We Don’t Talk About Video Games Around Here

Have you ever made a political statement on Twitter?

It’s likely that if you did, you would immediately experience vitriol from holders of opposing view points. Ever make a religious, or worse still – anti-religious statement on <insert social media of your choice>? I’m willing to wager you experienced some sort of negativity in this scenario as well. In case you were wondering, there is indeed wisdom in that widely held idea that you don’t talk about politics or religion during social engagements. It seems that gaming as a topic is beginning to hold similar weight, in that you cannot have an opinion about something without immediately experiencing feedback – for better or worse.

Those of us who are part of the gaming sphere of social media, be it by blogging, streaming, vlogging or otherwise interacting with complete strangers via whatever-app-happens-to-be-the-flavor-of-the-month will be no strangers to this phenomenon. It was primarily amplified during the whole Gamer Gate scandal from a couple of years ago, but it persists from the dank, dark corners of official forums, to the bright white pages of Twitter. If you have an opinion it will be scrutinized, dissected and though sometimes objective conversations can be had with the denizens of the Internet, it’s likely to devolve into name calling and subtweeting. This is particularly true if you happen to shit on something that is generally loved – and that’s going to be the case no matter what form of media you might be criticizing — though I think people get more defensive over video games, and it’s a curious situation.

Admittedly, I’ve been shitting on Blizzard for a long time. Despite loving their original output, I haven’t cared too much for their more recent catalog additions. I also find them responsible for single-handedly ruining a great genre that I once loved, which tends to color my lenses a bit when it comes to them encroaching on other genres — ones I have loved even longer than MMOs. If you’ve been listening to my podcast lately, or have been a reader of my blog for a couple of years, you’ll probably recall some of my positive and negative commentary about Blizzard and its IPs. I stand behind my opinions and critiques – I have a distinct taste and it has little to nothing to do with trying to piss anyone else off, though putting your opinion out there tends to get these sorts of responses. What started off as a troll post quickly turned into something that I didn’t intend for it to, but my stubborn and opinionated self was unable to just let the further commentary go without making my own further commentary and soon the train had left the station. Here’s the post for posterity:

So clearly, I’m being a dick. Overwatch, which I have lovingly called “Overhype” for a while now, has been all the rage while in open beta. I played it back in Closed Alpha or Beta.. something. I didn’t find it entertaining, rewarding or even innovative. It’s been compared to TF2 and a bunch of other things already, so I don’t need to reiterate this stuff. I’ve explained my position on the game itself already in prior posts/episodes. My concern now, is similar to my concern when Heroes of the Storm was all the rage not that long ago. Thankfully I was right when I said:

“It was no secret that I had been anticipating this day as a MOBA enthusiast, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that this game is not going to dethrone either of the other “big ones,” but will probably be popular with people who haven’t touched other MOBAs. The main reason for this separation into “camps,” comes down to one word: Depth.” 

It’s true, HotS took a little sliver of what we could consider the MOBA market, and likely only persists because of people who play it and no other MOBA (LoL/DOTA2 quitters, or MOBA virgins). Unlike it’s new-genre predecessors (Hearthstone and WoW) it didn’t capitalize at the right time and wasn’t the whirlwind success I’m sure Blizzard was hoping for. You can’t always take existing ideas and dumb them down and then expect to become filthy rich; they hit their lotto numbers once already. Sounding bitter aside, Overwatch ends up being the same sort of situation, where an existing idea was “polished” and is now ready for public consumption, resulting in a hype train of ridiculous proportions that doesn’t feel warranted to this humble writer. No, I think Overhype is just that… and I think it will be forgotten soon enough. At least, I hope I’m right about this one just like I was right about HotS.

My concern isn’t that people are enjoying a new game in a sort-of new genre that is emerging (competitors such as Battleborn, Paladins and Paragon come to mind). My concern is that “perfect storm” effect that happened with World of Warcraft. Where a game that I (and I absolutely know I’m not alone) felt was inferior to many of its competitors yet Joe Public ate it up like it was the finest cut of meat. If Overwatch (or had HotS performed better) ends up being the next coming, and ends up being the model by which all new FPS or MOBA -like games are copied for the next ten years, then two of my favorite genres won’t see better iteration. It happened with WoW, and people who feel like I do had to suffer (yes Roger, SUFFER) through ten years of mediocre MMOs. I don’t want to see that again, and I think most reasonable people would agree that stagnation is what has caused the evolution of the MMO genre we have seen as of late.

Should you feel bad for buying and enjoying Overwatch? Absolutely not. You have your opinions, and you should stick to them. Should you attack this argument with tooth and nail? Sure, if you feel so inclined, there’s the comments section below; I don’t really moderate them. But there’s a valid argument here, despite the fact that it’s difficult to articulate the way I’d like. Do I think that the games industry would benefit from more original ideas rather than polished iterations? Yes. Do I hate you for buying something that isn’t anything but? No, but I’d also like for you to think a little, rather than just jumping on the next hype train. We’re throwing our money at things just because a company name is attached to them, and not offering any sort of critique. Everything has its flaws, including this argument. Nonetheless, both still exist, and will persist despite my pointing them out. My opinion isn’t any better than yours, but it’s my feeling that an expressed opinion is better than a silenced one.

Couch Podtatoes Episode 83: Diversity – How Are We Doing?

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For this episode we are taking a look back at a topic we’ve covered before, though it was way back in our fifth episode. The topic is diversity, but whereas we were just cutting our teeth on the topic back then, this time around we’re asking: “How are we doing?” We touch on some recent news stories, politics, and a bunch of other things along with talking about what we’ve been playing. Doone’s back with us for this discussion, and we have some fun, share some laughs, and dig deep into the big issues of the day. A pretty typical Couch Podtatoes episode 🙂

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 83: Diversity – How Are We Doing? (runtime: 1:05:46)

What are we playing? (starts at 1:15)
Discussion: How Are We Doing? (starts at 17:38)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Doone
Blog: XP Chronicles
Twitter: @doone_buggy

Tacktix
Blog: Tough Love Critic
Twitter: @TaCktiX

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Sic Transit Gloria” by Brand New (from the album Sic Transit)
“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!

Couch Podtatoes Episode 2: Player Rights

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Welcome back! It’s time for Episode 2! This week we have a special guest, my good friend Doone. As one of the original brainstormers of this podcast, he’s going to have a monthly spot on the show, entitled “Doone’s Digital Frontier.” Because this discussion runs a little deeper than most, this episode (and other episodes containing the Digital Frontier) will run a little longer than normal.

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 2: Player’s Rights (runtime: 1:02:34)

Breaking the Ice: what are we playing? (starts at 2:05)
Doone’s Digital Frontier (starts at 19:06)
Idiots on the Internet: Phil Fish (starts at 39:41)
Community Talk: Simcha’s Many Lives (starts at 53:59)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: You’re here!
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Doone
Blog: XP Chronicles
Twitter: @trredskies

Idiots on the Internet article: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2014/06/18/phil-fish-says-youtubers-are-committing-piracy-owe-him-money.aspx

Community Spotlight:

Simcha
Her article that sparked this conversation: The Rise of Voice Chat and Decline of Inclusiveness

Music Credits:
“Level Up” by Cookie Monsta (from the Riot! EP)
“Lightbringer” by Pentakill (from the album Smite & Ignite)
“Built For Sin” by The Black Dahlia Murder (from the album Miasma)
“Jokes from the Back Seat” by PANTyRAiD (from the album Pillow Talk)
“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 http://couchpodtatoes.podomatic.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

#podcast #couchpodtatoes #gamingdiscussion

Desensitization and You

Braxwolf of Gaming Conversations made a post about the Slenderman Case.

Ironically,  as I have announced, I’m working on a podcast, and this was one of the topics that I chose for our practice session that happened a couple of days ago.

I commented similarly on his post as I did on my podcast practice, that parenting seems to be lacking with the girls that committed the crime. How did their parents not know their interest in the Slenderman phenomenon, or not notice that they were carrying knives out of the house?

My comments were disassembled (as they seem to be whenever I get involved in something this controversial), but as Braxwolf would later point out, he wasn’t trying to analyze the case, moreso trying to analyze desensitization of our youth and society.

I remember these arguments when I was young. When Mortal Kombat was released and the ESRB was formed because Rock n Roll was no longer the only scapegoat for mass media to hound into submission. Gaming was a new medium, and it was carrying violent content that wasn’t fit for our eyes.

There is talk that 50 years ago people would have been horrified by what’s on TV and in these video games today. I can acknowledge that, but I also say that if you go back a bit further, atrocities were more common place, and desensitization seems to be even more common the further back you go.

Have you watched Game of Thrones lately? Sure, people will argue til they’re blue in the face that the show propagates violence, rape, and other things that aren’t socially acceptable. But do we not acknowledge the fact that it is true to the period? It is a work of fantasy yes, but is it not a clear picture of the way things were in the dark ages? When slavery, incest, rape, disease and war taught everyone to be tough and to do what it takes to survive? We’re still here. There was still good and evil back then as there is now.

Despite our best efforts to be civilized and better than our ancestors, the truth is that we are the same fleshy meat sacks that they were. Despite having more knowledge by the time we are teenagers than most adults did at that time, we are still fueled by the same primal instincts. There is no taming that portion of our heritage, and thus violence, lust and all of that “evil stuff” will remain prevalent.

However, is it not better to experience those things virtually as opposed to physically? Being able to do sadistic things in a video game or watch them on TV without causing anyone harm seems to be the better alternative.

What does desensitization mean?

Desensitization refers to the potential for reduced responsiveness to actual violence caused by exposure to violence in the media.

Many case studies have been done, and of the ones I researched, no link was found between simulated violence (be it played in a video game or watched on TV) and real-world violence. People tend to do things in a virtual reality differently than they do in actual reality. I believe that has to do with the fact that they are aware that their actions in a video game hold no consequence outside of losing the game.

With that said, do you still believe desensitization is the cause of children attempting to murder other children? Or is it perhaps the fact that parents sometimes don’t get involved with their children? Sure children will still do stupid things, but one would hope that attempted murder wouldn’t be one of them, particularly when a parent probably could have stopped this particular incident from happening in the first place. It seems to me that the issues are related. We’ve come a long way from the dark ages, yet violence still persists. Maybe it’s because some things simply cannot be controlled.

#desensitization #socialissues #violence

Foot in Mouth

I read a lot of posts about the topic of inclusiveness, and the commentary made by Blizzard.

I made a response post.

I hastily commented and had some heated discussion on J3w3l’s post.

I then read a bunch of other posts about the experiences of female gamers, along with all of the comments that picked apart everything I said, on both my blog and over on J3w3l’s.  Some of the commentary made by men (when they find out a player is a girl) is downright ridiculous, and I can’t believe the nerve of some guys. I have made the mistake of idolizing a “hot gamer girl” like the rest of em, but I would never dream of saying some of the things they come up with. I don’t even say this kind of stuff to other dudes.

I started to think about how I might not outright deny those experiences, but I am actually contributing to the problem with the attitudes expressed in my post/comments, because I am ignorant or dismissive of the world’s problems. In typical man fashion, I was raised to not bitch about my problems. I don’t usually bitch about my problems on a public forum, and as such I was attacking those that do, in essence belittling their experiences. That was not my intention.

My narrow world view comes from a variety of sources, mainly from the examples I’ve seen in my life. My own experiences are all I have to compare with, and I wasn’t actively looking into these topics until now. I have a sister. She too enjoyed playing back then and plays video games to this day. She has never expressed any sort of discrimination via gaming (maybe she just never revealed she was a girl, and I know she doesn’t ever use a headset). It’s true, when we played competitively I was usually better than her, but that didn’t cause me to believe that no women play video games or they all suck. However, in my experience with romantic partners, I have yet to date a woman that games. A couple tried briefly (or to humor me maybe) but weren’t ever gamers from the get go. As such, I would love to meet a gamer that could be a long term partner.

I also feel like the men I associate with and I aren’t the types of guys who abuse women. We’ve had our fights with significant others sure, but none of us are violent or degrading, or sexually abusive overall. I also have never had a woman tell me she was raped or assaulted, but that’s also not something most people would want to talk about. These things contribute to my worldview.

I guess what I am saying is that I came across the wrong way because I haven’t been looking at the big picture. I’ve been looking at things from my own life experience, and I’ve experienced a rosy version of the truth when these subjects are concerned. I play games with other women (family included), I enjoy a strong female character in my media, I haven’t been abusive and don’t associate with those types of people. I do enjoy the female form, but I understand that a bikini really doesn’t offer any protection in combat or from the elements. I also know that not everyone has a perfect body, myself included. I may be an opinionated dickhead sometimes, but I understand what everyone has been trying to make me see. I just needed some time to reflect.

My pride makes me want to say “fuck that, my worldview is correct.” But I always think of myself as someone who can come to see other points of view, to admit when I was wrong, even if I see it as more of a misunderstanding. I was wrong to not give a shit. I hope this post can convey my apologies to anyone I’ve offended. I can’t promise I’ll boycott every sexist thing I come across, but I can agree that this is a problem that needs a solution, and I’ll try to stop being so moderate about it.