As a general rule, I feel about Disney films the same way other people feel about the MCU films: They’re fine, I’ll watch one if it’s on and it’s decent, they sometimes reach the point of being particularly good but never drop below watchable, but I have no deep emotional attachment to them as a whole. My familiarity with them as a fixture of my childhood means that I have, say, an outsized emotional attachment to The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but that’s kind of where it stops.
However, we were discussing the Disney film oeuvre as a whole in our chat the other day when we realized that Disney films are just replete with moments that blatantly copy elements of MMO gameplay. Sure, a lot of the films in question pre-date MMOs by decades, but you can see the fingerprints clear as day if you’re paying attention. Don’t believe me? Then consider the following list.
1. The Lion King: Scar’s takeover is someone stealing a guild
So you have a well-known guild leader whom everybody likes, and he’s got someone else he clearly wants to take over the guild when he decides to quit. However, one of the other founding members has decided to take over the guild. He convinces the leader to ragequit by causing a huge monster train, kicks the future leader from the guild, and then invites his friends who are a bunch of laughing idiots into the guild.
It’s all right, though, since eventually the real leader comes back and defeats the bad guy in a duel, at which point he kicks all the people who shouldn’t be in the guild; he adds a couple of new members, but they seem cool.
2. Cinderella: High-level crafting RP jealousy
A crafting economy is dominated by a handful of people, and they’re looking forward to a big social RP gathering and getting some really good outfits together. One of the players not in the crafting cadre manages to scrounge up the materials necessary to make some good outfits, but the people dominating the economy engage in battle with her and destroy her cosmetic outfit.
Fortunately for her, though, another high-end character sees what happened and gives her new equipment and some powerful buffs so she can still show up to the RP event and impress everyone.
3. Sleeping Beauty: Soloing a boss
A tank is on a quest that’s supposed to require several people to complete, but he assumes that he can sneak past the boss and just click the next thing to advance the plot. Unfortunately, he was wrong, and then he has to solo the boss down himself. Fortunately for him, he finds a pathing exploit that allows him to win.
4. The Little Mermaid: A chat bug following a race change
Look, playing an underwater character seemed fun, but the combat was buggy and most of the mermaid players were more interested in cliquey social nonsense instead of actually playing the game. So Ariel got a race change, but there was a bug borking her chat box that made interacting with surface players more difficult; she was also used to playing without gravity, which is going to be an issue.
Fortunately, eventually a GM stepped in and fixed everything, but in the middle Ursula happened. I don’t have a good analogy for Ursula, but she’s awesome.
5. Frozen: Elsa is a raid boss
To be specific, Elsa is clearly in the early stages of raid testing. She’s got her miniboss (the ice golem) before you face her, she’s got the arena, she’s got the first pass of mechanics. But the test doesn’t go very well, so the full raid winds up being scrapped. It didn’t help that the first team going in managed to drag the miniboss far outside of the intended arena.
From the trailer, Frozen 2 appears to be a demonstration of when water walking fails.
6. Moana: Escort quest!
Moana isn’t just an escort quest; it’s the platonic ideal of an escort quest. Although I guess when you get to the end it becomes clear that the real escorting was of an item, but… look, this one was just weird in places, all right?
7. Aladdin: Loot stealing
So there’s a dungeon with a whole lot of stuff to loot, but your class doesn’t have any way of stealthing into the dungeon and avoiding obstacles. Instead, you hire someone else to go in there while in a party to get the treasure. Rather than bringing you the treasure, he gets a flying mount and a super-powerful item, but then he absconds with both of them and uses them to farm up a huge amount of currency for himself without ever remembering your deal.
And then when you steal some of the loot back, you get treated like the bad guy! There’s no justice.
8. Mulan: Hacking out your gender-locked classes
What do you mean that female characters aren’t allowed to play as Warriors? Fa Mulan isn’t putting up with that crap. No, she’s hacking the game and convincing it that she’s playing a male character, and she’s going to actually play her Warrior and get really good at it. And then she’s going to do so well that the Emperor himself will congratulate her.
Then she’ll be approached by Nick Fury and join SHIELD after changing her name, and at some point I might have just clicked through my recommendations on Netflix whilst under the influence of cold medication. Look, it’s better than any of the direct-to-video sequels that I assume Disney made for the film.
9. Alice in Wonderland: Dealing with a griefer community
Alice followed someone into a new MMO. That’s fun! Unfortunately, the entire community is hideously hostile to new people, griefing the heck out of her and gaslighting her as she attempts to understand what the heck is going on. She’s given buff items she doesn’t want, forced to obey mechanics everyone else ignores, and generally is given no help to the point that she starts to question her own sanity.
Ultimately, she stumbles into a whole open PvP event and decides to write the whole thing off as a terrible idea. This is what people mean when they discuss the importance of community in MMOs.
10. Beauty and the Beast: PvP raiding gone wrong
Some utter dudebro of a player becomes convinced that the more fantasy-oriented roleplaying types are inherently evil and leads a whole bunch of players in a raid on the luxuriously decorated home they tend to use. Unfortunately, it turns out that the people who are devoted as heck to the game turn out to contain many people who are devoted as heck to the game, resulting in a surprise upset in which the raiders fail to accomplish anything.
Later, the dudebro leader is defeated because while he got in a good backstab or two, he forgot about falling damage. Epic fail.