Gamers can get prettttty angry, to put it nicely. Although to be fair, it’s really no different than raging at sports on TV… no one likes to lose! I admit, I’ve done the, “This game is stupid, I’m never playing again” dramatic exit a few times, only to play again a day later. Gamers also like to get satisfaction from proving someone else wrong. Again, not so different from the average Joe… c’mon, you know you’ve done it before! These behaviors just happen to be a little more… in your face… with gamers because the game space provides anonymous outlets to vent frustrations!
When we started out in this space, we set on a mission to get more fanmail than hate-mail. We wanted our users not only to identify with us, but genuinely like us. And that’s a pretty big job for a brand. But we were determined to make this happen, so we started brainstorming. Animals are over done, and they can’t play games, so that’s just silly. We also decided a human wasn’t going to be the face of our site… we have flaws… take me for example, my ears are uneven and I have a messy desk. Which lead us to robots… they play games better than humans AND they are flawless, right? Perfect, now all we need is a non-egotistical robot who is good at playing games, likes doing math and hangs out with humans. It was convenient that Mr. Robot knocked on our door to apply for the job 5 minutes later.
Mr. Robot has a pretty big personality and he’s always inserting himself into conversations with our users. We quickly realized that he was much better at handling problems than we were. For example, a few weeks after we launched the main tool, the biggest Warcraft Fansite, WoW Insider (owned by AOL) wrote an article on us (authored by Matticus). We were woken up at 5am because our site was ‘down.’ It turns out that Blizzard (creators of World of Warcraft) banned our site for sending too many requests at once without being white listed. Well, that sucked… because fixing that was out of our control. We commented on the story to let people know we were working on it and updated fans on our forums, Twitter and Facebook. Here are the two actual ways we handled it… explanation 1 by a human, explanation 2 by Mr. Robot (told 2nd hand from a human).
We got locked out of the armory! We were responsible, only sending 2 requests per character (instead of over 50 for every item, gem, etc), AND we throttle the number of requests sent to the armory at a time. Even with those restrictions, we still got banned.
Blizzard doesn’t tell you where you need to be to be complaint, likely to make sure people don’t find loopholes in the system. If a spammer knows they get killed at 1,000 requests per hour, for example, all spammers would throttle to 999. Unfortunately to protect against spammers, we get hurt. I’m trying to reach out to them to whitelist us… if anyone has a contact, reach out to us with a PM on our forums.
Last time we had a traffic spike, we were locked out for 24 hours. We hope it’s shorter, but at least not longer. I’m very sorry about this…
Mr. Robot’s explanation was much more fun, and much more effective:
At approximately 5AM today, Mr. Robot woke me up and told me that his ex-girlfriend, wowarmory.com, simply refused to speak to him anymore. So, after an hour or two of complaining, he convinced me to write brand new code and give him an introduction to wowarmory’s hot younger sister, battle.net! They seem to be hitting it off.
Most gamers would have jumped at the chance to tell us how ‘noob’ (aka, amateur) we were with this server meltdown / Blizzard blacklisting. But after we posted Mr. Robot’s explanation about the fight with his girlfriend, users jumped on board. One user posted this, for example:
Once Mr. Robot gives Blizz a chance to cool down, look at the big picture and realize that Mr. Robot is not the unfeeling jerk that Blizz thinks he is, Blizz will let him back in the house. And Mr. Robot will know to tread more carefully in the future.
I’m thinking Blizz is a chick.
Mr. Robot also helps us save face with users. A majority of the ‘bug’ posts on our forums are user error… you know, the type of situation that warrants a computer support person asking, “Is your computer plugged in?” There is no polite way to ask that, unless you are Mr. Robot. When we suspect a user made a simple error, we’ll post something along the lines of…
Mr. Robot knows that humans are not perfect, like robots are. So he wants to know if you mistyped your character name. If you did, it’s ok, he allows all humans up to 3 silly mistakes a week. But if you send him cookies, you can have as many mistakes as you want… hey, robots like cookies too you know.
How can you be offended after a response like that?! In fact, users often respond with a comment that plays right into Mr. Robot’s scenario, like asking if he likes chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies better.
Users are so used to Mr. Robot being his own person, they’ve started to initiate unsolicited interactions with him… I mean, who wouldn’t be curious about Mr. Robot’s life? A fan wrote on Mr. Robot’s Facebook wall the other day…
How does Mrs. Robot feel about all the fame and fortune Mr. Robot has gotten?
So we responded:
In general she is extremely happy, though it took some convincing on Mr. Robot’s part to make her believe that humans were worth the effort. I think that it is safe to say that she is a convert though… we caught her performing a few gear optimizations the other day; if you ask her, she will deny it.
So, Mr. Robot, this is a tribute to you… and a huge thanks for being such a loveable robot with a magnetic personality that’s attracted over 2 million fans. We couldn’t have done it without you! And yes, ‘magnetic personality’ was a pun for our friendly face in the gaming space, who happens to be made out of metal.