Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kung Fu Pandaria (Or, Ninety-nine Problems, But Ailuropoda Ain't One)

Ambermist Tweeted/Tumbld yesterday about a silly argument against the impending World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. This included a link to WoW Insider article with the full design history of the race. The timeline of the introduction of the Pandaren into official Warcraft lore appears to begin with the character Chen Stormstout for the WC3 expansion The Frozen Throne, dating to 2003. Pandaren lore is also included in Warcraft tabletop RPG source books from about the same time. All this predates the release of Kung Fu Panda (2008) by about five years.

So you have two comedic, cartoonish depictions of anthropomorphic pandas coinciding within a decade. One is slightly more well known than the other, but they were developed fully independent from each other. I haven't seen any news of Dreamworks bringing a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for copyright infringement. I'm guessing that they know they don't have a case, despite similarities, assuming they have looked into the matter.

If I recall correctly, the Pandaren were at the top of many polls for potential playable races predating even WoW 2.0, The Burning Crusade. I'd bet many of the people who enthusiastically hoped for Pandaren to be a new playable race are still eagerly awaiting the opportunity. If for some reason you've changed your mind in the intervening years, I sincerely hope it was not because of Kung Fu Panda. Others never thought it was a good idea. Still others are looking for another excuse to play the hate game because for some reason they think they are awesome because they don't like WoW.

Now, given the original artwork by Samwise at Blizzard, some callouts to the Pandaren from before the earliest days of WoW (I myself am the proud owner of the Pandaren Monk minipet), and the rumor (fact?) that most current WoW players are Chinese; it makes sense that the Pandaren would be a playable race with some direct parallels to Chinese geography, architecture, and culture, up to and including the martial arts-inspired Monk class. It sounds like a reasonable design decision on the part of the creative team at Blizzard.
The Bloggerazzi have many reasons to criticize MoP. Some can be reasonable differences of opinion over, say, the new talent system or the new restrictions on weapons. One might even argue that the cultural setting of the new continent doesn't fit (though, in a world with mages and motorcycles, I'd say pretty much anything goes). But comparing the new race to a single character in a kids' movie is silly.

I am not going to be at the gates chomping at the bit for MoP next Tuesday. I won't say my time in Azeroth is over forever, but it is for now. However, none of the reasons I have for not playing have anything to do with the Pandaren or their alleged resemblance to Jack Black. In fact, I think it's a pretty cool concept.

TL;DR: Whether or not you actually play World of Warcraft (or intend to start up with the new expansion), let's put to rest the whining about Kung Fu Pandaren, etc. It's not helping anyone.

6 comments:

  1. Yeah, I've never quite understood why "pandas" were a breaking point for so many people when you're talking about a setting that already has anthropomorphic cows.

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    1. Exactly. I haven't played any of the betas or since the 5.0 patch, but I am willing to bet Blizz did at least as good a job with the Pandaren as they did with the Tauren (One of my favorite races in WoW.

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  2. I don't know how, but I still can't remember the Pandaren from wc3. BTW, tldr is supposed to be at the top so people don't have to read everything. :-)

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    1. That's why it's at the bottom. ;P

      There was only one Pandaren in WC3, Chen Stormstout. According to the WoW Insider article, 'The first "real" pandaren was introduced in the bonus campaign "The Founding of Durotar," in which players played as Rexxar prior to his rise as Champion of the Horde. During a series of adventures, Rexxar stumbled across Chen Stormstout, a pandaren brewmaster whose travels had brought him to Durotar.'

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  3. You have a point. and besides that I'd much rather refer to this expansion as Mists of Pokémon. ;)

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