When I was at BlizzCon last year, I talked with a number of people from Blizzard's HR department. We talked briefly about the application process, and it was suggested that if I ever apply for a job there, I should include, along with my resumé, an inspiration list. They want to know who or what inspires you to be a better artist -- a very fair question.
I thought about it, and it didn't take long to come up with an answer. When it comes to my writing, few people inspire me quite like Norm MacDonald.
I first became acquainted with Norm back in the mid-1990s during his stint on Saturday Night Live. He was the go-to news guy, holding the anchor chair of Weekend Update. He's done stand-up. He performed (as 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole) at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in front of President Clinton. And now, he's got a new show on Comedy Central called Sports Show with Norm MacDonald.
We're a lot alike, Norm and I. We're both unafraid to be inappropriate. We're both willing to take chances. Neither of us are meant for mass audiences. If I ever got a sitcom on ABC, it'd fare about as well as Norm's did, which is not very well at all. I'd probably even hire Laurie Metcalf too; I like her.
Norm puts on a good dumb guy front, but he's almost always the smartest man in the room. Take his appearance on Who Wants to be a Millionaire back in 2000. In one of the most entertaining segments that show had ever, he wins a heck of a lot of money for charity and lampoons the game's format all in one fell swoop. (His run towards a million starts in the clip above; if you're interested, the phenomenal conclusion is available after the fold.)
I figured the topic of inspiration was interesting enough that, in addition to the traditional WRUP question, asked my fellow WoW Insider writers the question: "Who -- or what -- inspires you?"
Anne Stickney (@Shadesogrey) This weekend I'll have family visiting, so I'll be handling all of that. No Easter shenanigans are in the works, though who knows my aunt may show up on my doorstep with a ham demanding dinner, which would be fine! ... Bonus question: Honestly, the majority of my inspiration for the lore columns comes from the lore and quests of the game itself, and the readers that talk about particular lore topics that suddenly spark my interest. I like trying to predict what's going to happen by what's already there, something which I believe I can firmly place the blame for on my high school AP English teacher, who had an amazing time teaching all of us students to look at stories all cross-eyed and sideways to see what wasn't there, rather than what was, and why that was significant.
Daniel Whitcomb (@danielwhitcomb) With this being Easter weekend, I'll be at church most of the time. If I have some spare time, I may actually just finish up my latest Dragon Age 2 playthrough. This is the one playthrough on which I will tolerate Anders. But only this playthrough. ... Bonus question? For fiction writing, my favorite authors inspire me, especially JRR Tolkien, Tad Williams, William Blake, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and T.S. Eliot. For nonfiction, essayists like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, or some of my favorite speeches and essays individually. For writing on WoW Insider, I go with looking at past articles on WoW Insider, or reader comments, or just sifting through the web to see what people are talking about.
Fox Van Allen (@foxvanallen) My friend Chester is visiting from Philadelphia. We're going to cook a magnificent Easter dinner (read: he's going to cook one), and then we'll gorge ourselves on candy. And eggs. Fragrant, unappealing, hardboiled eggs.
Joe Perez (@Lodurzj) Leveling alts in WoW and playing some Portal 2. I think Matt Low and myself are going to be doing some co-op stuff. Getting ready for more hard-modes next week and doing a lot of reading. ... Bonus question: For my fiction writing, it comes from all over. My favorite authors like Jim Butcher, Tolkien, Dan Abnet, Kelly Mccullough and many others, as well as comic books and movies -- basically anywhere that there are some good creative juices flowing. It is also influenced by my tabletop gaming and my friends. We've had some very creative and odd gaming sessions that have inspired me to write. As far as my WoW Insider articles, I take a lot of my cues from around the web. I try to pay attention to what the topics of discussion are from various places, as well as looking to my fellow writers here on the site.
Josh Myers (@Elamqt) In theory, I'm gearing up my hunter. In practice, I'm soloing Burning Crusade raids and pretending I'm awesome for doing it. Making pretty good money, though! ... As for the bonus question: No, Fox, I'm not doing your dirty work for your job application for you!
Kelly Aarons (@Cadistra) Helping the guild get to 25. I want my scorpid, dangit. :l I'm thinking of also popping in some Castlevania: LoS just because. Spring demands a blood offering, and I shall be the one to present it. ... What's this about an inspiration list? I've applied for several creative jobs and was never asked for something like that. In any case, what inspires me for Byron and Safe Passage are ... well, comics. Good comics. A lot of manga -- I love big battle scenes and flashy spell powers. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm always trying to tighten up my work.
Lisa Poisso (@emused) Weekends are great for all the little stuff. Even though Cataclysm seems to me to be all about building a stable of alts, I'm not one for alts, so weekends are peaceful moments for working on my pet collection, odd recipes and all the little things. Bonus question: Listening to what readers are talking about always shakes loose the dust.
Mathew McCurley (@gomatgo) I am supposed to have a busy weekend, but my plans are blanking on me right now. I'm sure they will all catch up with me come Saturday and Sunday mornings. ... As for inspiration, I listen to music and come up with ideas based on how music makes me feel.
Matt Low (@matticus) Enjoying the long weekend. Getting in some Portal 2 action is definitely in my list along with the Age of Empires Online beta. It's a unique experience actually. I haven't explored much in the ways of MMO RTSes but from what I've seen in the first several levels, it shows some intriguing features. I've always loved the franchise and I was hoping for another RTS. ... People who inspire me: Guy Kawasaki (for the creativity and ideas), Roberto Luongo (for the work ethic and mental fortitude), Robin Williams (as a reminder to loosen up once in a while), Steve Jobs (his public speaking style helped me ace presentations and speeches in classes), and Garr Reynolds (the importance of design and presenting information).
Tyler Caraway (@murmursofadruid) I will probably still be in bed, writhing in pain and fever. I've at least managed to get up and about a little now, so I may finally be getting better. If I can manage it, I'd like to clean up my Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 file to prepare for ME3. The upside is that it should only take a few hours top to complete ME from the start, but the random nature of parts of ME2 makes it a little bit more difficult to get the results that I want. ... For my inspiration, I look at the people and the world around me. Society, humanity, these are my inspirations. People and the things that they do, their struggles and their faults.
The weekend is the perfect time to kick back, relax and enjoy some game time. Are you an achievement junkie? Can't get enough raiding? Rolling a new alt? Considering taking the leap into roleplaying? Whatever your favorite way to play World of Warcraft, let us know in the comments what you're playing this weekend!