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Elsa 's blog
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About
I'm 52 years old, I'm female, I'm happily married, I'm retired from the work force... and I spend way too much time gaming. I enjoy long walks on the beach, with a gun, sometimes with my husband - shooting n00bs.
I not only like to shoot people, I also enjoy cooking and crafting. Mostly I make my own armor in games like Skyrim and cook my own potions after a busy day of hacking and slashing my way through various critters, guards and bandits in most any WRPG game.

If you're into a threesome or foursome with a mature couple, then come join us - only be sure to bring a med kit. We're old, sometimes we fall down and can't get back up without some help!


PSN: Elsa
XBL: Elssa62
Playstation Gamer Advisory Panel Member (GAP)

Currently Playing:
PS3:
Dragon's Dogma
Dark Souls/Demon Souls
Borderlands 2
Black Ops 2
Battlefield 3
Defiance
... and occasionally Warhawk, Starhawk, or Killzone 3!

Xbox:
Fable: Anniversary... when I see it on sale.
(I don't currently have gold and only use my Xbox for the occasional older WRPG single player game)

iOS (iPad and iPod Touch)
mostly casual word games... I do love my word games!
My current addiction is Words with Monsters


Recent Favorites:
WARHAWK!!
MAG (over 2000 hours!)
Dragon's Dogma
UT3
Portal 1&2
Sacred 2
Demon Souls/Dark Souls
Bioshock series
Elder Scrolls Series (Oblivion and Skyrim)
Fallout series
Dragon Age series
Resistance series
Killzone Series
Left 4 Dead 2
Mass Effect Series


Some blogs I wrote that I like:
Me and My Digital Dick
Fun Facts about Females
Casting Call: Chester the Skeleton
Help, Help! I'm being repressed
Girls with Guns
Guess the Gender
A Girl's Guide to FPS Gaming
Me and My Chainmail Bikini...
Adopt a Troll!
Fanboy Wars - the game!
Feminist Frequency and Relevance
Invisibility of the older woman

Promoted C-Blogs:
Undies and a Knife
He dumped me! That Bastard!
Love/Hate: Being a Girl Gamer
The Future: The Year is 2029
My Expertise: Leader of Men
The Great Escape: From Physical Pain
More than Just Noise: Boom Headshot!
2010 Sucked: Game Addiction Issues
Technical Difficulties: He teabagged me!


Email: exrecruiter.at.msn.com




































































































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Xbox LIVE:Elssa62
PSN ID:Elsa
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Elsa
11:41 AM on 03.22.2013

I never did play Demon Souls... even though I normally love WRPG styled games. I heard it was difficult, as in brutally difficult and when I want to have my ass kicked, I generally load up an online multiplayer FPS game like MAG, or Battlefield 3 or Black Ops 2. I usually play WRPG games for relaxation... to take in the environment and to feel pretty empowered and invincible as I hack n' slash my way through copious critters. I saw Dark Souls on sale over Christmas for only $9.99 and at that price I decided to give it a go.



Ouch! The game is indeed brutal. I'm also finding that it's very much a gamer's game. There isn't much plot, your character can be male or female (I'm playing as a female) and even the gameplay is fairly straight forward. However, the game very much reminds me a lot of older games. There is no map, so there is lots of memorizing of enemy spawns and routes to various save points (the campfires). Leave the save point, take out archer skeletons, take out 4 skeletons in the room, go straight and down the stairs, go up the ladder, run really fast through the area with the big ass dragon and into the stairway on the right, go down the stairs and down the ladder... and dammit! I'm back where I started. It's not just a matter of memorizing routes and where the enemies are, when you finally do find a big ass boss, there is a matter of then observing and memorizing how they do battle, because often this is the only way to beat them... learning their patterns through observation and death. This type of mental mapping exercise takes me back to games like Zork where I often had to make notes and little maps or where I was and how to get back to an earlier objective. I'm now 22 years older than when I first played Zork though, and unfortunately my magical mind mapping powers seem to be missing! I opened a new shortcut and was passing some iron bars when movement caught my eye.. and my immediate reaction was "kill it!". Well, it turned out to be that nice lady vendor who sold me poison arrows and now she doesn't like me. In fact, whenever I pass by, she calls me nasty names and she refuses to sell me anything, let alone those nice poison arrows. I did what any good gamer would do nowadays and hit the internet to see if there is any way to get her to like me again.

Well... apparently I need a whole shitload of souls to take to Oswald who will absolve me of my sin and let the nice raggedy sewer lady sell me my poison arrows again. Seemingly, the best way to get those souls is to farm the Darkroot Garden by using an apparently well known tactic of running past all the enemies in the area and drawing them to a ledge where most of them fall off to their deaths and give you a pretty good soul count each time. However, to use this farming tactic, I need to open a door that costs another 20,000 souls... so I can use an earlier farming tactic of letting the big ass dragon kill the skeletons on the bridge and getting their souls (though I'm still determined to kill that dragon at some point! I keep trying, but he heals himself and I can't get the hang of melee battle with him... the foot stomp is a one hit kill!)



So I farmed the big red ass dragon until I had my 20,000 souls... opened the door... and then farmed the crap out of Darkroot Garden to get enough souls to absolve my sin - all so I can get some poison arrows. Only a gamer would do this. The mindless repetition of grinding...all to get some shiny bauble (or poison flying bauble). Now I know that grinding and farming is often regarded as a poor game mechanic... a way of artificially extending gameplay or worst, almost a way to "cheat" to make the game easier... but there's also an addictive and soothing quality to it. I have to admit that I have a secret fondness for grinding. I often tend to over-level myself in RPG games in order to make the game a little easier - going back to that personal preference for single player games to provide me with relaxation. Farming is simply a variation on grinding... more often done to acquire a product or money rather than simply ranking up, but farming or grinding... the repetition alone I find to be very relaxing. I then went on to Blighttown... and promptly went back to farming Darkroot Garden again to get enough souls to buy the Poisonbite ring from Oswald. I seem to die pretty quickly from poison and I hate having to rush through areas rather than spending my time exploring every nook and cranny.

I find I'm really enjoying the game though I've been soloing it and I guess at some point I'll have to try the online (in order to get more sunlight medals and the upgraded lightning spell... cause that thing rocks!). I hate dealing with invaders though. The first time someone showed up in my game, I quickly went to the gestures screen to greet them with a bow and say "hi". He stabbed me mid-bow and killed me.... probably while thinking what a nOOb I was! LOL! I was initially quite angry... but then laughed when I realized the job of invaders is apparently to kill the invadee... and I made it really, really easy for him!

I don't know if I'm quite ready for Blighttown yet... I may go back and run through some earlier areas to make sure I didn't miss anything... and yes, to farm or grind. Sometimes I just want to relax and it's therapeutic to deal with the familiar. Sometimes funny incidents take place that make it all worthwhile. I love the slow, huge stone knights in Darkroot garden and until I got the hang of dodging and backstabbing them, they often killed me.. so I sometimes go back there to hone my skills. This huge stone knight in a lower part of the garden suddenly jumped backward to avoid my sword thrust... and he jumped right off a cliff, killing himself. I have to admit that I laughed my ass off!



More farming!

I've taken a bit of a break from Dark Souls though, and have been trying out the Defiance beta. It's an FPS/MMO hybrid and plays somewhat like Borderlands... but the grinding! OMG, the grinding! I've become very addicted to this pretty average game in a very short period of time and find I can easily spend hours and hours just doing Arkfall events which are somewhat similar in their repetition patterns, but also relaxing because yeah... farming for dollars. At this point in the beta we don't even get much of a reward for the Arkfall events, but it's the grinding that I find addictive, and gauging by the number of other people chasing Arkfall events, I'm definitely not the only one that enjoys a little farming.



So yeah... just call me Farmer Elsa! (and provided they fix the voice chat in the PS3 version of Defiance, I'll probably pick it up... so if you feel like doing a little Arkfall farming, hit me up!)


EDIT: and I'll fully admit when I'm wrong... the game does have story, it just doesn't hold your hand to tell it. Read this blog if you haven't already... it's absolutely awesome:
http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Chonglei+Chen/what-dark-souls-takes-from-shadow-of-the-colossus-228426.phtml
Photo Photo Photo







Elsa
4:19 PM on 03.13.2013



I've been a gamer since I was a nameless, genderless, adventurer in games like Zork and Myst.  I then moved on to the Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dales series of games and I always had the option to play as a female.  I didn't even realize that being a woman who played video games was something unusual, because I always managed to find games that accommodated playing as a female or alternatively they were simplistic games where gender wasn't present (pacman was pretty genderless, aside from the name, until Ms. Pacman came along!) .  These WRPG games all had wonderful male and female characters and even the occasional romantic interest for those choosing to play as female (though I still dislike Anomen...  such a whiny, high maintenance boyfriend he was!).  Eventually I moved onto console games when my husband bought me a Dreamcast one Christmas.


D2... I remember feeling sooo cold!

I could still continue to be Lara as I raided tombs and shimmied along ledges, I was a woman surviving a plane crash in a creepy arctic wasteland in D2, I could be a girl rescuing the President's daughter by hitting bad guys over the head with a giant tuna in Dynamite Cop, I was a female in Phantasy Star and other games like Carrier... but gradually an odd thing happened... and an odd appendage started to appear more often on my avatars... I was growing a digital dick. I was Claire or Jill in much of the Resident Evil games, but occasionally I morphed into a male character. In TimeStalkers I had to play much of the game as a spiky, blue-haired boy until I could switch out to one of the 3 playable female characters.  In games like Shenmue, Blue Stinger, Shadowman and the early Tom Clancy games... well it was a full on twig and berries show.

When I moved on to the PSP and PS3, things actually got worst.  Increasingly I found myself with stubbly facial growth and pant protrusions.   I guess part of the issue is that my interest in various genres had grown and I also had the time to play more games... so increasingly my option to play as a female was more limited, because I was simply playing more games.   It's actually somewhat astonishing, given the historical demographics of a very strongly male audience for video games that for so long in gaming, there has so often been the option to play as a female character.  I'm not sure if this was a nod to the very small number of females who have always played video games, if this was simply an option that males seemed to like having, or if devs have generally just tried to keep games somewhat "genderless" in hopes of attracting broader audiences.  Regardless of the reasons, it's still pretty awesome!

I could probably have continued to play as female if I had limited myself to various specific games or genres like WRPG's, but as I came to accept my digital dick, an interesting thing began to happen... regardless of the gender of the character, it was still "me".  I was the one crawling through the grass with my sniper rifle following Captain Price in Modern Warfare, I was the one fighting off hordes of Chimera in Resistance... and it was "me" free running though cities, saving civilians and assassinating Templars in games like Assassin's Creed.  When we speak of books or movies, we refer to the characters, but when we speak of video games, we are much more inclined to speak in the first person:  "when I killed Visari" in Killzone 2, or "I was shocked to find out Atlas had betrayed me", in Bioshock.  The first person perspective in current games is even more of an immersive factor in erasing the gender barriers between the games protagonist and the player.  I AM Gordon Freeman... and "Gordon" has boobs.



More so than any other media, gaming has the capacity for men and women to be truly equal, however there is a small caveat in that many games tend to view the world through a male lens, and in particular the alpha male hero archetype.  We are physically strong,  courageous, independent, inclined towards violent resolution, protectors of the weak, attractive, and dominant.  Now there's nothing wrong with men or women aspiring to most of those qualities (though in real life violent resolution isn't usually the best recourse!), but the view of most any story where there is a choice of male or female characters is still mostly told through a lens of what has historically been a male view.  Many video game female characters are essentially men in a dress with boobs. It should be noted though, that being a real-life female, I often find to this be gender-freeing and it usurps me from the more typical female role often found in women's forms of entertainment. I don't really mind seeing the world through a male lens.



Do note however, that I said "many" games show us the world through a male lens, certainly not all.  Interestingly, some video games also provide a uniquely female lens in unexpected ways.  As a female, I have a reluctance to walk in the downtown core of most large cities at night.  There is a small risk that I will be assaulted, or worst... raped.  While men too should fear for their safety, I don't know that they can experience the same fear that a female does.  In some ways, games like Dragon's Dogma can allow men to see the world through a female lens.  When night falls in the game, it's black.  If you have some lanterns, you might feel a bit safer... but not much.  Male or female, most of us stick to the roads and very carefully walk along - fearing the night and what might lurk within.  You will be assaulted, and on your first play through before you know where the enemies are... you will at some point come across a particularly large, nasty beast or larger horde of beasts... and they will kill you.  It's not much... but this is somewhat of a female lens on the world than men can experience for themselves... in a video game.  Another aspect of this female lens can be found in the Dragon Age games.  Historically in our society, men make the sexual overtures and women can accept or decline.  In Dragon Age, even if you are playing as a male, you have to wait for the female to signal their interest... but then you have the option to accept or decline.  This is a subtle thing... but men have the option to accept or decline a sexual invitation.... from a woman.  This aspect is more a recognition of how much our society has changed in recent years, but it's still a tiny insight into a traditional woman's perspective that men can experience.  Video games reflect our changing culture in other ways too... just as women are stronger and more violent (a male lens)... men spend much of their in-game money to not just acquire a house... but many spend hours decorating it in order to make it feel more like their "home".  They cook potions and food, they can use charm instead of violence to get information, they sort though chests and chests of clothing that serves various purposes and sometimes wearing a certain outfit just makes them feel good.

More than any other contemporary form of media, video games are wonderfully non-gendered.  Whatever gender you currently are, in many video games you can sprout boobs or a digital dick and play as the opposite gender by choice.  Even when there is no choice, the immersive and active (rather than passive) nature of video games allow us a unique lens on the world that combines the gender of our character with our own gender.  I do hope that gaming progresses in it's character development to show more unique characters... so different from us, that we no longer see them from a first person perspective, but I also hope that gaming continues to provide us with the generic, gender-swappable, faceless characters that we can imprint our own experiences onto... because that's a very unique aspect to video games and something to be treasured and not disparaged.
.. and in the meantime, while I do wish that there were more options to play as a female character, particularly in online multiplayer FPS games... I've become a bit fond of my digital dick.


... and now to get back to getting my ass kicked in Call of Duty and Dark Souls... because regardless of my character's gender... it's still MY ass getting kicked. :(
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Elsa
5:16 PM on 03.06.2013



I know that Anita Sarkeesian's "Damsel in Distress" initial video of her examination of Tropes vs Women in Video games is due to drop tomorrow, so I wanted to get some of my thoughts out previous to viewing her video. I sincerely hope that she examines the actual trope itself, and not just her usual feminist 101 views of "this trope exists and it's bad", because the issue isn't really whether this trope exists in games, it's the trope itself.

First of all, this trope has been with us a long time. Our fairly tales told to young children often include a damsel in distress needing rescuing by the brave knight. It's a common theme in women's romance novels, many chick flicks, most every episode of CSI or Criminal Minds, and yes... video games. This trope is prevalent and can be found in most every aspect of both men's and women's entertainment. In women's entertainment (romance novels, chick flicks) the "distress" is often financial distress or the emotional distress of being alone (because often the message in women's romance novels is that true love makes life magically wonderful... and if he's secretly wealthy, well, as Marilyn Monroe once said "a man being rich is like a girl being pretty. You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?") In entertainment with a larger male demographic, the point of view is more often that of the rescuing knight - the trials and tribulations he endures to rescue the damsel. The fact that this trope exists in video games is absolutely no surprise, given it's popularity in most other entertainment media. The fact that the story is most often told from the point of view of the knight doing the rescuing is also expected, given the historical demographics that it's primarily men who buy and play video games. Essentially, the fact that video games use the trope of the "damsel in distress" is absolutely no surprise given it's popularity in most of our other media - hence, the reason it's a "trope" or commonly used story mechanic.


Why am I always rescuing this dude?

Is the trope sexist?
Certainly it's sexist. It's equally as sexist as the strong male who is always rescuing the damsel in distress. It often portrays the female as disempowered, without the aid of the empowered male. What is often overlooked though, is that video games have a long history of "dudes in distress". Most every war game has the empowered male player rescuing a disempowered male operative taken prisoner and tortured by the Russian/Middle East bad guys, or rescuing a captured buddy. Video games (in particular the WRPG genre) also have a long history of allowing gender choice for the player... so in many games the female player character rescues other damsels, dudes and even small children from the cave or cellar where they are being held by evil mages, goblins or kobolds, or the ubiquitous "thieves". Increasingly we're seeing the damsels rescuing the dude (Nathan Drake has been rescued by both Zoe and Elena), or in other games the distressed damsel turns out to have rescued herself (in The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush arrives only to find that the distressed damsel has already foiled her captor!) Video games also have many many female protagonists that simply don't need rescuing (Lara Croft, Samus Aran, Jade, Chell), which is actually somewhat surprising given the male demographics of video games. All in all, yes, the "damsel in distress" trope is sexist, but only when one focuses specifically on that trope and ignores all the variations of the trope that exist. When one starts to look at the copious examples of the variations, it becomes a lot less sexist in that the discriminatory aspect of the female needing rescuing is offset by the males needing rescuing as well. Is it sexist for a male to rescue another male, or for a female to rescue a male or another female? Is it sexist when the male tries to rescue the female only to find she doesn't need rescuing?

Why all the rescuing?
Well, the fact is that video games aren't always about the story or plot, they're more often about the gameplay. From Donkey Kong to today's games like Dark Souls (which I'm currently playing!)... plot in video games is often a very secondary facet and the use of tropes or well used plots can help to merely provide a loose basis for the actual game play. Rescuing a female loved one (sister or love interest) is no more common in video games than the tropes of "it's war!... you're a good guy (the bad guys are Russians, Middle-Eastern or Aliens)" or "you have been given a special power to save or destroy the Kingdom, world, universe, or whatever", or the wonderful "find the lost remnant/covenant/object that can destroy the world, before the bad guys do". Rescuing Princess Peach is merely the excuse Mario needs to keep going.. and going.. and going through all the various levels. The Zelda games seem much more about Link's journey rather than any actual rescuing. In Two Worlds 2, I often forgot that I was apparently a man trying to rescue my captured sister... because really, there were so many side quests and other things to do.
As video game plots get more complex, I think we start to see more variations. For example in Resistance Fall of Man, Rachel Parker is initially "rescued" by Nathan Hale in that he opened a door for her allowing her to escape, but she later becomes a key figure in the game - directing the actions of Nathan Hale by feeding him information, being suspicious of whether he is infected or not... and eventually she ends up rescuing the male Cartwright when he becomes injured on one of the final missions. She's not a "damsel in distress" and yet, yes.. a male does initially "rescue" her. More complex plots generally give us more complex characters... and rescuing takes on new meanings with games such as The Walking Dead.

Does rescuing need to go away?
Personally, I don't think so. Feminists seem to have no issue with advocating for government or social programs such as women's shelters, or special women's programs to aid, support and "rescue" women in distress, so it's apparently fine for society to "rescue" damsels in distress... it's apparently only wrong when a man does it. I think if a man sees a woman being slapped, or abused or yelled at... he SHOULD rescue her. He should step in, say something, prevent the abuse, even at the possible risk of his own life (in fact in my home town a man recently stepped in when another man was arguing vehemently with his girlfriend in a parking lot, and he was hit, fell to the pavement and later died). What this trope needs is simply two things.. more women being the rescuers... because we too should be stepping in if we see anyone (male or female) being victimized... and additionally, I think that we women need to look a little more closely and critically at our own media. Most of the "damsel in distress" trope in video games tends to be saving a woman from physical harm. In women's media like romance novels or movies (Twilight, almost every romantic comedy), distress is more often the message is that we are "incomplete" without a man, or that a man will financially rescue us and make life better. Falling in love with the right man will apparently rescue us from emotional incompleteness, and we will additionally be "beautiful" because of course beauty is in the eye of the man who loves you. The reality is that love is wonderful... but we should be "complete" people without our loved ones, and our beauty should not be dependent on a man's view.

In video games, the damsel in distress is indeed one of many well worn tropes. Overall (and particularly in comparison to other media), I think it's essentially harmless and not even overly sexist as presented in video games. Video games are a unique media where viewpoint is not static and there is a sense of immersion not often found in other more passive forms of media. We women that play these games are the protagonist... whether the protagonist is presented as male or female. Yes, I have rescued a lot of damsels, but I've also a rescued a lot of dudes in distress as well. Many of our games even allow for the main character to be male or female and while there are often inconsistencies where I can tell the game was primarily written from a male perspective (like getting to make out with the Duchess in Dragon's Dogma after rescuing her), most of the game is rather genderless.... in some ways it's true equality. We can play as powerful, aggressive female warriors... men can play as weaker, stealthier and sneaky protagonists. We can choose to talk our way out of situations with high charm stats... or to simply bang someone over the head. With advancements to technology we are even increasingly seeing unique plot scenarios that only occur based on the gender of the character you choose to play.

The "damsel in distress" is a complex trope, it can be good, it can be bad.. it could certainly be less gendered (more dudes in distress!) It's generally much more complex than the simplicity often shown in video games. I do hope that Ms. Sarkeesian treats this topic with more depth than merely pointing out that this trope exists and that it's "bad". I realize that there are more far reaching aspects to this trope and hope to have more to think about on this topic.

.... but while I await her video, let me get back to reading this month's Harlequin romance:

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Elsa
12:09 PM on 02.14.2013

Last year for Valentine's Day my husband got me a funny little book called "Porn for Women" and included really nice pictures of guys saying things like "God, that's SO interesting... tell me more" or "Oh look! The NFL playoffs are today. I bet we'll have no trouble finding parking at the crafts fair". It was cute and I thought it would be fun to adapt it for gaming so I created these pics last year, but then I never posted a blog because frankly... it's entirely sexist! This year, I just don't care about the sexist thing... so for the two other people out there that might find these funny, here ya go!











Have fun this Valentine's Day! For myself and my husband, it will be love and bullets as we will likely load up a shooter game and go kill some bad guys. Having a gaming spouse is awesome... but it's also a lot like assembling Ikea Furniture together... you have to have a pretty strong relationship to make it work. There can be arguments regarding picking out the right furniture, because tastes can vary... and then there is the aspect of working together which more often results in that lovely bookcase ending up looking like a coffin that you wish you could bury your loved one in without anyone being the wiser!
So if you're in a game and you hear "sorry I ran you in the jeep over honey!" or "Dammit sweetie, why can't you fucking carry a med kit!"... then say hi to us! :)










I'm not a competitive person. I tend to prefer multiplayer shooter games that are based on team tactics and allow for helping out team members with the ability to play medic or engineer or other non-shooty aspects to the game. I love discussing team tactics and working together to achieve a common goal... and in the rare case when that actually happens, games are magic for me. They fill my heart, not just with a love of the game, but with a sense of real affectionate for the random players I might be in the squad with.

My lack of a truly aggressive competitive spirit seems to be fairly common among my gender. There have been several recent studies that seem to point to a possibility that the salary gap between men and women may, in part, be due to women not wanting to apply for positions that are very competitive. The first study showed that men are much more likely to apply for positions where salary was based on personal performance, and women tended to strongly prefer positions that had low competitive levels - where the salary was a flat fee (independent of performance) or where the performance was based on how the team did, rather than the individual.
The second study was even more controlled and eradicated issues that might actually arise in the workplace (women were equally skilled, there was no chance of discrimination and the time limit would create no conflicts with home life), yet 75% of the male participants in the study opted for a competitive tournament setting with the chance to make more money, whereas only 35% of the women chose this option.

Now these are just preliminary studies and don't represent all men or all women. Obviously there are strongly competitive women in the workplace, and non-competitive men. The main thing I took away from these studies was a side thought on whether video games could actually help non-competitive people become more comfortable in competitive situations? Looking back on my own experience with competitive multi-player games, I do think that video games can be helpful in better understanding many of the variances in a competitive environment. Gender, age, race, sexuality, appearance... these factors play almost no role in video game competition, so we are all free to better examine the actual nature of competition and how it might apply to real life.



Understanding the Game:
Playing a variety of competitive video games has shown me that it's not entirely about skill, sometimes it's about looking at things like the points structure. In a game like MAG, people can often achieve better personal scores by playing the role of medic - gaining massive points for healing and reviving. They can use a well situated vehicle's turret as an armoured gun to more easily acquire kills, and if they equip a repair gun, they can get additional repair points for repairing their own vehicle. In games like Modern Warfare 3, spamming the recon drone and marking enemies can help to bring up a personal score if one's killing skill isn't high. In a game like Warhawk, sneaking around and continually hiding out and taking zones can make someone an MVP.
A game may seem to be about killing the opponents and achieving team objectives, but a closer look at a game and it's structure can reveal ways to "win" and achieve high personal scores that are a little bit outside of the main game's structure. The same can hold true of the workforce. When competing, it's important to understand the structure of the competition. It may not be about achieving the best sales record - it might be about the ability to bring in new clients, grow existing clients, client satisfaction, and retaining clients. In some workplaces, personal popularity and networking is more of a factor than performance, in other workplaces, promotions may be entirely based on statistics like the number of calls handled in a phone support situation, so brevity and volume might even be more important than client satisfaction. It's all about understanding how the game works.



Understanding Your Own Skills:
One thing I've learned from video games is that I don't always know my own skills. I always thought I was a bad sniper, but by actually giving it a go, I've found out I'm a awesome sniper! I can easily rack up the most kills in a game by sniping, but again, it goes to understanding the game and by not taking objectives or reviving other players, my overall points will often be low. I can however, apply this new-found skill to an assault rifle with a 4X scope and a silencer... and be in the action accruing points while still getting those long range kills I seem to be good at. Gaming has taught me that I should try things I don't think I'm good at, and additionally to look at new ways to use those skills. In the workforce, I think we too often focus in on something we "think" we're good at, but don't try other aspects of the job we dislike or where we think we will do poorly. Every game and every job is different. Sniping in one game is very different from sniping in another game... and sales in one job might be very different from sales in another job. Being competitive often means trying out all aspects of your job and often finding you may be good at something you didn't previously like, or felt you weren't good at! It can mean adjusting how you use your skills in order to be more competitive.



Understanding the Competition:
Those of us that play competitive video games have, at one point, found ourselves being red-lined, pwned, or totally destroyed. Those are the games where we can barely spawn without encountering an undignified death. In the workforce, we may well be the "new kid" and everyone around us looks skilled and quite ready to teabag our lifeless resumes or corpsehump our performance statistics. Video gaming has taught me that there is value in seeing an arrogant and overpowered enemy. Often it's not all that difficult to sneak around behind enemy lines, take the objective and win the game. In other circumstances, it's possible to find a safe spot where you can snipe all those arrogant red dots rushing out into the open and at least achieve the highest score on my team.
In the workforce, whether you're a web page designer, an accountant, an artist or a CEO - look at your competition. What are their weaknesses? What can you do better or different to win against established forces? Looking at the competition and adapting becomes second nature in video games. Seeing their weaknesses and using them to your own advantage is part of healthy competition - in a game, or in the workplace.



Understanding Your Own Team:
Sometimes you get on a team where everyone wants to snipe and nobody is going for the objective, where people are rushing headlong into an obvious enemy area, or where people are just... well... dickheads. Sometimes when you look around at your own team, you realize that you're on a team of losers. In a video game you can try to take charge and see if you can bring some order and strategy to the idiotic chaos, you can cut your losses, forget about your team winning and just go for personal points, or you can just quit the game and find another game with a better team. In the workforce it's important to look around and see if you're on a team of winners, or a team of losers. If you're stuck with the losers, you might try and make them into winners... or you can just forget about them and look after yourself. You can also try to get on that team of winners you see over in the corner. Regardless of your decision, it's important to take an objective look at your team - be it your work unit, branch, or even the personal relationships you've formed in the workplace. It's also important to realize, that just like a video game, your team might change over time. Some clans in certain games become the "winners", but changes over time might see new clans arise and older one's start to disintegrate. Being competitive means having an honest look at your own team, and often making some hard decisions.



Fair Play and Morals:
It doesn't take too long when playing competitive video games before you will encounter those that glitch, cheat, or have no sense of fair play. You may also on a rare occasion encounter the opposite... someone in the group who says, "we've won the game, it's over, pull back a bit... everyone switch to pistols!" - I love that guy! Mostly though, you'll find those glitchers, cheaters and asshats. When people on your own team are using a glitch you are presented with the moral question of use it, or not. Report them, or not. The more I play competitive games, the more I start to realize that the use of some glitches or cheats is not entirely a black and white issue... there is a lot of grey where certain glitches are used by everyone to the benefit of the game. In many situations, what one person might call "cheating" another person might simply say that it's not outside of the rules of the game (flag tossing in Warhawk was often used to pad points before a patch was brought in to disallow it).
These same situations often arise in the workplace, especially if you're competitive and take better notice of this phenomenon. It's interesting but I remember one example of a company that found that some of their sales people had teamed up in order to win a quarterly prize offered to the employee with the highest sales. They would use one employees number when entering sales and then split the prize. Corporate decided to look the other way because what was happening was that employees were teaming up, working with each other, looking for potential partners... and overall sales were dramatically increasing because, through teamwork, employees with normally low sales when teamed with other employees actually had a chance at winning... so everyone's sales were up. Even employee morale was increased because more employees had a chance of winning and people were getting along better so as not to offend a potential future partner in this "scam".
In various work situations - as an employer or an employee, we are often conflicted regarding whether to cheat, or how to deal with others who cheat. We also have to go back to the rules of the game to even determine IF there is cheating. These are all situations faced when playing most competitive multiplayer video games and individuals can learn from how they handle these situations and possibly apply what they've learned to workplace situations.


TLDR: Overall, would playing competitive video games help non-competitive people become better at competition? My own feelings are that it might help them to better understand competition, it might give them more faith in their abilities, it might help people become more familiar with how to handle certain competitive situations... so yes, I do think that playing competitive video games can have some real world positive value. Video games are also one of the few venues where men and women can compete directly against each other - very much like the workforce.

From a personal viewpoint, I do think that playing competitive online games has made me much more comfortable competing against men. It's also brought me a certain level of confidence and a better understanding of competition. It's "toughened" me up a bit more where I am more willing to take risks for greater rewards, and where I'm also more willing to compete based on my personal performance and not always based on cooperative game play.

So if your young daughter starts to take Mario Kart a little too seriously... knocking others off the track, wanting to "win" at the cost of others - this may not be something to discourage. Finding her competitive spirit may not seem very gentle or ladylike... but it may better prepare her to break through the glass ceiling in the competitive real world of the workforce.

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Elsa
12:30 PM on 11.15.2012



So I finally (after trying out a LOT of demos) found a Kinect game I actually like. Someone on another blog indicated that the game Rhythm Party was similar to the old Eyetoy Groove game... so I looked up the demo and gave it a try! I loved the game, and yes, it's very similar to Groove. This is a simple game of hitting certain marks in time with the music... using your own moves. I really dislike the current trend of "copy the professional dancer so we all dance the same" thing. I don't want to dance exactly like the geeky dancer doing those "I'm a trendy kid" moves... I just want to dance any way I want and get some exercise. The only real drawback to this game is that unlike Groove, it doesn't allow for any customization (creating your own routines), and it doesn't show a camera image of me... no, it shows part of a blurry camera image of me... with no hair. I don't understand why Kinect games just don't show a simple camera image, but instead I'm usually missing body parts, or more commonly, my hair! I don't even have short hair, it's shoulder length, but I guess now I know what I'll kind of look like if I go bald. Maybe Kinect just doesn't like gray hair - age discrimination! Still, Rhythm Party is exactly what I wanted... let's buy the thing!

Surprise!... it's 800 Microsoft "points". Last time I bought a game on XBL it was a "games on demand" and I paid the exact price with my credit card. This was the first time I have been faced with the "points" thing. Ok, I guess I need to buy 800 points.... no, I can only buy 500 points or 1000 points. Ah! Ok, well I can probably buy some DLC with the left over 200 points. Wrong again, DLC for the game (extra song tracks) is 240 points! At this point, I'm almost ripping my hair out to match the Kinect version of reality. so I decide to see if I can buy the code for the game, or a points card from an online source - maybe EBGames or Amazon.ca. No again. Americans can apparently buy 400 or 800 point cards, but not Canadians. Well dammit! If they just told me the game was 1000 points or $14.50 I would probably have just bought the game and figured it was an ok deal at that price - but now I'm just pissed. They want me to pay extra for the game and then have these absolutely useless points sitting on my account. To make matters worst, it seems that the US price of 1000 points is $12.50... so Canadians (even though our dollar is near par) are getting ripped off. Sony has offered Canadian/American dollars on par for many years now - with the exact same price on games in both stores. I also understand that Americans can purchase in increments of 400 or 800 points... which doesn't seem to be an option available to Canadians either online or through purchased points cards. I already have a Hate/Hate relationship with my Xbox because of the requirement for Gold to even use the web browser, never mind any game I might buy for $60.00 that I won't be able to play because most of the games I buy are for the online multiplayer component.... and now I've encountered "microsoft points" - UGH!


Yup... you're fucked!

The Xbox with Kinect was a gift from my husband. He bought it for me during the big PSN hacking outage because he knew how much I missed online play. It came with a one month trial of Gold and I have to admit that I really enjoyed the online play of the Xbox, but I have a moral issue with paying an additional fee to play the game I just paid for. I can pay $59.00 per year so that I can use the web browser on my Xbox, or Netflix or play the games I bought... or I can get all those services for free on my PS3 and pay $49.00 per year for PSPlus and get a ton of free games. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of comparison regarding which choice offers better value, so yeah, my Xbox has been Gold-less and accumulating dust aside from the few times I play an older WRPG on it.

Still... I do need the exercise, so I'll buy the 1000 points and just convince myself that I'm buying this game for $14.50. I already checked and apparently my left over 200 points won't even buy me a goddamn virtual puppy for my avatar - they're 240 points! I'm gonna try really, really hard not to get frustrated over the point manipulation thing of so many games being 800 points, but not being able to just buy 800 points.

It's not just my Xbox that I'm pissed off at. I'm looking at my PS3 and feeling my hair fall out over the continuing frustration of third party games simply not working on the system. I've been playing MAG as my go-to shooter game for well over two years now and was looking forward to Black Ops 2 as a new shooter game. I held off on pre-ordering the game because so many shooter games have launch issues. Some eventually get fixed (Battlefield 3) and some never do get fixed (Ghost Recon). Additionally, the PS3 has issues with sustaining the needed player base on shooter games to be able to play them well past launch, so I figured Black Ops 2 might just have the volume for me to be able to just jump in any time and play a game. On launch day, I hit up the PS3 section of the official Black Ops 2 forums and found pages and pages and pages of complaints about two issues - PS3 freezing in multiplayer and server issues. The new developer thread on the "servers unavailable" issue is now at 225 pages and growing fast (in addition to copious complaints not on the official thread tracking the issue). The PS3 freezing thread is also gaining quite the following. The worst thing is that many of the PS3 freezes happen when people finally manage to get into a game, so when they do re-boot their PS3 units and re-load the game they are insulted with a warning that they are on probation for quitting games! The devs did seem to take notice of all the complaints, and they do seem to now be tracking these issues and working on them, but until a patch resolves this issue, I'll hold off on buying the game. I really don't want to be stuck in the Skyrim situation of owning a game that just barely works on the system. I did manage to platinum Skyrim but had to disable all auto-saves and use manual saves... which constantly reminded me I was playing a game and I was not at all immersed in the world. I held on to the game for the advertised DLC... and like others with the PS3 version, I'm still waiting.



I don't understand how Activision can produce previous Call of Duty games that eventually worked fine on the PS3, and then fuck up the current game so badly. They're using the same old tired game engine they've been using since Modern Warfare, so it seems they should have been able to manage the basics of people getting into the game and playing the game. Some third party PS3 games do work fine... I had absolutely no issues with Capcom's Dragon's Dogma and it seems almost entirely random as to which games will have PS3 issues and which won't .... but I guess if it's a huge AAA game with millions of dollars invested into it (like COD or Skyrim), the chances of it not working on the PS3 seem to increase. :(

Anyway, I guess I'll de-stress by getting some exercise with Kinect Rhythm Party and by trying out some of the PSPlus games I've acquired. I tried out Just Cause 2, and it's a goofy fun game if I ignore the quests and just explore the island while blowing shit up and playing with the cars, boats and helicopters! There are also a bunch of other games (Warhammer, Payday, RE5) that I haven't even tried yet.

Ah well... at least I feel a little better after venting about my recent gaming frustrations! :)

... and hell, maybe I'll just load up Modern Warfare 3 and see if people are still playing.
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