Blizzard lorelord Chris Metzen (‘senior vice president of story and franchise development’, if you want to be technical) has handed in his badge and his loregiver (his keyboard, obvs) and taken The Long Walk into The Cursed Earth (idk, Reddit?). After nearly 23 years of laying down the lore and voicing characters from Thrall to the good ol’ Terran Battlecruiser, Metzen last night announced his retirement. He’s off to spend time with his family, see.
Metzen had been at Blizzard since the original WarCraft: Orcs & Humans, touching the story and cinematics of every game since, while chipping in on bits of design, voice direction, manuals… a lot. He was also creative director of Overwatch, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft and its first few expansions. He’s been at Blizzard a while, you understand. Done quite a bit. Also some WoW novels and bits on the movie. Been quite involved in all of it. And what’s he learned?
“I wouldn’t really understand the depth of it for many years, but I had learned an important truth from my friends back then:
“Creativity is relational.
“Looking back at my years at Blizzard, I see now how profoundly this idea has shaped my career. I see how profoundly my friends and coworkers at Blizzard have shaped me as a person.”
“I pretty much had the coolest job ever—but the truth is, sometimes it was really hard. Building games with dozens of brilliant, passionate alpha-geeks with their own red-hot instincts and perspectives can be pretty tricky. Coming to consensus about certain design decisions, story motifs, or courses of art direction takes a lot of communication, patience, and ‘give and take.’ It stretches you. Sometimes it wasn’t all that pretty. But engaging with your teammates and collaborating through the potential quagmire of all that creative tension is where the real magic happens.
“It’s not just the decisions you come to—or even the final shape of the product you craft… It’s bigger than that—and infinitely more important. True collaboration builds trust—and trust is the basis of all lasting relationships. With trust you build more than just a great product.
“You build a TRIBE… that can build anything.
“A family of craftsmen.”
So it’s true what they say: friendship is magic. Now we can all skip learning that lesson the hard way.
Metzen is retiring to spend time with his family, which includes a couple of sprogs. He says he’s actually, properly retiring – not planning to join another studio or start his own projects. Just retiring. Well, mostly retiring.
If I write enough news posts, maybe one day I’ll get to retire to a quiet life with my wife, the sea.