World of Warcraft's latest expansion Cataclysm is officially released on 7th December, but today saw the rollout of a significant proportion of the expansion's new content, The Shattering. While previous expansions have focused on adding new content, new characters and new regions to the game, this one takes a new and more controversial approach by redrawing the map of the Warcraft gameworld Azeroth, destroying many areas while creating others.
"Without warning, the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, erupted from the stone heart of Deepholm, the domain of earth within the Elemental Plane. Jagged fissures were torn across the earth, and monstrous waves pummeled coastal regions. From Thousand Needles to the Blasted Lands, the surface of Azeroth was reforged through violent upheavals."
While there is some damage directly caused by the dragon itself, the main form this transformation has taken is a series of tidal waves that have permanently flooded many of the low-lying inhabited regions of Azeroth. Theramore is now an island, Auberdine is washed away, Booty Bay is strewn with seaweed and wreckage and the formely-landlocked desert city of Gagetzan has become a coastal port.
And thus the seed of an idea - that catastrophic flooding could, quite plausibly, suddenly befall our homes - is planted in 12 million minds. If Cataclysm doesn't do as much to legitimise the idea of global warming in the popular culture as An Inconvenient Truth I will be very surprised.