July was defined by the latest iteration of an old meta-game, Blizzard versus Players. The community had an almost universally hostile reaction to Blizzard's announcement that the use of one's real name would be required for posting on the Battle.net forums, and the controversy raged to newspapers, magazines, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), and third-party sites very quickly. Predictably, it only took 4chan about 10 minutes to publish the names, addresses, phone numbers, profiles, blood types, and favorite movies of every prominent Blizzard employee it could find.
The sad thing is, the issue may not even be over despite Blizzard's backing down; the best that players could get from the company was language indicating it could be a temporary reprieve at best. Quoth the dime-store movie villain, this isn't over -- and it's not going to be, as long as Facebook's making serious bank.
On the lighter side, the above scene from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (NSFW due to language and violence) started circulating among several WoW communities during the controversy as proof that the loss of online privacy didn't have to be a bad thing, as long as you were the one capitalizing on it.
Ventrilo vs. Mumble "I started this article with every intention of making a pros-and-cons comparison between the two programs, but in truth, I had a hard time coming up with pros for Ventrilo." Nonstandard loot systems in WoW Most players are now familiar with the basic rules of DKP systems, but that doesn't mean they're the only option. Tyler gave readers a thorough look at three additional options with notes on their strengths and weaknesses and how these relate to different guilds.
Raid Rx: Identifying and avoiding insane applicants "The following guide should prove useful to any player who wants to know when someone can be comfortably incorporated into an existing healing team, and when an applicant should be shuffled in the direction of the nearest KFC selling two-piece and a curb stomp."
Odds and ends Drama Mamas: When connecting online seems like a real bad IDea This actually had nothing to do with the Real ID fracas on the forums, but rather a knottier social issue in game, given that friends of your Real ID friends could see your email address too. Robin came up with a pithy, but accurate, comment on the issue: "Real ID is like unprotected sex. Just as you are only as safe as the other unsafe encounters your partner has had, your real name is only as private as the Real ID friends of your Real ID friends."
Breakfast Topic: Why don't you RP? A thoughtful Breakfast Topic -- why don't more people RP in a game that's essentially built around it at the most basic level? 252 comments later, there's no real consensus reached, but: a.) people dislike the lack of support from Blizzard, and: b.) they hate the drama that so often crops up with people who want to control a storyline, and: c.) the game doesn't seem to support it nearly as much as you'd think. Drama Mamas: Racism and setting social standards Hate speech in WoW is taken very seriously by the GM team, and you have an outlet for dealing with unsavory little assholes that's not restricted to trying to school them yourself. The urban legends of Warcraft: Ashbringer A wonderful article from Anne on the history of the legendary Ashbringer sword and the rumors that have swirled around it since its first in-game mention. Drama Mamas: Friends behaving badly A great Drama Mamas about the uncomfortable situations that develop when friends behave like jackasses. Gold Capped: The Undermine JournalWoW's conquest of real-life culture continues apace with its own version of the Wall Street Journal. Sadly, the Journal may not be able to continue due to technical difficulties related to Blizzard's transition to Battle.net. 15 Minutes of Fame: Psychologist and game researcher John Hopson A wonderful interview with a behavioral researcher who plays in Microsoft's "semi-official" WoW guilds and notices the various mechanics that game designers use to get us engaged: "Psychology informs game design the same way anatomy informs furniture design."
2010's drawing to a close, and we're wrapping up the most interesting articles we've published all year, one day at a time. Join us every day for the next 12 days with this year's best of WoW Insider!