When local gamer Ben Schulz and his pals made the inane video “A Rough Go” in the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, they created a global phenomenon – one that launched Schulz’s video game character Leeroy Jenkins to international stardom, as described in the story, “The Legend of Leeroy Jenkins." Leeroy the crazy digital berserker has inspired Jeopardy! questions, truck commercials and T-shirt slogans around the world (many entail Leeroy’s catch phrase “At least I have chicken”) – and now he may end up in the hallowed halls of Harvard.
Schulz has been invited to speak at ROFLCon, a conference on Internet celebrity being held at the Ivy League institution on April 25 and 26. “We are talking now about whether or not he can take time off work to come,” says Christina Xu, a ROFLCon staff member. “He’d talk about accidental celebrity status and how do you deal with that in real life. He’s sort of a folk hero. In some ways, the Internet is sort of like Leeroy Jenkins. It’s charging through our lives without any real plan.”
That’s deep. Harvard deep.
If Schulz does attend, he’ll be part of an impressive lineup that includes “Cheezburger” from “I Can Has Cheezburger,” the “Paper Clip to House Guy” and the inimitable “Tron Guy.” Unfortunately, the superstar behind the “Numa Numa Dance” video will not be in attendance, says Xu: “He wasn’t interested in coming unless we gave him a $5,000 honorarium.”
While Leeroy has an open invitation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he’s yet to make it big in Hollywood. The producers of Second Skin, a new documentary about World of Warcraft players that’s on the shortlist for a premier at the South by Southwest Festival, considered but decided against featuring Leeroy in their film:
It turns out the filmmakers were looking for the Willy Lomans of World of Warcraft, whereas Leeroy is its digital Brad Pitt. “We never made it to Colorado,” says producer Peter Brauer. “And, frankly, our movie really focuses on human stories. And for us, Leeroy Jenkins, I think he is historical.”
That’s okay. At least Leeroy has chicken. – Joel Warner