Posts Tagged ‘gamer’

Free For All

January 29th, 2013 1 comment

The alternate title of this post is “A Few More Word On Why You Should Be Watching eSports”, because there’s a great video out from PCGamer. T.J. Hafer takes five minutes, and gives us some very compelling commentary.

Go watch it. I’ll still be here.


I think it’s a great piece, but I also think that I can give you an even better reason for watching eSports, and the reason is accessibility. If you have an interest in the game, you can go be part of a community with not only people like you, but the competitors themselves, just as soon as you want. You can be part of a group within five minutes of learning about the sport.

The necessity of online gaming is there in its name: online gaming. It must be played on the internet somehow, and the truth of the matter is that the medium on which we play is also the medium on which the whole world communicates. I find this level of possible involvement and global influence in the sport itself fascinating. We can talk to the stars of the show on Reddit, or a blog. We can be part of the community of fans by going to the forums and email lists. We can spectate matches on and Because the sport has to be watched online, where anyone can access it, we create a necessarily large potential fan base. As the internet continues its global spread into our pockets, and the ability to get information spans from the mountain steppes of rural China to the slums of the favelas in Brazil, eSports has a path to be seen by everyone in the world.

The other side to accessibility comes from being on the field, and not just watching from the stands. Combine the following facts: Not only does the action take place behind the mask of a keyboard, but the competitors have such names as Locodoco, Saintvicious, and ZionSpartan. That anonymity creates a Mary Jane effect, where anyone could be playing. All of the time that the players put into this is something that everyone can do. Universal accessibility means that we could aspire to be as good as the pros someday. The characters we see being controlled on the screen could just as easily obey our own commands.

These two facets, universal visibility and unlimited participation, make eSports accessible to anyone and everyone. From a 30 year old woman who has just a passing interest in video games to people who have been playing them since they were 3, any gamer is welcome to come and watch.

And you should.

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You Had To Be There

January 22nd, 2013 3 comments

Sometimes, I worry about the ability or lack thereof of eSports to have a kind of viral impact. I can’t expound on my enthusiasm of xPeke’s spectacular play from IEM Katowice to someone who just doesn’t give a good god damn. I had this very sensation last night, as I was having dinner with some dear friends of mine. The couple are as geeky as you like, reveling in the obscure and nerdy. They’re some of my greatest friends in the world, and if anyone can possibly appreciate my rants about how fantastic that Kassadin was (noreallygolook), it’s this duo. But the wife seemed disinterested. I don’t fault her for it in any sort of way (I love you Roo!) but this is emblematic of my concern about eSports’ ability to captivate strangers to the sport. It seems a far cry to be excited about a series of button clicks in rapid succession.

But I am excited, and so was the other half of my lovely company. When I was describing Kassadin’s swift dodges, managing to duck and weave between axes, using his slows as effectively as a prize fighter, my good friend Nathan was as happy as I was at the plays.

My only solution to the worry of eSports’ transmitability is to stay enthused. To stay interested. I want to make this a thing, and I want you to come with me.

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January 18th, 2013 No comments

Every once in a while, a tragedy happens.

It is tragic, to see lives snuffed out. It is tragic to see people lose hope, go past that line, and do horrible, unspeakable things. It scares us all. It concerns us all. We should never forget that there are awful things in this world, and we should do what we can to combat the evils of violence and the tragedies that scar us. Everyone, it can be agreed, wants this sort of thing to stop.

The question then becomes how.

Do we need cops in schools? Do we need fewer guns? Do we need psychological evaluations? Do we need to crack down on violent video games?

Of course violent video games are the answer.

This is an entirely predictable and altogether terrible way of dealing with the massacre at Sandy Hook. It’s predictable because this is what the media, anti-video game pundits, and legislators have done, time after time after time. Literally. The 109th, 110th, and the 113th Congresses have proposed the same bill. We know that as soon as the guns come out, and the blood is spilled, and the tears are shed, that it will take about a month for everyone calm down, and point their fingers at the consoles. Jack Thompson and Senator Leland Yee have been the subject of some of my posts in the past, but they’re not the only ones going on this crusade against video games.

Which brings us to the terrible part of their crusade: It’s ultimately useless. Not only has it failed a constitutionality test every time the bill’s been brought up, but it’s not the source of the problem. Pesky First Amendment rights aside, prohibiting the sale or rental of video games to minors isn’t going to teach children a damn thing, and I’m tired of pretending like it will. What it will do is frustrate me, and gamers like me, who don’t really need to be told what to watch, or what to play, or what to think. It is unnecessary and wasteful legislation, particularly in light of the tragedy. Could you lawmakers kindly focus your efforts on either gun control or mental health initiatives, instead of trying to penalize and judge a subset of people who are just as moved by this tragedy as you are?

In the end, I am happy that President Obama is calling for more research into the link between video games, violent imagery, and violence in our society, but I ultimately think that the research will be ignored. People are eager to find a scapegoat, and no amount of guarantees of free speech or already existing data are going to convince people that violent video games are not the culprit. No force on the planet can convince people that proper parenting means being a God damned parent, and being with your children, instead of just letting them babysit themselves in front of a screen. This kind of tunnel vision is already at work: Lanza had an elaborate set up for Call of Duty and Starcraft, and loved electronics. That must make him a killer.

Him, me, and about 80% of my generation.

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Consent of the Gamers

January 26th, 2010 6 comments

Let’s talk about responsibility.

There are very few things in life we have to do, and they mostly include automatic responses from our nervous system. That being said, there are things we should do, and we largely lump these things together in a category of things we call “being responsible”. These involve getting a job, paying your taxes, treating other humans with respect and courtesy, and generally being a productive member of society. Responsibility is sometimes given a bad break, because it’s tedious, and mostly doesn’t make us feel great. While the end result is sometimes a positive feeling, or even pride at having accomplished something important, the tasks we undertake while being responsible are arduous, time consuming, and most often, and this is the important part kids, not fun. Which often means things we consider to be fun should be devoid of responsibility.

This however, is not the case. It shouldn’t be. There are some great examples of a lot of fun to be had, particularly fun with other people, that need to be pursued responsibly. Driving is one. You don’t drive a car without a seat belt and without regard for your passengers’ safety and the other drivers on the road, even if you’re going really fast. Especially if you’re going really fast. Same thing with sex: you work out with your partner ahead of time what is acceptable behavior, and you stick to it. You don’t deviate outside of the guidelines you’ve set up without a lot of unacceptable risk. Amusement rides are full of safety precautions that you have to meet before you can enjoy responsibly. Speaking of enjoying responsibly, did anyone mention alcohol? In essence, responsibility when it comes to having fun is about meeting the demands of everyone, and creating the most happiness for those involved. It also means, perhaps explicitly, not raining down on someone else’s parade.

Thus, our responsibility while having fun is clear. There are plenty of good examples of what are bad ideas, and when not to do them. Gaming should be no different. Much like sex however, what is acceptable differs from person to person, and group to group. There are perhaps a few commonly accepted rules, which I believe can be addressed as common fare, but given the large scopes of kinds of gamers as I addressed in my last post, what is understood as necessary by one group may be totally superfluous for another. Let’s start with the basics then.

1. People should be ready to game. This means that, whoever you should be, you should be wherever you need to be, whenever you need to be there, with whatever you need to game. I wanted to fit however into this, but why ever for?

In essence, be punctual and prepared. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in someone’s face about them showing up 5 to 10 minutes late, but let’s not waste people’s time here. When you’re going to be 15, 20, 30 minutes late, that’s definitely when you should be telling people, at the very least. Have whatever you need with you too: dice, character sheets, books, laptop… whatever you need to be ready to throw down and kick some goblin’s ass. In line with being prepared with the mechanical pieces of the game, be prepared by knowing the mechanical essence of the game.

2.Know the system. This doesn’t necessarily mean game the system, or abuse it (and it’s important for DMs to know when the system is being abused), but know what you need to know for the game you’re in, and your character in particular. If you’re playing a combative character, be prepared to be able to throw down some dice and say what you hit with. If you’ve got to know how to cast a spell, or do some occult research, know your pools.

This is important for DMs and MMO gamers as well. DMs need to be even more well versed than players with the mechanics of the game, but by the same token, don’t abuse it and make the game unfair for your players. You have to be aware of what they’re capable of, as well as what the obstacles that lie in their way are. Tangentially, if you’re playing a MMO like WoW, know what your role is (Tank, Healer, Damage) and be prepared to know the mechanics of it. If you’re playing a Feral Druid for example, you should know that contemporary theory says that because you should be crit immune, you should stack Stamina and shouldn’t pick up a lick of defense gear.

Most importantly comes the synthesis of rules 1 and 2.

3.Don’t be a dick. I hate to steal Wheaton’s Law, but its elegance is amazing, and works into the discussion like this: Don’t do anything that ruins someone’s enjoyment of a game. Whether that’s being 45 minutes to an hour late and wasting people’s time and energy, or harping on someone’s choice of mechanics without a grounded reason. Most importantly, don’t be cruel about it. Someone can make a decision for a lot of reasons, and if you’re a dick about it, you’re only going to agitate and disturb what should be a fun activity.

What this all means is that you should, when you game, lay down certain ground rules about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Players gonna miss a few games? That might be okay, or it might not fly. Prot Warrior’s thinking of respeccing to a slightly different build? Make sure that the raid leader and Warrior Class Lead (if such a person exists) know about it, and do what they need to do about it. Or just let him go wily-nilly. If people in your group are deviating from what others in the group think they should, it’s important to correct the small deviations before they grow into large ones, and make what was once something awesome into something resembling a burden. Playing well together’s important, but the fun’s the thing.

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Apologies to the Bard

January 22nd, 2010 5 comments

This is a blog written by a gamer. This is a blog designed to be read by gamers, and to be contributed to by gamers. I want gamers to connect over this, and maybe get some enjoyment and some thoughtful discussion going about this blog. That’s my hope.

But what is a gamer? Would that which we call a gamer by any other name would have as much fun?

I was going to do a little research on the term gamer, etymologically speaking. Where did the word come from? Where was it first used? What is our shared history as gamers, so to speak, but I’m not quite sure that it matters, for reasons I’ll get to shortly.

A gamer is someone who plays games as a primary form of enjoyment. They may deeply analyze the rules and structure of the game, or they may be new to the game they’re experiencing. They might participate over a wide variety of games (tabletop, console, card, computer), or they may devote themselves to one game, and believe that it is superior to others that try to emulate it. Despite all these different kings of gamers, they all share the same aim: to get enjoyment from playing a game, and devote some amount of time to it above their other interests.

Thinking that this is a reasonable definition, I submit the argument before you, dear reader, that anyone who wants to claim the mantle of Gamer is free to do so. Hell, they should be encouraged to do so. More people at the gaming table means more fun to go around. Exclusivity should never be our aim, as we’re too often misunderstood anyway.

In a very excellent article, Jeffrey Michael Grubb notes that gamers tend to instantly leap upon accusations of impropriety, defending their passion with a furor that may scare “normal’ people. He writes, “…if we are going to be more concerned about protecting the reputation of a video game than about fighting international sexual tourism, people are going to continue to look at gamers as an unbalanced people with twisted priorities.”

So when people want to call themselves gamers, embrace them as gamers, and invite them to play. Don’t question their title, or where they fit into the hardcore vs. casual debate, just accept that they are a gamer, and want what you want. They want to have a good time playing a game, just like you.

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