Do you anticipate making a career from gaming?
Yes. I have hopes that working and going to school for five years will look good enough on a resume that I can get hired for a gaming-centric print magazine one day.
You hit 80 so quickly, yet you say you don't raid with your guild due to work and school commitments. What kind of a raiding schedule does Void maintain?
I powered my way to 80 during an easy week (right after mid-terms), hitting 80 on Sunday night. I don't really consider that too fast, being that many members of my guild hit 80 on Saturday morning. Void has been clearing all of the 25-man stuff every Tuesday. It's not so much that I do not choose to raid. I just don't find it that fun, and I have been so hot/cold in the past with when I play WoW that my guild does not want to gear someone who will most likely take a break from the game in the future.
If you're not raiding, then, what are you doing with your game time?
Running heroics and getting ready for the arena season.
Did you play in the Wrath beta?
Yes. I was in the Friends and Family Beta for a short time before it went public.
Share with us your view of WoW as an e-sport.
WoW as an e-sport currently is actually pretty awful. Tournaments are using Season 2 gear on level 70 characters, with Patch 3.0 talents. This means that damage is really, really, really high. Arcane Mages at the moment dominant the tournament scene because of such high crits.
What sort of tournament scene exists for WoW Arena players, beyond working on Arena rankings in game?
There are several tournaments for WoW out there. Two, for example, are the Electronic Sports League (ESL) who have a world wide tournament, the finals being in March 2009, and Major League Gaming, a console-centric league who expanded to PC earlier this year with WoW.
Does ArenaCast focus strictly on professional tournaments?
Yes. There are not a lot of amateur tournaments out there for WoW. We hope to begin covering the upcoming Arena season, though, in WotLK.
How does one become a "professional" WoW player, anyway?
It is kind of a funny question. There is no committee that gives you a license or anything like that. Showing up to a tournament would be enough to label yourself as a professional WoW player, but I think getting a sponsor to pay for your trip and lodging would be a better judge of a professional player.
As far as numbers (of pros out there), I would guess 20 to 30 would be a ballpark figure. In the United States, you have teams like Pandemic, Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, GotGame and Gravitas. Europe and Asia also have their big-name teams.
How do you keep up with all the changes and balance issues in PvP? Do you need to stay immersed in PvPing yourself, or can you stay abreast through reading, watching matches and analyzing?
Keeping up with the changes and balance issues in PvP is an ongoing process. Personally, I have been able to read and watch matches analyzing them, but several of my colleagues do actively play Arena at the highest level on their respective Battlegroups.
What should players who are interested in becoming more competitive in Arena play do in game? Any sites or podcasts or resources you recommend out of game?
If you're looking to learn more about the professional scene in Arena, first off you should listen to ArenaCast (come on, I have to promote myself!). If you are interested in watching a weekly videocast, tune into ESL.tv. It is European, but don't hold that against them, ha ha. They do their live shows every Wednesday but also have video on demand if you miss an episode.
But really, paying attention to sites like ESFIWorld.com, SK-Gaming.com, Gotfrag.com, ArenaJunkies.com, etc., for announcements on tournament realms (private realms where teams can play with tournament gear to compete against some of the best out there) and general discussion about professional Arena play.
Wait a sec -- private tournament realms? Blizzard seems to be putting the hammer down on private servers. Will this impact WoW e-sports?
Blizzard is in full cooperation with any organization that runs a tournament. Ninety percent of the time, a Blizzard rep is on-site at these events -- the companies are not running illegal servers, but official, pre-made Blizzard servers.
These tournament realms are very the same realms that Blizzard uses for its own Arena tournament. Along with this, Blizzard also has a spectator client that the e-sport organizations have been allowed to use in order to broadcast matches. Hopefully in the future, this add-on will be released so anyone can watch a live Arena match. There are problems to be worked out, of course (allowing people to spectate matches could factor into when you want to queue for Arena, etc.), but hopefully there is a way around it.
Not a lot of people know that Blizzard is one of the few game developers that supports e-sports. They have an extensive team around the world coordinating events for Warcraft III, WoW and of course Starcraft (South Korea's national sport). Other companies such as Valve http://www.valvesoftware.com/ have been "nudging" organizations to stop use of Counter-Strike 1.6 in tournaments, and instead use their newer build, Counter-Strike: Source.
You do see some organizations however having to postpone or even cancel tournaments because Blizzard has not launched level 80 Arena yet.
Interesting stuff, JP. Best of luck with your future in journalism and with ArenaCast!