Make Love, not Warcraft
It's been nearly 9 years since South Park aired Make Love, Not Warcraft. As a fan of South Park and a player of World of Warcraft, I've seen this episode a few times. While watching it recently, I realized that this unique mash up of two different areas of pop culture is a perfect example of the various dimensions of literacy that are involved in the production of fan fiction style work. As a collaborative work between South Park and Blizzard Entertainment, the episode is rich with an entertaining storyline, accurate references to the in-game world, and a bit of social commentary on the dangers of extreme gaming lifestyles.
The technical production alone of the episode is impressive, with South Park's unique animation syle mixed with scenes of machinima, or edited video content from in-game. Machinima scenes are produced at a high quality and expertly manipulated to tell the story in a fun way. Stepping easily back and forth from the "real" world to the in-game world, South Park draws parallels between the characters lives in-world and in-game.
Interactions and content is rife with insider references and use of specialist language that appeals to the World of Warcraft players. The episode takes on the role of fan fiction with ease, demonstrating the South Park writer's interest and research into World of Warcraft. Machinima scenes in the episode are from recognizable locations in the game, with multiple references to "Goldshire", a place I have visited in-game on mulitple occasions. Each time I watch the episode, I notice another subtle detail that hadn't before. Really great fan fiction requires "writers to have a close, detailed knowledge of the texts from which they're drawing their ideas and resources" (Lankshear & Knobel, New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning). It is evident that the writers truly are fans of World of Warcraft.
A collaborative project of this nature has wide appeal to fans of animation and gamers alike, but it also fufills a very specific niche of interest at it's full potential. The widespread enjoyment of this episode is apparent (the episode even has it's own wikipedia page), and was reciprocated post-episode. Following the airing of Make Love, Not Warcraft, a new achievement of the same name was added to World of Warcraft, and the "Sword of 1,000 Truths" was referenced to in an item you could earn in game. Taking it one step further, Hello Kitty Online posted an April Fool's day joke in reference to a fictional game that one South Park character plays in the episode, "Hello Kitty Island Adventure". If you haven't already seen it, now's the time!