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Leeroy Jenkins is a character name for a player character created by Ben Schulz in Blizzard Entertainment's MMORPG World of Warcraft. The character became popular due to a video of the game that circulated on the Internet. The phenomenon has since spread beyond the boundaries of the gaming community into other online and mainstream media.
The video was released by a World of Warcraft player guild, featuring a group of players discussing a detailed battle strategy for their next encounter while Leeroy is away from his computer, preparing a meal. This risky plan is needed specifically to help Leeroy, yet it is ruined when Leeroy returns and, ignorant of the strategy, immediately charges headlong into battle shouting his own name in a stylized battle cry. His companions rush to help, but Leeroy's actions ruin the meticulous plan, and all of the group members are massacred.
Part of the satire in the video was the complex battle plan itself, which—evident only to fellow players—represented a fundamental lack of understanding of the game characters' abilities, and would have led to the party's demise even without Leeroy's suicidal charge.
The Internet phenomenon started with the release of the video clip called A Rough Go to the World of Warcraft game forum in a thread titled "UBRS (vid) ROOKERY OVERPOWERED! blue please.", which jokingly presented the video in a serious context. The thread requested that other players provide help with strategy and that Blizzard reduce the difficulty of the encounter. The video spread as an Internet meme, and Leeroy's response to the other players' chastisements, "at least I have chicken", was also much parodied.
When asked about his actions in the video by National Public Radio, Ben Schulz said the players "were drinking 40s and just yelling at each other." As time went on some began suggesting that the video may have been staged. Schulz has neither confirmed nor denied this.
The character's popularity resulted in his inclusion in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game released on October 25, 2006, with art by Mike Krahulik. Reflecting the video in which he appears, Leeroy is a detriment to the rest of the player's team, exhausting them for the current and following turns. For gameplay reasons, his effects are not entirely negative: although no one else can attack, Leeroy can attack instantly should the player repeat Leeroy's famous shout, and his attack is unusually high compared to the cost of playing him. However, his health is such that opponents should deal with him easily on subsequent turns. Upper Deck Entertainment released a World of Warcraft Miniatures game in late 2008, which included a Leeroy Jenkins figurine. As a reference to Leeroy's famous claim, the figure is seen holding a chicken leg in his left hand.
Blizzard named a card after Leeroy Jenkins in their popular online card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. When entering the battlefield, Leeroy gives his famous battle cry. While attacking, he says "Time's up, let's do this!" And when he dies, he says, "At least I have chicken." In addition, the adventure mode "Blackrock Mountain" added a new game board themed on the mountain. In the bottom right section, there is a pink tabard with a white heart lying on the ground, a reference to the guild Leeroy was in, <PALS FOR LIFE>.
The August 2005 issue of PC Gamer UK featured an article on the video, titled "The Ballad of Leeroy Jenkins". The article took the position that the video was designed as a negative commentary on the kind of "nerd-guilds" that meticulously and statistically plan out raids with all the seriousness of actual military tactics. They added that they felt Leeroy is, in fact, the hero of the piece, acting against the geekiness of his guild.
Blizzard eventually paid tribute to Leeroy within World of Warcraft itself, creating the achievement "Leeeeeeeeeeeeeroy!", which awards the title of "Jenkins" to players who kill 50 of the rookery whelps from the video within 15 seconds. Also, in the new expansion Warlords of Draenor, Leeroy returns as a non-player character and will join the player's garrison if they help him find the Devout Shoulders he was seeking in the video. Blizzard also added a "Leeroy Jenkins" card to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
Leeroy Jenkins went mainstream when he was mentioned as part of a clue on the November 16, 2005, episode of the game show Jeopardy! as part of their college week tournament, though no contestant rang in. The meme spread further in 2009 when the Armed Forces Journal published an article titled "Let's Do This!: Leeroy Jenkins and the American Way of Advising". The article, by Capt. Robert M Chamberlain links Jenkins to the American approach to advising the indigenous armed forces in Iraq.
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