So the WoW Factor Show occurred last night on Wyrmrest. I’d like to take a moment up front to thank the organizers and sponsors for taking the time and effort to put on the event. It’s no small feat to organize such a thing and keep all attendees in a circle for such a long time frame.
Attendance, however, has clearly grown past expectation. Because I think way too much about things like this, I’ve cooked up some ideas that might improve future events.
1.) Hire an emcee.
While it would take several events to settle on the perfect candidate, the right emcee could drastically improve participant experience by filling dead time and guiding the “flow” of the event. This would be especially true in situations with “technical difficulties” (see #2, below), but also for those souls who cannot connect to the livestream for whatever reason. It is important to note that while he or she would be in communication with the judges, the emcee would not be a judge. He or she has no time for that.
This person would ideally be quick typist, because a key function of the emcee would be to talk to random players about their outfits while judges are doing their judging thing.
“Whats-her-name here is wearing this awesome shirt!”, or “So let’s look at So-and-so here! He’s got the Blah Blah Blah chestpiece. Where does that drop, So-and-so?”
Time consuming? Most certainly. This is why the emcee cannot be a judge. But the consumption of time would fill the moments that participants otherwise spend standing around being bored. More importantly, it recognizes random attendees who have not and probably will not win for whatever reason. This would significantly improve overall mood, I think, because every attendee, whether they admit to it or not, wants some recognition. (Refer to point 8 in this post, and also every comment ever last night about how “nobody’s looking at meeeeeee.”)
As a side benefit, it would also cue in the clueless who walk into the area and insist on asking publicly, “what the heck is this? Why are so many people here?”
1a.) And/or hire more judges.
As the number of participants increases, there’s a definite need to scale the number of judges accordingly to keep the process up to speed.
2.) Have backup for “technical difficulties,” because communication is key.
One of the biggest challenges the organizers experienced this time around was in the form of a failing livestream. Putting aside the time spent trying to get it to work, this was a huge problem for the pacing of the event as it was the primary mode of communication with attendees. An alternative, perhaps, could be a combination of an emcee/quick typist in communication with officials over a “Judges’ Vent Channel.” That way, organizers can communicate with each other while the emcee delivers relevant information to attendees.
It seems that, in the past, a very personal style was the standard mode of operation for WoW Factor. Judges talked on the livestream as they were going about, which passed the time for participants while also making prize-awarding reasoning as clear as possible.
Unfortunately, once the livestream went down this time around, no modifications were made to the standard practice. This had the effect of turning the contest into three or four hours of waiting around aimlessly. Periodically a judge would cheer at a person and shout they had won. Oh. Okay. Wait, what?
In the absence of information, players are wont to make up their own reasoning so that it all makes sense. This kind of thing is bad, because people are always likely to think of themselves as victims of the system (they are not being considered or they are being blatantly ignored), and as humans, they are inevitably offended by what they perceive to be unfair treatment.
Telling the players what’s up via typing, in the case of livestream fail (or even in addition to a functioning livestream), works against this inherent tendency. “This transmog has an amazing sense of character to it,” “These shoulders work so well with the color in the chest piece,” or even “OMG I LOVE THESE GOGGLES” would help.
While it can never silence all the naysayers and those who believe that favoritism is going on hardcore (rumors of judges giving prizes only to Real ID friends abounded), it would do much to sway those who are not so damned cynical. It would also help the people who are bored out of their gourds. (While I don’t buy the Real ID conspiracy theory, I suspect there was an affinity for red/gold/black color schemes. Must be the Silvermoon location influencing the judges’ subconscious …)
Obviously, the competition is subjective, and it will never be possible to satisfy everyone. That’s not the goal here, however. We want to preclude negativity in order to promote good times.
3.) Location, Location, Location
Two things seemed very clear to me: interest in WoW Factor has grown quickly past organizers’ expectations, and Aurosalia was going to drive me absolutely friggin’ mad. (GAWD! I should’ve stood on the other side of the room.)
Because the judges are primarily from different servers (and sometimes different countries altogether), they typically create level 1 characters on the event server and hold the event in a town. Otherwise, fate would have one mob aggro all the judges and that would be that. Awkward!
While it’s certainly nice to have an easily identifiable spot such as the Spire, the dramatic increase in attendance makes “indoors” an unsustainable choice. It’s time to think of alternatives.
If the competition is kept in town: Take Silvermoon, for example. Rather than crowd inside Sunfury Spire, another option might be holding the event in one of the more open areas, such as the Bazaar. Alternatively, participants could be lined up on both sides of the street in any part of town (although one hopes not Murder Row, because it’s too dang small and also kind of seedy).
If the competition is moved outside: Event organizers could also consider an “outdoors” location in a starter area, such as somewhere in the wide plains of Mulgore, where the things don’t attack, the available space is large and the obstructions are few. As long as there’s a flight path nearby, this wouldn’t be any more inconvenient than somewhere in some town.
4.) Just Ditch the Second Round
Why? First and foremost, time. Even setting aside the technical issues experienced at the beginning of the contest, we were a good two and a half to three hours in by the time round two came about. With the increase in attendance, multiple rounds will become correspondingly tedious unless action is taken to decrease time spent in them (hiring more judges, instituting a level limit, having a competition devoted specifically to a type of armor, etc. etc. etc.).
Another reason to get rid of it: this particular round really, really gets people riled up.
Even if you didn’t win anything in the first round, you’re theoretically still eligible for the second. On the other hand, if you did win in the first round, you are not excluded from winning in the second. Accordingly, though the format of the event has changed over time, many of the winners in round two have also been from the pool of winners in round one. At the Wyrmrest event, all round two winners were pulled solely from the winners of round one.
Therefore, this round is a more or less a waste of time for the majority of attendees. They are not, in all likelihood, in consideration for the bigger prizes of round two. At the same time, it makes them think they have a chance. It also gives people dreams of easy money (you also have to consider that for some players, like me, the notion of a mere 1k as a reward is amazingomg), which are almost certain to get dashed in round one and then dashed again in round two.
Did I mention that as humans, we are invariably offended when things seem unfair? It’s not that all folks believe that they ought to win money, or even that they ought to win in the first place. Lots would be perfectly satisfied if they were convinced that they had a decent chance and the best won. But waiting around for hours to see the same people get rewarded dreamy sums for decisions that are not understood can be a real pisser.
Therefore, rather than deal with this whole dynamic, just get rid of round two. You remove a major source of discontent while saving organizers, judges and players alike their time and effort.
While I feel I ought to write some sort of pithy conclusion here, since those are my suggestions as they currently stand, I’ll just leave off and let the post be. It is an open topic and I’m sure there are many other ideas for making every event a little better than the last!