In early 2009 I wrote about The Ghostcrawler Experiment. In it I asked the question if Greg Street's (aka Ghostcrawler's) unique communication has helped or hindered World of Warcraft. Today, five years later, he departs from Blizzard as their Lead Systems Designer amongst the cheers and jeers of the community. Now is a good time to revisit the question as the experiment conclude: was Ghostcrawler's presence good or bad?
It's my contention that overall his presence has helped not only World of Warcraft succeed but has also evolved the level of discourse in the industry. Prior to Ghostcrawler's prolific writing, developer communication was often scant for AAA titles. There'd be the canned press interviews (notice that gaming press interviews are almost always the same), the short blog or video post saying nothing revolutionary and just acting as a marketing tool, and a series of social media interactions that only showed off a few new graphics.
While Ghostcrawler was not the first game designer to provide an abnormal level of insight behind the scenes, he is the largest and most public. The stage given to him was gigantic, and he took control of it unlike few people could. Ghostcrawler's words, quite literally, reached more people than the nightly news some days. Tens of millions tune into the Warcraft media sites for BlizzCon, and he was front and center with the nerfing of paladins.
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion