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9:25 PM on 07.14.2013

Bobservations: No Girls Allowed?

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So in my travels around the good ol' WWW lately, there seems to be more rumblings about girls playing games and there seems to be a great ruckus (read: whining) about how this is somehow a bad thing.  Why is that?

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Kotaku recently ran this article about crass morons posting "fake game girls" advisories around RTX recently and Dtoid's own Jim Sterling has a Jimquisition on the subject.

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Near as I can tell this hullabaloo stems from the use of booth babes or other models in game promotion, which has somehow spread to women in other media using a gamer persona to try to gain an audience.   The focal point of this seems to be that a lot of male gamers feel these women are somehow desecrating their way of life by doing what they're doing.  Let the witch hunt begin.

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Speaking from personal experience, my own girlfriend is also a gamer.  She is frequently asked to "prove" this gaming prowess by playing something like Call of Duty.  When she explains that she mainly plays RPGs or other more story driven games, she's dismissed as a "fake" gamer at best or a treacherous whore at worst.

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Now, the question I have to ask is: How is this effecting anyone playing games?  Are these women coming into your home and standing in front of your TV? Are they hiding the power cord to your console or hiding the controller?  Are they stealing your games? No?  Then what's all the fuss about?

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At first glance, this seems like ye olde sexism, but maybe not quite.  I submit the following example:

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My money says this woman doesn't give a second thought about the car she's posing on and you don't care whether she likes the car or not.  She's just a working girl collecting her paycheck.  I'd also wager I'm not going to hear any complaints about how this is diminishing your enjoyment of owning and driving an automobile.  Anyone?  No?

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So then what makes this different?:

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How is she ruining gaming?  There is only one instance where I could see this becoming an issue.  Also from personal experience, when a friend of mine started dating his current girlfriend, she knew he was into games and she said she was too.  It quickly became apparent that she was not.  Fortunately it wasn't a major hang up for them and nothing came of it.  He still enjoys his games and she no longer tries to act like she plays them regularly (or at all really).

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Now if the above situation could put a damper on you day, well you need to address that in your own way with your significant other.  If someone is trying to get with you by pretending they're into what you're into, then you need to air it out quick or you're gonna run into problems.  Otherwise quit complaining and get back to your game.

11:31 PM on 07.07.2013

Bobservations: I'd Buy That For a Dollar

USED GAMES ARE EVIL! How many times have we heard this?  Just ask Cliffy B.  He'll be happy to tell you all about it.  He and a lot of other folks in the industry have varying viewpoints on the subject on both sides of the fence, so I'm going to add my two cents.

First of all, lets examine the relationship between consumer and seller.  In the simplest terms, the consumer wants to get a product for the lowest price possible and the seller wants to sell for the highest price they can get.  Sellers need consumers to survive and will try to increase their customer share by undercutting other sellers, even if only by a few bucks.  That's competition and competition is good.

Now apply this to game retailers.  In general there's no competition when it comes to new games because if a game is $60 new at Gamestop, it's also $60 new at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and everywhere else.  How do you get an edge over the competition?  Allow consumers to turn games in for some store credit and sell the turn-in at a reduced price.  Used to be, mainly hole in the wall/mom and pop shops did this sort of thing and generally no one cared.  Then one day, someone had the bright idea to buy up all the Funcoland's and their ilk and become Gamestop.  Now it's one of the biggest retail chains in the US.  They make a lot of their money on the buying and selling of used games and thus it has become a problem.

Why is it a problem?  The main argument is because Gamestop gets all the money from a used sale and the developer and publisher get none.  This is the crux of Cliffy B's argument and I could see where this is a problem  If devs don't make money, they can't make more games and we don't want that, but we also don't want to pay $60 for a game if we can get it for even $55.  That's still $5 saved.

Then there's the other issue.  When consumers do trade games in, they get a fraction of what the game is going to be resold for.  You may get as much as $30 for particular titles but they're just going to turn around sell it used for $55.  Sticking to the consumer getting the most bang for their buck, it seems better to sell the games via private sale over eBay or Glyde and you can get what you want for it (provided someone else isn't undercutting you by $1).  Again, we're coming back to the argument as well that devs aren't seeing money off those sales.

The solution to this vicious cycle suggested by some in the industry has been to ban the trade and sale of used games outright.  Xbox One recently showed us how consumers will react to this solution and rightly so.  As I've stated previously, if I buy a physical product, I should be able to do what I want with it.

My suggestion would require some responsibility on the part of the consumer and the seller.  Direct sales.  If a dev/pub is worried about making money on every sale, new or used, open a way for people to buy and sell directly with them.

"But Bob," you say, "that could put Gamestop out of business."  I disagree.  Gamestop will want to stay afloat so they will find a way to compete either by giving consumers sweeter deals or by giving devs/pubs a cut of that used game money so maybe they won't want to try the direct sale route.

"But Bob," you shout "if we let devs/pubs sell to us directly, they'll control the price and gouge us to death."  Here's where the responsibility comes in on the part of the consumer.  If you feel the price of a new game is too high DO NOT BUY IT.  As long as you continue to pay the price they're asking, they'll keep asking for it.  If enough people stop paying it, the price will come down.  Supply and demand is your friend.

"But Bob" you cry "if devs didn't charge so much money, they wouldn't be able to keep making awesome games."  I'm gonna call flat-out bullshit on that one.  You do not need a crazy budget and thus a $60 price tag to make an awesome game.  If anyone is demanding cinematic graphics and big set pieces, it's because the devs/pubs have raised consumers to think that way.  We've been trained to think that a games biggest merit is how pretty (or gritty) it looks.  Also as I've stated previously, somewhere along the line we've forgotten that games are first and foremost about having FUN.  Not polygons and emotions (lol, David Cage joke, lol).

Ultimately as long as used games continue to give the consumer a better price, they will continue exist.  If I can find a game for the cheapest price, regardless of who's selling it, I'd buy that for a dollar.   read

7:43 AM on 06.30.2013

Bobservations: Why So Serious?

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Good Morning, kids.  Today I'm talking about fans vs "fanboys."  When does taking something too seriously make us morons?

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It's great to be a fan of something.  Your favorite team, actor or even game/game company.  We buy whatever they're selling and are quick to promote our favorites.  If we encounter fans of an opposing view, we may deride them jovially and everyone has a good laugh.  We keep things cool and don't take it too seriously (there's that word again).

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Sometimes there are individuals who take things to the extreme, such an undying love for an interest to the point of zealousness.  This is usually involving a subject that can be compared to a similar subject (Superman vs Batman, Sony vs Microsoft etc).  Like any zealot, their champion is the one true champion an damn anyone else who says otherwise.  These people are commonly referred to as "fanboys" or "fangirls".
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It's great to have passion for something, but is it necessary to belittle other people for not having the same beliefs?  Things escalate quickly when people with apposing beliefs fight back with the same fervor.
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To the individuals involved these exchanges feel a little something like this.
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In actuality they come off looking a little more like this.
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I think anonymity is the catalyst that drives the hate.  The internet offers an easy way to communicate anonymously, so people have a tendency to throw civility to the wind because they can get away with it.  You don't typically have such crass idiocy in face to face encounters, unless we're talking about a sports team.
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Is this what's going to happen when XB1 and PS4 launch later this year?
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Particularly in the case of gaming, I think another driving factor is money.  A lot of folks can only afford one console or another, so they make their choice and they want to feel good about it.  When they see someone slamming their console, they take that as a personal offense and defend their perceived honor with much vigor.
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As I write this a realize I could go on much longer, but we have to stop somewhere.  The heart of my message here is stop taking this stuff so seriously (there it is again).  Have we forgotten that we all enjoy playing games?  The main purpose of a game is to have fun. Stop sitting on the internet all day having a pissing contest and go have some fun!
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Now, I'm going to go find something to play.
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Seriously yours,
Bob Ellis   read

1:00 PM on 06.20.2013

Bobservations: The Xbox One Hell of a Mess

Greetings, Dtoiders.  My name's Bob Ellis (hence the clever title lol). I've been frequenting this site for some years now and have been content to sit in the shadows and watch the daily comings and goings, but no longer.  I've also been a gamer for nearly thirty years, playing just about anything that has a controller.  The years have made me a man of many thoughts about the hobby I love and I think it's time to share some of these observations beyond a simple article comment or forum post.

I'm going to start with the current hot ticket item: Xbox One (XBO).

The story is fairly well known by now, but I shall review.  A little over a month ago Microsoft unveiled their newest baby with much fanfare, but without many games.  This brought the ire of the gaming masses upon it in minor amounts, but it was what came just after that really kicked up a shit storm.  XBO was to have numerous restrictions imposed upon the users, including daily check in and not being able to use your physical media the way you see fit (trade, give, resell etc.).  The gaming masses mobilized in a way I've never seen.  We took to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc. all voicing our concerns (civilly and uncivilly) to make sure this didn't go down.  We won the battle, but have we won the war?

I don't like being told what I can and can't do with a physical product, but I understand that with a digital (as in downloaded) product I'm losing some privilege for some convenience.  Where I think MS failed was that they were treating all media as digital even if you purchased a disc. We live in a tangible world and don't view physical objects as intangible.

Hold on to your hats and your pitchforks folks!  I'm going to take a some time to talk about what good MAY have come from what MS was trying to do.  Lets set aside the parole officer style check ins for a minute and look at this from a perfect world perspective. As I stated before, by buying a digital product you're sacrificing versatility for convenience (and shelf space).  The MS plan would bring back some of that versatility by giving you the ability to let friends borrow your digital games or even to give them to someone.  Now I'm fully aware of the whole 10 "family member" and 30 day friend restriction, but think about the concept for a moment.

Now lets apply this concept to Steam (yes I'm invoking the Steam defense).  How cool would it be to be able to share your Steam library with some of your friends and their's with you?  Even if it was only a 10 person restriction, I would only share games with people I know in real life which only accounts 3 of my friends on Steam anyway.  Wouldn't it be awesome to just give a game to a friend that you're not playing anymore or they to you? Save some money right? (as of this writing it is rumored that Steam may be preparing such a service)

On the subject of saving money, there's the whole used game debate.  Now I'm going to save that for another Bobservation, but I just want to touch on it as it applies to this situation.  I hear many arguing that the reason they don't want the restriction their physical discs is so they can be free to trade in their games for store credit.  I dig that.  I've traded in some games in my time.  Saves money on new games.  However, think about where this might have taken us.  Lets say you and a couple friends are sharing your libraries among yourselves.  Jeff buys Dead Rising 3, Jim buys Titanfall and you buy Forza 5.  Each of you spent $60 but your shared libraries give each of you access to these games (combined value $180).  Now you don't have to trade in Forza 5 to save $5 on Titanfall (assuming you turned it in at Gamestop).  Don't like the game and just want to get rid of it?  Well no one's thought that far ahead yet, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to revert the game back to the cloud and get some credit towards another game?  Or even better, do what Sony is going to do on PS4 and offer demos for all games.  There's a ton of possibilities.

This all sounds great on paper, but then there's the ugly monster hiding just around the corner...DRM.

I could write a whole other Bobservation on DRM and it's merits/demerits, but I'll discuss as it applies here.  In XBO's case  you would have to check in daily from your own console or hourly from a friend's console.  This is a bit extreme to say the least, but how could it be done differently?

In this age of technology and digital products, everything is just data being moved and copied from one place to another.  It's not like the old days where you just bought a cartridge and that was that.  Since games started coming on CDs and with the advent of the CD burner, it has become a constant battle between people just trying to get something for free and the people who just want to be paid for selling their product (corporate greed aside).

This is a classic case of a bad apple ruining things for the rest of us.  I would love to be be able to have a digital product and not have some piece of software watch dogging me at every turn, but how do you stop the bad apples?

To invoke the Steam defense again, you're being required to connect to their service in order for your games to work.  No one's complaining about it.  We just accept that that's the way it works.  However, Steam offers an option that's not often brought up: Offline Mode.  Using this feature you can play your Steam library offline for up to 30 days.  No check ins, no watch dogging.  Couldn't MS have implemented such a feature?

I believe that all media is headed for an all digital future and we're going to have to be ready for it.  Someday CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray will cease to be.  That's not today, however and it will be a long gradual process that will happen when the public can trust it.  MS shouldn't have tried to force it.  Instead they should show and demonstrate the convenience that can be had.  More importantly, they need to show a little more trust in us so that we may be more trusting of the changes to come.   read

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