Thursday, May 7, 2009

The story about Kungen's race to lvl 80

Blogs in the part of the Blogosphere where I dwell don’t write much about Ensidia. I guess their activities are a little bit too distant to feel relevant and interesting to most of us. Especially now, since there’s money involved, the gap to the normal gaming community has increased.

They are like professional soccer players in the highest league. We’re still kicking a ball for fun in the backyard. Some of us admire their skill and dedication; others pity them for running out of content so quickly, or shrug, since they couldn’t care less. At the most we notice their first kills and our jaws drop a little, but then we go back to our noble egg collecting or whatever we were up to.

A new blog
I can’t say that I follow every step Ensidia takes either. Still I can’t help nourishing some kind of fascination for people who’re really pushing the edge and got a passion for what they’re doing. I've always done that. For instance I loved reading the autobiography of Lance Armstrong, even though I couldn’t care less about the bicycling sport as such.

I guess that’s the reason why I once in a while stop by the homepage of Ensidia to check out what’s going on. And there I found something the other day that I’d like to share with the rest of you who probably haven’t seen it. What caught my attention wasn’t the information about their first kills and progress in the hardmodes of Ulduar. No, the thing that you may have missed and I’d like you to read is the blog of one of the guild leaders, Kungen. He has started to write a series of blogposts about his “WotLK Journey”.

The race to 80
So far he’s published five articles, all about how the race from level 70 to level 80 from his point of view. He describes a world where red bull and coffee isn’t enough to keep him and the friends he’s levelling with awake after 40 hours of constant playing, so they start to use an electroshock machine as a help. He writes about how he ran Utgard Keep 40 times in a row, and then regretted being stupid enough to move on to another instance to get some change. The XP output was much worse there and a guildie who picked another instance passed him in the race. And he writes about how he when he just for a short while left the computer in order to pick up some more coffee, and then got stuck in an elevator for one long, painful hour.

Kungen excuses himself for not being an awesome writer, but I seriously must say that I laughed out loud reading it. For all the insanity it describes, it’s written with some sort of self distance, humour and honesty. He isn’t trying to make anything look better than it is. Reading this I can understand that this kind of experience is enjoyable to some players, in its own, peculiar way. The only thing is that it requires a life situation that most players don’t have.

Should he be pitied or envied? Decide for yourself.


Vigorless fragmentary said...

I think there's a big difference between passion and an addiction. it's probably an interesting debate about when passion turns into addiction, into unhealthy compulsory behaviour. eating chocolate can be a passion too, but it can also become an addiction that brings no more joy or fulfillment so you keep on eating.

what i read in that blog report and have read before about Ensidia overall has nothing inspiring, it has nothing to do with my idea of passion at least. there's not even time to enjoy those 'zen moments'. being a slave to your passion makes it an addiction. almost dropping off your chair hungry and cold after 40 hours in front of a PC is hardly a higher feeling.
every passion knows a moment of satisfaction and release - but addiction will never cease to drive you on no matter the cost. no matter how unmanageable the whole rest of your life becomes.

the fact that they now also earn money with their raiding, as you rightly pointed out, is probably just making it worse for them, even more added pressure.

Anonymous said...

Interesting find Larisa... I would never have even though to drop by the Ensidia site... but then I am too busy pretending I am NOT collecting eggs....

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, who?

BTW, Lance Armstrong cheats. That doesn't mean he's not the best. I have a friend who is deep into the sport who makes the following point. Yes, Lance cheats. But so do the other guys. And they still can't catch Lance.

So either Lance is a better cheater than they are or even if you took all the drugs away, he'd still win. Either way, he's the best.

I find that logic difficult to dismiss.

Klepsacovic said...

It's all about frames of reference. Here are two )of many) ways I see myself: abstract-thinking and playing too much. Yesterday I ended up in a conversation with someone who accused me of being too practical, unable to look at the abstract. Now I feel like I barely play at all.

Extremes make the center look much different.

krizzlybear said...

Whether his actions are considered addiction or passion is a moot point. The story itself is quite humorous given the context in which it was said.

Here, we're given a guild who's on the bleeding edge of content, and the author speaks of the unfortunate mistakes of getting stuck in an elevator for a critical hour. I could imagine the embarassment he felt had he been stuck with other people. Considering the marathon nature of his feat, he must have had some serious odor.

Larísa said...

@Vigorless fragmentary: Honestly I don't know enough about them to say if they're having a passion or addiction. By impression though is that they play like this right after a release of a new instance or expansion. As soon as the content is beaten their playing will go down to a minimum. My guess is that they turn up at an average that is lower than many so called casual players have. But again: it's just a guess, I don't know them.

@Gnomeaggedon: LOL. Yeah the pretending side of it takes quite a lot of passion and energy, doesn't it? Oh wait, I'll just go open another red bull can.

@Elnia: Oh, so he's one of the cheaters? Darned. Badly picked example then. I'm sorry. But I think you understand what I'm meaning.

I really don't support cheating and I do support the hunt for forbidden medicals. I haven't given up on fair sports. I guess I'm a bit naîve.

@Klepsacovic: yeah, it's quite convenient to have those extremes to point at, isn't it? Next time your spouse thinks you play too much, you can just say that you're in a safe spot, at least you don't use electro-shocks.

@Krizzlybear: I'm glad you too saw the humour in it. I laughed so my stomach hurt when I read it. I thought it was really funny. Sad? Nah, it's up to them to do what they want with their lives, and since they don't have children their 40 hour playing session probably doesn't hurt anyone else.

Darraxus said...

Just so it is clear Larisa, Lance Armstrong was the most heavily tested athlete ever and has never had a postive test for performance enhancing drugs. That said, nice find on the Kungen story.

Arthak said...

I think you can look at Kungen´s stories from two sides:

First, the "fun" side.
He posted a story about how he went from 70 to 80 with some of his friends. There are a few good laughs in there and the way it is written you can see that, looking back, he´s seeing the "what the hell was I doing?" side of it. I don´t know Kungen and I don´t follow Ensidia but I think that they are willing to go to the edge (or maybe even over it) to reach their goals.

Which brings me to the other side, the "not so fun" side:
Some of the methods he (and the other guys) used are "normal", like the Red Bull and chocolate. But then there are those very questionable and scary moments. I mean, what must be going through someones head to be willing to use electroshocks just to stay awake? Yeah, Ensidia might be "the" guild and that game they used is not comparable to a tazer gun or something... but realy... shocks?

I don´t know if it´s addiction or just a strange way of loving this game. But it´s a style of playing that they chosed for themselves and it´s a style of gaming that, ultimately, will have it´s toll on them.

Still, it´s a funny read and I think I´ll check in every now and then to follow this.

Softi said...

It is a funny read IMO. I have guildies (including myself!) who booked time off work around the weekend that WOTLK was released and although I didn't get the chance to sit at the computer too much (kids!), I know they did. It's like getting a brand new camera and taking time off to go out on a hike taking pictures IMO - not something you do all the time but when you get something new you want to play with it!

fyi, a guildie of mine designed that site. *claim to fame* haha

Scotty said...

I cant help but be impressed by the "achievments" of guilds like Ensidia, in terms of the speed they get thorugh the content....and while I dont think I could personally stomach a 40 hour solid session, I guess if thats only in levelling time, ie once every expansion (once every 2 years or so) its not all that bad...I suspect there are people that stay awake that long for their day jobs on occasion, or perhaps people in exam periods etc...its not *that* uncommon to stay awake that long

There are also several sports that have "marathon" elements to certain events where participants stay awake for endless hours, but because they are doing a sport instead of a computer game, nobody thinks its "sad"

Panos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Panos said...

Lance does not cheat. He plays a paladin though...

And he often messes up blog comments...

Interesting read about Kungen. I'd rather doze off on the keyboard till my GF nudges me and drags me to bed though...

Rohan said...

Pretty much everyone does "silly" stuff when they are young and without responsibilities. Kungen's silly stuff just happens to involve a video game.

To my mind, it's no different than young people talking about how they went to a party/bar last night and got totally trashed or drunk. Or the standard "trip to Europe." It's a silly story in the same vein as drinking stories.

Dwism said...

Ive worked with some of the Ensidia guys, back when they where Nihilum, and i've read all the blogs on their site aswell (untill last week when they had a blog growth spur). And for most of them, its a passion. They want to be the best, and they work very hard at being this.

And like you larísa I completely adore Kungens blog. Its such an interesting insight (guess its the closest we have gotten to be behind the scenes) into their world. Yea they get payed for playing now, and that sort of ruins it for me tbh. But then again, it seems to me like Blizz is actively trying to remove any kind of pve endgame race for world firsts aswell, so the whole original Naxx race (that was the biggest and funniest race to "watch") -days are long gone. And what is left, is a guild of people lacking a challenge in the game.
While you are there i recommend reading Meks blog too. Thats a very interesting semi-insight to how they raid and the frustrations that entails.

Kimberly said...

Impressive, yes.

But stories like his are why my mother worries about her 36-year-old daughter (me) playing WoW.

Larísa said...

@Darraxus... ok... My hero has still got his glory then? Nvm... the story about his way to the top
was great anyway.

@Arthak: to be honest, the electroshocks aren't harmful. They come from a game device intended for another game that some people consider "fun" (I wouldn't touch it myself). But yeah it's kind of bizarr. What IS reassuring though is that he seems to be aware of it himself, he shows that he's got some distance to it. That's a healthy sign, so I wouldn't be too worried. Still they're getting older and I guess eventually the day will come when they too will want ordinary jobs and a family. Not quite yet though...

@Softi: I liked the parallell to a new camera! That website has been insanely delayed. But hopefully your guilide isn't to blame... :)
It looks pretty interesting though. Lot's of info there upcoming, like guides. The ambitions are high, they seem to want to build a sort of community, with bloggers (not just Ensidia ones), forum discussions and so on. I'll jump in there and check it out once in a while in the future.

@Scotty: you're absolutely right about other extreme sports that are exactly the same, but aren't frowned upon the same way. Just take a marathon run in full summer heat for instance... Seriously, some people are jeopordizing there health there.

@Lance: ahhh Lance himself, in a paladine disguise... I didn't have a clue :)

@Rohan: actually the thought struck me as well. It reminded me of some of the "reports" we wrote in our sf fanzines after attending conventions some 20 years ago. Yeah, there was quite a lot of booze there and funny things happened. Writing about it in a way that it's funny for other people to read than only those that participated isn't entirely easy though. I think Kungen manages to do it very well.

@Dw-redux: oh, another follower! And you seem to be much deeper into it than I am. I'll check up that other blog a bit further. I just looked at it briefly and thought "nah: another boss fight story, and doesn't seem too well written either, boooring". But I'll give it another chance if you say so!

@Kimberly: the question is: show it to your mother to proof to her that you're not playing much at all in comparsion. Or NOT showing it so she doesn't realize that this sort behaviour exists and that you could become like them given the opportunity... :)
But yeah you're right, I guess they confirm some of the prejudices there are against gamers.

Anonymous said...

i think 27 hours was my max awake time playing Wow, do i count the bio breaks as play time? :P

And how exactly do these ppl earn money? I cant see Blizzard putting sponsor tags on any of their ulduar gear....

PS as an off topic...

Best Wow based comic ive come across, art work sucks at the begining, but does get better!!!


Fish said...

That story strikes me as everything that is "wrong" with Wow. It's a game, and I can't help but think that this is an example of them missing the "fun" entirely. Maybe electroshock and red bull is fun for them.

It would be like me taking steroids for my recreational hockey league. . .

Fitz said...

Certainly most of us with "real jobs" and "real life" are not in the same position as the Ensidia players, but that doesn't mean what they do around expansion release time is completely crazy. It is indeed having fun as a youth.

When I read Kungen's story, I immediately thought of writing my first term paper in law school. You see, I'm not much of a procrastinator, but my closest friends were. I also never pulled an all nighter in undergrad, so I thought...what the hell, let's write our term papers together all night the the library before the morning it is due. Sure enough, we hopped up on Monster and/or Red Bull and made it through the long night, making a stronger friendship and unforgettable memories.

Would I do the same thing today? No. But in our youth, pulling all nighters with friends doing anything, including something so tedious as a law school term paper, can build the best memories. So I'm not going to crucify Ensidia for their playing habits.

On a sidenote, I'm happy to see the Ensidia updates and blog entries. I think their additions to the blogging and gaming community could be outstanding.

Larísa said...

@Cack: oh, I love Dark Legacy. I think I first encountered it when a friend sent me the link to their key-board-turning strip as a not-so-subtil remark after I had managed to get him killed boosting him in Dead Mines, by my terribly slow movement. It was spot on!

And as far as I know they're sponsored by some company, possibly with Saudi-Arabian connections (not absolutely sure about it.)

@Fish: well, WoW players come in all shapes, don't they? I can't say that I demand that everyone should play it the same way as I do it.

@Fitz: wonderful parallel. Yeah, they're a great addition. I would have preferred if they'd made real blogs free-standing instead of incoperating it into a website. It's hard to tell one from the other. Still the writing is fun. I doubt they'll ever attach to the Blogosphere we're a part of, they've got their own island sort of. But it's fun reading.