Monday, September 29, 2014

State of Mind Status Report: NG

Over the past few years, I have worked to be actively involved in gamer culture through WoW raiding, frequenting forums, and, of course, writing this blog. While I haven't developed the same presence as successful streamers and respected community figures, I definitely feel like I am part of the in-group when people talk about gamers, and the struggles of the gaming industry and how they affect its customers automatically feel like my struggles. When YouTube was originally set to buy out Twitch, that was news that affected me and everyone around me. When the last of PopCap's founding members left the team, I stopped to consider to the ramifications for the company and for the fans of its games. Despite its recent land-grab-esque growth and inherent focus on the fictional, gaming is a business that revolves around people, and it's a large amount of them. Whether or not they consider themselves "gamers," over a billion people worldwide technically are.

Not actually me.

Yet, while I feel generally proud to include myself in the more "hardcore" demographic of online gamer, there are times when I just hate it. No, I am not a self-loathing gamer who is ashamed of what I do for fun, and no, I don't think gaming is an idiotic waste of time. The problem is the community, which can range from the dregs of the anonymous internet to the supportive and intelligent debaters of (some) forums. As much effort as companies put into making their social environments hate-free and promoting camaraderie, either it's not enough to keep the racist/sexist/oppressive attitudes from invading our virtual worlds or it just hits the all-destroying event horizon of the internet and the work becomes all for naught. When I see the "douchenozzle backlash," which is what I call the gamer version of "conservative backlash," to women branching out in the industry or hearing highly racist comments that are written off as jokes in voice chat, it makes me wonder over and over if this community is even capable of reform. It's enough to make me want to back away, not giving up gaming altogether, but rather focusing my creative efforts on another area like music or fiction, where the emphasis is on creation instead of competition.

Unfortunately, this isn't a qualm that I solely associate with the gaming subculture or the internet. In fact, I'm becoming rather disenchanted with the world at large: the constant struggle against conservative backlash, not just minorities but also the general public losing rights it thought it already had, and in the end, nothing progressive ever getting accomplished and everyone living oppressed and in fear. There's no way to back away from all of this, and more and more the fight seems futile. Someone please tell me that we've even achieved anything that hasn't been taken right back by the status quo, and maybe I can still have faith that the gaming community and this planet have chances at becoming decent places.


Friday, September 19, 2014

I went to my sister's wedding and came back with a new phone.

To my loyal fans who have been wondering where I've been, I apologize for the sudden M.I.A. Last week, my mother called to give me a week's notice for my sister's wedding back home, so I had to fly out to where there is no WoW or even a computer capable of running Neopets flash games without lagging. I was hoping to find some free time to blog while I was up there, but it turned out that weddings are quite a bit of work, and the only thing I managed to fit in between dress fittings and raiding crafts stores was letting my wrist recover from playing too much D3. I supposed I should thank my sister for being the reason there's no longer a radiating pain in my right wrist despite the fact that going to a doctor would have been a lot cheaper than plane tickets and a dress.

Dr. Know-It-All says, "You could just take a break from gaming."

In other good news, I managed to upgrade my phone over the weekend, and now that I've turned off all of its amazing new features that sound pretty cool but drain the battery mad hard, it's time to do some serious decision making about what games to put on it. After all, the games on my phone are going to be responsible for keeping me fully entertained whether I'm on an hour-long bus ride or waiting two minutes on a grocery store checkout line. It needs to keep me engaged and yet not distract me so much that I'm unaware of my surroundings. There can't be too much loading time or aimless RPG-style wandering, but if my non-existent boss calls on me, I must have the freedom to put it on pause or just set it down without ruining my score. Also, it needs to have enough content to be worth the three or so dollars that I've allocated for it in my yearly budget.

By personal preference, I've already eliminated any games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled where one can ignore the instructions in lieu of swiping angrily all over the screen. There's nothing wrong with playing these games; I just don't like my gaming to start off with a delusion of strategy that then quickly devolves into frustrated button mashing to get to the next level. I'm also not a fan of anything that I suck at and thus makes me feel stupid, so that gets rid of things like Sudoku and, oddly enough, Peggle. While I love Cut the Rope and similar physics games, it ends up embarrassing in public because I always find myself leaning to one side or the other like tilting my phone or even my entire body will help that little ball get to where it's supposed to go. Finally, even though word puzzles are my favorite type, waiting eight hours for someone to make a move in Words with Friends kind of ruins the point of why I personally play a phone game, which is to fill in a window of boredom. If I'm already at home and playing D3 by the time they get back to me, they're going to have to wait eight hours for my turn too. It's a vicious cycle.

After much thought and research, I've come to a final decision about what game to put on my precious new phone, to entertain and to engage, to educate and to uplift, to amuse and to soothe my world-weary soul.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Gold and Health Pickup Radius is my favorite stat.

While other people breeze through leveling, sweeping through groups of mobs and then quickly moving on, I have a slightly different playing style.

In WoW, I can't resist bending down to loot a sparkling body in case it has something awesomely rare on it even if it was a level 5 mob that happened to hit my shaman's Lightning Shield while I rode through Elwynn Forest. Tucked away in my warlock's robes (next to a slightly risque photo of Jaina Proudmoore) is an old fortune card that reads "You'll never know until you loot." And contrary to the number displayed in my character tab, my seasonal demon hunter's damage is actually 0 since, while my lovely wizard friend is slaughtering an army of rift mobs, I'm busy picking up every blue item and then heading back to town to empty my inventory full of highly treasured crap. Thus, I am simultaneously pleased and tremulous to announce that I have just acquired the worst D3 item in all of Sanctuary for me and my Compulsive Looting Disorder.

Boon of the Hoarder, a.k.a. the golden shower gem.

If it wasn't bad enough that I couldn't leave alone a pile of 20g even if it was already across the screen behind my character because of something my wolf picked off, I now have mobs exploding with thousands of gold all over the place. Needless to say, my paragon leveling has almost completely halted when for every four mobs I kill, I then spend a greater amount of time rounding up all the gold they dropped. OG Priest has the same gem, and he doesn't even bother picking any of it up anymore. However, even though I'll eventually have more currency than I'll ever need, that doesn't mean that every piece of gold isn't equally precious, and I could never leave a single glinting coin just sitting in the middle of the Desolate Sands... when it could be in my bag instead.