Sunday, November 9, 2008

Virtual Insanity

I watched history made on Azeroth this weekend.

Ezra Chatterton, a young boy taken all to early from cancer, was honored today in the World of Warcraft. "How?" you would ask. This becomes a bit more complicated than a simple game. As a part of the Make-A-Wish foundation and the work they accomplish for children facing the ultimate challenge, Ezra was able to visit Blizzard HQ - thus began his true legacy. The reports indicate Ezra talked with programers and executives. He was able to create some in-game items and characters - even designing a quest line of his own. The visit culminated by him being bumped up to level 70 and then receiving some truly amazing in-game items from Tigole himself, even enough to bring the misties to yours truly. Hearing his story, thousands maybe even millions began following his story and more importantly, had said story touch their lives. Almost every single one of us has been touched by cancer in one way or another. Whether it be a friend or family member, many of us have witnessed victory and struggle on the grandest of scale. How does a young boy tie into that? He became a symbol to us, a symbol of the frailty of life and the gravity of the device. Reading the forums on his website, the day he passed the comments of support and mourning literally poured in by the truckload. The fact that such a young man could effect our real lives through our second lives is the feeling that stuns me, yet at the same time feels completely natural. Thank you Ezra.

To honor him, a well known member of the hunter community aptly dubbed BRK [Big Red Kitty] decided to host a combination running of the bulls / Stormwind invasion. I thought the idea was fantastic and my wife and I created toons a few hours beforehand. The excitement was mounting as nearly a thousand baby tauren danced and thunderstomped Red Cloud Mesa for hours beforehand. Shortly before the event was to start, Argent Dawn-US shut down new character creation - this might get messy. At the appointed time of 6pm, we all began running for the harbor at Ratchet. Then......it all broke loose - the server that is. Apparently the server was unable to handle a massive baby tauren army running from zone to zone and we began to be plagued with lag and disconnects. Did that stop us? That would be a negative. I was able to get some awesome video of the run, as much as I could. Blizzard even had GM's messaging the runners [one of which I received] in order to restore some smidgen of stability to the region and realm. Many people responded in spite, I was rather impressed with the professionalism they showed. The tell read something like this "We appreciate you gathering together for this cause, but we ask that you spread into different zones to alleviate some of the stress". Did they command us to stop? No. Did they remove/boot people? No. Did a GM show up in person and begin striking us all dead before we could continue further into server crashdom? No [but seeing a GM AOE killing a thousand baby tauren might have made even Ezra chuckle] All in all, kudo's around. To BRK for organizing such a memorable event. To Blizzard for showing class and decorum in handling the challenges. To the runners for showing up to indicate their support and to pay their respects to one hell of a brave little guy.

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