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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The PvP Report #4: Think Different

I've published my fourth weekly "PvP Report" for GBT, covering the WoW Arena Tourney scene.

In this column, I reply to Mahmood Ali's column criticizing WoW as a pro gaming platform:
I don't see WoW's "leveling requirement" as making it inferior to traditional pro games. I see it as different. Different from FPS games, different from RTS games. But not worse. It's just another way to play a game.

One of pro gaming's major problems is the supposed dearth of pro games. "Quake 4" sucks, so we're left with "Call of Duty" and "Counter-Strike," plus Q3 and UT. There's "StarCraft" and "WarCraft III" on the RTS side, both because they are well-balanced games, and because the Hangukin love them. But that's pretty much it.

Every time a new game comes along that might possibly add to the pro games stable, it immediately gets shot down by the community. Take "Battle for Middle-Earth 2," for example. Is BFME2 as good as "StarCraft" or "Warcraft 3?" No, it absolutely isn't. But is it good enough for pro play? Yes, it absolutely is. Would a new, fresh game breathe life into the moribund pro gaming scene? Yes, it absolutely would. (Should SC and WC3 play suffer, to make room for a new, inferior game? No. But it wouldn't have to.)

Is WoW PvP as good a pro game as any of the above listed? Let's take it as granted that no, it isn't. But would the pro gaming scene benefit from a "new" game, part of an immensely popular franchise, created by a venerable pro-gaming company, that pro-gaming n00bs would understand and appreciate? Only if it genuinely tested the skills of the best players.

Does WoW PvP test those skills? Yes, it does. And automatically rejecting this game from the competitive community would not only be (actually) elitist, but damaging to pro gaming as whole.
Check it out if for nothing more than the pic of me as Xerxes from "300."


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Friday, March 16, 2007

Should An E-Sports Site Cover "World of Warcraft Tournaments?

I've published the third edition of "The PvP Report" on

I list this week's top teams in Arena Tournament 5v5, and discuss whether an e-sports site like GBT should even be covering WoW:
PvE play may be a simple matter of repetitively launching macros (although relying on simple strategies will eventually get your character a ticket to a Corpse Run); but PvP players must adapt to the personalities of their adversaries, to their skill, and to their mistakes. PCs are unpredictable. A mob will always respond the way you expect; but a PC might do something brilliant, something inexplicable, or something just idiotic. Whichever, you have to adapt – and if you have committed yourself to the wrong strategy, you are screwed.
I also wrap up the whole The Armory controversy:
1. The Armory places women and children in danger. This claim is false, prima facie. The Armory data contain absolutely no personal information. A WoW player cannot be harmed in any way by another WoW player unless they exchange personal information.
2. The Armory empowers griefers. This could be true, although I personally doubt any griefer will make the effort to look up their targets on The Armory. Fortunately, Blizzard has included a feature that renders you impervious to griefers, called /ignore. And also fortunately, Darwinian evolution has included a feature in your brain that renders you impervious to griefers, called ignore.
3. If one player copies another player's build ideas, this is somehow "theft." Again, this is a community game, not a competitive one. If someone "steals" your idea, you lose nothing, and they are not cheating. Maybe it would be in another game, but that's not this game.
4. Guildmasters may strong arm guild members into specific builds. They can do that now. I don't think lying to guildmasters is the solution -- after all, the only reason to keep your stats secret from a guildmaster is so you can mislead him or her. No, the solution is to find a better guild.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

Does the Armory Violate Player Rights?

I've published my feature story on the controversy over The Armory, the "World of Warcraft" web page that presents a complete database of WoW character data.

Many players are complaining that The Armory will skew PvP results, and is a violation of privacy.
It is easy to imagine that the users of a service like “Second Life” would have both ethical and legal objections to the creation of a site like The Armory. “Second Life” players conduct personal business, and often live out virtual personal and sex lives through the site. And on sites like Facebook and myspace, users share their real personal information.

“World of Warcraft” is nothing like “Second Life.” While a small minority of players use WoW as a personal communications tool, it is not meant for that purpose. And WoW player profiles do not contain any personal data about a person whatsoever. How one prefers to play WoW is not private in the sense that what one checks out from the library and who one befriends should be private.

The players who complain about privacy aren’t able to present a rational argument, because they do not have one. I wonder whether they even understand the important arguments for privacy in the real world – they just have a gut understanding, and are now applying that understanding in a knee-jerk way to a situation that does not merit it.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Maybe The New WoW Armory Isn't So Damn Cool After All

Well, maybe the Armory isn't so great after all.

Complaints are beginning to pour in from the PvP community. Some players believe the Armory stats give an unfair advantage to opposing players.

Others don't think the information makes a real difference in tournament play.

I'm collecting opinions from both sides for a feature article on Thursday. What do you think? Let me know in the fora!

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

"The PvP Report" Launches On GBT

My weekly feature, "The PvP Report," launched today on I'll be covering the action in the "World of Warcraft" Arena Tournament, right up to the global live finals event later this year.
With the launch of their “World of Warcraft” Arena Tournament, Blizzard Entertainment adds a third major game to the e-sports pantheon. While some FPS and RTS purists still scoff of the idea of a professional competitive MMORPG, Arena Tournament allows the best players in the international WoW community to prove themselves in official tournament ladders.

Although WoW Arena tournaments have existed for a while, this is the first time Blizzard has hosted an inter-server, worldwide competition with live events. With WoW's large user base and high media profile, this tournament stands to become the most famous event in the history of e-sports, in this writer's opinion.

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