Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

So long, Ghostcrawler, and thanks for all the fish.

We are gathered here today to bid farewell to our beloved Ghostcrawler, who will always be remembered for bringing customer interaction at Blizzard to a new level. Yesterday, at 8:51 pacific daylight time he passed away into the land of the silent.
Alright, obviously Ghostcrawler didn’t die or I wouldn’t make such a cheesy opening. He did post this, however:

“I always said that when my posting was doing more harm than good that maybe it was time to stop. I think I’ll at least chill it out a little. I will continue to read the forums though. If you want to make sure the WoW developer see your feedback, this is still a good place to post.”

I’ve said bad things about the crab before, and I stand by them. Too often did he leave the feeling of preaching company gospel that he didn’t believe himself, and some of his excuses were just plain terrible. I still don’t understand how he could blame the community for not understanding his “31 bosses in Icecrown” as exaggeration when he himself added “Yes Icecrown is that big.” in parentheses.

Ghostcrawler has also brought us the highest level of developer-player interaction I have seen so far in any major game company. The amount of information we got was higher than ever before – and for the first time in the history of World of Warcraft we got actual explanations for changes. Ghostcrawler’s job description may have been to appease the masses of whiners on the official forums, but he did it well and gave us tons of information to boot. It would be very sad if we would see the amount of blue posts turned back down to just the patchnotes and some fluff.

Both Blizzard and Ghostcrawler himself must realize the importance of such a PR person, so why this post? In a later post in the same thread, he admits that he will continue posting in threads that interest him, not those that we think are most important. Maybe he realized that stopping the class nerf qq threads on the forums is akin to the proverbial fight against windmills.
Like Sisyphus he kept rolling the boulder uphill, only for it to roll down again. No matter how many threads he squatted there would always be more. What he might not realize is, unlike that of Sisyphus, his work did have an effect. No, he couldn’t calm down the idiotic masses on the official forums, but he had a profound effect on the more sophisticated players.

The WoW forums are, and will always be, a cesspit of stupidity. No Ghostcrawler can change that and I suppose that is what he realized. That doesn’t mean that this kind of PR isn’t important and he surely shouldn’t just give it up. A solution I’d love to see (but that will likely never happen,) is Ghostcrawler or somebody like him approaching the more sophisticated part of the community. Stop posting on the official forums and talk to bloggers and fansites instead. Now, I know I’m a small fish, but wouldn’t it be awesome if a Blizzard developer contacted me after I post a piece of criticism and discuss it with me for a follow-up post? What about blizzard developers being available for selected members of the WoW fan-media community to comment on issues before they go to print?

I think this would be a brilliant way to reach those parts of the community that actually have a brain without having to deal with all the forum trolls. At the same time they would improve fan sites so much while having a first-hand opportunity to debunk well-written (but false) criticism. Give us some real PR Blizzard. Interviews, press conferences, statements on a topic. Other industries don’t communicate with their customers directly either, but they do talk to the press. Why not learn from their example?

That all said, we’ll miss you Ghostcrawler. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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