The New York Times on Blizzcon: It’s a Community

Excellent article in the New York Times about Blizzcon, stressing the community aspect of things. Like-minded fans getting together, celebrating their shared love for Blizzard’s games, meeting online friends, etc. It’s quite heart-warming. A quote:

It wasn’t just the fans who were practically floating around the lobby. Here was DiabloWikiMike Morhaime, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, posing for pictures with a young woman dressed, a bit scantily, as a blood elf priest. DiabloWikiFrank Pearce, another co-founder, plunged eagerly through the crowd. Other senior producers and designers wedged into the bar. This was not Broadway or Hollywood; there were no bodyguards or handlers hovering with clipboards and headsets. This was a party full of people who love video games and the friends they’ve made through them. It was difficult to tell which contingent was genuinely having a better time meeting the other: the executives or the fans.

…At least a few people out there still think of video games as inherently antisocial. Certainly, a single-player game doesn’t involve interacting with another person, though neither does reading a book. But the most powerful and important games are the persistent online dimensions like World of Warcraft and Eve Online. That is because they’re not really about the games; they are about the relationships players form within them.

So what really seemed to draw so many players to BlizzCon was not the chance to check out early versions of games in development, like Diablo III and the World of Warcraft expansion, to be called Mists of Pandaria. It was not the tournaments or the panel discussions. It was the chance to hang out with one another.

If you’re wondering at the competence and lack of “look at the weird video game people” tone of this article, note that it’s by article in the New York Times who has a long history writing about video games and interacting with Blizzard. He was the guest for an awesome interview/conversation on the NYT’s Seth Schiesel, recorded a few days after he’d returned from a visit to Blizzard and a private Diablo 3 playtest. If you didn’t listen to it at the time, it remains timely and well worth attending to.

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19 thoughts on “The New York Times on Blizzcon: It’s a Community

  1. That’s what I was telling everyone! How is WoW antisocial, when it’s based around player interaction? Nice article.

    • well the social interaction involved in playing video games is nothing like actual socializing. if you play a ton of wow but don’t leave your house/apartment/basement it’s not likely you’ll seem well-adjusted to others

      • I know many not-so-well-adjusted people that go out and socialize all the time… It depends on the person in many cases…

      • Not really true. Look for research papers by Walther and Parks or Jeffrey Hancock – intensely intimate relationships and communities can form solely through computer mediated communication. It moves along at a different pace and plays by different rules, but saying that mediated communication is inherently antisocial or worse than face-to-face interactions is a technologically deterministic approach – one that has been soundly rejected by the social sciences.

  2. Great article, he hit the nail on the head on why blizzcon works. Doubt i will ever go myself because of the costs involved but i can see why people flock to it, especially wow players.

  3. Although I personally loved playing the Diablo demo is BlizzCon ’09 over and over again, talking to the devs and other games was indeed the best part.

  4. paid off article, not impressed.
    the high echelons of blizzard, activision, and their main investor club, paid new york times (a common thing with nyt)  to build hype.
    blizzcon is full of nerds, and blizzard does it to stablish their own niche in the market

    • Not really. The article focuses on the community aspect of Blizzcon. As flux says, celebrate their love of Blizzard games and to meet their online friends – that’s the opposite of nerd behaviour. A nerd would sit behind their computer not seeing the point or value in that.

      And of course the exhibitors’ objective is always to further establish their brand by bringing those people together (who go out and spread the good word), getting column inches (again spreading the good word even further) and selling branded merchandise (advertising the good word). The result is you reach more customers and get repeat/continued business. This is a good thing.

      As long as it stays good value ticket price vs, entertainment then I see them (not just Blizzcon, but exhibitions general) as a win win.

      • Understand but lots of people go to events and they hardly know each other. Does it make them a community ? When I go to the movies and sit with people I don’t know, is that considered a community ? A ton of people in WoW solo almost everything except raids, does it make them a strong community when eveyrthing else is soloable ?

        • I guess they could be considered a community as they have a shared interest, that movie.

          You and I are both part of the community we live in even though we talk and/or know only a tiny percentage of it.  In respect of Blizzcon everyone is there because of the interest they share so they’re a community of gamers.

          What would you call those attendees (and us here on this site) Thomas, if not a community. That’s not to sound confrontational because I’m genuinely interested.

          • No doubt I would go to Blizzcon if it was where I lived. I guess it really depends how you look at it. No doubt it is all good but I think some things walk a think line sometimes. Wait, this is a community here ? I’m touched!

        • Well, you are forgetting one small thing… You don’t talk with people in cinema during movie.
          And loads of people talk to each other in Blizzcon. And talking is main part of beeing in community.

    • DragonLiche aka Rupert Murdoch…

      Although there were a good amount of “weird video game people” at Blizzcon there was just as many average Joe’s their.

    • Blizzard is bribing the New York Times, the leading newspaper in the world, to hype their game? I’m sure you’re just trolling, but take a second to think how idiotic that comment is. Aside from the fact that there’s an hour long interview with the article’s author linked in the post, where you can hear a great deal of his personality and areas of interest, do you really think the NYT’s readership is Blizzard’s target demographic?

      Furthermore, nothing in the article isn’t demonstrably true. Obviously it’s a positive piece, but it doesn’t focus on their games; it’s about Blizzcon. What’s it going to do, encourage some guy from Brooklyn to want to go to Blizzcon? Because obviously Blizzard’s having so much trouble selling those tickets.

      If that wasn’t enough, think about where else you see Blizzard media coverage. On say, every gaming site on the internet. Don’t you think that has a bit more to do with hyping their games than the NYT? And imagine how much more cheaply bought are the under and unpaid writers on your average gaming blog.

      That makes things pretty simple, I guess. Anyone anywhere who ever writes something positive about Blizzard is clearly being bribed to do so. Also, anyone who writes anything negative about Blizzard has probably been bribed by EA to say it. And what about the people who don’t write about Blizzard at all?  Someone has paid for their silence!

  5. “is the only game company that puts on an event quite like this”. Errrr SOE has been doing this for years and there’s even a Minecraft convention in Vegas next month.

  6. “The only video game company to hold such events”?

    I take it they’ve never heard of “QuakeCon”, which has been around a LOT LONGER than “blizzcon”

    • Seth is a yale law dropout – he doesn’t need to actually research into the industry.  His sheer intellectual powers magically illuminate all before him.

  7. “Here was Mike Morhaime, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, posing for pictures with a young woman dressed, a bit scantily, as a blood elf priest.”
    Right, let’s pretend to chalk it up to Mike being a social, community loving guy =D. (not saying he isn’t :P)

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