What Star Wars Can Learn From Warcraft


When I’m not thinking about Yuuzhan Vong, Sith Lords, or Force philosophy, I’m probably thinking about blood elves. In other words, World of Warcraft. The Warcraft franchise spans three real-time-strategy games, one MMO that is still the definition of the genre, and quite a few spin-off novels and comics. The Warcraftverse is starting to enter the cultural lexicon more and more, and for a game celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, it still has quite the audience.

Warcraft has plenty of things to offer other media, especially since as a franchise it’s rife with pop culture references. It’s an expansive world whose unexplored corners, plot holes, and possibilities for expansion echo those of Star Wars. As something of the definition of its genre and a mishmash of references and ideas, it has much of the worldbuilding feel of Star Wars. There has been much discussion over the last few years about whether Warcraft is a dying franchise, but it certainly doesn’t feel dead to those of us who lose $15 a month and much of our free time to it. No other MMO has been able to knock it off its pedestal, despite quite a bit of effort (even from SWTOR). It’s successfully navigated many years and quite a few different markets, and has much to offer to other massive media franchises. Read More

The Good, The Bad, and the Funny: Villains in the GFFA

388px-Vader_OfficersWhat really makes a good villain? We’re surrounded by them, and in a galaxy whose defining conflict is that of good and evil, we need some adequate challengers from the dark side. Some villains are best defined by their over-the-top plotting, some are something of comic relief, and some are horrifying just by how familiar they are to us. We are surrounded by villains, and it’s time for a rogues’ gallery of the good, the bad, and the unintentionally funny.

A truly effective villain must straddle the line between ominous and omnipotent. A villain who is too good or too consistently out-thinks our heroes will soon be considered too strong, but one who can’t accomplish a single plot without being foiled is no better. The team of bad guys that we meet in the GFFA combines many types of villains, and they all have different motivations. We meet some who are just doing their jobs, some who believe in their evil, and some who believe their causes are justified. We all associate Darth Vader and the Emperor with evil, and seeing the shadowy machinations of the mysterious Darth Sidious keep us interested. The Empire themselves are often a more mundane sort of evil, as they just follow orders. The more morally grey parts of the saga also provide some heroes and villains, and some who even switch sides. We’re going to need an ensemble of enemies to populate Episode VII and beyond. Let’s find some ideas.

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Future of the Jedi: Restoring the Order

Thirty years is a long time between Episodes VI and VII. The GFFA will have to completely rebuild its political systems and recover from a civil war, and the Jedi will have to find some way to continue. Now that all of this time is completely open, what are the possibilities for reestablishing the Jedi? Restoring order to the galaxy as a whole is a challenge enough, but the Jedi have been the protectors of justice and the Republic, and perhaps it just won’t be a new Republic without them.

In Heir to the Empire, Luke is reminded that he is “not the last of the old Jedi, but the first of the new.” Regardless of canonicity of this moment, this is a weighty charge. Giving one quickly-trained Jedi the responsibility of restoring the entire order is intimidating. So much Jedi history has been lost and destroyed to the point that Luke has literally no clue where to go from there, and there are no easy answers. In the Expanded Universe, Luke muddles through reestablishing the Jedi. Records appear, potential students come out of the woodwork, and it becomes clear that the Empire hasn’t been able to completely eradicate all non-Imperial Force-users. Some student succeed and become the teachers for the next generation, some fall to the dark side, some leave the order- just as the old Jedi order. Considering how little information Luke has to work with, it’s quite a miracle that the Jedi return and survive.

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Yes, There Are Gays in Space: Queer Star Wars Fandom

It’s June, traditionally Pride month. It’s time to talk about queer fandom and mention the very fact that it exists and matters. Especially in Star Wars- a fandom whose diversity issues have recently come to light with a bang- queer fandom has a place, and deserves to be discussed.

With all the talk of diversity and representation in fandom, we’re finally hearing from those who feel marginalized by mainstream culture. Let’s face it, the Star Wars fandom has been traditionally very unfriendly to those who aren’t straight white men. For years on end, the rest of us were shunted off to the sides and seen as anomalies, but that isn’t so any longer. Internet fandom has changed recently, and now Tumblr is quite the space for fandom. It’s a space with many voices that aren’t those of the ‘mainstream,’ a space where we discuss the need for representation in fandom, the possibility of queer characters, and the problems of mainstream media’s relationship to queer fandom. Slash fanfic has been for a while one of the few major representations of queer fandom- writers, often female, and sometimes queer, explore the possibilities that the mainstream media wouldn’t give us. It’s become somewhat stigmatized in some circles; what does that say about mainstream fandom’s attitudes towards anything that isn’t straight? When fan culture starts hearing the voices of those who aren’t what people may think of when they hear ‘fans,’ suddenly diversity matters all the more.

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Escape Pod: Noghri

How will we fill the roles of assassins and hit men in the new Star Wars movies? Mandalorians, Imperial Intelligence agents, and other unsavory elements have their place, but perhaps we might try something entirely different. The EU has one answer- the Noghri. Silent and stealthy, hidden thoroughly away from the rest of the galaxy, and astoundingly effective, they remain a mystery throughout much of their first appearance and bring a fascinating backstory. The Noghri are an excellent plot hook to tie together old and new Star Wars, bringing back the shadow of the Empire in a galaxy recovering from war.


We first meet the Noghri when one of them, guarding Grand Admiral Thrawn, scares Pellaeon from the shadows. They are silent, stealthy assassins, described as looking rather unnerving and speaking in a gravelly voice. All we know of their history is that they had worked for Darth Vader and are now Thrawn’s personal bodyguards, quickly tasked with capturing Leia Organa Solo and delivering her to the Empire alive. Her befriending them gives us insight into what little we know about the Clone Wars at the time of Dark Force Rising, and their devastated homeworld goes from a potential sign of Imperial benevolence to a somber reminder of the might of the Empire. The Noghri will likely never be able to clean up their poisoned homeworld, and they instead join with “Lady Vader” as her faithful bodyguards. They remain in the position throughout the rest of the EU, with various Noghri watching over Leia and Han and their children. Though they are not free from controversy- they are, after all, the former personal assassins of Darth Vader- they are endlessly useful to the Solo family. Read More