In December, the biggest draw for British World of Warcraft players was not just the launch of Cataclysm but also the fact that Greg Ghostcrawler Street himself would be gracing the event. I watched as the queue for the game was suddenly dwarfed by one queuing for the signatures of the Great Crab himself and fellow dev Dave Kosak. Except no one really knew who Dave was, so strong is the Cult of Ghostcrawler within the Blizzard community.
And you know what? (Yes, there will be crab-related blasphemy in this editorial.) Ghostcrawler only joined the company in February 2008. Hes not even one of the company founders. Shocking, I know.
The cult of Ghostcrawler basically sprang up because of two things: Greg Streets job as Lead Systems Designer for WoW and his high posting frequency on the forums. As Lead Systems Designer, he is a god who can literally make or break you and your class. He is the Great Crab, Keeper of the Nerfbat, Holder of the Ultimate Banhammer, Bringer of Miseries to [insert your nerfed class here]. He was also the face of WoW, posting more than many of the other blues and offering a direct line from the players to the people to make their favourite game. So important to the community is Greg Street, that he has inspired WoW-related humour but this high level of attention also meant that when he stopped posting, Ghostcrawler was quickly missed.
The oddest thing is, Ghostcrawler is the first blue to really garner this much attention. He is simultaneously loved and hated by the playerbase, depending on class, of course, and how recently yours was nerfed. He has half a dozen memes attached to his crabby alter-ego and all this from someone who has been with Blizzard for just three years.
The cult of the crab reached a peak at London's Cataclysm launch.
Blizzard Entertainment itself has now been going for two decades and yet you dont see Mike Morhaime or Samwise Didier placed on the same pedestal, or even the Loremaster himself, Chris Metzen. Blues like Drysc, Eyonix and Tseric have been adopted by the community before (and even have their own in-game NPCs to prove it) but never to the same degree as Ghostcrawler. Most of these visionaries have either left Blizzard to found their own companies, moved on or migrated - like Drysc (now known as Bashiok to the denizens of the Diablo III forums) to another game franchise within the company.
Yet this fixation on Ghostcrawler continues, fans wait for his blog entries and forum posts with a kind of devotion seldom seen. Yet, at the end of the day, whose to say Ghostcrawler will be there forever? No one ever stays in one job their whole life. Yes its fun to joke that GC promised you a pony/moose/unicorn that poops rainbows but he is just a human being, a small cog that makes a big companys wheels turn. Ive interviewed him several times and finally met him in London last year; as a blue he is truly mighty but as a man he is just that, one man who works for a company that pays his wages. He doesnt know everything about the game and is not solely responsible for the development and success of WoW but he does help ensure its kept that way. Cults of personality are never good things but it is really worth remembering that - outside of Azeroth - Greg Ghostcrawler Street is just as mortal as the rest of us.
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