Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meeting My Guild

It's a wonderful thing when WoW-life crosses over into Real-life. Leave a comment about meeting up with your guildies or in-game friends.

Below is an interview with me that was originally published on Azubu, a Korea-based gaming site. You will recognize the artwork if you follow this link. I think it's awesome that they put my glasses on a Draenei. 

Summer Walker, a Texan, lives and works in Korea. Recently she travelled to Australia to meet her World of Warcraft guild. She sat down recently with Azubu’s Editor-in-Chief Dan Thwaits to talk about her journey of discovery....

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m a full time teacher at a university in Seoul, Korea. I have lived in several countries since I left Waxahachie, Texas in 2003, but have spent most of my time in the “Land of Kimchi.” I’m 33 and in love with my Macbook Pro. I’m a big indie music fan and have dabbled in local music promotion in Seoul.

How did you get involved with World of Warcraft?

For a long while, I resisted picking up the game because I knew I would get sucked in. One day it came to light that he was moving to Alaska — the freakin’ other side of the world — and we wouldn’t be able to go to bars, see bands or have dinner together anymore. He said he thought of a way we could hang out still, and I thought he meant Skype. Anyway, a month later was Christmas. I gave him a coffee tumbler that I had decorated with Batman (his favorite superhero) and photos of him.  I knew my gift had been blown out of the water when he handed me a big ol’ box with my name on it. You can probably guess what was in it — World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. That’s WoW, plus the three expansions. He also threw in a new WiFi router. I’ll tell you what: Nobody in the history of the world has ever gotten more use out of a Christmas gift.

How did you get involved with the guild?

I didn’t understand this initially, but being a member of a guild is a giant part of playing any MMORPG. The members shape every part of the experience. These real people can answer questions, group up with you to get you through a difficult quest or dungeon, lend you materials to make potions and fun of you relentlessly. These are the people that say “good morning” when you come online, “grats” if you complete an achievement (OMG! You got 10 mounts! You are so leet!), notice if you haven’t been on in a while and ask if you are doing OK. They are the ones that will take you into your first raid and not yell at you if you screw up — that is, if you have a good group.

I came into Insidious because my buddy, Kammi, was an officer in the guild. I guess I was lucky. Since then I haven’t noticed any other newbies join up. Most seem to already know someone from the guild either in RL (real life) or from other online groups, but they are all experienced players. That said, nobody ever got on to me about asking dumb questions (“Guys, are you supposed to do Blackfathom Deeps by yourself?”), but I did try to find answers on websites like WoWhead before spamming guild chat.

I made friends instantly. Ramfel was super quick to answer questions and even explain some lore. One day, Kalsor got on Skype and spent an hour helping me optimize my Internet settings. Genowen would laugh at me, yell at me for not drinking enough on Friday fun runs, call me names, make sure I felt included in everything and fly me around on her magical Vial of the Sands dragon mount. When I dinged 85 (max level), I was given a shiny new shield that was especially made for me. People helped me find mats, made me a mount, gave me pets, enchanted my gear, helped reforge stats, answered questions, healed and resurrected me, and showed off their favorite content. Honestly, they are the reason I continue to sign on, even if I get bored of actually playing.

How many hours a week do you play?

These days, I bet I clock between 20 to 25 hours a week actually signed on to WoW. Sometimes I am on less, but have been guilty of doing a lot more.

How many people are in the guild?

It’s hard to say because there are loads of people who have joined and don’t play that often or who take a break for a few months because of school or family or loss of interest. Also, most of us have other characters, or alts, that we play around on. There are probably a couple hundred characters in our guild, but depending on the time of day there will be between two and 25 people signed on at a time.

So, you actually travelled to Australia to meet your W.O.W. guild, how did that come about?

You see, I live in Korea, but I certainly don’t want to play on a Korean server. My language skills aren’t that great. Instead, I am on an English-language Oceanic server. A huge portion of the folks I see while roaming Azeroth are actually based in Australia and New Zealand. When the world clock says 2 p.m., it is actually 2 p.m. down there, which happens to be the same as in Korea. There are a few exceptions of people in California and Japan, but my guild is largely based in Australia — and it just so happened that I was planning a trip there.

I was going to visit a RL friend of mine who was living and going to school near Sydney. I was planning on a week, but a conversation with Genowen convinced me to stay a bit longer. I should spend some time (and money!) checking out the rest of the continent. I booked a ticket for a month and got my credit card ready.

When people ask me what I saw in Australia, I pretty much told them I hung out with my friends. I did your basic tourist fare, but the majority of the time was with a glass of local wine in my hand getting to know new friends — with real names. Dinner and drinks in Melbourne, a blowout drinkfest birthday party in Brisbane and, the highlight, a week just chilling out in Adelaide with a pretty sophisticated 11-year-old.

What were they like? I assume they all had varied backgrounds?

You assume right. The youngest that I know is just under 20 years old. There aren’t kids in the guild (I wouldn’t let children near these people!). A lot of people in the guild are parents, though. There are students, professionals, stay-at-home moms, Kiwis and military-employed Americans. You can kind of tell what situation someone is in by what time they are generally online. “Working nights again, Bav?”

Would you say that they mostly reflected their characters, due to their job, height, weight, etc.?

Well, I doubt anyone is actually gnome-sized, or wants to change into a wolf, but there are some character traits that we have control over that could reflect that. Hairstyles, tattoos, piercings and things like that. There is a new feature that will allow us to make our gear (what we wear and carry as weapons) look as unique as we are. It will be interesting to see what each of us chooses. That said, we aren’t on a RP (role playing) server. I bet my answer would be different if I played on one of those.

Can you explain your character?

I have a Draenei Elemental Shaman. Her name is Salmacis. The name is significant to me, and I’ve used it as a pseudonym for more than a decade. The story is that her people came from another planet and crashed into Azeroth. A shaman can use forces from the four elements to kick monster butt. I’m not so much into RP, but I always imagined my toon to be regal. She will always have a posh hairstyle and with the changes coming up in the game, I can make sure she is always wearing a long dress and has an elegant, yet dangerous, blade. This works well for me because I kind of suck at actually killing bosses and can just go with the damsel-in-distress thing.

What’s the appeal of WoW compared to other games? Were you a big gamer before?

I loved consoles when I was younger, but gave them up when I moved out of my parents’ house. They were expensive and all my friends just wanted to play sports games anyway. Those aren’t fun to me. Mario and Zelda have my heart. So, no, I wasn’t a gamer. The biggest appeal of WoW has got to be the interaction with people. There are other games that have that element, but the stories in Rift or Conan just aren’t as compelling, I don’t think. It is easy to get into the characters you interact with (by helping or even killing them) in WoW. I really look forward to seeing how Lady Jaina Proudmore will explain to her brother about the death of her father.

Has playing the game affected your social life, dating, etc?

I’d love to say it hasn’t, but it wouldn’t be true. I haven’t abandoned my buddies in Seoul, but they really don’t get why I spend so much time online. After a big week at work, I like to stay home on Friday nights and chill with the guildies while shooting lighting bolts at bad guys.

If I mention this to anyone, sometimes they actually get mad: “You would rather play your silly game than spend time with real people?” My answer is that I do, in fact, want to hang out with real people — that’s why I’m online. 

By Dan Thwaits | Editor-in-Chief


  1. :D I'm also on Nagrand (oceanic) and I went to meet my Aussie guildies last November. It was weird telling my parents what I was doing, but they seem to be more accepting of me meeting "weird people from the internet" now. It was so much fun! Meeting guildies is the greatest!

  2. Yeah, I heard you mention Nagrand on GGW, so I totally stalked your armory... cried to see you are Horde! Why oh why????

    Haha, I pretend to hate Horde, but it's more of a joke than factional pride.