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November 19th, 2008

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07:17 pm - victory or death! yes we can!
So I saw this on BoingBoing:
Obama’s FCC Transition Team Co-chair a WoW Player

Last week, President-elect Obama appointed Kevin Werbach, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, and Susan Crawford, who teaches communications and Internet law at the University of Michigan, to co-chair his FCC transition team. In preparation for his incoming administration, the two, both seasoned Net Neutrality advocates, will be tasked with providing information on U.S. government Internet and telecom policies, along with advising on budgetary and personnel matters.

Obama's hardline stance on net neutrality, like a lot of his policies, got very little press coverage, but it's one of the most important domestic issues to me - and something I certainly don't think we would have been guaranteed under Hillary.
The Wharton professor is a hardcore World of Warcraft player, a member of two guilds: “One of them,” he wrote on his blog in 2006, “was started by my friend and inveterate tech connector, Joi Ito…The other guild is very different — it’s composed primarily of academics and other thinkers who study and write about virtual worlds.”

So, my immediate reaction to that was... how "hardcore"? The two-guilds thing doesn't mean anything at all, especially if one of them is "thinkers" who are just there to document behavior.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if we had the link to Werbach's character so we knew EXACTLY what type of player he was?

And I went down a couple blind alleys, even looking up Ito's guild on WoWJutsu, before I realized that Werbach had posted the link on his own blog. Right under the link to his CV.

So here it is. Now: What does this tell us about him, as a person, as a gamer, as a government official? I will attempt to translate all the dorkese.


Every player in WoW belongs to one of two warring factions, Alliance or Horde. Werbach is Horde. Children often choose to be Alliance because they perceive them as "the good guys", but students of history (both ours and Azeroth's) recognize that Alliance culture is based on medieval European culture and Horde culture is based on the indigenous cultures that were supplanted by the West.

Werbach is a Tauren (a minotaur), which basically makes him a Native Kalimdorian. The Tauren revere nature, living in wigwams near giant totem poles. As a Shaman (see below), he could also have chosen a troll (blue-skinned Jamaican-like monster) or an orc (green-skinned Klingon-like monster), so there must be something about the cow-man that appeals to his liberal guilt.


The Shaman is a "hybrid" class, which means depending on where you put your points you can be: A) a ranged spellcaster with comparatively strong armor, B) a melee fighter with comparatively weak armor, or C) a healer with comparatively strong armor.

The fact that he chose a hybrid class signifies that he's open-minded -- like me (SHAMMIES FTW LOL), he probably didn't know exactly what he wanted to do at the end of the game, and he didn't want to be limited. So I feel much safer with a shaman than I would with a mage, warlock, rogue or hunter, all of which are strictly damage-oriented.

The fact that he chose C) (his build, under the Talents tab, is 0/8/53) means that he enjoys helping people, and being depended on. Again, this is exactly what I'd expect from someone aligned with Obama.


So how far has he gotten? Well, he's definitely not "hardcore". A hardcore raider would have beaten the game, which means defeating the demon Kil'jaeden, and no one in his guild has even set foot in the final raid "dungeon" where old Killy J lives. Nor have they beaten Lady Vashj, three raids before that - they haven't even beaten Zul'jin, which is only a 10-man job! I'VE done that! (Granted, that was after the 30% Hit Point reduction dropped a few weeks ago.)

However, they're no slackers - they're ranked #36 on their realm - and neither is Werbach. He's got the head, chest, gloves and belt from Karazhan (the entry-level 10-man raid), the shoulders and trinket from Gruul's (the entry-level 25-man raid), and the dagger and shield from player-vs.-player battlegrounds. There's also a good mix of badge gear in there. What all that means is that he has indeed spent dozens and dozens of hours in each of these different environments - you always have to run a place quite a few times before YOUR gear drops. So from my perspective, he either plays quite a bit more than I do or (more likely) he plays a bit less but he's been at it twice as long. Either way there's a strong commitment to the group, and to the endgame.


Werbach is still level 70, which means if he's gotten the expansion pack that came out a week ago, he hasn't spent much time on the new continent. A well-geared 70 should be able to hit 71 in just a few hours. However, this is understandable, given the promotion!

What he HAS obtained recently that I find noteworthy is the surname Jenkins. That means, some time in the past few weeks, he went far out of his way to a dungeon no one ever visits anymore just so he could kill 50 rookery whelps in 15 seconds just so he could become Supernovan Jenkins. It makes him laugh, it makes other players laugh when they see him. It is a purely social phenomenon, fitting his initial description of WoW as a primarily social space.

Why it would make you laugh - well that's an internet phenomenon unto itself, much like rickrolling. (You will probably find it funnier if you DON'T play WoW.) But so the inclusion of the Jenkins achievement in the game indicates that the people within Blizzard (the company that makes WoW) pay close attention to the community they've created, and therefore if Werbach is a guy who responds strongly toward that behavior - well that of course is exactly what I want to see from someone in power.

(42 comments | Leave a comment)


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[User Picture]
Date:November 20th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
This is hilarious. And curiously reassuring.
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
Is it real or not?
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 20th, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
I don't want any arena, thanks.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 20th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
You're right, I mean, he could also have a gnome lock in , which would mean I fucking hate him and everything he stands for.

[User Picture]
Date:November 20th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Heh, fascinating! Thanks for that.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
I also saw this on Boing Boing...
Date:November 21st, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
Hey, you got mentioned in BoingBoing, I hope you enjoy the inevitable flood of comments that follows getting Boinged.
Date:November 21st, 2008 09:27 am (UTC)


Yup it brought me here! Nice analysis... :)
Date:February 21st, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)

Re: WoW

the best thing in "yes we can" slogan is to get drunk and to punch you boss in the face

Date:November 21st, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)


If you look at his guildmates you'll notice that there is a Death Knight named Barackalypse! That's too good :)
(Is it him??? O.o)
Date:November 21st, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
The real question is "what is his stance on chinese gold farmers"
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
The outsourcing of our virtual economy is HURTING AMERICANS.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
I've known for about a day that he played WoW, so I've been waiting for his specific character info to surface. It has qualmed my anxieties. And even as a person with a mage as my main, I agree that I'd be wary if a pure DPS class was his main.

Waiting with popcorn for the inevitable slams he faces for playing a video game. Schaudenfreude!

(arrived here via boingboing)
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
But every class is relied upon in WoW DPS is just as relied upon as a tank or a healer. As a rogue, my tank depends on my interrupts and on my shortening the amount of time he's beat upon. And in turn, the healer depends on these things because they have a limited manapool. She also relies on me for peels if a mob gets loose from the tank. Point being, while I understand that desire, I wouldn't read too much into class choices. :)

But, in further awesome speculation, could we say that the president is a tank? Press secretaries offer cc and heals. Cabinet members and white house staff are straight DPS with additional utilities. But who are the healz? Possibly the National committees? The Party Faithful?
Date:November 21st, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Good analysis!
And what are your thoughts on the reputation he has earned with different factions? That should give us some idea on the time he's spent building rep or doing particular quests or dungeons.
Date:November 21st, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)


His reps look pretty typical for someone with his BG and Karazhan experience. It looks like he didn't spend much time at 60 (meaning he's not an O.G.) and hasn't spent much time earning reputation for reputation's sake -- except for the Scryers perhaps.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
Gogo resto shamans! :D

Of course, many people choose resto not because they don't want to be a DPS, but rather because it's tough as shit to get into anything as enhance or elemental. Many raiding guilds will not even let enhance or elemental raid that much... Stupid as it is, generally there's only one raid spot for an enhancement or an elemental shaman. If those spots are already filled, other shamans often go resto in order to land that sweet spot.

Resto and elemental are also great for PvP. Elemental in and of itself is damn good, but resto is certainly the best spec for 2v2, in my opinion.

So the question is - did he go resto because he enjoys the spec, or out of necessity?

I'd analyze it over WoWJutsu or look at the population on his realm... but alas I cannot do that until I get home:)

-Delecious of Mal'Ganis

Edited at 2008-11-21 09:19 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
Hmm. As an elem shaman I've never had a problem getting a spot, but then I mostly play with friends and I don't raid much.

I do know that until 3.0.2, all the top raiding guilds were replacing mages with elem shamans to take advantage of Bloodlust stacking.
Date:November 21st, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)

Choice of race

"...so there must be something about the cow-man that appeals to his liberal guilt."

Perhaps he just rolled a Tauren shaman for the crowd control afforded by War Stomp.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Choice of race

Impossible! Everything must have a psychological justification!

But seriously, as resto? I'd guess he doesn't use War Stomp much.
Date:November 21st, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Re: cultural relativism

Hang on though...weren't the Orcs invaders? They shacked up with the demons, wiped out the Draenei, then stormed into Azeroth, wrecked Loerderon, chased the humans across the sea, got beaten back, then turned around and started clearcutting in Night Elf territory, the Night Elves being just as native as the Tauren. (Though the Night Elves made a lot more stupid mistakes.) They helped out the Tauren (by wiping out the centaur and quilboar) and the Darkspear Trolls by... I forget at this point. Now they're allied with the Forsaken, who're squatting on old Alliance territory and want to plague everyone to death, and the Blood Elves who're the very pictures of excess, conspicuous consumption, and revenge at all costs.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
Don't blame Thrall for what the Fel Orcs did.

Demon blood is TASTY, okay???
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
New Horde Orcs - (Anonymous) - Expand
Re: New Horde Orcs - (Anonymous) - Expand
Date:November 22nd, 2008 06:37 am (UTC)
Here's a couple more things to note:
1) All his gear is enchanted and properly gemmed and he has a proper resto spec (according to the Elitist Jerks site.) This shows that, though he's far from "hardcore" he plays the game seriously and takes the time to learn these sorts of little details that make one sucessful. It's wierd to think of someone taking time from preparing briefs for the President-elect to brows Thottbot and Wowwiki for the mats to "Subtlety." I wonder how much time he spend reading "Elitist Jerks." Does he, as an Ivy Leaguer find that to be a comfortable enviornment.

2) As you pointed out, his guild is mediocre. This must be a strange experience for a Harvard grad, Wharton professor and Washington power player who is used to being on top in the real world. Though he may one day run the FCC, in WOW there are teenagers and college drops out that are more accomplished than him on his very own server. Infact, there's not a single mention of him or the BoingBoing piece up on the Eitrigg server forums. What a wierd world we live in now where it is not all that implausable that some teenager sitting in a trailer some where could wind up meeting the head of the FCC in a pug and giving him a lecture on how to beat some boss. Thank you internet.
[User Picture]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
I think it's even funnier to think of someone in a PuG saying something dumb like
[PowerPally] says: Why doesn't someone just tell the President that... (insert dumb economic crisis solution here)
[Supernovan] says: Thanks for the suggestion, but I talked to him yesterday, he thought of that, like, months ago, d00d.

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