What Warcraft can teach you about better stories

Crusader's Ascent

I read with some sorrow about the political story of one candidate making accusations that their opponent should not be elected because they play World of Warcraft. What silliness – it’s clear to me that the accuser apparently has nothing else to run on. That said, here’s a major reason why I think someone who did play World of Warcraft might make a better representative – or employee, or colleague, or intern – than someone who watched television.

Video games like World of Warcraft are the last bastion of great storytelling in mass media. When you look at what’s happening in other forms of media, it’s somewhat disheartening. Television has become polluted with reality shows that tell no stories at all. Radio lost its fireside quality decades ago. The movies have flat out given up on stories, as evidenced by the fact that every movie I watched as a kid is being remade instead of new stories being told. Even books at the mass level seem to be less and less about compelling, grand storytelling (fifty shades of what?).

Think about what advice you always hear at conferences about making compelling social media and marketing. It’s the same phrase over and over again: tell great stories. The reality is, however, most marketers couldn’t tell the story of their company in a compelling way if their lives depended on it (and certainly, their livelihoods depend on it).

In order to be able to tell great stories, you have to be exposed to great stories. You have to immerse yourself in dynamic, dramatic tales that stir your emotions, give you new ways to use words to express yourself, and create compelling descriptions that keep you reading along, hungering for more. World of Warcraft contains some of the best storytelling that I’ve been exposed to in recent times. Even more important, when you play a character in a video game, you’re creating a story of your own. From the day your character leaves Northshire Abbey or the Valley of Trials, you’re learning to tell your own story, set in the context of the Warcraft universe.

Given a choice between two job candidates with equal skills, one who was a Warcraft player in the evenings, and one who watched television in the evenings, I’d choose to hire the Warcraft player every time. I’d rather have someone who can retell the rise and fall of the Lich King than what Honey Boo Boo did.


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  • http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com/ Mike Allton

    Wow. I was referred to your blog by another Social Media consultant and I certainly hoped to find some great nuggets of information. I read your last couple of posts about conferences and was impressed, particularly since I’m looking at my 2013 schedule. And then I found this post. I was never a WoW player – I played Guild Wars instead – yet the overall point wasn’t lost on me. These games contain great stories (as well as a need for teamwork and networking, but that’s a topic for another blog) and the suggestion that someone who values these activities over watching drab television should be hired is spot on. Dare I say, l33t.