Who could forget the irrepressible spirit of Bill Craig, who plays WoW as part of his ongoing battle with early-onset Alzheimer's disease? An update from Bill: "One of the most gratifying things which have happened since your interview with me is that people are speaking to me in-game. Some just to say hello and/or wish me good luck and some have even rolled temporary toons just to come in and speak to me and help me with game strategy. I am very grateful for this interaction and am always glad to stop and talk for a bit.
"Wolkenlaufre, my Human Alliance Warrior has recently achieved 'Champion of Knights Who Say Ja,' due to the help of my guildmates, Jaejae and Nouveus. We are a very small guild, but welcome everyone who wants to , to join us.
"I would also like to commend the GMs, who have been very quick to respond when I have a problem in-game and who've been understanding and very kind when I ask them to please be patient. I have never encountered one who wasn't super-friendly. I have had to contact them a lot lately due to the progression of the disease, and they've always been there for me.
"Azeroth continues to be my 'world' when this one becomes difficult to deal with, although I can tell my reaction time isn't as quick as it was when you first interviewed me, but Wolkie and I continue to quest and battle as best we can."
Keep fighting the good fight, sir! You are an inspiration to us all.
Rainbo, the 25-man discipline/holy priest on Cenarion Circle (US-H) who suffers from Usher Syndrome, an incurable condition that causes deafness and progressive vision loss, is still raiding: "Rainbo race-changed to a troll! As much as I enjoyed being a goblin, the troll racial is just too good for holy's Divine Hymn, so I had to do it. I'm holy on almost every fight these days, and my guild (Endow on Cenarion Circle) is going to be starting 25-man heroic Dragon Soul in a week or two.
"I think I'm addicted to transmog. Seriously, I have about six sets already. I find that I can actually find my own character more easily in crowded raids if I stick out -- for example, if I'm all red and have a pointy hat. Use transmog to your advantage this way if you have vision issues.
"Along those lines, upon the advice of a player who read the original 15 Minutes of Fame on me, I got a neckloop that works with the Telecoil in my hearing aids. It works well, but I'm still trying to find a brand with all the features I want. All I can say is you should try it if you wear hearing aids."
MMA legend Jens Pulver has been spotted this year sharing his passion for gaming in advertisements for Alienware computers. "I spent most of this year locked up in a dorm room at the Curran training center just outside of Chicago. I have never been in a full-time training camp, so last November I started staying there and going home on the weekends. I spent my time working on the many weaknesses I began to develop in my fighting style and more importantly just enjoying what little time I have left in the MMA world.
"I have been working a lot with Alienware computers. I can't say enough about their laptops, especially the M14x; they can handle any game out there with graphics and gameplay maxed out. MW3, of course, had to get it -- go way back with my Call of Duty time. LOL I just downloaded Star Wars: The Old Republic; I have not been able to put any time into it just yet, because Skyrim just won't let me. LOL I started playing last week and been hooked on it since.
"I have a little girl now who is 6 months old, and we call her Bojangles and Angry Bird (her real name is Hayden). I'm @jens_pulver on Twitter or www.jenspulver.com. I wish you all the best and hope you had a great holiday."
Gaming industry vet Liz Danforth has been busy since our feature about her, although WoW has fallen off her radar for now: "Updates: The cogent one would be that I let my account go dark after Hallow's End. Many of my friends had quit the game and despite my honest effort to get more involved once again (after our discussions), I simply was not enjoying myself very much. I play various other games some evenings, presently Dragon Age again, but am gaming about half as much time as in the past.
"I would like to play Skyrim but decided against it when every reviewer and player I knew commented how incredibly well the designers had perfected 'just one more quest,' how there is always something more that just has to be done. I can't afford that kind of time investment, since my freelancing work continues to grow (a good thing!). Doing a lot more Traveller art, several commissions, and Namaste's Storybricks are releasing the first skeletal version of their toolkit (the first beta, in other words) in February!
"I do expect to come back to WoW, maybe around the first of the year, and see if there's still some more fun to be had there. I do miss the good parts."
Lifting their voices in tribute to WoW and other games, the Video Game Choir blends music and gaming themes in stunning harmony. Writes founder Bloodsong: "I wanted to share with you our latest video, an a cappella version of Nightsong from Cataclysm. It's our first studio-produced video, and I hope you'll enjoy it!"
Doritos ad creator Venefix of Windrunner (US) is still at it all: World of Warcraft, making board games, all of it. "Two things are new," he reports. "We're finishing a movie script, then going into preproduction on a movie we're involved with, and also we invented a card game called ONE 2 TEN which is sold in Wal-Marts. It's our second game on the market, the first being Triviathon (a trivia game you can win without ever knowing the answer to a question). We're working on our third game invention now (another board game)."
Here's to good gaming in 2012!
Everybody knows El of El's Extreme Anglin. So what's he up to these days? "El caught a pony. I guess that is where 2009's plan to change the 'fishing mechanic' went. ... Tim? Well, I don't know about him. So much has changed, I would not wish to predict tomorrow. El costs money I don't have anymore. I should have killed her off or sold her into slavery. But the same stubborn, slightly obsessive dedication to topic and audience that wrote El, also seems to prevent her un-writing. Ironically, being 'valued' by readers does not help. Since here, there is no correlation between monetary wealth and ethical value."
MIT Media Lab Director Joichi Ito uses his years playing World of Warcraft to impart valuable insights to academic colleagues: "I've started gathering people at the Media Lab who are WoW players or want to start. We have an event in Jan called the Festival of Learning, and I'll be doing a session on WoW."
Image credit: rubberpaw
Drew Curtis of Fark.com has been having a fairly serious year slaving away at his MBA: "Basically for this year I'm even more casual than in the past, been getting an MBA in a joint Haas/Columbia program, which is eating up all my time.
"However, my middle son Chance turns six this summer, which means he'll be exactly as old as Storm was when I plugged him into Warcraft to teach him how to read. Chance is already interested in the game and seems to understand the basics, so I'll be trying my second teach-a-six-year-old-to-read using Warcraft starting late May or so.
"That's the main stuff, other than hunting down soloable content for transmorg items. Don't actually have a favorite set, haven't checked 'em all out yet. Just going after bows so far, trying to con friends into running me thru old raid content. Mostly for my hunter."
So ... Cool dad, hunh?
Actress and Lady Sylvanas WoW movie hopeful Michele Morrow had major surgery this year, but she's had a lot of support from fans and the WoW community, too. "After having a blast at BlizzCon, I've been in pre-production for a horror movie that I'm cowriting and producing, as well as finally wrapping up negotiations on my TV show for Foam Weapon League. Having been offered a role in a web series about tabletop gaming, I'm reading a lot about my character's background in Warhammer, which we plan to shoot in early 2012. I've also been asked to write a weekly gaming culture column on the Zooey Deschanel, girl-powered website, HelloGiggles.com starting in January.
"My Lady Sylvanas Facebook Army hit 5k, so in celebration we held a 60-day game card giveaway, which was covered by Kotaku. The Army is now just over 6k and I'll be doing a one-year WoW game card giveaway when my page reaches 9,001. Naturally.
"Because December is usually a slow month in Hollywood, I had a fairly major surgery as a result from my stunt accident. I am now one rib short of a full rack and spent most of that week hospitalized, recovering from the thoracotomy. Amazingly, the Warcraft community reached out and sent me a landslide of 'Healing Sylvanas' screenshots. From TradeChat and Wowcrendor, to Horde and Alliance alike -- I've been blessed with enough HoTs and bandages to take on Deathwing myself. My computer time is currently limited due to my recovery, but I am slowly compiling a YouTube slideshow video of everyone who sent me an in-game heal via Lady Sylvanas. If you want to be part of the video, please post to my Facebook wall or email me; make sure to include your name and server so you'll see your name on the slideshow!
"I should be back to archery and raiding soon. See you all in 2012."
Transmogrification has been a major development for uber-collector Moonjade of Twisting Nether (US): "It is difficult with transmogrification to find a truly unique look nowadays. Happily, I was ahead of the pack 'cause now everyone is farming old gear. My collection has been completed, actually. All the items I had been hunting I got during the lull before 4.3. There aren't a whole lot of pieces that interest me in this new patch, but I'm sure there will be more to search for in Mists of Pandaria. I'm a little sad though about them possibly taking melee weapons away from the hunters. All my hard-won gear will just sit in my void storage. I won't be selling it. I would also like to thank you again for featuring me in this section; I met a lot of new people afterwards asking about my sets and wanting to see them. Happy hunting to everyone!"
WoW's most well-known knitting grandma is still playing, still knitting, and still keeping those around her in stitches with her wry humor: "I introduced my nephew to WoW. My nephew's son and the son's fiancee are long-time WoW players, mainly on Dragonblight now. So I started a guild on Dragonblight and transferred my rogue Kupua to be guild mistress. The guild is called Buster and has an engineering theme.
"In October, I was invited to the WoW Insider BlizzCon party and met Lisa and lots of other WoW enthusiasts. I wore the Buster tabard made by my daughter (Sallysquish on Nesingwary).
"Another result of the 15 Minutes of Fame was an in-game contact by Quilterspwn on Nesingwary. Her creator is a quilter and knitter about my age and started Quilterspwn so that she could talk to Pointilliste. Last Friday, Quilty and Pointy had lunch together at Inn in Bilgewater Harbor. They serve very good Chinese food there, you can see it steaming on the table.
"I continue to knit and am especially drawn to colors that remind me of WoW. I call these socks in progress, Thunderbluff Skies.
"Thanks to my 15 Minutes of Fame, I have met new friends and got a lot of rep with my family, especially my great-nephew who was very impressed with my appearance in 'the most famous WoW blog!'"
Kirina of Kirina's Closet is still dressing up and crafting with World of Warcraft in mind: "One of the main highlights of my site has always been unique outfits for the different holidays in WoW. One of my goals for the coming year is to revisit my holiday articles and include transmoggable holiday outfits for each type of armor. I also want to host more events for my readers to enjoy participating in; one of the ideas I have in mind is to showcase pet-inspired, trangsmoggable outfits for hunters made by those who play a hunter. I’m sure events like these will expand on outfit design ideas, and give others more chances to share their favorite outfits with the WoW RP world.
"IRL, I have also been planning and working on a knitting/crafting website that I hope to get up and running soon to have a place to share more of my knitting creations, as well as my WoW crafts. The picture I attached [is] the 'baby' Wolpertinger I knitted for a friend for a Christmas present."
Award-winning copyeditor Deanna Hoak has had quite a year: "... [My main] Devrana is loving transmogrification and is having great fun putting together sets for friends.
"On the real-world front, of the books I copyedited that have done best in 2011, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is at the top of the list. It has, in fact, earned so many accolades that Ernest was named #29 on USA Today's Top 100 People of 2011.
"In even the short time since you interviewed me, publishing has changed an enormous amount. Electronic books have soared in popularity, and more authors are choosing to self-publish. I've begun taking copyediting and editing work directly from such authors, because many still want the benefits that a professional editor -- especially one familiar with science fiction and fantasy if they're writing in those genres -- can bring them."
Remember our feature on the extensive Summer Games held by Time and Tide of Earthen Ring (EU)? They've been spicing up their winter break with the so-called Murder Games: "Time and Tide have always been keen to celebrate the community we have and like to get more players from our server involved where possible. We started the event by gathering at Bastion of Twilight for some screenshots. We then entered Bastion of Twilight and one of our officers whispered a couple of players and told them they were the murderers and had to try to wipe the raid without anyone noticing. The rest of us had to try to kill the boss anyway and guess who the murderers were.
"Inevitably we had people fake being the murderer but it was still great fun. We also had a Secret Santa event; each player from the guild was supposed to provide one present (which I would wrap up) and then I was to shuffle them up and hand them back randomly to the players again so we all could exchange gifts.
"However, we have some generous members and from 20 people I had received over 75 presents. The presents ranged from mounts and pets, to epic quality armor, as well as booby prizes and funny gifts which were grey or white in quality. There were too many presents, however, to give away fairly, so the presents left over we went to Stormwind with. We then approached random players and wished them a Merry Christmas from Time and Tide and gave them one of the presents."
Happy holidays, one and all!
Olympian Megan Jendrick modestly didn't think anyone would be interested in an update on her this year -- how wrong she was!: "And unfortunately I haven't been able to play WoW for quite awhile. My husband and I just had our first child (born Oct. 19) and with being pregnant and working and just getting ready for his arrival, getting to the computer was hard to do. I might try and give it a go just to see what Mists is like once it comes out, but not even sure how much of that I'll be able to get through. Busy, busy, busy. :)"
Congratulations on your new family member and cheers to a wonderful year ahead, Megan!
Authors Susan and Clay Griffith's year has been a whirl of deadlines and publishing projects ... and WoW: "Life outside of the game remains busy with upcoming new projects and finishing up our Vampire Empire trilogy. (Book 3 out in September 2012!) And we have James Marsters of Buffy fame reading our first novel, The Greyfriar, for the audiobook! Freaking awesome! Convention season is looming and we are getting ready to travel to meet up with fans.
"In game, we were obsessed with transmogrification (along with everyone else). Everyone in the guild is sporting new outfits so we all look damn good as we play. With the new expansion on the horizon, we’re dubious over how sexy a female panda can look, but we are thrilled about new lands to explore and literally kicking some butt with the new monk class. For now, however, Gattamelatta and Zoltarah are trying to convince the sledders above Ironforge to give our pets a ride, without much success. Damn dwarves!"
Kinect motion technology research Skip Rizzo hasn't been doing anything related to World of Warcraft recently, but he did send in some tantalizing images of a recent rebuild of "Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan." His most recent research has delved into Kinect use for rehabilitation and stress resilience -- not too close to WoW, of course, but fascinating stuff. Skip also sent along a link to "some funding for a recent project that was funded that stirred up some shit on Wired." Gritty stuff, indeed!
It's not all WoW, fun and games for hard-working authors like Jon Sprunk: "Well, my next book (Shadow's Master, Pyr Books) in my fantasy series about an assassin comes out next spring. Also, I am now a mentor at Seton Hill University in their writing program. Other than that, I'm just busy planning and writing my next series." Best wishes for a blockbuster year ahead, Jon!
Sometimes, updates on former 15 Minutes of Famers can be a bittersweet affair -- as is the case with "blind raider" (raiding without previewing any of the strategies and tactics involved) Neminem: "Heh ... that's hilarious. Way to remind/depress me. An update on T7S would be kind of depressing: The week before your article went live, we raided like we did almost every week. That was our final raid ever, before all but a couple people decided they were bored of WoW, leaving the other couple people to get bored of it soon after, once they no longer had a great guild full of people they knew to raid with every week. Haven't seen any of them logged in in months.
"That, and of course, for further irony, soon after T7S went out with a whimper, [Blizzard] added that dungeon journal thing, which would've made our self-given goal completely pointless anyway.
"I personally joined the only other guild I knew of on the server with a similar kind of laid-back atmosphere without being so 'casual' that they never actually get 10 people to raid at the same time, Is Out of Mana. (T7S had done some raiding with them back in BC.)"
And so the wheel turns. Here's to a more stable, enjoyable 2012!
The folks (and, uh, robot) behind Ask Mr. Robot have had a fabulous year, culminating in the launch of an all-new website. Looking for guidance on how to tweak your setup for maximum performance? Stop by the site and check it out.
Remember Tenj, leader of the Air Superiority Squadron on Twisting Nether (US-A), and renowned Azerothian aerial combat specialist? The intrepid night elf boomkin was known not only for his aerial antics but for rustling up world PvP in general -- and for responding to it all, enthusiastic cheering and nerdraging ranting alike, with a "Meep, meep!" more reminiscent of the hapless Roadrunner than a bounty-hunting boomkin. Tenj is no longer playing World of Warcraft, but he's still been taking to the skies: "In the 'other' world, I'm just about finishing my military commitment. Other than that, nothing really worth mentioning. Attached is a picture of me driving a guntruck in Iraq."
Thanks for the continued air superiority, Tenj!
Remember Apathia, the Romanian WoW player who moved halfway around the world to Korea and took up the game on the Korean realms to help her assimilate the new language and culture? She's not playing WoW anymore, but she's still gaming, still in Korea, and still going strong: "I'm currently playing other games (Skyrim; Star Wars: The Old Republic). Not that much into playing WoW anymore. As for real world updates, well, let's just say I'm still in Korea doing nothing much just celebrating Kim Jong Il's death. :p"
It ain't easy running a group that tries to roleplay a third faction in World of Warcraft. Author Shane Moore tried his hand at it in 2011 and has since moved on to greener pastures: "I did my turn and handed GM of <The Third Faction> to next in line; I ran the guild for a little over a year. I was the third GM and now the fourth tries his hand at running that empire.
"I have just finished a zombie novel for New Babel Books with many of my celeb friends in it as characters. Like, Peter Mayhew (Star Wars), Pete Koch (Swede from Heartbreak Ridge), Matt Hill (Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and many more. Also, working on a Dwarven cookbook called The Forge of Feasts with Master Chef Ryan O'Day."
No 15 Minutes of Fame retrospective would be complete without an update from the inspirational teachers who're turning World of Warcraft into a virtual classroom for their young students. Reports Lucas Gillispie: "Beginning in the new semester, we'll be expanding the project to one of our area high schools. This is largely due to a need to continue to provide enrichment activities to students who might benefit from the engagement and immersion that WoW provides and most interestingly, because of parental request! This is the high school that our middle school program feeds into and we've had a request from parents to offer it at that level. (Very cool!)
"In November, Edutopia sent a crew to shoot film of the project for a couple of days for an upcoming segment (mini-documentary) on innovative projects going on in U.S. schools. We were honored to be one of a handful of selected projects to be featured. I believe it's due out in the first quarter of 2012. Our students were very excited to be interviewed and eager to show off their work.
"The attention that the project has received has opened doors for similar game-based projects. One example in particular is that we're now hosting an internal Minecraft server for student projects and have funded roughly 170 student Minecraft accounts.
"It's an exciting time to be an educator and gamer! I really appreciate your efforts to share this project. We had some brief discussion last year with some PR folks at Blizzard but haven't had a promised follow-up conference call ... We'd really love to garner their support at some level."
Here's hoping those connections connect this year -- great job by inspired educators and leaders!
The ongoing fun and games of Spectacular Death just keeps getting more and more ... well, spectacular. If there were an award for highest and most long-running guild spirit, this guild would surely nab the prize. Reports GM Gimmlette: "Absolutely amazing! We had a rocky summer. It seems a lot of guilds did. Interest was low in running content. ... We kind of limped through old content because I couldn't get 10 people on to run current stuff.
"Then September hit and we have added 100 new names to the roster. One person would join and, by two weeks into their 30-day 'get to know us' period, they'd be whispering, 'I have six alts I want to bring over. Is that okay?' People brought their kids and their siblings and spouses. [A recent] Breakfast Topic has garnered one application.
"Let's see, what silliness have we done? In September, we did a flash mob in Stormwind and then in Orgrimmar. Everyone wore Blue Overalls, the Swashbuckler Shirt and the Admiral's Hat. I had notified some of our Horde friends who were out front to see what we were up to. It was great fun. One of my guild members had the guitar from the Naxx special event. It was cool to see two Horde show up and play with him.
"In October, we had another Halaa battle token night, only we stressed that people needed to show up in costume and prepared for silliness in killing. We used fishing poles, Old Ironjaw, hand-to-hand, etc.
"Last month, I got 13 hunters to tame the deviate plainstrider and then show up for a guild event. We took our flamingos to Orgrimmar, met Lohnar out front, and had our flamingos peck him to death. Many Horde came out just to be swarmed by flamingos. It was hysterical.
"We have a full weekend of events planned for our fourth anniversary. ... We haven't cleared all Cata raiding content but we don't care. We're having too much fun doing all sorts of other things.
"Sometimes I'm tired and, particularly when we try to run content two weeks in a row and can't get people to show up, I think, 'why am I doing this?' Then, I have 15 people for 10 slots and I wind up having a raid going as well as a group working on achievements for Glory of the Hero and a handful at the faire with one person showing everyone where to go and whom to talk to and I think, 'Yeah, this is why I play with these people.'"
One player's community service on Moon Guard
has spurred a renaissance of community spirit with a wildly popular care package program for realm newbies plus an upcoming community. Says program founder Venita: "Currently there are a lot of plans in the works for expanding on the community projects we've been working on. People from our server are putting together radio shows and lore spots to help expand, discuss and further the game experience to people who don't know the RP side of it. For the care packages, though, I have been working on a very special tag to go with it that will launch at the start of the new year. We are still kicking and getting donations like crazy. A lot of people are giving back and enjoying such a service being available to them."