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From Rock Journalist to WoW Addict

At the end of March, the Times issued an 8-page supplement along with a demo of World of Warcraft. Aside from getting me wondering how many Londoners are now trying out the game, it brought along a fantastic article by Caitlin Moran. You'll want to read the article to understand the image accompanying this posting.

In "My life as a bearded dwarf", we're given a humorous and insightful view into what can drag a mild-mannered reporter and mother of two into the world's biggest online game. Okay, maybe mild-mannered is pushing it. This is the same Caitlin Moran who started off into the world of music journalism at 16, wished an entire band dead in an album review, and who's spent time hanging out with Robbie Williams and writing on how cocaine has been responsible for some great albums. Yes, I owe my knowledge of these facts to the mighty Wikipedia.

While her choice of character names (Scottbaio) leaves much to be desired, I'm left wondering how long it'll be before I actually see a Thrusthammer Orcbash on a realm near me.

How did you get into World of Warcraft? When was it that you realized that you had been entirely sucked in, and the 20 minutes you THOUGHT you were going to spend turned into 2 or 3 hours?

Thanks a million to Dave for the submission!

Filed under: News items, Humor

Using World of Warcraft to teach English

There's a story on Gamasutra today about using games, specifically WoW, as a way of exposing Asian youth to English. As an author of English-language textbooks for students in Japan and Taiwan, this particularly caught my attention. I'll let you go read the article to understand what's been done, but I'd like to share some thoughts here on the subject.

First and foremost, I think that using a game like WoW to teach casual, conversational English is a fantastic idea. With in-game chat, as well as Teamspeak/Ventrilo, you can really expose non-native speakers to the language in all its forms. Granted, you're not going to learn high-level business English, but you are going to be able to come away with a grasp of the language and some of its conversational nuances.

I also firmly believe that language is not as severe a barrier in WoW as it may be in other games. I know that many of us have come across a member of the opposite faction, and have been able to communicate through emotes or movements, or even through how we interact with the mobs in the situation. With less of a barrier to communication from the get-go, there's less of an intimidation factor involved for someone who wants to get something across.

However, through my experience, I've definitely seen some roadblocks to using WoW as an educational tool. I think it may be less prevalent on the European servers (please let me know if this is so, or I have a misperception), but on the North American servers I've played on, there seems to be a solid amount of intolerance for people who can't perfectly communicate in English.

A lot of this may stem from gold farmers who don't speak the language, but there are also French and Spanish speaking players on these realms who may have had to endure a certain amount of ridicule before finding acceptance in a given guild.

My question to the WoW Insider community is this - if you were aware that your server was being used for cross-cultural and cross-lingual training, would you accept this and would you put forth the time and energy to help non-English speakers be a part of your guild or your party and learn the language?

If not, why not?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items

Reader WoWspace of the Week: March 29 - April 4

This week's entry is a doozy. It is big in all ways that a WoWspace can be big. Lots of write-up, giant images, and 2 screens that just look huge. I never thought my 2x 20" screens would look small. How wrong was I...

Hey, wowspaces moderation folk! Long time reader, first time submitter...although, i guess everyone is a first time submitter. anyways! Here is my wowspace, with a little description of it all.

Let's start out with the monitors first, my pride and joy :P those are 2 24" dell widescreens, each running at 1920x1280 resolution. the laptop is a 13" black macbook. All three of these screens are connected to the same keyboard and mouse, which navigates across all three screens through a virtual KVM program called Synergy. This is nice, since it lets me run processive intensive apps on the mac, while my desktop can be dedicated to running WoW.

So, what about the desktop specs you say?

Athlon 64 4200+ processor
2gb of DDR2 533mhz ram
geforce 6800 ultra card, 512mb video memory
7200RPM, 300GB hard drive.

The laptop is a 1.8ghz intel core duo macbook, 1gb of ram - it does the job when im out of the house :)

Both systems are connected to a Creative Gigaworks G500 sound system.

Read more →

Filed under: Reader WoWspace of the week

Green Wrath = Envy?

Yesterday, we explored the Purple Judgement non-set, so it only seems fair that we continue our exploration of re-skinned Tier 2 goodness, as not all of you play paladins (why not?) at the present time.

Today we take a look at the reskinned level 70 version of the warrior's Cylon Wrath set. I was always impressed with the look of this set, with the bladed shoulders, and the mohawk-blade helm. I'm not sure which I like more, the original purple, or this new green version.

How do you warriors feel that your sets (and non-sets) are focused on tanking rather than on arms or fury builds? Can you live without a good-looking coherent set of armor pieces?

If you are looking to tank, here are the non-set pieces that visually form a green Wrath set (which I like to call "Envy") and where you'll find them:

Read more →

Filed under: Warrior, Items

Reader UI of the Week: March 15 - 30

This edition's UI is, in my opinion, pretty good looking. It's clean and it looks like all the mods have been tweaked in their settings to look as though they belong to a coherent whole.

Zodak of Dark Iron provides an explanation of his UI is as quick and clean as the setup itself:

My UI goal is to simply display everything necessary in a straightfoward manner. Minimalism with the most pertinent information shown as possible without creating clutter. I've also focused a lot on maximizing my widescreen display.

The mods we can see include:

  • FuBar
  • EEpanels
  • SWstats
  • agUnitFrames
  • Bartender3
  • Prat
  • Squeenix
  • SimpleCombatLog
  • Buffalo

What do you think of Zodak's setup? What I want to see from you in submissions for the next edition are some really WACKY UI setups. Let's see how outrageous you can get! Maybe we can put together a cavalcade of the weird, the cluttered, the unusable!

Show us what you got by submitting to: readerui@gmail.com

Filed under: Reader UI of the Week

Not quite a set: Purple Judgement

I really wanted to call this article "The Peculiar Purple Paladin of Porcupine Peak", but aside from being fairly non-descriptive, I was afraid the reference would be lost. Instead, I decided to just state exactly what we're looking at over on the right.

I hope we can all agree that the Paladin Tier 2 Judgement set is a solidly designed set of gear, which really breathed some life and energy into the Paladin class, stylistically speaking. As a paladin myself, it became my whole world. It was the single reason I played with my online dress-up doll, err.. paladin. When I had finally achieved the set, I felt satisfied and complete. Then the Burning Crusade came. Try as I might to not do it, I've had to put several pieces of judgement into storage as I'm leveling from 60 to 70. My poor little pally now looks like a hodgepodge of pieces from a bargain bin.

Luckily for those of us who plan to take our (forced?) places in a raid group upon hitting 70, there's a bit of a black light at the end of the tunnel.

While "Purple Judgement" isn't a fully realized set, with bonuses and a name, it is a grouping of very viable healing gear for the level 70 paladin. If you're keen on maintaining that Judgement look, and you're okay with being a healer at level 70, you'll want to seek out the following pieces, from helm to boot:

Read more →

Filed under: Paladin, Items

Reader WoWspace of the Week: March 21 - 28

This week on Reader WoWspace, Thijz writes:

I took three pictures of my setup. I took them with my mobile phone (my mom stole the camera) so they're not very high quality.

On the first one you can see this:

Top shelf: (left to right)
- Some random books and CD's, as well as a Princess Mononoke DVD
- My printer (HP Deskjet D2360) nothing special
- Center speaker of my Logitech X530 5.1 speakerset
- A picture of my cat
- WoW and BC boxes, as some sort of tribute :P
- Behind those are some boxes from my motherboard, mouse etc, in which I keep driver-CD's and instruction books

Read more →

Filed under: Reader WoWspace of the week

WoW Insider Guide to Paladin Tanking

With the many changes already made to the paladin class in WoW 2.0, and the new paladin tanking itemization that's been promised for 2.10, we felt it was about time that paladin tanking was given a thorough looking over. With great help from master mathematician Ananke, we've been able to put together the first in what's sure to be a long list of WoW Insider Guides.

With your protection tree firmly in hand, you can take a look at how Seal of Righteousness compares to taunt, how your Consecration can act as a great aggro builder across multiple mobs, and how you can tank *and* dish out the damage. Complete with graphs and an explanation of each of a paladin's primary tanking skills and spells, we're sure you'll find this guide helpful whether you're a paladin tank, or just grouping with one.

Click on the read link to see how a paladin can stack up to a Warrior, WoW's traditional tanking class, and look at the numbers behind the essential paladin tanking skills.

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks

Reader WoWspace of the Week: March 7 - 20

This week, Ben sends in some interesting images, and writes:

I've been tempted to send in a shot of my workspace for a few weeks now after seeing the WoWSpaces of the week, and now I guess I've gotten around to it.

So here 'goes, from left-ish to right:

- my Logitech X-230 speakers
- a note from my mom congratulating me on the arrival of my new PC
- a newspaper clipping about DST changes
- under that, a greeting card and some weird round orange post-its
- my television remote
- cream soda x2 (awwww yeah)
- a J!NX bumper sticker (yep, it's stuck on right on there)
- a page from an old Nintendo Power magazine about Ken from Street Fighter II
- partially under that, my DS charger

Read more →

Filed under: Reader WoWspace of the week

Blizzard posts Burning Crusade attunement tree

While we've certainly seen some excellent player-created guides to instance attunement in The Burning Crusade, sometimes it's just good to know there's also an official source.

So it was with great glee that I opened up my email this morning to find that *other* World of Warcraft Insider (you know, the email Bliz sends you that you never read) with mention of this fabulous interactive attunement guide.

While I don't know about you (and I hope you'll tell me), I know that a guide like this helps me figure out what I'm headed to do next on my path of content conquering. I honestly had no clue it would be this involved as I was leveling up, but thankfully the faction grind hasn't really felt like a grind at all. In fact, after leveling to 70 on a new shaman, and seeing most of the new instances, I'm now only missing revered with a couple of factions.

So, does a guide like this from Blizzard help, or are you more inclined to use the player-generated guides?

Filed under: Blizzard, Instances, Factions, Guides