Flash Mob Antics in World of Warcraft

Today wrapped up our last major event in WoWinSchool for the students at Cape Fear Middle.  As the district’s after-school programs are winding down, so does the busing.  The students at Suffern Middle’s program will continue playing for a few weeks.  To celebrate a successful first year of the program, we wanted to get the kids together, in world, for some fun.  What’s more fun that a Gnomish Flash Mob?  Now, if you’re unfamiliar with flash mobs, I highly recommend watching some of Improv Everywhere’s videos, they’re lots of fun.  But, a flash mob in a virtual world?  Why not!

wump2_sWe started the event by having each student create a gnome.  We specified that they should have either pink or green hair, and their name should end in –wumpus.  As the crowd began to assemble at the starting area, I could already tell this would be fun.  We had names such as Firewumpus and Applewumpus, among others.  Each of our students were logged into our Ventrilo server, so I gave them instructions on creating basic macros.  We made macros for /dance, /cheer, and /say “Wump!”  Before rolling out to Ironforge, we practiced our timing.  “Three, two, one, Dance!”  Seeing 20+ Gnomes in a coordinated dance is a beautiful thing (or totally weird?).

Ironforge was mostly dead.  We had a challenging time of getting anyone to interact with us, so we boarded the Tram and made for Stormwind.  Stormwind, was where the magic began!  Our first order of business was to surround a bystander, kneel, and in unison ask, “Are you the Great Wumpus?”  Now, I don’t know about you, but World of Warcraft is over five years old, players are burning through content, and hanging out in a capital city for any length of time is a clear indication of “I’m bored, but what else am I gonna do?”  It’s not every day, you are deified by a swarm of mohawk-sporting gnomes.  The lady Night Elf invited us to a play a quick game of follow-the-leader, and we obliged.  When she walked, we followed walking, when she jumped, we jumped, occasionally uttering a random “Wump!”  She began casting an area effect spell, we marked her as a traitor, and quickly swarmed the nearest player.  Now, this guy, Elladan, was a breath of fresh air.  He engaged us and played along.  “Are you the Great Wumpus?”  “Indeed!  Gather ’round!”  Yes!

Elladan began to play along with our antics and before long a crowd had gathered about this strange sight:  a lone Night Elf druid surrounded by over 20 jumping and spastic gnomes.  Things went along until some player dropped a campfire.  Now, here’s where our students really shined.  I told them on Ventrilo, “Type ‘Fire Bad!’ and scatter!”  Within seconds, our little swarm responded and onlookers were laughing and even sending me compliments via /tell.  Elladan even offered to tell us a story, to which we responded with simultaneous “Ooohs! Ahhs!”  If you can recall the aliens in the crane game in Toy Story, you’re pretty close.

wump1_sOur time was drawing to an end, so we randomly jumped up and ran to Goldshire.  We had quite a following trailing behind us, now.  From there, we exclaimed, “The evil Hogger must die!” and ran to the Hogger encounter nearby.  The level 80’s who trailed along made short work of Hogger and we realized that we had about five minutes left.  We began saying things like, “The Great Wumpus is calling us home.”  One student said, “I see a light at the end of the great wump,” and we began logging out on the spot.  Elladan, our new steward, pleaded with us not to forget him, and I assured him he’d be immortalized (Here you go, Elladan!).

We had a blast, and the students very quickly filled in their roles, especially once they realized they had an audience.  It was a great way to wrap up our activities.

-Lucas (aka Garwumpus)

Teachers In World of Warcraft – Games in Education 09

Teacher Gnomes in Ironforge Today I was privileged to work with Peggy Sheehy and Marianne Malmstrom in a three-hour, hands-on workshop for educators at the Games in Education Symposium, and what an awesome group they were!  The workshop began with Peggy giving most of them their first-ever experiences in Second Life followed by Marianne’s great lessons on using the screen capture program, Jing, to capture scenes for creating machinima.  Then I led the group into World of Warcraft.  We explored character creation, basic movements, questing and leveling.  The real challenge, though, was could this group survive the journey from the starting area to Ironforge?  The group assembled and we began our exodus.  It was a journey not without peril.  Ravenous wolves, angry troggs, and the ever-present lag monster (latency) plagued our every step.  Fortunately, members of the Harbingers of Light guild (my students!) came in to escort the throng to the steps of Ironforge.  We assembled on the steps and congratulated ourselves on accomplishing our goal!

These guys were fantastic and so patient!  We had some great laughs and hopefully, everyone got just a taste of a well-designed game and a better undestanding of why it’s so engaging to our students.