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Posts with tag videogames

Breakfast Topic: Is it time for a change?

This Breakfast Topic is brought to you by's guest blogger program. Want to participate in a future call for guest posts? Read up on how to contribute, and keep an eye on the site for program announcements.

I've played World of Warcraft before and absolutely loved it -- I loved it until it became a second job for me. Then when I quit cold turkey, it turned into a bad break-up. I wanted to play it again but didn't want it consuming all of my time. I wanted to level without hating myself for sitting on a chair until my butt hurt, then finding a pillow and valiantly continuing on.

It's actually a deep, dark secret of mine (obviously not any more) that I never once got to the promised land that is level 80. I'll admit though, I had a lot of fun with the game. Hitting up instances and running through the well-written quests with friends was loads of fun. I wasn't a PvP god or anything, but I definitely had my good days back in my prime. I'll admit also that I still feel its callings now from time to time, and for all I know, I could be playing again tomorrow.

This brings me to an important question. What is it that keeps World of Warcraft players going strong? I remember when I first broke up with World of Warcraft, I went through an awkward rebound phase where I looked for any game I could find that would replace it. The sad part of this search was that I found myself wanting other games to be like Warcraft. The truth is, it may very well be the best one out there.

Even if it is the best, I want to know what gets people through the struggle of questing and grinding. As a semi-retired World of Warcraft gamer, I want to know if getting to the level cap is in fact worth the struggle. Is it the journey or the reward? What makes it all worth it to you?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

One day left on Children's Week Child's Play auction

Time is running out on our friend Brigwyn's Children's Week auction to benefit the Child's Play charity. Most of the auctions have about a day left on them, and while Brigwyn has already met a few goals, and some of the auction pieces have reached some very nice bids (Cadistra's WoW Eh? print is bringing in some great money for the kids, and our own guest host spot on the podcast is doing better than I ever expected), there's still a ton of great stuff to bid on. You can still pick up an official BRK t-shirt for pretty cheap, and the infamous autographed Hooter's shirt still hasn't been bid on yet. Surely someone wants that, right? Tell you what -- if you buy the Hooter's shirt and wear it to BlizzCon, we'll have everyone there from the WoW Insider staff sign it for you as well. Now that is a prize you can't pass up!

Huge thanks to everyone who's bid so far, and of course to Brigwyn for putting all of this together (if you haven't read why he's personally involved in this yet, please do). There's just over a day left, so make sure to get your bids in ASAP, and help get some kids in hospitals some videogames of their own to play while there.

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

Golden's Arthas on NY Times bestseller list

Need any more evidence that World of Warcraft has gone mainstream? Arthas, the latest expanded universe novel about none other than our own Lich King (that got rave reviews from our own writers), has reached number 16 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction. We're sure that makes Christie Golden happy -- I don't believe that any Warcraft-related novels have ever made the list before. Rise of the Horde is the most popular one I can think of, and I don't think that appeared there on first release. It's not the only videogame-related book of fiction to make the NYT, though -- the latest Halo novel did that a few years ago.

At any rate, just shows you how popular the Warcraft universe really is, even outside of the videogame audience. You can pick up the Arthas book at a bookstore near you, or order it up from Amazon as well.

[via WorldofWar]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard

"More DoTs" cameo in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

ihatemostthings' friend found something fun in the new(ish) game F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Apparently, wandering around in the game, you can come across a little terminal that has some familiar code to anyone who's ever raided with a more-than-enthusiastic raid leader (NSFW). You can click the picture above to see a closeup view of what the screen says.

Pretty cute. Blizzard has seen fit to make nods to other games in Azeroth, so it's fun to see other game companies return the favor.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, Fan art

German Social Affairs minister calls for higher rating on World of Warcraft

Germany is reeling from a shooting rampage committed by a 17-year-old, and as happens in many of these situations, politicians are looking for answers to why a young man would do this to his community. One of the answers they've found so far is videogames. While we don't actually know if the young man played games or not (or what he played), Germany's Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann is calling for a few games, World of Warcraft among them, to be moved up from an age 12+ rating to an adults-only classification.

The tie between the shooter and WoW is slim. But a new study over there says that 50,000 to 60,000 minors could be classified as addicted to videogames. And the combination of the two events is causing Ross-Luttman to call for stronger ratings on "addictive" games like World of Warcraft. It's also interesting to note that in the US, the game is rated T by the ESRB, which actually calls for children 13 and up to play it, one year older than the German standard.

But of course there are two conclusions here. First, every parent needs to take responsibility for what their younger children do: if these kids are addicted, parents need to step in and make sure things get straightened out. As a former employee of a gaming retail store, I can tell you that ratings only go so far. The responsibility has to lie with the parents. And secondly, while Ross-Luttmann is apparently using the shooting to try and push this agenda against addiction, the young man involved in the shooting was experiencing deep depression, and had access to firearms that he probably shouldn't have had. Changing game ratings is fine, but it won't do anything to help when you've got much bigger problems to deal with first.

[via GamePolitics]

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

Local news on WoW lingo

This is pretty silly, but we do have to give them credit: Bay Area NBC may have done a report on how incomprehensible our game's jargon is, but at least it's not a report about how WoW breaks up marriages or ruins the lives of children. But yeah, portraying WoW players as aliens with a foreign language all their own is a little far out -- the game's got jargon just like everything else, and what they don't do in this report, unfortunately, is show the etymology of all of these words ("QQ" means to cry because it looks like eyes crying, and "kek," as you know if you've ever been Alliance facing the Horde, is what "lol" translates into from Orcish). Not to mention that it's too bad she comes so close to the "I'm a girl, I don't get videogames" stereotype -- maybe if she sat down in the starting area for 20 minutes she'd know a little bit more about how it all works.

But maybe we're asking too much. Let's not forget that this is the media showing World of Warcraft played by a normal dude with a reporter girlfriend and a nice apartment. Sure, they're didn't spell "pwnz0r" quite right, and the guy isn't exactly "top 10 out of 12 million" -- he does have Ashes of Al'ar, but his guild is actually number 11 on the Greymane server -- but at least they're telling the story instead of trying to write it for us.

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Humor, Fan art

Activision exec: Videogames will eclipse other entertainment

Activision-Blizzard exec Mike Griffith also made a showing at last week's CES, crowing about an industry that he and his company are heading towards the top of. He said to a crowd there that videogames would "eclipse" "movies, recorded music and TV" as forms of entertainment in the future. He claimed that media such as films and music were passive, and that games are moving ever closer to becoming "a legitimate story-telling medium that rivals feature films."

Which all seems true, except that it's coming from someone who stands to make a lot of money off of just that happening. Still, for all of the bluster of Activision-Blizzard's hotshots, they've got a few of the most popular franchises in gaming behind them -- Blizzard (of course), the Call of Duty franchise, and Guitar Hero, which has made over a billion dollars for Activision. Especially in a time of declining CD sales, Griffith's words ring truer than ever.

But let's not forget, of course, that you can't have great stories without great storytellers, and the folks at Blizzard are definitely that. For all of Activision's bragging, they can't forget that these franchises, all of them, came from strong and talented studios -- Call of Duty was crafted by Infinity Ward, Guitar Hero by Harmonix, and obviously all of Blizzard's properties were put together by the company formerly known as Silicon and Synapse. Griffith can brag that his media is taking over the world, but we hope Activision doesn't forget who helped them get there.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money

IBM exec: Games are great for employees

Hot on the heels of last week's news that employers are staying away from hiring WoW players comes this article from the BBC, quoting an IBM executive who says that gamers are actually exactly the kind of people you want on a team: David Laux, global executive in charge of games and interactive entertainment (wait, maybe that's why he's so keen on game players) says that casual games can improve memorization and the abilty to discern details, first person shooters can help with rapid decision making, and games like World of Warcraft can boost leadership skills. He says WoW specifically helps players learn how to work well on a team, assess risks, and put the group first to achieve a common goal.

Which is true -- if you're actually the one in charge of groups. I'm of the opinion that it's very possible to play a game like WoW and get a nice boost to your leadership skills (leading a guild is often a job in itself), but I think it's also very possible that you could play WoW and not get a thing out of it -- I know quite a few people I've grouped with that I'd never want to have sitting next to me in a real office.

The bottom line, as always, is somewhere inbetween the two opinions. If you're already interested in taking charge and being a leader, WoW is a great simlulation to let you do those things. And if you're already a lazy worker and interested in helping yourself more than whatever team you're on, WoW probably won't cure you of that (there are certainly plenty of selfish people running around the game every day). In short, if your hiring policies are based on whether or not someone plays videogames, you might want to reconsider them completely.

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

Meet WoW Insider at the Chicago Child's Play benefit

Child's Play, the charity started up by Penny Arcade that hooks up kids in the hospital with videogames to play while there, is holding a benefit event in Chicago early next month on December 9th, and I'm going to be there. It's definitely a worthy charity, and I know there are lots of WoW Insider fans in the Second City (many of whom I was able to meet at our Wrath launch meetup), so if you're a fan of videogames, helping sick kids, and want to come out and talk some WoW with me, tickets are available right now.

There's a raffle going on as well (I'm angling to get some World of Warcraft-related gear in the pot), and there'll also be a Mortal Kombat vs. DC tournament going on thanks to Chicago's own Midway Games (and I heard there was a Rock Band event, though that may have since fallen through -- we'll see). And oh yeah, since the event is taking place at Plan B, there'll be drinking. It's $10 admission, or you can give $50 for admission and an open bar, though you have to be over 21 for both. I'll let you guess which ticket I bought (hint: the one with the booze).

Should be a lot of fun -- if you're in Chicago and weren't able to make it to our launch party, see if your calendar's clear for this event. And if you're not in Chicago, Child's Play has lots of events going on around the country, and obviously they're happy to take donations anyway. Hopefully we'll see lots of WoW Insider readers at the event next month -- when else do you get to drink, play games, and help kids all at the same time?

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

WoW is a Work of Art, part 2: Blizzard's masterpiece

As you read the word, "art," what do you think of? Van Gogh? Beethoven? Academy Awards for Best Picture? What is it that established mediums of art, such as painting, music, and film have in common?

In many ways, World of Warcraft is a combination of all these media, and yet it is something of it's own too. WoW has vast landscapes to explore, interesting characters with their own meaningful stories, and powerful music to thrill you or spook you or make you feel awe. Not only does WoW combine these elements together in a deeply satisfying way, it stands out as a carefully balanced masterwork of the "game" as a creative human expression. In other words, WoW is basically a web of overlapping problems to overcome alone or as a team, for which all the visual, musical and story elements are metaphors that open the doors into this central element of the game's experience. Not only is it fundamentally interactive, exploratory, and progressive, but your choices, from the way your character looks to the way you chose to play him or her, all represent your own investment in filling out the open space the game has made for you and the community of players. You and your friends are the final keystone in the edifice of the WoW work of art -- your progressive interaction with the game and your cooperation with others is designed from the beginning to be the main stimulating force on your mind and spirit, just as looking or listening is with other forms of art.

Of course art is a subjective thing, like beauty itself. One person may be profoundly inspired and uplifted by her WoW experience, while another may be left shaking his head and wondering why he wasted his time. In their own way, both are right; art is never art without a certain kind of participation by the one looking at it, listening to it, or engaging with it in some way. The perceiver of the art always has to be open to the special impact that art can have on your mind or spirit, and be willing to make that leap of faith into the work of art and see what its creators intended. For some to be unappreciative of one art form or another is commonplace and natural -- people have their unique likes and dislikes after all -- but the fact that a certain work of art touches some people, perhaps many, in a profound way is what sets it aside from mere entertainment.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

WoW is among five most popular game communities

ActionTrip put together a pretty interesting list that includes World of Warcraft-- they've tried to list the top five most popular game communities. Online gaming is just a huge pasttime, obviously (thanks in large part to Blizzard's magnum online opus), and so there are quite a few communities that have built up around various games. But they've supposedly crunched the numbers, and they say they've come up with the five biggest.

The Sims, Counterstrike, and Halo are all predictably on the list, as is World of Warcraft. Not too unexpected-- these aren't just the biggest communities in online gaming, they're also four of the biggest games of all time. But most surprising, RuneScape also joins the others. It's a Java-based (as in played in your browser) MMORPG that's basically an updated, graphical MUD. And their numbers are very surprising-- they have 9 million free accounts playing, as well as 1 million paid accounts, which (if those were all separate users, which I doubt) would put them in range of WoW itself. Of course, a free game (that's played in a browser and not bought in a store) will always have a larger available playerbase than a retail game that has a subscription charge, but considering that 13% of all PC gamers have reportedly played RuneScape, that's a pretty big deal.

The other interesting, WoW-related fact that ActionTrip dug up is this: apparently PC gamers are still playing WoW more than four times as much as any other PC game. There's no question that since its inception, WoW has changed the face of PC gaming, and no matter what happens in the future, it's currently one of the biggest videogame communities in history.

[ via ]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items

WoW is a Work of Art, part 1: A journey into Azeroth

The day I walked into the store to buy World of Warcraft, I had been taking care of my mother as she underwent chemotherapy for brain cancer, and I desperately needed something to do that wasn't cooking, cleaning, sorting pills, or running errands. I needed something that would connect me with people while at the same time letting me stay at home and care for someone I loved.

When I picked up a box with a pretty, yet severe night elf woman's face on the cover, I wasn't thinking, "I want to get to level 60 and start raiding Molten Core for epic gear!" or even "I'm going to be a PvP god!" Instead, I was hoping to create characters with a personal background, with feelings and ideas all their own, and act them out in an imaginary world where no one knew who I really was, a world in which our purpose was to share creatively and interact as a team, not to make money or exchange gossip.

In short, I wanted to roleplay. But what I got was something much more than even a roleplaying experience, more than me and my characters, more than an endless stream of quests and rewards, experience and reputation, monsters and loot. I found myself in a world filled with its own people -- real people -- and a series of problems for these people to overcome together in order to progress and travel even deeper into this world. At every stage, I found something new opening up to me, whether it was access to more abilities of my own, more ways to interact with others, more vast landscapes to please my eye, or more stories to capture my imagination.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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

Mythic founder: WoW "will be in its decline" in a few years

You could probably fill a library with the number of stupid things game developers say about their competitors, but here's one more. In an interview with Shacknews, former Mythic co-founder Matt Firor, charged with putting together a brand-new MMO, says this about World of Warcraft:

... Any MMO starting development today isn't going to have to worry too much about competing with WoW--it'll be in its decline by the time any new game launches.

Think so? From what we've heard from Blizzard, they don't. Even if Blizz only goes two more expansions (and Everquest, the most popular MMO until WoW, went for fourteen), WoW is sticking around for five or six years. And yes, there are those folks who are done now, but Azeroth's population hasn't stopped going up yet-- does Firor really think they won't be a competitor in just a few years?

That doesn't mean Blizzard is unbeatable, but it does mean that they're competition. As Firor's former employer says (EA Mythic is now working on Warhammer Online, which some say is WoW's biggest threat in the MMO market), you have to play a different game.

WoW is The Beatles, who changed music forever. You can't be the Beatles; they already exist. You can't copy them. If you try, you become The Monkees. You've got no chance. We're not The Beatles. We're Led Zeppelin.

Staking your new game on WoW's decline is a bad idea, and predicting that decline to be just a few years off is a worse one. WoW won't last forever, but Blizzard's monster MMO isn't done yet.

[ via WorldofWar ]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Things I learned from WoW

Sydney has a cool list over on WoW Ladies LJ, about what she learned from videogames, and most of the items sound specifically like they're from World of Warcraft. Diplomacy and Leadership are probably pretty obvious, and we've already heard that some companies are seeing a stint as a GL in WoW as a bonus to the resume. But Sydney also learned the value of a savings account (because saving up for an epic mount might be the biggest amount of saving some players have done), math and economics from WoW. There's no question that the math can get pretty complicated, and if you can wrap your head around how much agility you need to break 25% on your Dodge, you're definitely on top of algebra, if not a little bit of calculus.

But the two items I was most surprised by were that Sydney says she learned vocabulary and problem-solving from videogames. I don't doubt at all that they're true, but learning vocabulary is not something that's normally expected from playing games, either online or offline. Still, words like "mitigate" (her example) are used all the time when theorycrafting, and while there are a lot of jargon words floating around (you'll probably never use "tanking" in a real life conversation), just using that vocabulary can help. And problem-solving is obvious, not just in WoW, but in all videogames-- you could argue that all videogaming is simply being presented with a problem for the player to solve.

I'm not saying that we should all play WoW all the time instead of going to school (sorry kids). But when people with self-control and a good center play videogames (as opposed to people who don't), all kinds of good can happen.

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

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