22 Mar 2015

Mission to Foostival

Foostival UK

Guild Wars 2 is going through a revival. The Heart of Thorns expansion announcement, followed by a deep-discounted sale, resulted in a surge of new and returning players to the fantasy world of Tyria. But despite the renewed focus and hype surrounding ArenaNet’s MMO, it’s the tenaciously loyal fans that have kept it alive over the past two and a half years, either through feedback on game systems, or supporting it with cash at the item store.

The player-run Foostival is a further example of fan involvement, with teams from across Europe organising low-key gatherings to connect, discuss, and celebrate the game. Personally, I find this aspect incredibly interesting, as I get to hear the passions and fears without any kind of forum-warrior bravado, and how it compares with my own experience of the game. For someone who spends their time understanding and writing about online worlds, there are few things better than conversing with those who inhabit them on a daily basis.

SEE ALSO: Foostival Flickr Gallery

Foostival is also fairly unique in being a meat-space event that’s organised by the players themselves, instead of being a PR-led initiative from the publisher or studio. It somehow made the experience more authentic, even though ArenaNet helped out with swag, prizes and community manager representation for the events. In turn, it also meant that the Town Hall and state-of-the-game discussions seemed more practical and less conflict-driven than I’ve seen elsewhere with other games. It’s a model that I can see working well for other MMOs with large communities, and one that I think studios should start to consider. After all, not everyone can make it to a BlizzCon or SOE Fan Faire.

Foostival UK

That said, Foostival wasn’t just about dry discussion. Numerous events, from siege engine building to game knowledge quizzes, gave participants the opportunity to earn valuable Black Lion Key raffle tickets. These keys were worth gathering, with prizes ranging from SteelSeries gaming accessories to rare and exclusive signed merchandise.

As for me, it’s helped to rekindle my interest in Guild Wars 2. After crawling to level cap with an Engineer and having a horrific experience with instanced dungeons, my playtime tailed off substantially. But games change, and so do people – I’ve been working on a slower-paced Guardian and having much more fun with it, experiencing a game with many of the rough edges smoothed off. Now that I’m armed with a bucketload of new contacts fresh from Foostival, I might even start dipping my toes in instances again. That, in itself, is worth more than all the swag I could carry.

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