Let’s be honest for a second. Gnome fans are a vocal minority. Gnomes are the least popular race in the game (second to goblins), BUT those fans are very invested in the lore seemingly more than any other. This might be because gnomes are one of the least developed races in the game, and so we are starving for lore, or it could be that there is something about gnomes that really resonates with their fans. A ‘relatable’ feeling that really gets gnome fans especially engrossed in their story. What could that relatable thing be?
Appearance: At the surface level, some people relate to gnomes physically. Either they see an aspect of their own physicality in gnomes, or they are attracted to them. Besides the obvious (their height), gnomes are built very differently from other races. Representing lots of body types is good. Gnomes aren’t the super skinny like a lot of female characters are in fantasy art. Mostly gnomes seem to be considered cute, but I’ve also heard them described as, “plump in all the right places.”
Intelligence: All the lore descriptions of gnomes generously professes their genius. Some people would rather be smart than strong. Outwitting your opponent instead of trying to beat them through attrition. I think this might be the strongest aspect of gnomes and the reason most people are drawn to them. I see a lot of Draenei fans also like gnomes , and intelligence is the strongest link between the two races. They don’t have that over the top muscular build that most races in Warcraft have either. Gnomes diminutive stature implies that they have non-physical edge to keep up with the larger races of Azeroth.
Care-free: Gnomes in Warcraft have a tragic backstory, but individually, they don’t seem to be dark or brooding. There are a lot of sad stories in Warcraft, and sometimes you want a break from that. Gnomes are often light hearted and upbeat. They laugh a lot and don’t take themselves too seriously. (Which is good because no one else seems to take them too seriously either.) It’s nice to keep things upbeat. There is a lot to appreciate about the dark and sad moments, but you don’t always want to ‘live’ there. I think this is one of the reasons reclaiming Gnomeregan is such a big deal. Gnome players would like to see this aspect of the lore brought more in line with gnomish personality.
Underdogs: Who doesn’t enjoy an underdog? Gnomes start at a level of disadvantage that few other race in Azeroth currently endure. Their home is a toxic wasteland, their closest allies in Ironforge rescinded sanctuary and exiled them AGAIN. Their first major attempt to reclaim their homeland after 10 years failed. If you like having the odds stacked against you then gnome is the way to go.
Outsiders: It’s possible that the hate they get from other players drives a certain kind of person towards gnomes. Loners that don’t like to socialize as much, or people that feel personally ostracized for one reason or another and relate to that. Even the occasional agitator who enjoys annoying others, and rolls a gnome to gank horde and make them rage at getting killed by a pipsqueak.
Agnostic: In fantasy, there are tons of religions, and for the most part they all tend to be true in most regards. Gnomes on the other hand, did not believe in anything. Despite the powers flexed by priests, druids, shamans, and paladins. Gnome remain agnostic in their belief. It’s something that you rarely see in a fantasy setting. Atheists are a minority in most places, and so seeing some representation is unexpected and refreshing. When they added priests, they managed to not abandon this aspect of the race. I have a lot of respect for that.
Gnomes seem to be filling a lot of niches that are traditionally ignored in fantasy and that’s great, I love it. Transgender dragon? Bring it on. Gnomeregan can be a home for anybody!