Category Archives: Gaming

The constant attacks on female gamers need to stop

Over the past few days, the horrible comments on Anita Sarkeesian’s video asking for support for her Kickstarter Project Tropes v. Women in Video Games (warning: the comments are high offensive) have caused various appalled reactions with women and men around the Web. Sarkeesian’s goal is to research hundreds of female game characters and discuss the issues that appear in a video series. She previously discussed the issues in her video series TV Tropes v. Women, looking at the various boxes female characters find themselves in (damsel in distress, straw feminist, ect.).

She posted the video on June 4. As of 6:46 p.m. today, viewers lefts 11,742 comments. The majority of the comments feature horrible, offensive and disrespectful slams at Sarkeesian, women, Jews, homosexuals and others. Sadly, not a single degrading comment on the video is a surprise.

Trash talking is a common part of video games. It doesn’t matter what game it is, if people can talk to one another, insults fly. Listen to some gamers talk about a fight. The term “rape” is often used in addition to racists, sexist or other derogative terms. The use of the word “rape” is never okay to use. Defeating another character is not raping her. Rape is a horrible, forced act that in no way should be used as a term to describe an accomplishment or feat. Many who use these terms would never say such remarks in person. The virtual world creates the idea that a player can be someone else. Unfortunately, the worse side of people appears often.

I’ve been insulted in games. I’ve refused to log onto Vent and TeamSpeak channels because I couldn’t stand the horrible insults throw between not only the various players but at the ones they played against. The types of insults thrown out are so hateful that it’s impossible to ignore them. It doesn’t just bother the group being insulted. I’m not Jewish and it makes me sick to hear a player use a slur.

While some gaming companies do respond when in-game harassment occurs, they aren’t helping the problem enough. A Blizzard employee helped me out when another male character sent constant harassing messages during an instance run in World of Warcraft. I don’t know if the player was punished or what came of it, but the employee seemed to take the issue seriously. The way that these companies feed the problem is with the portrayal of female characters and a lack of screening of in-game chat.

Log into World of Warcraft. One of the loading screens shows a Night Elf with her breasts almost completely exposed. The Night Elf dance looks like something in a person would see in a strip club. Make a character in Star Wars The Old Republic. All the female characters have large breasts and can’t be overweight like the male characters. I remember when I first found out about Tomb Raider. The boys in my class couldn’t get over the fact that Lara Croft ran around with huge breasts. The majority of their conversations about the game discussed her body. There’s not enough action taken against hateful insults. While it’s impossible to catch every incident, more effort can be put into enforcing the cessation of harassment. Some type of system that flags certain terms would make a difference.

It’s not a secret that many women love video games. The negative atmosphere makes it difficult to enjoy the game fully, though. How many great gamers don’t raid with groups or stay out of battleground because of harmful words? How many gamers avoid games that involve conversing with others because of this problem?

The insults on Anita Sarkeesian’s video prove her point repeatedly. The comments are hate speech. If a politician or other public figure said some of the comments written on the page, he would be ostracized. It is not okay to insult women or anyone else. It is not okay to belittle or disregard a female gamer. Players can cheer when they defeat another player in a player versus player setting without saying that they “raped that bitch.” Many of the comments tell Sarkeesian to “go back to the kitchen” or reference that it’s a travesty when “ovaries try to think.” These types of comments reduce women to objects.

The comments also show that the word feminist is grossly misunderstood. A feminist wants equality, not superiority. Feminists are not trying to squash men into subservient beings or take away their jobs. I want to be able to play a video game without reading sexist insults or be able to find a good book series featuring a good female character without searching for hours online only to find that the woman becomes a stereotype. The sad fact is that the people who do make such horrific statements and have these beliefs hold far too much power over the market.

Check out Anita Sarkeesian Tropes videos and her Kickstarter project Tropes v. Women in Video Games to find out more information about the ways the media stereotypes women, the project’s status and other information.

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Filed under female geekdom, feminism, Gaming, MMORPG, Star Wars The Old Republic, World of Warcraft

Checking in with SWTOR

Well, we’re a little more than a month out from the official launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Funny, it feels as if it has been out longer. It often seems that way with games, doesn’t it?

Right now, I am working my way through Balmorra on my Jedi Knight. Thus far, I think Tatooine is my favorite planet. Balmorra is fine, Alderaan is good, but there was something about the way Tatooine was set up and laid out that I really enjoyed. As for the planets I don’t care for? Taris, not that that is a surprise to many players. Dromund Kaas comes in second on that list.
I changed my spec to Focus and noticed a huge improvement on damage done. It’s great in PVP. My damage counts have jumped up considerably, as have kills and medals.
I think that’s one of the nice things about taking time to level: you can experiment more. I’d rather try out a spec and not like it at level 20 or 30 than mess with it at 50. It took a few times to figure out a rotation I liked, but the result was satisfactory.
The ability to try out new play styles is important in a MMO. It gives players more options and ways to improve. In World of Warcraft, I tried out Fire Mage for a few levels. That didn’t do it for me. I was an Arcane kind of player. I did use Frost in PVP often. WoW introduced dual specialization awhile back, which made it easier to switch. I’m not sure if that actually helped the issue of lack of tanks and healers.
Speaking of tanks and healers, SWTOR has an abundant amount of tanks running around but not many healers. That’s unusual to see after WoW. I can’t tell you how many times I spent time looking for a tank. In this game, everyone searches for healers.
SWTOR doesn’t offer this. If they did, then would they eventually allow players to change advanced classes? I’m not sure if I like that idea. Yes, it is annoying to need to decide the specialization at level 10, especially if you haven’t played them, but it does require players to pay attention to the game.
In the next coming weeks, look for entries about romance, The Phantom Menace and more SWTOR adventures. And if you are new to the game or MMOs, check out my Q/A with Fangirl Blog here.

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Filed under Gaming, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR, World of Warcraft

SWTOR: A story female gamers can enjoy

I participated in beta testing last weekend and can now say, thanks to the lifting of the NDA, that SWTOR features female-friendly characters and scenarios.

While running around on a Trooper last weekend, I encountered a variety of NPCs, both male and female, that had stories that fell under different categories. There was the desperate mother, the angry spy, the ambitious commando and more. I am not going to go into specifics. Why spoil the story for everyone?

It’s not enough to use a variety of male and female characters. If all of the characters fall into particular stereotypes, then they lack the potential to grow. In other words, not every woman is desperately waiting for her husband to return from the fighting and every man can’t be the do or die tough guy. It’s harder to play a female trooper who follows a dark path if every female NPC is cut from the same stereotypical mold. When that does happen, it can feel like a player is playing a male character with the skin of a female.

Feeling as if I was playing a female character was important to me. The game requires a player to maintain some degree of interest in the story. The only way to immerse yourself is to feel comfortable with your character. It’s harder to care about a game if you don’t care about what you’re playing. And as we all know, bored players often quit and subscriptions fall.

So bravo, BioWare, you did what every video game should do: make it appealing to male and female audiences.

Eventually (I hope), this won’t be an anomaly.

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Filed under Gaming, MMORPG, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR

SWTOR: The 2011 Release Date is Still Possible

The SWTOR community is atwitter tonight. During an EA investor conference call, Eric Brown was asked what could cause a possible delay. He told the crowd that if beta testing didn’t go as planned then it could be delayed to the March quarter of the 2012 fiscal year.

Before that, he said:

In terms of timing, again, we haven’t given a street date yet. We won’t do so for some time, possibly at our next upcoming earnings call towards the end of October. We’re in beta testing mode. We’re expanding the scalability of the testing. It’s not about working to complete content. We feel very good about the content. That’s ready to go. It’s about tuning the game to make sure, for example, we can get the level of concurrent users per server cluster that we want. That the response time is what people would expect. So the factor, just to reiterate what we said last earnings call about timing, we expect to ship Star Wars by the end of this calendar year.

Somehow, many members of the SWTOR forums missed Brown’s statement that they were still looking at the calendar 2011 release. Instead, people are freaking out about the slim possibility that the game BioWare and EA could delay the game to 2012. Yes, a delay is possible, but don’t forget that 2011 isn’t out of the equation.

The game also has it’s official rating: Teen.

It’s easy to focus on the negative, even if it comes from a hypothetical question. Fans have been jerked around with this game for years. The constant promise of release windows that end up delays chip away at fans excitement for the game.

Instead of diving into a fits of nerd rage and canceling the game, take a step back from the computer. Read all of the information before reacting.

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Filed under Gaming, Star Wars, SWTOR

When "World of Warcraft" helps a marriage

Playing “World of Warcraft” helps my marriage.

A couple of times a year I see an article around the internet discussing how a husband’s gaming addiction resulted in divorce. Friends talk about how their significant other spends more time on their Playstation than with them. I knew one man, one of the most considerate people I knew, who ranted for 20 minutes about how his girlfriend wouldn’t get a job. She sat around and played MMORPGs all day and night. Yes, video game addictions exist, but not everyone who plays has a problem.

My husband and I play “World of Warcraft” together. It’s actually saved us money. Paying $14.99 a piece to play each month is cheaper than going out when we need something to do. We still go out, but not as much. It gives us something to do together. We don’t play every day, but several times a week. We tend to play PVP more than run raids or dungeons.

I wouldn’t call us “hardcore gamers,” even though we play a MMORPG several times a week. We don’t follow WoW news. We don’t know everything about the game even though we’ve played it off and on for several years. As we play, we pick up details of the lore, but neither one of us can tell you the whole story.

I suppose we fall under the “casual gamer” umbrella.

Could I become a hardcore gamer? Sure, but I don’t want to. Video game lore tends to exaggerate circumstances a little too much for me. I prefer to keep a touch of realism to the fandoms I follow closely.

At some point, BioWare will release “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” My husband has followed this game for years. And while I fully expect him to become a “hardcore gamer,” I won’t. As much as I love Star Wars, my passion lies in the post-ROTJ era. He wants to try all of the classes. We plan to roll two characters to run around together. My vote is on Chiss Imperial Agent. Anyone who knows where my passion lies in the Star Wars Expanded Universe can guess why.

More couples are playing MMORPGs together. It’s a hobby, that when managed correctly, can bring two people closer together. Those hours spent running battlegrounds or raids are an effective bonding activity. It takes some work to find a class balance between the two of you. For example, I know of a couple who ran as a healer and tank for years. When someone would criticize the tanking or healing, the other would jump to defend, regardless if the offending party was right or wrong. Often the group would break up and that was it. We tend to stick to DPS classes.

A stigma comes out when some players find out that a woman is controlling the character. I’ve been asked if my husband helps me play, or if I play because of him. The thought that I actually enjoy the game seems foreign to some players. Some players assume the reason I’m not a hardcore gamer is because I am a woman. I am not a hardcore game because I don’t want to be. It has nothing to do with what sex I am. I’d rather spend hours reading about the war with the Yuuzhan Vong or Corran Horn’s training with the Rogue Squadron than the details behind Deathwing the Destroyer’s return.

It’s all about choice. I play the game because I enjoy it and it provides my husband and I with a fun hobby. It’s better than sitting in silence in front of the television watching sitcom reruns. I can’t tell you the story behind the Lunar Festival or Jaina Proudmore, but I know how to be that “F****** mage” people rant about the battleground and that’s enough for me.

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Filed under Gaming, MMORPG, SWTOR, WoW