Have you heard about Hearthstone Alley? The community website for Blizzard’s strategy card game Hearthstone came to our attention when it promoted a beta key giveaway, but never did we think it would be Singapore-based!
We caught up with the man behind the growing site – 22 year old Silfer – at the GE3 convention in Singapore over the weekend, where he was busy running his first-ever offline Hearthstone tournament.
Bespectacled and soft-spoken, Silfer is easily assumed to be your quiet, everyday gamer out on the streets, but speak to him and you’ll find out that his voice has a determined iron cast to it, and that his ambitions reach far wider than the simple WordPress site he moderates.
Started in the November of this year, Hearthstone Alley is a community site for Hearthstone. Though it says it’s a community for the Southeast Asian region, its content is not exactly region-specific. Hearthstone Alley is home to basic how-to guides, like the Professor features, and to more in-depth strategies like the Magic Decks series, and Techniques Training. Hearthstone Alley also hosts tournaments, most recently an offline LAN tournament at Singapore’s GE3 convention, but intends to first and foremostly “bring more content and game coverage” to Southeast Asia before going global.
Going global? That’s a big dream. Hearthstone Alley currently produces an article a day, and tries to keep up with anywhere from one to five pieces of community news a week. Silfer cited the lack of manpower as a big problem. It’s hard to find artists capable of producing specific images for the site, he said. There are between 100 to 200 views a day.
90% of the site is run by Silfer, who is still doing his National Service. For those not in the know, all male Singaporean citizens are conscripted into two years of military service when they turn eighteen, and Silfer has been lucky enough to have gotten a ‘stay out’ vocation – a post in the Singapore Armed Forces that allows a National Servicemen to spend his nights at home instead of in camp.
An article for Hearthstone Alley takes anywhere between an hour to three hours to produce, and there’s also the Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube, and the newly set up forums to manage. Silfer has begun to delegate some of the work, especially certain weekly features, but there’s still a long way to go.
But that doesn’t daunt the founder of Hearthstone Alley, who thinks of his attempt to bring Hearthstone Alley to the world as one akin to David and Goliath’s duel. Silfer has little real-life experience when it comes to organizing events; his last attempts at event organization were done while he was still schooling. The GE3 offline tournament is his first one in the ‘real world’, and has been a humbling experience for sure. He described it as “going out of your comfort zone”, and said that everything had been handed to him in school, while working an event for an adult audience required him to either make it, or break it.
But Silfer’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Blizzard previously worked with him to hold the beta key giveaway we mentioned earlier, and stream producers Epic Gaming TV teamed up with Hearthstone Alley to run their recent tournament’s stream. An anonymous donor also pitched in to help with some of the prizes for the same tournament.
But Silfer isn’t counting his eggs before they hatch. His plan for the immediate new year is to start small, with just one event to come in January 2014. From there, he hopes to be able to link up with more events to gain recognition for Hearthstone Alley, to help the Southeast Asian community expand, and to, of course, gain more viewers for the site.
He hopes to be able to monetize the site through advertisements once it grows bigger. And of course, he’s going to want to see Hearthstone Alley spread through the region and into the world. Eventually, when Silfer gets out of his National Service obligations, he wants to start his own game development studio.
It’s a hard and tiring path, but then again, so was David’s fight with Goliath, and look how that ended up.