Category Archives: World of Warcraft

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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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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SWTOR Endgame: What’s there and what I’d like to see

I quit playing World of Warcraft twice. The reason I quit both times were similar: it became boring.
I started playing WoW about a year before the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Between work and class, it took months to reach 70. After that, I hit somewhat of a brick wall. I didn’t like PVP (at the time) and the raiding group I was in was horrible. It wasn’t a question of skill. It was more or a problem with getting started. We’d schedule the time for eight and wouldn’t start until 10. Someone wouldn’t show (which happens), someone needed to do something “real quick” or half the group would go AFK at random intervals.
When we did get started, we could usually take down the enemies within a reasonable amount of time. The downside was that once the fight ended; there was yet another round of waiting. I’d talk to people who would clear Kara in a matter of hours while it took us two nights.
I tried raiding with other groups, but ran into similar problems. Half of us would wait 30 minutes for everyone else to show up, someone would leave without warning halfway through a fight or everything would implode. There’s no guarantee that a raid group is good. Sometimes a person’s off night costs the raid. There were very few times that I had a successful raid.

 

Wrath of the Lich King came out; I leveled up to 80 through the dismal Northrend and again found myself with nothing to do. Only this time, there was no expansion on the way. Between planning a wedding, finishing up my last semester of college and a general lack of stuff do, I quit.
The second time I played WoW, I only PVP’d. I helped with lower level raids for guild achievements but that was it on that front. I quit month later because TOR’s release date was approaching and I didn’t have anything to do. Rolling more characters to drag through the same quests I didn’t care about wasn’t appealing.
I don’t dislike raiding. When the raids went well or we were actually doing something, it was enjoyable. I had no desire to do it when I returned to WoW and don’t care to in The Old Republic.  I suppose that’s one of the reasons that endgame content isn’t nearly as a big deal to me as it is to others.
There is no doubt how vital good endgame content is. Without, there’s nothing for players to do once they reach max level. The content should pose a challenge. Because I prefer PVP, I’d like to see a 50s only warzone or something like that. Ilum poses all types of problems. Two days ago, Executive Producer-Live Services Jeff Hickman announced that players who took advantage of a bug on Ilum in the Jan. 18 patch would be punished in some way. Players were camping at the enemy bases after taking the various control points on the planet and killing to earn valor.
 Now, I completely understand why this would be frustrating. It makes it difficult to complete the dailies. Players who knowingly took advantage of the bug to increase their value levels rapidly were wrong. It’s fair to take back some of the valor those players earned unfairly. Neither party is free of blame. The players chose to take advantage of it and BioWare didn’t catch the bug in testing. Exploiting bugs happens in MMOs. It happens in console games. Thankfully, it didn’t take BioWare long to deal with the problem.
This issue brings Ilum to question. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s a PVP world. I want to know what’s going on with it because that’s the type of play I prefer. I don’t know what they should do with the world to make it better. Maybe placing most of the dailies in non-PVP zones would work, and then leaving a few in the open area. That way, players could at least complete some of their dailies.
It reminds me of Tol Barad. Your faction had to win control to complete a group of dailies. You could do the ones on the other side no matter who had control. Winning Tol Barad, at least on my server, was a pain. It wasn’t a good system.
I don’t know what a good PVP scenario would be for only 50s. I’m not a game developer. There needs to be something done, whether it’s fixing the problems on Ilum or bringing in a new 50-only warzone to give the max level PVP players something else to do.
At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to compare TOR to WoW. WoW has had years to perfect the game. There was a two-year gap between the times I played and I noticed countless improvements. New games have bugs. They don’t have as much content as ones that have been out for years. Players coming from games with lots of content and things to do, like WoW, may feel bored by the lack of options.
One of my favorite additives to WoW was the achievement system. Players could earn titles, mounts and other rewards by completing the objectives. The list is so long that it gives players plenty to do with their time once hitting max level. TOR is only a month out from the launch date. Players now are at the ground floor. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.
I don’t feel like I can predict if the game will succeed or fail. That it’s Star Wars will keep it going for a while. With the story and voiceovers, it takes longer to reach max level than other games. There’s enough to do 1-49. For casual gamers, they could play the game for a couple of months, working on characters until the endgame content matters. Some worlds you play for all classes, but those quests are broken up by the unique class story quests. In addition, you can pick different Light/Dark alignments to mix it up.
The hardcore gamers suffer. While they aren’t the main portion of the market, they’re still part of the customer base.
The most important thing BioWare can do right now to ensure the survival of the game is focus on activities for players to do at max level, be it a new warzone, releasing a harder raid or adding in some sort of fun system like WoW’s achievements. Or something else.
The main thing for people debating on playing the game should keep in mind is that it is fun. It’s an enjoyable game to play. There is enough content to do at the moment, what with leveling up the various classes.

It’s not perfect (no game is), but give it a little room to improve just as if every other MMO needs to do. The short attention span lifestyle hurts all games. Players want more and more at faster rates than the developers can do. At some point, consumers need to give some—and the companies should give back.

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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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Two months until SWTOR. What are you doing to fill the gap?

Would you look at that, we are less than two months away from the release of Star wars: The Old Republic. It’s a little hard to believe. Some SWTOR fans have entered a waiting limbo and are asking themselves these questions. Do I pick up another game to play? Do I wait? Is it worth the money to invest in another game for less than two months? Do I find something else to do?

Of course, for some future players this doesn’t matter. We aren’t playing a game right now. I find it futile to reactivate my “World of Warcraft” account for two months knowing I’ll stop playing when early access starts. If I had plans to return to WoW, then maybe, but news of the ridiculous expansion turned me off to the game. Some changes need to occur if I’m to return.

The holiday season does fill in the gap for many players. Players in the U.S. have Thanksgiving, and then there’s Christmas right after release for a good percentage of the world. With TOR coming out on Dec. 20 (unless you’re in early access), some day before Christmas shoppers may need to drag themselves out to the stores on the 19th.

What am I doing to fill in the time, you ask? Well, I intend to spend November participating in National Novel Writing Month.As for December? Who knows? Hopefully editing my story for NaNo.

Two months seems like a long time to some. Remember when you were a kid and the two months before Christmas was agonizing? That time will fly by and before you know it, you’ll be running around Coruscant chasing down a target.

If you want to follow a countdown, visit Docking Bay 94 where Joao from The Cantina Cast writes 80 blogs in 80 days to count down to TOR.

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Pandas in "World of Warcraft?" Free Diablo III? What is Blizzard doing?

Pandas. The new World of Warcraft race is a panda.

Oops, I’m sorry, Pandaren.

I thought this was a joke. When my husband sent me the text message informing me of this new race, I didn’t want to believe him. That feeling disappeared fairly quickly. After all, this is Blizzard. WoW is full of movie rip-offs and bad jokes. Harrison Jones, anyone?

The new expansion, Mists of Pandaria, will bring radical changes like other expansions. It always happens. Some of these may help keep long-time players invested in the game, like new talent trees. Others seem stupid, like the new pet fighting system a la Pokemon. Players will rant how much better Cataclysm was, even though players say it’s awful and Wrath of the Lich King was better. Before that, during the WotLK days, Burning Crusade was considered superior (have to agree there).

None of these changes, however, is as stupid as the Pandaren.

The gameplay looks like an MMO of Kung Fu Panda. You know, the kids movie starring Jack Black featuring a fat panda learning Kung Fu. Is Jack Black going to do a voiceover? It’d be appropriate.

In addition to turning WoW into a kiddie playground, Blizzard is also giving Diablo III and an in-game WoW mount to players who subscribe to WoW for one year. While some type of cross promotion between games is logical, this move reeks of desperation. Back on Aug. 4, IGN published an article stating that the number of subscribers has dropped. It’s not a huge drop, but one large enough to grab attention. While this is expected, one could reason that Blizzard suspects a large drop with the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’d be a logical conclusion. Is this why they are making this offer, or is it an attempt to keep players around to the next expansion? Or is it something to do with Diablo III? Only time (or a nugget of leaked information) will tell.

With SWTOR coming out soon, I haven’t renewed my WoW account. I was thinking about maybe going back when a new expansion came out to take a break from TOR, but now I’m thinking not. I can’t take Pandas seriously. Yes, they appear in some small role in the lore, but come on. Image a Death Knight and a Panda in PVP. The only upside would be if I could wear their scalps over my Mage’s shoulder.

Seriously. I’d rather play Hello Kitty Island Adventure than Kung Fu Panda WoW.

(If you haven’t heard of the Hello Kitty Island Adventure bit, watch the Make Love, Not Warcraft episode of South Park. It’s the game Butters plays instead of WoW.)

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