They say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, here are three Bearwalls…
We did it together!
We’re not only totally hawt, but we’re armed and dangerous, too!
And of course, we’re riding in style!
This is going to be a slightly different post for me, but I’d like to ask that you bear with me on this one for a few minutes, because the feelings behind it are very important to me.
I’d like to start, by asking you to try and remember back a few years to 2008, and the story of a young boy named Ezra Chatterton.
His story came to light in the WoW community when, through the works of the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard, his wish of meeting the designers and developers of his favorite game, World of Warcraft, and spending a day AS a developer was made real.
World of Warcraft was Ezra’s favorite game, because according to the story related by WoW.com, Ezra’s parents were divorced, and Ezra’s main method of spending time with his father was through playing together, and talking together while they were both online in WoW.
WoW was a bonding experience that helped bring father and son closer together, even though they lived quite far apart.
The story of a father and son brought closer together through a shared love of video games did strike a very personal chord with me, and it was only too easy to imagine how I’d feel if it was my own son that suffered from a brain tumor, and an uncertain future. My little wabbit slayer.
During his visit with Blizzard, and his day as a guest designer, Ezra, whose in-game name for his Tauren Hunter was ePhoenix, took part in helping design many small features that are still to be found in the game.
He helped design and do voiceovers for a new NPC, Ahab Wheathoof, that can be found in the Tauren starting town of Bloodhoof Village near Mulgore, and also designed the quest Ahab gives you, which is to help find Ahab’s pet dog, Kyle, modeled after Ezra’s own dog Kyle.
Ezra also gave input on, and helped design the Season 2 PvP weapon, the Merciless Gladiator’s Crossbow of the Phoenix. A weapon that still looks really damn cool, and that my Hunter has in the bank. How can you get rid of the Phoenix bow?
Why so many references in Ezras’ story to the Phoenix? It’s because Phoenix was actually Ezra’s middle name, and he took the name his father Micah and his mother had chosen for him, and it’s mythological background, close to his heart.
The lengths the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard went to, to bring his dream of feeling what it was like to be a game developer for a day, really was an inspirational, sweet gesture full of heart.
Towards the close of his day with Blizzard, he was given one parting gift from the development team; the Ashes of Al’ar that drop from Kael’thas in The Eye, the 25 man raid instance in Burning Crusade. He was the very first person to have the Ashes of Al’ar in all of the game, the exceedingly rare drop that becomes the lovely Phoenix mount, and I think it was very appropriate and wonderful to have thought of.
Not too long after the story of Ezra and his day with Blizzard came to our attention, WoW.com shared the news that Ezra had passed away on October 20th, 2008, after complications resulting from a stroke.
So, why am I bringing this up now?
Well, here’s the thing.
One thing that is talked about a lot these days, here and elsewhere, is how things feel like they’ve changed recently in the game.
With the addition of random Battlegrounds, random Looking For Dungeon tools, weekly Raid quests that get advertised, filled, knocked off and then party abandoned, even pug ICC raids, it’s become increasingly easy in the game to log in, join a series of groups, play in group content for hours, and then log off without ever having shared an actual moment of personal interaction with anyone else.
For me, the story of Ezra is, at least in part, the story of how a video game that is designed to make it easy to bring people closer together CAN be a place where families and distant friends can get to spend some valuable time together that they might not have had otherwise.
Yes, it’s time spent in a virtual world, but it’s time with REAL people that you know, love, and miss, people that you can’t be near in real life at that moment.
The distance between people in game, the ease the random group systems make it to slip away into isolation from other people… these are things I think about often, and Ezra’s story stays there in the back of my head, as counterpoint to what the game can be.
I’d like to try and do something with you, the readers of the blog, as a joint effort to remember Ezra. A little event where we could each get together and remember him, and the joy he took in having the game help him be closer to his dad, by doing something with friends and family.
What I’d like to propose is this.
If you read this blog, and if you are willing to take part in this with me, then approach your guild leaders, raid leaders or officers, and ask them if they would kindly put up a raid sometime during the next week or so to go into The Eye, the 25 man Burning Crusade raid, and try for a Phoenix mount drop, in honor of the ePhoenix.
Make it a special occasion that holds the spirit of the game to heart; you and your fellow friends and guild members, and of course your family if they play, getting together to have fun, to bond, and to spend time doing something just to be together as friends in the game.
I know it must seem corny, but it would bring a smile to my face to think of people playing WoW all across the world, seperated by physical distance but together in the game, having fun and giggling and doing silly crap, all inspired by the memory of the young boy who loved the game and the closeness it brought his family so much.
Now, here is the part that will probably sound wierdest, but I’m really serious.
Please, don’t advertise it with my name on it. Please don’t link to me, or refer to me, or have it be attached to me in any way. It’s not a Bear thing. It’s an “all of us” thing.
If you do want to spread the word, please do not mention me in any way. Just take the idea on your own, and mention it as something you’d like to do.
Where the idea comes from isn’t important.
I want this, for the people who agree that it’d be a nice thing to do, to be all about the idea, and about Ezra, and about playing together with friends instead of alone in LFD.
If the idea of taking a few hours out of the week to remember how precious it is that we can get together with friends and most especially family members from all over the world and have fun appeals to you, just bring the idea back to your guild, and try to make it happen.
Any of you that do this next week, whether you get a Phoenix mount or not, I’d just like to know how it went for you. Whether you had fun, what craziness you may have gotten into. Just drop me a line at my email, and let me know.
If by some chance you do have a Phoenix mount drop, send me a screenshot if you think about it. Cassie and I would love to see it. :)
I don’t know, maybe it sounds stupid on the outside. Maybe folks just have much more important things to do, or things to think about. But the older Alex gets, the more I think of Ezra and his father… and of how precious having these few moments to spend together really are.
Let the games begin!
Allow me to unveil the secret project…
A brand new podcast!
By all means, hurry on over to our new website, and bask in the glory that is;
Let me tell you exactly what this is.
What is our podcast about? Nothing whatsoever, anything you can imagine, and more than we should ever share.
This is a podcast that is WoW, unscripted. Four people chatting about whatever comes to mind, all messy and blotchy and without airbrushed touchup.
Did I mention the cheesy 70’s porn vibe? Just checking.
We have a vision for our podcast, a mission statement if you will.
“This is a World of Warcraft podcast that makes whelpling farming go a little smoother, and fishing seem less of a chore.”
An alternate tagline would be, “If you’re going to waste an hour fishing, why not listen to our podcast?”
I truly hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
This… this is a mugging of all things professional.
Just think Seinfeld; the podcast.
If people are pissed at how I’ve treated Blood Elf ladies, wait until they get a load of our Night Elf lady logo!
I am, according to Cassie, simply HORRIBLE at keeping a secret.
Well, that’s true to a certain extent.
After all, I’m only horrible at keeping the secrets she knows about.
The types of secrets I mean, are when I’ve got a present, and I know what it is, and I want to give it to you… and I really, really want to like, give it to you naw, damnit! I want to see the look on your face when you see what it is!
I’m the guy that wants the kids to at least open SOMETHING Christmas Eve rather than wait until Christmas morning.
Tradition? Hey, we can start a new tradition! Open something, damnit!
In Cassie’s case, I’ll buy her something, and then I have a very hard time not cracking early and revealing what it is. Hints and stuff kind of… spill out.
And she gets annoyed because she likes a surprise, and I ruin it!
I’m fighting that feeling right now.
See, I know what the secret project is. And I know that whatever it is, it’s happening tonight. And I know how very, very close we are to unveiling the surprise…
And I want so dearly to bust it open now.
I actually let the kitty out of the bag at the end of the WoW Insider podcast… after the recording was over, but before we shut the mikes off.
After a WoW Insider recording is in the can, the show goes on for a little, just chatting with the folks in the live chatroom.
We were chatting, and I made sure the recording was shut off, and I told the people that had hung in there what the secret was.
See? I can’t keep a secret to save my life.
Well… I said in general what the secret was. The particulars… the devious little particulars are still secure.
I know they are, because the website we designed has encountered zero page hits. It ain’t been found out, nyuck nyuck nyuck.
Tonight, great evil shall unfold. A crime against blogging professionalism will have been committed.
And tomorrow, well, a bunch of folks will have some news to share with you.
Either that, or I’ll be digging out my backup passport from my cold drop and hitting the road, two steps ahead of the law, and a raving horde of pissed off readers.
Heck, either way tomorrow ought to be amusing.
Sorry for running silent, running deep around here lately.
I’ve got the gear stuff on hold right this second, because, believe it or not, I am expecting a few more changes to itemization weighting before 3.2, things that haven’t been announced yet in their final state. So, if you’re waiting with baited breath… go brush. Whew, stinky!
If you’ve been craving more of the Bear (and after all, who doesn’t) then may I suggest you tune in this weekend (Saturday, around 3PM Eastern time) to the WoW.com/WoW Insider podcast, where they are holding their 100th Anniversary podcast, and rumor has it a certain ursine individual who has a big butt and cannot lie may have been invited to attend.
You know you love hearing me chat with Mike Schramm. It’s okay, you can admit it.
In other news, I’m busier than a one pawed bear in a salmon stream. I haven’t even had much time to log in or play lately, let alone work on blog stuff, because I’m short staffed in my department (in a good way… cut out the dead wood! Woot!), interviewing applicants to fill the opening, and at the same time preparing for some incoming audits by addressing maintenance concerns that must be complete by August 7th.
No worries, just wanted to explain that things aren’t dead here, I’m just spending a lot more time at work late, and at home we’re having fun with Alex and doing more family stuff. As things get addressed, more time will become available to stay up late to write.
In the meantime… I’ve got the PBeM story churning in my head, DYING to have the next turn written, I’ve got the Ultimate Bear Drinking Storytime to write, and the evil secret project of doom to blossom… evil blossoms! Evil! Like, invasion of the body snatcher blossom flower evil, like flowers that shoot Spock in the neck and make him happy and get laid evil! These are seriously evil blossoming ideas here!
Oh, and when you DO see what the evil secret project of doom is, remember one key thing;
It’s ALL Breana’s fault. ALL of it!
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
I’ve got a little project going on, a little evil side action, a fun little thing, and I’ve got a couple of freaking brilliant bloggers conspiring in it with me.
The one thing we don’t have is a brilliant photoshop guru to help us nail this cool image thingies we wantd to do.
If you would like to help out on a secret project that shouldn’t take much time, and can keep your mouth shut, and have some wicked photoshop skills I ask you to please email me at tigerlordgm AT yahoo DOT com.
Serious folks only, please. We’re moving fast and we want to nail this down while we’re still laughing our butts off.
Thank you very much for stopping by!
And remember… shush!
Aaaand, thank you all for responding…
I got exactly what I was hoping to get, a couple of fantastically wonderful images, courtesy of Wulf at Wulf’s Blog!
Thank you VERY much, Wulf, just awesome pics! Hehehehe.