Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: William Dobson

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 5, 2009

MMO community connection:

Could you explain what your involvement with is and how you came to be working there?

Currently my title is Contributing Editor. Basically, I cover the news of the industry, do the occasional interview and that sort of thing. In the past I’ve had other roles. For example, following the launches of a couple of particularly big games I was in charge of making sure our coverage of those titles was sufficient for the amount of interest out there. Usually whoever is the most into a new game gets that honor. I also have written a number of guides.

My involvement with Massively began when Joystiq posted that they were looking for a handful of writers to start a spin-off site devoted to MMOs. I put in an application not really expecting anything to come of it, but I got lucky and they took me on.

Is working for the slave driver Shawn Schuster as horrible as it sounds?

Absolutely, that guy is a monster! No, he’s actually been great. There was a time when I couldn’t post due to some other things that were going on in my life and he was very understanding, so I’ll always be grateful for that. I think that we work very well together and he’d probably echo that statement (or maybe not!).

What was your introduction to MMOs and what was that experience like?

It was sort of an odd event that led to me playing my first MMO. I was 13 and my best friend (and main gaming buddy) had his house broken into. Almost his entire game library was stolen. His parents’ insurance provider just tallied up how many games he’d lost and gave him a lump sum to re-purchase them, so we went on a shopping spree at the local games store. His older brother spied a game called EverQuest sitting on the shelf. None of us had heard of it before, but the stuff they were claiming on the back of the box sounded rad so they grabbed a copy and I did too. After begging to be allowed to use my parents credit card for the subscription, I was soon online and my love of MMOs began. Suffice to say that I was not disappointed with my purchase.

Can you recall that first MMO “wow!” moment?

Probably just realizing how big and connected the world was, and also that the characters I saw running around were other real people. So much was “wow” for me when I started EverQuest that I don’t think I could pinpoint any single moment.

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

My peak certainly wasn’t during the EverQuest days, since I was in school at the time. After school finished and I started university I spent an absurd amount of time playing World of Warcraft. Part of that was due to not having a lot of interest in the degree I had chosen. Now I’m a student of games programming and design, and I take my studies a lot more seriously. I still spend a few hours each day gaming and more on most weekends.

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

Definitely. I’m a huge console gamer and am kind of addicted to looking for good deals. If there’s a deal on a game I don’t have, I will snatch it up, no questions asked. As a result I have a library that’s far bigger than I have the time to get through, but I enjoy chipping away at it when I’m not playing an MMO.

When did you first start blogging? Would you mind taking us up to present with all of your projects?

I started blogging at 20 years of age for Massively, when the site launched at the end of 2007. I feel a bit lame for not having more to say here! As I said before, blogging was something that totally snuck up on me. I was just a fan and regular reader of Joystiq and really didn’t think I would be chosen to be a part of their new site.

Do you see blogging as just a hobby or perhaps something more?

It’s a fun hobby that pays. I don’t know whether I would ever start my own blog but I’m really happy where I am at Massively.

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

I try and get a bit of blogging done each day, but often university and other commitments will get in the way of that happening.

Would you say there is some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you tend to cope with it?

There’s definitely a grind in that each of us at Massively must produce a certain amount of work every month. The best way to approach that is doing a bit daily but as per the above answer, it’s not always possible.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I like standing on my soapbox and telling the community what’s going on. I also get some pleasure when people say they are fans of the site. It lets me know that my team and I are doing our jobs well.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

I am an ultra-rare spawn on the Massively Speaking podcast. I think I’ve been on it twice in total, back when Michael Zenke was part of the site. There’s an open invitation for me to jump in whenever. I’m just afraid I’ll stink it up too much!

Are you pleased with how your contribution to has been received in the blogosphere?

I would say I am pleased, yes. I put effort into what I do and hope everyone that reads it is either informed or entertained (or best case, both!)

If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you do anything different?

Nope! This random opportunity caused me to open my eyes and realize that I wanted my whole career to be in the games industry, hence my change in studies. So I am very happy with the path I’ve taken.

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

I am not going to sit here and pretend I know what it takes to start up my own blog and draw an audience. Much respect to those that have made a real go of it. But I would encourage anyone who wants to blog to do so as it is a lot of fun. As far as advice, I would say to make sure that whatever you are writing is something that you would find entertaining if you read it at someone else’s site.

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

Maybe if I end up really busy with my job after I finish university. I don’t see myself stopping any time soon though.

You wake up to a world where you are the head of a company developing an MMO. You have unlimited funds and resources available to you. Please describe the kind of game you would make.

I’ll be very general with this answer or I could be here all day throwing out ideas. I’d make something that has a very high standard for both PvP and PvE, because I enjoy both and often one area is neglected. Immersion would be a big deal. It would probably end up being a fantasy MMORPG (boo! oversaturated!) that is heavily group-based. Group-sized PvP and PvE, but probably not raid-sized. I’m so over raiding. And if I had unlimited funds, it would be free-to-play with no ads or microtransactions!

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