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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s) Vivendi Universal
Designer(s) Rob "EnoYls" Pardo
Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan
Tom "Kalgan" Chilton
Release date(s) January 16, 2007
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Online
Rating(s) ESRB: T (Teen)
OFLC: E (Exempt)
PEGI: 12+
Platform(s) Windows, Mac OS X
Media CD, DVD
System requirements See System requirements
Input Keyboard, Mouse

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is the first game expansion for World of Warcraft. Per the press release from Blizzard on November 10, 2006. The release date is set as January 16, 2007 in Europe and North America. It will be available in a similar time frame in Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore as well, and availability for mainland China and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau will be announced in the near future.[1]

General information

The initial information about the expansion was announced on the first day of BlizzCon 2005. Some points of interest include:

* The Sword Of 1000 Truths from the South Park episode Make Love, Not Warcraft is likely to become available in The Burning Crusade.

* The Blood Elves will be the new Horde race. Their starting zone, Sunstrider Isle in Quel'Thalas, site of their capital of Silvermoon, is north of Eastern Plaguelands. Their classes will be: Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Warlock and Paladin.

* The Draenei will be the new Alliance race. Their starting zone, the Azuremyst Isles and their capital city Exodar are located off the northeastern coast of Kalimdor. Their classes will be: Warrior, Priest, Paladin, Mage, Shaman, and Hunter.

* The expansion pack will feature a new profession, jewelcrafting, which will allow players to create rings, necklaces and trinkets, as well as place mined gems into socketed items. Other professions will be augmented with recipes that include sockets for special jewels that will enhance items.

* The level cap will be raised from 60 to 70 with new abilities, spells, and talents for all characters and classes.

* A large new land will be available for exploration via the Dark Portal called Outland. This area is the remains of the ruined planet of Draenor.

* The talents for all classes have been revised and updated to allow for the new level cap of 70. You can read the changes here (Note: The talents that have been decided as of now are not final and may be subject to change before release)

* The landmass of Azeroth will be increased by 25% (This likely refers to the size of the gameworld, as opposed to land-area).

* A flying mount will be obtainable at level 70, after completing repeatable quests, which will be usable only in Outland. Some of the areas in Outland will only be reachable with this mount. The Alliance will get an armored Gryphon and the Horde will get an armored Wyvern. Both factions will be able to get the Nether Drake. In addition, Druid characters gain a flying form at level 68.

* New dungeons include the Caverns of Time, the Hellfire Citadel, Karazhan Tower, the former sanctum of Medivh, and more.

* A new battleground called 'Eye of the Storm" located in Outland.

* Some content will be available to all players without the expansion, such as new talents and new items (such as items crafted with the Jewelcrafting profession). To level past level 60, play as the new races or to play in Outland, however, one will need the expansion. Other features that require the expansion will be forthcoming.[

* On July 21, 2006, it was announced that Blood Elves will be able to play as Paladins, which were previously unavailable to the Horde. Similarly, the Draenei will be able to play as Shaman, previously unavailable to the Alliance.

* New endgame instance raids are capped at 25 members (previous instances had a limit of 40 players).

* New dungeons will have scalable difficulty levels. What this means is that when you advance in levels, you'll be able to return to lower level dungeons and play them at increased difficulty, which will also yield better item drops. Blizzard is considering adding this feature to currently existing dungeons but has no plans to implement them yet.

* World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is currently undergoing a closed beta test in Korea. As with the World of Warcraft closed-beta test that occurred in Korea in 2004, participants can acquire beta keys from various fansites.

* Invitations for the United States Closed Beta were sent via email to those who had gone to BlizzCon on October 11, 2006, and the beta test is currently taking place.

* There was a conference for GameStop Store Managers from September 26, 2006 to September 30, 2006, in which store managers signed up for betas for the Burning Crusade. GameStop store managers were also high priority recipiants for the betas for World of Warcraft when it was first coming out.

* Blizzard has announced that the release of The Burning Crusade will be January 16, 2007.

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Collector's Edition

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade will ship in standard as well as Collector's Edition packages. The Collector's Edition will come in a special box that contains exclusive extras, including:

* World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade on both CD and DVD
* World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Behind-the-Scenes DVD
* The Art of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Hardcover Art Book
* Exclusive In-Game Pet: Netherwhelp
* Two World of Warcraft Trading Card Game Starter Packs, plus Exclusive Cards
* Map of Outland Mouse Pad
* World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Soundtrack CD

Background story

"Several years have passed since the Burning Legion's defeat at Mount Hyjal and the races of Azeroth have continued to rebuild their once shattered lives. With renewed strength, the heroes of the Horde and Alliance have begun to explore new lands and broken through the Dark Portal to investigate the realms beyond the known world. Will these heroes find friends or foes? What dangers and rewards lie in wait beyond the Dark Portal? And what will they do when they discover that the demons they thought vanquished have returned to renew their terrible Burning Crusade?"[4]

In the first expansion pack for World of Warcraft, the Dark Portal leading to the ravaged home world of the Orcs will be opened. Many new things await the adventurers of Azeroth as they will meet new enemies and forge new alliances and fight epic battles to save their homeland from the Burning Legion.

New playable races

Blood Elves

Main article: Blood Elf

The Blood Elves and their starting area.

The Blood Elves and their starting area.

The Blood Elves are the remnants of the High Elves who survived the destruction of Quel'Thalas by the Undead Scourge. They style themselves as Blood Elves in remembrance of their slaughtered brethren. At first they remained loyal to the human forces in Lordaeron and their racist human commander, Grand Marshal Garithos, but it became increasingly clear that they were no longer welcome in the Alliance.

Blood Elves are highly adept with magic, but their skills have led them to become addicts to that power. Blood elves cannot live long without it and will do anything to wield it. After the Scourge destroyed the Sunwell, their source of magical power, they began to experiment with demonic energies. One group, led by Prince Kael'thas, joined with Illidan and the Naga in exchange for magical power. The Blood Elves remaining in Azeroth now seek the Horde's help in reaching Outland, so they can be reunited with Kael'thas and achieve the destiny which he has promised them. The Blood Elves had re-established a firm foothold in Quel'Thalas, and have rebuilt many of the lost spires and buildings that fell during the Siege of Quel'Thalas. The Blood Elves are constantly threatened by the Winnowed, who are devolved Blood Elves who succumbed to their addiction to magical energy and lost much of their sanity. Their ancestral homeland of Quel'Thalas also borders the Deatholme region, which has been heavily infested by the remnants of the Scourge that occupied Quel'Thalas. One faction, named Tranquillien, consists of Blood Elves who wish to purify the region of the Undead.

* They join the Horde alongside the Orcs, Trolls, Undead and Tauren.
* Their racial traits are centered around their addiction to magic, which include Mana Tap (Drains enemy's mana) and Arcane Torrent (An AoE silence that silences for 2 seconds).
* Their starting zone is Sunstrider Isle, located in Eversong Forest in Quel'Thalas.
* Classes available to Blood Elves are: Priest, Mage, Warlock, Hunter, Rogue, and Paladin. It was announced that the Blood elves would be the only race not to have warriors to keep the amount of classes fair compared to other races. In addition, with the exception of the rogue, all of the available classes use mana to symbolize their racial addiction to magic.
* The male dance for the Blood Elves is apparently the dance that Napoleon does at the end of the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
* The female dance for the Blood Elves is Britney Spears' Toxic dance routine however some people speculate that it could be something known as "Yogurting" from another MMORPG.
* The Blood Elf mount will be the Hawkstrider [1]
* The voice of the male blood elf is done by Cam Clarke.


Main article: Draenei

These uncorrupted Draenei share lineage with the Eredar, one of the Burning Legion's major races. Whereas their Eredar brethren were twisted by shadow magic, Draenei have aligned themselves with the Light.

The Draenei were led by Velen, one of the three highest ranking members in Erudean society. The name Draenei means "exiled ones" in Erudean language, because they were chased out of their ancient homeland of Argus by Kil'Jaeden. Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde were two other great lords of the Eredars, who fell to Sargeras' corruption and became demons.

The Draenei and Velen fled Argus, and were helped by the Naaru, enigmatic beings that blessed the Draenei with light-given knowledge and power. With the Naaru's help, they settled on a peaceful world which they named Draenor, meaning "Exile's Refuge" in the Erudean tongue.

They had somewhat peaceful relations with the indigenous shamanistic Orc tribes in the region for centuries. However, Kil'jaeden discovered their secret refuge on Draenor. He corrupted the orcs into a bloodthirsty frenzy, and the orcs killed over 80% of the Draenei in blind rage.

Many Draenei who fought the Orcish horde were also devastated and affected by the fel energies wielded by the Orcish warlocks, and mutated into lesser forms, resulting in subspecies. The Broken and the Lost Ones are two genetic mutations. The Broken are led by the great sage Akama, and serve Illidan in Outland. The Broken retained some of the characteristics of the once-majestic Draenei. The Lost Ones are further devolved forms of the Draenei, and hold almost no resemblance to the Draenei. The Lost Ones are Draenei who were mutated by arcane and fel energies that were released when Draenor exploded and crumbled into Outland. Most Lost Ones inhabit the Swamp of Sorrows in Azeroth, and carry great hatred for Orcs. Save for few tribes, the Lost Ones have lost their sanity and are hostile to most races.

The surviving and uncorrupted Draenei fled to relative safety in their interdimensional ship, the Exodar. They crash-landed on the Azuremyst Isles of Azeroth, and pledged their support to the Alliance to fight the Burning Legion and the Orcs. Their capital city is named Exodar after their interdimensional ship that crash-landed in Azeroth, and is built out of the largest husk of the remains of the ship.

* They join the Alliance along with Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes and Night Elves.
* Their dance is confirmed to be from the Tunak Tunak Tun music video, by Daler Mehndi.
* Their starting zone is Ammen Vale, located in the Azuremyst Isles, which are off the western coast of Kalimdor.
* The following are available classes for Draenei: Warrior, Priest, Paladin, Mage, Shaman, and Hunter.
* Their racial traits are centered around Holy powers, which includes Blessing of Naaru (Heals 50 damage over 15 seconds, which scales with level), Heroic Presence (1% bonus added to chance to hit for party members up to 30 yards, may scale with level), Shadow resistance (+10 Shadow resistance), and +15 skills bonus to Jewelcrafting.
* The Draenei mount is confirmed to be the Elekk, an elephant-like creature.

New enemies

Since April 10, 2006 Blizzard has released information on several new enemy races to be featured in the Burning Crusade. [2]

* The Broken
* Eredar
* Ethereals
* Fel Orcs
* Fleshbeasts
* Forest Trolls
* Fungal Giants
* Gronn
* Naaru
* Ogre Lords
* Ravagers
* Rock Flayers
* Spore Bats
* Spore Walkers
* Warp Stalkers

New zones/areas
This section is a stub. You can help by expanding it.


There will be three new areas accessable in Azeroth in Burning Crusade: Quel'Thalas (the home of the Blood Elves), Azuremyst Isles (the home of the Draenei in Azeroth) and Mount Hyjal, which is only accessable via the Caverns of Time.


Main article: Quel'Thalas

The starting area for the Blood Elves, Quel'Thalas is located in the Eastern Kingdoms, north of the Eastern Plaguelands. Quel'Thalas will be divided into two areas. Eversong Woods will be the starting Zone for levels 1-10, and will have the "typical" features of a starting area - a secluded new character zone, a low-level town and the capital city of Silvermoon. The Ghostlands will be a level 11-20 zone and will connect to the Eastern Plaguelands, as well as to Zul'Aman.

Azuremyst Isles

The Azuremyst Isles are the lands the Draenei claimed as their own in Azeroth, where the dimensional ship of the Draenei, called the Exodar, crashed when attempting to escape Draenor. They are now the westernmost location in Kalimdor, located off the southwestern coast of Teldrassil. At present, there are three major areas - Ammen Vail, where new Draenei players start out; Azuremyst Isle itself, where the Draenei capital of Exodar is located; and Bloodmyst Isle, for further adventuring (similar to Loch Modan for the Dwarves and Gnomes, Westfall for the Humans, or Darkshore for the Night Elves). The Azuremyst Isles are for levels 1-20.


Outland, the remnants of Draenor, is accessable via the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands. The Outland side of the Dark Portal is in the Hellfire Peninsula. Draenor was once the homeworld of the mighty orcs but was destroyed by the magical energies unleashed when Ner'zhul opened numerous portals to other worlds at the end of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, thus creating what is now known as Outlands. Outland is also the refuge of Illidan Stormrage, also called Illidan The Betrayer, brother of Malfurion Stormrage. Illidan seeks to conceal himself from Kil'jaeden because he failed to destroy the Frozen Throne and the Lich King.


Netherstorm is a zone intended for level 67-70 players. It is home to two neutral cities, Stormspire and Area 52, as well as a battleground instance named Eye of the Storm (though only accessible through the battle masters in major cities, it is suposedly in Netherstorm), and a high-end raiding dungeon called Tempest Keep, home of Kael'thas Sunstrider, the leader of the Blood Elves. Tempest Keep is one of the areas in Outland that is unreachable without the use of a flying mount.


Zangarmarsh harbors two Alliance posts (Telredor and Orbeor Harborage), two Horde posts (Swamprat Post and Zabra'jin), and two neutral faction posts (Cenarion Refugee and Sporeggar). The specific nature of the faction that holds rules over Sporeggar has not been released. Zangarmarsh is also home to the Coilfang Reservoir raid dungeon, where Lady Vashj and her Naga minions reside.


Nagrand contains four cities: an Alliance town named Telaar, a Horde town named Garadar, and two neutral towns, Aeris and Halaa. Nagrand is mainly a PvP area. Aeris is run by The Consortium, a new faction of merchants, similar in motive to the goblins. Nagrand is similar in appearance to the Barrens with more vegetation. Grom Hellscream's newly discovered son, Garrosh Hellscream, resides in Garadar.

Terokkar Forest

Terokkar Forest has three cities: an Alliance town called Allerian Stronghold (possibly named after Alleria Windrunner, a High Elven ranger that was part of the group thought lost when the Dark Portal closed), a Horde town named Stonebreaker Hold, and a neutral city, Shattrath City. Shattrath is meant to be the major quest hub in Outland, is as big as a faction city and comes with its own city map. The instance Auchindoun is located here consisting of four wings: Auchenai Crypts for levels 64-66, the Shadow Labyrinth for levels 65-67, Sethekk Halls for levels 67-69, and the Mana-Tombs for levels 69-70.

Shadowmoon Valley

Shadowmoon Valley is the highest level zone in the expansion. Illidan and the Black Temple can be found here.

Hellfire Peninsula

Due to its harborage of the Dark Portal, Hellfire is the first accessible zone for players who have just entered Outland. It is intended for level 58-63 players and has various quests that pit the Alliance against the Horde and vice-versa. The Alliance town of Honor Hold and the Horde outpost of Thrallmar are located in Hellfire. There are three towers in the middle of the map similar in function to the towers in Eastern Plagueland. Ownership of all three towers by a specific faction provides a zone wide +5% damage buff to that faction.

Blade's Edge Mountains

Contains "Gruul's Lair" a new raid instance allegedly involving two raids; the King of the Gronns and his Council, and the titular Gruul. The Alliance town of Sylvanaar, the Horde town of Thunderlord Stronghold, and the Ogre-led Gronn'bor Shrine can be found here.

New instances


Auchindoun will be located in Outland's Terokkar Forest. It contains 4 wings and the level range changes for each wing. The first and easiest wing will be Mana-Tombs, with a level cap of 64-66. The second wing, Auchenai Crypts, will contain mobs at a level of 65-67. The next wing, called Sethekk Halls, contains mobs 67-69. The last wing, named Shadow Labyrinth, contains level 70-72 mobs. In the Warcraft II expansion, Auchindoun is a fortress that the Alliance destroys to further their expeditions. (Note: Often mistranslated as 'Arcane Doom').

Black Temple

The Black Temple will be one of the final destinations in the expansion. This instance is found in Shadowmoon Valley in Outland. This instance will be one of the new 25 man instances planned for the expansion. The Black Temple is rumored to be home to the Betrayer, Illidan.

Caverns of Time
The Dark Portal as it will be seen after players travel back through time to aid Medivh as he opens it.
The Dark Portal as it will be seen after players travel back through time to aid Medivh as he opens it.

The Caverns of Time, located in the desert of Tanaris in southern Kalimdor, is not a single instance but a sort of portal to a number of different instances, similar to the Scarlet Monastery, but on a much bigger scale. The Caverns of Time, guarded by the bronze dragon flight, allows players to travel through the history of WarCraft and relive some of its most exciting moments. This provides a tremendous opportunity for Blizzard to implement a near infinite amount of new content, should they choose, allowing players to fight the epic battles seen in their previous strategy games. Currently Thrall's escape from Durnholde Keep, the opening of the Dark Portal, and the Battle of Mount Hyjal are all events slated to be included in the Caverns of Time upon its release, and the possibility of a PvP Battleground set in Hellfire Peninsula during the time period of Warcraft II has been mentioned. The Caverns of Time is being designed for players between level 60 and 70

Coilfang Reservoir

The Coilfang Reservoir will be found in the Zangarmarsh in Outland and home to Lady Vashj, the leader of the Naga in Outland and a lieutenant of Illidan. The Coilfang Reservoir is for players between level 60 and 70. The instance is not completely submerged drawing parallels to the Sunken Temple instance in the Swamp of Sorrows on Azeroth. The Coilfang has a 25-person raid wing in addition to a 5 or 10-person wing similar to the Hellfire Citadel. The five man wings are called Slave Pens, The Underbog, and The Steamvault. The raid is called Serpentshrine Cavern.

Players reach all four instances by swimming down a tube in Serpent Lake.

Gruul's Lair

Gruul's Lair is an upcoming raid dungeon found in the Blades Edge Mountains in Outland. Blizzard representatives have hinted that this dungeon will contain mostly Ogres. The dungeon will focus around two encounters, an Ogre "Council" of some sort, and then Gruul, a 25-man raid encounter. Gruul, one of the giant Ogrish demigods is probably one of the cycloptic Gronn.

Hellfire Citadel

Hellfire Citadel, located in Outland's starting zone will be the expansion's first and easiest dungeon. Blizzard recently revealed this dungeon will be mostly populated by fel orcs and will feature three 5-person winged instances and a raid encounter ending with the Pit Lord, Magtheridon. The three five man instances are Hellfire Ramparts, The Blood Furnace, and Shattered Halls.

Hellfire Ramparts is populated by fel orcs from the Shattered Hand clan and Bleeding Hollow clan, and has 3 bosses: Watchkeeper Gargolmar, Omor The Unscarred, and Vazruden The Herald, which is actually Vazruden and his dragon mount Nazan. Killing each boss yields Thrallmar or Honor Hold reputation and a powerful item.


Interior shot of Karazhan.

Located in the southern Eastern Kingdoms, in Deadwind Pass, Karazhan, the former home of Medivh now lies in ruin. Blizzard has stated that this dungeon will be larger than Upper Blackrock Spire and Lower Blackrock Spire combined making it one of the game's largest dungeons. Within the tower, players will fight many spectral mobs and experience scripted boss encounters. One such encounter occurs in an Opera House within the tower where players will fight on stage with a boss. Karazhan is slated to be a 10-person raid instance for players at level 70. There will be a save function in Kharazan so that players do not need to run through the entire instance each run, likely in the form of a transporter, which possibly needs the player to activate save points at the end of different sections, much like in conventional games. Speculation of the final boss, who fans had suspected to be anyone from a Shade of Medivh or Sargeras, to the missing dragon Neltharion (known as Deathwing after his betrayal during the War of the Ancients) to the Death Knight Teron Gorefiend took a strange turn when IGN stated that the final boss was a "Prince Malchazzar." This claim seems dubious as the character seems to come from nowhere in the most lore-heavy instance in the game, as well as the fact that Karazhan has not yet been populated, according to videos taken of the instance from Test clients.

Medivh's staff - Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian - can be used to open a portal to Karazhan's front gate.

Tempest Keep

Tempest Keep will be located at the northern tip of the Netherstorm in Outland. This dungeon consists of four wings, three of which are five-man instances, the fourth, which is the keep itself, is a raid instance. Here, players will encounter Kael'Thas, leader of the Blood Elves in Outland and the second of Illidan's lieutenants. The raid portion of this dungeon will be approximately the size of Molten Core. This instance will be for max-level players and is split into four wings: The Mechanar, The Botanica, the Alcatraz, and Eye of the Storm. Also, there are rumors of The Burning Legion taking hold here.


This dungeon, a 10-man raid is located in Quel'Thalas and is home to the Forest Trolls. This raid is intended to display more myths about Trolls, and it is also designed to be harder than Zul'Gurub, a 20 -man raid in Northeastern Stranglethorn Vale in Eastern Kingdoms

Player vs. Player

World PvP in Outland.

The Burning Crusade will contain numerous changes to PvP. This includes a PvP Arena System and the ability for players of either faction to capture the neutral town of Halaa located in Nagrand. The interactive map displayed on Blizzard's website shows multiple 'neutral' cities, however it isn't clear as to how similar they will be to Halaa. The new PvP Arena System will allow players to compete against other 'Arena Teams' regardless of their allegiance. It has also been confirmed that the Honor System will undergo major changes. It has been stated that there will no longer be 'Ranks' as before but players will still earn 'Honor Points' that will be spent like currency. Lead game designer Tom Chilton stated in an interview that their goal with the Arena system was to separate the competitive PvP from the non-competitive PvP. The Honor System will behave more like a "non-competitive grind" in order to make it feel like "something that you can work toward over time." The Arena System and the Honor System will have separate rewards.

Rumours of a new battleground have been confirmed by Blizzard.

Arena games are split into two sections: rated and non rated games. To enter a rated game, you must form a arena group in Nagrand. You must also be at the highest level in the level cap.

PvP rewards currently have a buy price of honor and battleground tokens. Honor doesn't decay from week to week, so a player can now gain honor at his or her own pace in order to purchase rewards.

As of 24 October 2006 several Blizzard posters have announced that the PvP review will in fact take place in the upcoming Patch 1.13. The last patch, 1.12, was designed to be the final major update before the expansion, but the pushing back of the release date to January has allowed them more time to implement certain aspects before it arrives.

New "Looking For Group" interface

The Burning Crusade expansion will contain a substantial change to the process of finding a party or raid. The new interface will allow players to select 'Looking For Group' or 'Looking For More', dependent on whether or not they are currently in a group. Players will then be allowed to select the type of group they are looking for: dungeon, zone, raid, quest or battleground. Once a category has been selected, further options will appear to refine the player's search, and a group will automatically be found for the player if there are other players with the same goals. It is suggested that this feature was implemented after user feedback in relation to "spam" on the global channel.

System requirements
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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade runs natively on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. Boxed copies of the expansion use a hybrid CD to install the game, eliminating the need for separate Mac and Windows retail products.

* Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4); Windows XP (Service Pack 2)
* Intel Pentium3 800MHz or AMD Duron 800MHz
* 512 MB RAM
o 1 GB RAM recommended
* 32MB 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting, such as an NVIDIA GeForce 2 class card or above.
o 64MB VRAM 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability, such as an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 class card or above recommened
* DirectX compatible sound card


* Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer required
* 933MHz G4/G5 processor
o 1.8GHz G5/Intel or better recommended
* 1GB MB RAM or higher
o 2GB DDR RAM is recommended
* NVIDIA or ATI graphics processor with 32MB VRAM,
o 64MB VRAM recommended
* 6.0 GB free HD space
* A keyboard and mouse are required. Input devices other than a mouse and keyboard are not supported

All platforms

* Connectivity:You must have an active internet connection to play.
* Mouse: Multi-button mouse with scroll wheel recommended.


Burning Crusade delayed?

Rumors are flying that Blizzard will miss the "Q4 2006" release date for the Burning Crusade, and release the expansion only in January 2007. I don't know if that is true. On the one hand releasing it before Christmas would make better business sense, this is the prime season for computer games. On the other hand Blizzard is known for releasing things "when they are ready", which is often later than you think.

Of course Blizzard isn't saying anything, as usual. The only release dates you can read are from the different online retailers. And the fact that they all give a different date proves that they are just guessing as well. I remember that Blizzard announced the official release date of the European version of World of Warcraft only one week before the actual release date.

The source of the rumor of a delayed release is probably the beta. Now that depends whether you consider the current BC beta as being "closed" or "open". Starting the "closed" beta in mid-October would indicate that the game won't be ready by end of November. But if you consider that inviting 100,000 players per continent is pretty much an "open" beta, they could just make it.

Playing the beta sure showed me that some things weren't finished yet. I have items with a big red question mark as icon, the real icon not having been designed yet. I met an orc guard whose graphical representation was just a small, checkered 3D cube. I had the beta freeze on me once, but of course that could have been my computer. The current beta is certainly playable (and less bug-infested than lets say Star Wars Galaxies), but I'm not sure it up to Blizzard's stringent quality control.

Some people argue with the time it takes to produce the "gold master" and produce all the CDs. But of course that isn't much of a problem with a MMORPG, you just put a nearly finished version on the CD and patch it the day it goes live.

So the only thing we really know about the release date is that we don't know anything. Blizzard might surprise us and mid-November announce an end-November release date. Or we all wait until end-November and only get a press release saying that the release is delayed to Q1 2007.

While everybody is burning to see the expansion (excuse the pun), Blizzard gets my respect for their willingness to delay releases on quality reasons. There are far too many half-finished games released, and especially MMORPG often are nearly unplayable on release. One company releasing their games and expansion only when they meet high quality standards and are nearly bug-free is a refreshing change. Even if waiting is sometimes hard.

New Content Patch!

Drums of War

Cross-Realm Battlegrounds

For the first time in the history of World of Warcraft, you will be able to face off against players from other realms in the Battlegrounds. PvP Battlegrounds link Alterac Valley, Warsong Gulch, and Arathi Basin so that players from several realms will be combined into one huge matchmaking pool. Replenish your mana, sharpen your blades, and get ready for some brand-new challengers!

World PvP

The stage is set for intense, objective-based land battles as Horde and Alliance vie for control over important strategic positions and resources around Azeroth. Head out for Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands to engage the enemy on the field!


* Threat Reduction Effects

This system has been redesigned to eliminate inconsistency in how the effects work. Previously, some were additive (for example: 30% reduction + 20% reduction = 50% reduction) while others were multiplicative (30% reduction and 20% reduction made 44% reduction, from 0.7*0.8). They are now all multiplicative. This also prevents unpredictable behavior when the total reduction percentage was equal to or greater than 100%. Please note that in almost all cases, when stacking multiple threat reduction effects you will experience less threat reduction than previously.

* Haste and Slow effects

Previously Haste and Slow effects worked inconsistently, with spells working differently from weapons, and hastes and slows not acting as inverses of each other. We have revised the system so that all haste and slow effects work the same way, and haste and slow percentages of the same magnitude perfectly cancel each other out (30% haste and 30% slow combine to no change). As a result, we had to change the tooltip numbers on all spell haste effects, and on all melee and range slow effects. The numbers in the tooltips are different, but the game functionality is unchanged (other than slight rounding errors). Those tooltips that changed will now display larger numbers than they used to display. Conceptually, haste values indicate how much more of that activity you can perform in a given time. 30% melee haste means 30% more swings in a given time. Slow values indicate how much longer an activity takes to complete. 30% slow means an action takes 30% longer to finish.

* The deserter debuff will now continue to expire even while you are offline.

* Honorable Kills now diminish at a rate 10% per kill rather than 25% per kill.


* Barkskin: The tooltip has been changed to 25% due to the haste effect change.
* Cat Form: This form now has an innate threat reduction component.
* Ferocious Bite: Book of Ferocious Bite (Rank 5) now drops off The Beast in Black Rock Spire. In addition, Ferocious Bite now increases in potency with greater attack power.
* Furor: This talent now works correctly with Cat Form again.
* Improved Shred: The discounted cost for Shred will now be displayed correctly even when you are not in Cat Form.
* Rip: Lesser potency Rips will no longer overwrite greater potency ones.
* Fixed a bug where the incorrect sound was being played by the Claw attack.


* Spirit Bond: This ability will now be correctly reapplied when you resurrect in a battleground and your pet is polymorphed or otherwise unable to act normally.
* Improved Concussive Shot: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the hunter is killed before their shot reaches the target.
* Growl now correctly initiates combat when used by a pet in passive mode.
* The Ferocity talent now correctly applies to non-physical hunter pet abilities such as Lightning Breath and Thunderstomp.
* If a hunter has tamed one of the following creature types, they will no longer potentially change colors if resummoned:
o Son of Hakkar - Red
o Frenzied Bloodseeker Bat - Brown
o Deep Stinger - Red
o Dark Screecher - Gray
o Cave Creeper - Brown
o Bloodaxe Worg - Black
o Scarshield Worg -Brown


* Arcane Missiles: It is no longer possible to cast this spell on an evading mob. In addition, the animation will now stop when the target is dead.
* Arcane Power: It is no longer possible to gain the benefit of this spell and Power Infusion at the same time by careful timing.
* Frost Armor Chilled effect: Due to the haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 25%.
* Ice Armor Chilled effect: Due to the haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 25%.
* Ignite: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.
* Impact: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.
* Frostbite: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.
* Polymorph: This spell will now be removed when a player leaves a battleground. This prevents some bugs involving polymorph from occurring.
* Evocation will no longer be usable while silenced.
* Reduced the number of messages that appear in the combat log when using Combustion.
* Winter's Chill: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.


* Divine Shield: Due to the haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 100%.


* Mind Control: Due to the haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 25%.
* Psychic Scream: This spell now uses the same resistance checks as the Warlock spell Fear.
* Spirit of Redemption: Fixed an issue preventing Twisting Nether from retriggering when the Spirit of Redemption effect runs out.


* Due to significant talent changes, Rogues will have all talent points refunded and can be re-spent. Training costs for all talent spell replacements have been significantly reduced.
* Vanish now removes effects that allow the caster to always remain aware of their target (currently Hunter's Mark and Mind Vision).
* Pickpocket can now be used on targets that are in combat, as long as the rogue remains stealthed.
* All manner of rogue reagents can be found in locked junkboxes (obtained from pickpocketing)
* Fixed a bug where the Slice and Dice ability wasn't playing an animation.
* Lethargy Root has been removed from poison vendors and is now a gray item.
* Reduced the number of messages in the combat log when using the Vanish ability.
* Fixed a bug that made Combo Points disappear from your target when using Vanish.
* Eviscerate: Manual of Eviscerate (Rank 9) now drops off Blackhand Assassins in Black Rock Spire. In addition, Eviscerate now increases in potency with greater attack power.
* Garrote: The damage from this ability has been increased. In addition, Garrote now increases in potency with greater attack power.
* Relentless Strikes: This ability will no longer trigger when your finishing move does not hit your target.
* Rupture: Rupture now increases in potency with greater attack power.
* Sap: Enemy rogues will now always lose stealth when you Sap them.


* Reincarnation should now display the cooldown timer when used.
* Chain Heal - After the initial target is healed, the healing effect will jump to the most damaged target (by absolute health) within range. In addition, if a raid member is the initial target it will look for valid raid targets to jump to rather than non-raid targets as a priority, making it consistent with group targeted Chain Heals.
* Lightning Shield: Air Bubble pockets in underwater regions will no longer consume a charge from this spell.


* Cripple (Doomguard): Due to haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 45%.
* Curse of Tongues: This spell will no longer debuff the target if they are immune to the spellcast slowing effect.
* Enslave Demon: Due to haste effect change, the tooltip has been changed to 40%.
* Health Funnel: This spell will now work correctly on low-level enslaved demons.
* Howl of Terror: This spell now uses the same resistance checks as the Warlock spell Fear.
* Siphon Life will now properly gain a benefit from Shadow Mastery.
* A soul shard will be refunded to the caster any time a summoned pet despawns rather than dies.
* Aftermath: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.
* Improved Shadow Bolt: The effect of this talent will now still be placed on the victim if the caster is killed before their spell reaches the target.
* Life Tap: This spell now benefits from effects which increase your spell damage. At rank 3 and above, the base amount of health lost and mana gained will increase by 80% of your bonus spell damage effects. Talents and items can further modify those values. Rank 1 and 2 receive reduced effect.


* Bloodthirst: This ability will now correctly benefit from attack power bonuses versus specific creature types.
* Flurry: The text on the tooltip has been corrected to indicate it triggers on all types of attacks.
* Shield Slam: This ability will sometimes no longer remove more than one beneficial effect from the target.
* Thunderclap: This ability was left at 10% despite the haste effect changes. This means its potency has been reduced slightly.

US Congress steps into cyberspace

Trade is central to many online games
US politicians could soon be rubbing shoulders with orcs and night elves in World of Warcraft.

The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of the US Congress has announced it is investigating the amount of commerce taking place in virtual game worlds.

The investigation is unlikely to mean that in-game trading will start to be taxed.

Many popular virtual worlds such as Eve Online and Second Life revolve around trade of one sort or another.

Cash call

In a statement announcing the investigation, the Committee said its probe was prompted by the "dramatic increase in the popularity of online gaming".

It said it was interested solely in the "universe of transactions" that occur within online worlds such as Second Life.

Although an economic value can be put on this trade because in-game currencies do have an equivalent real world value, committee chairman Jim Saxton said its investigation was not being carried out with a view to slapping taxes on this trade.

"There is a concern that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) might step forward with regulations that start taxing transactions that occur within virtual economies," said Mr Saxton. "This, I believe, would be a mistake."

Shop in World of Warcraft, Blizzard
Buying better gear and selling the old is a big part of game play
Instead, he said, the investigation wanted to get a better understanding of where the line falls between taxable and non-taxable trade. Studies of game activity suggest the time and effort put into these online worlds has an economic impact equivalent to the GDP of Namibia.

Players of online fantasy games such as World of Warcraft know that much of the game revolves around looting of dead monsters and selling the booty. Cash generated by the sales is usually used to improve the gear worn and used by that player's in-game avatar.

Some players of these games have amassed huge fortunes of game currency by exploiting the quirks of the virtual world's monetary and trade systems.

There are reports that many people in nations such as China earn their entire salary by "gold-farming" in which they play the game solely to get gold which is then sold for real world money.

The JEC statement said: "Clearly, virtual economies represent an area where technology has outpaced the law. The goal of the forthcoming JEC study is to help lawmakers understand the issues involved and head off any premature attempt to impose a tax on virtual economies."

Buying success in online gaming

By Dan Simmons
Reporter, BBC Click Online

As online gaming becomes increasingly popular, real-world trading of virtual items used in these games has rocketed. Dan Simmons finds out what happens when fantasy gaming meets cold, hard cash.

Playing an online game
The communities created by online gaming attract millions of players

With the spread of broadband connections, multi-player fantasy gaming, in which thousands of gamers can play simultaneously, has taken off.

Stunning virtual worlds promise adventure and glory, often for a monthly access fee of around $10 to $15 (6 to 8).

The most popular titles have attracted more than three million subscribers. The social interaction between players often leads gamers to develop tight-knit communities, forming in-game allegiances.

It is a formula that has also led to some seriously dedicated playing. Around 20 hours a week is the average.

"You've got a lot more human emotions coming in to play, you're getting friends, a social group and you may have a social standing within the group," says Rhianna Pratchett, a gamer and games writer.

"It can be very addictive and the hoarding of weapons or getting the best weapon or getting to the next level up or getting the next spell is addictive."

One gamer in China even killed a fellow player over a sword used in an online game.

Paying to win

But dedicating so much time and effort is not the only route to success.

Over the past year the trade in virtual items and currencies used in these online games has been booming, despite it being outlawed by most of the game producers.

People who spend money to buy gold or weapons or even to have their characters levelled up are just plain cheaters
Matt Royle, gamer
It is called the secondary market. Rather than relying on skill and guile, players can use cash to buy the items they need.

Hundreds of dollars can change hands for anything from swords to flying carpets on auction sites such as eBay. And many online companies have started offering direct selling services.

This year in Asia the amount of money changing hands for in-game goods is expected to be more than for the games themselves.

But there has also been a backlash from many gamers.

Matt Royle, who spends four to five hours a day playing World of Warcraft, says richer players are getting an unfair advantage.

You can't buy a gold medal and then claim you're the world high-jump champion
Professor Richard Bartle
"People who spend money to buy gold or weapons or even to have their characters levelled up are just plain cheaters, to be honest.

"People who play for the real amount of time and for the gaming experience are getting a raw deal because other people come along and just ruin it with their high-level characters or their weapons that they haven't actually earned."

And some experts, including lecturer and games consultant Professor Richard Bartle, who helped invent the first online multi-player game, agree.

"Most of the players hate this kind of activity, really, really hate it. As far as they're concerned, they're playing a game," he says.

"And if someone comes along and turns it from a game into work, they think: 'I work all day, and now my fun is being spoilt by these people buying success.'

"You can't buy a gold medal and then claim you're the world high-jump champion. You have to jump something."

Powerful market

Sony Online Entertainment, responsible for EverQuest 2, at first tried to ban the trade in virtual artefacts. But just a few weeks ago it did a u-turn, opening up its own official trading site to US players, called Station Exchange.

Chris Kramer, of Sony Online Entertainment, says: "The decision for our company to create Station Exchange was kind of a long road for us.

Items in a game
Genuine players are suffering from the trading of items
"Over the last five years we've seen the secondary market for sales of virtual goods go from a few guys selling our characters on eBay to about $200m in sales annually.

"We can no longer ignore a secondary market that has reached levels as high as that."

Sony Online says it offers casual gamers who are time-poor a way to keep up with friends who play more often.

It also gives new players the option of joining a version of the game that allows real-world trading or one that aims to control it.

Some players clearly like the shortcuts that cash offers as well as the chance to make money.

Rhianna Pratchett says: "It's always a kick when you find a great weapon in the game anyway, and if you're actually thinking: 'That's great, I can go and sell that on eBay and get myself some DVDs or buy my Mum birthday present' or whatever, I can imagine that can be a lot of fun."

Trading in fantasy games can make you serious cash. One player made $4,000 in one month.

With real money at stake, these virtual worlds are being used as very real sweatshops.

In some countries, groups have been set up simply to collect valuable items and gold, a forbidden practice known as "farming".

Others use automated programmes or bots to do the job, but the result is fewer in-game goodies for the genuine players.

Taking action

The gaming companies try to stop them, but it is unclear how much success they are having.

Two online sales companies told us it was possible they were being supplied by "professional" players.

Stopping the secondary market may just be a fantasy
One, which claimed to do 300 sales a day to World of Warcraft gamers, reassured me that I was unlikely to be banned from the game, or taken to court, if I traded with them.

The games developers hold the intellectual rights to everything in the game. So, technically, even if you buy or sell gold or items, they are owned by the game's developer.

Blizzard Entertainment, publishers of World of Warcraft, says it monitors what happens in-game as well as on the internet regarding real world trading of items, but it would not reveal how it does this.

It says it has taken action against more than 1,000 players. While it does not support independent companies buying and selling its in-game creations, it has not yet decided what action to take about this problem.

Blizzard estimates more than 90% of its own World of Warcraft subscribers disapprove of buying virtual items with real cash.

Because most real world transactions are completed in-game between characters, some think they will never be stopped.

Others believe the gaming hosts are not doing enough to curb it.

For those who like to use their cash to get ahead, it enhances their gaming experience.

But those seeking a level playing field, where success relies purely on skill and dedication, may soon be left high and dry, dreaming of a fantasy world.

One Lawsuit to Rule Them All

And so, it begins.

"This letter is to notify you that you are violating the World of Warcraft End User License Agreement (EULA) and Terms of Use (TOU), infringing Blizzard’s copyrights and trademarks, and contributing to the copyright infringement of others."

Patrick at Gamersloot sent us the above extract from the C&D letter they just received from the senior counsel at Vivendi Universal (ie Blizzard's parent company). It goes on:

"Specifically, Blizzard is the owner of the trademarks and copyrights for the computer game World of Warcraft and all related content, including but not limited to all game characters, objects, and artifacts. Section 3 of the EULA specifically provides that “all title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the Game and all copies thereof (including, but not limited to, any titles, computer code, themes, objects, characters, character names, stories, dialog, catch phrases, locations, concepts, artwork, character inventories, structural or landscape designs, animations, sounds, musical compositions, audio-visual effects, storylines, character likenesses, methods of operation, moral rights, any related documentation, and "applets" incorporated into the Game) are owned or expressly licensed by Licensor.” Similar language is contained in Section 10 of the TOU."

It goes on to say that Gamersloot must stop infringing immediately as well as tell them how much money they made from it. Or else. (Actually, Gamersloot don't sell virtual assets, but presumably others who do have also received the C&D).

The way that the property interests are framed is actually quite interesting. The range of property claimed ranges across copyright and trademarks, and is typically overbroad: Since when do character names attract copyright? Since Blizzard doesn't create those names, how could they be its in the first place? And "character likenesses"? Please. And so on.

On quick reflection (this isn't my considered opinion since all the analysis was done while my son was climbing on my head and insisting on being tickled) I actually think that Blizzard's position is remarkably weak on the copyright and trademark claims. No copying of the works/marks is ever done, and since Blizzard retains control of the assets (they are in its database after all) they have a weak claim on the primary infringement side. And on the secondary infringement side I think it's screwed.

Of course, there's always the trusty ToU: the virtual world contractual equivalent of the 19th Century fairy tales where you agree to give away your first-born child in return for ten minutes of good gameplay. This one will be tougher for IGE and other secondary-market actors to beat, but there's always the doctrine of privity that means that unless IGE signed the contract they can't be bound.

God I love the law...

Posted by Dan Hunter

WOW News: Buying your way to virtual gold


ON MANY DAYS, 23-year-old Andrew Caruso can be found trotting through the pixilated green videogame shrubbery of the virtual online world of "World of Warcraft." Attached to the back of his character is a giant, highly coveted orange hammer of Ragnaros.

This weapon is so rare, so valued, it took Caruso five months of what he calls "24/7 playing" on his computer to achieve the level 60 status to acquire such a weapon.

At the time he earned it, only two such items were known to exist among the 17,000 players who participate on the same server as Caruso. And after long, grueling hours of game play, he became the proud owner of this tool that gives him online omnipotence.

These days, deep pockets have advantages, even online.

What took Caruso months of playtime can be achieved in mere days at the right price. Buying or selling virtual characters and items is an incipient marketplace that is capturing the attention of millions of gamers worldwide.

Brokers connect players with "power levelers," people who will level-up a character. For about $250, these power levelers can get a character to level 60 — the highest level in the game — in about 15 days.

Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games — or MMORPGs — such as "World of Warcraft" are not anything like your average Nintendo game. They require hours, days, weeks — even months of playing to acquire level-ups and virtual "gold," the game's currency.

It is that type of dedication some say makes it so attractive.

"It's a drug," says Charles Drum, a technology consultant from Fremont. "People are addicted to it. But now it's becoming an expensive habit."

Drum works with Ken Hu of, an online broker based in Fremont that allows players to trade cash for characters or virtual gold. His going price: $100 for 1,000 gold, though discounts for bulk purchases are generous.

The game is time consuming. Before you needed to play one week (to get 1,000 gold) now you just pay a hundred bucks," says Hu. "We offer a service."

Here's how it works. Hu has contacts in China. He says one contact works from a room filled with about a dozen players who play constantly around the clock; building levels, earning gold. Hu works as a middleman to connect buyers with power levelers, or with "gold farmers," who hoard virtual gold to sell for real money.

This virtual marketplace is growing like wildfire, Hu says. He has customers who will spend thousand of dollars to buy characters that are already at level 60. Such a feat could take months to achieve for a new gamer. Hu also offers brokerage services for 13 other online games.

Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of "World of Warcraft," boasts more than 5 million players worldwide, each one paying a monthly subscription fee to play.

The company does not condone such virtual transactions. In fact, if one is caught, the company bans a player's account, with the potential of erasing month's worth of work.

But Hu contends what he does is not illegal. As a broker he stays in a gray area.

"It's not fair," says Hu. "The players spend $50 to buy the game, then they pay the subscription fee, and invest lots of time to get the gold. But now Blizzard says we can ban their account anytime? It's not fair at all."

For many of the most loyal players, Blizzard's stance comes as welcoming news but also with little relief.
"Some people have the money to buy whatever they want. They can buy any character," says Tim Huang of Fremont. "When we play, it's hard earned. Not like someone else who goes and purchases it."

Huang said gold farming has also taken a toll on the game's virtual mini-economy, where players buy and sell equipment legitimately within the game. Ever since buying gold with real money has become more common, virtual prices have inflated.

Huang said finding out who has purchased characters or gold is easy because camaraderie among players is strong and news travels quickly.

"You can sort of tell," Huang says. "These people are casual players, you know they only play once in a while ... then it's like, 'how did these people get so much money?'"

While the virtual marketplace for "World of Warcraft," the most popular game, maintains viability under illicit circumstances, Sony Online Entertainment taking a different approach: sanctioning the virtual marketplace and even providing players a safe haven to buy and sell goods.

The Station Exchange is an eBay-type setup where players of Sony games like "Everquest II" can auction their characters or equipment. Sony touts that the Station Exchange interface provides a secure, private and seamless method to sell items in a secondary market.

WOW News: Going for gold

Is it fair for online gamers to pay big bucks to get ahead, or should they earn their wares through time and talent?

BILL HUTCHENS; The News Tribune
Published: February 12th, 2006 02:30 AM

If you’re not a big fan of the whole “reap what you sow” thing, maybe goldfarming is for you.

Instead of earning wages through hard work and perseverance, you might be able to earn a decent living – or at least some extra spending money – by harvesting nothing more than “a bunch of ones and zeroes,” as longtime online gamer Dan Brunton puts it.

Goldfarming – playing computer games just to earn virtual currency and then sell it for real-world dollars – is part of a thriving secondary market in the gaming world. It’s getting something for nothing, trading game goods and gold for real money. And though the practice has been going on for a few years, the market’s worth may be poised to eclipse that of the primary game publishing market.

Some South Sound gamers are looking on with equal parts amazement and dismay.

“In theory … your game gear should be the result of your work and not your pocketbook,” said Brunton, a Lakewood resident and a systems integration analyst for Intel. He’s not a big fan

of gamers who support the goldfarming market by buying their game currency at Web sites such as eBay and and then using their virtual wealth to outfit their game characters with high-level weapons and armor.

“The real-world issues of the haves and the have-nots are creeping into game worlds,” Brunton said.

Brunton’s game of choice these days is World of WarCraft, a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game,” or MMORPG. He’s not alone. WoW boasts more than 5 million subscribers. And a growing number of gamers are wandering away from the practice of earning gold, the game’s currency, in favor of buying it from farmers – those who do nothing but earn gold.

Kill some monsters, earn some gold. Finish some quests, earn some gold. Sell some weapons and armor you found, earn some gold. Farmers play for days on end, stockpile gold and put it up for sale online.

The transaction is simple. A recent check showed more than 200 auctions of WoW gold on eBay. Use a credit card or Internet payment service to order your gold, and a farmer will either meet you in the game or use the game’s mail system to transfer gold from his or her character to yours. Some players are paying $300 or more for a few thousand pieces of virtual gold that can be spent inside the game on new equipment for their characters.

“Having epic gear is a reward or a badge to say I’ve been through all these adventures,” Brunton said. “It cheapens the experience when people just buy their gold and then buy their gear.”

There’s a stigma attached to both the practice of buying gold and farming it, he said. On his server, suspected farmers and buyers are ostracized.

Eric Sayer, 16, of Auburn, and Joe Kulp, 20, of Lakewood, play WoW as often as possible in the Gamerz Hub area of the Thrill Zone entertainment center in Fircrest. They said goldfarmers have thrown off the game’s economy more than once on their WoW server. An in-game auction house for players who just want to trade in virtual goods is sometimes flooded with high-priced items sold by farmers. That sometimes makes nonfarmers jack up their own prices. Eventually, players who are unable or unwilling to spend their real money on virtual gold are priced out of the market.

Still, Sayer and Kulp are among a growing number of gamers who have tentatively accepted goldfarming and will readily admit to buying their gold.

“I’ve probably bought about 3,000 gold all together,” Kulp said, adding that he has purchased it a little bit at a time. “I just hate being poor. And there’s always something I want to buy.”

Many players on their server purchase gold, they said.

Both gamers have reached the top level for their characters and are working on the game’s final dungeons. They say they want to focus on those adventures without worrying about how they’ll pay for supplies and armor repairs for their characters. Kulp has even used “power leveling” services. He has paid someone to play a second character for him, get the character to the highest level and have it outfitted with top-notch gear.

So who is accumulating, or farming, all this game gold?

A call to the good doctor earned some answers.a

Kun “Ken” Hu is Dr. Hu of, a Web site that facilitates the trading of virtual gold and offers some of that power leveling for players who are too busy to play all day. Based in Fremont, Calif., Hu said he is a “middle man,” a broker who connects North American gamers with gold farmed in Asia.

“In China, there’s lots of farmers,” Hu said during a recent phone call. “They have, like, small studios with one or three people. But some have maybe 100 computers and players and play World of WarCraft 24/7.”

Some game companies approve of farming and some don’t, he said. Blizzard, the creator of WoW, does not. But it’s not illegal, so Hu keeps matching gamers with farmers for business.

“They don’t allow people to sell the gold,” Hu said. “It’s … a gray zone. There’s no law to say it’s right or not right.”

Because gamers know that many farmers work in organized groups in Asia, a side effect to the farming business has been a hesitancy on the part of North American players to group with Asian players. On Brunton’s server, many players, Asian or not, who simply don’t speak fluent English get lumped into the farmer category. Gamers often make lists of the character names of suspected farmers and post them online. In the game, those players sometimes have trouble finding groups to join for adventures.

“I have seen an obvious bias against people who are not English-speaking,” Brunton said.

Farming is going to take place one way or another, said Heather Gore of Internet Gaming Entertainment, the world’s largest marketplace provider for farmers and power levelers.

Gamers can go through to buy and sell their virtual gold, gear, characters and services.

“There needs to be a safe and secure, well-lit place to perform these transactions,” Gore said.

IGE has headquarters in Los Angeles and offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and London. They don’t employ farmers; they just provide the marketplace. But they don’t condone what Gore calls “disruptive farming,” practices that negatively affect a game’s economy. Anyone who disrupts game play is removed from the IGE marketplace.

While Blizzard is trying to ban farming, having recently canceled 18,000 accounts of suspected WoW farmers, Sony Online Entertainment has taken the opposite approach. The publisher of popular MMORPGs EverQuest, EverQuest II and Star Wars Galaxies, Sony brought farming into the fold and created its own marketplace for it. At the online Station Exchange, players can buy and sell their virtual goods with Sony’s blessing.

“We feel that really validates our business,” Gore said.

Emotions run high on both sides of the issue, she said. Some gamers appreciate the freedom of being able to focus on improving their characters without worrying about how much new weapons and armor might cost. Other players see it as cheating or giving an unfair advantage to those who can afford to spend real money on “a bunch of ones and zeroes,” as Brunton of Lakewood puts it.

Referring to a combination of internal research and a recent Nielsen study commissioned by IGE, Gore said goldfarming is becoming an accepted practice in North America. Only about 20 percent of gamers disapprove, she said, but they make up a “vocal minority.”

“South Korean and Chinese markets are so far ahead of us because they don’t see this as a debate,” she said. “They don’t see it as a problem.”

IGE is a privately held company. Following common practice, Gore did not give any information about company profits. But she did say the secondary gaming market could be worth $9 billion to $10 billion annually by 2009, when it likely will surpass the game-publishing market.

Buying your gold and then outfitting your character with high-end weapons and armor might be fine for some players, but Brunton said it takes more than that to get the most out of your chosen MMORPG.

“Just having the best gear in the game doesn’t necessarily make you a good player,” he said. “You still have to have some talent.”

goldfarming 101

Step 1: Play a “massively multiplayer” online game on your computer. The most popular these days is World of WarCraft, a role-playing game, or “MMORPG.” In WoW, hundreds of players can log in to the same server, or “realm,” for simultaneous adventuring. There are hundreds of WoW realms all over the world, and more than 5 million people pay monthly subscriptions to play the game.

Step 2: Slay some enemies (also called “mobs”). When you do, you can loot their corpses for items you can later sell to a computer-controlled merchant. In WoW, if you slay a bear, for instance, click on its corpse and you might see a column of icons representing teeth, fur, meat, claws, etc. Click the icons to add them to your inventory. Some enemies yield, or “drop,” weapons and armor as well as copper, silver or gold coins.

Step 3: In WoW, players can carry as many as five backpacks, each with more than a dozen “slots,” or spots for loot icons. When your packs are full, head to a town or city and find a computer-controlled merchant.

Step 4: Click on the merchant and then click on your backpacks to open them. Click on the icons in your backpack to sell them to the vendor, who will give you coins.

Step 5: Slay, loot and sell about a million times.

Step 6: While you’re out slaying enemies, keep an eye out for rare items. These can be weapons, armor, trinkets or even crafting patterns that other players might want. You can tell how valuable an item is by looking at the color of its name. Green items are “uncommon,” blue items are “rare,” and purple items are “epic.” In most parts of the virtual world, epic items don’t drop very often.

Step 7: If you get some of these green, blue or purple drops, put them up for sale for gold on the in-game auction house. Sometimes epic items are sold for real money in online marketplaces such as eBay or

Step 8: When you have collected about 1,000 pieces of gold (that can take many days of nonstop killing, looting and selling), put it up for sale on eBay, or some other online marketplace.

Step 9: Here’s how the sale goes on eBay, for example: Someone who plays in the same realm as you wants to buy your 1,000 pieces of gold. He has a winning bid of $75, and the cash moves from their credit card to your account. You arrange to meet him in the game and give him your gold. WoW also has an in-game mail system for sending notes, gold and items to other players.

Step 10: Repeat this process 100,000 times. Or, as some have done, open a factory in China, and pay 100 people a few U.S. dollars per month to do it for you. GLOSSARY

Blizzard: The game development studio that makes World of WarCraft (WoW)

Bot: Short for “farmbot,” a playable game character programmed to automatically slay enemies and loot their corpses. Creating bots usually involves hacking, a practice most game companies do not endorse.

Drop: Noun: A single piece of loot. Verb: To appear, as sellable items do, in a loot window when a player clicks on the corpse of a slain enemy.

Goldfarmer: Or “farmer,” one who plays a MMORPG solely for the purpose of harvesting and selling loot, accumulating gold and then selling that virtual gold for real money in online marketplaces such as eBay or

Loot: Noun: The items that drop from slain enemies. These can be common items such as pelts or cloth to more valuable items such as armor or weapons. Verb: To take dropped items.

Loot window: The window that pops up when a player clicks on a slain enemy. The loot window displays the items (as icons) that can be looted from an enemy’s corpse. Looted items are added to a player’s personal inventory.

MMOG: Massively multiplayer online game, a game played simultaneously by hundreds or thousands of players

MMORPG: Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, a MMOG that focuses more on fantasy role-playing and adventuring than, say, World War II shooting action or the re-creation of battles from ancient history.

Mobs: Computer controlled enemies. In WoW, mobs are a mix of common animals, fantasy creatures and monsters and human or humanoid foes.

Ninja: A player who, when grouped with other players, steals loot from the corpses of cooperatively slain enemies instead of waiting to divide it fairly.

Ninja Farmer: A player who, when grouped with other players, steals loot with the intent to sell it.

Thottbot: A Web site that categorizes and cross-references the loot dropped by WoW enemies. Thottbot also gives rough estimates (percentages) as to the chance that particular items might drop from particular mobs.

Vivendi Universal: The publisher of WoW

WoW: World of WarCraft, the current top MMORPG with more than 5 million players worldwide

Bill Hutchens: 253-597-8460


A World of Warcraft

There are more people playing World of Warcraft in the U.S. today (two million) than had indoor plumbing 100 years ago. There are more people with blogs today (31 million) than had internet connections ten years ago.

Thomas Edison said it best: "Change happens with ball-flattening speed."

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by David Wong

If you don't know what an "MMORPG" is, don't worry. It's a geek term, like "e-mail" used to be a geek term. For now let's just say it's the most instantly gripping, involving and demanding entertainment technology ever invented. The addiction rate appears to be about twice that of crack Cocaine. There are 10 million MMORPG users in the world and their population is doubling every two years.

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Hold your hand about three feet above your monitor. That's where the graph will be in 2010. It's an infection, it's a tsunami, it's a volcanic eruption. All at the same time, waiting, like a nest of plague-infested rats next to a ticking hydrogen bomb in an underwater volcano. Or something. What I'm trying to say is, it's The Next Big Thing.

Some of what you're about to read will sound like science fiction. You'll be tempted to dismiss me along with those who for decades have been predicting sentient robot maids and hotels on the moon. But for every delayed technology there is another sudden, completely unexpected advance that jumps us from the shadows. For instance, none of the illustrations used in the article below were done with human hands. Each was rendered automatically by a remarkable piece of software called Nedroid, which can scan any piece of text, "read" it for comprehension and, incredibly, render artwork to match the context.

Did you even know that was possible before now? Truly, this morning's science fiction is this afternoon's science not-fiction.

So where will MMORPGs will take us?

In your lifetime...*

1. Everyone will look like a Greek god or goddess.

If you don't understand the gravitational pull of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), I'm going to enlighten you with just a dozen words: you get to pick what you look like and what your talents are.

That's the real beauty of it. The first thing you do in the MMORPG World of Warcraft is design your own body and decide what your strengths will be. You pick your race. What could be more seductive than that, the ability to turn in all of the cards you were dealt at birth and draw new ones from a face-up deck? If you have friends who've gotten sucked into the WoW black hole and you don't understand why they never talk to you any more, this is it. I remember being a chubby teenager with bad skin and astigmatism and pants that didn't fit quite right. What would I have given to be reborn as a strapping warrior with rippling pecs and armor of hammered silver?

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On that kid's screen now is a dozen noble warriors of exotic races, brandishing elaborate weapons and charging a gigantic demon across a fire-scarred mountaintop. The dwarf next to him is controlled by an accountant planted at his own computer in Cleveland, two babies sleeping in the next room and his pregnant wife on the sofa. The robed priest in the back casting healing spells is actually a 250-lb. ex-gangster, playing from the computer lab of a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania. The elf on his left, sprinting and drawing his mighty magical bow, is the digital body of a wheelchair-bound 12 year-old girl in Miami.

It's not just for fantasy geeks, of course. Even The Sims lets you pick a version of yourself with low body fat and cool hair. And this idea is what's going to push the expansion of MMORPG technology in the way that porn pushed the expansion of the internet, the desperate-but-untapped desire to interact with others without the bothersome interference of genetic flaws and poor diet and exercise habits.

But it's not just the physical image that changes. In that world, I am a dragon slayer. There, my reptutation and history are just as awe-inspiring as my look. Even now, much of the satisfaction for WoW gamers is in the very real sense of accomplishment they get, a person glowing with a burst of golden light when they gain a level in experience and strength. How can the real world compete with that? Wouldn't those long Calculus lectures have been easier to sit through if, every time you learned something important, gold light shot out from your body?

In the future, long after World of Warcraft has gone the way of ARPANET, everyone will have a virtual-world twin. An upgraded, digital representative of yourself which I'll henceforth refer to as Awesome You. And you'll see a time in your life when more people know Awesome You than know the real you.

Some people live like that already.

2. All will play in the same virtual world.

Gamers rejoiced back in April when it was announced that Blizzard, Square/Enix and Sony were merging their virtual worlds so that online characters from one game could stride seamlessly into another. It made perfect business sense and I was the first to say I wasn't at all surprised by the news. I had been predicting it for months. The fact that it turned out to be an April Fool's joke and entirely false only proves my point. Ahem.

As this kind of community gaming becomes the nation's pasttime, convenience will demand that some day each person's online identity be able to move from one realm to the next, from the suburbs of the next Sims Online game to WoW's Spiderskull Mountain. And with that convergence of virtual worlds we'll have the first real, primitive incarnation of something not unlike the matrix, or what old science fiction authors called the metaverse. A simulated, virtual world.

You won't have to be into fantasy to participate. You can spend your gaming time in a virtual suburb and build a virtual family and enjoy growing a virtual garden, while your best friend goes off to fight the Orcs of Thunderclaw Valley. Your cousin can go re-fight World War 2 every day. It will still be mainly a game at this stage of its evolution, but as the experience is tailored to every single taste (all under one virtual roof) more and more people will participate. And once everybody's there, why not do all of your chatting and text messaging there? Half of the WoW experience seems to be just a beautifully-rendered and animated chat interface anyway.

The first steps will likely come with the next game consoles, expanding the pool of gamers beyond those with pimped-out gaming PC's. The Playstation 3 will have at least one huge MMORPG on it (Final Fantasy VII). The XBox 360 should have World of Warcraft. And then if you get the console users hooked, and if the the console makers succeed in their plan to get a box in every single house in the civilized world, and then if they expand the interface so you can use your cell phone to check in on your game... You get the idea.

3. Someone will go to jail for stealing a Bonebiter.

You may have heard about a guy who recently was convicted of murdering a man during a dispute over a rare, valuable sword. That sword that was not made of metal or anything solid, but rather of 1's and 0's inside a computer hundreds of miles away. It was a sword he had won in the MMORPG Legend of Mir 3.

Insane, right? I mean, let's say our friend John has his Bonebiter (one of countless powerful weapons in WoW) and a man steals it somehow. Should the thief be convicted of a crime and punished in the real world? Did you snort with laughter at that question? Why?

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The victim worked many hours to "earn" the object. The victim used it daily and depended on it. He derived happiness and satisfaction from it. So why shouldn't depriving him of it be punishable by law? If you say, "but it's just something he used in a game," I'll say that golf is also just a game. Want to see what happens to me when I steal a new set of golf clubs?

If you say, "but the Bonebiter doesn't even exist," I'll say it exists in exactly the same way that the songs and software I download off Bittorrent exist. And yet stealing them is a crime. The only difference is that when I steal a song, nobody else is deprived of the song. When that guy stole John's Bonebiter, he was left unarmed and forced to go find a replacement. That theft actually hurts more, not less.

So when will we start to see laws prohibiting the theft and misuse of game-world objects? As soon as members of the gaming generation become lawmakers, that's when.

4. You'll meet someone who plays an MMORPG for a living.

Let's take this a little bit further. You earn gold in World of Warcraft, gold with which you can buy these in-game objects. If this game gold is truly valuable to my life, if it lets me get more value out of the pasttime I already pay real-world money for, what's to stop me from paying real money for game money? Nothing. Go to Ebay and do a search for World of Warcraft Gold and let your jaw drop open.

Here we have game currency being traded for real currency, and at a better exchange rate than the Iraqi Dinar.

If we go further still, we can imagine a person winning rare weapons and selling them on auction sites or directly to other players they meet. We can imagine somebody working full-time to gather in-game gold by slaying gold-shitting squirrels (or whatever you do to get gold in the game) and then exchanging it for real dollars to pay the real rent with. Sure, it may be decades before you see this kind of-

Oh, wait. There are people doing that right now.

And if you're chuckling and shaking your head at the glazed-eyed geeks who can't tell the difference between game money and real money, let me ask you something: when Square bought Enix for $727 million two years ago, do you think they they actually stacked crate after crate of cash on a flatbed truck and then drove the $727 million over to their offices?

No. That money only existed as numbers in a computer. In fact, not even 10% of the money in the American economy exists as physical, printed currency. All of the rest exists on servers and hard drives and in the imaginations of the people. It has value for the exact same reason WoW gold has value: because people think it has value.

I'm guessing that if you started this article thinking it was a joke, this is the point when you sobered up and realized that, as author H.G. Wells predicted, "the future will accost us with boob-slapping ferocity."

5. They'll take the "G" out of "MMORPG."

We'll stop thinking of the online world as a game right around the time you find yourself strolling through Witchblade Village, or some such fictional online town, and see a Target store open there. You'll enter it just like you do the in-game stores, and you'll be able to view the merchandise in realtime 3D, pick up objects and turn them over in your virtual hands, and buy them the same as if you did it on

So now our fledgling metaverse isn't just a place to slay computer-generated dragons and nazis. Now it's where you go to shop, to chat, to have cybersex with actual nudity and everything.
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Just think of how porn changes when the user also gets to go in with the toned body of an underwear model. It'll make our current online porn look like just the tip of the assberg.

The joy of experiencing life as Awesome You, as the stronger, handsomer avatar of yourself, will take all of those activities to another plane of cool. The casinos will be there, the movies will play there, concerts will be performed there. The metaverse will stop being a playhouse and will start becoming the interface through which we interact with reality. And every step you take will be as Awesome You. Cool, beautiful, confident.

Nothing invented yet has had such universal appeal.

6. You will find yourself momentarily forgetting whether you're in the real or virtual world.

Fans were astonished when a leaked video depicted a Nintendo virtual reality headset intended for its upcoming system, complete with high-resolution 3D screens and surround-sound earpieces. That it turned out to be a hoax put forth by a lonely, psychotic fan should not detract from the amazement. Today's hoax is always tomorrow's reality (except for that fake picture of the guy holding a huge cat.)

What is not a hoax is this machine somebody invented that operates on the user's thoughts. Yeah, that's right. You think it, the machine does it. That machine exists right now, as you're reading this.

Total immersion, the kind that could really fool you, won't happen tomorrow. But as time goes on it is absolutely inevitable that the graphics will become life quality, that visual displays light years beyond monitors or cumbersome headsets will hit the market. The keyboard and mouse will be long gone, everything done by thought and voice. It is the logical end of everything game developers and console makers are trying to do today and they will not stop until they have it.

And that, my friends, will be a watershed moment in human history. The point where we can trick the senses into thinking a piece of software is real, thinking a real supermodel is in our bed or a dragon is in our front yard or our dead mother has come back to give us advice, that's when everything changes. The metaverse will still be less important in many fundamental ways. Goods won't be produced there, food won't be grown there, babies won't be born there. But in the minds of a whole lot o' people, visits to the physical world will be just brief interruptions to the "real" world as they live it, the world where all of their friends and hobbies and ambitions are.

7. You'll meet a couple who have been married for years and have never seen each other's real-life faces.

If the metaverse interface is good enough, why not? You have a woman who, in real life, weighs 400 pounds and has a thick, neatly-trimmed beard. But she has a heart of gold. A thousand miles away you have a guy with three eyebrows and a hairlip. In reality he lives in a trailer with his 14 cats. In the metaverse he lives in a stone palace with 14 magical flying cats. They marry, the woman showing herself as a beautiful princess, the man a handsome prince. What do they lose by not meeting in the flesh (or "meating" as they will call it)?

If you're one of the thousands of people I just heard shout, "sex!" you're being naive. If you think the interface technology will go this far without developing a damned good and convincing sexual intercourse device, then you understand nothing about the world. Hell, if you Google it you'll probably find one for sale already.

Can anyone prove that such a marriage would be less "real" than the ones we have now? Are not economic hardship and increasingly unattractive, flabby bodies the main (though often unspoken) reason couples spend more and more time badgering each other as the years wear on? Neither, in a perfect world, should be valid reasons to kill off the flower of romantic love. So doesn't the metaverse actually remove a layer of bullshit in that case? Doesn't the symbolic princess with her fair skin and spill of blonde hair more accurately represent the kindness of the aforementioned woman than the bloated body life really gave her? So why not use it instead?
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Once again, if this seems ridiculous and alien, remember how many societies had (hell, still have) arranged marriages, often where the groom didn't see the bride's face until their wedding night. Wasn't the change from that to the modern method of getting matched up with girls by internet dating sites just as strange?

Aristotle said it best: "society is a house, change is a tornado full of woodpeckers."

8. There will be a branch of government to rule the virtual world.

If we're going to make theft illegal in the metaverse (and hackers will always devise ways to steal, or at least vandalize, digital goods) someone has to make and enforce those laws. Obviously no team of IT guys or game moderators will get to decide how the everyday lives of billions are lived, arbitrarily giving and taking goods and abilities as they see fit (would not a common punishment in the virtual world be to shave a foot off a person's height and add 150 pounds to their weight?)

But this raises an avalanche of questions. First, do you limit the amount of "gold" available in the game? You'd have to, once real-world goods can be purchased by metaverse gold (or whatever is used for currency in the virtual world). The exchange rate with real currency and the inflation rate of the virtual currency both become key as corporations depend on both for their profit.

If you don't understand the complication here, remember that in the metaverse if you want a 36-room mansion with a giant guitar-shaped pool, you can have it for free. No construction crew needs to be paid to build it, no materials have to be bought, no piece of real property had to be bought or paid for. It's just bits and bytes. So do you even have "gold" in the metaverse at all? How would it have any value if goods can be created from thin air, for free? What if I'm an interior decorator in the metaverse, going around and using my creativity to dress up their virtual homes for pay? How do they pay me for my effort and time? How do I, in turn, pay for porn?

If you say, fine, we'll just have to go back to using real money to pay for things, remember that real money means nothing to me because I don't spend any time in the real world. What am I going to do, buy a real metal-and-rubber car? For what? Where do I drive? It'd be like Monopoly money to me.

But wait, there's more. What about those who live in different countries in the real world - and under different laws - but who inhabit the same household in the metaverse? Which laws apply? Are metaverse laws universal? How could you get everyone from different cultures to agree to the same set of metaverse laws?

Would prostitution be legal? Especially if there is no real body-on-body contact with the real hooker? If not, what if the prostitute isn't even controlled by a real woman but is just a bot program meant to simulate one?

What about the customers who want to simulate sex with a bot who looks like a six year-old? Legal? Illegal? No real child is being harmed.

And just how do you punish a rape committed by one virtual character on another, if the real person's body is left untouched?

9. There will be a whole class of wealthy people without a dime to their name.

The trailer park guy I mentioned before, the one with a virtual world palace, brings us to yet a new plane of strangeness to consider. In the metaverse, unlike real life, everyone can be wealthy. It doesn't matter if you have actually invented anything or held a job of great responsibility or even came from a family of great wealth. Metaverse wealth has nothing to do with life achievement because there is no reason every man can't be a king there. As I said, it doesn't cost the metaverse servers any more effort or resources to render you a sprawling estate than it does to give you a one-bedroom efficiency apartment in the basement.

You get to live a king's lifestyle, without a king's responsibilities.

This is another reason the real world won't be able to keep up with the virtual world once it takes hold. Imagine an unskilled kid, doing a minimum-wage job like data entry from home. The job pays poverty-level money in the real world, but pays a fortune in virtual gold. For the guy, his smelly one-bedroom apartment is nothing but a storage area for food. It needs only three rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, and then a little room with a comfy chair he uses to jack into the metaverse. The real apartment becomes only an unpleasant little commute on the way to his "real" life. Hell, you could even sleep in the metaverse, the interface tricking you into thinking you're lounging on a king-size bed with sheets of silk.

This works out wonderfully for society, as you now have entire classes of the population who live in what used to be considered abject poverty, and are thrilled with it. You can give them everything they want and need with 200 square feet of apartment and enough electricity to run the metaverse interface. Their food can be chewy protein bars that the interface will convince them is a 5-course meal.

Most jobs will be online and can be done from within the metaverse (most manufacturing and farming and manual labor will be done with robots at this point, or, as I predict, genetically-engineered land dolphins). If you work the complaint counter at a government office, the office will exist only in the metaverse and thus neither the worker nor the complainer need leave their homes. And get this: if the complainer explodes in rage and tries to attack the guy behind the counter, no one is harmed. You can't really hurt anyone from within the metaverse.

10. The rise of the metaverse will go almost completely unopposed.

You won't have to trick people into jacking themselves into this one. It legitimately makes their lives better. Everything we've done a as a civilization from the caves until now has been about making a better world. Well, the metaverse will just be a shortcut, won't it? We'll have our Utopia of unlimited wealth and friction-free homogeny.

Population growth will be kept easily under control, since most sexual partners will live separately and won't be having meat sex at all (a guy can't get a girl pregnant from 100 miles away unless he's, you know, me). To have an actual baby will take so much effort and planning that only those who really want one will get one. That would have to be a change for the better, right?

The people are ripe for it. You've heard stories about how ticket sales are plummeting at movie theaters, in favor of home DVD viewing. Why? Why do so many people want to work from home now? Because we're sick of having to sit with other people. We want that extra layer of control that meat interaction will never give us. We want a world without the unpredictability of real, unrestrained humanity.

This could not have been attempted say, 100 years ago, even if the technology had been around. Back then people believed in all sorts of unchangeable gods and spirits and philosophies that live beyond what a person can see and smell and taste in front of them. But the Age of Reason did away with all of that, taught everyone to believe in nothing but the real, physical world. And if the stream of sense data we call "the real, physical world" can be altered to display a superior world, then it's impossible to say with any conviction that anything has really been lost in the transition. The modern "I believe it when I see it" religion will be satisfied by simply giving them something new to see.

It was only a matter of time. Humans got fed up with this world, and so we invented a new one. I suspect some theologian will come forward in the future to suggest that, in fact, our world was created in the same way. The gods got sick of their boring spiritual realm and made a more exciting, physical one to replace it.

You shouldn't be disturbed by this. Jules Verne was wrong when he said, "the future is a jockstrap made of bees." Anything manufactured by machine is destined to be better and more free of defect than anything created with human hands. Why not extend this idea to reality itself? It's the end of evolution, and I welcome it.

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There is nothing to fear, and it will happen in your lifetime.*

* Unless you're already old or have a terminal disease.

by David Wong


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