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About the Bloggers: Fox Van Allen

About the Bloggers introduces you to the people behind WoW Insider. Meet other staffers, both past-day and present, in earlier About the Bloggers posts.

This week, we meet and shake hands with the extraordinarily popular (Editor's note: Fox wrote that) Fox Van Allen. We then immediately reach for the hand sanitizer, because we have a pretty good idea where his hands have been.

What do you do for WoW Insider?

Fox Van Allen, a blood elf-esque man who frequently converses about himself in the third person, was officially hired as a contributing editor nearly two years ago. But he's not just a contributor -- he's so much more.

Fox is the wit and ego of WoW Insider. Stunningly handsome, incredibly intelligent, and chaotically neutral, Fox is best known for his work as the columnist behind the shadow priest edition of the Spiritual Guidance column. He has also filled in for a number of other columnists, including brief stints working The Queue and Gold Capped columns. He is universally loved by all, even by those who hate him.

He also compiles the WRUP (What aRe yoU Playing?) column every Saturday Friday, but he doesn't like to talk about that much. Mostly since it's 90% filler. Entertaining filler, though! You should read it!

What's your main?

My main is Miseryfox, originally Spiritfox, a level 85 shadow priest. He's part of a progression-oriented raid team on the Proudmoore server. (Huge shout out to my friends at Mattachine Knights, The Stonewall Family, and Taint.)

I have a couple of alts, too. Naturefox is my druid boomkin, who I play to prove to (Shifting Perspectives and Blood Pact columnist) Tyler Caraway that being a boomkin is stupid-easy. I also play an elemental shaman here and there, but her AOE damage makes me too sad to play her regularly.

When I'm not playing WoW, I'm ...

Well, I live near Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, with three roommates, one of whom introduced me to WoW several years ago. It's a pretty nice place. (Taylor Lautner and John McCain even visited this one time!)

For the last several years, I've been working as a writer and editor. My most recent freelance contract ended in August, and since then, I've been looking for my next long-term gig. In the meantime, I'm freelancing right here at WoW Insider and doing an awful lot of painting.

Today, still wanted by employers, Fox survives as a soldier of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire ... Fox Van Allen.

Horde or Alliance?

Alliance, despite what people presumed in the comment section of my What Alliance race is best for shadow priests article. I'm not really an Alliance fanboy, though -- the main reason I play Alliance is because all my real-life friends played Alliance when I joined WoW. It's not really an interesting, dynamic faction the way the Horde is. I mean, Forsaken shadow priest lore is just intense.

I also hate gnomes with a passion.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

In game, it'd probably be the completion of my epic grind to 1 million gold. It took about four or five months to accomplish, not counting however long it took to get my initial bank of 25k. (And yes, in an homage to Brewster's Millions, I have almost finished spending it all.)

Out of game ... well, there are a lot of things I'm proud of. My greatest accomplishment would probably be the fact that between graduating from high school and graduating from college, I lost about 110 pounds. It wasn't something I set out to do intentionally; after giving up soda for a while, I noticed I had lost about 25 pounds without doing anything else. At that point, I began actively exercising and making small changes in what I'd eat.

Nowadays, I'm absolutely fanatic about staying in shape. Gym four or five times a week, all of that. I have to stay pretty for all my fans, of course ...

What's your favorite mount?

This is a pretty tough question. I love the Ashes of Al'ar phoenix mount, but I don't actually have it on any of my characters. The Reins of the Dark Phoenix makes a pretty good substitute for it, especially considering I spend all my time in Shadowform.

Of the mounts I do own, my favorite is probably Reins of the Swift Spectral Tiger. I bought it with in-game currency to reward myself for getting to 1 million gold. It's hands down the most expensive thing I've ever bought -- or will ever buy -- in game. It looks so awesome in Shadowform; the tiger part sort of disappears, and all you see is phantasmic floating armor.

What are some of your favorite columns that you've written?

As a regular columnist for WoW Insider, I need to come up with a column once a week, without fail. Sometimes, it's easy. Other times, it's a struggle to come up with a compelling, creative idea. You don't get a home run every time you step up to bat.

Still, there are some of my works that stand out way above the rest -- pieces I've absolutely loved writing. When you've written something good, you just know. You get this super-anxious feeling seeing it sitting in the pending articles queue, and you can't wait for it to get scheduled and pushed live.

Two of my favorite Spiritual Guidance columns ran last year. I got really excited over my column about soloing 5-man BC content (back in Wrath, of course) and the research I did for my piece on shadow priest lore.

I took over WRUP because I can really go "out there" with the stuff I write. (I'm really thankful to have editors who are willing to let me take chances.) There are two I love more than the rest: Meanwhile, in the other universe ..., a tribute to the show Fringe; and the column that actually landed me my spot as the permanent author of WRUP, WoW Insider's night at Video Game Orchestra.

And, yeah, no list would be complete without the one post that made me infamous ... or a mention of Foxlight, the shirtless paladin.

What's the deal with you and Tyler?

I first met Tyler Caraway in person at BlizzCon 2010. Desperately alone, he started clinging to me almost immediately. It was, at the same time, endearing and deeply depressing.

Tyler had become obsessed. Hopelessly enamored with me, he issued constant jabs via Twitter in an effort to keep my attention. It's sad, really -- like watching a crippled bird attempt a mating dance. Eventually, his urges to be near me escalated to the point that he moved nearly 900 miles to Boston just to be near me. We've hung out fairly regularly in person since then.

So, what's the deal, exactly? Well, we're the reason why they have that "It's Complicated" status on Facebook.

What's the #1 thing Blizzard has done well?

Not to be a lame suck-up or anything, but Blizzard has done a phenomenal job at correcting the problems with the shadow priest spec since the days of Wrath. Shadow isn't perfect, but considering where shadow priests were in the beginning of Ulduar -- terrible DPS with a Dispersion ability that failed to work as advertised -- we've come a long way, baby.

What's the #1 thing Blizzard could do better?

Here at WoW Insider, we absolutely love Blizzard. We really do. This website is a labor of love, and none of us would be here if we didn't love WoW. Period.

That said, sometimes Blizzard stinks at communicating. Regular posts from Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street are, sadly, a thing of the past; Blizzard's Ask the Devs project was something of a failure (though only due to design). It's very easy for players to feel slighted by changes, and there are plenty of occasions when Blizzard has just plain been unresponsive to our collective concerns. And to be honest, there are occasions when it seems as if Blizzard is just plain lying to us to cover up mistakes.

It's like, come on. We know you're all human, and we know you make mistakes every now and then. Own up to them, and we'll only love you more for your honesty. (Seriously.)

Any pet peeves?

"Oh, you work for WoW Insider? Cool. I really like Christian Belt's stuff."

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, About the Bloggers

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