• MMO/Gaming

    Primo Drama

    First, you had this, from game designer Tim Schafer about Activision boss Bobby Kotick:

    “His obligation is to his shareholders,” Schafer tells Eurogamer. “Well, he doesn’t have to be as much of a dick about it, does he? I think there is a way he can do it without being a total prick. It seems like it would be possible. It’s not something he’s interested in.

    He [Kotick] makes a big deal about not liking games, and I just don’t think that attitude is good for games in general. I just don’t think we’re an industry of widgets…We can approach it like we approach bars of soap, where you’re just trying to make the cheapest bar of soap. He definitely has that that kind of widget-maker attitude. I don’t think he’s great for the industry, overall. You can’t just latch onto something when it’s popular and then squeeze the life out of it and then move on to the next one. You have to at some point create something, build something.

    Hopefully he’ll go back to another industry scene. He could go to an industry that makes more money. Ball bearings… something that suits his passions more. Weapons manufacturing?”

    Activision then responded by stating “Bobby has always been passionate about games, and loves the video game industry. But as CEO of a company that makes games enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, the demands on his time now make it difficult to play games as often as he’d like to or as much as he once did.”

    *snort*

    And then it becomes priceless. “That was an accident,” Schafer told website Eurogamer. “I was going to change the title of my talk to ‘how to give interviews and remember to check the microphone is off.'”

    I can’t tell you how much this interchange has cheered me up. I think I want to have Schafer’s babies or something.

    And in case you forgot the quote that Bobby Kotick is most famous for, it is this:

    Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in San Francisco, Kotick said “The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.”

    Sounds an awful lot like a prick to me, actually.

  • MMO/Gaming

    Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?

    Damn. Blizzard goes and changes their corporate mind about RealID, just when I was getting my absolutely brilliant social networking campaign going. I only had a chance to send one email. It would have been so evil, and so successful.

    You see, I was going to get the Moms involved. Every womens and parenting site out there was going to hear about the plan to put their children’s real names on Teh Internets. Just sit back and imagine the beauty of it, imagine the full hue and cry. (To be honest, as a parent myself, I was horrified by the possibilities. That’s the first thing you teach children about online safety: “Never give anyone your real name, your address, the name of your school…”) And day-um, they went and backed down before I could get started.

    Ixobelle’s post Don’t Applaud Rapists for “Not Raping Last Wednesday” pretty sums sums up my feelings to the community’s reaction. The players have been pissing me off…there are a bunch of kiss asses out there. Blizzard/Activision doesn’t love you, the players…they love your skinny little wallets, they are still planning (I guarantee you) to implement nefarious plans to sell your identities, if not your very souls. It will just be a bit sneakier. Love the game – god knows I do. But don’t be thankful and grateful now that Blizzard has stopped kicking you for the moment. Don’t wag your tails and lick their hand.

    I quote from the above post:

    “We shouldn’t cheer and carry them around on our shoulders for not fucking us. We should nod once, and stay vigilant… backing slowly towards the exit while keeping wary eyes on Bobby Kotick, and our IDs safely in our wallets.”

    Amen!

    On a more positive note, I placed my order for the Final Fantasy XIV collectors edition. Roll on September!

  • MMO/Gaming

    The Beauty of Virtual Personas

    There has been a lot of commentary (quite obviously) on the Blizzard/Activision RealID debacle, and quite a lot of it has pointed out that Blizzard’s official response seems to be “We’re doing this, so deal with it or stop playing. What are you guilty of that you want to hide your real identity?” which is both extremely dismissive of their customer’s feelings, and also something much, much worse. It is quite obvious that this decision was made by suits who are complete non-gamers.

    This is a bad thing for a game company, in my opinion. If you totally don’t understand the culture, how can you make the right decisions for your player base? If you don’t play games yourself, if you don’t understand the love of gaming itself, you think of games as units to be shipped, as though they could easily be cars or rolls of toilet paper instead of games. They don’t understand that you can’t lump Farmville and Warcraft together in the same category – they are very much not the same thing.

    You don’t live in Farmville. Quite a few people, however, do to an extent “live” in games like Warcraft. I’m not talking about saddoes who have no life outside their mother’s basement, I’m talking about people who have real relationships and friendships within a virtual environment. I’m talking about people like me who have felt joy in their heart when watching a virtual dawn seeping like gold across the Barrens.

    Virtual worlds have always fascinated me in part because they allow you to be who you are inside, without being judged for your economic circumstances or for whatever random roll of the chromosomes went into making up your physical face and body. Every waking moment we are pigeonholed and judged for what we look like, for our sex, for the clothing that we can afford. What a relief, what magic to be liked or disliked for our intelligence, our sense of humour, for what we contribute to others.

    I wasn’t shortchanged by Fate…I come from a pretty family, and I’ve enjoyed the perks in life that being attractive gets you. I’m a professional in a technical/creative field, and I make a decent wage. Even so, I love being able to step out of my life and into another persona. When I am Kitsune, my hunter, I literally think like a different person, and I love it, I absolutely love leaving the suit behind and being my hunter. I don’t want to be my real self in game, that is totally NOT why I love to play.

    Neither do I want to hide behind a handle on forums because I enjoy being a forum troll. I don’t post often, but when I do my responses are literate and well-thought-out. I might write something quite lacerating if I’m excited enough about what I’m writing, but I’ll do it in a logical, sensible fashion. I don’t troll. But I want to make those posts as my nickname, which is unisex…not as my real name. I don’t need fourteen-year-old boys sneering at my opinions because I’m a woman, and because I’m as old as their moms.

    I’ve also been quite open about past relationships to people who know me in game, and they know that some of those relationships have been with women. (Although I don’t really have a sexual orientation, I’ve discovered that I do have a cultural orientation, and I don’t think that one should sleep with people who they wouldn’t bring home to meet the family…so those relationships have been rare, but they exist.) Some guildies, predictably, think this is just the sexiest damn thing that they have ever heard, and they think if I’ve done it with X, I probably want to do it with their girlfriend as well. Wrong. This attention has at times gotten to the point where I’ve stopped playing mains, hiding on alts if Testosterone Boy was online. I haven’t ever felt in danger, as in this case he seemed a nice enough guy…but I would have been very concerned if I knew that at any time he could look up my address and show up on my doorstep.

    I want to be safe. I want the right to play as I wish, as whomever I wish. I want to be able to escape into a character and be me for awhile. And a non-gamer will never, ever understand that.

  • MMO/Gaming

    Pass the Popcorn

    No, I’m not dead. There have been quite a few mornings when mortality almost seemed preferable to going into the much-hated job (the damned coin never seemed to fall the right way up!) but in the end I’m still here.

    I’ve been quite cheered up by the whole RealID fiasco – I haven’t seen drama of this level in years. Soooo juicy! I’m horrified over the whole idea of RealID, obviously – I refuse to accent RealID friends, and I will no longer post on the forums once that goes into effect – but the drama itself is so entertaining. The “outing” of Blizz CM Bashiok was hilarious. Horrifying for him personally, of course, and I’m not unfeeling about that, but quite a good illustration of how disastrously this can go wrong. For him it was unwanted pizza deliveries, calls to his home number, and a public posting of past legal transgressions that I’m sure he would have preferred to not be public for the whole world to know. For someone else, it could be fatal. It has happened before.

    Although Blizzard seems set on rolling out our real names to everyone connected to us in game, I can’t help but think that they have to be at least a little bit nervous about this. It’s not as though they can’t afford to lose a few subscriptions here and there, granted. But no company wants something of this magnitude rocking the gaming world.

    It would be hilariously ironic if the much-discussed WoW Killer was, in the end, Blizzard themselves.

    EDIT: I had to link to a seriously great post on the subject from Righteous Orbs: Seriously Not Okay. Also check out the tip on disabling your addon’s ability to post your info. I was aware that this was a problem, but I didn’t know how to prevent it. Thanks!

    Forcing people to post using their real names is going to open up anybody with a “foreign” sounding name to racist or xenophobic abuse. It is going to open up people with female-identifying names to misogynist abuse and sexual harassment. And even if we ignore the out-and-out bigots who make up a vocal part of the online community, the fact is that even otherwise sensible people can and will make judgments about you based on your gender or perceoved background – your guide to DK DPS in patch 4.3 will be better received if you post it as David Williamson instead of Jalpa Patel or Helen Roberts.

    Nicely put! Go and read that post.

    EDIT: And this, from Hardcore Casual – another good post. See?  I’m not the only one who finds this whole thing supremely amusing.  :D

    LAST EDIT: And here it is, the source of it all: Blizzard and Facebook’s friendly social networking deal launches with ‘StarCraft II. Our measly subscriptions and pricey sparkle ponies weren’t enough to feed the greed. We wuz sold out, friends and raiders…we wuz sold out.