#LOTRO #MOOC Week 5

Week 5 coursework

This week’s both gameplay and reading were a challenge. Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is a tricky passage written in Renaissance English and contains multiple pronunciation and spelling obstacles, especially for the non-native speakers of English such as myself. However, it is regarded as a fundamental narrative poem, one that greatly influenced the romance and subsequent fantasy literature genre. Out of six books we were asked to read the first Canto of Book III.

Follow the "light". Then kill it.

Follow the “light”. Then kill it.

Another instance which troubled the players/students in this MOOC was going against the boss Thadur in the Great Barrow which was not as easy as “Retaking Weathertop”. I should mention here that the turnout on Sunday’s event was quite large in scale. Three groups were formed and to balance the odds high leveled players were matched to equal numbers of low leveled ones. During our group’s encounter  two kinnies died – myself included –  something which rarely occurs in dungeon type instances, especially when you have level 90 players tag along. Tacts (aka tactics) involved killing some wights and then killing “lights”  in a sync mode.  First there was one of them, then two – both of which you had to kill at the same time – then three – again simultaneous kill – then four. In the end, we faced a level 28 elite boss (I was level 23 at the time).

2014-08-17_00019

Facing Thadur with members of “Eagles of Thorondor”

 

 The free-to-play model: a personal rant

My avatar, Uiril, reached a ridiculously low gold cap this week, meaning I couldn’t have access to more than 2 gold despite having earned more. After finally getting enough Turbine points – in-game of course – to unlock the Auction house I thought to myself: “finally, I ‘ll make some money to buy an “x” vanity item, etc“. That sum of money ended up in a repository to which  I could get access ONLY IF I upgraded my account (which meant paying good money). You see, that’s the way MMORPGs work, they are based on a virtual economy that enables the player to earn and spend virtual money. Free-to-play modelled games such as LOTRO and WOW(free trial) only give you the impression of actually being free. Do you want to acquire the riding skill? Turbine Points. Do you want to have more slots in your  – pathetic – bank vault? More Turbine points. Do you wish you could have that wonderful rectangular table for your home in the Shire? You guessed well, buy some more Turbine points. Now farming for those points is nerve-wracking and pointless since the award system in-game is painstakingly slow. That’s when Turbine offers you the chance to get those points you covet for a mere “x” $$$$. It then hits you that becoming a VIP member (paying a subscription) is well worth it.

My kinship members striking a pose

My kinship members striking a pose

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft have long been accused for their pay-to-play strategy, involving a monthly fee for logging into the game, regardless whether you show up or not in said month. Much as I hate making Blizzard more affluent, I get their logic. You see, I don’t have to pay for anything else. Storage, unlimited money cap, auction house, patches and new content are all there. Just pay the subscription and that’s it.(Of course, regarding WoW, you do need to buy the game and its subsequent expansions but that all adds up to the price of a new Assassin’s Creed title). What strikes me as bizarre, though, is that I thought free-to-play LOTRO was doable. Not paying for LOTRO  is pretty much ok up until you reach a certain point. If you do want to enjoy gameplay  – not to mention raiding content or new quest zones – you have to pay.  The whole free-to-play tag is just smoke and mirrors. What about World of Warcraft free-to-play? That’s just an urban legend, folks.

Advertisements

#LOTRO #MOOC Weeks 2 & 3

Moving on with this summer’s gaming Mooc at Coursera involved leveling the character I created in LOTRO. Due to lack of time I managed to take it up to level 17. That meant being able to buy a house of my own – yeah!! –  as well as spending the amount of Turbine points I gained through gameplay to purchase the riding skill. Still, no riding horse at the moment, I am afraid. I am also trying to figure out the auction house dealings; things in World of Warcraft were so much easier, in my opinion… Please note that for week 4, you need to be a level 20ish player to accomplish the peer assessment tasks, so it’s best to level up well in advance. Anyway, here’s a screenshot of my lovely house:

ScreenShot00006

 

During questing, especially when it came to instances joined by other NPCs, some glitches were present but nothing too problematic. The narrative in the game draws ample reference from the books and Tolkien lore, something which renders the gameplay enjoyable. Still the tedious “kill 20 boars” and “fetch 20 bat feathers” tend to spoil the fun. Moreover, I found storage options rather frustrating. Apart from your bags, you will soon see your bank slots and house vault filling up quickly.  Now, here’s a screenshot from a rather tricky quest:

ScreenShot00002

 

The summer festival was on during the second week, so we were given the chance to opt for a screenshot in those surroundings. The other option was to participate in our kinship’s fixed gatherings which took place twice so as to accommodate the needs of almost all kinship members. I chose option 1, because I couldn’t make it to the kinship games:

 

ScreenShot00010

 

Furthermore, we were tasked with writing a short essay on the topic of the social aspect of MMORPGs. During week 3, peer assessment ensued and that meant having to review 3 such essays along with their screenshots and proof of gameplay. Here is my take on the subject:

 

Write an essay (200 to 400 words) on your impression of the social dimension of MMOs.  If you’ve played other types of online games (shooters, RPGs, etc.), feel free to compare the nature of the social interactions you’ve had in these formats. Do social interactions enhance or diminish your experience of the narrative? Do you feel a bond with other players, and if so, how would you compare that relationship to others in real life?

 

 

The social aspect of MMMORPGs – a short testimonial

Being a gamer in pop culture is at times depicted as having “no-life”.  Unfortunately, a gamer is commonly regarded as rather being anti-social, kept in a confined room all day and having minimum contact with peers by many. Questionably, MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft or LOTRO immerse the player in a virtual environment so much, that interactions seem “fake” or simulated to the outsider.

Speaking from personal experience, not only is this not the case, but recent scientific studies have also shown that online gaming is increasing, not limiting, the social lives of players (Taylor et al. 2014). The nature of social interactions in-game is mostly chatting or what one would call “small talk”. Interacting in a virtual massive world with complete strangers means wasting no time, however. Therefore, most of these discussions are usually practical or helpful ways of understanding gameplay, e.g. asking for advice regarding a particular quest. Nevertheless, once part of a kinship or a guild, the framework rapidly changes to sharing more personal insights on one’s life and daily routine. In essence, you make “friends” within the game and much to one’s surprise these friendships can be long-lasting and profound. It so happens that often social relationships of the kind extend to real life circumstances; people from game communities meet up in person, even when they hail from different countries.

Room with a view... The landscape around my house in LOTRO

Room with a view… The landscape around my house in LOTRO

The experience of the narrative in-game is often enhanced by virtual social gatherings like large-scale raids. Taking down a “boss”, takes a lot of energy, effort and explaining, thus  all members of a party must be up to speed, whom they are fighting and why. In addition, people extend their knowledge of lore and storytelling to people outside the game, describing their gaming experience much like they would do with a movie or a TV series. In retrospect, talking within the game becomes talking “about” it, as well, influencing relationships to others in real life, regardless whether they are themselves gamers or not.

References

Taylor, N., Jenson, J., de Castell, S. and Dilouya, B. (2014), Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19: 763–779. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12054

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.

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise {Coursera / Duke} – Annotated Bibliography contribution

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

Annotated Bibliography contribution

Area of Expertise: Video games (World of Warcraft)

  •  Donovan, Tristan. Replay: The History of Video Games. Lewes, East Sussex: Yellow Ant Publications. 2010. Print

A staggering 500 page tome (350 of which is the actual material), which elaborately portrays the advent and progression of video game industry from Atari consoles to computer animated latest products (2010). It features international case studies of the gaming communities and habits around the world (Asia among others) as well as a detailed description of how various game genres came to life.

The narrative is deemed quite personal and often takes the form of interview memoirs. While the historical documentation is extremely detailed – dating back to 1945 – the game trends of the 21st century are somewhat “rushed” along the book’s final chapters among with emerging popular game franchises.

Overall it’s an interesting addition to a gamer’s library, especially if one is interested in the gaming industry’s past and how it all began.

A word from the author:

I chose video game in preference to other terms for several reasons: it remains in everyday use, unlike TV game or electronic game; it is broad enough to encompass the entire medium unlike ‘computer game’, which would exclude games, such as Atari’s Pong, that did not use microprocessors; and terms such as ‘interactive entertainment’, while more accurate, have failed to catch on despite repeated attempts over the years.”

 

  • Gutiérrez, Mario, Thalmann, Daniel, Vexo, Frédéric. Stepping into Virtual Reality. Lausanne: Springer-Verlag London Limited. 2008. Print

Mostly described as a technical guidebook for students, this entry rather resembles an introduction to virtual environment design. Ample examples in conjunction with color illustrations exhibit the fundamentals of creating an immersive virtual world. Chapters include architecture of augmented virtual reality systems, avatar creation, touch, smell and taste simulation as well as a reference to visuals (e.g. LCD / Plasma displays) and audio.

To sum up, this qualifies for a decent 101 on virtual reality basics and technical infrastructure.

A word from the authors:

“This work was conceived as a guided tour that will give a practical explanation

of each step in the process of creating a Virtual Reality application. It can

be used both as a textbook for a Virtual Reality course and as a reference for

courses covering computer graphics, computer animation, or human-computer

interaction topics.

 

  • Hunter, Dan, Werbach, Kevin. For the Win: How GAME THINKING Can Revolutionize Your Business. Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press. 2012. Print

I came across “For the Win” during a MOOC course called “Gamification” on the Coursera platform. Kevin Werbach is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania; together with Dan Hunter they showcase an academic background in law as well as research of virtual worlds. “Gamification” was the very first course of its kind to be offered in academia (The Wharton School) and this book summarizes the main ideas behind the term. Interestingly, thinking as a game designer was not only meant for people within the gaming industry. Game elements, when applied to non-game context can make your business – or any other sector – a better place (for employees and clients alike). The book features gamified websites and examples of gamified services as well as a thorough approach of what kind of game elements one should seek to implement in order to make this endeavor work.

I should mention that both writers were players of World of Warcraft (Horde side) and draw comparisons from many popular games of our time.

From the writers’ note on the title:

““For the win,” or FTW for short, is a gamer term believed to be derived from old-school TV game shows like Hollywood Squares, in which a player could win the game with a correct answer. It’s used as an endorsement of a tool or practice that will lead to success in any context. As in: “Daily exercise FTW!” We find it an appropriate moniker. Gamification is a technique that businesses can use to be more successful. We hope you will use this book to help your business win in whatever ways you choose.”

 

  • Bainbridge, William Sims. The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World. London: MIT Press. 2010. Print.

Bainbridge takes on the most popular MMO RPG (massive open online role playing game) in its peak, namely the Lich King Expansion years. His account is suitable for Argent Dawn EU server players: the role playing lot. Now when one finds oneself in Azeroth chances are you will explore, quest, raid, kill many many – seriously many – mobs; not many choose to role play, because it takes a lot of creativity, effort, practice and imagination – you ‘ve run out of those while killing the many, many oh so many mobs, if you recall.

Bainbridge’s review of the game derives – as the title so hints – from a social perspective, but what he means by that is highly contestable. Sociology is one thing, attempting an explanation of the WoW social universe is a complete other.  The book is divided into small chapters, each focusing on separate elements of the game such as religion or cooperation. The introductory roleplaying story lines are intuitive and strongly supported by lore details. After each one, an explicatory section ensues, where things are theoretically approached. The author often gives the impression of an outsider rather than an actual WoW gamer, since his lack of understanding how the game community actually works in non – lorewise manner is baffling.

It should be noted that in-game problems such as character meetup in different servers and dungeon / raid grouping have been dealt with by Blizzard ever since the Cataclysm expansion. Thus, it’s an interesting reading option for the game’s old- timers; at times a beautiful journal even.

From the author’s take on “ganking” [Chapter 5: p. 134]:

“Wanton killing of another player’s character is ganking. Maxrohn experienced ganking firsthand when he was around level 40 at a crossroads in the Swamp of Sorrows. A level-37 Horde scout was standing there, barring the way, so rather than go around, Maxrohn attacked him. This had the effect of turning Maxrohn’s battle flag on, rendering him vulnerable to attack by Horde players. Unfortunately, the crossroads was between the Horde flight path at Stonard and the entry to the high level Blasted Lands zone. Just as Maxrohn was bending down to loot the scout’s corpse, a high-level Horde player killed him instantly. His last memory of the episode is the Horde player’s laughter.”

Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade – Week 3: Journals 1 & 2 / writing assignment{Coursera / MSJC}

Well, for the purposes of these assignments, I chose a scene from World of Warcraft (mmo rpg). It seems that every writing MOOC gives me the opportunity to talk about this game and …oh well…..I like it!!! I needed to use an array of  subjects and verbs this time, so here goes…

[this screenshot was taken from my PC during the Cataclysm expansion last year and it pays tribute to silliness and old times in the game  – it’s a mammoth parade!!!!]

Module 1 Writing Activity

Observe a scene, preferably in a crowded, busy, or public place. List the activities that you see occurring and the actors (those doing the activity). Write 5-6 sentences that use your observation list and underline the subjects of your sentences. Write a few sentences experimenting with using different types of pronouns from the tables in Unit 3.  You will want to keep all of these sentences at hand as you do the writing activities for this unit. 

Image

Sentences [subjects are highlighted]:

  1. This is a narrow, cobblestone street in Dalaran.
  2. Everybody is riding either a Wooly Mammoth or a Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth.
  3. The riders have formed a  line as they parade within the city.
  4. Keeping the line tight seems tricky, but everyone is eager to join.
  5.  Avatar names as well as guild names are displayed above each player’s head in blue or green.
  6.  Can you notice that pint of ale on the sign? To rest while in the game simply walk into an inn for food, drink and a warm bed.

Module 2 Writing Activity

In your journal, continue your observation list of the scene you observed for Unit 3, Journal Assignment 1 by noting several vivid action verbs. Revise some of your sentences using action verbs and/or write 2-3 new sentences with action verbs. Try not to use any of the forms of “to be” (is, are, was, etc.).  Underline the action verbs in your sentences. Again, you will want to keep all of these sentences at hand as you do the peer-reviewed writing at the end of the unit.

 

1st sentence revised:  The viewer immerses himself  in the digital,  narrow, cobblestone streets of Dalaran.

4th sentence revised: Maintaining the line tight insinuates a certain amount of effort, but everyone yearns to join the fun.

Written Assignment: Drawing from your observation notes and sentences from Journal Writing Assignments 1 and 2, write a description of the scene you have observed. Use action verbs and active voice in your sentences. Also, keep your verbs in the same tense and maintain correct subject-verb agreement. Your description should consist of 8 or more sentences.

Imagine you reside in Azeroth, dear viewer. Immerse yourself in the digital, narrow, cobblestone streets of  Dalaran, among a cheerful crowd. “What is going on?” you ponder when there they surface in the distance, all of a sudden: the Mammoth riders! It appears, each and everyone of them is riding either a Wooly Mammoth or a Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth and the riders have formed a  line as they parade within the city. Maintaining the line tight insinuates a certain amount of effort. You yearn to join these Northrend heroes but these mounts are hard to come by, so you confine yourself to applauding in awe.   Avatar names as well as guild names are displayed above each player’s head in blue or green while their march progresses. Head a couple of steps further and you will notice a pint of ale on a sign. Simply walk into this  inn for food, drink and a warm bed, should you care to rest for a minute; the mammoth riders have faded away in the horizon by now. It’s time for you to commence your questing for the day.

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

 

 

 

Tools to accompany your MOOC study regime in a MMOG manner

I realized only recently that the amount of work MOOC students are burdened with is huge; especially if you are enrolled as a “hardcore” Mooc player (over 4 MOOCs at the same time). [ as opposed to a “social” MOOC player < participating in 3 MOOCs or less ].

Imagine an average World of Warcraft raider. He needs time to raise up professions (make money to buy gear), go through rep(utation) quests and dungeons ( justice / valor points to get gear) and finally endure the raid finder process (again, better gear). At the same time he is speaking to his guild mates and in the server central forum. He seeks guidance, helps out (or gets into a fight with immature brats, but I won’t go there)

{Notice I am using “he” as a pronoun. Girl gamers just claim they are indeed female. They are shipped to raiding teams immediately. :p}

Imagine the sought after gamer  gear being knowledge for MOOCers (is that really a term?). Now a MOOC student, watches video lectures. Lots of them. So there’s your time.  Naturally he keeps notes, stores PDF files, studies online webpages and articles, answers quizzes and produces written homework. That’s his way of preparing for “end-game” content. Then he is into forums and social media groups, discussing and giving / receiving feedback (or rage, this is really like Wow come to think of it).

Both cases exhibit dedication on behalf of the player. In the end however things are different. Gamers get to keep tokens of their time, efforts and contribution:

  • screenshots or videos to remind them of their best moments in-game.
  • Bank slots and void storage, where their gear (well if it’s pretty enough or rare) is safely stored.
  • Achievements that are -again – bookmarked in their profile
  • The sense of sheer “epicness” when they finally achieve taking down the raid boss.

What do MOOC students get in the end? A lousy digital certificate. Well played, Coursera, well played.

Students immerse themselves as much as an average gamer does. So why not add to that experience and actually keep memoirs of your work? It’s not just a seminar, it’s a legitimate online undergraduate course. I would encourage you to think about the following:

  • All those notes and post-its hanging around on your desk or online, these assignments you worked so hard for, interesting video excerpts or your recorded own voice should go somewhere that matters (not just your desk or OneNote)
  • Start making a e-portfolio with samples of your work and ceritfications. Try Europass or new start ups especially tailored for continuing education. Add those courses to your CV. Try making a visual CVImage, even better.
  • All those interesting articles that appear in the readings section of the course need to be bookmarked and tagged so you can find them later – believe me you will need to.
  • Use the social media hubs wisely: instead of spending hours on end on the course’s facebook group, search what’s effectively going on on the entire Internet based on that particular course using hashtags.

These are only minor examples of what you can use to boost your productivity and mostly end up with all your study time saved effectively. MOOC is not about a damn certificate. It’s the journey that counts.

PS. Wouldn’t it be nice to display that “journey” to potential employers too?

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