BlizzCon 2013 Impressions: CCed in the BlizzCon experience

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BlizzCon 2013 Impressions: CCed in the BlizzCon experience
The woman who approached our lunch table seemed friendly but slightly uncomfortable. "Excuse me, but do you work for Blizzard?" she asked with a tentative smile. Her brother, she went on to explain, had once known somebody who supposedly went on to the work there, but she didn't know the first thing about the game and had no idea if that was true or what he did there. We exchanged a quick glance -– incoming story about someone who once tested a Blizzard game, am I right? -– and continued to munch on our salads while nodding and making polite noises.

"So what's your friend's name?" inquired the ever-personable Michael Gray. "Chris Metzen," she replied almost apologetically. "Is he ... somebody?"

Our friendly local storyteller (who preferred to remain anonymous –- but my report here on the BlizzCon experience wouldn't be complete if I didn't share her story with you) went on to share a tale of growing up across the street from the Metzen family here in Southern California, where her brother played T-ball with the pint-sized future rock star of Blizzard. The thing she remembered most about "little Chris," as she called him, was the game in which he executed his task as catcher so enthusiastically that he found himself caught in the netting behind the plate -– CCed so completely, in fact, that the team's parents had to come cut him out with scissors.

Everybody all together now: Awwww ... (/grin)

All these years later, we find ourselves happily CCed in the net cast by Little Chris himself, the World of Warcraft of his imagination. And back at BlizzCon, our lunchtime encounter with a friendly SoCal native encapsulates the spirit of the BlizzCon weekend -- people brought together by Blizzard's games. You won't find any reveals about the expansion in this BlizzCon roundup, but if you're interested in some of the faces and places seen around the convention all weekend, read on!

The changing face of BlizzCon

BlizzCon is replete with what I think of as "guild worms," those endless chains of 20-year-old players in matching guild shirts who snake through the convention center in sinuous lines that regularly block the flow of lesser mortals. But it's another demographic that made its presence known on the con floor this year: kids. BlizzCon has become a popular family destination for young Blizzard enthusiasts, and kids are no longer an unusual sight in any game title area of the con.

Case in point: This 11-year-old Blizzard fan who I met early one morning was enjoying her third (yes, third!) BlizzCon along with her dad. She plays not only World of Warcraft but Diablo and StarCraft too.

(And yes, that innocent young face just finished saying, "For the Horde!")

Walking through the pedestrian area in front of the convention center can be an exercise in diversity of all kinds -- all kinds. But seriously, BlizzCon continues to attract fans who fly in from across the world. Among them was aspiring filmmaker and 15 Minutes of Fame interviewee Anthony Rosner. Anthony brought his dad all the way over from London to get a super-sized American taste of the World of Warcraft and connect with other filmmakers who were there, including John Keating of Race to World First. (Oh, and John's currently casting for an exciting new gaming-related movie with some big-name backing that's still under wraps. Can't wait to spill the beans soon!)

Other impressions of the BlizzCon scene? Completely anecdotally, the WI staffers who reported on the scene with me collectively decided that red hair color is out and Panser pink is in. Piercings of all sort have become decidedly mainstream, and older couples who play WoW seem to think BlizzCon makes a fine fall vacation.

Intermission: Perculia's peculiar socks

In this year's off-the-wall human interest featurette of the year, we investigated a strange phenomenon that might be familiar to those of you who rely on the informative folks at Wowhead and are also on Twitter: Perculia's peculiar socks. After eyeing a year's worth of her toe-wiggling sock tweets, I asked the Wowhead data goddess if she'd sneak a few favorites into her BlizzCon luggage. She obliged with a mini sock show in her hotel room, complete with a set of killer heels -- how awesome are those things, anyway?

Gather up at the Meeting Stone

The BlizzCon Meeting Stone was located downstairs in the main convention area for the first time this year, and the groups that signed up to use it were met with enthusiastic response. On its "public" side, the Meeting Stone was manned by an untiring event crew staffer who spent all day taking photos of friends and groups gathering at the stone. (Hey Blizzard, you need to request that lady for the Meeting Stone position again next year, or just hire her yourselves. She chatted with virtually everyone who came by and was completely and utterly awesome.)

The meetup area behind the Meeting Stone was hopping, too. Friendliest Meetup award goes (not unsurprisingly, given their proclivity for all things cute and cuddly) to Site admin Doobjanka handed out 50 pet biscuit cards courtesy of Steve from, and Warcraft Pets member Marzena brought ... drumroll ... cookies!

Plenty of old friends dotted the crowds and Meeting Stone meetup tables as well, including a contingent from Big Crits, the guild and WoW reality show created by former WoW Insider Rich "Stoneybaby" Maloy. The times, they are a-changin', but Big Crits is still here.

The biggest splash was definitely the horde of players from mega-experience Convert to Raid. CTR, another web show/guild combo entity, fielded somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 guild members at BlizzCon this year -- a ridiculously huge number rendered completely reasonable in light of Convert to Raid's 4,000 guild members and 70+ individual raid teams.

"We ended up having just under 1,000 people through the doors last night, which included hundreds of guildies, fans, pros and Blizzard folk," said leader Pat Krane of CTR's Friday night party. "It was truly amazing and humbling experience. It's one thing looking at download numbers of our podcast, seeing names you know in guild chat and hearing familiar voices in Mumble. It's getting to know more about the whole person, a tangible connection that means (at least to me) so much more than a handshake or a hug."

And finally, we come to rest with a Meeting Stone raid on none other than Blizzard Community Manager Zarhym -- and who should also turn up to join him but Angryorc and the Sha of Happiness. I can't wait for you to meet Angryorc in an upcoming 15 Minutes of Fame; this guy is completely the loveliest, most down-to-earth and coolest orc on Earth and Azeroth together, and you're going to love reading about the human behind the orc. And Sha -- yes, she really does make you simply beam to be in her presence. It's happy energy, baby, and the Sha of Happiness made sure BlizzCon 2013 was full of it!

Signing off then, from all of us who were at BlizzCon -- including the Sha of Happiness:

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