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Elsa's blog
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12:04 PM on 04.08.2013

Deal with it.

Yup, the next Xbox might not be for you. The rumours of an "always on" internet connected next-generation Xbox aren't particularly new, though recent leaks and the distinct lack of any outright denial seem to further confirm these earlier rumours. Many gamers of course think back to the Great PSN outage of 2011, where the PSN online gaming system went down for 24 days and Playstation console owners were only able to play offline, single player games, and couldn't get their CoD fix. The fact is that no online service can guarantee connectivity in the face of determined hackers or even world events or natural disasters that can impact on connectivity. The other fact is that there are still areas of various Countries that simply don't have reliable Internet and even those with good Internet access often have bandwidth caps and throttling issues to deal with.

Still, that being said.. the question is "why?". Why would an always-on, Internet connected next generation Xbox make sense? It makes sense if it's not merely a gaming device, but instead offers additional services. The gossip is that the next Xbox isn't for gamers, it's a set top box, entertainment center for everyone... that might play games. So what will this super duper, set top box, entertainment cornucopia of online goodness get us?

VOIP phone services are gaining ground. Microsoft bought Skype for 8.5 billion bucks so it's a good bet that while you'll still be able to group up with other Xbox owners for a party chat, you'll also be able call your kid on his cell phone via your Xbox, or even call granny on her landline. Skype is also a messaging system, so you'll be able to nag your husband to pick up milk on his way home from work, without ever putting down your controller. You'll even be able to take a skype call in the middle of gaming without stopping the game (how convenient! NOT.) There are even Skype phones, and it's entirely possible for people to use Skype and to get rid of a landline based phone system and use VOIP instead. My own cable company has done this and my own home phone system is in fact VOIP... and there really isn't much difference from a landline in terms of quality. This unfortunately means having an "always on" Internet connection though (and no emergency 911 dialing) but for those that have already given up a land line and only use a cell phone (an increasing number of the population), this is a viable secondary option.

It's been known for some time that Microsoft wants a piece of the IPTV action. More and more people are cutting the lines to their cable companies provision of Game of Thrones, and turning to Internet Protocol TV solutions. Netflix is approaching 30 million customers. Microsoft wants those customers. They've claimed that they want TV to be an interactive experience. When viewers see a news story, they'll be able to do an instant poll - like what Xbox owners experienced during the Presidential debates last year. There are a increasing number of TV based apps becoming available and additionally, and more importantly, the current Xbox is already distributed as a secondary set-top converter box for some Internet-protocol based TV providers such as Canada's Telus (a phone company that uses internet to provide integrated phone/TV/Internet services) and trial runs have been done with Comcast and Verizon in the U.S. The current gen Xbox was designed as a gaming console, but the fact is that it is already being used as a set top digital conversion box for TV services and this business is booming. With new technologies like Microsoft's "illumiRoom" where the TV screen can be projected around the room, or the "smartglass" technology that can allow for interactive TV polls and other forms of social interaction while watching TV... Microsoft is well poised to bring new experiences to TV and movies.

Yup...note that subscription to Gold in the fine print?

DVR and Interactive Program Guides:
At work and forgot to set the hockey game to record? Do it on your smart phone and your TV show will record at home. Want to know what movies are playing on the 200 channels you get? Say "Xbox show movies" and your on screen TV guide changes to filter only movies. See an advertisement for a new show? Tell Xbox to find it and record it. No manual searching and inputting letters... just talk to your Xbox (and hope it understands you!) The reality is that the verbal Kinect input has better options as a user-interface than as a gaming input. Currently the actual recording is usually done on a separate central unit provided by the TV service, but there's no reason that the next Xbox can't actually BE this central set top unit instead of a secondary unit... and there is a strong likelihood that the next gen Xbox will be a DVR both for TV shows, and also for the ass-kicking you took in that last game of Battlefield. In the end, you won't be streaming media from your PC to your Xbox... you'll be streaming from your Xbox to your tablet or smart phone, or even your PC. Unfortunately, all of this wonderfully convenient tech has a price, and the price is that an Internet connection is required for most of this to work.

Cloud-based Services:
One of the wonderful advantages of being a PS+ user is that my PS3 updates in the middle of the night. I turn it on to see that there has been a system update, or various game patches, or just cloud storage of my game saves. I have no doubt that Microsoft will also introduce this convenience... but the catch of course is that your system must always be connected to the Internet. In addition to updates and gamesave storage, cloud services are gaining popularity as repositories for our music, video, photo and data collections. With Internet connectivity, we can access our personal data from anywhere, on most any Internet device. With Microsoft's Skydrive cloud storage it's not at all unlikely that while playing the next Elder Scrolls game that doesn't require an Internet connection, we may well be listening to our personal music collection via Skydrive... which does need that streaming Internet connection (oh, and of course we'll be waiting on those Skype calls!). I don't doubt that at some point we'll be able to record directly to the cloud and then stream our DVR recording to our Xbox, to our Surface Tablet or to our Windows 8 phone.... all of which of course requires that ubiquitous Internet connection.

Apps and more Apps:
With the creation of the Windows 8 app store, Microsoft needs more customers! As with most App stores, it's likely that Microsoft gets a percentage based cut of sales and in-app purchases (Apple takes 30%!). The ability to buy Fruit Ninja on your Windows 8 phone, and then download it and play it with Kinect on your home Xbox, while letting your kid play a different copy on your Surface tablet... Microsoft is happy. Soon you'll also be buying your music and movies (and maybe even some games!) though Microsoft store fronts... and faster than you can blink, Microsoft might actually be the next Apple (in their dreams anyway).

The pricing on the unit will likely be CHEAP! It's not unlikely that the basic unit will continue to be free if you sign up with certain TV providers, and Xbox and these providers will essentially form a symbiotic relationship. Get a free Xbox for games if you sign up with Telus Optik TV... or if you already have an Xbox, signing up for Telus Optik gets you an extra digital converter for a TV in your home... with Kinect voice commands to change channels, volume, read out your Skype messages, or tell you that you look pretty today.
As a retail unit, there is also likely to be a cheap $99.00 or less version that essentially competes with Roku or other current IPTV solutions, but it will also play app based game and possibly blu-ray movies. Of course, in addition to the low, low price you'll also have to pay a monthly gold membership fee in order to access the content - and frankly this is where the money earning power is for Microsoft.
For a slightly higher price, you'll even be able to play full retail games and watch blu-ray movies on your Xbox! Wow... what a novel concept... playing games on your digital tuner/IPTV/Skype/Skydrive/Kinect/blu-ray wonder box! When you subscribe to a TV service you'll likely be able to upgrade to this unit for a few dollars more or be able to buy it at your local retail store as a different SKU/model. If you want to commit to a gold subscription from the birth through the terrible two's of your next child, you'll even get a pretty good deal on the price. In fact, buying the next Xbox without committing to a monthly subscription may not even be an option.

TL:DR messy Conclusion:
This entire blog is pure speculation, but I think that the next generation Xbox may not be a gaming console at all. It may well be a set top, digital conversion box offering Skype, IPTV, app-based games and cloud based storage for photos, music and data. Rumours are that if you want to play retail games on the next generation Xbox, you'll have to actually upgrade to a higher SKU that allows for retail games to be played. Gaming is likely going to be an "extra" on the next Xbox. As an investor, I like this. Microsoft never has to produce one single game to actually make a massive profit. They can make money on subscription services, the app store, Skype or Skydrive add-on services, and licensing arrangements with TV service providers as a set top box. The money I have invested with Microsoft though my retirement savings will be well rewarded!

As a gamer - this frightens me. It's not the "always on" Internet connection that frightens me. Anyone who currently has an IPTV based provider like Telus is already reliant on an always-on Internet connection. Bandwidth caps already don't apply to TV services and likely won't apply to many of the other cloud based services they choose to offer as a provider. No, it's all the "junk". I don't want Skype calls interrupting my gaming, I don't want two TV shows recording in the background or to have to turn on my Xbox to see what's on TV (though of course, turning "on" the Xbox will be a thing of the past because it will be always on, and always connected to the internet... like most set-top boxes are). I don't want my music collection on Skydrive, or to play Angry Birds on my TV using Kinect. Mostly I don't want yet another monthly bill I have to pay and I just want to play my games.

Which is why I'll likely get a PS4... unless I eventually switch my TV provider to Telus and then.. yeah, dammit, I'm not gonna turn down that free Xbox - even if it's always on and always needs to be connected to the Internet to work, and needs a monthly fee like my hydro or TV or telephone or cell phone or crap! Reality is that much of our life is already reliant on an Internet connection, and monthly payments, whether we realize this or not.

Whether I buy a next gen Xbox for gaming or not... I'll be keeping an eye on my stocks as Microsoft possibly expands the Xbox into something everyone may want... even a gamer.


11:03 AM on 04.02.2013

I think I'm going to be defiant!

I got to level 157 or so in Defiance during the beta week... so apparently I liked the game. It releases today on my Birthday, April 2nd, and there's a pretty decent chance I'll be getting the game...because Birthday monies from my Mom for a game! Why this game? Well, the most common comment overheard was "it's like Borderlands on steroids", and I do enjoy Borderlands!

Trion Worlds is definitely trying something innovative with the game. Not the game itself, no, the tie in to the TV series. Events happening in the TV series will be reflected in the game, and what happens in the game will be part of the TV show's world. It's an interesting premise that adds a touch of interest to the game. All updates to the game will be free, and the cost of entry is the basic cost of the $60.00 game. It seems that there a structure in place that also might support microtransactions, but it also seems that it would be more for buying "extras" - things not needed for the game itself and more in the way of cosmetic upgrades with outfits or vehicles or random weapons. The game seems to have a fair bit of potential and I'm going to run over some of the high points and low points.

Character creation: The beta offered a choice of four characters - 2 female and 2 male. Once the gender and race was chosen, there were then 4 additional options that primarily provided a starting weapon and outfit related to class. For the female characters, the 4 options allowed for choice of clothing ranging from slightly slutty (the gunslinger/shotgunner) to not-at-all-slutty (the engineer), with a few choices in between. I went with the basic military option which was "pretty, but not slutty". The male characters don't get to be slutty... but instead it was just a choice of differing styles. You'll soon have access to various weapons and your initial choice doesn't limit you in any way - so go ahead and just pick which ever character option/clothing styles appeal the most. Race may play a point later in the game, but during the beta, it made absolutely no difference. The full game is also likely to offer additional options to what the beta showed.

Gameplay: This is a third person shooter. The guns feel pretty good and everyone should easily be able to find weapons they like. As you use a weapon or weapon class, you strengthen your abilities with it. The guns aren't realistic and like Borderlands, they often include elemental effects. You can trade or give away your guns to your friends... but beware that they are leveled. I gave my level 6 husband an awesome level 107 sniper rifle, that he unfortunately couldn't use. The shotguns have a range that is pretty close to the sniper rifles, though from a distance, the sniper rifle allows for more accurate headshots. There is a bit of sticky aim, but in a game like this, it's not so much about skill, as simply having fun. The controls are pretty standard with crouch, roll, fire, zoom... similar to most any shooter game. There is additionally the L2 use of a "special power". Unlike Borderlands, you can choose your special power, it's not tied to your class, and you can even change it later. There is invisibility, overcharge with extra weapon damage, blur, which is a speed boost, and decoy that sends out a decoy to attract enemy attention. Like Borderlands, there is then various smaller options you can choose to strengthen your main power. There is a cool down period, and the special powers don't really seem to have a huge impact, but they're fun to play with. There is some minor crafting in that guns can be broken down and you can re-use parts and mods to create your own unique guns. There are very rare ammo stations where you can refill your ammo, but mostly you get ammo by running over enemy drops when they die. They usually drop ammo, money and occasionally a fun new weapon.

Open World: The map shown during the beta is apparently only one small fraction of the full map available... and it was HUGE! It was mostly Southern California, with a mix of grasslands and dusty, dry areas. You gain a vehicle pretty early in the game and can easily call it by pushing up on your D-pad (and if you got stuck somewhere, you just hopped out and called your vehicle again). There is quite a variety of vehicles and they drive well, though they feel a little bit loose... but they have a speed burst option by pressing X, and there is a wonderful sensation of traveling far distances and being able to go off-road that is very freeing and unrestricted. The only negative is because the world is so large, there seems to be a little lag in terms of being "drawn in" and you'll often be hurtling down a road only to ram into an invisible object. After a second or two, another vehicle or roadblock will materialize as the object that blocked you, and these are usually instances where you can assist some AI in fending off an attack of some nature (bad guys or bugs usually). Within this open world, you see other gamers, and there are constant events going on. In addition to these "help the AI" instances, there are various side quests, there are races where you have to beat a certain time, there are other gamers doing their own main quest lines that you can often just hop into and assist them with. Mostly though... there are the Arkfalls!

Arkfalls: These events pop up randomly all over the map and are essentially mini-boss battles that tend to draw fairly large crowds. They are maked on your map with a rather large red symbol that is hard to miss. They are usually of the "destroy the crystal" or "defend the crystal" types and can involve masses of bugs, giant huge massive bugs, or various humanoid type bad guys - or all of the above. It's quite fun to pull up to an arkfall only to see people driving around the crystal in their vehicle running over the smaller enemy types, to see anywhere from 10 to 30 or more people all running around shooting the various spawning enemies. When you've done several successful arkfalls, there is apparently some form of ingame reward, though this wasn't enabled for the beta.

Campaign: You can progress through the campaign doing various missions and some seem to take place out in the open world, while others warp you to a separate place where you seem to be on your own. The campaign is interesting because you are told to go to an area and free hostages... only you'll sometimes get there and there are other people also doing this section of the campaign, so as long as you are in the area, they might in fact free all the hostages for you. It's a bit disconcerting to arrive and start a mission... only to find you've done it by doing nothing more than standing around. I'm not sure if I like this aspect, though the other campaign sections where you are on your own do make up for these.

Co-op: When grouped up, the group leader can easily launch the group into a co-op game. There is no lobby.. you just play and then are transported to the co-op area when there are enough players (the range for co-op seems to be a minimum of 4, but I'm not sure what the maximum is). The co-op portion is essentially various maps where the players work together to make their way from point A to point B... and point B has a big ass boss for everyone to try and take down. Your teammates can be revived by standing over them and pressing square, even if you don't have the BMG which is a health/reviving tool needed to do this in the main game.

Competitive: I only tried competitive once and it seems that you retain your game level... and I tried this early in the beta and got my ass handed to me by people that were obviously a much higher level than myself. In the beta there was an 8 vs 8 TDM and a 16 vs 16 capture and hold. There is also a competitive mode called "shadow war". It's a larger scale 50 vs 50 format and has changing objectives dependent on the number of people in the game. I didn't try this mode, but it seems that all the competitive modes are somewhat problematic. With clan support I can forsee that the competitive modes may very quickly outpace the average player and unless you are in a large clan with high ranked players, you're going to spend many of your competitive games getting run over by huge vehicles that you don't have access to, or getting hit by superior elemental weapons that again, you don't have access to. They need to balance the multiplayer in some manner, or it may quickly lose popularity and become dominated by a few clans. In multiplayer, apples should be fighting apples... not fighting an entire fruit bowl. I did the recent post-beta survey and it does seem that they realize that their might be an issue with this, so hopefully we'll see some patching down the road.

Overall, Defiance isn't a particularly good game. It has plenty of issues, however there is a certain addictive level in that there is always something to do and the world feels well populated with both real players and NPC's. It's not a unique game, but the basics are familiar and fairly well done. For the PS3 version I played on, there were grouping issues (sometimes difficult to group up, and it was almost always impossible to leave a group when I did get grouped up unless I quit and restarted the game. Additionally, group members showed as being in your group long after they had actually quit the game and entirely shut down their PS3 unit.). These issues need to be fixed and additionally the voice chat was almost entirely non-functional. It would work for a minute or two and then almost completely die. These two issues are close to game-breaking because while the game works as a single player game, it seems infinitely more enjoyable when grouped up with friends.

So if anyone buys the PS3 version of the game, let me know if they fixed the grouping and voice chat issues! Additionally, let me know if gaming sharing works with the PSN digital version of the game, as I was going to buy the digital copy and game share it with my husband! The game isn't "great", but it seems to have a lot of content and might be a good game for me to get my online/social fix... as a break from playing Dark Souls... where I've cleared the Catacombs but still can't bring down Sif! Damn dog... and I really don't even want to kill him because he's so noble and adorable. :(
... and now they've apparently got Demon Souls coming to PS+ as a free game... ugh! I'll definitely need an easier online social game for a break!   read

11:41 AM on 03.22.2013

Just call me Farmer Elsa!

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:   read

4:19 PM on 03.13.2013

Me and my digital dick...

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. :(   read

5:16 PM on 03.06.2013

Damsel in Distress....

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:


12:09 PM on 02.14.2013

Gaming Porn for Women

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! :)   read

4:24 PM on 11.21.2012

Competition, video games and real life...

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.


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 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.   read

2:38 PM on 11.02.2012

The Halo 4 sexist banning threat has no balls.

First off, for those that don't know - I am an old, white female. My gender has occasionally been questioned, but I can describe menstrual cramps in detail, and I can also now give a crash course in early menopause... and the threats of those are usually enough to confirm my gender. I'm also an old white woman who plays FPS games online, with a mic. Yes, I've encountered harassment, and on occasion I've also been guilty of dishing it out. Well, apparently Microsoft plans on perma-banning Halo 4 players for sexist comments, and all I can think is "which stupid cunts at Microsoft decided this was a good idea?".

Now when I say the word "cunts", I don't mean it to refer specifically to women... the same as all those British players who game online tend to use it to refer to a moron - male or female. It's just a swear word simply intended to denote feelings of vehemence towards.... well... someone - usually the player that just teamkilled you or teabagged you. I've noticed that American players seem to use the word "bitch" in the same way. At first I often thought the "bitch" comments were directed towards me - often the only female in the game. It took me awhile to realize that it's used more often towards other men. These words are still exceedingly sexist because their primary purpose is to apply female characteristics to other men in an derogatory way - but this use of "sexist" language is most often used to harass other men, not women. So is it sexist language that will earn the ban? if men call each other sexist words will they be banned, or will it be actual sexist acts towards the opposite gender to undermine their gaming enjoyment that is a bannable offense. If it's sexist language, who determines which words are sexist? A friend of mine often affectionately refers to her friends as "you silly cunt"... would she be banned for the use of that word, even though her intent of the word is simply affection for a friend? Will intent be the overriding factor? I recently ran across an annoying MAG player who would meow every time I was in his squad... and when someone would finally ask why he was meowing, he would say "I smell pussy in this game, and girls shouldn't play my game". He used no swear words - but clearly and annoyingly harasses women whenever there is one in his squad (I finally blocked little pussy boy). So is it the use of words... or intent? If it's words, then where is the list of banned words and will their use evoke a ban for anyone - male or female? If it's intent, how do you prove intent or give proof of intent that the actions were sexist and intended to specifically harass women?

It's also only "sexist" language that will apparently earn this lifetime ban... so I guess if you want to use racist or homophobic language you'll be safe. I'm sometimes confused for a male in online play and have been called a " faggy, homo guy" or a "tranny" - will this continue to be acceptable, or will the perpetrators be subject to a ban - not because I'm actually a homosexual male, but because I am a heterosexual female who was harassed with sexist language that implied I was a gay male rather than a straight female, even if the intent was not to actually harass a female, but the end result was? (oh my, things do start to get confusing don't they?)

Does the term "sexist" work both ways? When being teabagged it's not at all uncommon for me to say "grow some balls before you teabag me, you dickless moron!" (well, either that or "what, no dinner and a movie first?"). So I'm guilty of using sexist insults towards a male - am I now subject to a ban because as a women I used a sexist insult to a man? I'm also a bad driver and have been known to laughingly say "ok, so I drive like a woman!" when I crash our team vehicle into an obstacle while trying to drive it to a bunker... should I be banned for using sexist language in reference to myself?

What about the more obscure harassment... most every female gamer has experienced that male who really, really, really wants on your buddy list and floods their inbox with pleas to be added. They claim they are not sexist and that the love women gamers... which in itself is sexist in that they differentiate "female" from "male". It's a subtle harassment, but it's still annoying. Would this sexist behavior be banned?

What about women who evoke harassment? Most of the nasty PSN notes I receive are because I said something derogatory to someone in the game... if the criteria for banning is the receipt of XBL messages such as those highlighted on sites such as "Fat, Ugly or Slutty", then what's to prevent some women from manipulating this response?

If the criteria is verbal, what's to prevent women from grouping up and lying about one of the group-member's ex-boyfriend? Claiming harassment in order to get the person permanently banned or at least temporarily banned while the complaints are investigated? If people don't think that women can be vicious... then apparently they've never been divorced.

The "sexist language" threat of a permanent ban has no balls when Microsoft and 343 don't spell out EXACTLY the actions or words that will get players banned for life. What they have done is either an empty threat, or worse, it will be a threat applied with bias - moderators will use their "personal judgment" regarding who gets banned for life and who doesn't.

Vicious harassment exists in gaming. It's not just sexist harassment aimed at deterring women from playing, it's also racist and homophobic harassment. There is harassment of younger players who's voices still reflect their youth. There is harassment of well... anybody and everybody. There are answers though and the answer is NOT some poorly thought out reactionary plan to specifically target sexual harassment of women in gaming. A more effective answer is to give players the agency to easily institute a voice ban. When a player is muted by two other players in a game, they go on auto-mute. They are simply and effectively informed that they have been muted. Anyone who wants to speak with this player must actually go to the trouble of un-muting them. If a player is auto-muted in say 5 games - then they are perma-muted. Again, anyone who wants to listen to this player or speak with this player would then have to go to the trouble of actually un-muting them in order to communicate with them. This is a clear and easy answer to harassment of all kinds, including that idiot that feels the need to blast rap music at very high volumes through their mic in every game (and if it's one of those "gangsta bitch" misogynistic rap songs - is that considered sexual harassment of women?). If the harassment is via messaging, then have an auto-ban on the player's ability to send messages after "X" number of complaints. If they want the ban lifted, they would have to exonerate themselves.

The thing is that there are answers. The answer though is not a narrow minded focus on sexism, while ignoring other forms of harassment. It's not perma-banning people from a game based on some nebulous criteria. Instead it's giving players the agency to better control who they play with. Microsoft already has a good start with their ability to use the party chat system. They even have gamer "zones" such as Recreation, Family, Pro and Underground. These zones don't actually seem to have any purpose or effect, so why don't games create their own Zones. In a game with the population base of something like Halo 4, it should be easily possible to at least divide players into "Family" and "Underground". Any one found to be swearing and abusing the "Family" rating could be automatically re-classified permanently into "Underground" if enough players mark this gamer via an in-game system.

Answers... yes, they are there. Perma-banning for sexism in Halo 4 - not an answer. Instead, I'm starting to feel used and dirty... that "banning sexism" is simply a marketing tool aimed at women to encourage them to play Halo 4, aimed at the press to generate publicity, and aimed at the Sarkeesianesque sympathizers who buy into the whole issue with their white knight dollars. The irony is that in banning players for making "sexist" comments against women - they themselves are acting in a sexist manner by treating males and females different. By singling out "sexism" instead of harassment, they are playing the big ole gender card and they are doing nothing more than exacerbating the existing male vs female negativity.

Halo 4.... look for ways to battle harassment, but please get off the sexism sympathy train. It's quickly running out of steam. and I'm getting damn tired of being used as fuel. The problem isn't sexism or harassment against women... it's just plain harassment against anyone!   read

3:38 PM on 10.17.2012

Safe gaming... and leg condoms!

I can't help feeling a bit maternal about those on my buddy list.. I care about you! I also can't help but notice that some of you are playing Borderlands 2 - all the time, - probably too much. I wonder if you're practicing safe gaming.

It seems it's not uncommon for gamers to be hospitalized because of gaming marathons, or for people to actually die from gaming marathons... but there are reasons for gaming marathons - like Borderlands 2, or a double XP weekend, or Borderlands 2 DLC, or Dishonored,or Borderlands 2 (did I mention Borderlands 2?) - and gaming doesn't have to endanger your health with a few common sense tips.

1. The beer hat
Dehydration is a real thing. If you really can't take the time to drink a nice big glass of water while fast traveling in Borderlands, then get yourself a beer hat! You can drink and play at the same time. Drink water. Juice is full of sugar and will hype you up (and pack on the pounds) and colas, coffee and tea are diuretics that when consumed in large quantities will basically make you piss out much of the fluid you should be retaining. If you don't have the latest in beer hats, then make sure that you have a very large glass of water or a bike flask of water (which doesn't spill when you throw it on the couch next to you). Have a goal of finishing the entire amount within a 4 hour period.

2. Washroom breaks
One of the best things about drinking lots of water while you game is that it mostly forces you to get up and go to the bathroom at fairly regular periods. Unless you're seriously ill, don't do the Depends Adult Diaper thing - it's just really uncool, probably uncomfortable, and likely a bit smelly. On a washroom break, refocus your eyes, do a quick stretch - and park your Siren or Assassin near a safe place where you won't get killed by a Scrag!

3. Meal breaks
While eating Pizza pockets or drinking Ensure meal replacement milkshakes through your beer hat might seem like an attractive alternative to actually eating... don't do it! There are these things called "breakfast", "lunch" and "dinner" - if one of those mealtimes arrives, take 20 minutes to half an hour to actually leave the game and take a break. Make a meal, eat it... and don't look at your TV. Look out the window, read a book, check email on your phone - but do something where your eyes get a break by re-focusing at varying distances. Hell, watch your meal cook in the microwave if you have to, just make sure you look at something different for a short while and that you walk around a bit or stretch.

4. Sleep
Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture. While you may think that you are super-human and can play for three days straight with no sleep, the reality is that your skills have likely decreased to those of a 9 year old girl... well, actually, it's probably a nine year old girl who is now carrying your ass in Borderlands and constantly rescuing you from Badass Blackhole Threshers. Don't let your game (and reputation) suffer because you're too stubborn to grab a much needed period of rest. When your eyes droop and you find yourself wiping drool from your mouth that you didn't know was there until the icky wetness ran down your chin and dribbled on your chest - take the time to put the controller down, exit the game, close your eyes - and sleep!

5. Shower
When you're battling Spitter Scrags and Chubby Varkids and you suddenly wonder what that odd odor is that you keep smelling, well, it's likely you. Getting those badass points or to that next level is no excuse for bad hygiene!

6. Appropriate clothing
Please wear appropriate clothing when you're gaming for long periods of time. Don't wear constrictive clothes (and yes, ladies, that means taking off the underwire push-up bra and putting on a supportive yoga top or sports bra... or going bra-less!). Joggers, pajamas, or naked - doesn't matter what you choose, just make sure you don't have anything cutting off circulation and strangling body parts while you're engrossed in your marathon. Myself... I'm a pajama person. No, I'm not talking Victoria's Secret sexy pajamas - I'm saying that yes, if you've played online with me, I was probably wearing floppy flannel pj bottoms with an elastic waist and a yoga top (for the boob support), with a hoodie or sweatshirt because I'm always cold. Now that you have that horrifying visual in your brain, it's time to look at what's on your feet (after a quick look at some "appropriate clothing"!).

... apparently naked gaming is a thing!

7. leg condoms!!
As a last note (and the most important note) - compression socks!! Compression socks aren't just for little old ladies with varicose veins anymore! There is a current trend for Olympic athletes and long distance runners to wear compression socks either during the event, or immediately after the event. Various studies have shown no drawbacks to the use of compression socks, and the positive benefits include reduced muscle fatigue, improved circulation and possibly better lactate clearance. Compression socks essentially work by adding compression or tightness at the ankle, which helps to prevent blood pooling, clotting, and it helps to improve circulation. More importantly compression socks feel great!! My doctor recommended compression socks for me on one of my earlier surgeries because I tend to be fairly sedentary during recovery and I'll be the first to say that they feel awesome! You can pick them up for around $10.00 to $20.00 at most any pharmacy and they are well worth every penny! I use them regularly for gaming because I'm often sitting in one position for extended periods of time. Yes, these leg condoms may initially feel odd, but you do get used to them, and they can be useful in helping to prevent blood clots or other circulatory problems for gamers who don't get up regularly and stretch!

Oh yeah... and as an extra bonus note - a door lock!
So, if you're going to be gaming naked, while wearing a beer hat and compression socks - you will want a lock on your door. It's not for you... it's for the sanity and safety of anyone who may inadvertently scar their mind by seeing you during your gaming marathon!

Safe gaming - it's really just common sense and leg condoms. In your eagerness to enjoy the pleasures of gaming, I just don't want to see any accidents happen - something that you often have to live with for a long, long time. Dehydration, blood clots and other health issues can generally be averted with a little common sense, so enjoy your gaming marathon, but game safely! Most of us already know this information... but how many of us practice it? I know I'm sometimes guilty of gaming for 4 hours or more without drinking, eating, stretching or looking after myself, so this blog is as much a reminder for myself as it is for anyone else reading it. Game safely!

... Oh... and when you're done with your gaming marathon and have killed Handsome Jack, take a day or two off and get off your butt and go outside.   read

11:19 AM on 09.25.2012

Help, help! I'm being repressed!

Mandatory Monty Python reference!

Hold on a minute... let me put down this cooking pot, untie my apron, put on some lipstick, ask my husband for permission to write this blog and vent a bit. Dammit! Why the hell didn't somebody tell me that I was being repressed? The gaming world is apparently filled with misogynistic male pigs who create female game characters to subjugate and objectify me, it's filled with male gamers who want to ogle my (50 year old) boobs and silence my voice. It's the epitome of the male patriarchal system glorifying male qualities of violence and strength. Why the hell did nobody inform me of this earlier? My own reality is that I never felt repressed in the gaming world until the gaming (and non-gaming) press and feminists came along to inform me that I was indeed being repressed, oppressed and suppressed.

I play online games and use a mic... a lot, well, probably too much. I see lots of other women in these games. Mostly I get conversation and team based dialog about what our team should be doing to win the game, but yes, occasionally I get a "what do your boobies look like" question or the classic "why aren't you in the kitchen making me a sandwich". My husband gets messages too... often to do with his apparently small penis (and I can personally testify that these people are incorrect!). I just assumed that a small percentage of gamers were dickheads, I had no idea that I was being harassed and abused specifically I'm a female, because I certainly see and hear a lot of harassment aimed at everything from someone's accent or their apparent choice in sexual partners (often their mother or sister), to their age, their actions in the game or even just their user-name. There is a culture of harassment in online gaming and it needs to change, but I didn't realize it was specifically a woman's issue. I'm so glad that somebody finally educated me. Wow... I feel rather silly now.

I write blogs and comments on a gaming website. Some have even been promoted to the front page (though none since the e-sports fiasco... though it should also be noted that during that fiasco there were people that called for me to be "fired" from Destructoid, there were comments on my stupidity and my lack of education on the topic... but there were few if any sexist, misogynistic or violent comments, even though it was fairly clear that I was a female). I see articles and blogs and game-related video series by other women on this and other websites, but yes, the female voices are a minority. I didn't realize this minority was because of a subversive plot by men to keep us out of their gaming kingdom of scantily clad big boobed babes, helpless maidens in distress, and unfettered glorious violence. I just thought that more men tended to play video games, just as more women tend to read Harlequin Romances. Did you know that romance novels were a $1.358 billion dollar business in 2010, making up 13.4% of the market - beating out the mystery and sci-fi/fantasy genres? Did you know that for many romance novels (particularly Harlequin Romances) you actually have to conform to various tropes? Each different series has specific themes, characterizations, and plot lines that have to be used. Part of the attraction to romance novels seems to be that they are comfortably predictable. The guideline for a standard Harlequin Romance reads " heroes are alpha but attainable they're not all super rich international tycoons (although some might be!) but they're successful in their own right and should be a strong man our heroine would aspire to be with". I don't see anyone complaining about this, nor about the fact that most male romance writers tend to use a female pseudonym because of fears that women won't buy romance books written by a man. It's formulaic entertainment by one gender, for one gender - which comprises the majority of the market (rather like console video games.)

In the early days of gaming, yes, there was some resistance when I tried to gain access to these male web-based portals of gaming goodness. Mostly guys seemed to wonder if I was actually a gamer, or if I was there to pick up a male fanbase by posting revealing pics of myself in my white cross-your-heart double lined, full coverage support bra... or if I was gonna start screaming about how I was a "gurl gamer" and was gonna whip their asses because I was the superior female gender. When they realized I was just a regular gamer who wanted to talk about games - well, there just weren't any issues. For the most part I've always been accepted at most gaming sites and given the same lack of respect that men, fanboys, religious zealots and 12 year old kids are given. Again, the overall culture of gaming is pretty antagonistic, but I didn't realize this was specifically a women's issue. Thank goodness that there are now newspaper articles informing me that video game culture is misogynistic and that only women's voices are oppressed - otherwise I would never have known!

I thought part of the hate was when politics get mixed in with entertainment. Jack Thompson wants video games to be less violent - to possibly lessen the impact of violence on our youth. Bobby Kotick doesn't care about the consumer and wants his company to be profitable. EA is just... well EA killed Bioware and they are just plain evil! Anita Sarkeesian seems to want video games to portray female game characters in such a way as to be more politically correct regarding patriarchal gender roles and to forward a feminist viewpoint of the oppression of women through our media - currently focusing on video games. Their interest in games isn't from the simple perspective of a gamer who likes or dislikes something in a game they've played - their interest is from a larger perspective. There's nothing at all wrong with this - but a backlash is to be expected when anyone negatively critiques or wants to change a specific media as a whole or advocates for changes that might affect the primary consumers of the media. While the backlash might degenerate into sexist or violent comments - the initial backlash isn't caused by gender or age or race or any other "ism" - it's simply caused by fear that this person might actually influence the industry in a way that some consumers disagree with. If gaming truly was a misogynistic culture where females had no influence, then the entire issue with Ms. Sarkeesian would never have arisen. In a way, the hate she received is actually a validation that a woman might influence gaming and what the incident evoked was primarily fear - which expressed itself as misogyny because the intent was to hurt, deter and belittle. Once again, a social backlash against someone who wants to change gaming to forward a social, cultural or fiscal agenda that's not popular with some consumers - I didn't realize it was primarily a female issue and that even mentioning the Beat up Bobby or Jack games was co-opting the discussion away from it's proper place - women!

I would like to thank the press, the gaming press, and feminists (of both the male and female variety) for finally letting me see the light! Now that I'm educated and more aware of my own oppression I see it everywhere! When I get that "you fucking bitch" psn note, I know it's only because I'm a female and not because I called that person a dumbass moron for driving our team vehicle into a turret and getting us all killed. I went back to the game that made me fall in love with gaming... and when I type "woman", "female" or "feminist" into Zork... it doesn't even recognize those words!! In Skyrim, it was only the female characters that were not fully fleshed out as strong female characters - all the male characters were memorable and perfect! Bayonetta and Juliet Starling... all those women who are cosplaying as those characters are actually making a statement about how sexist men are, and that women should not be objectified. I shouldn't discuss poor game characters in general... because it's derailing the discussion that it's only female characters that need changing. There are no common tropes or outdated themes regarding male characters - duh! In fact, changing male characters to be "better" could never result in better female characters - like that black dude in The Walking Dead games... making him into a more complex character didn't at all result in some excellent and varied female characters. Nathan Drake was made more complex by his relationships with Zoe and Elena - but the main protagonist of the whole game was still a man!

Oh... and shooter games!! I love shooter games and just saw them as being about working as a team and trying to achieve an objective... but of course now I see the meaning of the guns - they're giant phallic symbols and the true meaning of every shooter game is men running around with their giant dicks shooting their wads or hitting each other over the head with them to prove who has the most powerful cock! So sexist! How did I not see that... where are the vagina guns???

Now that I'm edumacated, I can warn other women not to play video games because they condition us to sexist patriarchal male values. I can warn women not to play online - unless they form a large clan of all women because this isn't at all intimidating to men and they'll be safe. I'll have to be very careful when I participate in gaming websites... I mean really "also cocks" - it's so obvious that this is a manly man's website and I'll be belittled and harassed. (I mean really... why aren't I being belittled and harassed... am I not womanly enough for you?? I kinda feel a bit offended now.) If we keep screaming in headlines how hard it is to be a female in the gaming world, then women won't game. They'll be scared to try online gaming, or go to a gaming conventions or join a general gaming website - but at least they'll be safe from the misogynistic gaming culture that men have created. If the headlines read that there are the occasional misogynistic incidents and that gaming culture was antagonistic (like politics) or that gaming culture tends to reflect the current majority consumer (men)- then women might actually shift from being a majority in the casual gaming sphere and might start playing more console games. The horror! We'd end up with games like Twilight - The Video Game... or entire Rockband games devoted to Lady GaGa! There is sexism and misogyny in gaming culture... but the best way to combat it is to apparently make sure more women don't game by highlighting this small aspect, because frankly it's just much easier to blame men for everything that's wrong with the world.

I used to believe this crap! It's a good thing everyone is letting me know I'm oppressed!

Thank God for feminists and the gaming press. I thought gaming was awesome... with a vast sea of gaming choices where I could always find a game I wanted to play, with wonderful people that I met at conventions, gaming sites and in online play. I always thought that I could make my own game if I truly wanted to. I thought that if I had artistic ability I could create my ideal female characters and get some developer interested. I thought gaming was freedom... to be a different age, gender, race or even sexuality in a virtual world if I wanted (recently I've had several lesbian experiences!). I thought I could do anything and that there was nothing holding me back from being who or what I wanted to be. How could I have been so wrong??

This blog has been mulling around in my head for several months now and I can't seem to move on to other writing until I get this out. I'm not sure if it's even saying what I want it to say, but basically there seems to be a lot of press every time a sexist incident occurs in the gaming world and I want it known that it's a small vocal minority of gaming culture that is misogynistic. There are women like myself that don't feel oppressed, suppressed or repressed in the gaming world and love many of the games that are being produced. I've always felt empowered by games and comfortable in all aspects of gaming culture - from online play to gaming websites to conventions. Yes, there are gender issues... but they are not specific to gaming culture which simply tends to reflect our more general culture.
Oh... and vagina guns... I have no idea what one would look like and I know it's totally sexist to say this... but I want one!


7:04 PM on 09.06.2012

I threw my husband off a cliff!

Yes, yes I did! I picked him up, carried him to the cliff edge... and tossed him off!! My husband and I had an argument about him wanting to buy a new car. He wants to buy a sports car that we don't need, because we already have an older SUV and a minivan that both work. He can't explain why he wants to buy an expensive car (that we don't need), and I guess it's a guy thing that I'll never understand. When we fight, I don't generally yell, I don't generally cry, instead I sulk and ignore - so I booted up my PS3 and pressed play.

Unfortunately I loaded up Dragon's Dogma and there he was ... my husband! Dragon's Dogma allows you to create a constant companion called a pawn that can be shared online. Other gamers can hire your companion as one of the 4 slots in their party. My initial companion was a female, but on my second playthrough I created a pretty good facsimile of my husband.

So there I was... with my husband invading my game! I picked him up... and yes, I tossed him off a cliff. It actually felt pretty good.. but it somehow wasn't enough. I went back to a riftstone and I re-spawned him - and then I got to play dress up! Most of the clothes in the game are fun to wear, but the dev who designed the clothes definitely favors women. Many of the outfits are female-only and most of the men's outfits (particularly for Mages) aren't very manly. I usually have my husband in a modified Matrix-look - a long coat, pants, boots, matching shirt... and no silly hat! It was fun to just let loose and try on different outfits and in the end I decided on the far right look! It was manly... in a Village People/superman kinda way! I felt it was a suitably humiliating fashion look on him for me to get some of my passive-aggressive anger out!

We fairly quickly did make up and our argument forgotten, I changed him back into his normal outfit, but the experience did make me think a little bit more about the experience of having an AI version of my husband in the game. Surprisingly, it does change the way I play. I can be battling a massive dragon and normally I just don't care if a pawn in my party dies - not when I'm so close to getting a kill! When I changed my companion pawn to represent my husband I found that I suddenly did care. I would hop down off the damn dragon and go heal my husband if he was dying. I started to make sure he had really good weapons and clothing- even offering him some gear that was better than my own.

Gaming is an odd hobby. I often do play games with my husband... with him in another room, on another PS3, but in the same game and on the same team. Sometimes we play couch co-op games. This experience of "creating" him as a character in essentially a single player game was an odd one. Trying to explain the experience to a non-gamer would be difficult... about as difficult as him trying to explain to me why he wants a specific type of car. All games aren't the same... and I guess all cars aren't the same either. He's always been supportive of my gaming hobby even before he took a more active interest in it and started gaming himself. He's bought me many different games and consoles over the years and rarely complained when I got lost in a game. I guess I don't really have to understand why he wants a new car, I just have to understand that he wants it.

... and just like real life, in the end... we do live happily ever after.


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