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The New York Times goes to BlizzCon

It's rare to see the mainstream media cover anything related to World of Warcraft with a generally approving tone, but no less prestigious an outlet than The New York Times reported on this year's BlizzCon quite favorably indeed. Seth Schiesel, in covering the convention, bypasses the media's usual narrative and notes that the big draw of an event like BlizzCon isn't what you'd expect. It's not the StarCraft 2 tournament with the big purse, the company's annual announcements, or even the closing concert. It's simply the chance to meet and enjoy your fellow gamers, whether you're a developer or a player.

I think Schiesel nails it here:

... the most powerful and important games are the persistent online dimensions like World of Warcraft and Eve Online. That is because they're not really about the games; they are about the relationships players form within them.

I'm surprised but gratified to see a reporter in a major media outlet who really gets it. Of note is also a comment by Rob Pardo (Blizzard's executive vice president for game design), who observes that Blizzard could easily fill larger venues than the Anaheim Convention Center (my suggestion: rent Wyoming) but prefers to keep the con local for the benefit of Blizzard employees who want to come.

I think it's safe to say that gamers are still working toward mainstream acceptance (possibly because people often don't consider things like Angry Birds and Farmville to be "true" gaming), and it's really nice not to see the usual caricature of the angry, antisocial nerd rearing its head.


Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: Care packages spur renaissance of community spirit

Thank-you note
From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

All we need to introduce the topic of this week's 15 Minutes of Fame is a simple realm name: Moon Guard. Aha! I see some of you out there have been paying attention ... That's right, Moon Guard's the realm with the reputation for, shall we say, a somewhat more exotic (or was that erotic?) playstyle. Ready to go behind the scenes with a leading realm figure who'll give us the inside scoop on what really goes down on Moon Guard?

Well, hang on there, Hoss -- because this ain't yo' mama's Moon Guard (or even your creepy Uncle Harold's). This is a decidedly more respectable Moon Guard. This is a Moon Guard that helps out new players with free care packages, no strings attached. This is a Moon Guard that's building an entire YouTube channel to spotlight interesting realm personalities. This is a Moon Guard whose players josh around with an in-character advice column run by a goblin. This is a Moon Guard boasting a recent player-run roleplaying event that virtually exploded onto the forum scene.

Meet Venita, who's spurred on a huge part of this renaissance of community spirit with a wildly popular care package program for realm newbies plus an upcoming community spotlight program making its debut next month on YouTube.

Read more →

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Blizzard's APIs and You: Cool information and tools coming down the pipe

Recently, Blizzard disabled the WoWArmory Facebook application, signaling that the time of the modern WoW Armory is over and we will soon live in an age when new Blizzard APIs will transform our out-of-game experience. And change it, they will. These forthcoming APIs will change the way you interact with WoW outside of the game in ways you cannot even think up yet. How do I know this? That's the power of information facilitation, and some inventive hypotheticals will show you what Blizzard's APIs will do for you in the near future.

Over the past few months, Blizzard has been preparing to roll out a new set of APIs that will take internal information from the Armory, the new community site, and more, parse it into easily manageable data streams, and make those streams available to application developers. With these new streams of information, savvy developers can craft web applications, smartphone apps, social media plugins, and anything else under the sun to provide you with new and dynamic WoW experiences on the internet. I know that sounds horribly cliché, but hear me out -- this stuff is pretty cool, and the back end could bring about a new standard for information availability and MMOs.

I'm not a developer. In fact, a lot of us in the community are not developers. Writing this story felt like an exercise in obscurity because, frankly, all this back end information isn't in my wheelhouse. As I dug deeper and began to realize the potential of the systems being set up, I fell in love with the idea that Blizzard is opening up easy access to so much information. I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate for those of us who have no idea what APIs are capable of, to break through the programmer/developer talk and discuss what these APIs mean for us, at the end of the day.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

March's Guild of the Month: Spectacular Death

Yes, that says March and not May. We'll be announcing April's winner soon, but first let's (finally) congratulate Spectacular Death for being March's Guild of the Month. They won a $100 gift code from SwagDog (which they have already received and spent). Gimmlette, their guild leader, tells us about Spectacular Death in her own words:

Our guild portrait [above] says it all. People are wearing a wide variety of tabards which represent all the events we've participated in; achievements we've helped each other with; factions we're exalted with. We've gone everywhere and done most everything. We have every race and class.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Guilds, Contests

Blizzard previews character, guild, and arena team APIs

Blizzard previously announced that certain APIs were going to become available for applications and players to access from the community website. We've finally got a preview of the information feeds that tap into character data in the near future. These feeds can be used in applications, websites, and more for user-created, World of Warcraft ... well ... anything.

Blizzard's opening up of these information feeds is pretty cool, and you will likely see some ambitious applications of this data being used in the near future. One of the illuminating aspects of this preview is that after finding the right way to do it, the devs are thinking about opening up quest ID information so that you can see what quests characters have or have not completed. There are tons of applications of that data out there and I'm sure the community is really excited to make use of this API information. Check out the full preview after the jump.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard

Patch 4.1 dungeon finder change places players from realms together

There was an interesting change slipped into the 4.1 patch notes a few days ago, and players may or may not have noticed it. The dungeon finder, which pulls from the combined battlegroups of all servers, has been tweaked to place players from the same realm together first, and if it can't find players from the same realm, it will move on to a wider pool of players. What does this mean for the dungeon finder? Very little -- you'll still be getting a group. But it's the motives behind the change that are interesting, as posted by Zarhym on the official forums:

Zarhym
That isn't just a coincidence. Many players have stated since the release of the Dungeon Finder that they like the convenience of being matched for a group automatically, but they miss the feeling of community when they're paired with strangers from other realms with whom they might never speak again. So we made a slight change in the way the Dungeon Finder sorts through the queue matching players for a dungeon.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

February's Guild of the Month: The Earthbound

Congratulations to The Earthbound, February's WoW Insider Guild of the Month! Here is an excerpt from the winning entry from Genk, the guild founder:

When someone joins The Earthbound (US-Dragonmaw), they're welcomed with a cry of "blu nu!" For those who were invited by friends to the guild, this is the point where they find out that we're not like other guilds.

More details about The Earthbound, in Genk's words, are after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Contests

15 Minutes of Fame: A 2010 retrospective of WoW people

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Who's really behind that stoic DPSer in your raid group? He never talks much, but he never misses a raid -- or an opportunity to snag that mob that's decided to nibble on you while you're tank healing. What about that banker you always run into in Darnassus -- and why Darnassus, anyway? And what about that level 40something night elf you keep seeing all over the place ... yet who always manages to still be 40something? Who are all these people?

With more than 12 million WoW players worldwide, you can bet that logging in means rubbing elbows with people who live and play in very different circumstances from your own. From X to Y, from X to Y, only WoW Insider's 15 Minutes of Fame brings you a complete sampler of the personalities and passions behind the avatars that shared your screen in 2010. Click into our gallery below for a fresh look at the players we profiled over the past year.




"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wow.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Breakfast Topic: Is it the world or the gameplay that keeps you hooked?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

When I first started playing WoW, I read every quest. I was a newbie who didn't know where anything was and didn't even know of the existence of addons to help me in my questing. So I often searched the quest text for clues about where to find mobs and items. As my game savvy increased, I read the quests less and less, until finally I didn't read them at all but rather clicked on my map to see where I needed to go and what I needed to kill.

Now, I find myself slowing down again. The lore is interesting to me, and more and more, I realize how expansive the world is and how fun it is to participate in that world. I am not an RPer by any account, but I find myself wanting WoW to be a world and not just a game.

Out of a desire to understand and enjoy the lore, some players have read Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, The Shattering, and other WoW / Warcraft-related books. Other players have absolutely no desire to know the lore and view WoW as a game that they enjoy playing -- not a live-action fantasy novel.

Are you the sort of player who loves the lore? Or do you just play for the game action?

What's the biggest draw of WoW and Azeroth for you?
I love the persistent virtual world -- the lore, the community and social interaction, developing my characters ...7839 (68.4%)
I'm in it for the gameplay.2227 (19.4%)
-delete-1391 (12.1%)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Alliance wins Darkmoon Faire contest; final video unlocked


The Alliance has vanquished their Horde foes in the first (incredibly unofficial) PvP battle of Cataclysm, the Darkmoon Faire: Your Fortune Awaits community unlockable "contest." As a result of their stunning victory, the Alliance won ... nothing. Don't spend it all in one place, guys!

An hour or two after the Alliance reached 100 percent, the Horde too reached their 100 percent goal. With both factions at 100 percent, the final community video, "Reforging of the World," was unlocked (above). It's a look at some of the zones changed in the shattering, along with some videos of the new post-level-80 zones unlocked in Cataclysm.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Official WoW forums going read-only on Wednesday, new community site and forums ready

Last month, Blizzard announced that it would be launching a new World of Warcraft community site, with new and improved forums. At the time, Blizzard said that the existing official forums would be phased out after testing of the community site was complete. The community site went live earlier this month.

Now, a wave of identical blue posts has hit every section of the WoW forums with the following message:

Bashiok -- Forums Going Read-Only
This Wednesday, November 17 these forums will be put into a read-only state. At that time we'll be inviting all posters to fully migrate to the new World of Warcraft community site and forums.

http://www.battle.net/wow

These forums will remain read-only until the end of the month, after which they and all of their posts will be removed ... forever! If you have any posts, information, stickies, etc. that you'd like to keep you'll want to have finished saving it before then.

We've all enjoyed the past few years on these forums, and look forward to creating many more with you on the new community site. See you there!


So that's it! We won't be able to post in the official forums anymore after Wednesday, Nov. 17, and we have until the end of November to save anything on the official forums we want to keep or remember!

Filed under: Blizzard

BlizzCon 2010: Realm meetups bring together far-flung friends

Ever imagine what that guy you always see hanging out before raid time in Dalaran is like in real life? Players are finding out at the realm meetup tables at BlizzCon. Realm mates are meeting and mingling at scheduled times for each realm. At any given time, the meetup area is peppered with curious players who've stopped by to see if they can't find a few familiar names and faces.

These Moonguard (US) players not only did just that -- they managed to take over a good one-third of the entire meet-and-greet area with their enthusiasm. While a handful of players did share a guild in common and were attending BlizzCon as a group, most of the Moonguard gang were at BlizzCon on their own (two of them all the way from Australia!) . While not many players were familiar with one another's characters in game, that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm -- and I have to say they were great sports with a little gentle teasing about their realm's somewhat exotic reputation.

The realm meetups continue Saturday on the con floor. Stop by and discover what new faces might be friends you already know.

BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!

Filed under: BlizzCon

15 Minutes of Fame: Anthropologist Bonnie Nardi on WoW culture and art

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

We've written before at WoW.com and even here in 15 Minutes of Fame about attempts to study World of Warcraft culture from a sociological, psychological or anthropological point of view. In all of these cases, the researchers in question have logged time playing WoW as part of their research, albeit some with greater degrees of immersive success than others.

So I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Bonnie Nardi, a University of California-Irvine expert in the social implications of digital technologies and author of the rather blithely titled My Life as a Night Elf Priest, not only rolled the token raiding character in order to observe the curious behavior of the raiding animal -- she actually enjoys WoW in its own right. Rather than cautiously sniffing WoW culture only to generate another wide-eyed, ZOMG-look-at-this-funny-lingo report from the digital field, Nardi dove deep enough to play in four different guilds: a casual raiding guild; a raiding guild composed of fellow academics; a small, casual guild; and her own friends-and-family guild. Our two-part interview with Nardi, packed with opinion and cultural analysis, reveals a witty approach to WoW culture that successfully combines academic insight with the familiarity of a seasoned player.

Read more →

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Eyonix leaving Blizzard

It's sad news for the World of Warcraft community today as longtime Blizzard community manager Eyonix has announced that he's leaving the company. He announced his departure in a simple and direct post on the official forums:
"For nearly six years, we've shared our thoughts with one and other, we've laughed, we've argued, and we've cried -- the crying part was just me wasn't it? Those times, I'm afraid must come to an end as I've made the decision to explore opportunities outside of Blizzard.
It has very honestly been a huge pleasure, and I thank you all for allowing 'Eyonix' to always remain a very fond memory as I move on."
My perspective might be a little different than some readers' due to my employment history, but I've always felt for the plight of the community manager, especially at Blizzard. Become emotionally detached, they say you're not passionate. Become emotionally invested, they say you take it too personally. Eyonix has generally managed to strike that particular balance -- no mean feat for a community manager, especially one for a community so inherently unmanageable. He was one of the good guys.

We'll likely never know what caused his departure, especially given that there was definitely no horrible public meltdown accompanying this particular exit, but I hope that the move is a positive and fortuitous one for him. Even when I might've disagreed with the Community team at large, I always supported Eyonix.

Godspeed, little whelp.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

AddOn Spotlight: Community Choice 1


AddOn Spotlight focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience -- the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your AddOns folder will never be the same! This week, the community's voice has been heard and three awesome addons await your approval.

Last week, I propositioned you, the fine readers of AddOn Spotlight, to send in your favorite addons that you wanted to see on the Spotlight. You responded with a ton of suggestions, ranging from the absolutely awesome (the three we will be seeing today) and the absolutely AWESOME (stop suggesting IconHell). Without further adieu, I present you with AddOn Spotlight's first Community Choice! Here are three of your suggestions. Enjoy!

Read more →

Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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