Those of us heavily invested in massively multiplayer games are part of a community, just as FPS clans have a brotherhood borne out of hours of playing together. Events like BlizzCon provide an opportunity for MMO guilds and players to meet up -- for the unknown to meet the infamous.
E3 may have been over, but that didn't stop NCsoft arranging a player get-together last Saturday. Over 400 players signed up, some travelling from as far as Arizona for this one evening. While NCsoft had rented out a LAN centre for the event, players spent just as much time talking as they did playing, with a sizeable contingent of developers and community managers on hand to help the event along. NCsoft celebrities including Richard Garriott and Matt "Positron" Miller attended the event, showing a pleasing commitment to the player base.
However, other gaming celebrities made a surprise stop at the party; members of the PMS Clan and Frag Dolls turned up unexpectedly, escorted by several pro gamers including Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel. The crowds gathering around these stars somewhat eclipsed those around NCsoft employees, turning a low-key player get-together into a gaming paparazzi feeding frenzy.
What do you do when your event is upstaged by unscheduled guests? Pretend they were meant to be there all along, of course. At least, we heard no NCsoft employees announce the truth behind the extra guests. The impact on the event as a whole was minor, though; by the time Fatal1ty et al turned up, the player gathering was in full swing, with the PC stations playing City of Heroes, Guild Wars and other NCsoft hits. All the players we spoke to were having a great time, and perhaps that's the way gaming parties should be; provide the games, provide the players, and let the rest unfold.