Guest Post: Kyxyn and how "The Pixar Story" relates to WoW and real life

Hi to all whom may be reading,

My name is Kyxyn and I am a member of Frostwolves and, as a punishment for my sins, I read this blog. I noticed that Navi mentioned the other day that she was watching the Pixar Story and that she felt that Pixar and Blizzard were similar organisations.

I texted her that I didn't agree and volunteered to write a blog post about it. What I wanted to highlight was what works so well at Pixar rather than a comparison of it to Blizzard, and I hoped to gives some insight as to what we are trying to achieve at Frostwolves, and some lessons for real life as well.

Firstly, its impossible to understand Pixar without knowing whom the main players are (past and present). These are John Lasseter (animator), Ed Catmull (computer scientist) and Steve Jobs. Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, Catmull is the current president of Pixar and Jobs was the CEO of Pixar.

Note: This post will have spoilers for the documentary “The Pixar Story”. I hope that you will still want to watch it or revisit it, as I'm only discussing the first part of the film.

Lasseter’s dream was to be an animator, and he attended CalArts in pursuit of that dream. There were others at CalArts at the time who would be big names in film (Tim Burton and Brad Bird to name a few). Lasseter was lucky enough to be taught by some of the Nine Old Men, Disney’s veteran animators. In the documentary, Bird described them as “masters of their art form, with the attitude of a student”.

After success at CalArts (with two student Academy Awards) Lasseter attained his dream job, an animator at Disney. But the dream did not live up to its expectations, and after five years, Lasseter was let go.

At this point he met up with Catmull who was working for Lucasfilm, and as a result, Lasseter was picked up by Lucasfilm. This resulted in some major innovations in computer animation (a great example is the stained glass window scene in Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear).

George Lucas was forced to part ways with his computer graphics division, and it was sold off with Steve Jobs as a majority shareholder of this news corporation, Pixar.

The collaboration worked fabulously and resulted in the first full length CGI feature film, Toy Story. The film did not have an easy development. Due to influence from Disney, the film was “edgy” which resulted in a film that was not funny. It was so bad that the original version of the film was effectively scrapped and rewritten into the successful animation it is today.

The success was so great a sequel was in the works. However, during the development of Toy Story 2, Lasseter needed a break and was not involved in much of Toy Story 2's production. However, the film being created was so poor, it was decided to redraft Lasseter back in, and his influence on restructuring of the team dynamic helped result in another masterpiece.

 I wanted to comment upon some points from above that really spoke to me.

Firstly, was the description of the Nine Old Men as "masters with the attitude of students". I liked that they believed that no matter how expert they were, they were always striving to learn. This is not a person regularly encountered within World of Warcraft, and I think that's a shame. The expansiveness of the game means that there are countless opportunities to learn and improve, yet the game seems to breed the elitist know-it-all. Within our guild, we hope to encourage everyone to see themselves upon a path of continual improvement. Isn't this the type of person we would all rather encounter? I think would be a great positive influence on everyone in the game.

When faced with a setback such as losing your dream job, Lasseter took opportunities that were presented to him. How do we deal with setbacks within the game? Do we navel gaze, do we complain, or do we dust ourselves off and persevere? The path of raid progression is paved with perseverance. Perseverance and grit are qualities that we seek to encourage and develop within our guild.

This reminded me of  a video I linked to Navi by Mike Rowe, which talked about chasing opportunities rather than dreams.

Lastly, the lesson learnt from Toy Story 2 by Pixar was the importance of team. The teams were simply not working together well, even though there were great people in the teams. How often has that been seen in World of Warcraft? What if, rather than thinking of yourself as the best ranged DPS or the best healer, you thought of yourself as someone who made a positive impact on the team experience every time you raid, and that was the most important contribution you could bring to a raid. Would that result in a more positive and progressive team?

It's probably not anything you hadn't already heard, but I guess I wanted to make the point that lessons could be learnt from unlikely sources. These lessons are not merely limited to a game (or animation), but rather they could apply to life in general. The Pixar Story has such great messages of persistence and teamwork shown in a relatable, real life way (though on a side note, as a maths teacher, it portrays maths as being an integral part of the animation industry which is something most people would not realise).

Thanks all for reading my Navi-edited blog post! Now I know why she is so slack and writes weekly instead of daily! It took me the whole weekend to write this...


  1. Thanks Xyn :) Saved me one day of thinking up stuff for a blog post :D

  2. Hey that video is an eye opener! I really like it! Great post by the way =)


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