The term GM or Game Master has been occasionally and incorrectly used by fans to refer to any Blizzard employee working on World of Warcraft. To avoid confusion, developers, and others with specific jobs are referred to by those titles. All official Blizzard posters, GMs or not, are referred to as "blues" or "blue posters" on the official forums.
Game Masters are NOT to be used for help with normal game play, hints on quests, asking them for money, asking them for gear, etc.
About the job
In October 2010, MachinimaRealm (on Youtube) released an interview with a former Game Master in World of Warcraft. She answered submitted questions from players about Game Masters. One question was about whether it was an office job or not. She answered that it was in fact a full-time office job. She then also mentioned that Game Masters could only play as a GM on special computers configured for it, so it is not possible to simply login as a Game Master using a password from home.
When asked about the work environment she answered that she believed Game Masters had to be among the most enthusiastic World of Warcraft-players she had ever met. They were not allowed to play the game while working but would often do so during lunch breaks. Another Game Master who answered questions submitted on Reddit was of another opinion, stating that becoming a Game Master was a good way to get rid of one's WoW-addiction. He did emphasize however that it was a really good work environment since they shared many of the same interests.
There are a few ways a GM can contact a player:
- Ticket page: this is the most common method of GM interaction, as it's usually the only one necessary. If an issue does not require any additional information, a GM may send an in-game mail to the character who submitted the ticket. Alternatively, ticket responses can be viewed on the Ticket Status page of a player's Battle.net account.
- In-game chat: this is only done if additional information is required to resolve an issue. When a GM is attempting to contact a player, then a 'GM Chat Request' icon will appear in the upper right corner of the screen. This will open a specific interface for speaking to a GM, which glows blue when they send a message.
- In-game mail: letters can be sent to tell the player that an action has been taken or that the issue will be investigated. Communication from GMs via the mail system will have a Blizzard logo and special appearance. This special stationery is triggered by the contained item called "Blizzard Stationery". Typically any mail will be copied to the email address associated with the player's account.
- Email: official emails from Blizzard GMs come from [email protected], they possess specific headers and footers.
- In-game appearance: GMs are no longer authorized to do so, but very rarely a Blizzard GM used to need to make themselves visible to a player. In these instances, they would use a unique character with a unique GM outfit and tag. Greetings used by GMs varied from typical hellos to an in-character roleplay scenario such as the GM appearing in a swirl of mist or riding up on a mount. Some GMs would also follow up with a player before they close a ticket, though all tickets are officially closed with an automated statement informing players that they may send feedback to Blizzard via an e-mail address.
- GM abilities are specifically designed for them by development. There is a special tab in the spellbook for Blizzard spells that contains every spell a GM could ever possibly need. (such as spawn, despawn, or teleport players, appear to players and so on).
- GMs have the power to port players to locations. Usually they only do this if they catch players exploiting the game (e.g. terrain exploiting for an advantage in PvP or Line of Sight exploiting in PVE), if the player is stuck, or if they are trapped in an area that they cannot log onto (such as a battleground or instance when the server for it is down). Sometimes teleportations will be to obscure or inconvenient locations to make sure the player is not further using the GM system for a free hearth.
- GMs can transfer items between characters, but typically only between characters owned by the same person where extenuating circumstances make it impossible for the player to do so themselves.
- GM items (previously called "artifacts") exist, but are not accessible to players, and usually have a specific function or appearance regular players would not have access to. Two documented examples, and include special abilities to kill targets instantly. In at least one instance such an item () found its way into player hands and was used by the player for exploitation purposes.
- GMs can enter a mode that causes all mobs in the game to ignore them. They also can't deal damage in this mode. This is likely used to prevent being attacked should they need to get to a player in an area full of mobs.
Misconceptions about Game Masters
There are a few things that Game Masters can't do but they are often mistakenly believed to be capable of. Some of these things include:
- Rolling back a character's level: the way the game is technically structured makes 'de-leveling' impossible to perform.
- Taking action against "ninja looters": GMs will not get involved in most loot disputes that involve Master Looting. They will investigate a loot scam, but will not tell anyone of the results. If a scam is verified, then the items being disputed will just be destroyed, not re-distributed.
- Fixing bugs: GMs cannot fix bugs, as this is a development function. Occasionally they can provide a workaround, if they are authorized to do so by development, but more frequently they cannot as this would potentially make rectifying the bug more difficult.
- Collecting feedback: Game Masters, despite their lofty sounding job title, are not developers and cannot effect changes to the game. They do not collect feedback, especially not through tickets, and they cannot forward feedback to development.
- Instant report action: every report is received and read, but Game Masters do not immediately respond to reports, be they for cheating, language, or spamming. A reported party has no idea they have been reported until action occurs, which can take several days to several weeks to occur, based on the type of report and the investigation results.
- Automation: while a number of functions that GMs once performed have become self-help options or automated, ticket responses are not one of them. While GMs do possess a number of boilerplate responses designed for common issues, there is always a human behind every interaction.
Game Master appearance
- GMs interacting in game will have "" prefixed to their name in the chat interface to prevent GM impersonation.
- Seeing a GM in-game has grown rarer as time's gone on as they are now normally forbidden to do so and advancement's in Blizzard's technologies has made it unnecessary for GMs to enter the game world to solve most issues. When they do appear, they have the option to change their displayID, for example, into that of a pit lord.
- GMs showing themselves to players will always start on the so-called "GM Island" as soon as they create the character. It seems that this island is not of any other use as those GMs seen on there have not moved at all until they teleport away.
- GMs are allowed to choose the name they want to use themselves. They don't usually have characters on every realm - if they have to meet players in the game world, it might take some time until they have created and prepared their character.
- GMs showing themselves inside of the Game World are still using another IM-like client to whisper with players. If one ever happens to meet one in game, they might notice that their character name has some slight differences to their name in private conversations.
- GMs are prohibited from using their position to affect any in-game characters they have a connection with, including their own, or those of friends and family.
Notable Game Master responses
It should be noted that asking Game Masters these questions is not their purpose, and while they may have responded in a friendly manner, it's not recommended to clog up ticket queues with spam tickets.
- GMs are bound heavily by their job's rules, but are still friendly. In one case when a player was feeling "lonely", a GM talked to the player for a while as she did other things on the job. She also appeared in person briefly as a Draenei Warrior, level 70. She was in assorted gear, obviously for aesthetics.
- Once as a joke, a player asked if his petition could reach Jeffrey Kaplan, or Chris Metzen, in which case the "unnamed GM" responded, "They aren't available.", and in the following conversation disclosed that Jeffrey Kaplan and Chris Metzen in some cases answer player tickets.
- As part of a joke, a player asked a GM a choice: If faced with either Pie or English Crumpets, which would he take? The GM responded that, even with his choice of preserves, he would prefer apple pie, but "...would sneak a slice of cheese on top of it".
- Another player once, after asking a Game Master for an item recovery, decided to ask the GM if he played Guitar Hero III: The Legends of Rock. The Game Master first "suspiciously watched behind his back" and "then whispered silently, "Yes"". The player then asked if he could play "Through the Fire and Flames" on Expert level, to which the Game Master responded with "well, I'm still kinda stuck on Medium, haven't played the game in a while now, so if I'd try now, I'd might be a bit rusty ;)".
- Game Masters are not server-specific; they can answer petitions on any realm, except for ones that they have characters on. Neither are they allowed to talk to people they know.
- Game Masters have a special mode called GM Mode. When it is enabled all monsters become neutral to them, however they cannot deal damage to any monster even if they engage in combat. They can also see normally invisible things, such as Spirit Healers.
- Once, a player asked a Game Master what kind of mounts Game Masters used. The GM quickly replied, "Nike Shoes".
- In a conversation with a GM, when he was asked what level GMs were, he replied, "Every level". Also, when asked whether GMs have to adhere to the level 80 level cap or are able to advance to higher levels he replied, "There is a cap for everything."
- Once when a GM was asked if he liked pancakes he replied "Pancakes are awesome. So awesome I am closing your ticket!"
Lead and Senior Game Master
Titles one can see in the official forums in signatures of Blizzard forum posters. So far, they tend to post in the Realm Status forum. It is known that Senior Game Masters are the "shift leaders". They make sure that none of the GMs do anything they are not supposed to do, and also hand in the weekly reports written by each of the Game Masters.
Some of the moderators of the Customer Support forum have Game Master backgrounds.