Arenanet Talks: Guild Wars 2 Friend/Ship Campaign

Last month Arenanet held a Guild Wars 2 campaign called Friend/Ships, asking players to send in their stories of forming friendly relationships in the popular MMO. The campaign brought in tons of stories from gamers who made new friends and even some who went on to tie the knot.

This week I managed to get in touch with Elisabeth Cardy from Arenanet for a quick Q&A regarding the Friend/Ships campaign. Let’s see how it went.

Q. How did the name “Friend/Ships” for the campaign come about?

Elisabeth Cardy: When we first started brainstorming around this campaign, it was based on stories we’d heard of people who had met their significant other in game, but we really wanted to recognize that it’s not just romantic relationships that can have a deep impact on our lives. To that end, we were looking for a title that encompassed relationships of all sorts. Especially in English, the word “relationship” can have some hefty connotations of romance, so it didn’t feel right on its own. “Shipping” is a fandom term that has to do with primarily romantic relationships (“ships”), so when we were taking some early notes, we started using “Friend/Ships” as a shorthand to kind of indicate both platonic and romantic relationships, and the whole team liked it so much that when it came time to think of the final title for the campaign, we all decided that we wanted to keep this one around.

Q. What was the inspiration for this campaign? There are countless stories of people forming friendships in MMOs but developers are often hesitant to acknowledge them.

Elisabeth Cardy: We built Guild Wars 2 with the idea in mind that it should be good to see other players. We regularly see the success of that in the stories that we hear from guilds, couples, and BFFs about their in-game and out of game adventures. Hearing stories like these is incredible rewarding and heartwarming and we wanted to share some of that joy with the world!

Q. Guild Wars 2 centers a lot of its content on drop-in cooperative group play with strangers. Do you think that forms stronger bonds between players than those that are primarily competitive?

Elisabeth Cardy: Certainly the casual grouping and reinforcement that seeing other players in Guild Wars 2 is a good thing helps people meet others that they might not have normally. But, I think people can bond a lot of ways! Some of my fondest memories are of cooperative content, like running into people repeatedly at open-world boss fights, but I know plenty of folks who have stories of their own of friendships forged in the fires of a particularly fierce rivalry, or facing off together against a common enemy.

Q. What kind of response did you receive from the community compared to what was expected?

Elisabeth Cardy: We got absolutely flooded with stories from players from all over! It was a real delight to see so many people sharing their memories of people and moments that are special to them and how Guild Wars 2 has had a positive impact on their lives.

Q. Is this a one-off event or will it come around again next year?

Elisabeth Cardy: The in-game Friendship Tonic will be available to players in February in future years, and we certainly aren’t done celebrating and appreciating the Guild Wars 2 community.

Q. And finally, do you refer to friends met online as “online friends” to more local, in-person friends?

Elisabeth Cardy: Personally, I don’t tend to draw much distinction, and if I do bring it up, it’s normally as a way of giving context to how I know a person. Just like I’d say “a buddy I met in college,” as a lead-in to a story, I might say “a friend I met in Guild Wars 2.”

NBI 2014: Conducting Interviews? Just Ask


With the Newbie Blogger Initiative fully underway, I want to talk about something that has been on my mind ever since I started MMO Fallout nearly five years ago. In the time that I have been running this show, I have had the fantastic opportunity to interview Derek Smart (multiple times), Mark Hill, Stephen Calender, and even Brian “Psychochild” Green himself, to name a few. That list doesn’t even come close to the number of developers that I have had the chance to talk to behind the scenes in a more informal manner. One of the biggest questions, one that I consider to be amongst the top most important for new writers, is how I manage to get these interviews. The answer is going to make you mad.

I asked. Seriously.

When I did my first interview back in 2010, I had a lot to be nervous about. Here I was, from an unknown website less than a year old, asking to take up some important person’s time to answer my petty questions. I certainly wasn’t important enough to demand answers, not that I am now five years later, but I hadn’t even considered directly emailing developers at this point. Eventually it took my dad asking the simple question that I still hold as one of my fundamental driving forces: What do you have to lose? What is the worst outcome that could come of asking for an interview? The person says no? They don’t respond? That’s it? What are you afraid of?

I realized that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of, and I sent the email. Around a week passed but I got a response back, not only did the developers know who I was, but expressed that they were fans of MMO Fallout and would be more than happy to do an interview. That is the lesson I want to impart on new bloggers: Ask and ye shall receive, or you won’t, but you won’t come out any worse off than when you started. You have to accept that, barring your sudden rise to stardom, you are going to receive nos or be ignored. A lot. When you ask, you either wind up one step ahead or where you started off.

Secondly, the best advice I can give is to not allow yourself to be intimidated or star-struck. These are very talented and professional people, yes, and some might even wear suits to work. But at the end of the day they are normal people who live lives just like you or me. The easiest method to reduce the intimidation factor is to watch a lot of behind the scenes videos or dev diaries, once you’re used to seeing desks covered in toys and developers goofing off and having a good time, the whole interview process becomes less like sitting in an office and more like a casual chat.

Oh and conduct an interview because you want to, not because you think it will get you hits. One of the factors that I get a lot of criticism for is that my interviews are often seen as unorganized because the questions don’t always follow a pattern. I request interviews because there is something very specific that I want to talk about with a person that I consider best qualified to answer, and that list of questions doesn’t always follow a traditional pattern. I personally prefer this method, and the people I interview find the style to be relaxed, more like a casual chat than a rigid interview.

Feel free to contact me at if you have any comments or questions, or drop a comment in the link below.

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