Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Copra

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 13, 2009

MMO community connection:

Bullcopra

Chapter 1: Introduction

What is your name (your online persona/alter-ego, what have you)?

Copra Jor-El, which is a combination my pen and paper players put together years ago. Copra from Skyrealms of Jorune (wise, teacher) and Jor-El (father of Kal-El) after our firstborn was born.

What is your connection to the gaming/blogging/podcasting community (your chance to plug yourself here)?

I play, comment and blog about WoW. That’s about it. http://bullcopra.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute and describe what your blog/podcast is about.

“ABOUT WORLD OF WARCRAFT AS SEEN BY A SOCIAL, CASUAL GAMER DAD”, that’s what it says at the blog.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Tampere, Finland, but moved to Helsinki very soon after that. I’ve lived most of my life in Helsinki, only the last few years about 130km north from there in a small rural town.

Where do you live now?

See the earlier answer…

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80-89

31-40

What do you do for a living?

Purchasing in a chemical distribution company

If you could reroll your career, what would you be?

Most probably veterinarian, teacher or scientist

List five random things most people don’t know about you.

  • I can sing, contrary to my looks
  • I’m very serious, contrary to the goofing I’m showing outside
  • While I enjoy company, I prefer solitude: sometimes even the family is too much.
  • I can cook, too, and have a diploma to prove it.
  • If I’m not a master of something right away, I lose my interest in doing it. However, at this age I’ve taken it to challenge myself with this trait. Thus I’m still blogging, even though I didn’t break Tobold’s visitor count in the first month.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I’m married with four kids and four Irish Wolfhounds. The life is as quiet and peacefull as you can imagine, no great big surprises there. I’m also from a big family myself, and I’m playing WoW nowadays with my two brothers, who have their own families.

Chapter 2: Origins

What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?

When I was a child we had a month long summer holiday at a summer cottage of my grandfather’s which was out there in the middle of nowhere, by the sea. The cottage didn’t have any electricity, so the pass time in the evening was playing games. Cards, board games, word games, you name it. As amazing as it seems, this trait lived well beyond the summer vacation time and we played quite often at home, too. At later age I was introduced to computers and only after that I found pen and paper roleplaying, which is still my main reference point in my gaming.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

I have been an avid reader the whole of my life, so reading and sports don’t mix too well: I have always been lousy at sports. However, I sang in a couple of choirs up till 16 years of age, at which time some other aspects of life started to play bigger part in my free time…

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

Like I mentioned earlier, I have been quite active in pen and paper RPG’s. In fact, I worked in a local game shop (the first one in Finland) for about 6 months, at which time I devoured a huge amount of lore and background from several games. The first game I ever played was Metagaming’s old and devoid “Into the Tunnels” (I think), but soon after that experience I bought D&D (the red box) and started to GM games to my younger brother and his friends. The group changed and evoved over the years, as well as the games chaged. But the love to this form of story telling hasn’t changed.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

I read quite a lot: in fact, my parents remember me reading always as a kid. I didn’t have any favourite authors at that time, I just consumed literature. I read everything from historical stories to scifi, from agent stories to crime and mystery. Later, when I switched to English language literature (at the same time I dug deeper into the RPG material and learned to trust my language skills at around 15), I found the author who has since remained my favourite: Gene Wolfe. And of course H.P.Lovecraft, whose works cast a sizeable shadow over the RPG campaigns I devised…

Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.

Definitely so: my computer gaming has always been a search of the story and puzzles. Not to say that I would hate FPS’, but I just don’t see the point in them. Heretic II was one of the few FPS kind of games I’ve liked, but that comes from the strong story line.

The same goes now with WoW: the lore is deep and the quest lines –when applied to the game- picture the stories and the world very neatly. I think the stories and their presentation is a huge part of my enjoyment in the games.

How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

I think I saw this one coming… I was introduced to videogames by a friend of mine when he got some of the first Atari consoles home back in late 70’s: I must have been less than 10 years then. My first computer was Commodore VIC-20 and it was quite something, at least for the time being and for as long as it WAS the homecomputer. Then came C-64 and Atari ST. I got VIC-20 when I was 14, and it’s been constant downhill ever since…

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

Of course: the first coin-op’s I played were the good old Space Invaders and sorts. And they completely blew my mind away: I must be somehow addictive and self-competitive personality, as I had to always improve my score. I didn’t care about the high score list, my own score was the only one I was comparing to.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

For the fore mentioned reason it was a game called Radar Rat Race for VIC-20: totally addictive maze run in which I always had to beat my own score. The tune still haunts me…

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Not so much gaming consoles nor computers, since RPG’s took my time pretty completely during their time. We’ve had PS1, PS2 and that’s about it.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

My addiction to the VIC-20 was such that I took the darn machine with us to all our travels and trips, even to holidays abroad for the next year or so. My biggest challenge with it was to find how to hook it up with the hotel tv and whether I needed an adapter for the electricity. And that done: I was at ease.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I tried MUD or two when I was studying, but didn’t find them attractive enough. Sure I had lived through the text based computer games like Zork, Planetfall and such, but for some reason or another the MUD’s themselves didn’t catch me.

What was your first MMO experience?

My first MMO experience was WoW. The year was 2006, and I joined a gaming community I had joined a year and a half earlier for a browser based game. I first joined for the trial, which was just then introduced to the game, and because the guild I joined with was based on US servers I had to purchase the game online.

What it was like?

It was like all my pen and paper RPG dreams had just materialized and been given life to. I connected with the world immediately.

Due to being a miser and the fact that it was next to impossible to play with the guild due to time difference, I quit the game after a few months. Only to play on a private server over at EU side. From where I transferred to official server on which a friend from the same community I mentioned earlier was also playing.

And –like they say- the rest is history.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively.

  • WoW: several toons both in US and EU servers.
  • EQ2: Some toons on Antonia Bayle
  • TCoS: two test toons.

That’s about it.

What is your current MMO of choice, or perhaps, what are your current MMOs of choice?

WoW. I loved the time I played EQ2, but the lack of population and social contacts makes me shun from it.

Which MMO have you spent the most time playing? How long would you say that has been?

This is getting boring: WoW definitely. On EU server I have about 57 days /played, on the US I think something like 20.

Have you reached level cap in any MMO? If so, which ones?

None so far: I have started so late and I’m so interested in the stories that my playing has been less about levelling. So I have taken my time to do quests, finding the continuing quest lines and digging the content.

Loki taps you on the shoulder one day to inform you that you have fallen victim to one of his elaborate pranks. The world you’ve been inhabiting of countless MMOs to choose from and play has merely been a dream. In reality only one MMO exists. After laughing at you for a bit he decides to take pity on you and allows you to choose which MMO will remain. Which one would you choose and why?

I would most probably wish that he would take them all away, because I don’t know the field so well to make such a decision. I can only ponder over WoW and EQ2, and for because I like the originality of EQ2 I would choose it. Most probably I’m not playing it because my brothers play WoW and it’s one of the few social tools we have in common.

Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain.

Earthrise for it’s background and approach. SWOTR definitely. And naturally the Blizzard’s secret project, especially if it’s connected with the recent Cataclysm-registration… that would sound promising.

Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.

It’s kind of sad, but sometime ago we had a discussion with the kids that everyone is good at something. To this my son, 7 years then, said loud and clear –like kids to with truths-: “Daddy, you are the best in playing WoW. Better than any of my friends fathers.”

Knowing the fathers of his friends, I doubt anyone has ever even heard about WoW (before the Ozzie commercial, that is)…

Chapter 4: Preferences

At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent gaming? How about now?

20 at peak, when I tried to level up to the 60 raid content. 10 currently on average.

When during the week are your regular play times?

One weeknight and weekend nights. Sometimes more, especially if the weather is horrible.

Generally speaking, are you more of a social creature in MMOs (grouping to quest, joining guilds, etc.) or something of a lone wolf?

My Bartle reads as ESAK, with high emphasis on the exploration. But social aspect is extremely important: I hate solo questing and I generally keep the LFG tool on always when I know I have few hours to play and commit to the group. However, the more WoW is designed to be soloed with fast forward, the less the people are taking time to group: it slows the progress down. And the End Game is out there at level cap. Sorry, the content.

Have you made any lasting friendships through your MMO experience? Please explain.

Not through MMO, but through gaming, yes. In WoW I haven’t been in a coherent guild before joining the current one, and I’ve been in this one so short time that I haven’t really made any connections yet.

Before logging into a game, do you already have a course of action planned out in your head, or do you just sort of do whatever you feel like once in game?

Both and. I usually have a plan whether I try to actively group for instances or if I quest on. If I have some interesting –or not so interesting- quest line open, I will try to finish it before continuing to grouping. But then again, when I’m out of quest lines and not willing to group, I can easily goof around and just explore the areas, find new places or work for achievements.

When playing MMOs do you tend to just play one at a time or do you take more of the smorgasbord approach?

I commit to one. I have pretty little time to play, so I cannot spread that time across a large amount of activities. Besides it brings a sort of feeling of continuity, like a serial rather than miniseries’.

Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console or tabletop games?

No.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Yes. Currently I have two main played characters, but I have other characters over three or four servers to suit my tastes.

Do you find yourself multitasking while gaming (perhaps watching TV, talking on the phone, out of game instant messaging, playing another game, or even listening to a podcast)?

Not as such. I may be talking on the phone or discussing with people at home, but I don’t see that differing from chatting with people online.

Do you find yourself having much MMO discussion off-line, perhaps with friends or family?

Not much, but some: as I’m playing pretty keenly with my brothers, our discussions at family reunions and such tend to turn into WoW from time to time. And all the others are either bored or crossed for some reason…

Have you ever felt that you game too much? If so, how did you cope with that?

Yes I do. But then again, I have other hobbies to which I commit to with similar intensity: the direction changes from time to time and I rather play MMO’s than watch TV. This way I at least get the illusion that I’m doing something instead just consume something in braindead state.

Since you started playing MMOs, have you ever taken a break from the genre? If so, please explain.

A couple of times actually. Both times it has been a bit hard to use all the spare time I have already acquired, but then again the return has been as difficult.

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

September 11, 2008. Good grief. That is the first post date on Bullcopra, and it marks the beginning of my blogging. After that I have launched another blog, Fast Enough to Catch the Lure about my other love, Irish Wolfhound Lure Coursing, which I wanted to separate from the gaming blog.

Why do you blog?

I blog because that is the way I can vent my thoughts about my gaming and WoW. I have also been writing earlier, so this blogging helps me with the urge to put words one after another in a meaningful way. It seems that from time to time I strike a chord in the WoW blogosphere, too, so my thoughts are not necessarily just rants or rephrasing of earlier posts.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I should have a schedule, but I don’t. Then again, I write when I feel like, and because I don’t do any theorycrafting –at least yet- there is no need to be on the vein of things going on in PTR or the raiding scene.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

The grind is when you have a blank page and blank mind. What to write about, or just should I just leave it for today. Because I have no schedule, I can easily pass.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

Commenting and commenting comments. The discussion which my posts can create from time to time, whether it is a note on another blog or comment in my own: the interaction with the readers, that is what is the reward for me (in addition to the eased feeling in my mind after I push the publish-button).

How many people offline know you blog?

To be honest, none. But then again, I haven’t been asking from my friends, neighbours nor relatives. But as far as I know, it’s not that popular here in cold North.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

Write. If you have a topic, write on the topic. Split posts into several smaller ones if you notice that there are several issues in one post. And re-read your post at least twice before posting: Mr. Typo is always there. And he’s not your friend.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

I should have made a tighter overall topic to my blog: the description I have now has come to be through evolution, and it has saved me a lot of time and headache since. I should have defined my blog’s purpose better. And tighter.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Yes I can: it will mean that I will become irritated and bad tempered for a while, until I start writing again into my desk drawer.

At your funeral, what song(s) would you have played as your corpse is set alight and cast out to sea on a funeral barge?

Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod. Just to remind the people left behind that life as we know it shouldn’t be so hard and death shouldn’t be considered so sad.

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