Category Archives: MMORPG

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

SWTOR: Utilizing vanity pets and events

Confession time: I’m a vanity pet pack rat.

Vanity pets serve no real purpose. They don’t add stats (at least none I’ve seen). They just follow the character around the area.

Nevertheless, I can’t get enough of the things.

The other day I received my Tauntaun in SWTOR. He’s adorable. Look at that face. How can anyone say no to that?

The vanity pet collecting started during the first round of World of Warcraft. My friend gave me the duplicates she had and we’d go out pet hunting when there was nothing better to do. I didn’t have many on my little gnome Rogue, but it was fun.

The second round of WoW, when I played Horde, was different. I collected more than 100 of them by the time I quit. I know, I know. That’s a lot of time and gold. It didn’t matter what the pet was; I tried to collect it. The floating skull, a scorpion and a tabby cat, I had no criteria.

I didn’t have time to earn enough DNA samples to buy the Rakghoul event pets nor have I had a chance to look for the few out there that come from the eggs. There aren’t many in TOR yet, but let’s hope BioWare will remedy that. Monkey lizards, nerfs, crystal snakes and little destroyer droids would all be great to see.

Fun stuff like vanity pets and events give MMOs an extra “umpf.” Vanity pets are simply fun while events give people some to do that breaks up the monotony that plagues gamers. It seemed as if people loved the Rakghoul event. I didn’t mind it, save for the plague. It was rather annoying to have to buy vaccines for the lower level players all the time just to quest without interruption.

Little gaming events bring players together in another way. Years ago during Brewfest in WoW, I beat the boss so many times trying to help as many people as possible earn the mount. I’d lucked out and received it at the first drop. Shortly after that, it was time for the Halloween event. None of the people I typically ran with earned the flying broom mount, but it was fun fighting the Headless Horseman up at the old Scarlet Monastery.

These types of events encourage players that don’t normally associate to work together. PVP and PVE players want the goodies.

In addition to boss fighting, there’s also gathering of items, using wands, throwing petals and so many more activities available through WoW’s holiday events. TOR’s Rakghoul event captured a similar spirit.

It’s necessary to introduce new activities for players to do to keep subscribers (in addition to other issues). Bored players eventually leave.

TOR’s first event was a disease outbreak. Rather than make it a holiday, they went with a logical epidemic. The events don’t need to be galaxy-wide. What about a sabaac or other game event on Nar Shaddaa? Bring in the idea of Treasure Ship Row on Corellia and hold a weeklong festival. Events could be based around the planet’s lore.

The possibilities are limitless for both events and pets.

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Filed under MMORPG, SWTOR, TOR, World of Warcraft, WoW

SWTOR: First Impressions

Star Wars The Old Republic launches in just two days. For those who preordered and redeemed their codes in time, Early Access began Tuesday (the day BioWare let you in depended on when you put in the code). I made it in first thing Tuesday morning, though I didn’t start playing until later that day.

The first step is deciding the server and making the character. I am on a PVP server right now, one that hasn’t had a queue yet, thank goodness. Some of the more popular servers have queues longer than 30 minutes. These will probably drop in the next month or so once all of launch hype dies down.

The character creation screen is easy for anyone to use, new or old gamers. For each class and species, you can select body types, hair, skin and other features (facial hair, ect). It reminded me of the Sims. The only real complaint I have is that there aren’t any long hairstyles. Maybe this has to do with the animation or something, but it would have been nice. There are several good styles, though. The body type options are also nice.

I rolled a Chiss Imperial Agent (with a proper Chiss name, of course), human Jedi Knight and a human Smuggler. I haven’t made my Sith Inquisitor yet or checked out the other classes yet.

Part of me wants to say that the class stories are unbalanced, but the other part says that it has to do with point of view. For instance, the Jedi Consular story I played in beta was dull as dirt. The Jedi Knight class story is much better, thankfully. However, I can see some people enjoying the Consular’s story. The Imperial Agent has an excellent story to it. It’s like being in a spy movie or something. As for the Smuggler? Well I’m only level three. I’ll have to get back with you on that. A good story is necessary to maintain interest in the game. The light side/dark side point system also helps with that.

It’s been said before, but the voice acting is so good in this game. It’s actually too good at some parts. The annoying, screwed up droids are so good that you are actually as irritated as your dialog choices suggest you are. The animations look great. The Smuggler’s move when he’s regaining health is one of the best.

Gameplay is pretty good. If you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with all of the menus, navigating through the game is much easier. I’m not running the game on a top of the line computer and it works just fine. It can take a few extra seconds for things to load, but it’s not a big deal.

PVP is so much better than any other I’ve played. For one thing, you are chasing people with lightsabers and blasters. How awesome is that? Fighting a Sith with a red double bladed saber was amazing. BioWare added in a fun, unusual type of battleground: Hutball. Hutball is so much fun. You’re chasing each other around, trying to get the ball from the other team and score. The area has multiple levels, fire and toxic waste. It’s pretty much a Hutt paradise.

I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about the guilds. The guild I joined ended up going to a different server, so I joined another. There are plenty of people out there right now if you need to find a guild.

Crafting is much more interesting in this game. You can have one crafting skill and two supplement ones. You can send out your companions to do the tasks, which makes it much easier and more efficient. Once you have multiple companions, it will be even easier. The only thing is that you need to watch your credits. Those missions cost!

Overall, I haven’t had any issues with SWTOR that would make me think that the game will fail, though the endgame content is going to be a huge indication of that. The game is friendly to both newcomers to the MMO world and veterans. It’s definitely worth the time and money to play.

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Filed under MMORPG, Star Wars, Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR, SWTOR Release Date

Mercy Kill Cover and SWTOR new early access date annoucement

Yesterday was a quite a Star Wars news filled day. Del Rey released the cover of Aaron Allston’s Mercy Kill and BioWare/EA announced that early access will start two days early. I think you can guess the reactions to each.

The Mercy Kill cover looks fantastic. It fits in well with the other X-Wing books even though it’s a standalone. The iconic X-Wings are on the front, locked in combat, giving the cover an exciting, adventurous feel. Even though I’m not crazy about the font used for the title (little too Microsoft Word Art for me), the overall appearance matches the subject matter.

Suvudu released this information yesterday:

Founded decades ago, Wraith Squadron was Wedge Antilles’s boldest creation: a covert-action unit of X-Wing fighters, its pilots drawn from the dregs of other units, castoffs and rejects that were once outcasts and misfits, spies and warriors, pilots and troublemakers given one last chance. After thrilling adventures during and after the Rebellion that destroyed the Empire, this elite intelligence unit was disbanded at the end of a catastrophic galactic civil war.

Now, reunited by former leader Garik “Face” Loran, Wraith Squadron must find out whether one of the galaxy’s most powerful military officers is a traitor… and whether anyone can stop him if he is. To succeed in their mission, the Wraiths must become thieves, pirates, imposters, forgers, and liars, staying just one step ahead of their enemies and the law!

Written by prolific Star Wars author Aaron Allston, Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill is a book sure to excite fans of the X-Wing series as well as readers who are new to Star Wars.

The plot sounds fun, exciting and different than what we’ve seen recently. A little skullduggery is always fun in Star Wars. I hope that we see a healthy mix of old and new characters in the story. August certainly seem far away!

BioWare alerted SWTOR players yesterday that early access now begins on Dec. 13 rather than the 15. As with every single other piece of news that comes from BioWare regarding this game, some people are happy and others are spewing out angry rants.
I understand the frustration of some. Those who took days off work for the release may find themselves stuck. It’s annoying; we all understand that, but is that really a reason to throw in the towel? You get to play the game you’ve been waiting to for years two days early (depending on when you put in the code, of course). So you hit level 50 two days later than planned. It’s not the end of the world.

Think about it this way. If JK Rowling announced that Deathly Hallows was being released two days early, would you have complained? Sure, you have to work and can’t spend all day reading like you planned, but you can’t say that you would have picked up the book on your lunch hour the day it came out and read it that night. It’s the same thing. Is it inconvenience for some? Sure, but that’s life. It’s impossible to schedule something that fits everyone’s schedule. Look at it this way, if you took off Thursday or Friday and have the weekend off, you still get a long TOR weekend.

It’s not all that surprising that BioWare moved up the date. Perhaps they looked at the preorder numbers and felt it would be more efficient to allow players to enter the game in smaller groups at a time for the sake of the servers. I admit I don’t know much about gaming servers, so maybe it wouldn’t make a big difference.

How they stagger the admission into the game remains a mystery. Will there be a cut of by hour? For example, if you entered your pre-order code by 5 p.m. CST on Day Two of ordering you are in on the Dec. 13?

Guess we’ll find out next week!

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Filed under Allston, Expanded Universe, Mercy Kill, MMORPG, Star Wars, SWTOR, X-Wing

Aubrey Plaza’s World of Warcraft commercial: hit or miss?

Have you seen the new World of Warcraft commercial featuring Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)? If you haven’t, check it out. Even if you’ve never played WoW, it’s an interesting clip.

Aubrey Plaza WoW Commercial

Aubrey plays a woman whose boyfriend gave her World of Warcraft as a birthday gift instead of diamonds (as she states, he says she can mine diamonds). In the end, she becomes a gamer, her boyfriend feels as if he isn’t as important in her life and she dumps him.

I think this commercial is hilarious. Plenty of bloggers and others online have made various comments bashing the commercial saying that it follows the idea that a woman wants diamonds, she only becomes a gamer through a male significant other and that the commercial shows a consequence of gaming addiction. There’s no argument that the whole “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and a woman needs a man to game with stereotypes shouldn’t be perpetuated.

It works both ways. I’ve known men who became gamers because of women along with the scenario that occurs in the commercial. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Blizzard’s best move at this point would be to put out another commercial starring a woman going on about her character without any mention of a significant other. It’s fantastic to see a female advertising the game. Perhaps Blizzard unnecessary felt that they had to ease into it.

Despite all of the studies showing how many gamers are female, it feels as if we hit a brick wall when it comes to media. Female gamers only join because a man invites them, female gamers aren’t as good as male and many other scenarios appear in various TV shows. The way to break this mold isn’t to create commercials or sitcom plotlines that show a woman acting exactly like a male gamer. Good female characters are not male characters with breasts. That’s not how it works. It’s lazy character development. Create a female character and make her a gamer. Have it fit her personality. She doesn’t have to sit in the basement, face covered in acne and eating Cheetos. It’s bad enough that gamer men are stuck in that stereotype. Do we have to add women to it, too?

The question remaining is who is the commercial targeting? I didn’t feel as if Blizzard was trying to convince me to play the game (taking out the fact that I’ve played it). It felt as if it was geared toward guys, suggesting that they buy the game for their girlfriend/wife to get her involved. Or, depending on your point of view, it was warning people what happens when you get someone too into gaming.

Overall, the Aubrey Plaza WoW commercial has done something- it’s brought the idea of female gamers to the masses. It wasn’t executed perfectly, but it’s a start.

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Filed under female geekdom, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW

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

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Taking the scenic route to 50

“How fast are you going to hit 50?”

Star Wars: The Old Republic” is almost here and many players are asking themselves this question. As with any video game, there are people who want to race to be the first to hit max level. Some people on the official forums have said that they will take time off work in order to play the game. I’m not talking about one day, more like week (talk about the potential of a fast burnout).

Racing to the top defeats the purpose of the game. With all of the cut scenes, story and dialogue menus to go through, there’s simply no way to hit 50 as fast as some players would like (even if you just randomly click on dialogue options). This game relies on its story to keep people playing. With the ability to sway your character dark or light, it gives an extra touch of personalization. It’s not like “World of Warcraft” where players don’t need to know anything about the quest aside from the actions needed to complete it. The lore appeals to some, but not all. That could be one reason why the game attracts to so many people. You don’t have to know anything about the lore to play.

Of course, the same could be said for TOR. Anyone can play that game without understanding knowing the details of the Jedi and Sith. The difference here is that TOR will tell you through voiceovers.

By pulling people into the story, TOR has a greater chance of engrossing players for the long run. The ability to somewhat mold the characters to your liking enhances overall play.

Many want to spend a good chunk of time jumping into the universe. While this is fine, cramming into too much time can cause a burnout. Imagine spending 12 or more hours each day playing the same game. For most of us, we’re going to get sick of sitting there. By Day 3, logging in seems like a chore. Why burn yourself out so fast? Take it slow. Spend a day getting into it and then play when you want.

MMO burnout happens all the time. It’s inevitable. Once that monthly fee goes through, it feels like you have to log on. Take a day off when logging on becomes a chore. If you pay monthly, the $14.99 averages out to about 49 cents a day. Compared to other forms of entertainment, that’s low. Not logging on for a day isn’t going to “set you back.”

Pushing through to 50 will cost players a rich experience. This is our chance to fulfill that childhood dream to be a Star Wars character; don’t waste it.

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