Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's Just Pixels

As more crap seems to be flung over the Zoe Quinn Incident, it's easy to look at all this and think that the entire gaming hobby has turned into this putrid ooze of hatred and filth.

At times like this, I think of my kids and am thankful that I banned them from social media. I did it ostensibly because I wanted them to be mature enough to navigate the social morass of Facebook and Twitter, but I've since realized that it's social media that needs to grow up instead.

I suppose it's not a big surprise that I have found myself wondering what on earth the Internet is good for if it is filled with bile.

Do you really have to ask what movie this is from?

It's not an idle speculation, either. I've been on the internet in some form or another since the 80's, and I remember the heyday of Usenet. I remember the free flow of ideas, the fights and holy wars, and I remember the signal to noise ratio slowly degrading over time until people decided enough was enough and abandoned Usenet in favor of "walled garden" forums.

I wonder if we reached a similar breaking point in gaming.

The forces at work in Gamergate have been lurking below the surface, but Gamergate has exposed the slimy underbelly of the gaming world for everyone to see.  When Gamergate makes the front page of the New York Times, you can no longer say that the harassment inflicted on Anita, Zoe, and others is not a big deal. The harsh light of national media exposure  is now on the controversy.

And the Gamergaters are about to find they are not seen in a flattering light.

As I've said time and again, perception is everything. You can have the best argument in the world and have truth and justice on your side, but if you act like an ass nobody will believe you. Gamergaters don't exactly have truth and justice on their side, just coordination and creative editing tools*. In fact, a very very good case could be made that if it weren't for all of the bile directed their way, Anita Sarkeesian and her fellow critics would never have gotten the exposure they have.

I doubt that Anita is going to grace them with a thank you, however.

What will happen now?

Well, the dynamics that led to Gamergate --the increased participation of women in gaming and the increasing dissatisfaction on how women are portrayed in games-- aren't going to change. If anything, women will continue to participate in gaming in ever growing numbers. They're going to see the advertising, the YouTube videos, and the store displays and want to try things out too. They're going to grow up in families playing games, and they're not just going to stop because they hit adulthood.

And they're going to want games with protagonists they can identify with.

This is not a hard thing to understand.

Hell, this is not that hard a thing to program, either.

Bioware has made a living creating both male and female toons for its games. You don't see the female Trooper in SWTOR running around with a bare midriff because that'd be instant death in a firefight. Perfect World has created armor for female toons in Neverwinter that is far more realistic than what I've seen for the average WoW toon.

Wizards of the Coast, in the release of D&D Fifth Edition Player's Handbook, explicitly states that a player can play any type of character they want to.** Paizo has a long reputation for presenting women and minorities in its Pathfinder gaming materials, such as the number of women and minorities among their iconic representations of their classes.

But why don't we see more examples like this? Are we, as gamers, too focused on the next shiny to demand more? Are we going to be focused on raiding and getting to max level and all of the background art to notice that something is missing?

Or are we just content to for things to be as they are, saying that they're no longer quite as bad as Leisure Suit Larry and Spellcasting 101:

One of the less risque pics from Spellcasting 101,
which came out when I was in college.
(Yes, I'm that old.) From abandonia.

Well, um...

From WoWWiki.

*That creative editing, ironically enough, is what some of them complain about Anita Sarkeesian doing with her series.

**"You can play a male or female character without gaining any special benefits or hindrances. Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture's expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior. For example, a male drow cleric defies the traditional gender divisions of drow society, which could be a reason for your character to leave that society and come to the surface.

You don't need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous or hermaphroditic, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon's image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character's sexual orientation is for you to decide."  --From D&D 5e Player's Handbook, Page 121.

EtA: added italics to the PH quote.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

News: Dragon Age: Origins is free from Origin

No, you read that right.

In advance of Dragon Age: Inquisition being released shortly, Origin is releasing DA:O free for the taking until October 14th.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Before anyone accuses me of spoilers....

...there's a new expac announced for SWTOR:  Shadow of Revan.

Yeah, that kind of gives away certain elements of the mid level flashpoints, but I'm not concerned. Looks interesting indeed, that the Revanites will have a part to play.

EtA: Removed the "the" from the title.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oh hai, Friday. Where'd you come from?

It's been a busy week at work, and I've not had much time for writing.  Therefore, check out this female Draenei cosplay instead:


Yes, there's several more pics at the site; go see it. I'm seriously impressed by the amount of work that went into it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

We Got it All Wrong After All

World of Starcraft?

WoW 2?

A more robust Diablo MMO?

Well, Titan was none of the above. According to an article on Kotaku, Titan was supposed to be a hybrid Sci-Fi shooter with a heavy dose of MMO elements. More than anything else, it was supposed to be similar to the recently released game Destiny*, but with much heavier MMO interplay.

Given that this would have been a completely new property for Blizz, it would have been that fourth leg to their table that currently has Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft holding the company together. It does sound very interesting in concept --particularly the ambitious nature of the economic game-- but I know I could never play Titan since it's a shooter.**

In the end, I suppose that Destiny was the final nail in Titan's coffin, since you're getting about 75% of Titan in Destiny's released form, and why would you want to compete with a game you're releasing?

One aspect to Titan that might have been interesting would be how it would have translated into PvP. With MOBAs all the rage these days, could Blizz have turned a portion of Titan's development into a PvP game that would compete with already released MOBAs? I suspect PvP wasn't a focus of Titan's development process, and that might have hampered Titan on release as well.

Regardless, Titan is now dead, deader than Jacob Marley, but you never know when elements of it will appear in other, already released games.

*By Bungie, which is released through Activision/Blizzard.

**Shooters give me headaches. Seriously. I have to take dramamine before I can even attempt to play a shooter.

EtA: Cleared up a grammar error in the first paragraph.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Funny

There are days when Dorkly really hits home....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall of (the) Titan

For those wondering what's next for Blizzard, it's not Titan.

Titan, the often rumored MMO successor to WoW, has been officially canned by Blizz.

What I got from the Polygon article (go, read the link, I'll wait) was that Blizz couldn't recapture that elusive "it" that they had with WoW, and decided to kill off Titan before it became an albatross and dragged down their reputation. Does that mean that even Blizzard can't put out a new MMO in this climate that will potentially topple WoW? Probably, but that's not their stated goal. Does it mean that it can't put out a new MMO that will at least be successful and not hemorrhage subscribers after a few months? I think that more likely.

If that doesn't give the MMO market pause, then I don't know what will. Even Blizzard is admitting defeat before Titan was even released.

The article also tells me that WoW is going to be the last word in the MMO genre from Blizzard.  No Starcraft MMO, no WoW 2, nothing.  What you see in WoW is what you'll get; some incremental updates, some new expacs, some other stuff from other MMOs (housing) added on, but at its heart WoW is going to be the MMO you see today.

I also suspect that the rise of League of Legends and other MOBA games has had an impact here as well.  Video game professional leagues have suddenly become big business, and money is flowing in that direction. Releasing an MMO when the money is going elsewhere isn't smart business. Of course, you can lose your way merely chasing the money; a AAA video game is often years in development, and where the money is at when you start development is not where it's at when you're finished.*

Finally, expect more small tie-in titles in the future, such as Hearthstone, but leveraging their existing Blizzard properties. It is entirely possible that Blizz isn't going to create anything new, such as completely original games with new worlds and/or properties, for a long time to come. Creating a new, original property takes some risk, and Blizzard seems to be electing to go the safe route and reuse the properties instead.

To be honest, Blizzard has been living on its existing properties (Warcraft/Diablo/Starcraft) for a while now, and Titan was going to be a fourth leg of a table. I guess that table will have to get by with three legs now.

*See: novels and movies. The time it takes for a novel to be written and then published is a couple of years --and movies even longer-- and tastes can change at the drop of a hat.