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The Segregation of Online Communities…it’s only natural.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 16:31:52 Eastern

There has been quite a great deal of discussion regarding the under representation of minority groups in video games and in the industry as a whole. From these discussions, further topics branched off into online bullying/harassment as well as how to create an inclusive online environment for women as well as LGBT gamers and other minority gaming groups. The catalyst for these discussions seemed to be Nick’s article regarding the Gaymer-X convention which led to some additional pieces by Blake and Jessica. The latest entry to touch on the subject was Jessica’s article titled, “Jenny’s Got a Gun”, which discussed the perspective of a female artist’s interaction online with the “Call of Duty” community. I have to preface this piece with a comment to Jessica and Jenny Haniver…you are trying to seek inclusion in a community where the top echelon of players behave like…wait for it…”Look at Score. Look at Score, Bitches”. Note, the behavior in those videos are not attributed or directed at any specific minority group but this can be somewhat viewed as baseline gamer interactions for some. I use that example because it is indicative of the fact that your war may be long fought…but my focus would be more so on winning some battles.
 
Console online video game communities are in relative infancy. The problem as I see it is that; (1) the industry found that people like to play online; (2) they also found that people like to play specific types of games more so than others online; (3) they provided the opportunity for anyone who not only likes but purchases “Call of Duty” (or insert online heavy game of your choice) to play with anyone else who has purchased said game and has a desire to play online. When the communities were smaller this was not that significant of an issue. As the communities grew so did the diversification of the individuals you played said game with. To share a common interest in one particular facet of one’s life with another is not that uncommon but trying to get a million different people with just as many varying perspectives to have consensus on what is deemed appropriate is damn near impossible.
 
You see, when an individual chooses to pay their $60 + DLC Cost + ISP Cost + Possibly a Live Gold Subscription, telling them that you can’t call someone “X” (insert expletive) becomes extremely difficult. I understand, that as a female gamer you may not want to be harassed or goaded but at the same time, there are individuals who have paid the same as you and sometimes more and they whole heartedly like the trash talk…whether that be racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc…They paid to play in that environment just as you believe you have paid to play in a less hostile/obnoxious environment. Well who is right? I think you both are and the solution is not nearly as complicated if you seek exclusion vs. inclusion.
 
When I go to Craig’s list to buy a couch from the furniture section I would hope to not be bombarded with pics from the casual encounters section and for the most part this works. Craig’s list understands that its users have joint interest in the site but have varying other interest and as such segregate the site’s offerings. When I first, started contemplating how best to address the need to provide separate but equal gaming spaces I considered what type of organic mechanisms could be used to have the population monitor, define, and regulate itself along the lines of “GodofallEnds”, description regarding the Tribunal system of League of Legends. But then I thought, that is pretty complicated…let’s simplify.

I then looked at Google’s safe search mechanic…maybe if we segregate communities with something close to a safe search filter with maybe only 3 categories you can create a better overall experience for more of your population as they now know what they are getting into. Here’s an example:
 
For the purpose of this piece the tiers would be “No restrictions”, “Moderate Restrictions”, and “Heavy Restrictions”. With different rule sets and penalties for each category. The “Heavy Restriction” category would be the most exclusive but would also have some inherent benefits, such as first access to Beta’s, Freebies given away, etc…this would reinforce positive behavior while not inhibiting anyone’s right to their specific experience as they can also choose to utilize the other categories.
 
First – Inclusion.  Anyone can set their environmental preference to any of the 3 levels and all will initially have access to all three tiers.
 
Second – All players will always have access to the “No Restriction” and “Moderate Restrictions” communities ( with the exception of those perma banned for behavior outside of what we are focusing on today such as harassment and general douchebaggery)
 
Third – Exclusion. For those seeking to avoid said douchebaggery the “Heavy Restriction” category would be cool as the community itself would define the stringency of the rules with guidance from the developer/console manufacturer.
 
This system seems like it would address some of the issues associated with recent discussions while not trying to diminish the experience of those with differing community tastes. I understand that logistically it may be problematic in situations such as smaller online communities where trying to find a match on a specific tier would become difficult if the environmental preference is skewed but I leave the solution for these issues to the console and game developers. I simply wish to provide an idea of where we could head with segregatory policies which may create an overall better experience for gamers as a whole.
 
In closing, I think the war for a more inclusive and accepting gaming community is going to be a long one and may or may not actually ever be won, but there are a lot of small battles that can be won in the interim which may reduce some of the current headaches.

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X-Com: I know my enemy
Posted on Friday, August 23 2013 @ 13:00:00 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Well I was going to do a really nice piece last week on the “GaymerX” Convention and had all types of insightful responses to BTS and yet something went terribly awry…or amazing. I received my $14 used copy of X-Com: Enemy Unknown (“EU”) in the mail. It truly wooed me over the next several days. Much like my days working on a farm, I named not my soldiers for fear they may have ended up alien meat at some point in the not-so-distant future. I had read Daniel’s review of the game and general praise the game garnered from the community and after my first hour, I understood.
 
Now this is a blog entry, not a game review, so I won’t go into the pros and cons etc…but rather focus on how they could have expanded on the ideas and concepts in that game. As I played through the tutorial all I could think about was Fallout Tactics for PC released in 2001. I spent many an hour playing that game and specing out my ideal squad. So many fond memories brought back to the surface by EU…but that’s the point! Maybe it’s time to revisit some of the older gaming models that were once considered stale…turn-based strategy games still have a significant following and you now have a more widely spread vehicle to reach your audience: the "home console".
 
I was skeptical of how the transition would work from mouse/keyboard -> PS3 controller but was pleasantly surprised and felt quite comfortable with the configuration with the exception that the camera could definitely be tweaked a bit with regard to panning/zoom controls.
 
EU’s developers released a DLC called “Slingshot” which was to extend the single-player campaign but got meh-reviews…come on, guys, you have gold here don’t give me crap DLC. This is what I would have easily paid $10+ for; take a note from Borderlands 2 and Mass Effect 3 and build out your character classes, enemy types, and rebalance accordingly adding new environments and maybe environmental conditions. Add new quest types. This is only the first $10 worth of DLC and yet there is so much more potential.
 
Think of Red Dead Redemption’s zombie nightmare campaign and you could have used the X-Com assets to set up all types of different story arcs…give me a pirate version, give me raiders and Mad Max, give me ninjas. Basically use some of the storylines from our most cherished franchises and adapt them to a turn-based strategy. You could be the “Lego” of turn-based strategy. I look at EU and instantly felt like the single player is great but you are not going to get the micro-transactions of an online heavy ME3 but you could get them from $1.99 additional character classes for single player, new story arcs $2.99 - $4.99, and maybe even selling uniquely speced characters (since the focus is on single player it doesn’t create an unfair advantage and also doesn’t negate Trophies/Achievements).
 
As I start to think about the games that could benefit from this formula, I also think of how awesome a “Walking Dead” game could be based on this structure. I understand you don’t have the IP rights to many of these ideas, but much like Saints Row IV, call a damn rose by another name and pump out the homage to receive the cash.
 
I also understand you have a new project releasing shortly and that it looks to play more like KoToR than EU, but please for the love of God, revisit what makes EU great…the simple…some would call archaic (Square Enix) formula of a solid turn-based strategy game. Bottom line, you could have and can still make a lot more money on EU if you take it in the right direction and for the right price point. I could also see based on the models described above basically using a Magic the Gathering: Planeswalker business model, pumping out variations on a story arc with minor tweaks to gameplay annually with a $20 price point.
 
Finally, if you are able to do it, you can also pair your releases with “AAA” releases such as a pirate version release around Black Flag or a zombie version released around the season start of The Walking Dead…with so much potential I simply hope it does not go to waste.
 
Thanks for sucking up my time but please give me more of what I like, not just what you still owe bills on. 

For fans of Fallout Tactics and as Daniel already stated in his review of EU, "Try this game." Lots of friggin fun!!

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

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Damn...Damn...Damn...I think I might be a "Gamer"
Posted on Friday, August 2 2013 @ 08:38:20 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

I was reading through some of the comments in the article Identity Crisis: What Makes Someone A “Gamer”, and I found the definition which resounded most with me was provided by Yossarian29:

I feel like when I strike up a conversation with someone ABOUT a game instead of just what HAPPENS in said game, I've found a gamer. Many people go the movies every week and could give a **** about any kind of quality or depth. Like when I say "How was the brand new crazy looking movie you just went to?"
"It was o.k. ..............."
  Now I didn't just meet a movie buff. A movie (or game) buff can talk about something at length without giving away plot points, could reference similar titles, are interested in the mechanics and execution, and, the most important, WANTS to have a dialogue about it. Parallels gamer or game enthusiast, connoisseur, addict, patron, critic...
 
Yossarian (“Yo”) only received 1 thumbs up, but if I could give you more, I would bud. What I like about your definition was that it reminds me of discussions I have with my cousin; both of us consider ourselves “Gamers” but relative to him I tend to actually follow more of the industry news. As we chatted today I inquired as to whether he would be getting Dragon’s Crown so we could play it together. We have somewhat similar taste in games, but we vary to an extent: I thoroughly enjoy the Devil May Cry series whereas he likes games like Quantum Conundrum but we have a lot of middle ground, such as Ratchet and Clank multiplayer, Resident Evil, Uncharted, Dead Island, etc…so before purchasing a preferred co-op game we tend to consult with each other regarding interest so we know if to buy early or wait for a bargain.
 
He had not heard of Dragon’s Crown and I was tasked with explaining what it is…which gets me back to Yo’s definition. I first said, “well it’s a bit like Champions of Norrath but cartoonier and a bit slicker…” (Note 1. First step was to consider games we have played together to give him an idea of what the game is like even if it is not really very much like that) (Note 2. Need to keep description somewhat short due to communication being in the form of text messages.) I thought about that message for a couple of minutes and then sent back, “no champions was 3d and this is 2.5d…so mix champions with Shank, add some RPG character classes, side scrolling, loot collection and old school quarter arcade game style ala Simpsons”. I concluded with, check out the review on GR when you get a chance. This brings me to a couple of different points: I think our conversation inadvertently speaks to Yo’s point about the reference of similar titles, mechanics and execution. I guess we are “Gamers” because we want to have a dialogue about it, but furthermore get frustrated when we can’t seem to find the best way to communicate what type of game we are experiencing to someone yet to experience it. Wanting to explain a game you haven’t played based on the review opinion of someone you don’t know and getting frustrated that you can’t quite put it into a neat box…may in my opinion lead you to be considered a gamer. When I think of our past conversations regarding different games we always look to elements of previously played games to try to find that perfect description of what we are experiencing. I recall him asking me how was Sleeping Dogs, my response being, “It’s a cross between…True Crime, Shenmue, and GTA” *DING*!!! He knew he wanted it and in less than a sentence I was able to summarize what the experience was like for me and sold him on it…he purchased it, concurred on my opinion, and thoroughly enjoyed it. That was an easy one…now trying to explain Echochrome for me was difficult, possibly due to my lack of experience with puzzle games so I had very few points of reference other than, well it’s a puzzle game and you kind of turn the camera to…F*ck if I know.
 
I guess that is the nature of the “Gamer”. You can be a gamer with a wealth of knowledge in a specific niche while being at times abhorrently ignorant to other aspects of the industry and culture. From the posts in the Identity Crisis article it seemed that quite a few people had a negative perception of “Gamer” as a moniker. I couldn’t help but think…really…? I guess it is a bit relative when you consider all the other things people can call you but the quantity of responses to that article was pretty damn impressive and seemed to be an issue of contention. We could run off a list of derogatory terms but “Gamer” never once actually came to mind with regard to my list of those terms.
 
Hypothetically, if we were to have a general consensus to go with Yo’s definition, would the moniker “Gamer” still be considered that offensive? It seems like being offended by being considered someone who is knowledgeable about a specific form of entertainment and has a genuine interest in furthering that knowledge through experience and discourse isn’t that bad. It is interesting the things that are perceived offensive on the internet particularly when individuals are given a voice without personal disclosure. What I mean by that, is that if you were hanging with your friends (in person) and one of them called you a “Gamer”, would you really take offense? If you were walking down the street and someone yelled out the slur, “F*ing Gamer”, would you be more offended or puzzled?
 
I guess I am getting at two points: (1) I think after some thought I am just fine with being considered a “Gamer”; and (2) I am not sure the term should warrant offense at this time because in our offline lives seldom is the term used to mean something derogatory in lieu of more common derogatory terms. For me I find that people give words meaning. Words do not define the individual but if the shoe fits…you know how that goes. It’s profoundly amazing how much more power words and statements are given on the internet if only to spur more discourse and garner attention. The Identity Crisis article really made me want to conduct a case study on the perception of innocuous words on the internet.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. He has provided links of his own in the article. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick

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PS4...Xbox1...yada yada yada...Let's talk about the games!
Posted on Wednesday, July 17 2013 @ 14:14:35 Eastern



With all this “who ha” about next-gen hardware it seems that one fundamental aspect of gaming is being overlooked…the idea that certain game mechanics will be perfected in the next generation. Wait what, “perf...   read more...

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The Great Migration: Current Online Communities
Posted on Monday, March 4 2013 @ 13:49:29 Eastern


Late in February, it was announced by Sony that the PS4 would not support backwards compatibility. Well, what’s going to happen to my clan, elite status, the war on Tachanka, etc…? When we transitioned from the PS2 to the PS...   read more...

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Season Passes...for every season?
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2013 @ 12:34:23 Eastern


When Rockstar Games introduced the first season pass via L.A. Noire, it seemed to be quite a novel and great idea. In essence I would get a discount on all future DLC for what was going to be another epic Rockstar title. Blinded by the l...   read more...

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Modern Warfare Games and Artistic Liberty: What side to portray?
Posted on Friday, October 26 2012 @ 13:29:59 Eastern



So I bashed Medal of Honor: Warfighter for the plethora of bugs needing to be addressed via a day one patch, but, the following day I read an article regarding a terrorist training sequence found in the early stages of the game. In th...   read more...

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Dumbed Down Games… Dumbed Down People…Or Simply A Matter Of Habit?
Posted on Friday, October 5 2012 @ 14:33:49 Eastern


[This blog was actually posted on Sept. 24, so it is referring to an article during that time. ~Ed. Nick]

Dear Jonathan,
 
       I took the opportunity to read your article...   read more...

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The Sleeper Game Phenomena And A Diabolical Way To Use It
Posted on Tuesday, September 4 2012 @ 11:12:01 Eastern



I was reading the article today about the season pass for Borderlands 2 and perused some of the comments which were as expected, with gamers somewhat frustrated at content being made, marketed, and sold separately yet in tandem with a...   read more...

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