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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...


UrbanMasque UrbanMasque's Blog
The Joys of RPing
Posted on Friday, April 24 2015 @ 10:00:05 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
As some of you probably know I work with Corsair to help cover their gaming product launches and create content around their gaming-event based video coverage. Recently, I was asked by Corsair to participate in one of their Throwback Thursday Gaming Videos which basically interviews current employees about their early involvement with games and how those experiences have shaped their gaming habits today.

This interview was about 30-40 minutes, but for the sake of the ADD YouTube audience I’m sure its final edited duration will only include the most engaging 2-3 minutes. Knowing that well in advance, I wanted to take the time to write about the memories this conversation brought back and all the awkward feelings associated with remembering your pre-teen years. YAY!
If you’ve been lurking around the forums here long enough, then you’re probably aware that a lot of these nostalgia topics have been covered ad nauseam and what you learn is that even though our gaming interests may not have overlapped - the experiences around our earliest memories of console/PC games are probably the same. Memories like wiping the drool off your floor the first time your parent brought home that first system, the memory of troubleshooting that first system (i.e. blowing on cartridges), fistfights with siblings over cheating & cheesing, and the amount of time you spent deciding on what to name your character the first time you were given the option.

There was one period in my life where I wouldn’t leave my basement for quite some time (yes, it's a nasty stereotype - but that is where my PC and my consoles were setup so I could play and my friends could come over and play and not bother my parents). The nerdiest point of my life came way before I even started playing CS on my computer and began in the AOL Chat rooms of old. Way back when people were bombarding the chat-rooms with macros and password stealing was rampant! Seriously, old-school AOL was like the wild west. Crazy.

I’m sure this part of my story was left on the cutting room floor for a variety of reasons, but it definitely was a large part of my youth. It definitely wasn’t a video game, but I was gaining XP and following an evolving narrative - so it definitely felt like a game.  

Honestly, I don’t remember how I got into it, but I somehow fell into AOL RPing. Some of you might not think of this as a game, but I consider this a game because you played against others, the guild system was VERY structured and it was on my computer. Yeah, it was heavily text-based and revolved around chat-room conversations, but it was still a game nonetheless. A game where graphics didn’t matter because the world was built in your mind based on the level of description provided by the RPers in chat.

In order to play - basically, you had to submit your AOL RPing profile to the guild recruiters and they decided on whether or not they wanted to accept you into their fold. Your profile needed to have nice colors, a decent character write-up, and some sort of unique character background. Protip: The more emo it was, the better your chances. Once you started playing and got your “weapons” - it was up to you how you interacted with the other players - kind of open world, now that I think about it. My chatroom interactions tended to look something like this:
  -=UrbanMasque walks into the bar - sliding the cowl slowly off his head revealing the tight grey locks underneath=-

-=Looking around for a familiar face, but not recognizing any UrbanMasque makes his way to the bar=-

-=UrbanMasque sits at the only open seat at the end and waits to be served. Feeling uneasy about having his back to the other patrons in an unknown environment - he keeps his left hand concealed under his cloak gripped tightly around his purple gemmed-studed dagger [3d20]=-
..yup.. I had tons of girlfriends in Junior High School.. Actually, I lost my virtual virginity well in advance of my actually virginity (Ubuu was a stud - what can I say), but back to the story…
  If someone dared to challenge me or try to steal from me while I was at a public place, then we would roll to see if I could sense them. If I didn’t sense them, they stole my gear - if I did we probably fought. Fighting was fun because these bots existed that would randomly roll for you in chat and all you needed to do was input the dice information.
  After the encounter you’d get experience from your guild’s officers if you’ve downloaded the chat log and they can confirm with the rival guild’s officers that the “hit/battle” actually happened. The entire thing, the combat – the rooms – the conversations felt VERY ‘special’. I remember people used to do this with Pokemon and Dragonball Z battles in chat-rooms also. I miss those days *nostalgic tear*...
Soon after that Everquest came out and I traded the text-based RPing for something a bit more visual. And now I stream! I was visiting GR during that time in my life, but mostly to pull cheat codes for consoles.

Did anyone else RP Online in these chat-rooms?  
What was your AIM/AOL Username (i still have mine)?

I used to belong to an email wrestling fed also... Anyone else do this? anyone..? ..anyone..

[The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been very lightly edited for grammar and style. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan]

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How much time is too much time?
Posted on Monday, January 5 2015 @ 16:54:37 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

How much time is too much time?

If you are doing something you enjoy, is it possible to spend too much time doing it?  Obviously, you want to put a limit on how many kittens you kill in a day, but if you feel the same way I do about gaming I’d imagine you’re thinking that you don’t have ENOUGH time in the day to play.  How could you feel any other way unless it was your profession, and very few people are in the position to be able to do this for a living.  If you’re playing some single-player game and never have any intention of joining the multiplayer universe, then playing games is a lot like watching a Netflix series to you.  You can do it at your own leisure.  

For me and the other controller chuckers who want to test our mettle against the masses, just playing the game isn’t enough.  I don’t know that just playing the games are enough for me, because I also want to be good at them.  Nothing upsets me more than being talked down to over voice chat after being housed by someone who still has a bedtime. As much as these online communities upset us they also entertain us and are part of the game’s experience. The sad reality about these communities is that they are nomadic and have short shelf lives. Once the popularity dies down or the next big title pops up, people are going to inevitably migrate and then you’re left playing with yourself again, except you don’t feel as satisfied after the climax.  

There's obviously a correlation between the amount of time you invest in a hobby or game (singleplayer or multiplayer) and your skill level.  You have to learn the game’s mechanics. You have to find exploits. Some people even take the time to calculate the advantages based on in-game equipment and items.  A lot of us aging game aficionados have multiple responsibilities and the idea of perfecting a soon-to-be-dead game seems fruitless. Families, jobs, significant others, as well as real-world errands can sometimes seem like burdens when all you really want to do is sit down in your favorite lounge chair, wearing nothing but you boxers, with the game of your choice running and tune Everything THE FUCK OUT!  (sorry).. The Call of Duty: Ghosts trailer seems to sum this up perfectly for me, and almost seems like a dream come true.   

There is this idea with the older generation (boomers n such - I'm looking at you mom) or the less-than-tech savvy that playing is just a solitary activity and you’re staring into a soulless machine ruining your vision and dumbing yourself down.  Which is and isn’t true in some instances, but are the friendships you make in game, the online communities you're apart of, the play dates or clan matches any less legitimate or hold less weight than the drinking sessions you schedule in with your buddies at the local pub or the fancy dinner with you're prodded to attend with your in-laws? We’re still sitting around shooting the ****, the only difference is the IRL people are within arm’s reach.

Truth be told there are a number of games I would love to play and fantasize about all the cool things potentially waiting for me in game, but when I also think about the amount of time needed to invest in the game in order to achieve trophies or become reasonably competitive I get sad.  Maybe it's me getting a little nostalgic with age and reminiscing on a time when I could wake up, go right to my computer, and spend 7+ hours in an MMORPG.  The time dedication is what impresses me the most when I watch Twitch streams and speedruns.  I’m not impressed by the amount of viewers, the quality of the stream, the actions per minute, or the witty banter - I’m impressed by the assumed amount of time these people spend playing in order to be acknowledged as the Best of the Best.  The difference is spending 20 hours+ a week in a billiard hall becoming a shark is a badge of honor to some, but to those same people spending 20+ a week on a console/PC game is a waste.

I remember watching a playroom stream where the broadcaster was around the early to mids 20’s age range, male, in shape, and reasonably attractive.  I bring that up only because someone asked him in chat, “Hey dude, you always stream by yourself – where’s your girlfriend?”  His reply struck me as somewhat true, but sad.  He said, “If you’re serious about this (games), having a girlfriend is impossible.” Now I don’t know how socially awkward he is in person, but the vibe I got from him was that he could potentially have a girlfriend, but he opted instead to spend his time playing games.  I know that sounds like the standard virgin cop out, but to me it seemed legit and he seemed sincere.  He made a conscience choice to pursue his hobby vs. pursuing and maintaining a relationship.  Again, piling assumption on top of assumption, the more competitive you get with the e-sports the more likely this is to be true.

I’m sure most of the people reading this are familiar with the DOTA 2 Championships recently showcased on ESPN.  Maybe it's just a result of getting older, but I know the thought crossed your mind about how much time they must spend practicing and memorizing the game dynamics.  I’d love to interview some of those players about their social or private lives and how much of an intrusion it has been - if at all. How much time do you “play” per day/week/month? Do you have any specific incidents where playing games has caused some turbulence in your real life? Have you ever missed any in-person life activities, opting instead to play with your friends online? Does the game you play, the forum you visit, or the trophies and hours logged legitimize your gaming time or you as a “gamer”? Congratulations - you’ve earned a virtual trophy that you’ll never get to hold and few people understand the significance of… but I’ll be goddamned if it doesn’t feel good achieve that little icon.  Throw an Oculus on my face, and feed me intravenously - because I'm about ready to be plugged into the Matrix, permanently.

[The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted on January 5th, has been lightly edited for grammar and style. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~ Ed. Nick Tan]

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"How do I make him jump?"
Posted on Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 11:55:42 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
Fact: Games are beneficial to a child's development and help improve the quality of your life. Well, this isn't really a fact as mush as it is a strong opinion, but seriously though, anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves or are too disconnected from modern electronics to grasp the concept of a console for any other purpose besides playing an updated version of Pong.
The digital divide is very real. Just ask anyone who has tried to teach their significant other how to play with them in a co-op console game and has cringed at how their partner is holding the controller. I know most of you know this feel. Or perhaps you’ve watched your cousin play a flight simulator and then move their arms and body along with the controller. If not, give someone a Vita and map which controls they use, if they can find the L and R triggers, or if they even identify it as touchscreen. Painful. Do not let these people around the Oculus Rift. They will be a danger to themselves and everyone around them. This experience has cemented the idea in my mind that people would much rather be told what to do, then to exhaust the gray matter figuring it out. This isn't true for gamers; we feel like we're on the slow bus if someone has to give us a detailed explanation on controls or interface (or maybe it's just me).

On the eve of the release of devices like the PlayStation’s Morpheus or the Oculus, we can only assume the line in the sand will be much thicker between “Those who game” and “Those who do not”. Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, is attempting to partially bridge the gap between the casuals and the hardcore, but I’m going to guess that within 3 months of its release you’ll be able to tell who has some frame of reference for what they are experiencing in VR and who is still sporting training wheels. I feel like this line in the sand will extend past gaming and outline which segments/demographics in society are falling behind technologically.
My family is on the East Coast and I currently live on the West Coast, so I did the logical thing anyone in my situation would do if they had family they wanted to keep in touch with over a large distance - I bought my mother a Chromebook in order to Skype and Gchat with her. Remotely, trying to teach my mother how to use it almost cost me my sanity. This little common sense experiment got ridiculous when I had to explain, over the phone, what the power symbol looked like in order to turn it on. 3 months and several gray hairs later - she's pinging me non-stop about wanting to video chat and sending me stupid YouTube links via email. *whew*
But at the very beginning, I started asking her questions - questions that I'd like you all to answer in your head like "Where would you expect that button to be?" The first time you pick up a controller on a different console, how long does it take you to adjust? Where would your initial guess be if I asked you which icon was the action button on the controller? For us, unlike our parents, it does not feel like we're learning a different language; instead it's more like we're adjusting to the local dialect. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but I see this in my job everyday in the tiniest ways. Being “gamers” (I know some of you hate this moniker) means that we aren’t scared to push buttons and go, “hmmm.. what does this thing do if I interact with it?” Or “What happens if I place this object here?”  You do it in your everyday life and you don’t even realize it – on websites, your streaming profiles, your devices, and home entertainment systems.
We’ve also come to expect certain things that seem theoretically possible, but are disappointing when they don’t pan out as expected. For example, see ShadeTail’s post about the lack of integration on his PC for a USB controller. This seems like a simple task, especially since the controller plugs directly in. I’ve experienced this frustration firsthand with the PS controller on the Ouya. Being able to identify instances like this help push the industry to be better by making us a very educated consumer base that can easily identify when we’re being grifted. 
Video games teach us things – things like what to look for in everyday life, how to not be scared of exploration, how to create workarounds, how to hack, how to identify bugs – every single GR member is a qualified QA tester, but you wouldn’t think to put that on a resume. These are the things that go unmentioned in gaming, but I’m sure you all know to some extent what I’m talking about. So, when your mom, girlfriend, boss, or politician tells you that you are wasting your time in front of a console – just be sure to remind them of these things and make them feel foolish for missing the boat.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted earlier in May 2014, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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An Interesting Trend
Posted on Saturday, December 14 2013 @ 10:48:23 PST

With the release of the PS4 and its Share functionality, I'm sure everyone in the gaming community expected the amount of console streams to increase. Just the sheer curiosity gamers have over what this new button did would aid in ...   read more...

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UrbanMasque... Shilling up the place
Posted on Wednesday, September 18 2013 @ 18:47:10 PST

While at E3, I asked a significant number of gamers their thoughts on streaming and why they chose one platform rather than the other.  In essence, basically asking, “Why aren’t you streaming your games on Ustream?”  That ...   read more...

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Free Streaming
Posted on Monday, December 24 2012 @ 14:03:00 PST

...well ...sort of.

Odds are if you are streaming to, Livestream or Ustream - you are already interested in streaming and have the infrastructure necessary for maintaining a successful stream. This guide will mos...   read more...

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Posted on Tuesday, September 6 2011 @ 20:12:30 PST

So, the day has finally come! You're going to meet your WoW gf IRL!!! (if you can't follow the acronyms, you probably won't get most of the humor in this blog.. silly nUbs)   Remember, slow the F*** down! Try not to g...   read more...

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Niko Bellic... you're my only friend.
Posted on Monday, May 17 2010 @ 22:50:21 PST

Sometimes... I'm driving down the street and I wonder what it would be like to plow into a sidewalk full of pedestrians and children.  I also, wonder what I would be like to take a helicopter to the top of a skyscraper and just start pickin...   read more...

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Totally gay for Vincent.
Posted on Friday, April 17 2009 @ 22:23:19 PST

[Not really but, hey if he was real, who knows...]
. . . . .The recent release of FFXIII's new  trailer has stirred my sleeping love affair with you (the Final Fantasy series).   Winter cannot come soon enough for go...   read more...

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