Tuesday Questions

I admit, I haven’t been playing Warcraft lately. Most of my “gaming time” has been spent playing Diablo and while I have some legit extended criticisms as I dig deeper into it, those require a little more time to be poked and fussed over. So I decided to have my Twitter followers ask me some questions.

@Goosecomics: What do you think about the movement in eSports? Need more games? What other types of games? Pro Pokemon battles?

I think the movement to monetize and make gaming into a sport has some interesting implications. As much as I really dislike celebrity/sport culture paying way too much money to people because it is entertainment, I really like the idea of people people using what is arguably another set of talents to achieve some sort of greatness. Gaming is still tied really heavily into the privilege of being able to afford a console or PC and develop those types of skill, but you’re seeing people being able to make it without being dazzlingly handsome/beautiful or have physical prowess in the same way an athlete does. Gaming competitively is still a relatively “new” thing when it comes to the professional circuit even though it has been around for about a decade or two. My only concern is that where “competition” is involved with a mostly-male dominated audience and participation pool, it usually follows that there’s a ton of barriers to entry for anyone who isn’t a dude, basically. There’s an inherent misogyny to the competitive gaming culture in a lot of ways and that needs to stop before we can really take eSports seriously.

Pro-Pokemon leagues have been around, as I know at least one person who used to do it semi-pro.

I’d like to see more games in general though, yes. Sometimes I wish I was good enough to be a competitive professional gamer but then I realize that the game I’m best at is Monopoly.

@Goosecomics: Do you think Blizzard can make WoW into a spectator game and exciting to watch like Starcraft and LoL? Also in before arenas. It never really caught on as big as SC2 etc. Live raids? Like Vodka vs Method?

I thought about this long and hard because while I’ve watched a lot of MLG tournaments and arena matches live/telecast, I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t as popular as say League of Legends or Starcraft II (Barcraft and the like). I think it has to do with the fact that WoW is not a game designed for spectators (arenas basically require special camera rigs in order to show the “action”) as well as the fact that the PVP aspect is just but one small part of the overall game. MOBA genre games are all about quick, efficient PVP method gaming and are built as such. They are easier to “watch” and follow even if you do not know or play the games personally. In that respect, that’s probably why they are more popular. I can see live-raids failing at being a spectator sport even moreso than arenas. Only other WoW raiders care about watching 25 people take down a dragon, in my opinion.

@AlternativeChat:  Has your attitude to Warcraft changed as a result of the Ji Firepaw incident?

That’s a good question, actually. Part of me really dislikes what kind of worms crawled out of the woodwork with regards to what I felt was a legitimate criticism of an early-beta character design. Part of me really enjoyed how Blizzard reacted. Overall, that netted me about the same feeling I’ve always had about World of Warcraft – that some of the community is pure utter crap, some of it is really supportive and awesome, and Blizzard at least tries to make right when they are called out on their failures. It isn’t always that you see such a direct action from a company though to react to a critique and I’m very glad that I spoke up and said something.

@snack_road: How about your raiding: what brought you to it, whats your favorite parts, what do you miss now that you “retired” from it?

Oh boy, the ol’ raiding chestnut. I got into raiding a long, long time ago back in Vanilla. It wasn’t one of the things you just “did” at the endgame because at that point, you could do literally anything, despite there being almost nothing TO do. Battlegrounds had JUST been implemented when I hit 60, arenas were a dream still. AQ40 had been opened a little while back and everyone was gearing up for impending Naxxramas, I believe. I wanted so badly to be part of the “big kids” so I started hitting Blackrock Depths and getting craftables for Molten Core/Onyxia, as those were the “starter” raids. You needed a minimum of 150 FR to be considered and once I had that, I got brought along on the giant 40-person Molten Core farm raid. I got bitten by the bug then, tackling PVE content and wanted to do it whenever I could. I didn’t start seriously progression raiding until Burning Crusade, however. But I mostly got into it because it was something to do with my time and all of my guild friends were doing it.

My favorite parts of raiding were the typical – the joy of victory, sharing good memories with the relatively same group of people (a lot of people in the raid team I was in by Firelands had people I raided with in Molten Core even) and seeing things that not many other people got to see. Raiding was a lot more exclusive over most of my career, so I felt really special and cool, heh. I had mounts other people didn’t, titles others didn’t, and all that jazz. Moreover, it made me a better mage. Becoming a better player in both skill and theory made me feel really confident. Achievements and mounts were a nice side effect from that.

I actually don’t miss much, to be fair. I think the only thing I really miss is just working as a team of competent people to achieve something. I raid very casually once a week with my guild (as that is literally all I can stand now) but sometimes I do miss really rock-hard progression nights with some of my old raiding friends. It’s hard to describe why and the two experiences don’t make either one the “best” or the “worst” just …different. I miss the adrenaline rush of pulling off a really difficult first kill when everyone executes flawlessly or perhaps less so but still manages some weird 1% kill Hail-Mary sort of miracle.

@SkolnickWho: Looking back with a historical eye, do you think the golden age of MMOs will be measured from WoW ’04 through SWTOR release? Not because SWTOR replaced WoW, but showed over-saturation of similar clones & showing that a next gen is eventually needed.

It’s hard to really peg a “golden age” yet, you know? I think the MMORPG genre is still evolving, and while WoW is the undisputed juggernaut right now, much like EQ was before, there’s always something over the horizon. EQ was the biggest, then WoW was, then it went mainstream. Maybe something else will crush it or refine it. Who knows? I’m terrible at speculation like this. Golden age implies a certain hazy rose-colored glasses approach to game design. Not sure if we are there quite yet.

Apple Cider Mage Does Blizzcon 2011

Business cards with the blog's header image on them.
Sorry about the quality of the image today – I had to take it with my phone’s camera in low light. If you can’t tell what they are, those are my business cards. I’m taking a cute white box full of them with me to Blizzcon this week. Oh, wait, I didn’t mention I was going to Blizzcon? How silly of me! Then let’s back it up a bit and start from the beginning.

The Convention

Blizzcon, for you World of Warcraft devotees, is Blizzard’s annual convention that celebrates all of their game properties – most notably World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. It takes place in Anaheim, CA, in the city’s multi-hall convention center, right near Disneyland. I’ve personally been going every year since 2008 and I always have a ton of fun. This year should be no exception – not only does their promise to be some juicy unveilings (new Warcraft expansion, possible DLC for Starcraft II and maybe even a whiff of Blizzard’s secret project, Titan) but a lot of talk about next year’s hot release, Diablo III.

The schedule of events for the convention has been posted (sort of) via their mobile phone app, as well as various Warcraft news sites, but not on their actual event page. I’m using their Android app to figure out where I’m going each day and what I want to see. A rough plan of things I want to hit looks like this:


  • Opening Ceremony  11 AM-12 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Preview 12:30-2:00 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Class Talent Systems 2:15-3:15, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft Dungeons & Raids 3:30-4:30 PM, Main Stage
  • World of Warcraft: 4.3 Raid and Deathwing 5:00 PM-5:50 PM, BlizzChat: Live Forums
  • World of Warcraft Lore and Story Q&A, 4:15PM-5:15 PM
Items that are bolded are ones I’m definitely not missing, hopefully, as I go to them every year. You can also see that my schedule is fairly Warcraft-oriented. I tend to keep my schedule fairly loose though and allow myself to wander or go elsewhere as necessary.

Meetups and Parties

Besides just attending panels and trying out demos of the new games, I also go to a couple of social events in and around the convention. Most notably is the WoW Insider party at 5 PM on Thursday, October 20th, at the Annabella hotel, which is right around the corner from the east entrance of the convention center and up the block. It’s an amazingly gorgeous mission-style hotel and I’ve had a blast every year I’ve attended this party. The WoW Insider staff are always fun people to hang out with, with lots of MCing, podcasting and prizes/swag. Just don’t get pushed into the pool. This year the party is being jointly sponsored by WoW Insider and  Wowhead and should promise to be the biggest party yet. Don’t be late and get stuck outside because there’s no room! I heard that this year there’s even going to be faction-inspired cocktails so everyone can imbibe for the Horde or the Alliance.

I also go to my server’s meetup every year but since Blizzard doesn’t display the times for that until the day of the convention, I have no idea when that will be. In past years, I’ve taken part in the Elitist Jerk’s /flex picture outside, as well as hanging out with some of the fine ladies at WoW_ladies.

This blog doesn’t have a ton of fans (yet) but hopefully if any of you guys are going to Blizzcon, that maybe we’ll get to say hi. If anyone wants to hang out or get in touch, you can send me an e-mail at my address from my contact page. Also if anyone wants to invite me to anything, just let me know as well.

Hope to see some of you there!