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The Ghostcrawler Experiment


Greg Street, aka Ghostcrawler, is the lead systems designer at Blizzard for World of Warcraft. It's his job to make sure all the numbers work right, that the talents are spiffy, and all that "other" stuff. He became a presence during the Wrath of the Lich King beta, posting daily about updates to the game and interacting with players in a way that hasn't been seen before.

The daily activity by Ghostcrawler has lead to him become a staple of sites such as WoW Insider and MMO-Champion. Every day you can see at least one or two items from him. We here at WoW Insider are particularly watchful of what he says, since his posts usually contain detailed information about why something was done and what might be done in the future. That's great content that we like to talk a lot about.

However despite the volumes Ghostcrawler publishes each day, some people feel that his welcome has ran out – that this experiment of him providing community interaction has failed. Some feel that his penchant for forum interaction is time wasted, that he's done nothing more than incite riots with certain classes, and that his demeanor is less than appealing. There was a forum post today about this very topic, but that in itself is nothing new as lots of people have been QQing over Ghostcrawler for a while.

Don't let all the crying fool you however – he has some major supporters throughout the community.

When looking back over his posts a few things become evident.
  • He feels free to speak his mind on the finer points of a given subject
  • He rarely makes sweeping statements about classes or other aspects of the game
  • His statements often times match up with statements released by other blue posters
  • He provides a personality as much as he provides information
  • He has no problem saying something is broken
  • He has a problem with useless trolls
  • He likes gin in his coffee
This all leads to a very interesting, if yet delicate in some circles, subject to think about. Has Ghostcrawler's presence hindered or helped World of Warcraft and the greater WoW community?

From my standpoint it has helped. Prior to Ghostcrawler coming on the scene we had sparse comments made by Community Managers such as Drysc and Nethaera. They often spoke in cryptic language, never really confirming or denying what was being worked on or what Blizzard thought about things. Of course, there are individual exceptions to this, but I'm speaking broad terms. And it also needs to be mentioned that it's not really their jobs to talk about what the developers are thinking. They're not developers, and since the development of a game is such a unique subject, their position within the company really dictates that they not expunge their thoughts on the subject. Does Neth know, or want to know what's running around inside the head of Ghostcrawler? The answer is no (we assume).

Enter Ghostcrawler, stage left.

He is a developer. And he does have a sense of what the developers are working on and thinking about certain issues. What he and his team are thinking might not always agree with what you're thinking – and that does present a problem at times. But nonetheless, he's not afraid to come out and say it. What he says and how he says it might at times get him in some hot water with community members, but at least they're getting something right from the horse's mouth.

It's in this regard, that we're getting raw information right from Blizzard, that folks think Ghostcrawler has become a huge asset to the community. And not only does he provide information, but he also doesn't shy away from having a discussion about it.

Now some might disagree, and that's cool. But we can all agree on the fact that having a little crab tell us that our class is getting nerfed to all hell is kinda cute, right?

I'm kidding, only paladins shamans hunters are getting nerfed.

Ghostcrawler has a lot to say, and we like to cover it as much as possible. Check out our list of everything he's contributed to, and stay tuned to the front page of WoW Insider for all the latest WoW news. To the ground, baby!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Forums

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