Well, it was an epic battle. Little did I know that, in an effort to promote a random assortment of high-quality free-to-play and indie games, I would come up with the formula for the destruction of the entire universe. Over the last few days, readers cast their votes (and their nasty comments) in the hopes that I would take a look at their favorite game for well over a month. After all, it would expose everything that is good (and bad!) about their game and might draw in many more new players. Not to brag, but a lot of eyes are drawn to our lovely little site here.

Each game I chose was nestled alongside a mortal enemy. Wizard101 had MapleStory to tackle. Puzzle Pirates had Zentia. My planning only lead to mass chaos as the giant of the bunch, MapleStory, barely opened an eyelid. Then, out of nowhere, Anarchy Online swooped in and punched everyone in the eye. It looked like the 10-year-old masterpiece of sandboxy goodness would win for the oldies in the bunch! (The AO community's passion for the game inspired me to cover it in my other column, Rise and Shiny, for the week of January 16th.) Where was Shadowtale? At the time of this writing, the game boasted literally thousands of players on at one time. Yet they barely pulled in a handful of votes. Pirates of the Burning Sea seemed to give up early, as evidenced by forum posts. (I was following all the games' forums.)

In the end, Wizard101 pulled it off. While I knew the game had the numbers, I wasn't sure that it could herd all of the cats together in time. It did teach me one thing, though: Don't mess with the tweens.

Join me past the cut for the next vote and for some information about Wizard101.


Kingsisle Entertainment started out with one simple goal in mind: make a game for younger players, and make it work on any setup. The company knew that Harry Potter and collectible card games were all the rage at the time so it decided to make a magic-school-inspired turn-based MMORPG. I admit that when I first heard the name and saw the screenshots I was not so much impressed as I was intrigued. I liked the fact that the game could run on an elderly machine, and I really wanted to get my hands on a new turn-based adventure. Josef Hall, V.P. of Development, and J. Todd Coleman, V.P. and Creative Director, were two of the people behind Shadowbane, a game that always stuck out -- so that was a bonus. But no one guessed what success would truly mean to the company. It has claimed millions and millions of registrations, thousands of in-game items, and as can be seen in the voting from last week, a very passionate audience made up of gamers from all age groups. If you look at what has happened to Kingsisle, you will need no further proof that the "kid's" market can lead to a lot of success.

Of course, kids are not the only players of Wizard101. The game boasts grandmothers, uncles, aunts, parents who play with their children, and weird staff writers at Massively. Yes, I've played the game before and have always kept up with it. Unfortunately, the maximum level I achieved was around 12 or 13, and that was quite a while ago. It should be noted that I have played every game mentioned in the vote, some of them residing in a special place on my desktop. My idea was to list off several games that Massively readers might not be familiar with, regardless of size, and take them into a game they had never even considered playing. Every game I picked was unique and wonderful.

In the end, though, there can be only one. Wizard101 took the vote to town, easily. It should be no surprise that the next few installments of this series will more than likely be jam-packed with comments, votes and passionate debate. If you've never seen hundreds or thousands of younger players all screaming at the top of their lungs, prepare yourself. I might be wrong, of course, but I think things would have gone down a much quieter path if Anarchy Online had won. What have I gotten myself into?

So here we are with the next vote. I decided to start with the basics: boy or girl, which school of magic, and which mount to get around on. Later on I will be asking for your help in determining what strategic roads to go down, what quest lines to explore, and what sorts of items to go after. I will also be streaming some of my gameplay once per week, so readers can give me advice, watch me fail, and know when to join me in the game!

There are some rules, however. First, you must behave in the comments section. No name-calling, hair-pulling, or spamming comments. If we don't play nice, I will turn this article around right now and we can talk about Anarchy Online instead. Second, tell your Wizard101 friends and family to come vote. I don't want to mess this up, and I need everyone's help!

So, cast your vote below!
CMA: Boy or girl?
Boy815 (66.4%)
Girl413 (33.6%)

CMA: Which school of magic?
Fire176 (14.2%)
Ice118 (9.5%)
Storm213 (17.2%)
Myth166 (13.4%)
Life143 (11.6%)
Death258 (20.9%)
Balance162 (13.1%)

CMA: Which mount do I need?
White Mare122 (9.8%)
Black Stallion328 (26.3%)
Seraph Wings505 (40.5%)
Bat Wings292 (23.4%)

Beau Hindman is your puppet. Make him dance, if you'd like. Over the next several weeks, he will be your guide through whatever game you choose, through whatever activity you command him to participate in. Follow him on Twitter or Raptr to see when he might be playing, then go in game to shoot bullets at his feet!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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