There are those who do not believe in the Holy Grail. They believe the stories about it are the things of legend, passed down by those who want to believe so badly that they ignore their own common sense. These skeptics can be extremely vocal, even fanatical, refuting the Grail's existence on the Internet.
The Grail I speak of is not the cup of Christ that bestows eternal life, but rather something sought after by young men the world over. I speak of the Attractive Female Gamer. A woman who not only possesses the desirable attributes necessary to attract members of the opposite sex, but who also shares the deep love that some of us have for videogames. (Okay, some would characterize it more as a sickness.) I have seen and spoken with such a creature, my friends. This is not the story of a UFO sighting or blurry video of Bigfoot. This is real.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're saying to yourself, "well, my wife loves Bejeweled, so she counts." You, sir, are fooling yourself. Bejeweled, Solitaire, Hearts, Mine Sweeper, or any number of Shockwave games do not fit the category. This story is about a specific breed of game in a genre where even those who call themselves hardcore gamers sometimes fear to tread. This variety of game requires an initial monetary investment, followed by a lengthy time investment, and cycles through constant financial deductions while you play.
And as if a game that continues to take money is not a big enough turn-off for most women, this game features fantasy elements. You see, some women may play games if they are related to sports or puzzles or racing, but the closer the game gets to table-top Dungeons and Dragons the less interest a woman will have in it. The relationship is not linear, it's exponential, and most attractive women simply do not like D&D*. So just to be clear, we are now talking about a beautiful woman who loves to play a fantasy-themed massively-multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Truly, this is the Holy Grail.
"What's the big deal?" some of you may ask. Well, when you live with a woman, her needs can conflict with the needs of the game. We all know the game needs to be played. How else are we going to procure the "phat lewts"? So imagine a woman who not only understands the needs of the game, but is as much a slave to it as we are. She knows the reward that comes with countless hours at the keyboard. She understands that sometimes you just have to eat dinner at the computer because your party is counting on you to heal. She will burn a vacation day in order to play when the server is less crowded. In short, she gets it. Well, a friend of mine lives with such a woman, and this is the story of how she got into the beta for World of Warcraft.
I would argue that, up until its release, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft was the most sought after beta program among PC gamers. Blizzard has a perfect track record with PC games, and their announcement of an MMORPG in the Warcraft universe sent shockwaves through the industry. Then came the articles, the screenshots, and literally years of waiting. This friend of mine, let's call him Logan, had some contacts in the gaming business. Using these contacts, Logan was able to get himself into the World of Warcraft beta. He was given one account with one key. Logan had a fiancée, let's call her Jean, who was a devoted fan of all things Blizzard. So naturally, Jean was interested in World of Warcraft, but at the same time had trepidations about joining the turbo-nerd cult of the fantasy online role playing game. Logan was an ex-EverQuest player, so Jean already had a bad impression of the genre. Besides, Jean was a beautiful, career-minded woman and had little time for orcs and fairies.
So Logan happily adventured in Azeroth alone until the day finally came when Jean tapped him on the shoulder and said, "show me." After the initial shock wore off, and several iterations of the phrase, "honey, this isn't Diablo III" were said aloud, Logan demoed the game for Jean. Surprisingly, Jean's interest was piqued, and she soon demanded to have her own character.
Now, if you're unfamiliar with this situation, here is how it works: you can have multiple characters on one account but you cannot play them simultaneously. So when Jean is playing her character, Logan cannot play his. As you can imagine, a conflict was introduced.
Days went by and the competition to see who could get to their computer first and log in was fierce. Both Logan and Jean wanted to play their respective characters a great deal, but more than anything else, they wanted to play together. Having a beta key to World of Warcraft at that time was a privilege, and asking for a second one was just plain greedy. But, as more days went on, Logan realized that he had two choices: procure a second beta key for his fiancée Jean or leave this woman and start dividing up all their worldly possessions.
Logan opted for the former, despite the overwhelming odds stacked against him. Emails were sent, calls were placed, favors were promised, but our hero was met with strong resistance from his gaming biz insiders. It wasn't long before all the avenues were exhausted and Logan began thinking to himself, "do I want to keep the TV or the couch?"
Then, like a bolt of lightning thrown down by God himself, an idea struck him. The problem was simple. Logan was a man. The plan was set in motion. Jean would put on a Blizzard T-shirt and little else. Photographs would be taken (nothing more revealing than Maxim). These photographs would accompany a plea for a WoW beta key. The plea would be sent through the back channels of the gaming biz, and hopefully land on the desk of someone who could make it happen.
Logan and Jean knew that the majority of game programmers and developers are men, and not just any men, but computer gaming men. Having worked at a video game store themselves, they also knew that computer gaming men are powerless in the presence of a beautiful woman who plays games. Hopefully, the prurient interests of a man, coupled with the desire to impress a young woman with his power, would result in Jean's very own World of Warcraft Beta account. The pictures were taken, the emails were sent, and then they waited. A few days later, Jean received an email from Blizzard with the subject line, "Welcome to the World of Warcraft Beta Program." And there was much rejoicing. Logan and Jean adventured for quite some time together in Azeroth and all was right with the world...until the item wipe.
Playing beta games can be frustrating because the developers can and will make enormous changes to the game. In order to restore some manner of balance, Blizzard initiated an item wipe during the beta. This means that all the gear and goods that your character has accumulated are taken away and replaced with their financial equivalent, the idea being that you can replace your stolen gear and goods with the money. Well, with a mid-level character this is a huge blow, and Jean and Logan soon found themselves lacking the motivation to replace all their gear. The game money they received was not enough, and the time and effort needed to replace what could not be bought was overwhelming.
Their characters languished until a friend forwarded an email to Jean containing a link to an eBay auction where someone had just sold a WoW beta account for around $500. Without going into any incriminating details, Jean and Logan were soon up $900.
The epilogue of the story goes like this. Approximately six weeks after trading access to Azeroth for real world currency, Blizzard opened up the WoW beta to the public, allowing access to the game for free to anyone who wanted to play. After a self-imposed exile from Azeroth, Logan and Jean were welcomed back in with open arms and continued to play the beta until the release of the game.
So what's the moral of this tale? Well perhaps, "patience is a virtue." And before you think of spending hundreds of dollars on a beta account for a highly anticipated game, remember that public betas are common in this age of high-speed Internet access.
However, I think a more appropriate lesson for you men would be, "beware of beautiful women," for they wield a power we can never have and will never understand, and few things are beyond their grasp.
P.S. To avoid plagiarism this article was taken off of Tom's Hardware site.