Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blocked blog and recounting guild history

It's been kind of a crazy week getting back into the swing of things. I finished my previous project that I was assigned to since November '08 and started another one that should take me through October. The only bad thing about this is that things are crazy learning the ins and out of this new client, doing hospital tours, and having to do hard core data analysis and financial models again.

But the worst thing? Well I'm working out of our corporate offices for this new client. And get this! My blog is blocked there! ZOMG! WTF! BBQ! (Mmmm BBQ) Jess' blog isn't blocked there! No fair! I'm not sure what this is going to mean for my blog posting schedule because as I've previously mentioned, I do 99% of my blog posting at work. So what? I'm supposed to work now?!?! /sigh I'm going to have to figure out how to work this. As Jess said, the blog must go on!

Anyways, it's been nice getting back into the game as well. Jess and I did a pretty big debrief the first night we were both back on. It's been interesting because now you have this perspective of people outside the game. I think one of the sweetest things for me was seeing how my guildies interact with others, their spouses and especially their children. I saw another side of them.

On one of the nights during Clawcon, Jess and I somehow ended up recounting the entire history of our guild going back to spring of 2007. Recounting old names, situations, and yes, because no guild is ever without it, drama. As we recounted the moments of drama in the guild over the last 3 and a half years, something occurred to me.

I would say that 95% of the drama in our guild has been due to one thing: healers. Yep, healers. Or more specifically, the lack of healers. I think for most of our guild's raiding history, we've been short heals, given that a lot of our raids at the time required 3 healers. And because of this, we've allowed people and situations to persist that should have been dealt with earlier. Our ever present need for healers meant we had people in our raiding group that just weren't right for us. I think sometimes we were too slow to react and turtle like, and perhaps others we were too frenetic and bunny like.

I am hopeful that now that we recognize this, we can try to limit drama from happening in the future. But damn, I just wish we had more heals. Things would be so much easier. But I think by recounting our entire guild history, Jess and I also were able to talk through things we did, decisions we made, and how we've dealt with people and situations. I hope that by understanding this better, we can do a better job in the future.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Clawcon debrief

I'm going to write some initial thoughts about our Clawcon-west meetup, though I don't know exactly how coherent I'll be given that I flew out of Seattle on a red-eye last night, got into Chicago at 5:50 am this morning and drove straight in to work.

The pic above is the view from the front porch of our beach house in Indianola, WA. Purty! A couple folks joked (or perhaps it was a thinly veiled threat) about whether I was going to be posting any pics from the weekend on the blog. Come on guys, give me some credit. I would not post pics of you guys on here! This landscape pic is about all that's going up here.

Anyways, at one point when we were hanging out, I closed my eyes for a minute and all of a sudden there I was back at my desk in Chicago talking to these people on vent. Then I opened my eyes, and ZOMG, they were right there! I could give Jess or Shmoobert a face or a look if they said something not of my liking! Hooray!

I did end up calling people by their toon names probably 95% of the weekend. Even in front of strangers, which was sometimes quite funny and perhaps embarrassing for them. Now unfortunately this beach house we rented did not have internet access. I do think it would have been quite amusing to watch each other play.

Anyways, in a nutshell what I learned is that yes, you can get to know people well through this game. Damn well. No one really surprised me. The core impressions and feelings that I had of them through the game and vent conversations were the same impressions I had after hanging out with them for four days.

I think I expected this going into it, perhaps more so than anyone else. While others were slightly more nervous about meeting each other, my take on it was come on, we already know each other! It was thus amusing to see some of these impressions confirmed and to think, "Geez you really do get to know people online and via vent". That gut instinct reaction you have about the core of people, as well as the chemistry you have between people truly does somehow travel through miles of cords and wires.

And yes, there was a lot of WoW terminology thrown around. Some could only go so long without bringing in some WoW reference. For example when we were grilling corn on the cob in the husks and the husks caught fire, there was a mention that we should have put up a fire resist aura. We had comments and jokes like that all weekend. All weekend. Sigh what geeks we are...

I'm going to be completely honest here and say that for the last couple of months I have been unsure if I will play Cataclysm. This was something that the guildies and even Jess didn't know. I shared this uncertainty over the weekend, with the addendum that now that we've hung out, it makes the decision even harder. I think the pendulum has swung back to playing Cataclysm.

We come from such different places and backgrounds, that for most of us there is no way in hell that our life paths would have crossed if it hadn't been for the game. It blows my mind that this game can bring people together in this way at a depth comparable or even deeper than some real life relationships. It's so much more than passively watching a movie or TV, or knitting, or whatever other hobby you want to insert in there.

This game brings people together. And for the people I've met through it, I am incredibly grateful.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

What?!?! PvP reduces stress?!?!

Last week I needed to get 4 daily BGs done to get the 100 arena points to pick up Wrathful Gladiator's Kodohide Robes. Oooh shiney! Well, I haven't done too many battlegrounds on K lately. Sure I'll very occasionally do the daily BG and I do try to get in Wintergrasp a couple times a week, but its been a very long time since I've had to grind a bunch of BGs on her to pick something up.

I guess because it had been a while, I kind of forgot how painful it can be as alliance on Emberstorm. I think what I experienced was 35% total ass whooping by Horde, 20% total ass whopping by Alliance, 10% actual close hard fought match won by Alliance, 10% actual close hard fought match won by Horde, 25% not total but close to total ass whopping by Horde. If you do the maths that's 70% Horde victories, 30% Alliance.

I had one particularly bad string where we got annihilated in Strands of the Ancient. Then my very next random BG was Eye of the Storm, where while the Alliance only had 1 tower, 80% of my "team" was in the middle battling it out for the flag. Um hello, learn how the battleground is scored and won FFS. FFS!!! It caused a scary outburst in guild chat that went something like:


Some guildies got a little concerned. Others got a little scared. I think after another set of painful BGs, I told Shat that I had to log off to go do some pilates to center myself and find my inner peace. Honestly though, sometimes this is my reaction to BGs:

I think the only thing that keeps me half sane while doing BGs is seeing how many Horde it takes to successfully take me down. Resilient tree is resilient. :)

Anyways, so related to my little expletive laced outbursts, you know how there has been a lot of talk in the news about the danger of violent video games? Well, an interesting opposite take on this came out last week.

A Texas A&M study found that violent games may actually reduce hostility, rather than increase it.

"In this study, 103 young adults were given a frustration task and then randomized to play no game, a non-violent game, a violent game with good versus evil theme, or a violent game in which they played ‘the bad guy.’ The results suggest that violent games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management". "It does seem that playing violent games may help reduce stress and make people less depressed and hostile."

Hmmmm interesting. Though honestly, any of my guildies who have come across me right after a spell of bad BGs know that I am definitely not less stressed. Though who knows, maybe it is an outlet for stress from RL.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Total absurdity then total cuteness

First the absurdity. You know the crazy people (and yes, I am rightfully judging them as crazy) of Westboro Baptist Church who go around picketing stuff in the name of "God"? Well turns out they are picketing Comic-Con which starts in San Diego tomorrow.

Their listing of this picketing event is described as below:

"Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it. The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry."

Apparently us geeks need to be saved or something. Hahaha, what sheer inane (and insane) ridiculousness and absuridity. I wonder if they will picket Blizzcon. That would be hilarious because I would assign some of you going to Blizzcon to mess with them.

After the nonsensical and idiotic ramblings of the WBC, I think we need to bring something good back to this post. Like a piglet. A piglet in red rain boots:

Ah ok, now I feel better.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The social aspect of being the guild mom

I've mentioned before that Jess is my WoW hubby and I am his WoW wife. Thus, this makes us sort of the dad and mom of our guild. I think something interesting that has surfaced lately is how the roles of the guild dad and guild mom play out in our interactions with guildies.

Now Jess has known for a while now that a lot of guildies whisper me during and outside of raids with little things whether that be suggestions, frustrations, annoyances, whatever. And I think it kind of irritated him a bit that people didn't come to him. But really what it is is that folks are really only going to go to Jess for the big serious things. If anyone wants to vent or gripe, they typically come to me.

I've also shared with Jess recently that I think part of this also has to do with the fact that I talk to people a lot more than he does. It's very common for me to have at least a small whisper conversation with 7 or 8 people within the 10 man raid. Some nights its every single person. Sure, some of the things I say could be done within the raid chat or over vent. But I think I do it in a way because I want to establish that personal relationship with everyone within the raid if that makes any sense.

Outside of raids, I also have many more personal conversations with people. A good part of this may be because I am particularly nosy and want to know what is going on with everyone. No, but seriously I think given how much time we spend together, and how long we've known each other, I'm genuinely curious about people's lives. I guess I like establishing that personal connection outside of just playing our pixelated toons together. I think these type of personal connections is part of why our little guild has been running together for over 3 years.

Thus, I've had some very personal and in depth conversations with people from everything to jobs, to family, to relationships. And in having these conversations, I also share a lot about myself as well. Its interesting though. I wonder if this social nosiness thing is easier or more accepted for me to do as a female. I mean I wonder if it'd be weird if Jess started to whisper folks and ask how their family was, or how their new job was, or whatever.

I think that there are a lot of similarities in how Jess and I interact with the guild to typical roles within a family. You tend not to really go to your dad with anything unless its really serious. And typically you tell your mom more personal stuff about what is going on, probably because she's the one who is asking "How was your day honey?"

Does your guild have a guild mom?


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guild loyalty

I was chatting on vent with Jess, Rap, and Fonzy last night and I shared that I am in the early stages of switching consulting firms. I really like what I do on an every day basis, but I would just be doing it for another healthcare consulting firm. Why? Well, while I have some minor concerns about the future of my practice and the ability of the senior partners to sell large projects, the bulk of the reason is that I know that I could be making more money elsewhere.

It's interesting, or kind of sad depending on how you look at it, that you make the biggest jumps in salary by switching firms. Loyalty and sticking to one place won't bring you the same level of salary increases. And my guess is that women are more loyal to employers than men. I wonder if this, along with womens reluctance to negotiate and ask for things, is a part of why in this day and age female salaries still lag behind men.

So I have a call setup to speak with a former colleague who is at another firm. So this is just the very early stages of exploring other opportunities, and you know what? I already feel kind of bad. In all honestly I probably should and could have made this switch sooner, but I do think loyalty had something to do with it. I know that I have every right to be looking at other opportunities, but there is a part of me that feels bad and disloyal to my current firm.

While I was talking about it last night, I mentioned how I had some thoughts around this topic as it relates to WoW. Fonzy was like, "Of course you do, because that's what you do". Hahaha. Yes Fonzy, that is what I do.

Anyways, so my jumbled thoughts are this. I wonder given how women think about their jobs carries over to the relationship that women have with their guilds in game? Now I'm not saying that female players never leave guilds. Because yes, they do. But, when its clear a guild isn't working? Who jumps ship first? Is it more likely that the men leave guilds earlier? And are men more likely to switch guilds out of the blue simply to join a more progressed guild?

And when women do leave guilds, or consider doing so, do they have a harder time with it? Do they feel more guilty or disloyal? Or maybe it isn't that women are more loyal, but just that we just agonize over things like this more?

Myself, I haven't been in a position in game where I was in a guild that wasn't succeeding and folks were making decisions to leave for other guilds. But those of you that have, what do you think? Are women more loyal to guilds?


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clawcon thoughts

I've previously blogged about our guild The Left Claw's plans for real life meetups, which we've brilliantly named Clawcon. Our Clawcon-West is next weekend in the Seattle/Bainbridge Island area. And yes, Shmoo, its really happening! Get your Canadian ass ready!

Now for those who can't fly out to the west coast, a date for Clawcon-Midwest has been set in August, to be hosted by yours truly in Chicago. Thus, I've had a lot of discussions lately around planning for both Clawcons.

I've blogged before around wondering what we'll call each other. Perhaps once we meet and hang out, it may change, but honestly I can't see myself calling folks by their real names. At least not until the second day? I guess I've very much separated my real life self with my toon self. When Jess wants to bug me or freak me out, he calls me by my real name. And I twitch. For some reason, its just wrong to me when he calls me anything but K.

Anyways, I think Shmoo is unsure about us publicly calling him any one of the myriad of names we call him. Apparently he made the case that his toon names are all more embarrassing or weird than Jess and I. Well we'd be calling Jess, who we've previously established here is a he, by a female name. And folks would be calling me K, which if overheard would be assumed to be Kay. Which is fine I guess, though I associate the name Kay with a 70 year old grandma with white hair and frosted pink lipstick.

I think some people are also not necessarily nervous, but pretty curious about how we'll interact in person. Will things be weird or awkward? Should we come with paper bags with our toon images on them so that people feel more at ease? Should we put our headsets on to talk so we feel more comfortable and can pretend we're on vent? Will folks click the way we have online? (I do think that there is an element of chemistry, even in platonic relationships).

Overall though, I'm not really worried about this. I guess I feel like we already know each other really well. I mean is it naive to feel that we are all just good people and would get along? Maybe. But I guess I kind of feel that we'll just be able to fall into comfortable real life friendships.

I was joking the other night about whether I will boss Jess around as much in person as I do online. This got me to thinking about the fact that there is a part of my personality in game that is a bit different than how I am in real life. I was saying to some others that in real life groups, I'm actually a bit more shy and reserved than how the guild has come to know me. The guild likes to joke around about my take charge and bossy f'bomb dropping attitude.

But I would say that I'm much more outspoken and bossy in game, everywhere from our 5v5 arena matches to when we raid. Now I wonder why that is? I think part of the appeal of WoW is that you can be anyone you want to be. Not only in terms of a fantasy character you play, but also in terms of how you act and are perceived in social interactions with guildies and in game friends.

So did the anonymous aspect of the game enable me to say and do things that I would be more cautious about in real life? Thus, do my guildies have this picture in their mind of how I am? Will they be surprised when we hang out and see that I am a shy shy gentle wallflower? (Ok I exaggerated that last bit there).

How will other guildies be different than the impression I have of them from the game? Will they be more outgoing or shy? Funnier or more serious? I'm sure there will be surprises. Who will be the most surprising?

Though to flip this around a bit, I also wonder whether the experience of being the bossy tree in game has affected how I am in real life. Could it be that I have become more outspoken in real life because I've picked this trait up in game, one that I was able to hone and perfect in an environment with much less risk than there would be in real life? Hmmmmm.

Ok, where was I before I went off on some confusing real life vs in game personality tangent? Oh yeah, Clawcon. Anyways, its pretty exciting I think that I am planning to attend two weekend guild related gatherings this summer.

Oh and I am also hoping to meet up with Beruthiel at Clawcon-West as well to talk very very important tree stuffs. So I'm meeting up with people I play a game with AND a friend from the WoW blogging community. How crazy is that? I've never played with Beru, but we've chatted and traded emails for a while now and as Tam correctly predicted, we get along famously. You have to come hang with us Beru so we can make fun of our tanks together!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making decisions is hard!

Now that we've unlocked heroic ICC 10, we're in a situation where we have to make decisions. Its very interesting how they've enabled hard modes in ICC in that you don't have to kill a boss on a hard mode to toggle the hard mode on the next boss.

So how do you make the decision to keep working on a certain hard mode as opposed to moving on to a supposed easier hard mode? Especially when you are soooo freakin close (2% on heroic Saurfang... damn you!) And then there's the question of how should we balance hard modes with just getting more Lich King kills. When a guild has just unlocked their first week of hard modes, I wonder if we should have spent the time working on them or sped through to LK again.

Mmmmm decisions. What did your guild do when first starting on hard modes?

Here's another hard decision to make. Which bear has the cutest ass?


Friday, July 9, 2010

Left Claw's Ruby Sanctum pic

Since last week we were too focused on finishing off the Lich King, this week we decided to go pay a visit to a purty purple dragon. Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot of this kill, thus I had to recreate the event via a drawing.

If you look at the reenactment drawing closely you'll see:
* a crazy white bear
* a warrior tank who loves to lecture
* a mage with a zoo full of pets and mounts
* a mage with pink bubblegum stuck in his beard
* a shammy bringing the chain and the healz
* a big ass shammy squishing a tiny mechanostrider
* a ret pally never without his coffee
* a dress wearing holy pally boy
* a warlock never without her glass of wine
* and finally to round it out, a tree!

I should really remember to take the screenshots so I don't have to subject you guys to reenactment drawings.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The only good thing about the Real ID changes

Ok, I'm not going to link to all the bloggers talking about this crazy Real ID change (huge compilation of all the blog posts here). The only one I'll specifically mention here is Gnomeaggedon, who has canceled his account. I'm so sorry to see Gnomie go and hope that he keeps blogging. :(

It's funny that this change was announced yesterday because through some other links (why the hell bloggers still link to her, I have no clue), I found myself back on "Ferarro's" blog for shits and giggles. Remember this whole Ferarro debacle? I posted about it twice, here and here.

So apparently "Ferarro" is leaving the game and is doing some grand count down of the 10 reasons "she/he/whatever" is leaving. In one of these latest posts, "she/he/whatever" says:

"But then the Ferarro debacle happened, and I felt sorry for her in some strange way. I know a lot of people want to burn her at the stake as if she murdered a golden bus full of children holding baby unicorns, but the truth was she never said she was Sarah Townsend, you know? She never used her real name or any of her real life information. Ever. She never said where she lived or worked. She never mentioned any of her family. She just copy-pasted a different avatar instead of her own. This isn't me defended what that Ferarro did, by the way. But I understood it. Not condone... just understood."

Wow an actual admission that this Ferarro took pictures from Sarah Townsend and ripped them off as themselves? Did "they" admit this before? I can't remember. It was an interesting read (or a lame attempt at justification?) just as all of this stuff about the Real ID changes and the concerns about privacy were floating around yesterday. And what I thought was exactly what Adam Holisky twittered:

"You know, this new forum system will at least let us know who the real Ferarro is"

Let's make Real ID on the forums only active for this Ferarro person so we can get the real story.

I was thinking about why Blizzard is making this change and I recalled the Forbes story I blogged about last week. Some of the thoughts that went through my head was whether Blizz is trying to force a societal acceptance of gaming by integrating our game with the social networking concept. But when this said society and your gamers aren't ready for this change, and there is no choice in the matter, it just seems like a bad idea.

Anyways, to end of a random note, the pic above is from a very cute new blog, Stuff No One Told Me (but I learned anyway). Some other cute entries from this blog related in my mind somehow to this Real ID hullabaloo:


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Holy crap!

We finally did it! Our little 10 man guild got the Lich King down last week! I think the kill had several factors to it.

First, we had the same 10 man crew working at him for the third consecutive raid night. Typically our raids fluctuate a bit, with maybe 80% of the raid being constant. But I think that finally having a crew where everyone had seen and experienced the fight several several times really helped. Plus, having the same 10 man crew meant that we communicated well and knew what to expect from each other.

Second, there was definitely a luck component to it. I think getting two dps, Darc and Indi, as opposed to healers, sucked into the Frostmourne was a huge help. Oh, and our lock Buns got picked up by the Valkyr a couple times which is always helpful as well. It was always cute when Buns would get picked up and folks would start running, to which Buns would be like "No, no, its ok guys, its me!" then use her demonic puppet show thing.

Third, everything is better with druids, isn't it? And we had three druids. Having those extra innervates really helped me since I was always riding the edge with mana. Oh and 3 battlerezes rocks. Even if it makes Jess freak out and call out something like "Indi! Indi! B-b-b-b-" when asking Indi to brez Darc. Plus don't forget that druids up the awesomely cute quotient by like a bazillion.

This is the first time our little guild has finished an end of expansion boss. And as we don't do 25 mans, for us this is it. Well except for hard modes, I guess. I am very much looking forward to seeing some gear upgrades drop off some of the hard modes of lower bosses in ICC. The heroic version of the staff of Saurfang makes me drool a little: Mag'hari Chieftain's Staff.

Anyways, I'm excited our guild finished ICC. We finished Kara as a guild a little over two years ago. Then came Naxx, Ulduar, and ToC. I'm incredibly proud that the guild has remained constant through raids, through time, through real life, through people coming and going. We've never been a guild that is going to push to compete for server firsts. But we've raided our way amongst a group of crazy friends, and for that, I'm proud.

Now we just have to get the folks who missed the kill their Kingslayer titles!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dominating Wintergrasp

I used to be in Wintergrasp a ton. A ton. I've cut back on my WG runs a lot, though I do try to get in there at least once or twice a week. In the past I've read a number of posts around the blogosphere about how Horde dominate Wintergrasp on their server.

Well on Drenden, alliance dominate WG (woots Ally!), and has for a while. It's gotten to the point where a good number of WG runs turn into the Alliance pushing the Horde to their one graveyard and just racking of HKs. Sometimes I feel a little bad, but then memories of Horde camping the starting graveyards in Arathi or Warsong come flashing back, then I don't feel so bad anymore.

So our WG dominance is somewhat surprising given that on our Emberstorm battlegroup, the Horde pretty much dominate the BGs. Though, I do have to say that the chance of an Alliance team winning seems to have gone up with the advent of the random daily BG. We even win Strand of the Ancients a decent amount now! ZOMG!

Anyways, I'm not sure if the Horde on Drenden don't care about it anymore given no one really needs much from VOA or what. The Horde do tend to have about 5 tenacity in WG lately. But even when VOA dropped coveted drops, Alliance still won the majority of WGs. Let's take a look at Archavon's log from a couple days ago:

I was surprised to see that the difference is in defending WG. Hmmm. Anyways, for all the talk I've seen on the interwebs about Horde dominating WG, not so on Drenden!

There will probably be a break from posting for a bit as I am taking an extended holiday weekend. I'll be flying down to Chapel Hill, then driving up to DC. Speaking of driving, for all you Hello Kitty haters, check out this awesomeness: