Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture
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A year? Surely you jest…!

September 26, 2013 By: Ladan Category: Uncategorized

So I sat down tonight and checked my blog. It’s been a year since I last posted. You know, I’ve seen blogs like this. And I always mutter to myself about them. Who could get *that* busy that they can’t be bothered to update their blog in almost a year, I ask, thinking I’d never do that myself. And now I’ve done it. A whole year. It’s almost gotten to the point that you’re too embarrassed to update it, but the reality is that I will never abandon the blog or the work we’ve put up here. I guess it just fell asleep for a while…

 

Well, for those who are wondering what on earth’s happened to me, here’s a very short update:

1. I had my PhD viva in late October 2012. I won’t get into too much about it (as I’ll probably write a separate blog post about vivas), but suffice it to say it was very rigorous and intense. Pretty much as I had wanted it to be and as I had feared it would be. You don’t want to breeze through the most important 2-3 hours of your academic life so far–you want it to feel like a rite of passage. Professor Mike Crang and Dr James Ash were my examiners and I can only thank them both for actually reading my thesis and drawing out such a wonderful series of observations and, thankfully, a small number of minor corrections for me to make. And all of the corrections improved the thesis. I don’t think I’d want to do a viva every day, but I can safely say that I really enjoyed it and felt both drained and empowered afterwards.

2. I started a strategic university position 3 days later. This has been quite a fascinating experience for me! It’s not exactly the post-doc I’ve had in mind (unfortunately Durham has not engaged with games research in a way that other universities are right now), but it’s been an amazing opportunity. I have been able to do some research, write a lot, get into some strategic/planning work, and conduct a lot of international outreach on behalf of the sciences here at Durham. I have learned the ins and outs of academic practice and function at a university, given guest lectures in Asia, and made a few really interesting contributions in my time. I have learned a lot from my boss, the pro-vice chancellor for science. The downside of the position is that it did start so suddenly and has not given me the time I would have liked to sort through the post-viva workload, but I did manage to get all of my corrections done in just a few days and…

3. I graduated with my PhD in January! That was extremely wonderful, I have to say. I got to wear a fabulously red gown and cap and had my whole family around me. We get to start our graduation in Durham Castle and finish the ceremony and presentation in the Cathedral itself. I know not everyone is into the rituals and traditions of times gone by, but I do think that’s something we do particularly well in the UK.

4. Now I’m Dr. Ladan. Which is cool. And still a bit strange. I’ve been told not to fly in planes as a Dr. since that might mean I get asked to help a passenger who’s having a heart attack… The ironic aspect of this is that now that I’m a Dr. rather than a Ms. some people just presume I’m male  (if they see my name in writing). That says something disappointing about society and the gender that people associated with the title ‘Dr’.

5. Then I went on four trips overseas: once to Norway; twice to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore; and once to China. Quite the whirlwind! I did get to give some guest lectures around my research area (particularly when looking at digital technologies and games and at the history of computer/video games themselves) and see how international research and educational collaboration is taking place between universities around the world. A few personal highlights were getting to visit colleagues at Peking University in Beijing (China’s top university) and spend time with colleagues at the National Institutes of Education (at NTU in Singapore) observing how they use virtual world environments to help teachers educate more effectively in the classroom.

6. And then I realised to my horror that my blog was out of date… which has brought us up to today!

 

I haven’t stopped thinking about games research or what I’d like to do next. My thesis was finished and uploaded but we had it embargoed for a while. Meanwhile I have been working on an article about my research methods which is now ready for submission. One observation my examiners made during my viva was that I had been able to work through some innovative approaches to conducting research in an online environment. I did find that you can’t research a game environment like WoW and rely on the same methods that we might use if we were researching how people interact in an office setting.

I also had a great chat with Dan Patterson of KoPoint, http://kopoint.com/2013/05/20/ready-check-world-of-warcraft-raiding-interview-ladan-cockshut/, who put up an interview from our chat in May. He’s doing some interesting work around a number of areas including gamic practices. Delightful person indeed and another example of the great people I’ve met on my ‘raiding research journey’…

And finally the work continues on turning my thesis into something more approachable for a general reading audience. So much needs to get out there as far as gaming goes and how groups play together.

 

So… want to peek at the thesis? Here’s a link: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/5931/. Enjoy and be kind! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gamers embroiled in political debates–with a twist!

October 05, 2012 By: Ladan Category: Uncategorized

So some of you know that even though I am British and currently live in the U.K, I have also lived in the U.S. and I really love that country. I love its natural beauty and its many wonderful people. I love its breakfast food and its Twizzlers. What I don’t love is the political climate that tends to reach a boiling point every four years when there’s a presidential election. In fact I would say that most Americans agree with me there. If you’ve never lived or visited the U.S. during the weeks and days leading up to an election, then you are fortunate. It’s mayhem. And it’s not just about the presidential candidates and their pundits hurling insults at each other and trying to catch each other out on everything they say, it’s also the other elections that often run concurrently. State and national roles are often up for re-election during this time as well so depending on where you live, you might be graced with dozens of different political ads on the TV, phone calls, messages in the mailbox and lots of signs displayed on people’s front gardens telling you where they may fall on the political map. In comparison, it’s very sedate (at least as far as political elections go) here in the northeast of England at this moment.

I don’t want to get into a political discussion here (as I avoid such contentiousness as much as possible–it hardly solves the problem and only causes disunity, in my opinion), but I wanted to point out an interesting event that recently happened during a race for state senator in the U.S. state of Maine. Evidently the democratic challenger to the republican incumbent, Colleen Lachowicz, is not only a politician but also a <gasp> gamer. And she’s not just been ‘outed’ for her gaming tendencies, but specifically identified as a <gasps some more> WoW player. Of an Orc rogue no less! Assassin spec!

I’ll let you read the article yourself from the NBC news site: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/republicans-out-democrat-world-warcraft-witch-hunt-6283586

And some follow-up coverage from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19842704.

Either which way, regardless of what may happen in this particularly bizarre case, it does seem that being a gamer has been deemed (by some at least) an unsuitable vocation for someone interested in public service. And apparently they are hoping that highlighting this predilection for gaming as a reason for voters to change their mind.

Anyways, I wanted add in the rest of my general comments on this issue that I shared with the BBC earlier (who very graciously added in my fairly strong opinion on the subject!).

I find this discussion interesting for a few reasons.

First, it points to how the practice of gaming can often be seen as a negative activity. The quotes attributed to Ms. Lachowicz seem to only heighten that perception as they suggest that a gamer who chats about her game activities with what I can only describe as over-the-top descriptive imagery would naturally be as violent in their day-to-day lives. It’s hard to comment on those specifically as I can’t read them in context, however. And considering how gaming is often the first culprit when trying to explain away a disturbing shooting, I’m hardly surprised by this attempt to link her gaming approach to how she’d be in the state senate.

Second, it seems to be overtly suggesting that anyone in public office should not play computer or video games. In my work, I have spoken with many people who in their regular lives have roles of significant responsibility (as doctors, managers, or educators) but who choose carefully with whom they disclose their gaming activity. And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment. Evidently this caution is valid as political parties attempt to use gaming as a reason to not elect someone for office.

Finally, I think this is a very unusual development that is a little heartening, if you ask me (though I’m not sure Ms. Lachowicz would agree with me here). Here we have a gamer interested in running for political office and this would seem to run contrary to the other stereotypes that we love to assign to gamers: that they are lazy, antisocial people who don’t have a ‘real life’. Maybe this will trigger some dialogue about our perceptions of gamers and the role that games can and should play in modern society.

Ms. Lachowicz raises a few interesting points, however, that may bear consideration as more gamers who would be politicians are ‘outed’ (as that article described it): recent data suggest that the average age of the gamer is 30 (with the average age of game purchasers being 35) and the number of gamers is only growing as the market for casual play and more playing platforms continues to grow. I’m not entirely sure how much longer voters will take this attempt to weaken a candidate’s campaign seriously, and I would love to see if younger voters cared about it at all. (It’s a bit like ‘outing’ someone for having a Facebook account or watching YouTube videos of cats!)

Mists of Pandaria

September 23, 2012 By: Ladan Category: Mists of Pandaria

So it’s happening again. An expansion. Since I first launched this blog, there’s been another expansion–Cataclysm–and since I started my research, there’s been one more–Wrath of the Lich King. We like our expansions–it keeps us coming back; even those players who seem to cynically ‘quit’ WoW to play other games seem to come back to check out the expansions. Maybe it’s because despite things getting stale or frustrating once we’ve played a while, the allure of something new just keeps us returning back. These expansions, to some extent, re-create WoW anew.

So we’ve been on alien lands, frozen, fiery hot… and now we’re about to be bamboo loving, chi-channeling, fur-wearing pandas. Well at least I am. I love pandas. What can I say? I’m not sure how I’ll feel dressed as a panda, but I’m certainly going to give it a go. I’ll also be levelling up my main characters, which is going to be a peculiar experience to say the least. I’ve spent almost 4 years researching this game and its players, which has meant the ‘playing’ part has often had to take a backseat or a shared-role at least with my researcher side. Now as a player foremost (and researcher secondmost) I am eager to see how it will feel the play a game without having to necessarily document it. I honestly can’t wait. :)

But let’s talk about raiding and MoP. It’s hard to dispute the Asian feel of the new area. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that with Chinese players getting access to the new expansion only a week after other parts of the world, this may be the game and raiding expansion that belongs to Asia. What I mean by this is that with the growing interest in WoW from Asia, the earlier access to the expansion for Asian guilds and the increased success of Asian guilds during the Tier 13, we may be seeing a shift in raiding dominance. At least when it comes to the 25-man raiding. As far as the 10-man scene, Korean guilds typically dominate these rankings, but with guilds like Paragon deciding to downsize to 10-man, it could prove to be an extremely exciting race there, with a wider number of guilds and geographical regions represented.

As a researcher interested in how we engage with competition while gaming, I’m particularly interested to see how, if at all, these new ‘Challenge’ dungeons and the ‘pet battles’ might infuse the formalised competitive spirit into other parts of the game. Will they expand the competition among guilds and players or just be self-contained parts of competing against the game?

But either which way I’ve got over a day to get myself sorted and ready to check out the expansion late tomorrow night… I’m really looking forward to it and considering all of the changes to the game in the 18 months or so since I was regularly playing it feels a bit like a whole new game to me. Hopefully I’ll get to see some of you around the game. Tally-ho!

Dipping the toe back in…

September 22, 2012 By: Ladan Category: raiding, raiding research

Hello!

I just looked at the last date on my blog and cringed. I can’t believe it’s been over 2 months since I last posted! So let me update you (in case you were wondering if I’d been abducted by aliens or something):

1. I submitted my PhD thesis about 6 weeks ago.

2. I collapsed.

3. I spent wayyyy too much time watching the Olympics, including actually getting to attend an event! I love the Olympics and particularly loved it being in London this year. Wow.

3. I went on a bit of a holiday. I’d just like to point out that not having been on a holiday in a few years had led me to forget what holidays were like.. now I realise that going on a holiday is a good idea and I’m eagerly anticipating the next time I get to go. I hope it won’t take so long a wait before the next one.

4. I started trying to tidy up my life post-PhD submission. I’m months behind on many things. The world did not wait for me to catch up, it seems. Oh and I did get to go to some Paralympics events too in London. That gets a wow x 10–I love love loved it!

5. I am now getting very nervous about the viva that will take place at the end of October. A viva is the oral defense of your PhD with a panel of examiners. Going to a course to prepare me for the viva made me even more nervous. But others who have been through this keep reminding me to look at it as an opportunity to discuss your work in detail with two respected academics, an opportunity that doesn’t often come in academia. I realise that’s a big part of it, but I can’t help but focus on the ‘oh my goodness, two people who are far smarter, more capable, and accomplished than me will be spending a lot of time reading my thesis and are bound to wish they had those hours of their life back…’ Yes, that inner demon speaks to all of us! I’m sure I’ll have more to say once that process is done.

Some people have asked me when they can see my thesis. I wanted to just note that while my plan is to make this available as soon as is feasible, sharing the thesis on a largescale requires a more robust process to secure permission and that the thesis will have passed this examination process. So at this point it may be some months before it’s out there.

What I will probably do in the meantime is post things like my introduction, table of contents and my acknowledgements. The acknowledgements include a lot of the raiders and guilds who contributed to the research, so it’s particularly important that this be shared at the very least. I can, for those students out there, also share my bibliography as it’s a helpful reading list of some of the good games research that’s going on out there.

New BBC article–Diablo 3 Cash Auctions

July 13, 2012 By: Ladan Category: BBC, Diablo III

I had a chance to chat a bit with Mark Ward over at the BBC about the new feature from Blizzard–cash auction houses, as released in Diablo 3. Here’s the article below. I’m only quoted in a tiny part of it, but I think he did a good job capturing my thoughts about how we, as gamers, feel about this new feature–most of us accept it, but we don’t necessarily like how it could impact play. After all, if we think we could make a few hundred £/$/€ on a piece of gear rather than equipping it, it has changed how we view gear.

What he didn’t include was my thoughts about what this could mean for other Blizzard games, such as WoW. I suspect D3 was the trial run for this new feature and we may see it in other games. Anyways, here’s the article, if you’re interested:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18783069

And hi to anyone new who came to the site from the BBC. I’m down to the wire (under 20 days now!) til I submit my thesis, so this is probably the last you’ll hear from me for a few weeks.

Back I go…. <dives back in>

Quick check-in

June 04, 2012 By: Ladan Category: raiding, World of Warcraft

So the PhD madness rages on and it will be some time yet before I can put up any proper content. I’m sorry for that, but we (well at least I) always knew this time would come. I’ll be back and posting just as soon as I can… in the meantime, feel free to send me any spare brain cells and wisdom you’d like! I’ll take all I can.

Before I dive back into my oh-too-long work here, here’s some stuff, first Dara O Briain talking about videogames and my personal fond recollection of Trololo Man, who passed away aged 77. Thanks for making me smile and keeping me sane, guys!

Are we on the verge of something new all over again?

May 11, 2012 By: Ladan Category: boss fights, competition, Dragon Soul, raiding, speed race

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s do-or-die time for me with my PhD thesis writing and to add to that I’ve had a lot of side projects, a slowly recovering hand injury, and even a recent bout with pneumonia slowing me down. Something had to give and it was my own beloved blog. Even my interviews with raiders on youtube have slowed down (though I’m excited to be doing an interview soon with vodka, so keep an eye on that!)… but anyway, I have something on my mind (and in my thesis) that I wanted to put up on the blog.. it’s about the ways in which we ‘own’ the game (WoW in this case) to the degree that we influence new changes and developments in the game itself.

Henry Jenkins, in his 2006 book about new media technologies called Convergence Culture, wrote about how the design and environment of MMOs allow a significant degree of intentionality (and content) created by the player population itself (what he refers to as ‘consumer-driven content’ [172]). He also shared insight from game designers (Raph Koster, in particular) about why an MMO thrives: it is the degree to which players can claim a form of ownership of the game itself (165). And when I look at the raiding component of an MMO like WoW, I can see ownership in the form of the specific ways that we choose to engage with the game and how we appropriate its elements to serve our own gaming purposes. When it comes to raiding, look at how we’ve shaped the game.  We wanted to make the raiding experience smoother? We wrote add-ons and modified our UIs. We wanted to figure out how to solve problems during a boss fight? We made and watched how-to videos. We wanted a competition to see who was the fastest to clear content? We made progress sites and publicised the news far and wide. Now competition is not new in raiding. We’ve been competing against the game and each other since raiding began, but the ways in which we manifest this competitive inclination keeps evolving and adapting.

The latest example of this ‘ownership’ in competitive raiding is the recent trend for top raiding guilds to organise (amongst themselves for the most part) speed races. A raiding speed race (if you’ve not heard of this before) is when two guilds race against each other (starting at the same time) to be the first to clear the content of the agreed upon raid instance. And in the case of these raiding guilds we have had a recent race in April with the US guild vodka and EU guild Method racing each other.  Of course we’ve got Blizzard to thank for the earliest examples of these races, whereby they’d have a staged spectacle of two top-ranked guilds during a hyped up Blizzcon event (oftentimes American guilds, for the logistical ease of it) battle each other for supremacy.

The 30-some thousand viewers logged on to watch the race mostly via Athene’s livestream as he, and Kina (retired vodka raider and one of the minds behind Learn2Raid), commentated.  I think it’s safe to say that none of us really knew what to expect. I myself sat down to what I thought might be a predictable race with little drama (since these guys are superplayers who never make mistakes, right?), expecting to watch it out of loyalty to two guilds I know and like  and wanting to contribute my part to the opsharecraft charity drive (aimed at raising US$1 million for Save the Children), which was the motivation for the two guilds to participate. Method won that race against vodka, but only by a small margin. Method’s execution was flawless, bordering on poetry in motion at times, but vodka’s attempt to regain the time lost (from an early wipe) was heroic. It was actually an exciting race in the end. Perhaps the amazement in Athene’s own voice gave it away. Maybe none of us thought it would be as dramatic and fun to watch as it ended up being.

So now we’ve decided to ‘own’ this type of event and stage them ourselves. Yes that first one was was set up for charity but we’re starting to see how it can be a fun way to actually transform an element of the raiding race into a spectator experience of competitive raiding. We aren’t just refreshing the raiding tracking sites (wowprogress or wowtrack, for example) to see if anyone’s downed a new boss, we’re able to see for ourselves a version of that race.  Sure it’s not the starting point of the raiding race of a particular tier, but it’s a raiding race of a new form, repurposing the same content and displaying it (and performing it) in a new way. It’s raiding recycling in action.

And apparently we want more of this. This Saturday (May 12), four raiding guilds—this time Paragon (EU), STARS (China), Exorsus (Russia), and Blood Legion (US)—are engaging in a speed race with US$2000 at stake and more benefits to the same charity drive.  Read up about it here. So yes, built on vodka and Method’s trailblazing race in April but offering something more: more guilds involved and more money at stake. Will this make the race more exciting? And are we seeing the first steps toward a new way to engage in the competitive in raiding?

For more reading:

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. NYU Press: New York.

The 25-man decline… a new round table discussion

March 14, 2012 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, podcast, raiding, raiding group size, raiding guild

So the poll I put up a couple weeks ago seems to be confirming that from where raiders are sitting, we’re seeing a drop in 25-man raiding on servers. Where there used to be 15-20 active 25-man raiding guilds, we might now have 5. The shift seems to have come from a couple things, from my observation: a shift toward 10-man raiding, a drop in subscriptions, and a general shift toward casualness. No one has ever doubted the fact that the logistics of 25-man raiding can seem more complex than 10-man raiding, though I dispute the assertion that 10-man raiding is always going to be easier to organize or arrange. Missing 1 player or spec from a 25-man raid may not impair the guild’s ability to actually raid, while that can be the difference between being able to go or not in a 10-man guild with a lean roster. So at the end, I’d say the issue is about scale more than an actual ability to assert which raid size is “harder” or “more complex.” I think it starts to fall into the category of the easy/difficult debate that we’ve gotten into over 10 vs 25 raiding difficulty: it’s a pretty pointless endeavour. So I’m not entirely convinced that the decline in 25-man raiding is simply due to the assertion that “10-mans are easier”. It could other factors as well.

But the fact of the matter is that we’re not raiding at the 25-man level that we were 18 months ago. Looking at guilds on the US and EU servers alone, during Tier 10 we had a 2.9:1 ratio of 10-man to 25-man guilds; in Tier 13 we’re seeing an 8.9:1 ratio. That’s an almost 3 fold increase. And it’s not to say that 10-man raiding isn’t dropping as well, in comparison to what we were doing 18 months ago, it’s just not dropping as quickly or noticeably as 25-man raiding.

Anyway! I assembled a few raiders together from different backgrounds to discuss this issue with me and I wanted to share the round table (in two parts) with you. Participants were Arx from DREAM Paragon, Celeus (guild and raid leader) and  Olog (raid leader) from Bridgeburners, and Maarten (retired guild leader Daenon from Bridgeburners and currently a master’s research student studying WoW from the Netherlands). I’d say we just skimmed the surface of an admittedly complex issue but I was particularly happy to have such diverse voices and insights in the discussion. Plus this marks the first time I’ve been able to include people in the round table discussion that don’t just come from the top tier of raiding, which is a good step for my aims of this Raid Observer series! The invitation remains open for anyone who’d like to do a podcast as we move toward spring… hint, hint.

Shedding our “nerdy” mystique

March 08, 2012 By: Ladan Category: computer, World of Warcraft

So I am the last person to claim that there isn’t a well nurtured stigma attached to being called a gamer and that gaming isn’t sometimes viewed as a hobby that you might not want everyone knowing you enjoy. And I’m often quick to notice the subtle and sometimes overt insults to the sociality, lifestyle, and even romantic potential of a gamer. And this long-held stigma has even up and coming generations shying away from being identified as a gamer. Allow me to illustrate:

I have had the pleasure of helping teach on a course in my department here at Durham called about online geographies. I’ve usually been asked by the course’s professor, Mike Crang, to facilitate the workshop on “Virtual worlds and games”. It’s often been about exploring what something like Second Life or an MMO are like. This year, my third year helping with it, we realised the workshop material was a bit out of date so Mike generously gave me an opportunity to redesign the workshop and guide the students through a few more recent virtual environments, games, and MMOs. Due to Durham’s very conservative attitude toward games and some strict limitations on what we could access and play, I ended up having the students look at a free browser-based MMO called Glitch (kind of like a Farmville MMO, though that’s not quite right.. it’s fun for a while but it has its limits too) and we looked at other things like Plants vs. Zombies, Alphaworlds, Habbo Hotel, and Farmville/Cafeville on Facebook. We even tried Angry Birds on our smartphones!

Well, when we got into a discussion about gaming within the group, these well educated, cool, mostly 19- and 20-something third year Durham Geography students were very very reticent to admit (in that group setting) what, if any, games they might have played or be currently playing. As far as the cool factor goes in relation to games, I’d say FIFA is acceptable (if you want to admit you play games but remain cool with the non-gaming cool set), Mafia Wars *might* be ok… Angry Birds could cause a giggle but a knowing nod of acceptance. And that might be it. We’re still not quite there yet as far as people getting over this idea of gaming being uncool.

I mean we’ve gotten past other things that have been viewed as a stigma in the past. And I’d like to think that eventually we’re going to be ok with the idea of gaming and not relegate it to the “nerdy” or “no life” part of the shelf. But if university students are still finding it hard to relate to or even admit an affiliation with anything but the most mainstream of games, I think we’ve got a ways to go.

Even a couple weeks ago we had a story about a new research study about WoW that provides some promising health benefits in relation to gaming. They took a group of older adults (60-77) and had some learn how to play WoW while others did not and they were able to note an increase in focus and spatial orientation among those adults that had been playing WoW. Now this is a pretty good story, and I’m glad different media channels were reporting it, but like much else in the media these days, it had to start off with a subtle insult to the community before telling us something positive: “‘World of Warcraft’ isn’t just for nerds”. And I know, I know, you’re all going to tell me this is just par for the course, but isn’t it just getting a bit too predictable now?

Anyway, the academic paper can be accessed here, if you’re interested.

Nostalgia hits…!

March 02, 2012 By: Ladan Category: livestream, raiding, vanilla WoW, World of Warcraft

Picture this: It’s 2062 and Old Man Raider, resident of the Retirement Home for Raiders is relaxing on the porch, chatting with Old Lady Raider and Really Old Man Raider. They’re engaged in a debate.. which game was the best for raiding; which expansion was the best. When was raiding at its best. Things get heated; fingers are waggling. Inevitably the walking sticks are brandished and Really Old Man Raider summons his strength, pushes himself up against his walker and proclaims that Everquest was always the Granddaddy of raiding on the true scale of epicness and no game since has ever been able to capture the feeling of raiding with so many… Old Man Raider objects, noting that vanilla WoW was always where it was at and the rough-about-the-edges, new frontierness of raiding was its most authentic… and finally Old Lady Raider chimes in shrilly that The Burning Crusade was when raiding came into its own with the right level of complexity and newness reaping the benefits of a design team that had learned from vanilla.

The trio reach a stalemate. No one can agree. Even the Slightly Younger Old Man Raider sitting at the nearby table doesn’t dare chime into the debate to suggest that WoW’s Tier 42 and its perfection of 4D underwater raiding was truly the pinnacle of raiding–he doesn’t want to get ostracized on the golf course the next day, after all.

The group finally throws the towel in on the debate, saying they’d better head in and get naps before the 7 pm raid start that night for the Retirement Home Raiding team.

———————————————————————————

In my various interviews with various raiders since I started my research a few years back, I often hear “well, things were better back in Vanilla or TBC.” And yes, maybe they were. Or maybe they weren’t. It’s all a matter of perspective, experience, and that tricky, hard-to-pinpoint emotion: nostalgia. Isn’t it?

Well this week, the guys at Manaflask are putting this idea to the test. Manaflask have opted to launch something new, what they are calling Project 60. I’m calling it a fascinating experiment into the experience of nostalgia. And this is being mixed into the experience of celebrity, making it even more compelling. The idea is to create a character on what was the famed vanilla/TBC raiding team Nihilum’s EU server Magtheridon. Then you level up to 60, lock yourself in, and then join the rest of the team in some “old school” raiding alongside members of the former guild.

If you’d like to actively engage in this trip down memory lane, or if you started raiding post-vanilla and have always wanted to get a taste of it, go over to the manaflask site and get signed up! As I understand it, they’re accepting members til they are full. And if you’re just curious about what this is like or might like to follow along, I’m participating in a livestream event with a few members from Nihilum and Manaflask tomorrow (Saturday, March 3rd) evening (6-7 pm EU game time–that’s GMT+1). There’s more information on the Manaflask site if you’re curious: http://www.manaflask.com/en/article/1635/streaming-event-for-project-60-on-saturday.

Naturally it’s impossible to create a completely authentic experience in relation to recreating the level 60 raiding period. Even if we could rewind the mechanics and game features, we still have a collective raiding memory that will impact how we see raiding several years on. But I think this is a brilliant idea and is probably the closest we can get to it in 2012. I can’t wait to talk about it with the guys tomorrow. Do chime in if you get a chance! I’ll be the confused Tauren priest named Nadala (looking and acting as confused as I was back in vanilla!) if you want to say hi to me in game. :)