gaming

White Knighting Sarkeesian…again

feminism glass ceiling

“No more need for feminism” by ladylaguna

Alright, you might think that there are a few other things I should or could write about today. You might think I should write another edition of Geek Jitsu, considering it’s Wednesday. However, since I’m busy compiling and writing the first PDF version of that column, there won’t be a Geek Jitsu every Wednesday for the next weeks. I can only provide you with so much healthy advice. Still, there’s this E3 thingy going on, and you bet I have an opinion about that. Well sure I do, but there’s something else I have to get out of my system (which is related to the E3).

Last week, I wrote a post about how all these male gamers should take a chill pill and let Sarkeesian share her opinion on the role of the female gender in gaming. A few days ago, Sarkeesian tweeted about the lack of female protagonists in the games presented during E3. When I saw it, I just thought “meh, didn’t bother me” and went on with my life. However, a gazillion wannabe alpha-males out there had to interrupt their schedules to bring down some “righteous” fury on Sarkeesian. A most “enjoyable” compilation can be found here.

I hate playing the White Knight for people who are fully capable of defending themself, but these tweets just raise the question why there’s so many gamers  who get all tense and aggressive when someone adds some feminism to their hobby. You might not like Sarkeesian’s opinion, but that’s no reason to call her a cunt or tell her that her statements make your manhood all limp. Those are the things you spew forth when you’re five and you have a disagreement with your big brother, not when you want to have serious dialogue with someone who doesn’t share your views.

Look, I’m not telling you guys to agree with Sarkeesian. I don’t even fully agree with her, but you don’t see me sending her hate-tweets, hoping her life ends in some cruel way. What I am telling you, though, is that you should finally grow up and just argue with her like an adult. Write your own blog posts about this, send her e-mails or contact her in any other way. That will certainly get your message across as well, while opening up some healthy dialogue we can all learn from.

I hope this is the last post I have to dedicate to this topic, and that we all can just get along, no matter if we want our video game protagonists to be male or female. One love, guys and gals. One love.

Three player types that give me healer rage

healers wow druid tauren

Image courtesy of Angry Healers

Rage is a feeling many gamers will feel when gaming. There’s the rage quit, when you just throw your keyboard out of the window and exit the game forcefully. There’s just general rage, which is often caused by the (perceived) idiocy of your fellow gamers. And then there’s a very specific kind of rage, which is often found in MMORPG’s which cling to the holy trinity of tank, DPS and healer. Some call it “just whining”, but I call it healer rage. Sadly, I am no stranger to it, but my experience with it has taught me that it takes specific types of players to invoke the rage deep in my healing heart. In this post, I want to introduce to you that trio of idiot players that force me to raise the question: “Why the eff do I still enjoy doing this? ”

Type #1 – the heal-hogger
The first kind of annoying player is what I call the heal-hogger: a player who thinks that he is the only one worthy of your healing and that no other member of your party should receive those green, floating numbers. Most often, this player is an unexperienced tank, who lives under the illusion that his survival is the only thing that counts. A heal-hogger will remind you regularly that he is your number one priority, especially when his health gets dangerously close to fifty percent, or when he sees that you dare to heal the top DPS of the party. He’s not just green because of your heals, but also with envy.

Luckily, most heal-hoggers grow out of this behaviour once they understand the game dynamics and the value of every party member. It still takes time though, and their appearance in a pick-up group gets my heart racing in the wrong way.

Type #2 – the “I have a scratch, heal me now!”-dude
Many new healers think that they have to make sure that everyone’s health bar is permanently full. Sooner or later, these young apprentices learn that many end-game encounters do not give you the time, resources or plain possibility to keep everyone’s HP at a maximum. The experienced healer does not fret when a part of the group hovers around half of their maximum health. Everyone’s alive and kicking, so where’s the problem? Well, a certain type of player can be the problem…

This annoying archetype has probably never played a healer himself and does not understand that most of us have to work with a resource budget. He lives under the impression that if just one party member is not at maximum health, the healer is slacking. This player will remind you of your failure, telling you that you’re worthless and should play something else. You know who should play something else? You, you annoying piece of dung. You will appreciate me once you’re at the brink of death because you pulled something. Which brings me to my final annoying player type…

Type #3 – the tank who isn’t the tank
Some people just seem to be always in a hurry. Sadly, many of these people play MMORPG’s, and nothing can be fast enough for them. When the tank dares to slow down a bit because the party can’t keep up, this tank who isn’t a tank will take over his job and charge ahead. Going all Leeroy Jenkins on the party, this often squishy damage-dealer while dive right into a pack of elite monsters, causing his health to plummet. Once he’s dead, and the party is done cleaning up his mess, he will blame the healer for his demise and often ragequit.

Well, you mother of annoying party members, let me tell you something. The reason you’re dead is because you’re an idiot. My heals don’t work on idiots, so you just killed yourself. Remember that the next time you group up with me. Maybe if you calm down a bit and use your grey matter, my heals will detect that increase in IQ and work on you. Until then, have fun paying your own damn repair bills.

Writing this piece already brought up some healing rage, so I guess I better stop now and think about all the players who appreciate a good healer. Yes, believe me, they’re out there, and you should be grateful for having them around. Just stick with them, and you might be able to dodge these three flavours of idiocy I described above.

Role Play Convention 2013 – smaller, yet somehow bigger

rpc 2013 role play convention cologne

Blogosphere! How you doin’? As I sit here listening to Frank Turner, I can only come to the conclusion that it was yet another great weekend, especially for the somewhat dominant geeky side of my personality. The reason for that was my visit to the Role Play Convention in Cologne, Germany. I don’t know if it’s still Europe’s biggest “general nerd convention”, but it really didn’t feel like it this year, while somehow it still did. Confusing? Let me elaborate.

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The de-mystification of games through achievements

achievement ygotas yugioh yu gi oh joey brooklyn rage

“Brooklyn Rage Achievement” by Zuo-Ci

About a week ago, I had another great conversation with my friend Dis. Dis (which is just the abbreviated version of the nickname he likes to use) is a guy who ponders about the stupidest things, but sometimes I join him in his mad thinking sprees and together we can actually discuss some fascinating things. Sometimes we elaborate on the philosophical depth of the Manual of the Warrior of the Light, just to continue the next day with a topic like euthanasia. Lately though, we have been discussing an even greater topic: achievements.

Yes folks, those blasted cheevos. Since they have become a shtick of gaming, achievements have us doing the weirdest things just to get that “achievement unlocked” pop-up. We place masks on zombies in Dead Rising, enjoy orgies in Fable II or simply press Start in The Simpsons Game. Achievements reward us for both normal and really strange activities in our favourite games, and are a nice pat on the back for most of us.

However, Dis and I came to the conclusion that achievements also contribute to the “de-mystification” of video games. In a way, achievements are spoilers. Simply seeing an achievement like “Kill Boss X without using the yellow power-ups” tells you that Boss X will probably be hard, and it also states that X will be a boss. What if X is your buddy for most of the game? Haven’t the achievements just given away a really cool twist? Also, achievements tell you about things you might not know are there. Many RPG’s hide legendary items throughout the world, which you should only learn about by talking to NPC’s or by stumbling upon them. However, one look in the achievements list tells you that you get fifty Gamer Points by finding Glundragir, Bane of the World Tree (or whatever the epic sword in your favourite RPG is called).

Of course, one might argue that in a time where walkthroughs are free to get on the Internet and message boards analyze every aspect of every title, games are already de-mystified. Still,  walkthroughs and message boards can be dodged, while it’s harder to escape from a built-in achievement list. If I want to like, I like to keep a new game exciting and mysterious, and achievements certainly don’t help.

What’s your opinion? Do cheevos ruin your sense of discovery and exploration, or do you fully endorse them, planning your playthroughs around getting as many of them as possible? Vote below, and leave your opinion!

Wow.

xbox one reveal

Really, Microsoft? Really? That was your reveal? That’s what you had us waiting for? That’s what will innovate gaming, according to your marketing machine? Wow. Just wow.

Really, I hate to be cynical here, especially since people might call me a fanboy because of my more positive opinion about the PS4, but I just can’t hold myself. I’ll admit, features like the voice and Kinect control give the console a futuristic, somewhat cool feeling. However, if you want to impress the general gamer, don’t base your game reveals around almost only sports titles. If you do that, you might as well call your console the Brobox and ship it with a free six-pack of Budweiser and some cups to play beer pong in between Forza races.

Do I sound disappointed? That’s because I am. When Sony decided to put the bar not all that high, I was hoping that Microsoft would take the chance to re-ignite the console war. This excuse for a successor to the Xbox 360 barely touches the bar.

As I said, I hate to be the grumpy hater, and my lack of arguments for my disappointment makes this piece of text not much better than your run-off-the-mill angry forum post, but I just have to put this somewhere. Maybe it’s not you, Microsoft, but me? We might work it out somehow.

Oh well, let’s wait for E3. Maybe Microsoft is holding back some great reveal, which will force Sony to step up their game. Please, allow me some wishful thinking after this boring reveal…

P.S.: I call dibs on designing the Brobox. Should it fist-bump the players at the start of every gaming session, or call them “dude” every five seconds?

Geek Jitsu – gamifying health

While out running the other day, a sudden realization hit me as hard as my sore muscles the next morning: gamers love gaming. Wow, what a burst of genius, Chin! No, seriously, give me a minute to explain this. Gamers love gaming, which is something you probably knew. But what can we learn from that? Well, if you want a gamer to do something, turn that something into a game. Thus, if you want a gamer to stay fit, turn that into a game.

That is, of course, not a new way of thinking. The gamification of almost everything has been discussed thoroughly by experts, and I even had a post about creating achievements for your health plan a few months ago. Still, it strikes me as odd how small the market for fitness games is. Sure, you got all those Wii games that pretend to keep you fit, but next to those titles, you won’t find much. There are apps like Zombies, Run and sites like Fitocracy that gamify your workouts, but they are not enough for the healthy gamer who wants some more depth.

Why haven’t we seen a full-fledged RPG powered by your workout yet? Heck, let me take the chance then and provide all you game designers with a little concept for such a game. Let us call it Sprinteria, and let it be a game about brave heroes and adventurers in a world powered by your running sessions. It works like this: users sign up for Sprinteria on the website, and download the app that comes with it to their smartphone. When they are out running, the app tracks their distance, average and maximum speed, and approximate amount of burnt calories. These values are translated into action points at the end of your session, and then send to your digital alter ego in Sprinteria. Your in-game hero can use those points to perform actions, like going out to hunt monsters, craft items or participate in player-vs-player warfare. Through these actions, your hero acquires experience and becomes more powerful. Thus, your running sessions are the only source of power for your hero, motivating you to slip into those sweatpants and fuel your adventurer in Sprinteria!

Of course, this is just a simple idea, but a game like that would really fascinate me. There’s also room for improvement, meaning it could be an ever-growing program that offers different challenges every week or month. The point is that I believe that if you create a sports game that takes gamers seriously, those gamers will take sports seriously. You just have to approach them the right way.

While we’re at it, what’s your opinion? Any fitness games that motivate you to keep moving, or do you also have your own ideas when it comes to designing one? Maybe you are a game designer yourself, and see something in my little pitch here. No matter what, leave your comments below.

Stay healthy!

It’s never boring in Neverwinter

It seems that it was very sunny last Saturday, at least in the part of the world that my physical manifestation calls home. Honestly, I didn’t notice it that much. To my great surprise, Cryptic’s newest title Neverwinter was able to captivate me for most of my free Saturday, to a point where my girl had to text one of my housemates to check if I was still alive, since I hadn’t replied to any of her messages. Yeah, Neverwinter is that distracting!

Being distracting is one thing, but is it also good? Well, you’re about to find out in this short review!

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Geek Jitsu – three songs to get you into overdrive

Warning: this week’s Geek Jitsu will be filled with what I consider tasteful music. Though I do listen some of the music the general public deems “good”, my workout playlist contains a few songs that you might find painful to hear. If folk rock and / or punk rock cause physical pain to you, you should steer clear of this list.

Alright, you still here? Well, then we have no time to lose! Every great workout needs great songs. I know that  can get that extra dose of adrenaline and general feeling of “RAWR!!!” from the right tracks. In the last years, I have gathered a few tracks in a workout playlist, and today, I want to share my three favourite ones with you

Avicii – Levels

Alright, let’s start with the odd one out of this trio. The kind of music made by Avicii is, generally, not my cup of tea. Electronic music just doesn’t cut it for me. However, “Levels” is a different story. I really love the upbeat tempo, the choice of “instruments” and composition of the track. Also, the calm part in the middle adds to the song, especially because it builds its tempo back up right after it. A perfect track for a steady pace while you’re out running!

Eluveitie – Helvetios

Yes, this is more my typical music! Eluveitie is a fantastic band, and the track “Helvetios” just makes my heart race. Listen to that refrain: don’t you want to scream along to that while finishing that set of push-ups or running ever faster? This music turns you into an ancient warrior, ready to fight anything in his path to glory. While some of the instruments might sound weird, they add to the motivating and medieval atmosphere created by these badasses from Switzerland. Helvetios!

Rise Against – Satellite

I’ve been a fan of Rise Against since my late high school years. Their tough, rebellious character is convincing, and their music is simply…raw. “Satellite” shows this so well, with lyrics that tell you why you keep going without ever stopping. Lines like “you can’t fill your cup until you empty all it has” are simply inspiring, and they keep me going whenever I think I can’t move another inch. Have this bad guy pump through your headphones while working out, and you will surely fly like a satellite over all your challenges!

That’s what’s playing when I break a sweat, but what about you? What gets you into beast mode, ready to go again? Feel free to share, I could use some new tunes!

First impressions of Neverwinter

I’m gonna keep this short and simple. I had a few hours today to play Neverwinter, and here are some of my observations:

  • Character creation was more detailed than I expected it to be. Race choice is decent (everything you know from the D&D canon), but the customization is surprisingly detailed. Well, I should have expected that from the guys that made Champions Online.
  • Gameplay is smooth and fun. The combat feels a bit more dynamic than your usual MMO stuff, but still not as dynamic as, say, Guild Wars 2. The button layout reminds me of a mix between Diablo and several MOBAs, which is actually a compliment.
  • However, as far as I am now (level 7), it’s your typical fantasy MMO quest-grind, with no big surprises. Curious to see how it gets on higher levels…
  • The music and sound effects are just grandiose! Smashing bandits in the face feels really epic with such background music.

Well, that’s all I can say after playing it for two hours. You can get it for free, so as soon as the servers are back up, why don’t dive right into it? I’m playing a half-orc cleric on Beholder, and I would love me some company! Also, expect a more detailed review once I had more than two hours to explore the Pearl of the North.

Chin out!

Pimping the Legion

As the release of Dragon’s Maze is drawing near, and I couldn’t get a spot at my local gamestore’s Prerelease (can you see the sadface?), I’ve been having some fun during the weekend tweaking my Boros deck. You can find the tentative decklist right here, and I would love all you Magic lovers to take a look at it and give your feedback. Before you do that, though, here are a few things my deck is about:

  • Like every Boros deck, I want to make good use of the Battalion keyword. I love the mechanic, and I love how it motivates me to attack with as many creatures as possible. Due to that, the majority of my creatures should have it.
  • I’m a sucker for weenie decks, and as you can see in this deck’s mana curve, it peaks out at two mana, and holds only one 4-mana critter. While I’m willing to add bigger creatures, I wouldn’t want them to have a converted mana cost of more than four.
  • The majority of the deck is formed by creatures, but I’m covering them with a selection of other spells. Arrows of Justice offer some form of removal, and so does Mugging. The flexibility of Boros Charm is something I enjoy, so I would love to keep it.
  • Boros Reckoner is in there because it rocks hard. Really hard.
  • But you know who rocks even harder? Frontline Medic!

Knowing that, I can already see some points of improvement. Act of Treason could offer me some early-game Battalion and take care of potential blockers. More Madcap Skills could turn some already annoying creatures into even more annoying creatures, and if I had the luck or money, I would add two more Reckoners and three Frontline Medics.

So, Magic geeks of the blogosphere, hit me hard with your critique and help me improve this deck!