In hindsight, maybe cutting off video games at only 64 bits was a tragedy. Skipping over PlayStation and Xbox has left a gap in my understanding for the newer game concepts that use words like “interactive,” “customized” and “monthly fees” – blasphemy to someone who paid by the minute for AOL – and acronyms like MMORPG, AoE and P2P.
So there I am at work: graveyard shift, anonymous 24-hour diner. My inner gamer, stuck somewhere between 1994 and 1997, is ignorant to conquering quests and player versus player combat. Millions-deep simultaneous gameplay and uber-futuristic (or possibly totally medieval) worlds were not even in my peripheral vision.
Enter, Blizzard Entertainment’s night crew, Game Masters for Guinness World Records’ “Most Popular Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game:” “World of Warcraft.” The realms went down for maintenance, so they decided to satisfy 3:30 a.m. cravings for chili cheese fries and blueberry-banana hotcakes (they’re at the right place).
Part in-home guitar teacher and part high school principal, the Game Masters – or just GMs “when people get lazy” – are the customer service representatives at Blizzard’s corporate office, answering summons to help users find their way and banning accounts for cussing too much. They work at a gaming paradise, a three-building compound with an epic statue centerpiece and delicious cafeteria.
The GMs don’t own the game, but they think they do, and when they walk in I can almost see the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs.
For the next hour, I am sucked into the secret language and impressively complex realm (get it?) of Orcs, Zul’Gurubs and Death Knights, unable to stop listening to the late-night shop talk behind the most coveted of gamer jobs. I keep refilling their waters, catching glimpses of conversations I am unable to translate. “... and you know how Pala Warriors are!”
Although it might as well have been in Portuguese, I (kinda) learned a lot. Through the thick jargon (think “ancient tribes of jungle trolls under the sway of an ancient Blood God”) I found out that even in pretend worlds you can be a deviant by selling Gold, whispering to too many strangers and hollering at sorceresses. Azeroth could be “Vice City” or “San Andreas,” making “World of Warcraft” like “Grand Theft Auto” for those that miss “Dungeons & Dragons.”
In awe at their useless knowledge, I absorbed what I could (“but that has a 42 resilience on it”) and refrained from asking n00b-esque questions, preferring to try and decipher story snippets on my own (or through Wikipedia later). Draped in official Blizzard Entertainment T-shirts and taking up half of my section, the talkative GMs looked pleasantly out of place when the early-morning coffee guys came sauntering into confusion around 4 a.m.
And as I switched my attention from Shadow Priests and Yetis to egg white omelettes and decaf refills, I felt for the misunderstood. Self-proclaimed nerds gotta eat, too, you know.