Today is a very special day for me, Today is my one year anniversary of being the Lead Video Game Journalist here at The Nerds Templar. I spent a whole day (Okay, maybe more like an hour,) trying to figure out a good article to commemorate this event. Much like how anniversaries only come once a year, a very special community run event in World of Warcraft too only occurs once a year. The Tournament of Ages, a player run event on the server Moon Guard took place last week and it proved to be a literal game changing event. Thousands of players flocked to the Argent Tournament Grounds located in the games northernmost continent of Northrend. Moon Guard is a Roleplaying server in which players create backstories for their characters and interact with other players as that character. Think Dungeons and Dragons hosted in World of Warcraft (Too nerdy? That’s how I felt at first too. It grows on you, trust me.)
Throughout last week the Tournament of Ages gave away thousands of dollars worth of prizes for competitions such as Jousting, Player Vs. Player Combat, role play battles determined by the roll of a die, Hearthstone and even a Date Auction (I may or may not have signed up for this one, it’s been awhile). The Tournament of Ages lasted a total of seven days with players going all out to make the most of the week. But how did this event change the game? How did a bunch of Role Players change World of Warcraft?
In World of Warcraft, there was a server “feature” called Sharding. Sharding would phase players into a different, less populated version of the same area. This helped reduced lag, but would often keep players from seeing their friends in the same area and cause the first night of the Tournament to be chaotic as players raced to try and get into the right phase of the area so they could enjoy the event. With a massive outcry from the Tournament goers on Twitter and the World of Warcraft forums, Blizzard removed Sharding from all old zones, only enabling it in current content areas and for special events that are game related.
I got a chance to ask players Tendael and Aeryith, the two main coordinators of the Tournament, a few questions.
Me: Where did the idea of the Tournament of Ages come from?
Tendael, “Earlier in 2014 my guild (Dominion of the Sun) was tossing ideas around for new events. One of the ideas was a tournament. I thought it would be better to work with the community, so I got together with a lot of the Alliance and Horde GMs I knew and pitched the idea to them. Everyone liked the idea and so we held our first meeting in Ventrilo (this was before Discord was a thing). It turned out that there were far too many things to discuss in one meeting so we held more meetings until we had everything right.”
Me: What do you currently do for the Tournament of Ages?
Aeriyth, “Well, a few things. I’ve acted as Tendael’s co-chair over the years and we organise a lot of the framework before it ever comes time to sit down for our first official planning meeting. We plan throughout the year for the Tournament of Ages, essentially writing down little things that come to mind for the next and shoving them in a glass jar. My work behind the scenes consists of the social networking on Twitter and Tumblr (although this year I had the help of the brilliant Gabbrialla of the Succulent Tart for Tumblr), managing and updating the official TournamentOfAges.com, fundraising for prizes, managing the Twitch.tv aspect of the Tournament (Jeiut did the actual streaming for the PVP), charity awareness and promotion as well as streaming the Hearthstone tournament on my end. In general, I serve as the main Alliance coordinator, and really if any of the other coordinators need help, I’d step in to do whatever I could. This year was the first year, however, that I had contact with Blizzard with regards to the issue of Sharding, through the lovely woman behind the Running of the Gnomes and Running of the Trolls, which raises money and awareness for the Trevor Project. That fundraiser is ending soon, so please donate at bit.ly/TrollRun2k17 and stay tuned for the Running of the Gnomes! I felt very honoured, and still do, to have this line of communication because of what it can mean for future events. Blizzard hears us, and they want to help.”
Me: What do you currently do for the Tournament of Ages?
Tendael, “I maintain the website, post calendar events, hold the prize money, ensure the winners receive their prizes in full, answer questions, and most importantly… promote. I never stop promoting the event. I’d consider it a failure if just one full-time Moon Guard resident didn’t know what it was about.”
Me: What is special about the ToA that separates it from other Moon Guard server events?
Areiyth, “Any proud parent will boast on end about why their child is special, a cut above the rest, but I’ve participated in and organised many server events over the past few years and they have all been special. They all become key moments for the characters who participate in them, for the people who get to enjoy that type of grand story. For me, what makes the Tournament of Ages unique from all the other fantastic events that Moon Guard has hosted, is that it’s not about war or conquest. The majority of server events that I’ve seen over the past five years have been RP-PVP in nature, with the Horde and the Alliance fighting each other over land or principle. The Tournament of Ages is a massive breath from that, when the Legion allows it to be. For that one week, the Argent Tournament Grounds are magical. The merriment and mirth of a snow-dusted faire with jousting and knights dueling, warm mulled wine and races from all over Azeroth come to bark their wares — it truly is fantastical, and what solidifies that spirit in my mind, is how these people come together to channel it towards a real-life cause. We raised over $1,000 USD for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2016, and this year we raised over $1,000 USD for the USO. I have no doubt in my mind that this atmosphere of celebration and cheer will continue, and spread, and in doing that draw attention to these real-life causes.”
Me: Currently you have a petition out for another change to RP servers, what can you tell us about that?
Tendael, “Tournament of Ages was one of the most successful events I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on, but we’re still held back by the limitations of the game. One problem we’ve wrestled with since the beginning was communicating across factions. You have hundreds of people mingling in one location, but no way to talk to the other faction unless you have them on your friend list or find them over Discord. It’s very annoying, and it’s a problem we deal with for any large server event. It sounds like every time we do an event like this, I hear both sides wishing for the same thing: cross faction communication. The desire for this feature is overwhelming. Just look at the thread – over 300 upvotes in 3 days. I saw a thread that got 250 upvotes in 3 months. The RP community is making it very plainly clear to Blizzard that they want to talk to the other faction. I just hope that they acknowledge our message here in the same way they acknowledged our message about sharding”
Me: Thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer a few questions. It was a great event and everyone who worked to make it happen should be very proud.
As things return to normal on Moon Guard, people are still reminiscing about the past week. Several users found out my intent of writing an article, (Probably because I was going around yell, “Give me quotes for my article!”) and offered, you guessed it, quotes!
User Slick McTash said “ToA is gay, okay.” McTash said this jokingly, he went on to give a more serious answer of “Whether you’re an organizer, scrambling to make things happen. An attendee, visiting booths, a competitor, working and fighting for the prize, or even someone unaware of the Tournament, just stumbling across is. It has something for everyone.”
User Lu said, “The most wonderful thing about the Tournament isn’t that it heroes each year, it’s that the spirit of cooperation and community between players grows every year.”
User Selvatore Melrony said, “It was a week where grudges, scandals, and conflicts ceased to exist. We just all had fun”
User Akenitis told me, “I liked the Tournament. It made my Death Knight, a normally dower and edgy man, feel alive again. He threw a pie in a Worgan’s face and told a joke to a Tauren.”
Fun was in no short supply last week as players from both factions mingled, overcame barriers, and all came together for a yearly celebration of not just the Tournament but of the Roleplay community as a whole. This included dressing up in various costumes, getting on the coolest mount you owned or, if you’re an ass like me, getting 28 penguins to follow you around for seven days.