The MMORPG World of Warcraft, nearing its 10th anniversary, is played by millions of people around the world. One of those was Robin Williams, who made no secret of his affection for video games. In interviews “he often joked about his WoW addiction”, describing online gaming as “cyber cocaine”.
Robin Williams’ passing on August 11th fuelled a petition on www.change.org. Over 11,000 signatures were amassed in less than sixteen hours, calling for the actor and comedian to be immortalised in World of Warcraft as an NPC (a non-player character). Jacob Holgate, who organised the petition, says that Williams “took his World of Warcraft characters very serious” and asked Blizzard for the NPC to share some of the actor’s best jokes, “so he may continue making us smile long after his passing.”
many cannot help but feel […] they’ve preserved a tiny spark of who Mr. Williams was: a gamer
The petition has been a success. Blizzard’s Technical Game Designer, Chadd Nervigg, shortly responded to a Tweet: “Yes. We’re taking care of it.” This was later confirmed by Blizzard’s official Twitter account, speaking directly to Robin Williams. “Thank you. You gave us so much joy in our lives, and we hope you enjoyed your time in our world. We’ll see you in-game.”
Williams spoke fondly about his obsession with video games in interviews. In an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on the website Reddit, he mentioned playing the puzzle game Portal and the first-person shooter Call of Duty. The latter not so much online. “Getting my ass kicked by an 11-year-old is very humbling,” Williams admitted.
His love for the Legend of Zelda franchise is widely known, not least because his daughter, Zelda Rae, is named after the game’s princess. Williams and his then-wife have said they played the first game while pregnant with her and in later years Williams and Zelda have appeared together in several promotions for the Nintendo franchise.
.@robinwilliams Thank you. You gave us so much joy in our lives, and we hope you enjoyed your time in our world. We’ll see you in-game.
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) August 13, 2014
Williams will not be the first person immortalised in WoW. The gaming community have already welcomed many late fans into the game through statues, memorial sites, magical items, and other NPCs.
Blizzard’s tribute to Williams may not feel like much on the surface but for avid players who felt and honoured his presence in their community it’s a way of keeping him close. Holgate’s victory speech says it best: “Robin William’s death continues to shock and sadden millions of people around the world, and while a single non-player character in a video-game is only a small good thing to come out of a largely negative situation – many cannot help but feel that they’ve preserved a tiny spark of who Mr. Williams was: a gamer, and a character.”
Robin Williams was found dead in his home on August 11, 2014 but through the many lives he touched with the films he brought to life and the comedy that will continue to bring smiles to people all around the world – not only in World of Warcraft – he will live on as a spark.
You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
– Robin Williams
Featured image rights; Nintendo