Are they still playing today in Mists of Pandaria? Many are -- although the exploits of those who aren't are sometimes equally as interesting to hear! Catch up on 2008 and 2009 in part 1 of our retrospective, and be sure click the bold subheadings at the beginning of each entry below to see the original interviews.
Pulverizing WoW MMA fighter Jens "Little Evil" Pulver has been trying his hand at Mists while preparing for his next fights. "I have not been inside a dungeon or raid but I have enjoyed leveling a few characters," he writes. "My hunter is my PvP character, and I try to get in a few games in the evening. Outside of WoW, I have been wrapping up my career as a MMA fighter and will be fighting in the semi's of the ONEFC bantamweight Grand Prix in April." Jens is also hard at work on projects including gaming hardware, depression, and motivational speaking; find out more at JensPulver.com or @jens_pulver on Twitter.
Raegwyn the solo artist Raegwyn the DK soloing specialist has mostly wrapped up Mists content by now. "I'm just working on some smaller video projects like Scarlet Monastery challenge mode solo or Spine of Deathwing, which will probably both be done when your article goes online," he wrote in December. Next up: some DK-only raids. "I'm also thinking about making a mega-event like 500 DKs vs. Sha of Anger just to see 500 armies at one time -- but not sure if i will be able to organize that," he says, "... although I think six DKs should be enough for that boss." Keep up with Raegwyn on YouTube and Facebook.
The Megaguild business Mists has reinvigorated several hundred members in the WoW branch of mega-guild The Syndicate. "Those members are really enjoying the new content and specifically the endgame zones," writes leader Dragons. "Outside of WoW, we just finished writing the official Planetside 2 Wikia for SOE; have a massive presence doing internal testing/consulting for another large MMO in development; had SyndCon 2012 (our 11th annual conference); updated our Guinness World Record for the oldest continuously operating online gaming community; and are starting work on another MMO consulting project in the near future." Find them at the Syndicate.
More, more, Morrow "Busy year!" reports Michele. "Hosting two shows for Bite Size TV: App Attack (app reviews) and Chicks with Joysticks (totally ridiculous video game news show with Chloe Dykstra). I'm also still writing for HelloGiggles and producing the FWL. Lastly, my hometown painted me in a 60-foot mural as Sylvanas, holding Frostmourne. They don't know who Sylvanas is... but it's kinda epic." Then of course there was a certain familiar NPC who appeared in Mists, Mei Chele (plus NPCs for her two cats, Azreal and Samus, and Lamplighter Mu for her boyfriend). Find Michele on the web, on Facebook, or Twitter at @michelemorrow.
The Guild's Michele Boyd Actress Michele Boyd is another formerly semi-retired WoW player recently returned for Mists. "Got my shammy leveled to 90 and working on Golden Lotus and Klaxx rep," she writes, "although for some reason, I can't leave the damn Tillers rep grind alone. I have this weird urge to make them all my best friends!" Michele's fresh off two indie films that should be at Toronto Film Festival this year, plus Game Changers, a webseries for Red 5 Studios. "It takes all the themes and stuff you see in video games like jet packs, parkour and zombie killing and tests it out in the real world. Coming soon!" Find Michele at Michele Boyd and on Twitter at @micheleboyd.
PvP Ferengi style "I'm still playing, all PvP, and my priest Nursratchet, Keldar my mage, and 'lock Vasuna are all 90 and full Dread," reports Aron Eisenberg, aka Nog of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. "So, I live in the BGs, same as always except for the fact that I'm on Area 52. I hope all is well with you and life at WoW Insider is good. I'm still on your site daily looking for cool info. And when in the worlds are they going to bring warriors back down to earth?!?!?!"
The incredible Incredibles Real-life meetup mavens The Incredibles are going strong in both World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, celebrating the guild's eighth anniversary. To connect with this social bunch in WoW, look for new GM Holywhacker; in SWTOR, look for Laohastwoguns.
Computational WoW "I like Mists of Pandaria," reports anthropologist Bonnie Nardi, "especially the visuals. I understand my resto shaman better, and Healing Rain is lotsa fun. ... In research, I'm using my WoW data for theory about the evolution of large computational systems, analyzing changes in the game since I started playing in 2005. I taught Games & Society to 197 undergraduates in the fall term, and, as always, I'm impressed by the smarts, resourcefulness, confidence, and humor of gamers. In other research, I'm collaborating on information technologies for post-sustainability. Leaving the zombies to Homeland Security which seems to take them seriously, we focus on a future world (not too far away) with expensive oil which will profoundly alter how we live. No easy substitute for oil exists because oil is more energy-dense, by far, than any other resource. How will we cope with the drop in energy? Stay tuned!"
The family that plays together Road warrior Golis and his family guild Crusadoken (A-Shadow Council) grew this year as his son went off to college. "Warcraft really became the best way for us to keep in contact," he says. "Now it is not just me being on the road, but my son who is now gone every day. With classes and work, the kids didn't have nearly the time they had in the past to keep playing, but we still got to enjoy a number of nights this semester with the kids, myself and of course, my parents who are retirement age, but can still put out some decent DPS." Find Golis on Twitter at @BlaineSundrud.
Still AFK /afk movie creator Benjamin Dressler released the new I Play WoW music video for The Jace Hall Show last year. "State-of-the-art visual effects, references to the original, and cameos of WoW celebrities -- we packed it all in," he says. "If you haven't seen it, check it out." /afk is still collecting views, especially among Brazilian players. "The great people behind the Summoning Stone events send me this amazing reaction video with a crowd in Fortaleza watching /afk."
Voicing enthusiasm WoW-inspired voiceover pro Candace McCarty had to take a medical leave from work but is prepping some new demos and returns to work in this month. "I did return to World of Warcraft for Mists of Pandaria after leaving in early-ish Cataclysm," she says. "This expansion has really re-vamped my love for the game." Find Candace on Twitter at @CandaceMcCarty.
WoW in School Lucas Gillispie and the WoWinSchool Project continues to thrive and grow. "We've expanded the project to a second middle school in our district, West Pender Middle," he reports. "It has expanded to two schools in Seminole County Florida, has launched at the REACH School in Rogue River, Oregon, and has begun in the Pandora-Gilboa School District in Ohio." The project is extending to GuildWars 2 as well, and the student/player guild, The Legacy, is growing as a multi-game, multi-site guild. Find Lucas on Twitter at @PCSTech.
Fishing for content "The obsession in El's birth is slowly giving way to the responsibilities of parenthood," writes WoW fishing maven Tim Howgego of El's Extreme Anglin'. "A gnome is for life, not just for Winter Veil! Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year is that I'm now on Blizzard's Christmas card list! Not just El, but a diaspora of fansites, writers and podcasts. Part of a broadening of fan engagement, a brave new experiment by certain Blizzard employees. WoW is struggling for pace in an age of immediacy. It is a shame that a lot of Pandaria's fishing content has been lost in the backlash against infinite dailies. But there is hope in the shape of the Tillers." Stay on top of WoW fishing news at El's Extreme Anglin'.
Alzheimer's journey continues Player Bill Craig's journey through WoW and Alzheimer's disease continues. "We (psychiatrist and wife) feel like I'm edging into stage V (and some of VI) of my dementia," he writes. "This means I get confused easily, misplace things and accuse my family of having stolen from me and fly into rages when I can't find something I put down maybe only a minute ago. I can still converse and write, but I forget things like my own phone number, what day it is, hygiene routine (leave conditioner in hair instead of rinsing it). My wife helps me lay out my clothes for the next day. The only time I feel quiet and at peace is when I'm playing the game (except I fly into a rage when I forget to pay my monthly subscription and the game lapses). I am at Level 87 in the game and I credit other players with helping me to get there. The repetition and knowing the action bar has made it much easier." Keep on rocking in 2013, Bill!
Talk about flavor items ... Mists gray items are piling up for Pestle and her astounding Traveling Museum of Debris. "I'll be graduating in May of 2013 with degrees in game design and computer programming and am working on launching my first game worldwide in early 2013," she says. "I still have the museum and am looking to starting up a blog to better display the collection in full and document / database what I have. I don't really have anything screenshot-worthy at the moment, but I'm still in search of the Ancient Coin. I've been searching for a while, and have been getting tons of MoP grays! Hopefully by mid 2013, I will have the blog up and running and will post about my different adventures in hunting down new grays and rare grays as well."
Come AFK at the AFK Tavern "I still get asked about the first article/interview you did with me!" exclaims Kayla Graves, owner of the game-themed AFK Tavern. "It's done quite good by us. The Tavern is doing fantastic! We've had a good profitable year and are very much turning into the place we set out to open. We're working on our second location right now. Myself and much of the staff are back on WoW. Most of us play in a guild called Water Tribe on Moonguard when we aren't at work."
Tunnels & Trolls It's back to the beginning for gaming industry old-schooler Liz Danforth as she helps pick up the threads for a Kickstarter reboot to Flying Buffalo's Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, designing "new content, new art, and some very cool rewards." She continues: "I'm part of a retrospective art book for Magic the Gathering, completing a new painting with a character who could have stepped off the streets of Stormwind. And yes, I'm thoroughly enjoying WoW despite deep misgivings about MoP. I think Blizzard outdid themselves, and I'm spending waaaay more time there than is ideal for my productivity!" Find Liz at Liz Danforth or on Twitter at @LizDanforth.
Care packages for the masses Player care packages are still flowing on Moonguard thanks to Venita and her crew of charitable guildies. "I still run the care package service and it continues to gain a lot of support," she reports. "I have picked up on my personal YouTube channel again and started preparing it for 2013 with vlogs, gaming-related things and what have you. Probably one of the biggest things going on in my life right is that I had a weight loss surgery done back in September; I am down over 100 lbs. in little over four months. It has been such a blessing and has totally changed my perspective on life. My guild is still kicking it. We are keeping up with our personal roleplay story, raids and enjoy all the new alts!" Catch up with Venita at Venita Speaks and YouTube.
Election-year madness We can only imagine the chaos that transpired during the election year for progressive guild Wreck List on Garrosh (US). "We're all still playing and enjoying the expansion very much!" writes busy GM Dkosmama.
In Kirina's closet Kirina has continued to update Kirina's Closet behind the scenes with more transmog outfits. "Earlier this year I was contacted by Fairchild Books regarding a screenshot of mine from my blog they wanted to use in their newest textbook edition of The Meanings of Dress – 3rd edition," she reports excitedly. "I assume that it was used for the new section of the book titled Fashion and Fantasy, though I cannot say for sure where it is in the book or if it even made it through the cut of being published. However, the fact that I was contacted about it I still think was pretty cool." We do, too!
Not all the players and personalities we interviewed two and three years ago are still on the World of Warcraft scene.
- World of Warcraft and Philosophy author John Nordlinger is in his last year of film school, too busy for gaming. "Pandas look fun," he adds.
- With a young son and having gone back to school and back to training, Olympic silver medalist in swimming Megan Jendrick hasn't played in quite a while. After some chatting for this retrospective, though, we suspect that could be changing in the near future ...
- John Keating, one of the creators of the movie The Race to World First, reports: "We did manage to get out to the Phoenix Comicon for their film festival where we won the best documentary category. After that we were approached by some producers that are now working with us to get the film professionally distributed. Because of that we have had to pull the film offline until the details are worked out. Meanwhile, we have been developing a StarCraft/South Korea project. Its focus would be on the gaming culture that has evolved there and the real lives of three of StarCraft's top contenders." John's generously made the film free to view for WoW Insider readers at Vimeo.
- Internationally renowned musician David Arkenstone, creator of many WoW soundtrack segments, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of a recording career spanning more than 30 albums, film and television soundtracks, and video game scores. His new album, to be released in March, will be a fantastical new adventure exploring the depths of romantic love with a mermaid. Songs are sung in Mermish, a new language created especially for the nine-track collection. The album will be performed along with Arkenstone classics as a lavish live, orchestral production on March 16 in Los Angeles, California. Follow David on Facebook, Twitter, and at DavidArkenstone.com.
- Video Game Choir director Julia Seeholzer has graduated from both college and WoW. "I certainly miss it, though, and plan to jump back in during the next month or so -- I need to explore MoP!" she says. "I passed the choir into new hands when I graduated, and I'm happy to say they're doing very well." Find Julia at JuliaSeeholzer.com or on Twitter at @mmmmMozart.
- Playing WoW with Kinect-like body-sensing software is off the table for researchers at USC these days. The team has moved on to work related to PTSD.
- A shaped-up, slimmed-down Jonathan raced his druid up to 90 before backing out of WoW to refocus on a master's degree -- and staying fit. "I have managed to generally keep my weight down, which is a big victory, though I recognize it will be a lifelong struggle to stay healthy," he reports. "I stay active through hockey and some time at the school gym." Find Jonathan DJing at Mixcrate or on Twitter at @homeworkfilms.
Read the latest on WoW personalities from 2008 and 2009, and stay tuned for a look back at the most recent year of interviews with WoW personalities next week!
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.