Do you remember Michael Gray, in the mountains? Half itinerant freelance writer, half Appalachian hipster, this blogger goes by "Gray" at WoW Insider as well as other gigs. There's worse options for a handle, he figures.
What do you do for WoW Insider?
I do a handful of things, and those responsibilities change over time. Mostly, I'm the Moviewatch guy and Phat Loot Phriday narrator. I also write WoW Rookie; in the past, I've done Ready Check and various other columns. Like the game itself, WoW Insider is a living, changing entity, and my role tends to change with it over time.
My biggest contribution might be the logistics and planning for our yearly BlizzCon meetup. I handle the negotiations with the site and other vendors for that effort. When you're at the party, drink one for me.
What's your main?
My main is a protection paladin. I've played all the tanks extensively and often tinker with a DPSer here and there, but I always end up back on my paladin. Always prot, always Human.
Immersion is important to me, and I always return to that tank. In my story, he was a retired old soldier who, when the Blood Elves slaughtered the paladins to steal something or another in the blood knight quests, was pressed back into service. He's a very tired old man who is just trying to look out for the younger members of his raid.
What's the best 5-man instance in the game? Raid?
"Best" is such a tough word. My favorite 5-man is Deadmines; it's steeped in both lore and the traditions of the game itself. I like the sense of history. For raid? Karazhan. I love Karazhan. It was fun, it was goofy; it was hard at first, it became comfortable over time.
I tend to prefer traditional Human themes in the game, so Karazhan appeals to my sense of genre. I love Gilneas for the same reason.
What's your favorite expansion?
I can't really say. I can talk about specific dynamics I liked in each expansion, but I don't tend to think of expansions as being epochs inside the game. I liked the Arena in Season 1 and Season 2, but it's been fairly blah for me since then. I liked the advent of the Dungeon Finder; I'm kind of blasé about not being able to finish a good gear set from points.
Horde or Alliance?
I've played Horde extensively, but I prefer Alliance. I feel like a lot of the Horde dynamics have this "internet tough guy" feel that's a huge turn-off for me. I play the game in a lighthearted, goofy way. I simply prefer the humanity of the Alliance.
What's your favorite thing to do in Azeroth?
PVP, hands down. I only started raiding back in the day for the sake of getting better gear for greater success. I once actually quit WoW for six months because, as a non-raider, I got tired of getting blown up by raiders in superior gear.
Since I had limited time to play, I couldn't compete in the rank ladders, and thus couldn't get top-tier gear to compete. I came back for Season 2 so that my wife and I could duo Arenas for competitive gear, with a little raiding on the side to get good bullets. (Yes, I was a hunter at the time.)
What's the #1 thing Blizzard has done great?
I feel the options for independent play have been a wonderful boon to the game. The Dungeon Finder is more than just a convenience; it makes the game playable for people who want to advance gear but can't commit to a raiding schedule.
What's the #1 thing Blizzard could do better?
While the Dungeon Finder allows people to play the game at their own schedule, it needs to go further. If you can't commit to a raiding schedule, huge swaths of gear (and thus competitive viability) become closed to you. The Dungeon Finder could go further to resolve this, perhaps with a Raid Finder or making more gear available through points.
When I'm not playing WoW, I'm...
... working. I'm really not an idle hands kind of guy. My current list of projects and work looks like this:
- A novel I'm finishing up, which has roughly the same tone as Phat Loot Phriday but is otherwise completely unrelated.
- My wife and I are building our photography business, Build Your Wings. We've a lot of work to go, but we're very excited.
- I'm a social media manager and writer over at Tecca, alongside Adam Holisky.
- And I do whatever freelance work I snag on the side.
What are you most proud of in game?
This will sound odd to many of you, but I'm the most proud of staying in the game and being relatively accomplished at all while staying busy with a 50-hour-plus work week, in addition to maintaining my home, land, and family. I don't get to play with the time sinks in the game at all, but I stay relatively contemporary. Doing that while keeping up with life is an accomplishment all its own.