As the month of June rounds out, the final days of the Newbie Blogger Initiative are upon us. It has been a grand gesture from the community despite its impromptu nature! Despite being called “NBI Lite” by some, I feel that the new format of the initiative — the merging onto a Discord Server rather than primarily relying on forums — moved things into an even more interactive experience for all. Through the use of the main website linked above, Twitter and Discord we were able to spread the word, and keep the original vision of the program alive, and the community has been thriving once more. People are gaming, and people are sharing, and connecting in new ways, and that what makes this thing so damn special. Thanks for another great year!
Month: June 2016
Summer Oxymoron Sale
Is it just me, or is the title of this year’s Steam Summer Sale a little bit of an oxymoron? They’re promoting picnics and outdoor activities in the advertising, yet all of the games that are on sale would encourage one to stay indoors. I just thought it was kind of funny, not really a big deal though. I’m a sucker for a sale as you guys probably know by now, and not just counting this particular sale, I’ve come up on a metric shit ton of games in the past couple of weeks.
Somewhere a few weeks back, the daily deal was on Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (the 64-bit version of the game). As of now, I own every souls game besides the latest (Dark Souls III). I really need to make it through some of the older ones before picking up 3, and it’s likely that one will be cheap when I finally get around to buying it. I’ve also downloaded the latest Humble Monthly early unlock, which is called Hurtworld. It’s a survival sandbox-y type game, and it looks semi interesting but with my experience with other survival games it’s likely I won’t spend much time on it. There’s just a couple of days left before the rest of the bundle unlocks, so I’m hoping for a couple other decent titles that I’ve thought about purchasing, rather than what’s been the case where it’s part “meh” and part “gifts for friends.”
The Summer Sale started this week, and I told myself I wasn’t going to go crazy. There were some games I had in mind to look for when the sale hit, because they were still selling for more than I wanted to pay for them, or would just be on a deep discount so I could get more bang for my buck. One of those games was Wolfenstein: The New Order, which Bethesda put out a couple of years ago and I skipped over thinking it wouldn’t be all that great. Then I played the new DOOM and realized that this Wolfenstein would probably be pretty awesome. I haven’t confirmed this just yet, but getting the game for $10 was nice. I also sprung for Pillars of Eternity for $18, and the expansion for that as well. It’s one of those titles I’ve had on my wishlist for a very long time but very rarely goes on sale. I loved all of the Infinity Engine games from back in the day, so I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this one as well. I also sprung for the Baldur’s Gate enhanced editions as well only because of the new content that’s been added pretty recently, but I decided against it. I may change my mind again before the sale is over.
Lastly, I picked up the Legendary bundle of Skyrim for PC. I played the shit out of that game but at the time I had a crappy laptop, so I ended up picking it up for my PS3. I also bought all of the expansion content and finished my playthrough a couple of years ago. However, with the announcement of the new special edition and the fact that it would be free for those who own the original game and all of the content for it, I thought it was a good idea to pick up another copy. I have a feeling it would be too hard to prove that I own all that stuff on PS3 in order to get a PS4 copy of the special edition. I realize too, that I could easily download the game and install a bunch of mods to essentially replicate the new features of the special edition, but I might just wait for the upgrade in October to play through one of my favorite RPGs of all time, once again.
Speaking of favorite RPG series, I finally picked up the GOTY edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’ve been meaning to buy this game for far too long, and having owned and played the shit out of the first two games in the series, I know I’m going to enjoy this. I saw MMO fans complaining because of it’s side quests and similar busy work, but since I don’t play MMOs very often, this shouldn’t faze me. I loved the first two, I’m sure I’ll love this one as well. It’s on sale for $20 on Origin with all of the extras, so it’s definitely worth it for fans of the IP.
All told, I ended up spending about $100 on games. I got some awesome stuff, even if I won’t be able to play it all right away. My wallet was happy that I managed to contain myself, but my backlog has begun to gently weep. More on these titles as I get to them.
What did you pick up so far in the Summer Sale?
Thoughts on Writing and Format
Just the other day one of our veterans, Rambling Redshirt wrote an article about choosing how to format your posts. In it, he gave his opinion on whether or not he thought it was a good idea to have single or multi-topic articles when writing for your blog. As one of the long tenured bloggers in our little community, I thought I would give my thoughts on the topic as well.
To me, blogging is a form of journalism. How many of you veterans have written a blog post that would be worthy of a larger scale news site? I’d wager most of you have. Some bloggers that run in this circle have already spread their work out onto other sites like MMOGames, MMORPG.com or even Massively Overpowered. If you pay attention to those types of sites or even more traditional news sites, they tend to have designated columns for designated subjects, which can be either single or multi-topic. News sites tend to focus on one story at a time, but then have columns such as “not so massively” which is a semi-off-topic post that collects news stories about various games that wouldn’t fill up a whole post on their own.
It is my opinion that you can have both single and multi-topic blog posts on your site, just like these news sites tend to do. What I have done over the years is to think about the things that I’d like to write about, and then proceed to determine if a single or multi-topic post is more appropriate. I have also come up with running columns that have been dedicated to both single and multiple topics. If you head up to the top of this blog, you’ll find the “ongoing series” tab, where I have collected these columns for easy access.
I write about more than just gaming so I feel that having a column with a particular name will indicate to your readers if this next post is going to be something that they would be interested in reading. For example, my “By The Numbers” column is all about professional football, so if you aren’t into that sport you can skip those posts. I had a similar column about Fantasy LCS. I have also had a column called “State of the Game” that was a round-up post of sorts, where I collected information about all of the games I was currently playing that week and talked about them all in short bursts.
The general rule of thumb, is to find the word count that you are most comfortable with writing and releasing. If you tend to write 1k word articles, you may want to get really in depth on one topic, or talk about multiple subjects to fill up that word count. If you write smaller articles, you might find that single topics are all you have room for. Generally speaking, it’s what you want to write about, so there aren’t any rules to follow. I have just found that my preferred option is to write about 1,000 words per post, so I tend to make single and multi-topic posts that are about that length. There are exceptions to every rule of course, and this post is likely falling short of that 1k mark, but that’s okay.
If you want to follow my lead, then figure out what length of posts you prefer. From there, you can determine how many topics to include depending on how much you want to say about the subject. If you tend to write about a similar subject often, try to come up with a catchy title and make a little banner for the top of those posts so that your audience knows what to expect when those post titles come up. That’s really all there is to it. Hope this helps.
Couch Podtatoes Episode 91: Female Links and Eri Stinks
Those of you who have been paying attention will probably have heard the scuttlebutt about the whole Link gender swapping issue that arose over the past week. I wrote a post about it myself, as did Eri and other members of the community. Later, it was clear that though the discussion was a good one, it was stretched out over so many different websites that we should probably combine all of the thoughts into a podcast. I ran a poll, our fans voted and we ended up rolling with it. So we talk about gender swapping of Link and other iconic characters, in video games, movies, and comic books. Later we also relate the same sort of ideas toward the changing of ethnicities as well. I’m pretty sure there’s some dick jokes in there as well, but that’s nothing new. We ended the debate 1-1, so I guess we’ll have to run another round the next time there’s a hotbutton issue that me and Eri at least partially disagree on. Enjoy the rant. We’ll be back in a week.
Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 91: Female Links and Eri Stinks (runtime: 49:05)
What are we playing? (starts at 2:20)
Discussion: Gender Swapping (starts at 10:02)
Host Contact information:
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Blog: Healing The Masses
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Business” by Oiki (from the album Human Traffic)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)
Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at Libsyn.com. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.
You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page. Or, view it here:
Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!
Gender Swapping Heroes
This is another one of those hot button issues that’s making its rounds today. Again, leave it to Twitter to make me aware of another bit of outrage that the gaming community is up in arms about. I don’t make it a habit of talking about every single big deal on the Internet, but I have some thoughts on this particular issue. Be warned that this is a touchy subject, but you all should know me well enough by now that I don’t shy away from controversial topics. It’s political, it’s got some feminist angles, and there are most definitely two sides to the story. Let’s try to remember that I’m just one person full of opinions, and that doesn’t make me right or wrong, it just makes me a member of society and a person who thinks about big picture issues, even when they pertain to something as insignificant as gaming. With that said, let’s get into it, shall we?
Every year it’s the same story. Some game developer says or does something at a gaming conference, when all of the media is paying attention, and things get reported. Once the denizens of the Internet get their hands on the story, it’s game over. This time the developer in the fire is Nintendo, and the subject at hand is the fact that there won’t be a female version of Link in the new Legend of Zelda game. Here’s a link to a story that I saw on Twitter, where this conversation first developed and the issue was first brought to my attention. Read it here. I’ll wait.
I get part of the issue. Women want representation. So-called Minorities want representation. LGBT groups want representation. There is nothing wrong with wanting representation, to having someone you can relate to in the games that you play. A hero to look up to, no matter who you happen to be. I also have no problem recognizing that there are plenty of White Male “CIS” characters, and I am totally on board with a level playing field. That said, I do think that the gender swapping of iconic characters is wrong. Here’s why.
Remember Anita Sarkeesian? Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. If you don’t, a cursory google search will give you all the information you need. She has this little YouTube channel called “Feminist Frequency” and on it, she critiques video game design while looking through a feminist lens. At this point in time I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Sarkeesian, mainly because she has let the spotlight go to her head and I do believe that she’s more in this for the money than the actual betterment of society. However, she has played an important role in my life. Believe it or not, there was a time when I was a little less open-minded and a little more nonchalant about being an asshole towards anyone who was different than me. Between several blogging friends, Sarkeesian’s work, and some of my own research and desire to be a decent fucking human being, I feel like I’ve come a long way towards being a nicer and more tolerant person. But let’s get back on point.
Sarkeesian created a video nearly three years ago called “Ms. Male Character,” in which the main point was that creating a character that was a tweaked version of the male character is detrimental to the “new” character. The most prominent example was that of Ms. Pac-Man, which was simply Pac-Man with a bow affixed to his head. I’m paraphrasing here, and there was much more to that video, so I suggest you head over and watch it with the link provided above.
Let’s take a moment to think about this. Wouldn’t a female version of Link then, be exactly the same sort of concept? You’re merely changing the gender of the character, while the game remains the same? During the discussion on Twitter, points were made about how Link was always “gender-neutral” or that Link isn’t a character but rather a “postition,” so gender doesn’t even matter. I would argue though, that the original Legend of Zelda game was merely a version of the oldest trope in the book – the “damsel in distress,” and that Link is clearly a male in that instance. He felt pretty male in all of the games I played, but that could just be me projecting. Either way, it’s not just about Link here. If we zero in on the minute details of this one particular story, we’re ignoring the big picture, and that’s where Twitter conversations tend to derail. Hence, blog post.
We can look at more real life situations too; take for instance the recent Ghostbusters movie. In the original movies and even a cartoon show, all of the ghostbusters were male, and in the new movie, they have changed them all into females. For me, this wasn’t that big of a deal because I’m not a fan of Ghostbusters. On that same token, I’m not a fan of Zelda games or Nintendo in general either, so that has little affect on my mood either. Still, these examples correlate because you’re taking iconic, classic characters with lore and a fanbase and then turning them into Ms. Pac-Man. Ghostbusters with a bow affixed to their heads. You see where I’m going with this.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like people are arguing for and against the same thing. I think the larger point here, is that there are games being created, games coming out in the not so distant future featuring awesome female leads. Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of them; one look at that gameplay trailer and I was floored. Not only was this a strong and capable woman, but she was dressed sensibly and fought like a bad ass to boot. I’m not complaining that it’s a female lead, I’m embracing it. Wouldn’t you prefer developers who are taking risks and creating new and wonderful things over developers who affix bows to the heads of their male characters? I’m not a woman, but I imagine that’s what I would want.