The Fake Warcraft Thesis: A Call for Papers
Friday morning, I received an unexpected email in my inbox.
It was from an academic at the University of Leeds, where I earned my MA in Medieval Studies back in 2005. He was putting together a panel on Medievalism, New Media and Video Games, and apparently my name had been bandied about as a possible presenter at the panel.
My mind was blown. I’d left the ivory tower behind professionally over three years ago, so to have someone from my alma mater contact me out of the blue about presenting at one of the most well-known conferences in my discipline ABOUT MY HOBBY just did not compute.
It still doesn’t, really. How did this happen?
I’m still not sure.
Let’s talk about hashtags instead.
I’d promised the panel organizer that I’d have a title for my presentation by Monday at noon, and of course, Monday morning rolled around and I still had no title to send. I had a topic I was excited about (truthfully, I had about FIVE), but I was having trouble crystallizing it into something snappy.
(I thought about posting a list of my favorites here, but there are just too damn many. Search #fakewarcraftthesis and #fakewarcrafthesis [with 1 or 2 t's], because I promise you won’t regret it.)
And then the internet exploded, and it went blue.
Why am I posting this? The phenomenon may have originated out of my last-minute desperation, but the Fake Warcraft Thesis isn’t about that, or me. What I saw yesterday was equal parts clever and fascinating. There are a lot of Really Smart People who have gone to Azeroth to die.
What really struck me, however (despite the fact that we invented most of these #fakewarcraftthesis titles out of humor) was that the one comment recurring as it trended throughout the day was people saying “um, I’d actually read that” or #IKindOfWantToWriteThisOne.
Why can’t we read them, my fellow denizens of Azeroth? Why can’t we write them?
There is no good reason why we can’t. I think academia is at a crossroads right now, but that’s another post entirely. The nature of collaboration, of scholarship, of research itself is changing. When I got that email from Leeds, I was actually far more excited over the fact that the panel had passed muster for the IMC than the fact that I’d been asked to participate it. In about ten months, a gaggle of scholars is going to be discussing the cultural ramifications of internet dragons with deadly srsfaceness. And they decided to do that before they ever asked me to be a part of it.
That is undeniably cool.
With that in mind I suppose I’d like to end this post with an exhortation to you all. Go forth, fellow nerds, and write. Write those Fake Warcraft Theses, and make them real. Write the articles you want to read. If you want to write and don’t have a platform, contact us and we would be thrilled to guest host here at Flavor Text. We’re at the start of something, I think – World of Warcraft is gaining legitimacy as a subject for analysis in the greater academic sphere, but a movement needs momentum in order to sustain itself. It’s in its infancy right now.
Let’s take on the Ivory Tower. This boss isn’t going to go down easily.
(Yeah, this post was a little starry eyed. You know what? I don’t even care. What’s a life without passion?)