of rare plants.

Okay, on to Cataclysm: A giant fire-breathing Dragon has broken free and caused massive damage all over. The most visible is that huge parts of the coastal areas are now underwater. The place that looked like Monument Valley, Thousand Needles, is especially striking, as it now looks like Lake Powell, with mesas sticking up out of the water of a vast lake. Several cities now exist with their buildings half-submerged but still inhabited. This cataclysm is said to cause a rupture within the elements of their world themselves.

Now, the allegory would be perfect if the industrialists had set the Dragon off, but as far as I know, that is not hinted at anywhere. He's just a bad dragon. But flying over all these people up to their knees in water, while standing in their city streets, sure looked like a global warming scenario to me.


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