"Croatoan", the name of an episode of the TV series Supernatural = TRUE
"Croatoan", the name carved into a tree in the center of the abandoned English settlement of Roanoke, VA = TRUE
"Croatoan", the name of a Native American tribe whose own settlement was found South of Roanoke = TRUE
What's funny about the Supernatural episode is that their explanation and meaning of Croatoan is a demonic virus that turns people into a mass of like minded crazy people who ultimately disappear into the unknown. In the episode they talk about the abandoned Roanoke settlement and how nobody, to this day, really knows what happened to those early colonists. With all other options remaining undiscussed, we come to find out the this mysterious demonic virus is the real reason behind the vanishings of the late 16th century.
The more rational theory, i.e. one not invented for entertainment purposes only, is that those Roanoke colonists found friends with the Croatoan nation and ultimately setteled with them, mixing over the years to later become what we know today as the Lumbee people (who, btw, still live in the same coastal regions of NE North Carolina, south of Roanoke.
Reality sucks, fantasy is often much more interesting. And the concept that a demonic virus can turn all of us insane before causing us to disappear into the nether-regions of the universe makes for better writing...and watching. Unless, of course, you just love watching things like PBS & CSPAN.
I know it's annoying to hear, but change is constant. One thing we can be sure of is that the way in which we interact with each other today will change into something else tomorrow. Imagine how long the Queen of Spain had to wait before Christopher Columbus reported back. There was no email or Twitter back in those days. But even has over 500M people obsess over, er, utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, you can rest assured that not even a $50 Billion valuation of the company will keep it up and running 20 years from now. At the pace we're going, Facebook will be obsolete in 10.
I don't know that I'm one to talk about life cycles of games, etc, but I'm going to anyway. See, WoW has been around for a while, in gaming life terms. I've been playing for over two years now, I believe, and others for over 6 (or is it 7?, I forget). There will be more content patches for Cataclysm, and most likely one or more expansions. Many people have asked the question before, "when will WoW reach its end?", I guess I'd like to pose the possibility that it will do so via Croatoan.
No, I don't think that the community will depart peacefully and simply migrate to another game with nothing but a word etched into a tree. I believe that WoW will suffer the fate of a demoic virus, with one person infecting the next until all are driven crazy and go off to play some other new game, but remain infected still. I wouldn't claim that this will happen to everyone, I guess what I'm saying is that WoW won't go quietly.
Believe it or not, as for myself I mostly provide anecdotes to prove a point, but from my first day to today there is more hostility in WoW among the players. In a simple BG the other day, I sat staring at the BG chat more than anything (well not really, but I did read a lot of it), I noticed how much people were yelling at each other and blaming one another for our failures. Other examples are horror pug stories, which increased x100 since the inception of LFD, largely due to the fact that a significantly larger population was now grouping with random strangers, thereby causing statistics to amplify what was already there. Meaning, there were already bad pugs before LFD, but since so many more people were running pugs, and raids became more pug friendly, there were just more horror stories to listen to.
But don't worry so much about what others think, what have you seen with your own eyes? Have you seen more abusive language, more blatant disrespect for other people based on random, uncomprehensible motivations? Surely not everyone is infected with Croatoan, but it's starting to spread. More people means more things happen, both good and bad. But just as the news reports bad stories, the bad experiences get amplified in our minds due to the emotional effect it has on us. The more emotional we get, the less rational, the more susceptible we become to negative influences.
Perhaps we will respond in kind, fall victim to the bait set by the trolls and in so doing, become deformed, grow tusks, and spew illogical hate over something that we would otherwise deem meaningless. Or maybe there are many good people, who upon sensing the Croatoan virus crawl up their arms over their skin will wish to dash to the decontamiation area below Gnomeregan and cleanse themselves of the filth, after which they will also decide that the Croatoan people are much more friendly than the imposing English empire - i.e. will find another game to play and do so quietly.
Perhaps what will be left at the ending days of WoW will be nothing but infected Croatoan people, oddly working together for some demented goal. The devs, upon seeing a population of demons, posessed by the common goal to end all life, will flip the switch, causing the infected to shout to high heaven for the crime of having their beloved game stripped from them. News flash with Brian Williams reports that Blizzard Entertainment suddenly and without warning, turned off all servers, shutting down the most popular MMO in history. Upon sending a field reporter to Blizzard headquarters, nobody was there to greet them.
Slowly the reporter and camera crew will walk into the Blizzard offices, and finding them empty will find their way into the server room. On a screen, still turned on, will be one word flashing the reporter in the face: CROATOAN.
"Well Brian," the reporter will say, "It seems that WoW has gone the way of the Roanoke colony of the late 16th century. If our insider reports are correct, WoW failed due to a massive community infection. Some made it safely out to play other games, some have disappeared and may never be seen in the MMO community again, and the host of the infected are outside burning down our TV van. Odd indeed are all these things, but I was told there were signs. Signs of an infection, but Blizzard only applied patches, never a healing ointment. Well, we don't know what's next, nor how many will participate in the next 'big thing', but what we do know is that there is no cure for a virus, only treatment of the symptoms."
I love hyperbole, don't you? I don't really think all that will happen, but it's more entertaining than real life. Still, I do believe that Croatoan, in some form, will and has infected many players. It's not as severe as I paint it, but the end result, I believe, is a game that will leave more questions than answers when all is said and done. Will people ever be able to point to what caused WoW to fail? Maybe it will simply grow old and die, a prisoner to improved technology and our insatiable appetite for a more immersive experience. Who knows? But wouldn't it be cool if Blizzard did that, for just one day, leave their workstations and put a sign on their front door: CROATOAN
For one day, as a pratical joke, the reaction that would illicit would be, well, historical.