Anaheim (CA) – “I hate you guys!” “You people have no life!” – When it comes to being hated, World of Warcraft multiboxers are in their own league. These players, who control more than one character at a time, face criticism heaped upon them from online forums to slurs uttered in person. How do these multiboxers deal with the criticism? Quite easily actually and many of them simply don’t care. And after having dinner with the multiboxers from the dual-boxing.com forums, I can happily report that these people do indeed have lives, heck they even have girlfriends.Multiboxing has been around for ages. Years before we had all these wonderful MMORPGs, there were text-based role-playing games or MUDs (multi-user dungeons). Players would control multiple characters with a program called TinTin and unlike user-friendly apps that we have today, this thing had to be compiled in a Linux user shell. I remember doing this back at UCLA and this was my first taste of Linux command line – oh what fun it was to have the compile bomb out on weird errors.
Modern multiboxing took off with graphic MMORPGs like Ultima Online and Everquest. Players would cobble together multiple computers and control one character per machine. One common setup is to control your warrior or “tank” – the person who takes all the damage – on your main computer, while controlling the healer on a secondary machine.
I recently started multiboxing on my Skulltrail system and found the dual-boxing.net forums while looking for tips on setups and configurations. The site even has links to tutorial videos on how to set up macros for the small army the multiboxers inevitiably end up controlling. With Blizzcon coming up, it made sense for forum members to have their own get together and on the Thursday night before the convention, 20+ multiboxers up at the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant in Anaheim.
The dinner was organized by "Knytestorme" from the forums. He, along with other, multiboxers traded tips on the best computer setups and characters. “Suvega” and “Vyndree”, a real-life boyfriend girlfriend couple from Seattle Washington, and side-by-side multiboxers also attended. Both are Microsoft employees and fatefully met during company orientation day – now how cool is that? Suvega's claim to fame is programming in the "Sent from a Windows Mobile" text that's appended to every message sent from a PocketPC phone. "Yeah, I made that," he said, smiling, as he pointed both thumbs at himself.
Suvega and Vyndree multibox five characters each while sitting in the same room, just a few feet from each other. In a forum post, they estimate that their computer and monitor costs totaled around $8000.
Around the tables, other players ticked off all of their respective character and computer setups. Shamans seemed to be the most popular team, while others played a paladin and four priests. Some members were content to control just two characters at a time, but others liked controlling ten. Multiboxing, as you can imagine, requires serious computing power and most of the attendees said they had pretty “beefy” computers with big monitors. However, a handful of people said they multibox with a laptop as either the main or secondary machine.
Ok, so all of this obviously takes some time and money. Not only does it take time to set up all the computers, but players have to pay for each copy of World of Warcraft and they spend up to spend $15/month per account. For a 5-boxer, this means up to $75/month in game subscription fees alone.
But the monthly subscription fees really don’t matter to multiboxers and if you really think about it why should it? Anyone who can afford several thousand dollars worth of electronics can laugh at a monthly subscription fee. During the dinner, one player told me that he sees it as a nice hobby that’s relatively cheap, adding, “I would spend more on a nice dinner or golf than I do for WoW.”
Another interesting point brought up at the dinner was how multiboxing actually allows people to play the entire game. There are arguments, well more like a holy war, on the official World of Warcraft forums that multiboxers easily skip content. But this is patently false according to the mulitboxers.
“I can go into instances I couldn’t go before. Other people only see a quarter of the game, but I can see so much more,” one player told me.
But the most common complaint against multiboxers is that they have no life, but in fact, it's quite the opposite - it's because they have a life that multiboxers play mulitple characters. “LOL YOU CONTROL 5 CHARACTERS YOU HAVE NO LIFE,” wrote one poster on the official World of Warcraft forums. Now let us ignore the fact that a WoW player is in no logical position to complain about anyone else not having a life.
“I have a job and I can’t spend six hours a night raiding or 30 minutes waiting for people going into a dungeon. I can get in play and get out,” one forum member told me. His sentiments were echoed by other players who all said they are all busy people who come home late at night. For everyone at the table, going back to playing just one character at a time just doesn’t compute. “It’s too slow,” I was told.
But all of this criticism doesn’t even faze the multiboxers. In fact, they seem to revel in it. “I’m going to carry around a box of tissues and throw them at anyone who complains about mulitboxing,” one guy said. Another joked, “Our characters can beat your characters,” as he looked across the restaurant at other Blizzcon attendees.
After dinner, we were all given swag bags emblazoned with the dual-boxing.com web address and I found out, first hand, how hated these guys really were. While walking back to my hotel room, a Blizzcon player stared at the back and said, “You are those guys who messed up AV, god I hate you people!”