“Don’t clap too loudly—it’s a very old world.”
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
WoW: The Definitive Version
The World of Warcraft is the definitive version of an MMO. It will be the top dog until we are forced to a different platform when playing games, the desktop PC will fade away. It is a cultural phenomenon and has become part of a lifestyle for many players all over the world.
So, what is a “definitive version”? Often declared so by critics but more often a fun debate in a bar, a definitive version of a work is when the piece has been so perfectly executed that there is no reason to return to the work.
Probably best described by a lot of examples. To lay the claim does not make it so but it is fun to think about. It should make the argument that it is the best solution to a problem … until a better one comes along!
Bob Fosse’s Cabaret was so well crafted that no director would feel the need to tackle that story again. Stage versions in community theater are a pale echo of the movie all the way down to the widow’s peak on Sally Bowles. There can be no claim that something in that story needs to be explored.
The movies Sound of Music and Mary Poppins with the transcendent Julie Andrews are definitive versions of those stories. We will soon see a new Mary Poppins with Emily Blunt (as I recall) but a different story. Of course, I am skeptical.
Cinderella has been around forever, hundreds of years. The story is a good one and has been told over and over. From the 1937 Disney animation to the Julie Andrews (again) version to Leslie Ann Warren in the 60’s to some odd knock-offs like Ever After with Drew Barrymore or “modern day” versions with Hillary Duff and Selena Gomez. I would argue that the recent live version directed by Kenneth Branaugh was so lovingly crafted that there is no need (and no one should dare) to return to tell this story again.
Whitney Houston was a powerhouse. Her performance of I Will Always Love You, written by Dolly Parton, is so strong that I’d call that a definitive version of the song. It would take some bravery to try it on stage — unless you thought that you could take a totally different look at it to bring new life to the song (maybe rap or interpretive dance).
No one has nailed the King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur, Lancelot, Merlin story. Writers, story tellers, song writers, movie makers, television producers keep coming back to this story over and over. We have yet to see a definitive version.
WoW is also a cultural phenomenon. It will be hard to judge the game in any light until we are well past the cultural phenomenon because it skews our perception. This is true for Hamilton on Broadway right now, same with A Chorus Line back in the mid-70s. Same with Pokemon and those spinny little toys that are popular right now.
Directors and writers keep coming back to stories to shed new light on any of the facets of the plot. Some are brilliant like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Or Wicked, which was a new take on the Wizard of Oz story.
The World of Warcraft is the definitive version of an MMO. Until something replaces it and good luck with that; it would be impossible to repeat the cultural phenomenon.
So, next time you are at the local pub, with a vague toast of your cup and nose firmly lifted into the air, declare that, “Hot fudge on vanilla ice cream is the definitive version of a sundae and no one should even attempt to fiddle with the recipe.” Let the arguments begin!