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Breakfast Topic: Do you talk about WoW at work?

Breakfast Topic Do you talk about WoW at work
It's been a little while since we've really talked about this subject. Do you talk about WoW at work? More than just cuddling around the coffee with tales of raids and loot, do you even let on to you coworkers that you've fought the MMO fantastic?

With several million players, mainstream exposure, and even celebrity endorsement, WoW has been the game of the day. And with farms and dragons and hobbits, not to mention untold numbers of superhero movies, even the idea of being a geek isn't quite the mark of shame it once was.

With this kind of pop culture acceptance, have you fessed up to your mouse-turning ways? I've connected with plenty of folks from coast to coast over our beloved Azeroth, and I'm eager to hear how many of you chat with coworkers about the game.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Does your employer know you play WoW?

Breakfast Topic Does your employer know you play WoW
Recently I talked about WoW skills being useful in the workplace. My stance is that they are. Skills are skills. The whole "WoW has nothing to do with real life" viewpoint baffles me. Are you a real person gaining knowledge you didn't have before? Are you teaming up with real people in game? Then it's real life. But I digress.

Regardless of whether or not you utilize some of your Azerothian skills at work, you may not be open about where you got them. Many people believe that all video games are a waste of time -- even people who play them (particularly those who believe WoW has nothing to do with real life). And the number of people who think everyone who plays is addicted doesn't seem to be getting any smaller. World of Warcraft? More like World of Warcrack! AmIrite? /sigh

Read more →

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Drama Mamas: Make it work

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Wives get a bad reputation. We are often portrayed more like evil stepmothers than the helpmates and lovers that we would like to be seen as. Some of us deserve it, from time to time. But often we are just trying to be the voice of responsibility in the face of a spouse who's behaving more like a carefree teen. Supervisors and guild leaders are also put in uncomfortable situations, where they are forced to be The Bad Guy in order take care of their responsibilities. This week, we mamas put on our stern caps and wag our fingers a bit more than usual. But we really hope things turn out well for the letter writer and those he interacts with.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

Computerworld on Blizzard's Warden at work

We've covered the topic of Warden in the past, and you've probably already got an opinion on what it does to your computer system. Blizzard runs the Warden program alongside your WoW client, and while it runs it examines what else is running on your system -- if there are any third party programs (either hacks or cheat programs) interfering with the client, it lets Blizzard know, and shuts down the client. The obvious privacy concern here, of course, is that Warden is basically watching what you do outside of the game. And while Blizzard has maintained that the program is simply meant to check for hacks and cheats (they also say that no personally identifiable information is sent back to them, though IPs and other network information definitely are), there's always a chance that Warden could see you doing something you don't want it to.

Computerworld's Security section has a nice long article on all of the implications of Warden, especially in one of the more sensitive areas of security: the workplace. While most of us probably won't ever play World of Warcraft at work, there are certainly companies where installing and playing the game at certain times is appropriate. And it's probably in those situations where Warden could be its most dangerous. If you trust Blizzard with your information, then you'll have nothing to worry about. But if you don't know what Warden is sending back, there's always a chance that it could be something more sensitive than you'd like.

Of course, there is a hard and fast solution to this: don't play World of Warcraft on computers that have anything you wouldn't want shared with Blizzard or anyone else. As Computerworld concludes, it's a choice-and-consequences kind of thing. Warden is up and running every time you play WoW, for better or worse -- if you don't want it watching what you're doing, the only guaranteed way out is to not play World of Warcraft.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Account Security

BusinessWeek thinks corporate execs can learn from WoW

In the midst of recruiters being told not to send WoW players to job interviews, BusinessWeek wrote an interesting piece about how World of Warcraft promotes innovation. The articles examines how Blizzard had designed a game that could probably be mimicked by any corporation looking to innovate. It's an interesting analysis of the game, with BusinessWeek saying that its players are motivated to achieve and solve tasks.

Although some readers counter that the achievement-oriented environment is normal for MMOs, one key insight is how WoW reduces barriers to entry and early advancement. More than most MMOs, World of Warcraft is easy to access -- it's easy to level and there are no harsh penalties for dying (unlike some MMOs where death results in a sharp XP loss, sometimes to the point of losing levels). In fact, some might even say that WoW is a little too casual-friendly. Even then, there's a lot in the game that drives people to perform.

The article recommends that corporate leaders take a look at the game and see how it creates a motivational environment. It even goes so far as to laud the gamer disposition, something that players have or develop. It's certainly a refreshing counterpoint to the idea that gamers (or WoW players, in particular) "cannot give 100%" to their jobs. So even though some companies might think that WoW is bad for their employees, BusinessWeek says it just might be good for the bosses.

Thanks, Cahu!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

Breakfast Topic: Playing at work

We talked about this a while back, but the coolest thing I pulled out of the "working at Blizzard" article last weekend wasn't the on-site gyms, valet parking, subsidized cafeteria, or the amazing swag, it was than when your boss walks in the room at Blizzard, it's totally OK if you're playing a game. Of course, as a freelance writer, I've got a little freedom to play with any free time I have, but my free time comes in small amounts these days (I only made it to 78 this weekend) -- being able to play WoW at work (and have it count) would be great.

Of course, some of you play WoW anyway (or just read our site -- don't worry, we won't tell your boss) even if you're supposed to be doing something else. And some jobs (security guards, IT tech support, a few call centers) lend themselves well to playing WoW during breaks, or just when the boss is not looking. What's your situation? Are you not near a computer to play WoW on at work, do you bring your own external drive in to play during lunch, or are you constantly alt-tabbing in case the boss stops by?

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

OC Register visits Blizzard Art Show

The Orange County Register has made the decision to switch their gaming blog from general coverage of games to strictly Blizzard news all the time (being in close proximity to Blizzard's HQ in Anaheim will help), and for their first feature, they've got a big writeup (and lots of pictures) from that Laguna College Art Show we mentioned the other day.

Turns out it's an all-Blizzard art show, and there's art in there not just from Blizzard's past titles, but also from upcoming titles like Diablo III, Starcraft II, and our own Wrath of the Lich King. It all looks awesome, and the show lasts through the end of the month, so while that unfortunately means that these pieces won't be at BlizzCon (though there likely will be plenty of game art displays there anyway), it also means that if you can find the time to visit Laguna during the convention, you'll be able to check it out.

The Register also has a couple of quick profiles of some student artists at the show, including a few samples of their work and why they enjoy Blizzard's art so much. It's very cool that Blizzard is giving back to their local community like this -- hopefully we'll get a chance to see even some student work at BlizzCon.

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

Breakfast topic: Vacation to Northrend

Hooray! After months of speculation, we finally have a release date for Wrath of the Lich King. The World (of Warcraft) will soon be chock full of Death Knights and Inscriptionists. There are so many things to look forward to. I can't decide which character to level first. I'll have some time.

As promised, I put in my Paid Time Off request for a few days after the release. I'm very surprised at Thursday release date, but I'm not complaining. I'm taking the twelfth through the sixteenth of November off work. I beat the release-request rush at work, so my time is approved. See you in Northrend.

Are you rearranging your schedule for the coming of Wrath?

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Expansions

New WoW TCG wallpaper up

I for one always enjoy looking at the new artwork Blizzard posts. Professionally done, and always a twist to it. Today there's a new piece of TCG artwork on the European site. Featuring a "hot warlock [who] is hot" (as WoW Insider's Mike Schramm put it), she's got a nasty arrow sticking out of her.

Perhaps Blizzard is saying Hunters can kill Warlocks?

Doubtful, I'd just Death Coil.

Filed under: Undead, Hunter, Warlock, Fan art, WoW TCG

Playing virtual games in the workplace

We've heard before about how different activities in World of Warcraft can actually help you be better at your job, but now the BBC has posted an article examining how game mechanics from games like WoW can actually help your company help you work better. According to the ESRB, the average gamer isn't a teen after school any more-- he's 33 and has been gaming for 10 years. And because so many more professionals nowadays know the basics of gaming, employers are starting to apply those rules to the workplace to make everyone more productive.

One mechanic used is a form of "virtual currency" in terms of emails and meeting time-- send an email or hold a 15 minute meeting, and it costs you a token, while tokens can be earned in all kinds of ways. Not only does it keep employees on task, but it adds an extra layer of strategy and thought to the normal workday. Another game mechanic used by employers, says the BBC, is the idea of guilds and leveling rewards. "Guilds" in the workplace are tracked along a point system, and the best guilds get the best projects and rewards.

Very interesting stuff. While it sounds like good news for employers, I'm not sure how successful ideas like this would actually be among non-gamer employees-- at some point, how good you are at your job would be determined not by your industry ability, but by your game-playing ability, and that doesn't seem like a good outcome. But if employers find employees are willing to use these mechanics to make themselves more productive, everyone could benefit.

Thanks, Lienn!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Leveling, Making money

Do you play WoW at work?

This would actually make a good Breakfast Topic, but I figured it'd be more appropriate if I asked it right in the middle of the workday: do you play WoW at work?

I've heard people do it, but personally I couldn't imagine how I'd pull it off. Most of my workday (when I'm not slaving away for the Weblogs, Inc. overlords here) is spent in an open office, and so even if I did find the time to squeeze a little adventuring in between my actual work, I have so many people looking over my shoulder that I'd get caught before long. Of course, when I am supposed to be writing for this site, I'm usually playing WoW anyway, so that evens out, I suppose.

It seems, though, that if British cops can get away with playing on the PSP at work, WoW is just a sneaky laptop away. So some of you out there must be playing WoW at work right now (don't worry, we won't tell your boss), but how are you possibly pulling it off? Are you just letting it run while you do actual work? Or finding some time on your lunch break to level a little? Or are you all out hacking and slashing your way through Azeroth while a conference call goes on in the background? There is always the argument that playing WoW makes you more productive, but somehow I don't think my boss would buy that.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff

Want to work and WoW? No problem!

Playing WoW as your day job is a pipe dream for most, but instead of fitting your WoW habit around your job, why not get a new job that accommodates WoW?

It may sound impossible, but there are plenty of occupations which allow for a little MMO indulgence on the side:

  • Student. Juggle the rigours of academic life with the endless PvP grind! Flexible (and optional) class schedules mean you will never have to miss a queue again. But be warned: student parties can interfere with your raiding!
  • Monarch. Being the King or Queen of your own country is a sure-fire way to make sure your lackeys can do all the real work, leaving you plenty of time to level that alt.
  • Milkman or postman. Sure, you have early hours, but think of all that time left in the day to raid!
  • Blogger. The ultimate work-from-home occupation; blog in queues, on gryphons, even while raidhealing if you're a good multitasker.
  • Millionaire. See Monarch.
  • Professional gamer. If you're really good, your elite gaming skills can lead people to prostrate themselves at your feet with money. Good luck with that one, and don't forget to throw some our way when you're done with that glittering career.

So there you have it. Whichever grind you want to fit into your life, there are ways and means -- enjoy your new life with WoW!

Filed under: Odds and ends

Is WoW a game?

This Newsweek article -- yet another mainstream look at this strange concept called World of Warcraft -- unexpectedly asks a very interesting question. Is WoW a game? Sadly, the article devotes most of its time to explaining the concept of WoW to an outside audience, rather than getting stuck into a discussion of virtual worlds, their categorisation, and their future.

It's often been said that WoW can be more like a job than a hobby; the regular hours, the repetitive tasks, the camaraderie, the rewards. The question asked by the Newsweek piece, however, has a different angle from the old "work vs play" debate. Instead, it asks -- is this the future? Are WoW's immersiveness, its ability to sneak into lives, its vast popularity all indicators of what virtual worlds in the future will hold? I think so.

'Serious' virtual worlds could easily take lessons from WoW on how to be fun, but while WoW may be exemplary with regards to current MMO design, it's still very much rooted in the 'entertainment' sphere -- future developments away from gaming and towards everyday pervasive virtual worlds have to cater for the seven million WoW-heads, and will be more easily received as a result.

The most important question of all, though, is: when we live and work in the Matrix, will there still be night elves called Légolass?

[Thanks, Dave]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: Virtual achievements

A topic of contention, which neatly fits in with yesterday's topic of spouses who don't play WoW, is the value of WoW when compared to "real" hobbies. The argument is one that many gamers are familiar with: why spend time achieving greatness in a virtual world, when at the end of the day you will have nothing tangible to show for it?

Of course, as the recent story of Stephen Gillett shows, many of the things we learn in WoW carry on into the real world. Leadership and dealing with people are two of the most transferable skills around, and WoW also teaches many things from multitasking to hand-eye co-ordination. However, after putting in hours of work, a few skills seem to pale in comparison to the physical rewards other hobbies produce -- a work of art is something people can relate to, even if they didn't create it themselves, whereas "level 60" or "rank 14" mean very little outside of a specific circle.

The circle, however, is widening. As MMOs like WoW become more and more popular, more people will understand the lure of achievement in a digital dimension. Have you had trouble convincing people your hobby is worthwhile and important? Or have you found a killer argument to win sceptics over?

[Thanks to Mike for the suggestion.]

Filed under: Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics

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