on Jul 2, 2008
Goldshire is the name of one of the newbie areas in the game. It’s the hub town for human characters between levels 5 and 12. (Give or take.) It’s a cute little farming village surrounded by woodlands. It’s also a natural crossroads. It’s just a two minute walk from both a major city (Stormwind) and the spawning area for new Human characters. I don’t think there are any other towns that offer this level of access.
For whatever reason, Goldshire has become a nexus of insanity and idiocy. Despite the fact that each server has its own self-contained copy of the world, every single iteration of Goldshire on all of the servers of WoW is a raging madhouse.
During busy hours you’ll find high-level characters dueling in the street. There are often several duels going at once, so the center of town is a swirling tempest of colorful particle effects, fire, and summoned beasts. Characters run naked (underwear) through the buildings and roleplay obscene or preposterous vignettes. The chat box is a rushing torrent of strange emotes and melodramatic shouting.
|Like a town in a Stephen King novel, the place looks peaceful but is filled with crazy people!|
In order to explain further I’m going to have to resort to anecdotes:
At one point I’m moving through town and I encounter some low-level characters, dressed in commoner clothes (instead of armor) which is something you almost never see. This causes me to pause, because for a second I mistake them for new NPCs. I’ve obviously come in the middle of a scene they’re enacting by typing in all caps. I don’t know if this was planned or improv, or what the hell. But here is the scene:
Elryan: IF YOU RAPE HER I WILL KILL YOU.
Awaithen: I DON’T WANT TO BE RAPED.
Robocopp: IN THE FUTURE, RAPE IS A FELONY.
(All the names but the last are made up. Otherwise, this is as close as memory allows. Keep in mind this was mixed in with about a half dozen other slightly less insane conversations.)
Another time I went into the leatherworking trainer in town. While I’m dealing with this NPC, I glance over and see that two female characters have stripped down to their underpants and are bumping together in attempted eroticism that’s about as sexy as watching a guy ram two naked Barbie dolls into each other repeatedly. One of them glares at me. (Really, using an emote.) I’m not sure what’s more insane: That two guys pretended to be girls and tried to have pretend sex in a high-traffic area, or that they expected privacy while they were doing it.
As it turns out, at level 70 you heal faster than a fireplace can harm you, so she was engulfed in ineffectual fire. I went upstairs to see my class trainer and purchased my upgrades, but while I was doing that I could still see her chat from downstairs. She was yelling for someone to come kill her. This went on for a while, and finally someone took her up on it.
As I came downstairs they had begun a battle, and she stood there while he cut her down. Afterwards some people called him a murderer. What followed was about the most idiotic debate on euthanasia you could hope to construct.
These are by no means the worst Goldshire stories you’ll hear, but these are ones I’ve witnessed personally. They should give you an idea of what the place is like. (I understand there is a mirror to the Goldshire on the Horde side called the Barrens, but I’ve never been there.)
What’s interesting is that for the most part the rest of the world is fairly normal. Shawn once said about Goldshire, “[…] I used to hate it, but now I love it as the Asshat Moron Mecca that it is. Anyone challenging people 50 levels lower than them to a duel, or dancing naked on the mailbox, or “RPing” their romantic encounters in the Inn, is not out in the rest of the game being an idiot. They all congregate in one easily avoidable place. Unless your leveling a new Human character…”
This is a position I fully endorse. Whatever its faults, it does seem to act as a bug light for the goofballs of the world. I am very glad my first character was a Night Elf and not a human. I would have run into the Goldshire within my first hour or so of playing, and that would have warped my perception of the entire game.
But what fascinates me is how universal the Goldshire anomaly is. As far as I can tell it infects all servers, everywhere in the game. It caught on at some point, and now it’s a self-sustaining system. I’d love to know when it formed. Is there one server in particular that first exhibited the Goldshire Effect, which then spread to other servers as players moved around and brought their habits with them? How old was WoW when it formed?
Is this effect present in other MMOs?
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.