Note: This was a stream of consciousness post that I put together during a commute in my car. Hence the clever name of the post.
I’m back mother truckers!
Five days in Las Vegas, followed by three nights at work. I finally have a day where I can get my head on straight and what do I do? Play Borderlands 2 exclamation point!
Wait, what? What the hell is going on?
I have found that my nerd card is quite full. And oddly enough, I have to blame my family for that. I went to visit my cousin the other day, and he re-introduced me to the awesomeness that is Borderlands 2 on the old XBox 360. He also got me back into the pen and paper RPG world with Pathfinder. Not only do I have a character in the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign that he’s running, but this Friday I will be running one of my own as well!
I know, I know, calm down ladies. All nerd, all the time.
But what about World of Warcraft? No, I haven’t forgotten about it. I’m doing my usual gimmick where I try to make gold to afford a server transfer. Yes, another one. I also know that I’m going to be spending the next couple of days getting caught up with all things Blizzard that has happened while I’ve been off the grid. Well, at least Blizzard things I am interested in. So maybe I am being generous with the whole two days. Maybe two hours.
I have to admit though, as busy as it keeps me, this real life thing isn’t all that bad. The long workdays and little sleep aside, it does help pay for things like BlizzCon. I’m hoping to pull in a few more overtime shifts because I have a flight I need to pay for. And as of right now, I may be sleeping behind the dumpster at the Super 8 just down the road from the Anaheim Convention Center.
And oh, do I know that dumpster well. That’s a story for another time.
Well, that’s where I’m at right now. Dabbling in a little real life entertainment, a little pen and paper, and a little gold making in World of Warcraft. Oh yeah, Not to mention trimming down and training up for BlizzCon! As well as undoing some of the damage I did to my body in Las Vegas. Not everything that happens in Vegas, stays there.
Again, a story for another time.
Spoiler, I’m talking about food and drink. Not herpes or anything like that. Damn, you Americans know how to make up some tasty treats.
Editor’s Note: I had initially started writing this the day after Blizzcon 2016, but then abandoned it because let’s face it – at the time, ragging on the Blizzcon hosting duties was like beating a dead horse. Now social media have moved on to other, uh, things. So I thought, what the Hell, why not try and revisit this and maybe get some fresh ideas flowing.
I love Blizzcon. I really do. Where else can nerds like me go and feel not only safe, but accepted? Gamers are always the brunt of jokes and ridicule. At least, those who are brave enough to let others know what they do both for fun and as a social experience. Blizzcon is like a big hug, a place where Blizzard gamers can be among their own people, and not have to worry about being judged.
You be you, boo boo. You be you.
Naturally, the socially awkward and sensitive tend to be very protective of their safe-zone. They don’t like it when outsiders come in and disrupt their happy place. This makes them critical of anyone who they feel might be disparaging them. Sensitive, you might say.
Some might say, too sensitive.
Thomas Middleditch, the host of the Contest portion of Blizzcon 2016, seemed to have little idea what he was signing up for. I’m sure he’d been briefed. I mean, dude is no slouch – Emmy-nominated actor for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “Silicon Valley”. He clearly knows how to bring the funny. He also fits the “nerdy comedic gamer” niche that Blizzard seems to go for when it comes to booking hosts for Blizzcon.
Thomas tried. He did. Granted, even he admitted he wasn’t as prepared as he should have been. He cited being busy working 12 hour days, which is understandable given that he has a career to build on. But by the end of his set, the live attendants didn’t seem too thrilled with him, and the online crowd openly hated him. They roasted him to the point where former host Jay Mohr piped up on Twitter offering support.
Jay brought up a few interesting observations, one of which I slapped at the top of this post. He cited it as the reason that most of the people who hosted prior to this refused to return for the gig. And honestly, I don’t blame them.
Comedy is subjective. Sometimes it hits, sometimes not. I’ve seen most of the previous hosts, both live and on Youtube or Virtual Ticket. And while it is important to be able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously, poking fun at socially awkward gamers at Blizzcon is like going to a gun convention and cracking wise about the guy who buys the biggest guns to make up for his other shortcomings.
Penis. I’m saying he buys big guns because he has a little penis. Point being, it doesn’t go over well.
To Blizzard’s credit, they make tremendous games. Games so good that they generate passionate fans. And be it games, antique cars, or geode crystals, nobody likes it when someone takes a pot shot at something they are passionate about. They get defensive, lash out, and Jay Mohr takes his paycheck and says “Later nerds!”
And I don’t blame him. Just as I don’t blame Thomas Middleditch, Wil Wheaton, or Chris Hardwick.
I blame Blizzard… or whoever does the bookings. But since it’s Blizzcon, Blizz has to take the hit on this one. Why?
- They hire comedians that they think filled a niche – gamers, nerdy types. Problem being, especially in Middleditch’s case, the hosts break out their stock material about gamers (either out of habit or due to a lack of familiarity with Blizzard games), which is only funny when it’s not entirely true. But let’s be real here – sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason. Some of those jokes hit a little close to home for many, and while some may laugh at the jokes, others may feel like they are the ones being laughed at.
- Why must the contest host be a comedian at all? They start the set off with ten minutes of jokes, which is a great warm up if you’re setting up for more comedy. Sitcoms do this when they shoot in front of a live audience by having a comedian come out and “warm up the crowd”. Big name comedians also do this by having warm up acts perform before them. But at Blizzcon, the only comedy that happens once the competition starts is whatever jokes the comedian says. Those jokes tend to be at the expense of the performers. (Okay, the talent competition might be yuk yuk-worthy but you don’t need a warm-up act for that.)
Every Blizzcon it seems like it becomes harder and harder to fill that hosting spot. As Jay Mohr pointed out, there’s a reason for that. After what happened at Blizzcon 2016, I think it might be time to veer off the path a little.
- Get a celebrity who plays Warcraft. Blizzard obviously likes to have a celebrity in that hosting spot. This year, while Thomas Middleditch was an Emmy-nominated actor, he just wasn’t as well-known as many other hosts had been. But people know Hodor. Kristian Nairn plays Warcraft, and he DJ’d the afterparty event at Blizzcon this year. Felecia Day? She’s appeared at Blizzcon before. Dominic Monaghan? He threw down with Elijah Wood (Battle of the Hobbits, yo!) defending World of Warcraft. He makes appearances at SDCC. There are other celebrities who could come out and host the contest who are WoW fans (Vin Diesel, Mila Kunis, and obviously Jamie Lee Curtis) but the price tag on them might be more than Blizzard can afford. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try… and Jamie Lee Curtis already has her own Orc costume.
- Pull from the fan base. Since this is a hosting gig for the competition portion of the show, why not have a competition to select the host? There are talented Youtubers, Twitchers, and other media-savvy people amongst the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of Blizzard gamers. I’m sure if Blizzard dangled a competitive carrot out there, they’d get a number of suitable entries. And with all the heat that the very same fan base threw at hosts in the past, anyone who entered the competition would be very aware of what kind of potential shit-storm could be waiting for them.
Blizzcon 2017 is only about 340 days away. Clock’s ticking… and I doubt there will be a lineup of people knocking on Blizzard’s door looking for the hosting gig this time around.
I see by my calendar, my various guilds chat, and my @RokkTalk twitter feed that Blizzcon 2015 is just a few days away. I love going to Blizzcon, and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend two of them in the past. It’s a great experience where for two days you get to celebrate Blizzard gaming culture, put real faces to the virtual names you’ve spent so much time with online (and perhaps stalking), and get drunk repeatedly with other socially recluse gamer types. It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm nerd blanket for two days, and that’s quite a bit of all right if I do say so myself.
Now due to poor luck and a poorer wallet, I won’t be able to make it to Blizzcon this year. However, I am definitely hopefully optimistic that I will be making my Blizzcon return next year at Blizzcon 2016 (assuming they have a ‘con next year, and that they have it around the same time of year as Blizzcon 2015).
It’s probably a bit premature to start speculating as far as who might be hosting Blizzcon next year. Good social form suggests that at the very least, we wait for this year’s ‘con to happen before looking ahead to next year. Otherwise it comes across a little like calling dibs on your sick grandmother’s good china before she’s even passed away. It can come off as a little insensitive, is what I’m saying.
With the Warcraft movie being released next summer, there’s going to be plenty of focus on Blizzard Entertainment from the general, non-gaming world and their applicable media. The tangential hope on Blizzard’s part is that people will like the movie, then want to check out the game that the movie is based on. Blizzcon could have quite a few more eyes on it than in previous years. Plus, depending on when they have it, they may have some big things to discuss – expansions, Overwatch, a Warcraft movie sequel.
So it would make sense for Blizzard to get a big name host for such an event. A name with some real star power behind it. A major celebrity, not just like a niche celebrity of geek culture. Outside of Felicia Day, there are only a handful of geek culture types who have both the celebrity stature and the ability not to melt down into a socially awkward pile of nerve goo while standing in front of twenty thousand screaming fans.
That’s why Blizzard needs to sign up Vin Diesel to host Blizzcon 2016.
No, I’m serious. Here’s three reasons that show just how serious.
#3. He Brings Mainstream Attention.
Thanks to the Fast & Furious franchise, Vin Diesel is a needle mover. He’s the kind of A-list celebrity that gets people’s attention no matter what he does. Unlike Kardashian types, he actually does it by working on multi-million dollar movies and earning fans, rather than, uh, whatever these Kardashian things do for attention.
Vin Diesel’s social media muscles are as impressive as his real ones (when he’s not in dad body mode). He’s got about 5 million Facebook followers, and over 12 million followers on Instagram. Compared to the social media numbers that Chris Hardwick and Wil Wheaton have, which are respectable to say the least, Vin Diesel puts up some beast numbers.
Now you take a mainstream celebrity like Vin, and you have him mention this Blizzcon thing once in a while. It’s going to reach more than just the “geek niche” ears. It’s reaching everybody. That kind of promotion is definitely something that I’m sure Blizzard would not shy away from, especially with their movie coming out in June. Blizzcon hype might not help promote the movie (unless Blizzcon hits around the same time the movie does), but the real movie money comes with the DVD sales. And if the movie launches in June, the DVD should be dropping around Blizzcon time. It couldn’t hurt to have Vin post a pic of himself holding a Special Edition Warcraft DVD to his 12 million Instagram followers.
#2. He Can Make Blizzcon Feel Badass.
One of the things that makes a good host is that they are relatable. More often than not, stereotypes exist for a reason. So when you look at guys like Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick, and you listen to them talk about their past, you get the feeling that “Oh they’re just like us.” They are geek culture personified, and they’re just the kind of people you expect would be hosting Blizzcon. They are a reflection of what you think of when you think “this guy plays Blizzard Games.”
Dominic Toretto. Richard B. Riddick. Xander Cage. Hell, let’s throw Groot in there too just for good measure. Vin Diesel is known for playing badass characters. Plus, acting aside, the man is built like an Orc. Sounds like one too. Having him host Blizzcon would be like giving it a badass seal of approval. It would reflect not just the geeky aspect of Blizzard entertainment, but the badass side of it – especially with the addition of IP’s like Overwatch, which are less fantasy and more “shoot people in the face”, run-and-gun style.
#1. He Has The Resume.
At first glance, Vin Diesel seems like the absolute last guy who should be hosting a video game convention. A muscle car convention, maybe. He’s an action movie star who has starred in multi-million (and damn near billion) dollar movies. He appears unrelatable to the typical WoW player. In fact, he looks like the kind of jock who would be giving swirlies to gamer geek types back in high school.
But that’s where you’re wrong. You see, Vin Diesel is one of us and has been for quite some time. Much like previous hosts Chris Hardwick and Wil Wheaton, Vin Diesel also has a foot in geek culture. He has discussed in the past, and not-so-distant past, his love of Dungeons and Dragons. Check out this video where he plays D&D with the Nerdist crew.
There’s something about watching a big dude like Vin get his flex on when he lands a critical hit. Something awesome.
Sure, so he can roll the dice. But what’s his gaming cred like? Well, the man just happens to have founded a video game development company, Tigon Studios, that makes video games based around his Riddick movie franchise or his D&D characters.
But what about WoW? Shouldn’t someone who hosts Blizzcon actually know something about the game? I’m sure Jay Mohr would disagree, and he hosted Blizzcon twice. But fear not. Unlike Jay “Did he or didn’t he?” Mohr, Vin Diesel has actually played World of Warcraft. And he did it with Paul Walker.
So yeah, I think he has the resume.
Perhaps you agree with me. Or perhaps you think I should increase my medication dosage. There’s no way I can know this. Let me know in the comments below if you think Vin Diesel might make a good Blizzcon host. If not Vin, then who?
Every few weeks I find myself having to leave home for a two week block due to work obligations. Half a month away from home, from family, and all familiar comforts therein. It sucks to be away from home, away from loved ones. And especially from my computer.
I know we’re living in the 21st century and most of the civilized world has embraced cellular technology. Towers everywhere, blessing the masses with 3G and 4G coverage. Sadly, there are pockets in this wireless blanket of coverage where you are lucky to have a single bar of service, and God forbid if you happen to move twenty feet to the right or left once you find that sweet spot of service.
This is where I spend my two weeks – in the deadzone pocket.
Since I can’t log into WoW by conventional means, I am forced to spend my two weeks on Twitter living vicariously through the posts of others. My work schedule has been a particularly cruel mistress, as I have been away during a few, well let’s call them pivotal moments in WoW.
– Blizzcon (I had a ticket to the event that I ended up not using, and couldn’t even stream it due to the mighty One Bar of Service).
– The release of Warlords of Draenor (which might not have been a bad thing – DDOS attacks I’m looking at you).
– Patch 6.1 (my damn, so many in-game selfies WHY PEOPLE WHY).
It sucks to constantly be out of the loop like that. I miss being behind the progression of events. I miss not being able to level my characters, or not doing their daily profession cooldowns. Why, that’s throwing money away. That’s pissing gold away. Hey…
(Please don’t — Editor)
Fine. I will skip the golden shower reference.
(He doesn’t, and yet still does — Editor)
Back to the point, there are things in game that I miss. If it wasn’t for the fact that I bought a subscription to a mobile desktop service so I could do my garrison missions on my phone, I would slowly lose my mind. Don’t say it.
(Wouldn’t dream of it bubba — Editor)
And now, I pose the question to you dear reader – What do you miss about World of Warcraft when you are away from it for an extended period of time?