The Neomedieval(?) LOTRO

 

My colleagues have spent a good deal of time discussing the LOTRO as neomedieval, so I hope I’m not treading ground that is too familiar here. First of all, I find LOTRO a bit of a disappointment from a neomedieval perspective. While, for example, WoW tries to have fun with its source material (e.g. putting in Star Wars references), LOTRO seems to be a pretty straight-laced affair. I haven’t, though approximately 40 hours of gameplay, caught a single pop-culture reference. Why might this be? I wonder if the idea behind LOTRO is immersion, and so that limits its neomedieval purposes. People have pointed out that Tolkien himself is a bit of a neomedievalist, creating a whole fictional world surrounding his vision (languages, etc). However, it might be argued that what the makers of LOTRO are doing is a poor imitation of what Tolkien himself wanted to do. They are taking his world, and maybe trying to out-Tolkien Tolkien, but they succeed only in creating a life of mundane people doing mundane things that surround the real adventure. I don’t feel like I’m helping all that much with the actual Fellowship; in fact, I feel a bit like I’ve missed the adventure, but am tasked with cleaning up the mess that others (namely the Fellowship) made. So, I’m not tasked with helping Gandalf; I’m tasked with helping his pitiful friend Radagast. How did this game ever make money? I think the lackluster storyline here is probably a testament to how effectively LOTRO has been monetized as a “Free to play” game…just think what it could have done with a better-executed world.

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