Where are they now? To find out, we have to go way, way back -- all the way to January of 2008 ... Be sure to click the bold subheadings at the beginning of each entry to read the original interviews.
Noor the pacifist Five years ago, the idea of someone playing an MMO like WoW without killing any monsters seemed incredible at best and ridiculous to many. But Noor kept at it -- and he's at it still. "I've got my mage up to 90, but haven't done much with Noor for a while," he reports. "I missed the small window of opportunity to create a neutral pandaran by getting off the starting turtle without choosing a faction by using Zen Pilgrimage; there's still a way that should work, but it's a very long grind ... (Basically, herb and mine to level 41, which takes more than 50,000 nodes, then take up inscription and make a scroll of recall and read it.)" Um, yikes. Read more of Noor's exploits at Pacifist Undead Priest.
Years and years of Spectacular Death This casual guild was a pacesetter in classic WoW for retro raiding and special events designed for "regular" folks. (Apologies for not having room to include the sonnet, haiku, and other goodies guild members sent along with their update -- you guys are irrepressible!) Check out Spectacular Death for the latest on their weekly mount runs, smacking down bosses in the buff, marmot punting in Orgrimmar, guild battlegrounds, helping each other and the guild get achievements, finding creative new ways to die, and taking their summons and liking it (even when they're standing right by the stone).
The day he dinged 20 Suul, the level 19 twink PvPer we interviewed in 2008, has finally leveled up and is raiding and PvPing in arenas. "With BoA gear and class damage output, twinking at low levels doesn't interest me much anymore," he explains. "Suul accidentally leveled to 20 when visiting Dalaran. However, I still had the queue and entered battle. The opposing team consisted of a group of Alliance twinks that knew me and all gathered around and walked me with the flag to my base for my last cap. I actually teared up a little."
From artist to blogger Cenarion Circle mage Aislinana made a name for herself back in the day designing character art for players. Today, she GMs her own guild. Find her at Apple Cider Mage and on Twitter at @applecidermage.
Once banned, now an in-game namesake "Has it really been five years?" wonders mega-mage Lhivera. "When I was first interviewed for WoW Insider, I had just received a permanent ban from the forums for theorycrafting about Arcane Barrage while it was still officially unreleased information. The ban was reversed about a year later, and today I'm part of the forum MVP program and have an NPC named in my honor: Li Vera, who may be found in a cave on Shan'ze Dao Island. It's been an interesting and enjoyable turnaround!" Lhivera still plays his frost mage the most, although what he calls "the demands of real life in middle age" keep things casual. Find him at Lhivera's Library or on Twitter at @Lhivera.
Breanni's pet supplies Pet mecca Warcraft Pets has become more popular than ever since the advent of Mists of Pandaria and pet battles. "Our team has been working hard to bring new functionality to the site for pet battle enthusiasts," Breanni reports. "We recently added a stat calculator to each pet's profile, allowing users to determine the stats for pets of any level, rarity and breed. We've also expanded our database with all of the new pet battle abilities. On a personal note, I recently became a first-time father." Congrats to Breanni and his family!
The Spreading Taint The Taint family of GLBT-friendly guilds on Proudmoore (US) continues to thrive both in-game and in real life. "We have now grown to a membership of 7,500+ characters in 11 different Taint guilds," reports Kyan, its current leader. From social events to a realm-first Will of the Emperor (full clear of heroic Mogu'shan Vaults), this collective offers a home for all playstyles. See Taint and their umbrella organization, The Rough Trade Gaming Community, at GaymerCon 2013 in San Francisco, or visit Taint.
Working at Blizzard The guy who created the I Play WoW app? "Still working at Blizzard as a senior engineer 2," reports Nick Gerakines. Ding -- achievement complete!
The devoted blacksmith Ah, one of our favorite updates: An old-school blacksmith specialist who still plays WoW and still loves his smithing! "I've kept up the blacksmithing and have made it a point to get as many of the patterns in-game as possible," Gaiusseptimo reports. "Right now I'm sitting around 96% completion on my BS list and am confident it's the most complete list on server."
Gripping tenacity Despite being disabled by a rare condition that dislocates her joints at the drop of a pin, Lileya hasn't given up playing. "I've learned a lot about accessible design since the last time we spoke and it's opened up my options for playing," she reports. "I'm currently working on a script for my controller so I can use that for farming and fishing and polishing up my speech recognition software with WoW terms so I can use it for chat and secondary casts. We launched an accessible gaming website, Dual Ring, early this year and I've been working very hard on it. We write accessible game reviews and cover adaptive technology as well as providing guides and tips on how to make gaming accessible without requiring specialist knowledge or equipment."
Standing up for WoW Stand-up comedian Jeff Reitman continues to play WoW and perform comedy at Wackygamer.tv. "[We] are regularly updating our video channel with new content, and our live comedy show just got accepted into SF Sketchfest, which is huge!" In his day job as a game developer, Jeff's created Hoboscope and Ozgood (on the App Store) and will soon ship Burt Destruction on iOS and Android.
WoW, Eh Former WoW Insider's Weekly Comic creator Kelly Aarons is no longer with our site, but she's still playing WoW. "I got to take Cadistra through a bit of Pandaria -- it was truly a rekindle of a old flame," she reports. Kelly isn't yet clear of the arm injuries that caused her to resign her position with us; we miss her and send best wishes for a complete recovery!
Quadriplegic player carries on While quadriplegic player Quadilious has recently scaled back his efforts to assemble software and hardware resources for disabled gamers due to a real-life move, in game, he's been hitting 5.2 content hard with a 10-man team. "MoP has been very exciting for me," he reports, "and I feel I've pushed my playing way above any level I ever thought possible." What an amazing guy!
Child's Play The Child's Play charity has had another incredible year, thanks to the generosity of gamers from all over the world. "Together we've raised almost $3 million so far in 2012 for children's hospitals, and we still have a few weeks to go!" reports Kristin Lindsay. An avid pet collector, Kristin says she suspects the expansion was created to fulfill her dreams. "I have so much admiration for the pets that are also raising money for great causes," she notes. "They are the ultimate example of gamers giving back... something that we at Child's Play are 100% behind!" Chat with Kristin at @Peeardee on Twitter, where she says she's "always down with trading pet battle tactics, disc priest tips, Child's Play info, and anything else on a gamer's mind."
Quite a few players from 2008 and 2009, of course, have moved on to greener pastures.
- Kooz, host of the now-defunct O'RLY Show on the also now-defunct WoW Radio, dabbled a bit in Wrath and Cataclysm but is now focused on several business ventures.
- Researcher Dr. Jessica Langer no longer plays, but her recent book, Postcolonialism and Science Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), includes a chapter on WoW, and she's currently researching virtual worlds, selfhood, and consumer behavior. Look for her at JessicaLanger.com or on Twitter as @DrJessicaLanger.
- Being dad to twin 2-year-olds keeps WoW researcher and anthropologist Dr. Alex Golub plenty busy outside Azeroth these days. He's finished writing his book on WoW and is submitting is to potential publishers, and he plans to hop into Pandaria to brush up on his MMO skills before teaching a class on virtual worlds this spring.
- Traveling man Gary Arndt no longer plays WoW from all over the world, despite still being all over the world. "I've now been to over 100 countries and all seven continents," he writes. "I've had to stop playing WoW as I just didn't have that much time anymore." Gawk at Gary's gorgeous photographs on Everything-Everywhere.com, Facebook, or Twitter @EverywhereTrip.
- Former hunter blogger Pike has been on-again, off-again since Cataclysm. Find her these days at The Android's Closet or on Twitter at @pikestaff.
- The former Teza of WoWRaid.com stepped out of WoW two years ago and into work as a mobile app consultant and editor. Reach him on Twitter at @IRumeurs.
- He may not have played in a year or so, but our favorite action figure customizer still makes WoW customs. Marmek the goblin warrior was built to scale with the troll rogue featured in our original interview. Check out some of the pictures at his realm's off-site forums.
- Educator Dr. Landon Pirius is still talking about gaming for instructional purposes, as he leads a pre-conference workshop at the 2013 Instructional Technology Council (ITC) eLearning Conference in San Antonio. Check out the description for "Game On! Using Games in an Educational Environment."
- Fitness enthusiast Rafe Brox hasn't played WoW in a long time, but he's still fit as a Lightsteel rod (making his first 500-pound deadlift earlier this year) and intermittently blogging at Digital Discipline.
- AishaLove, our friend from the furry fandom, has moved on to other games. He's still a fan of things furry: "I think it's our love for animals that draws us to play furry characters like taurens, worgens and pandas!"
- The Kraft Dinner Gang of players who enjoyed real-life meetups has moved away from WoW, but most of the friends still game in StarCraft, LoL, and various console games.
- As you might expect, author Cory Doctorow and his wife, gaming goddess Alice Taylor, haven't had much time for WoW lately. "Alice has been busy launching Makies, the company she founded, and I've been on tour with Pirate Cinema," Cory writes.
- "Retirement guild" leader Boltac has stopped gaming himself, but Vanguard of Norrath is still active on Blackwater Raiders as well as a branch in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to email@example.com.