Last night, as I was sharing some background information with Allan Spiritrider, Cheryl Fire, and Ronan Dawn on a titanic project I'm about to produce, the Grand Life Sword dropped from Valeska Redwind! Unfortunately, I was the only one to get it, and my excitement level was not as joyous as I had imagined, mainly because I was hoping for it to drop for either Allan (Grand Life wizard needs his sword to complete the set!) or Gabriel (who has played for about a year and still could not end the search for this legendary treasure). Though, a "ding!" went off in my mind when I realized I have accomplished another post-Grand achievement: Collect all Grand (100-damage) Swords. w00t! Thanks to the friends featured in the picture!
In the last post, I described the impact that one player can have on another's gaming experience and playing incentives. Let's expand on that thought, and introduce to our slate the influence a group of people, and their expressions, can have for one player. When said player discovers and witnesses the effort, time, and dedication that other players have put into online journals, artwork, music, guides, talk shows, and even hand-crafted action figures, their interest in the game grows. As we read, share, test, and learn information about the game, provided to us by our peers, it adds density and volume to a virtual world. Merle Ambrose is no longer just a seemingly wise and powerful adventure-director (apparently every time we complete a world main quest line, he is the go-to man for the next instructions), but he becomes an unsolved mystery as our imaginations and speculation take the wheel. From an ordinary NPC who could care less if he accidentally calls you for no reason, he becomes a character to us that has the potential to alter the Spiral as we know it. Below are some staple, iconic figures and sites that have directly or indirectly contributed to KingsIsle's ongoing success:
Wizard101Central is a fansite forum that closely resembles the activity level of a large plaza of vendors, customers, tourists, and entertainers, all in a town that never sleeps. It seems that there is a new post every minute as someone confirms, disproves, announces, or ponders something. But it's not just a place to write about whatever. You can sense that there's about a double digit number of familial bonds between posters, admin, and newcomers. There is even some sort of monetary system or virtual currency going on, but since I'm not a regular participant (I visit the site only to refer to ironhawk's guides), I'll stay away from explaining it. Overall, it is an absolutely fantastic reference spot for Wizard101 players; without a webpage like this, three-quarters of us would have probably moved on to another game as soon as we complete every quest.
Who would have known that there was a gamer husband and father of three (just three kids, not three wives, just to be clear) who dedicates his time at least once every day to providing amusing, insightful, and informative entries in his blog? He's even created his own card game with detailed rules and set of cards, very loosely based off Wizard101's gameplay. Unless you're new to the game, I don't even have to tell you any of his aliases for you to (correctly) guess who I'm talking about. With such a trusted individual, this data management specialist (I wonder if he also scored ISTJ in the Keirsey temperament test) and his blog help create an essence of solace away from viral rumors that could end up haunting us. However, as a hidden bonus, he is more than just a blogger with good content: his personality and attitude are outstanding, which can partly explain for why his family shares in his hobbies and interests, and he in theirs. Makes you think: Wizard101 is great because it brings the family man out of people? Yeah, right. Another point for the Community!
Then there's the radio show I mentioned in the last post, Ravenwood Radio. Hosted by Stephen Spiritcaller and Leesha Darkheart, the two DJs with solid gamer backgrounds add a new dimension for players who seek information on the game: audio commentary, guest speakers, and even some video as they host different live events and broadcast their end-boss or tower runs, and there are very few things that beat visuals in motion! In conjunction with the show, there are segments from The Friendly Necromancer, The Helpful Mander, and Christina IceDreamer (also known as icywiz, who moderates the chatroom while a live show is in progress). Newbies and experts of the game are sure to enjoy what all these people have brought to the show, and will most likely learn something too. It even inspired a birth of a new show, Wandcast. These radio shows indirectly express the passions of both ends of the prism in relation to the game; in other words, they show in a sense that the game is enjoyable enough to speak about it publicly on a designated night. When these players could be farming for grand loot or accomplishing their next in-game goal, they instead set about an hour off to the side every other Wednesday to review and recall their experience in the Spiral. With audio, you can hear (and not read, keep in mind) the emotions and their sincerity, and know if they truly enjoy or dislike the game. Like Friendly, and unlike other community members of other games, these podcasters give no reason for anyone to be intimidated; they are welcoming, pleasant folks!
All of these different community figures and entities have either done or sponsored or advertised a contest. In games of accomplishment, individual achievement, and self-advancement, the free giveaways or merits for jobs well done do more than benefit just the winner: they display generosity and the encouragement to continue playing, and thus, with seemingly equal opportunity for these prizes, common players can revert their newbie mistakes with in-game gold, or pursue the virtually impossible task of farming for a mount at low levels. I have done a prize giveaway incorporated with trivia every night for a specific district in Guild Wars, and nothing feels greater than to know that a current deed will benefit someone else in the long run, and thus prolong their interest.
Keep in mind that it is a big part that the people around us, who are like you and me, are the reason we're still interested in this game. We can try to disprove this by removing all friends from our lists and cutting off access from the sites listed above, and testing the gaming experience with no one but strangers. Feel free to post any rebuttals, comments, support, codes for free crowns, etc. All is welcome. Thank you for your time.