Perculia’s Peculiar Signet
Last week I found out there’s an item named after my character in Mists of Pandaria: Perculia’s Peculiar Signet. I’m completely thrilled about this tribute. I’m not usually floored by surprises or good news, but this time, I definitely was. The thought must pass through everyone’s mind how cool it would be to have a tangible reminder of their time spent in Azeroth, a place where so many things are transient yet wrapped up in memories. And well, that happened.
What do you say when you write a post like this? I didn’t just want to gush, which would bore everyone. Responding to the attention with self-deprecation or rattling off self-praise is equally abrasive. I have loved my time spent in Azeroth as a player, and think it’s the coolest thing ever that I get to write about it for work now. It’s a fan’s dream come true.
There’s a conundrum that every character in Azeroth is both a unique hero and part of a faceless crowd. Millions of us are a handful of survivors that vanquish foes and triumph on daredevil missions. We’ve all single-handedly restored greenery to Firelands and have a personal connection with Wrathion. So from that perspective as well, it’s great to picture my character stepping out from the shadowy composite of heroes into Azeroth’s meta-fabric, to feel that she’s been made “real” by this ring.
Community-themed items are something everyone knows about, but it’s too abstract and awe-inspiring to think about practically attaining. It’s presumptuous to do. I’d idly wondered about Angelista, coming across her belt, ring, and neck as I got more serious about raiding in AQ 40. And as I kept lurking on EJ, I appreciated when several generations of rogue theorycrafters showed up in items. To me, the players with named items had taken their enjoyment of WoW and turned it into a unique hobby that transcended progression patches or dangling carrots designed to hook the player base. I always hoped to get to that level of involvement with WoW, a calm place where I’d be unaffected by trivial things and parse the content in a uniquely tailored way. The end goal wasn’t to act in a way that would garner attention from the powers that be, but to find a unique niche that was both personally satisfying and beneficial to others.
So last week I was working on archaeology and legendary weapons posts when Esoth, writing up a MoP hunter gear list, linked me the ring and asked if I knew about it. Here’s a few of the highlights of what happened next:
I went back to screencap all the replies on my phone, since it was so heartwarming: the outpouring reminded me of dinging the Realm First Rogue announcement, except less temporal. Lots of people commented how genuinely happy they felt, how it’s less common to feel so intensely happy on someone else’s behalf. I tend not to squee about things or actively reach out for support, so to see my feed crit with well-wishes surpassed my expectations. It was different and overwhelming to be in a position where all I could do was accept thanks.
Specially-named items occupy a powerful part of Warcraft’s universe. There are many things players attribute elite status to that are transient–we can all remember exasperatedly waiting for an item to drop, only to wonder why it’s in our bags tiers later. Having a named item is in a completely different league from other unique character perks–it transcends the petty elitism tied to many aspects of the game that temporarily make players feel special. It’s not tied to an imaginary hardcore vs casual debate, or loses its lustre in hindsight. It’s something inspirational players look up to, but it’s an untouchable goal. Lots of players would love a named item, but there’s no actual plan to getting one, like you would farming achievements or mounts. You just do what’s natural and share your passion for the game with others.
And I’d just been writing about being in a transitional state myself–how for years I defined myself in-game as an enthusiastic well-rounded player that had both strong raid achievements and vanity item collections. That breadth of knowledge, paired with relevant professional skills, helped shape me into an ideal candidate for my current job as Wowhead’s Content manager. But in adjusting to a new schedule and responsibilities, I was unable to interact in my familiar way with WoW. Having something change after years of familiarity, even if it’s for the best, still feels disconcerting. I’d been so used to defining myself one way around Azeroth, that when that playstyle was yanked out from underneath me, it took some adjusting.
As a side note, I have felt a bit more adjusted recently–my current guild, Something Wicked, has been a great fit. The guild is full of people who are passionate about WoW: Anafielle runs a paladin blog, Derevka writes about priests and finds excuses not to visit me, Omega maintains Deadly Boss Mods, to name a few. They’re also incredibly kind and close-knit, making me feel valued and helping me achieve things in-game I had mostly given up on doing with my schedule like heroic mounts. They keep taking me along to Dragon Soul and asking excitedly how far along I am on the legendary each week–as someone who spent over two years finishing warlgaives, I’m always calmed amused by this. Last week I made a vague comment about trying for a Real ID heroic Firelands clear, and the next day there were three pages of forum responses. This really meant a lot to me because I had to step down from raiding in Firelands and I felt very ambivalent if I deserved to be carried along to Rag or not. People keep reassuring me that I’ve earned it with the work I’ve done–Anafielle has been especially eloquent about this–and every time someone in guild says something nice, I’m feel the same validation I did when I discovered the ring. It’s exactly what I needed getting into the home stretch of MoP beta coverage.
It makes me smile to look at the list of MoP BoEs and find my item next to Vulajin’s Vicious Chestpiece, named after one of the theorycrafting rogues I followed early on. I feel like things have come full circle: I’ve got a named item listed next to one named after a rogue theorycrafter. I remember how much his Theorycrafting Think Tank entry on rogues in TBC helped me, and how it was nice to chat with him a few minutes at Blizzcon about ways Killing Spree and void zones can be problematic. It’s scary and cool to realize that I occupy a place I revered when I started playing, and that I can serve as an inspiration to other players. I also realize there aren’t very many non-theorycrafters with named items, so I’m excited thinking about how this shows players a variety of interests and contributions can be recognized. It’s hard to put my finger exactly on what stood out–beta coverage? vanity guides? transmog sets? bad 50 Shades of WoW jokes?–but I like that it’s not straightforward, showing I’ve had fun with multiple areas of the game.
I absolutely believe my pre-Wowhead experiences shape the quality and nature of my work. I draw upon my variety of experiences–progression raider, vanity collector, lazy alt player, achievement hunter–to come up with articles and features that resonate with the wide-ranging player base. For example, this week I’m working on a series of broad-stroke class preview guides for 5.0.4 which my dusty alts will appreciate, while writing a guide to specific Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery vanity items being removed for dedicated transmog collectors. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the people who have shaped my gameplay and community experiences along the way, bringing their own types of enthusiasm and expertise to the game.
- My coworker, Ashelia, saw my potential and convinced me to start writing at Wowhead. She’s come up with countless innovative decisions for the site and inspired me to grow and develop my position. We’ve been friends for a while, and collaborating for work has both strengthened the friendship and led to a mutally supportive work parternship.
- My best friend and college roommate got me into WoW. She instilled in me a love for whimsical cloth robe collections and her dedication to being a GM in her progression guild inspired me when I became an officer in mine. She’s no longer playing, but she always reads my articles and we’re back to what we did before WoW–talking about RL fashion and planning mischief IRL.
- The Flavor Text crew: an email chain with Narci, Lani, and Cat has been going on for several years at this point, through RL ups and downs. It started through a shared love of WoW lore and developed into a daily support network. The thread was nicknamed STAM as an anagram of our names that symbolized how we’ve helped each other stay afloat and survive with empathy, humor, and wit. We came up with the idea for this blog together: it was the first public blog space of any sort I wrote at.
- I’ve mentioned several Something Wicked guildmates above, but I can’t stress enough how great it is that I can casually participate in a friendly progression-minded guild and feel valued thanks to my work. And while things changed in my old guild with the recent crop of raiders, I have nothing but respect for my raiding core during my officer days. They trusted me to lead them, and with their support, I learned how to have fun being in the spotlight and enjoying the responsibility. Many of them aren’t on twitter, didn’t run blogs, or led class analysis discussions but they were long-time fans, dedicated raiders, and humble achievement hunters. Above all, they were loyal players that worked harmoniously as a team and had quiet dedication that is often unsung.
- Esoth gets a special mention as a Something Wicked raider. We started off being mock-competitive on twitter about achievements, but from that we developed a strong friendship. He’s always around to help with beta articles and offer constructive site feedback, as well as bad jokes. He recently posted his hunter spreadsheet to EJ and you should all check it out. Binkenstein is another twitter theorycrafter, over at Totem Spot, who tirelessly sends me daily site feedback and helps me with beta questions and articles, plus has fun costumes to boot. They’ve both been loyal friends that have patiently explained bugs and waited for fixes. Many others on twitter as well have chimed in with class feedback when I’ve asked for guide help, which is greatly appreciated.
- The Blizzard staff I’ve gotten to know from work, most notably members on the community and items teams. From stumbling across a bunch of justice point gear named after poetry to helping a CM solve a complicated site problem without knowing their identity at the time, wonderful connections have developed. Another one of those things you always imagine would be really cool, but hard to picture how it would actually ever happen on its own.
- Summarizing Hamlet‘s contributions and interactions is tricky. Many of you had first impressions of him on twitter as an analytical robot maintaining high-quality resto and moonkin spreadsheets for ages. And it’s true, his theorycrafting stuff is excellent and I hope one day his Druid Trainer t-shirt becomes a reality, I really do :) He deserves it. However, I personally never was interested in playing a druid or knew Hamlet when he played WoW. Likewise, he doesn’t actually read many of my Wowhead articles and thinks Tyrande is a druid. But, we like bothering each other, so I moved in with him last week. Moving has been both exciting and anti-climatic: it’s something we’ve definitely looked forward to, but it feels like such the right thing to do, it doesn’t seem like a big decision at all. If you want sappiness, you can check our twitter favorites lists.
So, thanks for reading my articles and enjoying the database features. And, thank you, Blizzard.