Taggaming

Playing with your idols

A lot of people laugh at the idea of eSports. Playing a video game professionally is a scoff-worthy idea but is it so different from other sports?

Someone spent thousands of hours practicing and playing a game and now they’re extremely good at it. My brother and I poured far too many hours to count into NBA Jam when we were growing up. We kept records of our point/steals/block totals in games.

We could try to blow out the computer-controlled team or hold them scoreless, if we could. We had a blast playing and that was with a Super Nintendo in our living room in the country.

Today, it’s possible to play games with people from all over the world and I’ve made friends in London and Australia. I have friends all over the United States and Canada. I never would have found these people if it weren’t for video games.

Video games are fun. I play to unwind. I play to blow off steam. I play to escape from the real world and emerge myself in someone’s else’s reality. The game maker’s reality.

There’s something about eSports that levels the playing field unlike other professional sports. The ability to play with or again your idols.

Reading my Destiny Twitter list, I saw this tweet:

So I had to check out the video. (Embedded below.)

It’s so much fun to see kids freaking out and having so much fun playing a game against someone they admire. Ms 5000 Watts is a Destiny gamer who streams her videos and she posted a video of the match against the Pint Sized Guardians.

One of the many reasons I love Destiny is because of the inclusive, caring community. The big names are good-natured folks who love the game and love their fans.

Amid all the bad news and uncertainty floating around online and in the world, it’s good to know my refuge is still a place where things like this are happening.

GamerHate

Who is Phil Fish? This is Phil Fish.

This 19 minute video talks about Phil Fish, who those in the indie gaming world hate because he is talented with strong opinions. But people don’t hate Phil Fish as much as they hate the concept of Phil Fish.

You’re asking yourself, Who is Phil Fish?

He created Fez. A much-loved and well-received video game. He was also heavily featured in Indie Game: The Movie where he and others talk about their long, hard road to creating a game.

Phil Fish is hated the same way Nickelback is hated. Because they’re not being famous the right way. Or because they’re famous and shouldn’t be. Either way, people hate them more for the concept of them, rather than the real person or band.


I write about this today because of another event in the news. Microsoft bought Mojang, the creator of Minecraft. As this news was announced, the founder Marcus Persson, better know as Notch posted to his blog he was leaving the company.

He posted this to his blog.

I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

Just as Phil Fish was attacked endlessly, eventually driving him to cancel a sequel to Fez and close all of his social network accounts. Notch is retreating from public life for similar reasons.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.


The creator of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen removed his outrageously popular game because of the death threats and abuse being hurled at him. He was accused of ripping off other games and artwork. He refused to give interviews or even talk about his game to the media. He then did the unthinkable.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

Pulling Flappy Bird, a punishingly hard yet highly addictive game from the App Store spawned a legion of clones and imitators. He is back now with another game, Swing Copters. It appears to be just as hard and addicting as the last.


In all three cases, we have creators working hard, putting things out into the world hoping they’ll be liked. Video games, especially one-man shops or small teams can pour months or years into a game. Only to have it fail or worse, be ignored entirely.

But the cost of fame may be even higher. The cost of being thrust into the public spotlight. To be threatened by hundreds or thousands of anonymous people from all across the internet. How would you handle it if you were sent death threats and negativity every place imaginable?

With internet lynch mobs springing up, why would anyone want to be a public figure? No one controls the mob and to become a target is a miserable and terrifying thing.


I haven’t written about GamerGate and the hateful attacks on Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian because I honestly don’t know enough to do it justice. If you want to hear a good discussion on what’s happening, listen to Isometric 18: Rainbows and Sunshine. They provide a good overview of it. In short, it’s women being attacked on the internet for being women on the internet.

I did not intend to write about only men experiencing problems on the internet. They are stories I already knew. I attempted to find the facts of how GamerGate got started and all I can tell is an ex-boyfriend of Zoe published information about her that may or may have not been true. I don’t know. And her game Depression Quest was released on the day of Robin William’s suicide. Something Zoe wrestled with.

After a long uphill battle since getting Greenlit in January, Depression Quest was planned to, and approved for, launch on Steam today. Literally minutes after we got the notification, beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead from a suspected suicide after a long struggle with depression. We were all ready to hit the big red button the minute that the news broke.

So now I’m left with the question – do we launch, or not? I turned to twitter and my most trusted friends for advice because I can see going a few different ways. It’s not an easy decision.

She did decide to publish it. And that drew ire as well. I’ve watched a couple of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on Youtube, and didn’t know who she was at the time. Her offenses appear to be pointing out the poor treatment of women in the gaming industry and their depiction in games.

In short, it’s a terrifying look at internet lynch mobs.

Photo credit: włodi on Flickr

The Psychology of First-Person-Shooter Games

Far from isolating us in a virtual world of violence and gore, first-person shooters can create a sense of community and solidarity that some people may be unable to find in their day-to-day lives—and a sense of effectiveness and control that may, in turn, spill over into non-virtual life.
via The Psychology of First-Person-Shooter Games : The New Yorker

It’s about teamwork and community. It’s about working together to carry out a goal.

In 2009, the psychologist Leonard Reinecke discovered that video games were a surprisingly effective way to combat stress, fatigue, and depression—this proved true for many of the same titles that critics once worried would be isolating, and would negative impact on individual well-being and on society as a whole. In other words, the success of Doom and the games that have followed in its footsteps haven’t sentenced us to a world of violence. On the contrary: for all of their virtual gore, they may, ironically, hold one possible road map for a happier, more fulfilling and more engaged way of life.

Games give us a common goal to work towards. It brings us together and it allows us to carry out goals and be rewarded for it. The reward could be more experience, or better weapons, or armor.

It’s the same idea as playing any game where you’re invested in it. Growing up, two of my favorite games to play were NBA JAM and Secret of Mana. My brother and I would play both of these games for hours.

They were both perfect because they allowed he and I to play cooperatively. NBA JAM was perfect since it was 2-vs-2. My brother and I played and we’d keep our own records. We’d try to most dunks in a game, most rebounds, more steals or assists. We’d try to blow the other team out as much as possible.

We’d try to keep the other team scoreless. We had a whole list of scores and records we kept on a notepad next to the Super Nintendo.

Secret of Mana was perfect for the same reason. We could play through the adventure together. We both enjoyed playing role-playing games for the adventure and the exploration. We would sit for hours and explore icy worlds and desserts. We’d hone our character’s skills and take on evil forces.

As we’ve grown up and no longer have long summer days and weekday afternoons to lose in the foreign lands of our youth, our habits have changed.

I’ve started playing first-person shooters, usually with other friends. I miss the adventure and the teamwork. But I don’t have the hours and hours to devote to a character.

Instead, FPS games allow me to pickup and play for a few minutes or a few hours.

It isn’t just the first-person experience that helps to create flow; it’s also the shooting. “This deviation from our regular life, the visceral situations we don’t normally have,” Nacke says, “make first-person shooters particularly compelling.” It’s not that we necessarily want to be violent in real life; rather, it’s that we have pent-up emotions and impulses that need to be vented.

There’s a reason violent games exist and are so interesting to many people. Where else can we, as grown adults, blow off steam constructively without the use of controlled substances?

“If you look at it in terms of our evolution, most of us have office jobs. We’re in front of the computer all day. We don’t have to go out and fight a tiger or a bear to find our dinner. But it’s still hardwired in humans. Our brain craves this kind of interaction, our brain wants to be stimulated. We miss this adrenaline-generating decision-making.”

There are days, when I come home from work I’d love to go out and fight something. I want to punch things, or take on a bear. Unless I had a job as a professional football or hockey player I can’t go out and hit someone.

Video games are how I blow off steam. Video games are how I relax. They’re how I goof off with friends. They’re how I get to recapture those long days with my brother adventuring.

Give me co-op or give me death

I am having a really hard time getting excited for any of the new games coming out. They’re all sequels or far deeper into the series. Borderlands 2 is coming out again. This time with new characters and more guns!

I can hardly get excited over more piles of useless guns laying strewn around after every battle or random enemy encounter. They’re littering the world like so many worms on sidewalks after a rain storm.

There is a new Gears of War game being teased for E3. I played the first one for an afternoon for a couple of hours intneding to go back and finish it. But I never did and never have touched any of the sequels since.

I am sure the games are getting tweaks and changes but the play style doesn’t speak to me so I don’t enjoy it. Like the time I rented the Chronicles of Riddick:Assault on Dark Athena
and Hitman: Blood Money
from Gamefly and then realized I cannot play stealth games.

I am the barbarian. I crash into a room wielding axes or with guns blazing with no thought of myself or others. I am not sneaky. I am not stealthy. I won’t wait for my opening to make a kill. I will barrel into the room and overwhelm with force. This is not what those games were built for and I die, a lot.

There is another Halo 4
game being released. I will buy it. I will play it. But I will do this more because most everyone I know on Xbox Live will be playing it too, as well as half the Xbox-owning world at least until the Next Big Thing comes out. I enjoy the series well enough but it’s changing hands with this release so there are going to be some growing pains and changes I won’t like.

We’ll see when it hits shelves and people get their hands on it how it is received and how the new company take the reins on a beloved series that has a rich history behind it.

Speaking of trading games, the Call of Duty
franchise annoys me because they’re split it between two game developers. This means two things.

  • Two totally different versions of the game every other year.
  • A new game Every. Single. Year.

This seems excessive. There doesn’t need to be a new version of the same thing every single year. And the continuous ignoring of cooperative game play rubs me the wrong way. I fault the Battlefield
series for this as well.

There is almost always more than one person on your side on the screen in the war at any time in the game. There is usually a squad of 4 or more. Why can’t at least one if not 3 or more of my friends be those other players? Why must I be stuck with useless AI drones who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn instead of real human beings who can aim and shoot and talk to me? I just don’t understand.

I’ve heard the excuse of it “ruining the story” which is a cop-out. The story is kill those Nazis/Arabs/Zombies/Aliens because this is World War II/Desert Storm/The Future. I don’t buy it. If you don’t want to do co-op because it’s hard or because you don’t care enough about it or if it would be technically challenging that’s fine. But don’t claim it would ruin your story when the story is point and shoot.

It may not be all the games that are coming out that don’t entice me. It could be me tastes and where I decide to spend my time are changing. I bought Serious Sam 3
which is a series I love more than any other and I haven’t touched it. Maybe because it’s on the computer and not the console. I don’t know. I need to make time for that game in my life because it’s mindless fun and great with friends.

I have played entirely through and enjoyed Saints Row: The Third. The Saints Row series is what Grand Theft Auto
would be if it had a sense of humor. The situations and weapons just get weirder and funnier. The story line gets crazier and more outlandish and it’s just fun.

The game doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean there’s a giant dildo bat, an octopus-shooting rocket launcher and a fart-in-a-jar grenade. Do I need to explain further?

The big thing that draws me to games today is the co-op. I love to play cooperatively. Part of it is because I like talking to someone while I play and the other part is that it’s more fun for me to play through things with friends and not alone.

Saints Row: The Third has co-op through the entire campaign. This is why it has earned a lot of hours in my Xbox. The multi-player and co-op in
always earn it high marks for reply value and fun. The firefight missions allow co-op play with at least three friends and the campaigns are the same.

I’d rather go into battle with a good friend at my side and not a pre-programmed AI player any day. I will live longer and have more fun too.

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