World of Warcraft has been a cultural phenomenon for most of the 21st century. It's spread across many facets of pop culture, including numerous references and parodies that span all the way to its own episode of South Park. It's defined an entire genre of video games, taking the torch from Everquest and never letting it go.
As such a major institution, World of Warcraft's fanbase has also helped contribute to its ongoing popularity, with artwork, fiction, and even videos. However, no video has become more recognizable and a greater part of World of Warcraft than one submitted by a man named Leeroy.
On this day ten years ago, Leeroy uploaded this video to the fan site WarCraft Movies. An entire party of WoW players, a guild called Pals For Life, were preparing to enter the Upper Blackrock Spire, an area of the game filled with dragonspawn. The entire party spent over a minute discussing their strategy through the game's voice chat.
"What we'll do, I'll run in, gather up the eggs, blast them all with AoE," it all began and went from there. There was a back and forth between the party members, since this raid was one of the most difficult of the game. Everything had to be planned to the second. They needed number crunches. They had to have their timing hashed out. Everyone needed to be ready. But as they were still in the planning phase, they heard one of their party members yell abrasively over the microphone.
The party suddenly realized that one of their members had stupidly rushed in without waiting, so they all went in after him and the rest is history.
The video spread like wildfire over the internet in the following days, months, and years. The original video was posted to YouTube years later, where it currently has over 43 million views. It left such a lasting impression that Blizzard immortalized the character by making Leeroy Jenkins a part of its storied lore. Leeroy was made a part of the Alliance in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, a Paladin with the tendency to rush in without thinking. The MMORPG itself also honored the character by adding the Jenkins achievement to Patch 3.0.2, which was awarded after killing 50 rookery whelps in 15 seconds.
And of course, Leeroy has found a home in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, as one of the game's strongest Legendary characters. In fact, Leeroy was so strong, he needed to be nerfed at one point.
Meanwhile, the real Leeroy Jenkins is known as Ben Schulz, a WoW user from Denver, Colorado. His legend quickly spread after the video was uploaded. He would stay a major part of the WoW scene for years, with Blizzard even inviting him to BlizzCon 2007 to work the commentary team for that year's WoW tournament. Shortly afterwards, Schulz retired from WoW and focused on his college career, where he focus on becoming an electrical engineer.
Even with Schulz stepping away from WoW and Leeroy, the man has left his mark on the world of video games for years to come. It isn't just the character's induction in Blizzard lore, the numerous parodies, or even the Jeopardy! question. Leeroy's legacy is also in helping launch YouTube as a viral marketing phenomenon for gaming. He was the voice everyone recognized before the word "meme" become common lexicon. Before the Borderlands Claptrap shorts, there was Leeroy. Before the many mod fail videos of Grand Theft Auto V, there was Leeroy. Before the Team Fortress 2 shorts, there was Leeroy. Leeroy Jenkins helped launch an entirely new way to enjoy video games, one that (ironically, enough) didn't involve playing them.
There's nothing more to say. Time's up! Let's do this!