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Forget the Brothers Karamazov. If you're looking for artistic expression, passion and the bonds of brotherhood -- plus a healthy dash of World of Warcraft -- it's all about the Brothers Kasprzak. Evan Kasprzak, a Top 6 finalist in the reality show So You Think You Can Dance, has gamed his entire life with brothers Ryan (also a top finisher in this year's SYTYCD show) and Ian. There's no denying how tight this trio is. One viewing of Evan and Ryan's journey through the beginning of this season's SYTYCD competition as a team (see video, above) or a glance at photos of the threesome with their matching wrist tattoos ("brother" in Greek) show the obvious depth of their bond. And so while Evan is socked in right now beneath the insane pace of the competition's home stretch, we snuck in a visit with Ian to find out how the family finds a foothold to fit all the pieces together.
For the gaming, dancing Kasprzaks, support from family includes the WoW family. "In top 6, you can use all the support you can get," Ian notes, "and I know how amazingly supportive the smaller WoW community on my server has been. I also love how WoW.com highlights the multidimensionality of gamers. I think it helps break down some of those stereotypes that gaming is somehow isolating and anti-social, when it is very much a social medium. ... Sometimes, the person behind that Mage that just Frostbolted you might just be someone climbing up their way to the top as America's next favorite dancer."
Evan Kasprzak, Kaztastic of Unknown (Andorhal-US), age 22, SYTYCD Top 6 finalist
Ian Kasprzak, Totemtastic of Unknown (Andorhal-US), age 30, supportive big brother
Ryan Kasprzak, Beartastic of Guildtastic (Andorhal-US), age 29, SYTYDC contestant
15 Minutes of Fame: So Ian -- in all of this, you're frequently pegged with the moniker "the non-dancing brother." What do you do?
Ian Kasprzak: I am a firmware (Video BIOS) programmer at NVIDIA in Silicon Valley. I have been with NVIDIA eight years. It's the perfect career path for a lifetime gamer looking to work in the industry (or at least close to it).
So how long has the Kasprzak clan been gaming?
I had an 8-bit Nintendo the year that came out (whenever that was), and my first computer was a 286, first PC game was King's Quest III, so it goes way back.
Evan, I think it would be safe to say, has been gaming his entire life. We played console games when he was younger, and as he got older he got into the Diablo II craze (he went way beyond what I did in that game). And it goes forward from there. His favorite game types are racing (NFS, mostly), the COD series -- and of course like everyone in his generation, he plays Halo pretty well. (It's embarrassing how bad he beats me at the family holiday season matches.)
WoW is the only MMO Evan has ever played; it stuck. Evan's first introduction to WoW was the semi-famous video of the interrupted funeral. After the funeral got interrupted by a PvP raid on it, one character stood up from the crowd and started massive AoE on the attackers. Evan's response: "I want to be that guy." So he rolled a Mage.
Ryan, the tapping brother from the SYTYCD Vegas episodes, is the most casual of the WoW family. He has a Hunter who is casually leveling his way to 80. He never was huge into the PC gaming thing, but we do all (and I mean all, my dad and occasionally mom included) do some family gaming over the holidays (mostly Rock Band). We bought my Mom a Wii for Mother's Day a few years ago, so it definitely runs in the family, but we each have our own gaming flavor preferences.
I started playing in the open beta of vanilla WoW as a Rogue; Evan was not far behind. He joined during vanilla with a bunch of his friends from college on Andorhal. That is where the -tastic naming convention got its start.
I originally was on a PVE server, and I had retired at some point after BC, lacking an endgame raiding guild (and before Arena), when I went home one holiday to find out Evan was playing actively and in a fairly strong endgame raiding guild. So back I went, this time in BC and on a PvP server, to level a Shaman. And I have been hooked ever since.
Evan is sort of on a "when he can" raiding schedule. Over the summer we raid together every week; during school, in particular because he does a lot of shows (musical theatre major at Illinois Wesleyan University), he can't always make every raid. Outside of that, we do some BGing together and have tried to stay in touch with some of our buddies by hitting the daily heroic now and again.
I am our healing officer on Andorhal, so I try to make every raid. SYTYCD has of course made that a little difficult, but my guild has helped by moving raid nights around to let me raid and still be there for Evan, watching the show, holding callout parties and of course, voting. :)
Evan does struggle to make the regular raiding part of life during school, especially with dance commitments and shows. He does PvP casually, and he will come on the occasional weekend raid when one comes up. He missed most/all of Ulduar because of SYTYCD, but we are hoping when it all calms down that we can go through it together with Guildtastic, an ad hoc group of our friends from various guilds who used to raid Naxx late at night (when Naxx was end game).
It's a very interesting experience. When we knew Evan was in the final 32 (and possibly the final 20), we just told our GM that he had some "work thing" that might be coming up, since we couldn't tell anyone what was going on. Then right before the Memphis episode with Evan aired, I let the guild know to watch SYTYCD to see Kaztastic. I think most of them thought he might be in the audience. They were pretty shocked to see him onstage, and even more shocked when he went to Vegas. Being an endgame raider and PVPer, I know a lot of people on Andorhal, and near every one of them is now following along with Evan.
The most interesting thing about WoW is that you think you know people, especially with Vent, until you realize they could have this whole different skill set (like dancing) and be world class at it. I think it has been very surreal for all of them. Before this, Evan and I were just another set of brothers who hung out in the WoW world (since we live several thousand miles apart).