Category Archives: Opinion and Discussion

Violence and Consent in Computer Games

Quoted from:

A Game Is Being Beaten

By Leigh Alexander

The trend in video game design is to comment on violence by asking players to perform violence. But could there be pleasure in performing consent?

A popular approach to ­video-game design is to “think about the verbs.” Interactive entertainment should be verb-led, some say, and the way to make a good game is to think about what the player does. In many games, you have to do the things it wants you to do whether you want to or not. If you don’t like it, as the saying goes, just don’t play it.

[...]

Kopas quietly self-­published a small, text-only game called Consensual Torture Simulator for $2 on Gumroad. In it, a mutually affectionate couple enjoys a night in. You play as the domme in their kink relationship scene, scratching, flogging, caning, and performing other acts of consensual physical violence on your submissive girlfriend. Both partners have decided to explore the goal of making the recipient of the violence cry.

Read the whole article here: A Game Is Being Beaten – The New Inquiry.

Also linked in the original article: Pixels in Distress (tumblr)

“Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good?”

Ever since Edward Snowden (bless him) blew the proverbial whistle, privacy concerns has been proven to be even more serious than anyone dared to believe. And I’d like to make a small case for one of the problems I see in Wow.

I remember reading a forum post back in 2012 about the activity feed on the WoW Armory.

activity feed wow

The WoW Armory logs the activity of every character above level 10, who has also been active within the last 6 months. It logs the date of the last 50 entries.This can be viewed by anyone online, and you can not opt out of it.

It was a player asking for the ability to simply opt out of having the activity feed public:

“Am I the only person who think it’s uncomfortable to have everything you do, and when you do it broadcasted to the world?

Maybe I don’t want family/partner/boss/co-workers/stalkers/etc to know exactly how much I play or when I play for a number of reasons.

I want privacy features, I want the choice to disable the activity feed.” (link)

Is this really a lot to ask?

- Apparently for some! Because people in the thread were completely hung up on the suspicion that this guy might be playing WoW when he should be working. The answer to that is – that’s why we need privacy to begin with – because it’s none of your damn business what he does in WoW or when he do it. We don’t even need to have the discussion about why he wants it to be private in the first place – privacy is a human right!

Besides, to make a point, I have played WoW when ill – as in – legitimately ill. I did some pet battles, some farming, just something to take my mind off of the blazing flu I had going.

But you can also imagine how, under certain conditions, that could have been construed as me not being ill enough, if this information was in the hands of the wrong people.

You also see this argument about privacy often:

Basically, you are responsible for your own privacy. Which means you’d have to censor yourself – don’t play WoW when ill lest someone find out and use it against you.

Grumpy-Cat-01

Great! That will make the internet a fun, free and democratic place to hang out!
- Artist Inti Orozco

Another consequence of this line of thinking, would be the question author Julia Angwin asks: “Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good?

“As more privacy-protecting services pop up, we need to consider two important questions: Can we ensure that those who can afford to buy privacy services are not being deceived? And even more important, do we want privacy to be something that only those with disposable money and time can afford?”

She spent $2,200 last year on privacy protection measures, some of which weren’t able to live up to their promises. Besides, is it fair that one has to be a tech-expert to work around this stuff? I feel bad for my ol’ man then.

I see my friends on Facebook using nick names and falsifying their personal information, in order to diffuse their online tracks. My own strategy has been to just leave as much blank as possible. This means Facebook constantly asks me where I grew up, where I went to school (all the way back to kindergarden, Facebook wants everything!) and what movies and music I like. I sometimes enjoy watching Facebook squirm in the absence of my data, but then it also annoys me – “quit asking me private stuff, Zuckerberg, I don’t wanna date you!”

Edward Snowden, though!

I’m Not Here to Scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at You

Why do I sometimes feel guilty when playing WoW?

It’s not because I play too much, or have other duties that I neglect, it’s far more understated than that.

It’s because of some of the things I do inside the game … I know this may sound like I’m coming out as a severely brutal griefer or corpse camper right now, but don’t worry, I’m not here to scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at you. In fact, I’m trying to convince myself of exactly that.

Oondasta

Oondasta, the world boss

I, and circa a hundred other players, were fighting Oondasta yesterday. I was not in a raid and took care of my own healing the best I could, it’s still a wipe fest really, healing or not. But he finally went down and I got my loot – “A Shiny Pile of Refuse”. Unexpectedly, it contained a white kitten carrier and since I already had a white kitten, I thought I’d just sell it on the auction house.

UNTIL Noelani pointed out the tragedy of finding a small kitten in a huge pile of dinosaur poo AND then choosing to just sell it. If that is not cruel, then I don’t know what is!

… You know, I actually do.

It’s even more cruel to force this little pooey “white” kitten into pet battles, where I can choose to force it to fight for me. It may even die because of my evil blood sport hobby of pet collecting and battling.

I think Noelani knew this too because he offered to take the kitten and take good care of it, even though he already has one. After I’m done writing this post, I’ll log in and the fate of the kitten will be sealed. I hope no one bought the pooey kitten (maybe for their own sake too).

In relevance, consider the case of the guy below, Huggalon the Heart Watcher.

JJJ

I don’t remember there being a dead pandaren female to the left of Huggalon the Heart Watcher when I took this screenshot … It’s so haunting, I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.

We ran into him when leveling a couple of alts and we couldn’t decide whether to kill him or not. He isn’t a clear cut case as so many other bosses and elites otherwise are. What to do?

Kill him because:

  • He’s there to be killed, right? (or is he there to force us to have horrible ethical dilemmas ABOUT killing him?)
  • He’s got a mean look on his face, he’s probably evil
  • Look at all the skeletal remains under his huge boots
  • He looks like he might appreciate being put out of his misery
  • He drops a B.B.F. Necklace
It will give a targeted player a buff called "B.F.F"

It will give a targeted player a buff called “Best Friends Forever”, which lasts for a day (instead of, well, forever)

Don’t kill him because:

  • He’s sitting there looking like a lost abandoned child (which is pretty accurate since he is the missing fifth watcher from the Vault of Archavon and Captain Planet reference)
  • His name is Huggalon the Heart Watcher
  • He has a huge bow in his hair
  • He is not hostile, but neutral
  • There is no real gain from killing him, only the necklace, which you then STEAL from him, and that is creepy. Who steals B.F.F. necklaces?

The comments on Wowhead suggest I’m not the only one with this dilemma. People say that all Huggalon ever wanted was a nice big hug and some feel really bad after they killed him. Why are we feeling bad? It’s just a game, there’s no denying that, the only consequence is that he respawns 20 minutes later for someone else to mull over this dilemma.

So, do you think I killed him?

And, would you be able to kill him yourself, and not feel just a little bit guilty about it?

 

Right and Wrong Gamer Girl Edition

I just read the Bossy Pally’s post called “I Had No Idea this Required a License” where she talks about this whole fake gamer (girl) concept that has been a topic of discussion for a months or so. I haven’t seen these discussions around lately myself, but then again, I’ve been M.I.A for a good while, and I’m still slowly creeping my way back in.

Yet, maybe it was no coincidence that this picture was shared on Facebook just a few days ago by one of my acquaintances:

Gamer gurl vs. girl that games

Shared on Facebook. I was so close to writing “lame” in the comment track, but decided to vent my disapproval here instead.

Because we all know that there’s a wrong way to do “it” and there’s a right way to do “it”. In case you are not sure what’s wrong or right, the picture will inform you, and if you are not sure what this “it” is, then I’m not either… because it does seem awfully confusing.

See this one for example:

sims3allthetime

If she’s got a headset on I don’t think she’s playing Sims 3. Headsets are actually one kind of accessory that should earn you just a little gamer cred, but I’m guessing it’s the pout that made this photo such delicious meme material.

I used to play The Sims – all of them – a lot – all the time. I was obsessed with that franchise, I spent several days in a row doing nothing but playing The Sims. I could have told someone (and probably did) “I game all the time”.

BUT WAIT!!! The Sims??? I must have misunderstood! The Sims is not a real game, it’s a simulation management game, similar to so many others, but it doesn’t count!

Playing The Sims just makes you into one of those (per the top illustration) “gamer gurls“. Remember, a “gamer gurl” is always either fat, ugly or slutty!

But there’s also the “girl that plays video games“! She must be doing it the right way, she must have that license Bossy Pally (and I) are wondering about! Here’s a realgirl that plays video games“:

Anger is important in order to carry out an authentic gamer girl performance!

I bet she’s screaming “I NEED A NEW COMPUTER”

What I keep thinking when I look at those two photos, is that the big difference seems to be a matter of performance. And the funny thing is, “the girl that plays video games” also has to perform said position perfectly. Because… you know…. playing games in and of itself doesn’t count, despite the neutral title, it’s actually a matter of subculture! And the fact her title is not even “gamer” or “gamer girl” says a lot. She’s just some girl who happens to play video games.

And you thought belonging to a subculture was all fun and games? It takes extra work to convey your legitimacy if you fall outside the subcultural stereotype!

So what is she doing right, the “girl that plays video games”? We know that playing video games is not enough, so she must be doing something else too. Is it the display of anger, which is seen as a sign of authentic dedication? Is it the trash-talking? Is it her casual clothing?

Is it that she doesn’t flag being female? Because, the femaleness is actually the initial problem, you see, it’s what forces everyone to figure out what kind of (fake) gamer she actually is, because she might just be one of those girlfriend-of-a-gamer types (always a healer)… or a Sims gamer… or Wii gamer. You know, the fake kinds that walk amongst us, who needs to be unveiled, lest they think they can actually claim to be real gamers. Us and them, baby, us and them!

Girl+Gamer.+my+life.+oc_187147_3325857

Do notice the bottom left corner ;)

Okay, okay, I understand that subcultures need to constantly define their boundaries, especially from the mainstream, but the game is totally rigged.

… and old. Yawn.

What it really does is creating a conflict amongst female gamers to scrutinize and judge each other to weed out the fakes, because if we don’t, they bring a bad name to us as a group. Lets not fall for this superficial scam!

And if the gaming police actually does show up, then you pull out the “shut your whore mouth” … well, just maybe without the whole whore part … “Please keep your despotic orifice closed” works too.

Sometimes You Meet a Player in WoW, who is a Complete Enigma

Screenshot by Jayrei (via Wowhead.com)

Horde druid travel form, stag version. Screenshot by Jayrei (via Wowhead.com)

Sometimes you meet a player in WoW, who is a complete enigma – I met one such player a few days ago.

Here’s the story of the stag-druid.

Noelani and I were questing in Krasarang Wilds in this area where you have to release Alliance slaves, kill a number of enemies and pick up relics on the ground – a classic combination of quest types.

A druid appears in stag form, he is standing slightly behind us watching while we kill several mogu. We wonder if he is waiting for us to clear the area so he can release the Horde slaves. A little cheeky really, so we sit down and pretend to eat.

The stag-druid then wiggles around on the spot – also known as key-turning. After a minute of idling, he finally decides to attack an enemy and thus he proceeds to walk right up to it and spam wrath – in his natural tauren form.

Odd.

We also see him auto-attacking in bear form and melee hitting with his staff. Stag-druid practically has no modus operandi and seems to prefer standing around in stag form in between combat. After he has killed a few mobs slooowly in these multitude of ways, he gets attacked while again observing us as a stag. He wiggles and wiggles, but ends up dying. We then help him kill a couple of mogu a few times, but he never appears to be looting anything nor actually progressing on his quests.

It becomes clear this person is not waiting specifically for us to clear the area, in fact we have no clue what he is doing. We find him later in Valley of the Four Winds brutally beating a fox to death with the staff again. I know it was a Nesingwary quest, but still.

Valley of Four Winds by Ner1 (via Wowhead.com)

Valley of the Four Winds by Ner1 (via Wowhead.com)

Maybe stag-druid had gained some confidence at this point, because we then see him fighting four mushan beasts at the same time. Stag-druid struggles and of course one of those stealthy foxes comes out and attacks him. Maybe it was karmic, maybe it was just bad luck or maybe stag-druid has always been a tree-hugger and not a killer beast!

Clearly overwhelmed, he backs closer and closer to the edge of the lake nearby and falls down the hill and dies on the bank on top of a turtle. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Again stag-druid appears to be a mystery – he was popping cooldowns so he couldn’t be completely clueless. He also used bear form, which is the logical thing to do in this situation, but he would also go out of it to cast wrath and stick fight…

Noelani logs a Horde character and travels to his location, entering a scene where stag-druid is actually about to die again. Noelani tries to strike up a conversation with the intention of offering assistance, but stag-druid stops replying after thanking Noelani for saving him.

We take a look at his armory. It shows him as being mono specced resto and geared accordingly (no respecs), but having only done 15 dungeon ever (never raided). He likes pet battles and has maxed professions. He has waved eight times, hugged twice, but never cheered or laughed – aw! The armory also reveals he has his own guild with 35 members, eight of which are his own, including two level 90 dual-specced characters, which look straight-forward and conventional, though not impeccable.

It’s strange seeing how the armory can be used as a tool for drawing out a whole player-profile. Thinking about this, I’ve often felt like the armory was able to tell people a lot of things about me, that I actually didn’t think were any of their business. Anyways…

It was in the middle of the night on a Saturday, so it could be anyone. I like to imagine this extremely committed, yet young and inexperienced player. Someone who doesn’t have their own account, but they know their relative’s password and they snuck out of bed after everyone was asleep, turned on the computer and beat a fox to death with a stick!

In a way, I admire it. Even though playing is so hard, every mob is a challenge, dying over and over, the guy kept going – like an ironman!

“Dailies have destroyded the game.”

So, I hear there’s a lot of dailies?

I’m not yet 90 myself, I’ve been trying to follow this: An Underachiever’s Guide to 90 by Tome of the Ancient, but I keep failing at the one and only step to success:

Yep, that’s it. Stop it, stop it, stop it with the pet battling already. Simple, easy. There’s my guide.

Maybe it also has to do with the fact that I’m having main-character-doubts, I’m like a split personality victim these days – do I want to play the elemental shaman, the shadow priest or the new’ish hunter? So, yeah, I’ve been dabbling around pet battles (okay, more than dabbling, I’ve been ADDICTED), I’ve also been playing my new gnome monk, and I’ve been leveling the shaman and the hunter. I really need to gain some focus!

When you go to see the Master Pet Tamer Zoltan (the smug blood elf in Felwood), don’t look his kneeling cultists straight in the eye – or maybe don’t look at them at all…

Anyways, back to the dailies! – There’s a lot of them! – Some people are unhappy! – So unhappy that a thread has become a hot topic on the forums, of course sporting an overly dramatic, punctuated and misspelled title, as we WoW players do it best!: “Dailies have destroyded the game.” I love it already!

The argumentation goes back and forth, there’s not exactly consensus, although the OP has been rated highly, but I think the discussion raises a few relevant topics.

  • The line between work and play can be very blurry

Old time classic game theorist Roger Caillois included in his definition of play, that it had to be free and nonobligatory. The less we want to do the dailies, the more they feel like work to us, which makes us question why we even bother in the first place. It’s my impression that in the thread, this has been wrapped up as lazy players vs. Protestant work ethic players. I don’t see it as a matter of being lazy or not, but of play gradually feeling and looking like work to a lot of people.

  • Dailies are in a way revealing the fact that the vast majority of activities in MMO’s are repetitious tasks consisting of simple click commands

Kill X mob Y number of times – Kill X mob to collect Y number of BWAINS! – Collect Y number of poops – Join Z instance and continuously press your AoE button. Of course, then, some clever guy realized that instead of coming up with new X, Y, Z’s they could just have us do the SAME stuff every day.

  • Power gamers/achievers and the pressure of optimization

If you care about progression, doing dailies will be even less voluntary, especially if members of your raid team are all grinding away. I’m not an achiever player-type, and even I feel a stint of that pressure. It’s more comfortable, in many ways, to stick to the large bulk of the wave, as it sweeps over the new content. Soon the learning phase is over and knowledge is expected a priori – that’s mostly what has me feeling stressed.

  • Are there ethical responsibilities in relation to designing games?

If we acknowledge that there is a pressure to optimize and touch that first row ceiling, does the designer have a responsibility to not ask too much of the player? Are players able to keep their heads cool under all the peer pressure? Do we trust players to be autonomous enough to manage and prioritize their own play time and activities under all circumstances?

How we lean on these subjects are influenced by what kind of player we are. I’ll usually fall in favour of an upper limit, like there used to be – 25/day, where as now it’s unlimited. But that’s probably also because I’m not very tolerant of long grinds, extremely low drop rates and camping spawns. I’d prefer they had kept the old 25/day limit in, which instead would have forced players to prioritize what factions they wanted exalted with first.

Invisible Option Arrives For Battle.Net, This Mage Rejoices!

Ironyca:

And the rejoicing commences! Invisible option for Battle.Net is indeed good news!

The fear that we would all hide under the offline mark rests on some weird premise that people are not inherently social, but rather in need of a nudge to connect and communicate with others. If that was the case, how is society as we know it even possible?

I discussed earlier in relation to solo play how people used secret alts as a method to avoid burn out. Not having a show-as-offline function will not just mean that people do as they are told and stay online, it may also mean they don’t log on at all. We all need a break now and then. With this change, I now feel as if I am being recognized as a whole person by Blizzard, not just as the excitable guild mate they wish I always was, but also someone who occasionally needs to play WoW alone on a secret alt.

Originally posted on Manalicious:

Because sometimes you want to have a stag dance party in front of the bank, and sometimes you don’t want anyone to know you’re online.

Back in May when Diablo came out, I wrote a post  bemoaning the lack of an “Invisible” feature on Battle Net. Well, today I arrive with good news: They are going to be implementing an invisible feature for Battle.Net!

I’ve still seen a certain amount of naysaying or people who seem unhappy that this is a feature they are going to implement. First of all, I think it’s important to look at context. Most major chat programs have had this feature for the entirety of my time on the internet. I was using ICQ (I Seek You, remember, ahah) in 1996 or 1997. I can’t remember which, but my original number was seven digits. This is an invitation for all ICQ e-peeners to tell…

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