English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera} – Case study (final Project 3)

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

Area of Expertise: Video games and gamification

Case study:  World of Warcraft EU-Guild “Method” @Twisting Nether

 

A glimpse at the world of expert gamers:

World of Warcraft’s “Method” @Twisting Nether

 

The gaming industry has had a prolific past decade. The revenues from gaming titles, memorabilia and marketed products have surpassed expectations. Blizzard / Activision Inc. is one of those gaming conglomerates and the producer of the world’s most popular MMO RPG[1], called “World of Warcraft” [2], the ongoing saga between Alliance and Horde forces. Despite the fact that recent spring quarter statistics have shown a decrease in subscribers, the game still boasts a staggering 9 million subscription base. Multiply that by approximately 14 euros per month plus other sources of income (e.g. in-game purchase options) and you have yourself a multi-million dollar business.

 wow_subs graph

Figure 1 World of Warcraft Subscription numbers over the course of its expansions.

Source: Activision / Blizzard – Illustration: Ross Patton/ Wired [3]

Players tend to put their money to good use; an average hardcore Wow player sacrifices eight or more hours in a row to achieve grandeur. A social player, who is somewhat less engaging, will also roam the digital world of Azeroth for a good two hours on average, each time he logs in the game.  Method guild members belong to the extreme hardcore player body and are sponsored by major companies, thus being rendered “professional” gamers.

The goals of the game are substantially diverse but it all accumulates to “raiding” and facing a “world boss” of ultimate level difficulty. In order to do that, you basically need to cooperate with other people in the game, usually within a guild [4]. Bainbridge portrays the process of players entering one:

“… First, they may form a guild from scratch, and often a successful guild is formed by a group of people who are already friends, sometimes even members of the same real-world family. Second, guilds that are trying to grow may advertise on the guild-recruiting channel of the chat system; depending on how selective they are, even a halfhearted expression of interest may result in a formal invitation to join. Third, a member of a guild may share quests or other experiences with a nonmember, come to see that person as competent and trustworthy, and extend an invitation on the basis of extensive familiarity based entirely on in-game interactions.” [5]

Method@ Twisting Nether                                                                                

Method is a European based guild playing on a server called Twisting Nether ( EN- PVP)[2] . Former Alliance, now belonging to the Horde faction, they are basically a 25-man raid guild; that is they focus on combatting raid bosses with a solid group comprising of 25 people as opposed to opting for the alternative 10-man raid model. Coordinating 25 people in a long boss fight where game mechanics demand high levels of dexterity and leadership is difficult in itself; being the first in the WoW universe to achieve downing a boss qualifies for gaming “expertise”.

There has been much debate whether a 25-man kill is actually harder than a 10-man raiding regime. Method’s main antagonists are a Finnish guild called DREAM-Paragon; they have currently switched from 25-man to the 10-man model and are respectively topping the progression charts in the world. Method’s reply, during a 5.1 patch[3] interview:

 “What’s your take on 10-man vs 25-man World Firsts?
Artzie: Personally I don’t think you can compare 10man to 25man. Out of all these bosses I’ve ever met in WoW, the only one that was harder in 10man was Sartharion 3D. It’s just wrong to compare 10man with 25man. […] [6]

 

Methods for “Method”

Finding 25 players to follow an excruciating raiding schedule up until the wee hours of the morning is hardly a walk in the park. This is why their roster is not the same from the guild’s initial formation. To fill out the missing group slots, they recruit the best Wow players out there. In order to be “drafted” in such a raiding guild, you have to boast substantial experience, evidence of knowing to play your class[4] well up to par and finally fill out the correspondent application form on their webpage. [8]

After having the appropriate guild members selected before each patch comes out, the guild enters the PTR Phase. PTR stands for Public Test Realm, so it’s the game publisher’s way of testing new content and making sure everything is running smoothly. End-game guilds like Method access the experimental realms, utilize the latest changes and basically run against the clock in their attempt to be the first to down Blizzard’s animated evil caricatures in the entire 9-million community.

Raiding comprises of defeating many bosses in a row, thus they take it one boss at a time.  In case something goes wrong during the encounter, the guild leader usually decides to “wipe” it. That means they all let their avatars die on purpose and restart the combat. The reason is that if game mechanics are not meticulously followed from the start, then no matter how well prepared the raid team is the final outcome will eventually be negative. Achieving a raid kill might come after numerous “wipes” – double digit ones at times– something which has a tremendous nerve-wracking effect on most casual players. Moreover, the whole process of learning through trial and error is awfully time-consuming. Raiding usually commences late in the evening and could carry on until dawn. Top notch guilds engage in raiding for days on end, so it’s basically play, sleep, eat, then play again; tons of energy drinks are also involved in the process. In his article, Geoffrey Colvin insists that this is actually the road to take if you want to become the best in any sector. He suggests:

“The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call “deliberate practice.” It’s activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.” [9]

Coyle similarly recounts of a “deep practice” as a paced path to shaping excellence and talent and constant self-improvement through errors and repetitiveness. [10] The term qualifies for Method’s method to be honest – they recently concluded the Throne of Thunder raid instance by killing the boss, “Ra Den” [8], after two attempts alone. During patch 5.1 raid instance, it took them 108 (!) efforts to down the “Will of the Emperor”. [6] I guess practice makes perfect, indeed.

 method Ra den

Figure 2 Ra Den 25m World’s 1st by Method [8]

 

 

Works cited:

  1. Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 25 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 26 May 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  2. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 20 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 26 May 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  3. Kohler, C. “World of Warcraft Has Lost Its Cool”. Wired. 27 September 2012. Web. Retrieved 26 May, 2013 from http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/09/mists-of-pandaria/
  4. Guild”. WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 26 August 2012. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Guild
  5. Bainbridge, W. S. “The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World”. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print
  6. Grace, O. “Top guild Method discusses their World First”. Wow Insider. AOL Inc. 1 November 2012. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/11/01/top-guild-method-discuss-their-world-first/#continued
  7. Class”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 21 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Class
  8. Method”. Method Network. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://www.methodwow.com/board/content.php
  9. Colvin, G. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune. 19 October 2006. Web. Retrieved 27 May 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  10. Coyle, D. “The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How”. New York: Bantam. 2010. Print.

[1] Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a genre of role-playing video games or web browser based games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world.”  [1]

[2] “Twisting Nether” is a World of Warcraft European (EU) public realm. Main language featured in general chat and trade channel is English (EN). This is a PvP server, meaning that anytime you encounter a player from the hostile faction in open space, he/she is able to attack you or vice versa regardless each one’s level of ability or combat readiness mood.

[3] “Patches” are small updates in the game, usually releasing extra content and bug fixes. Blizzard has currently released patch 5.3. for WoW as of 21st May 2013.

[4]class is the primary adventuring style of a player character which determines the type of weapons and armor it can use, as well as what abilitiespowersskills, and spells it will gain throughout its adventures.” [7] There are currently 11 classes in Wow: Death Knights, Druids, Hunters, Mages, Monks, Paladins, Priests, Rogues, Shamans, Warlocks and Warriors.

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English Composition I: Achieving Expertise – Visual image analysis final {Duke/Coursera}

 

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

“Arthas, The Lich King” (1962) by Maryxyan (www.deviantart.com artist)

Approx.1280 x 811 in.

Digital image (created with Photoshop)

Viewed at http://maryxyan.deviantart.com/art/Arthas-The-Lich-King-96293514 (Retrieved: 22 April 2013)

 

 

 

 Gamers’ exploits in World of Warcraft:

Crafting expertise in online phantasy realms

 

Representational images retrieved from the world of video games are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. They consume you to another parallel dimension, where legend and heroism become intrinsic goals of the player that lead to a decisive victory against a “world boss”. What the average viewer perceives as mere graphic art, the gamer connects to his overall progression and success within the immersive digital environment.

Arthas_The_Lich_King_by_Maryxyan

 

 “Your heart…its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it as I did my own.”

 

The dominant subject at hand is that of a man sitting upon what seems to be a frigid throne. Enter Arthas,[1] our protagonist, the prince of Lordaeron,[2] the promised son. He looks skeptical yet one cannot help but notice a small grin; is he contemplating a recent victory or a future one as you glimpse those scarry azure eyes? Despite its static appearance the gaze of Arthas is haunting; the use of cobalt blue heightens the sense of an icy landscape that expands beyond the image: we are now situated at the frozen continent of Northrend. [3] An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with ominous skull details; seven runes etched across the blade form a death curse, still not deciphered to this day. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead.

As a gamer, surviving against the full power unleashed by Arthas {transformed into the vile Lich King} was a moment of elation in an online PC game called World of Warcraft. The WoW [6] universe is considered by many the epitome of Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games. Wikipedia quotes:

“As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.” [7]

Blizzard Inc., the game’s production company, boasts about its product’s ten million player subscription base. Multiply that number by hours spent individually to build a character and make it to the prized end game content and you will understand that this game is quite serious and extremely profitable.

It takes a lot of time to reach the top ladder of the aforementioned base. Players tend to be rather social, occasionally logging in and dealing with parts of the game that are plain fun. To quote Colvin: For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done”. [8] There are those however that fall in the “hardcore” category. These people literally devour hours on end in order to achieve the highest performance. Many go so far as to stay awake at night, just to get that last piece of equipment that is missing from their “epic” gear or repeat the brutal discipline of their practice routines” [8]. In the end, all efforts lead to a last big successful rundown aka the “boss fight”.

Arthas used to be such an opponent of immense power during the “Wrath of the Lich King” [6] expansion. In order to defeat him, players had to learn his tactical maneuvers by heart and deploy countermeasures accordingly. It was a matter of wits, focus, gear level and mechanics. Colvin claims: “You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” [8] For Wow players it takes weeks or months, not years yet the other portion of the statement stands true: grandeur in gaming takes copious practice.

To sum up, the image is indicative of reaching expertise in the Warcraft universe since it resembled the game’s final stage fight chief opponent during the expansion. Should the player succeed killing Arthas, he or she is granted with an achievement and a matching title: “the Kingslayer”. [9] The digitalized image of the Lich King might be gruesome to the average Joe; to a gamer it serves as a reminder of paced excellence and ultimate triumph.

References:

  1. Arthas Menethil.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Arthas_Menethil
  2. Lordaeron.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Lordaeron
  3. Northrend.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Northrend
  4. Frostmourne” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Frostmourne
  5. Icecrown.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Icecrown
  6. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  7.  “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15 April 20 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  8. Colvin, Geoffrey. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune 19 October 2006. Retrieved online 22 April 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  9. The Kingslayer”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Kingslayer

 

 

 

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera /Duke} – Visual image review (draft)

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

“Arthas, The Lich King” (1962) by Maryxyan (www.deviantart.com artist)

Approx.1280 x 811 in.

Digital image (created with Photoshop)

Viewed at http://maryxyan.deviantart.com/art/Arthas-The-Lich-King-96293514 (Retrieved: 22 April 2013)

Depiction of expertise in gaming experience: The World of Warcraft universe

Representational images retrieved from the world of video games are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. They consume you to another parallel dimension, where legend and heroism become intrinsic goals of the player that lead to a decisive victory against a “world boss”.

Arthas_The_Lich_King_by_Maryxyan

 “Your heart…its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it as I did my own.”  

 The dominant subject is that of a man sitting upon what seems to be a frigid throne. Enter Arthas,[1] our protagonist, the prince of Lordaeron,[2] the promised son. He looks skeptical yet one cannot help but notice a small grin; is he contemplating a recent victory or a future one as you glimpse those scarry azure eyes? Despite its static appearance the gaze of Arthas is haunting; the use of cobalt blue heightens the sense of an icy landscape that expands beyond the image: we are now situated at the frozen continent of Northrend. [3] An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with runes and ominous skull details. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead.

The World of Warcraft [6] universe is considered by many the epitome of Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games. Wikipedia quotes:

“As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.” [7]

Blizzard Inc. boasts about its product’s ten million player subscription base. Multiply that number by hours spent individually to build a character and make it to the prized end game content and you will understand that this game is quite serious and extremely profitable.

It takes a lot of time to reach the top ladder of the aforementioned base. Players tend to be rather social, occasionally logging in and dealing with parts of the game that are plain fun. To quote Colvin: For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done”. [8] There are those however that fall in the “hardcore” category. These people literally devour hours on end in order to achieve the highest performance. Many go so far as to stay awake at night, just to get that last piece of equipment that is missing from their “epic” gear or repeat the brutal discipline of their practice routines” [8]. In the end, all efforts lead to a last big successful rundown aka the “boss fight”. Arthas used to be such an opponent of immense power during the “Wrath of the Lich King” [6] expansion. In order to defeat him, players had to learn his tactical maneuvers by heart and deploy countermeasures accordingly. It was a matter of wits, focus, gear level and mechanics. Colvin claims: “You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” [8] For Wow players it takes weeks or months, not years yet the other portion of the statement stands true: grandeur in gaming takes copious practice. In a way the image is indicative of reaching expertise in the Warcraft universe. The player is granted with an achievement and with a matching title: “the Kingslayer”. [9] The digitalized image of the Lich King might be gruesome to the average Joe; to a gamer it serves as a reminder of paced excellence and ultimate triumph.

References:

  1. Arthas Menethil.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Arthas_Menethil
  2. Lordaeron.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Lordaeron
  3. Northrend.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Northrend
  4. Frostmourne” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Frostmourne
  5. Icecrown.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Icecrown
  6. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  7.  “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15 April 20 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  8. Colvin, Geoffrey. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune 19 October 2006. Retrieved online 22 April 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  9. The Kingslayer”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Kingslayer