In Holy Murloctrimony

By Alec Meer on November 17th, 2008 at 9:49 pm.

Do forgive me yet another World of Warcraft post, but, as tends to be the case with that all-consuming MMO, I haven’t really had the chance to play much else this last week. My thoughts on Lich King so far are appearing as a series of review diaries on IGN UK ahead of the review proper, and they lobbed the first one up today. Here, though, I want to talk about a very specific aspect of WoW. Over the weekend, you see, I attended my first ever in-game wedding. Aw.

It wasn’t folk I knew, but rather the message went out across Stormwind City’s local chat that a ceremony was about to kick off in the cathedral, and anyone was welcome. I was only buying a new hat from the auction house at the time, so I figured I might as well pop over to see how this kind of thing went down.

Stormwind Cathedral is an odd structure. In theory, its only real purpose is to house the zone’s Priest and Paladin trainers, but it’s a hugely elaborate construct for such a single function. It was only upon arriving at the wedding – playing as my new Death Knight character, and only just remembering to tactfully remove my fearsome horned helmet before the ceremony began – that I realised there was a little more to it than that. The arrangement of NPCs seemed tailored-made towards a wedding – from the pageboy who wandered the aisles to the priest trainer behind the altar. As the groom and his own elected holy man took their places on the stage, there was no mistaking what was happening here.

The crowd was a small one, and seemingly mostly randoms who’d, like me, come to stare. I didn’t get any sense of the story behind this wedding – was this real love, simply roleplaying, or some fragile fusion of the two? Why was the rest of their guild not here? Could it be some divisive Romeo & Juliet tale? – but it was certainly treated with utmost seriousness.

Well, save for by one attendee. A gramatically-challenged gnome wearing a pumpkin on his head rushed the stage, stood atop the altar and repeatedly /yelled obnoxious, illiterate gibberish. There isn’t a grit-jaw-and-tense-shoulders emoticon in WoW, but the stony silence and uncomfortable twitching of the various players made it clear that everyone was irked by the gnome’s dickishness, but had no idea what to do about it. He, quite obviously, thought this whole thing was a bit of a joke. Me? Well, I thought it was weird. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But it was something harmless and sweet and very possibly deeply meaningful to the two people involed, so the fact it was weird didn’t grant anyone the right to try and screw it up for them.

The priest eventually hit upon the idea of suggesting everyone else /ignored the hateful gnome. Silence apparently fell, though the little bastard continued to bounce up and down in the front of the groom. The groom himself had been all but motionless all this time, but finally he performed a tiny rotation towards the rear of the cathedral. And there she was – his puppet-armed bride to be. She hovered nervously in the antechamber for a moment, then walked briskly – too briskly, really – up the aisle. To my great chagrin, she wasn’t wearing a bridal grown, while the Death Knight groom had only shed his armour for some plain trousers and a garish blue shirt. An informal wedding then, though the attending priest took it very seriously. He was doing this one by the book.

Finally, we got some backstory, though entirely in character – so I can’t tell you for sure if the bride was a bride, and the groom a groom, if they knew each other in reality, if they intended to make life imitate this curious art or not. The groom character was once, we heard, a Night Elf Druid, later recruited by the Lich King into the twisted ranks of the Death Knights. Upon his release from Arthas’ hold, he found redemption in the arms of a pretty human priest. Throughout this heavily role-played introduction, the general chat channel buzzed with goldseller spam. I’d say it spoiled the mood, but between the general air of awkwardness and the pinballing gnome interloper, I’m not entirely sure what the mood was in the first place.

Then it was time for the vows. I’d been treating this whole shebang with the utmost respect until now, and was even a little touched despite my innate cynicism. That all fell apart come the groom’s vows, which followed after a loooong pause as he typed them out. Riddled as they were with spelling and grammatical errors, it became miserably clear there was nothing remotely real about this after all. He even spelt ‘promise’ wrong.

Now, I don’t flid out when people spell stuff wrong, whether it’s on or off the internet. It is the way of things, and generally there’s little use in fighting it. If, however, this so-called wedding had been as meaningful as it had hitherto had the trappings of, couldn’t he at least – at the very least – have run his vow through a spellchecker, or shown it to a well-spoken chum? This is supposed to be something you only do once, buddy. A little effort, huh? He spoke words of love, but so garbled that there was no way they’d been pre-prepared. This was surely being made up on the spot. My heart sank. (Of course, there’s every chance the guy had some condition that made spelling tricky for him, but still – I’d wanted this to be the perfect day rather than the ad-hoc muckabout it now seemed).

The bride’s vows were a little better but had a few similar failings, and if she was dismayed by her nearly-husband’s sloppiness she certainly didn’t show it. But I was barely paying attention by that point. This wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. One day, I’ll attend a real MMO wedding. I don’t care if it’s full of cartoon elves – if it’s people doing it because it really means a huge amount to them, I wish them all the best and I’d genuinely love to see it. As the small crowd dissipated idly after some token /cheering, I hit my hearthstone, teleported back to Northrend and wandered off to kill some Shoveltusks. I’d hoped I’d see something that would make WoW seem a little more special, an act of love as demonstrated by a society dramatically and perhaps irrevocably changed by online gaming. Instead, here I was killing pigs in a field again. Maybe that bloody gnome had it right after all.

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33 Comments »

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  1. Skaal-tel says:

    For some reason there’s ALWAYS that one gnome…

    I’ve seen better ceremonies.. but basically it’s just a chance to use that dust-covered bank slot with your tux in it.

  2. Klaus says:

    This is supposed to be something you only do once, buddy. A little effort, huh?

    I lol’d.

    But I would have lost interest around the same time you did. I get enough RP from D&D.

    I did attend some sort of religious ceremony in Tibia a few years back but I didn’t know what was going on and people told me not to talk until the ‘Headman’ was done. It might have been a cult thing but I left after ten minutes so I’ll never know.

  3. Heliocentric says:

    Woah… IGN really is a mess lately, Brings my bowser to its knees and is impossible to navigate to certain areas without 3 maybe 4 clicks. And that scrolling “new articles thing” barely even functions. After seeing how 1up has refined itself becoming easier to use. And frankly even the linear format RPS’ uses puts IGN’s noisy mess of a site to shame.

    Nothing to add about e-weddings, I find them less sinister than facebook’s passive aggressive socialising. And that is something much more popular.

  4. AbyssUK says:

    My name is AbyssUK and I was a MMORPGaholic I’ve been clean of WoW Everquest Eve and CoX now for 3 years, and you know what I haven’t missed anything. Long live single player gaming.

  5. KBKarma says:

    Shame about that. Apparently, online weddings can lead to real weddings, or vice-versa. They can be meaningful and beautiful times.

    Unless you’re just doing them for RPing purposes. Then, it sucks.

    Might have been the same guy controlling both characters. Which is vaguely masturbatory.

  6. Alaric says:

    Kinda weird that nobody showed up. Must be a Horde-majority server. I’d totally go check it out, so would most people I know. =)

    Oh and there should be something to not only ignore the annoying bastards who interrupt role playing, but to also make them invisible to you. That way they would have absolutely no chance for ruining the game for the rest of us.

  7. hydra9 says:

    Can I marry a Shoveltusk? Or at least buy one?

  8. Ben Abraham says:

    Mack in may of this year there was an academic conference held in WoW, on the Earthen Ring RP server. They set up a guild called ‘Science’ and had some cool discussions and events for people to attend.

    One of the events they held was an in-character WoW Marriage, and by all accounts it was 100x bigger and better than this.

    The wiki page for the conference:
    http://convergentsystems.pbwiki.com/May+2008+Conference

    The page for the “Wedding and Formal Dance”:
    http://convergentsystems.pbwiki.com/Expedition+3

  9. Ben Abraham says:

    MY KINGDOM FOR AN EDIT FUNCTION! (I know, it’s broken, but I can still complain, yeah?)

  10. Hmm.Hmm says:

    So, Alec, you actually stay in WoW’s general chat?

  11. Erlam says:

    I’m not sure why, but I imagine the Night Elf as a 14 year old boy, yearning for any love he can get. The Priest? A poor, shut-in 40 year old woman.

  12. thefanciestofpants says:

    Years ago, before burning crusade, a (real-life) couple got in-game married. It was pretty fun, we did it in a nice scenic location in feralas to avoid things like the aforementioned bouncing gnome. The whole guild turned out, our most sharply dressed undead priest acting as the celebrant.

    Of course being a proper Horde wedding the reception was a raid on Darnassus. Good times.

  13. thefanciestofpants says:

    **PRETENDING THERE’S AN EDIT BUTTON**

    .. and of course it was black-tie only for the raid. Most amusing.

  14. megaman says:

    I’ve been to a couple of weddings in Eternal Lands, a small (but free) MMORPG. All of them were really nice – lots of guests, no griefers, a nice setting and ceremony. It all felt warm and people were full of joy for the couple, some of them even had presents for the couple afterwards.

    Polls show that the majority of the player base are adults, and it is not as hyped or streamlined as WoW. And as long as it stays this way, the community will be what makes the difference, and what makes it worth playing.

  15. Bobsy says:

    Was this on an RP server, Alec?

  16. simon says:

    Bouncy gnome!

  17. simon says:

    OK, apart from my previous overly insightful and excessively literate post, can I politely ask you RPS tarts to STOP WRITING ABOUT WoW!?

    I quit that shit a year ago and the more you post about it the more I’m tempted to go back, only remembering the good times, and I just ain’t got that sort of free time any more.

    Just in passing, has there been a study of how many on-line gamers (not just MMOs) play a character of the opposite sex? I habitually play as a girl (and not LIKE a girl like many might think) but not for pervy reasons, more because I’m curious to get a different viewpoint as to how other players (who may well be doing the same thing (damn, those parantheses are contagious)) react/interact.

  18. Aga says:

    For a long time I was the only one priest in my guild and was giving like one wedding per month. And it was always very serious and romantic, vows full of words like Love and Passion, Moon and Stars and Magic and then cheering, jumping, drinking beer… After a few times it became just boring. I wouldn’t mind that gnome from time to time.

  19. Dizet Sma says:

    A crossover WoW / Second Life? Lots of ‘weddings’ in SL and, if you’ve been exposed to any UK media this week, you’ll have seen some Real Life divorces as a consequence.

  20. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m with the gnome, it’s your social obligation to meet public displays of weirdness with ridicule

  21. Leelad says:

    Completely off topic but anyone who’s done the Wrathgate questline in full and doesn’t rate this expansion less than 1235/10 is a fat racist dicktit

    THE most amazing thing I’ve done in wow so far. That’s including silly running kara after the lolpatch.

  22. Ian says:

    @ Leelad: I’ve heard a few people mention this but haven’t encountered it and want to be sure I haven’t missed it. Does it start in Dragonblight?

  23. Cueball says:

    Leelad – it’s also a surprisingly well kept secret. Very few people are posting spoilers about it and everyone I know who’s done it has walked into it in complete surprise.

    Let’s keep it that way… ;)

  24. Chris says:

    There have been funerals in Wow for players that have past away in real life too. Which would be very moving to be at.

  25. Ian says:

    @ Chris: Until somebody crashes it, as has been reported on at least one occasion that I remember reading about.

  26. cyrenic says:

    @Ian

    I’m guess you’re referring to this one? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHJVolaC8pw

    Protip: Don’t hold important gatherings in a contested zone on a PvP server.

  27. meeper says:

    Back in the day as an EQ Guide I had to ‘officiate’ a wedding – though not by choice. The Guide scheduled to do it had an issue of the non-imaginary kind and left me holding a queue full of angry wedding goers wondering where the hell the 989 rep was.

    Over a hundred people showed for the ceremony, putting a serious strain on the zone’s server and the number of /tell’s was nearly as insane as the spam from the few idiots determined to make asses of themselves. Though the wedding party in my case was markedly better prepared than was yours Alec, I couldn’t shake the absolute cheese feeling that pervaded the event.

    An hour later (yes, hour) it was over and I swore I’d never be involved in something so stupid again. The coup de grace was when a fellow Guide reported later that he had issued a warning to the bride/groom for engaging in emote sex in cabin.

    That day completely turned me off of the social aspect of MMOs for the better part of a decade. And my wife wonders why I won’t play WoW with her.

  28. Last Best Hope says:

    You should have got down a transcript or screenshot of those vows, so we could have all had a laugh at the illiterate mong.

  29. Hatch says:

    I read your IGN impressions article, and felt vindicated because I wrote something to largely the same effect on my own blog yesterday. Blizz basically injected story and context (and as you say, “custom graphics and clever art direction”) into the old formula, and reinvigorated the whole thing.

  30. Merus says:

    I’ve been to an in-game wedding before, though in Puzzle Pirates back during the beta of that game. The first in-game wedding there was real, and ended up having the lead designer’s character officiate the service. The one I attended wasn’t quite that special, but still.

  31. Bonedancer says:

    Simon: “… has there been a study of how many on-line gamers (not just MMOs) play a character of the opposite sex?”

    I don’t know about gaming in general, but a bloke called Nick Yee has a whole site full of graphs and charts about who plays what in MMOs, and why. The most relevant I could see at a glance was this one:

    http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/000551.php

  32. GothikX says:

    I’ve attended a wedding in Anarchy Online a long time ago, and heard of many others (there was even a nice article somewhere I can’t seem to find); they were generally nice events; and yes, there were two or three funerals during my stay there – I didn’t know any of them but damn, it felt really… hm, can’t seem to find any fitting words right now.