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Posts with tag culture

15 Minutes of Fame: From Romania to Korea via World of Warcraft

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.

This is the story of Apathius, a Romanian student of languages who's made World of Warcraft her entree to the Korean language and culture. "A year ago, I used to be a slightly hardcore raider on the EU realms," she writes. "Being a big fan of anime and all that stuff, I opted for a chance to study abroad in Korea. (Japan was out of the question, sadly, but Korea was pretty close, culture-wise.) So at the start of 2010, I hopped on a plane and came here to start a 'new life,' so to speak. But still, there are huge cultural differences between the Asian world and the west, and for fear that I might not adapt to this new environment, I decided to make WoW one of my mediums for permeating Korean society."

"I thought I knew WoW well enough to get the hang of things quickly, but I ended up having to re-learn a lot of things, especially PVE-wise," she continues. "'Korean Style!' my guildies told me when I first asked them why almost no one raids as a guild here. I was surprised when I heard they PUG heroic raids like Alone in the Dark and Lich King 25-man. But that doesn't mean they're hardcore, as even the casuals do very well. For example, people who had never seen Putricide before went from a 80% wipe to a 5% wipe after three tries. Also, if you're a top-end raider, you can earn about 5,000ish gold per week from raids, because the DKP here is gold, and only gold. The weirdest part about it though, I really get the feeling they take the PVE side of WoW as fun, not as competition, not as something to be taken seriously, just as a means of getting imba gear and seeing new fights."

Join us for one player's quixotic journey through an American game on a European realm from her Romanian homeland to a new home and new realm in Korea.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Felicia Day on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon


Our favorite DIY web series star Felicia Day showed up on network television last night, and you can watch the result after the break below. She appeared on Jimmy Fallon's late night show to promote the release of The Guild's new retail DVD, in stores right now. I watched it in HDTV on my regular television, and it was a pretty surreal experience: this is the Internet gaming culture moving mainstream as we watch it. Sure, it's just Fallon (and he's made a commitment to gaming and its culture already), but to have people talking this frankly and honestly about the gaming experience on network television is a nice step forward.

The two chat about their first meeting, where Felicia helped Fallon roll up a draenei, as well as Dr. Horrible and how all of The Guild DVDs are made. And at the end of the interview, Fallon even hooks her up with some tickets to a NY show. Looks like it was a lot of fun, and it's great to see someone who's worked so hard on something they love get a nice bit of recognition for it.

Update: Sorry, forgot that Hulu only works in the US. Here's another video that should work outside the States.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items

BlizzCon 2009: WoW.com interviews Felicia Day

At this point, Felicia Day probably doesn't even need an introduction -- she's likely the biggest celebrity to come out of the WoW community since Leroy Jenkins. Her webseries The Guild, about a group of MMO gamers very similar to the ones we play with every day, has been seen and loved all over the world, and Felicia herself is spotted all over television lately (yes, tipsters to this site, that is her in the Sears commercial, and we also heard during The Guild panel at BlizzCon last weekend that she'll be back on Dollhouse again soon).

We've followed her and her show since almost day one -- back before she was demoing Twitter on Xbox at E3 and winning Streamy awards, we've talked with her about what it's like to be a gamer and make a TV show that people said you couldn't make. She was kind enough to sit down with us at BlizzCon 2009 and chat with us again: you can read the exclusive interview after the break.

The Guild's third season actually starts tomorrow, on MSN and Xbox Live. There's a trailer due out on MSN today -- as soon as it releases, we'll embed it into this post. Thanks once again to Felicia for chatting with us, and we can't wait to see what's next.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Interviews, BlizzCon, Fan art

GLAAD fights homophobia in online communities like WoW

We've talked here on the site before about this issue -- the anonymity in online communities like World of Warcraft often leads to people throwing out offensive statements that they usually wouldn't in normal company. Most people shrug these off as just what happens in online games ("kids will be kids, and idiots will be idiots"), but this type of undercurrent behavior still signifies and perpetuates prejudices and hatreds that affect society at large.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has recently started up a campaign to try and stamp out hatred and homophobia in communities like World of Warcraft, and they've published an op-ed on exactly why this is such a problem and what we can do to stop it. They don't mention WoW specifically, but we're one of the biggest online communities out there, and if nothing else, here's a chance to show just how tolerant we as a community can be.

The good news is that as the practice of online gaming grows, both players and policymakers are becoming more and more aware of the problem -- Microsoft met earlier this year with representatives from GLAAD to determine how better to combat offensive statements on Xbox Live, and the organization held a panel recently to discuss exactly this issue.

Thanks, Joshua!

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

Breakfast Topic: Is Blizzard wasting their time?

Hometownkid confronts the QQ over on the forums, and wants to know why people think Blizzard is "wasting their time" when they do things like upgrade the Druid art and creating things like the Ulduar bosstiary when they could be making more quests or new PvP areas. Personally, you've never heard that argument from me -- like Hometownkid, I'm pretty sure there are different teams working on different things within the game, and it's hard to believe that one new piece of art would otherwise be a new form of quest. While Blizzard does take their sweet time, I still trust they're making new content as fast as they can.

But there is an argument there -- if Blizzard were a different company and didn't do things like make Failocalypse, would we all be level 100 by now? They've always said that they would update the graphics incrementally, but certainly other companies have revamped the whole game all at one time before. I guess the question here is: would you trade Blizzard's well-worn ways for the promise of more content?

I don't think Blizzard has been completely out of line, but sure, you could argue that because of the way they do things, they're slower on releases than other companies might be. But would you?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Faith and World of Warcraft at Colorado University

Buckle your seatbelts on this one -- if you aren't concerned with the bigger picture behind a virtual world like Azeroth and would rather hear about dragons fighting each other or the latest class changes, best look elsewhere on the site. But a student at Colorado University has a theory about World of Warcraft that might sound a little out there: he believes the game is a new religion.

Not necessarily in the sense that you should skip church to raid (though lots of people probably do that anyway). But in the sense that it meets a sociologist's definition of religion: it provides community, ethics, culture, and emotion. And it's hard to argue with that: we're living proof of the community around the game, there's definitely plenty of culture and emotion, and... ethics? CU student Theo Zijderveld is proposing that even if the game itself doesn't promote ethical behavior, the push is there -- we're rewarded for doing the right thing, and often punished for doing wrong. Work with others in a group, get better loot. Camp someone's corpse, and their guildie or alt shows up to camp you.

Intriguing idea, even if it does sound like something cooked up for a college student's thesis (which is in fact what it is). It's certainly not a religion in that there is no higher power involved (unless you believe that Ghostcrawler is in fact a god) -- obviously, we all believe that everything in Azeroth was made by men and women, or at least hard-working Gnomes. But as for what playing World of Warcraft creates in us and makes us feel, those results and ideas are very close in many ways to what organized religion does. Quite a theory.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Ask a Lore Nerd: Things that aren't Deathwing

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below (or e-mail us!), ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer your question in a future installment

Cowbane asked...

Is there a Heaven or Hell in any Warcraft lore? Or is the swirly clouds when you die about it.

That's a good question, and my answer isn't going to be very clear, because Warcraft itself isn't clear on it. Warcraft used to be based much more heavily on Christian concepts. There was a Heaven and there was a Hell, there was God and Angels and all that jazz. It's much more vague and nebulous now. It seems that the Twisting Nether is the current concept of Hell, but that might just mean it's a really bad place and not somewhere that sinful dead people automatically go. I have no idea if there is still a Heaven, but the Priest quest for Benediction/Anathema has you escorting souls of Stratholme's dead to the afterlife. So do they exist? Probably, yes. It is suggested that they definitely do exist. What are they like, exactly? We don't know.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Ask a Lore Nerd

Bobby Kotick: Activision is "considerate of the culture" at Blizzard

Portfolio has an interview with Bobby Kotick himself, warchief of the Activision Blizzard clan, and in there, they talk about the merger itself (obviously), as well as Kotick's past and what he's trying to do with Activision Blizzard.

If you believe everything he's saying, then our favorite game company sounds like it may have landed on pretty good ground. Apparently Activision was originally trying to buy out Vivendi (Kotick says he'd realized that World of Warcraft wasn't so much a game as a full-fledged social network), but Vivendi made the counter-offer of a partnership instead. And while Kotick only chats briefly about Activizzard's other properties (he thinks facial and mouth movement will help videogames tell great stories -- sigh), he does say that Activision is a place where Blizzard can grow as a studio of its own, as compared to a faceless corporation like, ahem, EA.

All in all, Kotick doesn't sound like too bad a guy, although I can't imagine that any CEOs being profiled in something called "Portfolio" would. It does at least sound like he'll let Blizzard do their thing, although just as we've said before, while things are great now when the money is rolling in, there's no knowing what will happen in the future.

[Via WorldofWar.net]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Interviews

Eddo Stern's WoW and MMO sculpture installations


The National Post has an interview with an artist named Eddo Stern, who has created what he calls "sculptures" of figures from WoW. You can clearly see what looks like a dragon (Onyxia), Chuck Norris, and a Night Elf above, and there is apparently another sculpture in the series featuring Chuck Norris mashed up with something from Chronicles of Narnia. Finally, Stern apparently has created a video installation of a thread from the EverQuest forums called "Best... Flame War.... Ever." Sounds like pretty standard forum posturing to us -- a kid calls another guy a noob, said guy threatens to show up in RL for a fight and then talks about his buddies in Iraq.

Stern is supposedly playing with the virtual machismo of playing in MMOs, and how different the players supposedly are from the heroic character they're playing. Sounds like interesting stuff. While I don't really agree with his premise all that much (there are all kinds of people playing these games, and the vast majority of them don't really emulate Chuck Norris or try to pick fights on message boards), I like the techniques a lot -- those projections look pretty good. And his next project sounds even cooler: he's going to try and project a huge dimensional portal on the side of the highway in San Jose. Should be fun to see.

[Via Worldofwar.net]

Filed under: Night Elves, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Fan art

Webcomics come back to WoW

Penny Arcade posted a joke about Figureprints driving people back to play WoW, but today's commentary (by the always insightful Tycho) shows that it wasn't just a joke-- the PA guys have sold their souls back to Blizzard. The game has changed a lot in the past few years, and I admit-- going back to play my Hunter, which I've been doing lately, has made the game almost completely new for me. From all the talent changes to all the new items and the midgame updates, it's almost a brand new Azeroth for anyone coming back to the game.

PvP Online, another popular webcomic, has been running a "return to WoW" comic series as well-- 'tis the season, apparently, to come back to Azeroth. Besides all the changes and the new content, the only other reason I can think of is that there's not much else out there in terms of really established MMO experiences-- everybody else is still getting up to running speed when most WoW players already know what they're doing and how to do it. Are we in the middle of a World of Warcraft cultural resurgence right now?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Humor

A question of culture clash

Just a few days ago, I was questing on a new alt in order to check out how the roleplaying was on a new server I'd heard good things about. As I went through Ironforge to pick up my Winter Veil presents, I saw one of those ads for a new guild, "<Guild Name> is a new RP guild looking for mature new members! PST to join!" and I thought, "Why not check it out? At least there'll be someone to talk to." So, when I whispered this person, his only real question for me was to ask my age. Satisfied by my answer, he sent me an invite.

I wrongly assumed that guild chat was in-character, and immediately introduced myself in what I hoped was a humorous way. A couple members said "lol," and the leader introduced himself as a former Horde player who was getting started on a new server too. Somewhat disappointed that this guild was not so "RP" as it had advertised, I proceeded to ask some questions about the status of roleplaying on this server. I must not have impressed them this way, however, as I logged in a couple days later to find myself kicked out of the guild already.

One of the members I remembered from that first day happened to be online, so I asked him what had happened. "Oldman" (who's name I changed somewhat in this story) replied that, in the view of his "elder" guild members, I was "too wordy" and also "too juvenile." Thoroughly perplexed, I asked him what exactly I had said that was so juvenile. He told me that was itself a juvenile thing to say, and then used "/ignore" on me. I had been disappointed enough to leave that guild anyway, but to be dismissed offhand like that was rather hurtful until I made a realization: These "elder" members must think that asking questions is itself "juvenile" behavior, especially questions they deem unimportant; while according to my worldview, sincere questions of any sort are paths to more knowledge and understanding, and in themselves a sign of ever-growing maturity. Besides, completely ignoring someone just for asking questions doesn't seem like the pinnacle of maturity to me, either, but who am I to judge? Maybe there was some good reason I don't know about.

Have you ever encountered social situations in WoW that left you completely befuddled? Have real-life cultural values and judgments ever gotten in the way of your gaming, especially in ways that caught you by surprise?

Filed under: Virtual selves, Guilds, RP

Farmers and Warcraft players in the US of A

This blog post is careening around the blogsphere at large, and it probably behooves us to mention it here on WoW Insider, considering the points it makes about WoW players. It's a variation on the red state/blue state argument, in that it points out that there are actually more Warcraft players in the United States today than there are professional farmers. And so, says the piece, when someone, be they politician or pundit or newscaster, says that "the real America" is rural farmland where people are more likely to be milking cows than running Karazhan, they're wrong.

There are a few problems with this argument, of course, one of which is admitted to in the article: farming and World of Warcraft-playing are hardly mutually exclusive. Just because you read blogs and play MMOs doesn't mean you're not a person who wakes up in the morning and gets your eggs out from under chickens. The other issue is that if you're going to start fighting nostalgia, you're going to lose. Every generation looks at the future (or in this case, the rapidly approaching present) and compares it unfavorably to the past. I've always thought it amazing that someday we will have someone in the White House who knows how to get 30 extra lives in Contra, and that person will probably look at the new holo-vid-games that come out in 2016 and say "when we were young, we played with buttons and thumbsticks!"

But back to the issue at hand: it's true-- America is becoming a technological, urban country, and whether you like it or not (politics completely aside, because I know how much you guys like those on this gaming blog), it's a fact that a person on the street is more likely to know what day Brewfest starts rather than when the summer solstice hits. Sure, we're not seeing the latest class changes on the evening news, but we are seeing Warcraft selling trucks, and whether newscasters and politicians are recognizing it or not, the MMO culture is becoming more and more massive every day.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Blizzard, do the unthinkable

This is blasphemy, I know. I'm messing with the natural order of things when I suggest something like this. But here's what I think: Blizzard should give us a release date.

Excuse me while I duck all those tomatoes. Check out this forum thread, in which Neth voices her feelings about having to deal with players asking about a release date all the time. She gets as far as saying "later, but sooner than much later," which basically means next week or the week after.

Fine then. But, in cases like this, why doesn't Blizzard just go ahead and say a release date? That would shut everybody up, we could all move on with our lives, and Neth wouldn't have to deal with that stuff. And it doesn't even need to be accurate-- if Blizzard said "2.2 is coming on September 18th," and then it dropped on the 11th (which is when Blizzard really planned to release it), then everyone would actually be happy that it came out early. And yes, Blizzard doesn't want to have to explain delays to us, but delays are delays-- surely videogame fans have gotten used to it by now.

I'm not saying they need to change their whole company-- they're not going to give us a date for Wrath of the Lich King, and I'm fine with that: I'd rather see it "when it's finished" (and we will see a release date for it anyway, eventually) But for something like 2.2, where testing is almost complete and they must have some clear idea of when it will drop, why not give us a target, however off it might be? Even "before November," in my mind, is better than all the question ducking that Neth and the other CMs are doing.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard

World Wide WoW: The "Blood Bar"

Can you imagine if every time someone talked about healing, they called it "adding blood" instead? In China, the word people use for "health" is "xue," which means "blood" (and is pronounced a bit like "shweh"). Traditionally in Chinese role-playing games, the health bar (or "blood bar") is red, instead of green.

Now when you think about it, having a "blood bar" does make a certain sort of sense. After all, when you get hit by monsters, you lose blood, and any healing you take from others would have to somehow restore your blood to your body as well as sealing up all the holes in your flesh. Of course without healing, all those holes in the flesh would also prevent a warrior from swinging his sword around so freely, or at least make him limp a bit. But realism isn't really the issue here -- the idea of "blood" or "health" as a measurable quantity is just something we need as a symbol to represent the video game mechanics in an emotionally meaningful way.

A game like WoW can't possibly be as complicated as real life; it would hardly be as fun as it is if it were. Instead, it needs to use real life metaphors as an access point to get you involved in the game, while in the end it's still all about numbers. Stripped of metaphorical words like "health" (or "blood"), playing World of Warcraft might look a bit like this:
Player 4837 says, "I'll reduce your unit's primary points with my unit's special 'large-scale point reduction ability!' Pwned you!! haha!" only to be countered with Player 7490's response: "Oho! but my unit can use my secondary points to exchange for primary points, and make up for this loss! Noob!"
Talk about boring! But underneath all the "fireballs" and "greater heals," this shifting of numbers around is exactly what we're doing when we play, no matter where we are or what language we speak.

In China, of course, the points and numbers are exactly the same, but it makes sense that the underlying metaphor would be somewhat different. For them, "adding blood" to a wounded teammate feels just as natural as when we say we are "healing" them -- but when you translate their "blood" metaphor into our language, it gets pretty weird!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, World Wide WoW

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