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Do you con?

This past weekend I made a 5-hour drive to San Francisco for the inaugural run of GaymerX. If you're not familiar, the gay gaming convention made pretty big news in tech circles when it successfully Kickstarted itself into existence this year. And it's still making news after the fact thanks to the unbelievably rad live rendition of GLaDOS's Still Alive making the rounds on the Interwebs (above).

I met up with a lot of awesome people there and helped moderate a panel on podcasting with the dudes from Horde House, WoW Insider regulars Spike and Slagkick of Game Buoy, and some other great folks from Qoopa Klub and Gayme Bar. I ran into nerd heartthrob Orkchop and his wife, played a killer game of Cards Against Humanity, and made a lot of gaming friends from around the country that I'll hang out with again. This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: "Huge success." It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.

So, the question of the day is this: Do you guys love going to conventions as much as I do? Have you gone to any memorable ones lately? And are there any you're really looking forward to (*cough, cough* BlizzCon)?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, BlizzCon

Congressional report says you 'may' owe taxes on your WoW income

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If you're a World of Warcraft or Diablo 3 player, the federal government would like to have a word with you. Congress's U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), at the request of Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), just wrote and filed a 23-page report on the tax implications of earning gold in MMORPGs. Seriously.

The report, titled "Virtual Economies and Currencies," focuses on buying, using, and selling virtual currencies like WoW gold. The key takeaway for World of Warcraft players is that the in-game economy is a "closed-flow system" -- because you can't exchange your gold for U.S. dollars, you don't need to worry about claiming those 26 gold pieces from completing a quest on your 2013 income taxes. If, however, you decide to sell your accumulated WoW items through a third-party exchange (Don't do it! It's against the Terms of Service and could get you hacked!), then you "may have earned taxable income from the sale of these virtual goods."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Economy, Gold Capped, Diablo 3

World of Warcraft loses 1.3M subscribers since February, down to 8.3M

WoW loses 13 million subscribers since Feb down to 8 mil
Today's Activision-Blizzard financial reports states World of Warcraft took a subscriber hit this quarter, losing 1.3 million players since February.

The loss brings the total number of WoW players down to 8.3 million, its lowest level since the launch of the Burning Crusade expansion in 2007. Subscriber levels have fallen by about a third since WoW's post-Cataclysm peak of 12 million subscribers. The loss is hardly unusual -- you have to remember that WoW is a 9-year-old game, and we're at a pretty uninteresting time in the expansion cycle.

Have we mentioned yet that we're really excited to see if Blizzard is announcing a new MMO at BlizzCon?

Filed under: Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

What advice do you have for a player just returning to WoW?

What advice do you have for a player just returning to WoW
Hello there. You probably don't know me because I haven't been around these parts for a while. My name is Fox Van Allen. Normally, I'm the one who writes advice in 1,000 word chunks to help make your game-playing experience better. But today, I'm the one who needs a hand. Care to lend one?

I have a dirty little secret (that's not much of a secret): I haven't played World of Warcraft in quite some time. My characters -- two shadow priests, an elemental shaman, and a boomkin -- are sitting at level 85. None of them have left Stormwind (or Orgrimmar) since MoP launched. My account is a blank slate.

So I'm asking all of you who are enjoying your 104-day head start and all the insight it provides: What should I do first? What are the must-complete quest lines? Should I roll a panda monk and experience the new expansion from the very start, or should I start with the content for my existing level 85 characters? What talents do you love more than any other? And, most importantly: Where all the fun stuffs at?

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Rookie, Mists of Pandaria

Are MMORPGs addictive? East Carolina University wants to find out

Are MMORPGs addictive East Carolina University wants to find out
Certainly there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that people are addicted to the Internet, and even more specifically, addicted to World of Warcraft. But what leads people to spend 10, 20, or even more hours per week playing WoW? Is the urge to play a very specific addiction, like that of a drug, or is it just an outlet for human beings who harbor an innate tendency towards addiction? The Department of Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies at East Carolina University (the crown jewel of the State of East Carolina's educational system) wants to find out.

Clinical instructor, WoW player, shadow priest, and WoW Insider reader Andrew Byrne is running a study on gaming addiction as part of his Doctoral dissertation. He needs to survey 200 respondents (some kind of Nate Silver nonsense), so if you want to do your good deed for the day, head on over to mmorpgresearchstudy.com and take the questionnaire.

Research participants needed for a study on healthy and unhealthy use of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games like WoW. Your identity will not be collected. If interested, please click on this link: http://www.mmorpgresearchstudy.com/

The survey is a set of 20 questions; completing it takes about five minutes.
Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items

WRUP: Yet another lazy glued-to-a-handrail kind of afternoon

Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game, and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

Yawn -- oh, hi. Welcome to a lazy What aRe yoU Playing on a lazy late summer (super early fall?) afternoon. We're just hanging out here, looking all awesome. Also, someone glued us to a handrail, and it's kind of unpleasant.

Anyway, you all know the drill. Let us know what you're playing this weekend, and we'll return the favor. Got a great game you want us to all know about? Maybe you've got a hot new chicken recipe? Or you found a great new way home from work on Thursday? You can share all that too, we're not picky. After all, those who are glued to handrails can't really be beggars.

This week, we have a question for you guys (and for our columnists): This is our last weekend without Mists of Pandaria. How are you spending it?

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business

WRUP: Mike Sacco visits The Fourth Hour

Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game, and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

Hey everyone! Welcome to What aRe yoU Playing! And, at the same time, welcome to episode three of The Fourth Hour!

Today's The Fourth Hour takes us to Irvine, California (but still somehow still in The Fourth Hour studios, according to Michele), where we visit with Mike Sacco, smell his hair, and then kill him. You don't want to miss this one, because Michele and I may not be available to make another one for another 10 to 20 years (court case pending).

After you're done subscribing to The Fourth Hour YouTube channel (cough cough, do it, cough), you can follow us after the break for a breathtaking round of WRUP! Oh boy!

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business

WRUP: "Tammy Calls Queen a Racist"

Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game, and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

I love Canadians. I don't know what it is, but there's something very appealing about having a culture so similar to that of the United States but so different at the same time. I mean, do you know what they do to french fries up there? They put gravy on them. Madness.

Of course, I learned everything I know about Canada from one place: the early 1990s comedy series Kids in the Hall. It was so delightfully absurd and yet so delightfully Canadian. The sketch above with Bruce McCulloch (as Tammy) is one of my all-time favorites. Not the all-time favorite -- but one of them.

Anyway, that's what's been amusing me for the last few weeks -- watching Kids in the Hall on Netflix. I know what'll amuse you, though: a hearty round of What aRe yoU Playing! So let's mosey on past the break and all share our lives with complete strangers, shall we?

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The Queue: Is Fox leaving forever?

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Fox Van Allen (@foxvanallen) will be your host today.

Hey everyone! Gather the kids, because it's one of those "special event" things. Fox Van Allen is doing The Queue today and that's pretty darn exciting. OK, sure, it's not "hit the jackpot" exciting. It's a more gentle kind of exciting. Like the kind where if for a day Pat Sajak hosted Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek hosted Wheel of Fortune.

Anyway. Because I'm an egotistical jerk who has only been made even more insufferable by the blazing Los Angeles sun, I'm going to start this Queue off by answering a question about myself.

@thebmatt asked:

I just saw on @WoWInsider you [Fox] won't be writing the Shadow priest column anymore. True?

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Filed under: The Queue

WRUP: AFK getting married

Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game, and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

Oh, hi. I wasn't expecting anyone here today -- we're closed. Closed for business. Yes sir, no WoW Insider today. Just a ship on autopilot until the next sunrise.

Why? Oh, you know, someone here at WoW Insider's just "AFK getting married." That's a pretty big deal. And while none of us were actually invited to the wedding (nah, whatevs, that's cool, I didn't want to go anyway), we did want to take the day off and pretend that was the reason. So yeah, this wedding here is kind of cool. And it's happening ... I don't know, somewhere in the Upper Midwest? Also there are puppets here? I don't know, I may just have had too many mimosas.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business