Who's on your list of the proverbial 10 People to Invite to My Dream Dinner Party? Leave a spot for Alice Taylor. When it comes to gaming and geekery, there's nowhere you won't find traces of Alice and her self-mocking, good-natured humor. She's the face behind the popular social media and gaming blog Wonderland Blog. She commissions cross-platform education content for teens for Channel 4. As a gaming writer, she's been seen at BBC News, Kotaku, The Guardian and Paste. She was a semi-pro Quake player on the UK's first Quake team. She's an indie crafts maven. You may have heard of her husband, Cory Doctorow. Oh -- and of course, she's a WoW player.
Main character Crystaltips
15 Minutes of Fame: Alice, this is normally where we'd ask for a gaming history, but we know yours is sooo deep ... How about your version of the highlights?
Alice Taylor: First game: Pac-Man, age 6 or 7. Followed by Donkey Kong Jnr (arcade): I beat it, too. That cost me a LOT of 2ps.
Second game: Pong. Binatone. Must've been about 9. Had a few goes on a friend's ZX Spectrum, but I can't remember what we played.
Third game: Defender. BBC Micro. Followed swiftly by Frak!, Chuckie Egg, Sphinx Adventure, some awful cowboy game, Manic Miner, Knight Lore. Frogger. Must've been 12 by now.
Fourth game: I can't believe you want this much info, so I'll speed up.
FFWD. 1997: q95.BAT. Quake. QuakeWorld. YEARS OF THAT. Played for the UK. Skipped Quake 2, as we were still playing QWorld, and went straight to Quake III. Played almost exclusively CTF, years more of THAT. Gads, I miss it. Thank goodness for QuakeLive, although oh, my speed reactions are so, so gone. Had an N64 for Mario Kart playing and later got a Gamecube for Zelda playing.
FFWD. WoW, the moment it came out, I was in there. Can't remember why, particularly, but in I went, and I cajoled a few pals from real life to join me. This was the first time I played regularly with people I knew IRL, as opposed to pals-made-online. For the first time, I started likening playing WoW to going to the pub. I loved my Quake pals, but they were almost entirely boys, most of whom I'd never met, and my WoW guild started off with pretty much 50-50 m/f - lots of couples! It was a different vibe. Plus it was WoW, which as we know has the world's most perfected actions-reward balance, that lovely dopamine drip. Add in RL friends, and it became the second most sociable-pleasurable thing to do after going out and running around playing with my friends in a real world situation. (I still love my railgun, though).
What else are you playing right now?
Left4Dead. COMPULSIVELY. WoW's taken a large back seat to that. Co-op, see, it's like a 1.5-hour raid with three friends. It's GREAT.
I have Professor Layton on my DS, and a stack of untouched 360 games like Resi Evil 5 and Dead Space, sitting and waiting for L4D to get out the way. My Wii has gathered dust for months.
What's your WoW-style?
Totally casual. I never PvP (what, no AIMING?), so it's mainly questing and the like. Instances. Very little per week these days, although I just racked a good 10hs this past weekend.
Hah, "Quake champ." Scary term. I never bothered with WoW PvP, mainly because initially it seemed to be so gear-oriented and less about twitch skill. Still is, I suppose? Although I'm told it's awesome. But I'd rather shoot fast zombies when it comes to that sort of brain reward, so I get variety in my life that way. :)
You belong to two different guilds, both with rather illustrious roots, memberships and goals. Can you tell us a little about each?
One's called Unassigned Variable and was started by James Wallis, serendipitously 'pon my return from America and many demands from mutual friends for a new kind of guild. James is a legendary British tabletop game creator, about which I know complete FA, but I introduced him once to Zonk (then of Slashdot), and Zonk fell to his knees. I thought, "Crikey. James MUST be famous." :)
UV is about having a LOT of fun. We have in-game dinner parties, treasure quests, picnics, you name it.
I have a Postcard from Azeroth stuck to my fridge: two of my lady guildies toured Azeroth with their BBQ and beach parasol, and took holiday scene snaps, then made them up into real-world postcards over at moo.com and wrote real world WISH YOU WERE HERE-type messages on the back. All guildies got one, and it's a complete treasure.
The other is called Terror Nova, and I can't tell you a word about it or I'd have to kill you. But an intrepid journalist would soon find this and this.
We love all the crafts and goodies you turn up on Wonderland Blog. How long have you been following gaming crafts?
Hah! Probably since I had to make my own Quake T-shirt in 1998, as id didn't make any lady-sized stuff back then. Aren't the crafters just the best thing in the whole world? I love them.
Do you craft anything yourself?
Not a sausage. My husband bought me a huge craft toolkit for Xmas, stuffed with everything I'd need to get started, including a Dremel and a huge tub of perler beads, though. Now I just need time, currently used up by working, playing games or playing with my chubby and gorgeous little 18-month-old girl. I'm looking forward to plotting her gaming education. I was always blown away by Raph Koster's kids, both of whom have grown up on every game imaginable, including plenty of board games, and they're just the best kids.
Wow us with the coolness of your job at Channel 4 so we can all "ooh" and "ahh" at the projects you get to work on all day.
Hahah! I have millions of pounds per year to give to indies to make me lovely meaningful games with? Heartwarming! It's incredibly demanding, but also incredibly rewarding. Keeps me very, very busy.
My job entails finding and identifying new projects for UK-based 14-19 year olds, projects that will teach them useful things about life. These projects are aimed at teens' leisure time, as they're designed to complement the curriculum, not reproduce it, and so also need to be top notch entertainment in and of themselves. We choose the format according to our target audience, which means games, comics, animation, television ... but mainly games! Subjects range from the perennial teen topics of sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, careers and money, to the less obvious but also important, like improving the image of science as a career choice. It's great fun - the next few projects out include Smokescreen, a game about privacy and trust on social networks, and Science of Scams, a web show about special powers - psychic ability, telekinesis and the like - and how to spot the science behind these scams.
We've heard tell that your husband plays WoW on a Linux box. So do you two play together?
Naw. We did for a bit, but a Linux upgrade killed the working version, and we've not managed to get it running since. Something to do with video card support. It's very sad. We both highly resemble our orcs, and I'm a tailor, so we could've had little wedding outfits made and everything. That could have been our wedding invite card! As it was, we had to make do with Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter instead.
Just a few days before this feature was slated to post, we saw that Crystaltips finally dinged 80. Congrats, Crystaltips. We agree with your ding post – we foresee some Cataclysmic times ahead!
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" - neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an award-winning fantasy author and an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a bunch of guys who get together for dinner and group raiding in person every week, catch it on 15 Minutes of Fame.