This week, we turned the Community Spotlight toward long-time blogger and World of Warcraft fansite operator Anne Stickney. She generously answered our questions.
Q: Where does video gaming begin for you?
A: I remember my brother and I went to visit our best friends right after Christmas one year, because they got something really cool and wanted to show us. It was an Atari, and I remember sitting in their living room playing Frogger, absolutely enchanted for hours. At some point their mother popped her head in to check up on us because we were suspiciously quiet, and asked if we'd like to go outside. We said “no thank you.” I don't think I was more than three or four years old at the time. The fascination started really early!
But video games didn't really come into our household until a few years later, when we unwrapped an NES under the tree, and the year after that, when we got our first computer. My mother loved watching us play, particularly RPG games with stories - I imagine it was like watching a little movie play out for her. One day she hesitantly asked us if we were having fun. My brother handed her the controller in reply. That was the day we had to start fighting my mother for who got to play first!
Q: Was this still the case in 2004?
A: World of Warcraft is kind of a convoluted story for me. I used to watch a friend/roommate of mine play Warcraft III every now and again, and I liked that the game had a story to it, and he was happy enough to explain it as he went along. When World of Warcraft was still in beta, another friend of mine gave me a beta key near the tail end of it all. I still remember installing it - I hadn't told anyone in the house that I was in the beta, but the moment I hit play and the music kicked in, the Warcraft-playing roommate suddenly materialized over my shoulder demanding to know how I got into the beta and ridiculously excited to watch me play!
Soon thereafter, he gave me a copy of Christie Golden’s Lord of the Clans. I've been playing ever since. Never missed a beta, either!
Q: How long was it until you started blogging about World of Warcraft?
A: It’s funny - I didn't intend to get into blogging, I've always been a writer, but I hadn't really thought about trying my hand at blogging until Wrath of the Lich King was out. I really, really liked Warcraft's story. I still do. After I finished Lord of the Clans, I promptly went on a binge and devoured every Warcraft book I could get my hands on, and continued picking them up as they came out. I've always been a reader, too, and I have ... a really, really long memory when something interests me, so as I was reading along I was cataloging all of this in my head, and I was just impressed with how neatly the story wove itself together - and how there were spaces deliberately left wide open, to be filled in later.
Warcraft has a really elaborate tapestry of events -- one that isn't easily followed. So I was kind of the go-to person in my guild for having something explained. I went out of my way to finish every quest, and remembered all the details.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I decided maybe I should start a blog as a kind of lore resource for people. That's when I started my first blog - and I don't think it had been out more than maybe a few months before WoW Insider (now Blizzard Watch) posted that they were looking for a lore columnist. The idea of getting paid to do exactly what I was doing was a good one, so I applied for it – and promptly ended up writing a heck of a lot more than just lore, and doing many podcasts, and now we’ve added streaming to the mix as well.
Q: What do you like to do the most?
Exploring the map with my friends has to be pretty high up there. We'd just mount up and go wander, trying to get to places we hadn't seen before. But I've been raiding -- first on a Forsaken priest, and when Burning Crusade came out, I swapped to a rogue -- and I've been playing her ever since.
I think Blackwing Lair was one of the most challenging raids I've ever done. My guild didn't use voice chat, so everything was communicated via hotkeys. I was the heal lead, so it was up to me to call rotations and class calls on Nefarian - between that, healing the main tank, and trying to just stay alive. Taking Nefarian down was just a rush of adrenaline - we were only the second guild on the server to do it.
There's a real sense of camaraderie that comes from being in a raiding guild. You're all working together to make something happen, and when it all comes together, it feels great. I've met so many amazing people through the game, and every single one of them has had their own story to tell.
Q: And does that story-telling happen face-to-face for you?
A: The absolute highlight of my time in the community was doing a book signing for the World of Warcraft: Ultimate Visual Guide at BlizzCon 2013. Brady Games was kind enough to arrange a signing at their booth, and I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there, but there was a line of people - a really long line! My voice was gone by the end of it, but I had so much fun talking to everyone that showed up and signing their books - we don't usually get a lot of time to chat with people while we're working at the convention, so having the opportunity to do so was fantastic.
I love BlizzCon every year, honestly – it feels a little like coming home, in a way. It’s like coming home to a giant, sprawling family.
Q: What does the future hold?
A: Legion! I like what I’m seeing so far. There are story threads that have been left alone for so long – stuff from Cataclysm, stuff from Wrath, even things from Burning Crusade – and they’re all getting picked back up again. I love seeing how a story is pulled together, and Legion feels like the culmination of a lot of the story.
The other part that I find really interesting is that for the first time in a very long time, I’m not quite sure where we’re going to go from here. There’s been a pattern in the progression of the story up to this point, but in Legion, we’re tackling one of the biggest villains the game has to offer – and I’m wondering what direction we’re going to go after all that dust has settled. It’s almost a wide-open canvas of possibilities after that point.
Q: Any final thoughts for the World of Warcraft community?
A: So many people, from so many different backgrounds, from so many different viewpoints can all agree on one thing: killing internet dragons is pretty awesome. We’re all part of the community because, in one way or another, we absolutely love this game. It makes the game special. And it kind of makes us special, too – we always have that connection. I love that connection, that sense of belonging. I don’t care who you are, if I see you with some kind of Warcraft insignia on your person, I wouldn’t mind knowing you more, and I really have to say thank you. Without the passion of the community, there is no way I could be doing what I do. There's no way Blizzard Watch would exist. And there's no way I'll ever forget that.
Thank you so much, Anne, for all you’ve given the community, and for talking with us.