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People in World of Warcraft costumes, at DragonCon Parade in Atlanta in Michael Rivera2009.
People in World of Warcraft costumes, at DragonCon Parade in Atlanta
Since the late 1960s the number of people who play video games for at least an hour a day numbers about half a billion, worldwide. The games are played on multiple platforms, and cover a wide range of genres. As a cultural anthropologist I find the communities and cultures created by games played in tandem with others to be of compelling interest, and I've found that in the same way that communities form on the internet and in the blogosphere, the cultures of online massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) often mirror the contradictions and political struggles we face in real life around identity—gender, racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation.

MMORPGs, whether subscriber based or free to play have an enormous userbase, with World of Warcraft 7.6 million subscribers, even though their numbers are down from a high of 12 million in 2010. These numbers are larger than the populations of some nations. If you look at the total number of players just of MMORPGs, they rival, and surpass the population of most nations, except China or India.

Contrary to the myths and stereotypes about just who gamers are (teenaged young men) industry and research studies show a different picture. The "2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry" produced by the Entertainment Software Association, (pdf) paints a different demographic portrait. Today's gamers average age is 30, 68 percent of gamers are age 18 or older, and 45 percent of gamers are female.

Real-world issues play out in these fantasy realms, not only in the real-time chat that takes place in-game between and among players, but are also embedded in the actual design and content of the games themselves.

Please read below the fold for more on the culture of gaming.

Sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and agism rears its ugly head in game, and in many ways is built into game design. This should come as no surprise—real people play games, and bring their real-life biases with them. No one who has ever visited certain websites, or read through the comments sections on news pages or YouTube should even be surprised.

But there are efforts to address these ills.

Some self-disclosure is in order at this point. I'm a gamer. I grew up in a family that played games of all kinds, and as an avid reader of science fiction/swords and sorcery since childhood I was drawn to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) when I got older. My choice of avatar was always magic-user, and that led me to early video role-playing games (RPGs) with mages and warlocks and magical elves. I played my way through many games, like Ultima and the Elder Scrolls in single-player mode, and a number of years ago dipped my keyboard fingers into the waters of the multiplayer experience, at the suggestion of a friend.

It did not start out well. Oh, I loved the game play, and the idea of interacting with others for quests, and immediately made my first character a mage. Some of that interaction swiftly became ugly. As a woman of color I had to deal with daily confrontations with people using the n-word, spewing xenophobic slurs about Latinos and Asians, slinging around homophobic rants, and the first two guilds I joined were a disaster. I went back to playing solo, and turned off what is known as trade chat. By happy circumstance, while blogging here at Daily Kos, I happened upon a new diary series and community, the Daily Kos World of Warcraft Guild, which was comprised of members of a WoW guild founded by Kossak Moody Loner, and named "Wreck List" for the Daily Kos tongue-in-cheek nickname for the "rec list" (recommended list) of daily diaries here. I immediately paid to transfer my main toons from the server they were on, and switched my gameplay from Alliance to Horde to join the guild and have been there ever since.

Our guild leader, Dkosmama was interviewed by WoW Insider about the Guild back in 2011. Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Progressive guild thrives under uncommon leadership team. In the article she talks about the genesis of the guild's Declaration of Purpose and Principles, which includes this statement:

Welcome to the home of the Wreck List, the guild for liberal and progressive bloggers and their family and friends! Moodyloner founded the Wreck List  to be a sanctuary from the bigotry and the threatening racist, homophobic, and misogynist language and ideas that we have had to endure while playing until now.

While guild chat is mostly non-political, it is also where we express our leftist political views, which sometimes may include a sharp word or two about republicans. Because some guild members did not come to the Wreck List through political blogs, we do not expect everyone to hold progressive views on all issues; however, we do expect that all members respect the liberal foundation of the guild. This guild is a haven for us and not a forum for debating the views espoused by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry or other provocative figures on the right. To that end, we do not tolerate promotion of right wing candidates or points of view in guild chat, whispers, or in vent. If you are a supporter of such candidates or a supporter of the Tea Party or their views, then the Wreck List isn't the guild for you, nor is it the guild for friends and family who are interested in such things.

I have seen the difference our guild makes in combating ugliness on our server, with the assistance of the in-game employees of Blizzard. We are certainly not the first gamers in WoW to address this. The Proudmoore server has long been the home of LBGT guilds and has established similar groups in other MMOGs they hold annual Proudmoore Pride events.


We even became the subject of Republican pout-rage against one of our guild members, Colleen Lachowicz, when she ran for office in Maine, charging her gaming made her "unfit for office" (she won).

She said in response:

I think it's weird that I'm being targeted for playing online games. Apparently I'm in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games. What's next? Will I be ostracized for playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends? If so, guilty as charged!
I have to admit that when I mention to my students that I am very active in a WoW guild they are surprised (and impressed) to hear that this 66 year old is a gamer. Quite a few of my guild-mates are in my age range and we have parents and grandparents who play with other younger family members.

Other MMORPGs have recently been embroiled in issues surrounding LBGT character development and same gender relationships and game play, notably Star Wars the Old Republic (SWtOR).

Game designer David Gaider was quoted saying:

The romances in the game are not for "the straight male gamer". They're for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don't need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant ... and that's ignoring the idea that they don't have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else.
On the depiction of racial/ethnic minorities as non-sterotyped main characters there has long been open criticism of game developers, especially given the large number of players of color worldwide. Geeks of color are speaking out, along with nerds of color and women of color, and there are now blogs like Token Minorities, and discussions of misrepresentation of minorities. The lack of diversity in the world of game developers and designers is a question being addressed. There are a slew of critiques like this one:
To see Dragon Age fall back on that trope of “Humans Are White, Fantastic Races are POC” was really disheartening and just plain tiresome, to be honest. This has been a thing for as long as I can remember in fantasy, especially sword and sorcery fantasy in fantasy counterpart versions of medieval Europe like Thedas. People of color, if they exist at all in these settings, are typically either Orientalist Yellow Peril monsters from the ~Forbidden East~, or dark barbarian hordes from the wastelands outside the pristine lily white lands of the heroes, always threatening the white status quo somehow. At best, we’re noble savages who can teach the white heroes ancient wisdom and life lessons about how to be better people. This, despite so much history available about the diversity of medieval Europe, how it was much less white than people generally believe it to be. I know that Thedas really relies on the fantasy counterpart culture idea, but in a land of blood magic and dwarves and darkspawn, the idea that societies are racially and ethnically homogeneous is ... weird? Squicky? Fucked up?
Of note are some new efforts. Assassin's Creed, Cry of Freedom has taken on the Caribbean slave trade as a storyline, with main characters like Adéwalé.


They have already had a fascinating heroine, in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, Aveline du Grandpre.  

They have not overlooked the development of Native American characters either. Ratonhnhaké:ton, in Assassin’s Creed III was developed with the help of an actual cultural consultant.

The consultant, Thomas Deer of the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center, helped steer Ubisoft Montreal away from errors. When the team asked about including ceremonial masks in the game, Deer warned them that any visual depiction of the sacred masks is considered offensive.  He advised them on which types of clothing and jewelry to use and which types of spiritual music were off-limits. Even Connor’s name had to be cleared for use–in Mohawk culture, each name must be unique–and Ubisoft’s lawyers agreed not to trademark it.
“It seemed like they went above and beyond in trying to get the community involved,” Deer said in an interview, “and I don’t think it was really so much to cover their butts, just that they wanted to have a real, authentic product that stood up.”

There are independent projects that have begun to push the envelope and raise these issues. One such is the The Arkh Project "an effort by some queer people of color to make a 3-D RPG that runs off the beaten path", which has come under attack from haters who claim their efforts are "reverse racist." There are transgender game designers like Anna Anthropy, who are becoming more visible.

I could write multiple posts on women, gender roles, sexism in gaming and female characters. Alyssa Rosenberg raised the issue, yet again in Women Are Half Of Video Gamers, So Where Are The Female Video Game Characters?.

The Entertainment Software Association has affirmed what we already know. Unsurprisingly, an awful lot of women play video games, and that women are well-represented among frequent game purchasers:

According to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 45% of the entire game playing population are women and they comprise 46% of the most frequent video game purchasers. The study, 2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, found that women 18 and older make up 31% of the video game-playing population, while boys 17 and under represent only 19% of today’s gamers. Another study released by Magid Advisors found that 70% of women between the ages of 12 and 24 play video games. The study also found 61% of women between the ages of 45 and 64 also play games, compared to 57% of men in the same age group.

There are numerous books on the market addressing this, from Gender Inclusive Game Design: Expanding The Market, to Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming:
Ten years after the groundbreaking From Barbie to Mortal Kombat highlighted the ways gender stereotyping and related social and economic issues permeate digital game play, the number of women and girl gamers has risen considerably. Despite this, gender disparities remain in gaming. Women may be warriors in World of Warcraft, but they are also scantily clad "booth babes" whose sex appeal is used to promote games at trade shows. Player-generated content has revolutionized gaming, but few games marketed to girls allow "modding" (game modifications made by players). Gender equity, the contributors to Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat argue, requires more than increasing the overall numbers of female players.

Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat brings together new media theorists, game designers, educators, psychologists, and industry professionals, including some of the contributors to the earlier volume, to look at how gender intersects with the broader contexts of digital games today: gaming, game industry and design, and serious games. The contributors discuss the rise of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and the experience of girl and women players in gaming communities; the still male-dominated gaming industry and the need for different perspectives in game design; and gender concerns related to emerging serious games (games meant not only to entertain but also to educate, persuade, or change behavior). In today's game-packed digital landscape, there is an even greater need for games that offer motivating, challenging, and enriching contexts for play to a more diverse population of players.

I also suggest looking at Feminist Frequency, Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which is "an ongoing series of video commentaries exploring gender representations, myths and messages in popular culture media. Created and hosted by Anita Sarkeesian."

As a result of ongoing challenges to the status quo some male developers are opening their minds to change.

Beyond issues of gender and representation, these vast communities of gamers, similar in many ways to other internet users of a progressive bent have an enormous potential. This Ted Talk raises those issues.



Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
Some interesting applications of gaming skills have already been applied to real-world problems, for example, gamers solved the decade-old HIV puzzle in ten days.

We shall see what the future holds for gaming and gamers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, and Daily Kos World of Warcraft Guild.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and talk n/t (131+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi, jrand, shades at midnite, Mlle L, blue jersey mom, glitterscale, JaxDem, JClarkPDX, geordie, translatorpro, BenderRodriguez, SeattleTammy, Dave in Northridge, eeff, kyril, Aji, GreyHawk, Avilyn, Velocity, Crashing Vor, Grassroots Mom, EAColeInEmporia, Geenius at Wrok, blw, pat bunny, Moody Loner, kck, gchaucer2, Lacy LaPlante, karmsy, FloridaSNMOM, Nina Katarina, m00finsan, NYFM, Cassandra Waites, Siri, cskendrick, Catesby, belinda ridgewood, shanikka, Mnemosyne, BlueJessamine, kumaneko, detroitmechworks, Timaeus, Vodou Chile, concernedamerican, SpamNunn, fluffy, tytalus, DavidMS, AkaEnragedGoddess, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, worldlotus, OpherGopher, cyberpuggy, MKDAWUSS, eru, nomandates, Transactivist, Wildthumb, Pithy Cherub, thenekkidtruth, Silvan Elf, kishik, tofumagoo, Tara the Antisocial Social Worker, foresterbob, TheDuckManCometh, jck, LeftieIndie, LilithGardener, shermanesq, 3rdOption, EastcoastChick, Lonely Liberal in PA, sow hat, annan, ArthurPoet, jessical, pasadena beggar, Jane in Maine, sebastianguy99, Chitown Kev, anodnhajo, Turbonerd, Jyotai, Ian Reifowitz, Alice Venturi, Prinny Squad, Cali Scribe, nhox42, Lordcaradoc, FogCityJohn, The Marti, Neon Vincent, doingbusinessas, BeninSC, CA ridebalanced, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, annieli, Hayate Yagami, susans, duhban, Black Knight, rbird, Matt Z, ReneeNY, Debbie in ME, Smoh, arlene, brentbent, Greyhound, ban nock, Steveningen, Dr Colossus, corvaire, Oaktown Girl, AntonBursch, Ahianne, grollen, JanetT in MD, Debby, Garfnobl, shortgirl, avsp, splashy, Cofcos, irishwitch, klamothe, gardnerhill

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 11:26:26 PM PST

    •  My business partner adores (15+ / 0-)

      Jane, and she was fascinated by one of our projects we just started beta on and retweeted it. She's a huge believer in using the gaming system to work on real life issues. In our case, we developed an app to use while you're on a treadmill, stationary bike, etc. that you can use and view our world in real time as you're going. Trying to get America moving again and not be bored while using those pieces of machinery.

      The numbers you quote above are directly in line with what I see when I do market analysis of our current user base in our business, although we're looking to branch it out more to the teens here soonish. We had a booth here at SXSW this year, and were amazed at how quickly the tech was adapted by the kids was. They took to it like ducks take to water.

      I will say that the review on DA probably wasn't very fair though. It's one of my all time favorite SP games, and I played it all the way through over 6 times... I STILL load it in when I don't want to be social but want to go kill stuffs. BioWare made the races according to traditional models, but you can by all means make them as fair or as dark as you want.

      Also, my business partner was thrilled when he got Deus Ex and was all over that. I found it interesting until he pointed out that the hero was male. I said, what no female version? He said no, I said then I have no interest playing a male. He said, isn't that kind of sexist? I said if the gaming company can't be bothered to realize over 40% of gamers are female and adjust their story line (as BioWare did for Dragon Age II) accordingly, they don't need my money.

      It is every person's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what they takes out of it. - Albert Einstein (edited for modern times to include everyone by me!)

      by LeftieIndie on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 09:38:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this (37+ / 0-)

    I'm a female, mid 50s, who started playing video games with my grandson and have been hooked ever since . I've always kept my gaming strictly off-line as I thought myself an odd duck.  I've been interested in WoW for a while but don't know much about it.  I now intend to correct that.  

  •  Feminist geeks/gamers (25+ / 0-)

    can find a bit of a haven at The Mary Sue.  There have been amazing conversations of online and in-person sexism and other unpleasant interactions that the gaming culture is trying to change.

  •  I've never had an interest in... (27+ / 0-)

    RPGs and the like, but I do enjoy playing sports games on the PS3 and Wii.

    But our 12-year-old? He'd be perfectly content to play Minecraft 18 hours a day, if we allowed him to do so.

    What I've realized over the years, though, is that all videogames are educational, not just the ones touting educational merits.

    Even if we're playing Madden, there's a lot of thinking and strategizing going on.

    I think playing video games is a much healthier activity than passively watching some stupid television show.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:19:16 AM PST

  •  I was into war games (16+ / 0-)

    as a teen, but those were played on cardboard boards with the combatants (ranging from individual soldiers to division or corps size units, depending on the game) being little cardboard squares and paper rule books (usually LONG rule books).

    I never met a female who played these, although there doubtless were some.  As a teen, meeting people was not my forte. :-)

    I never got into the sort of games you discuss here; I was very into Civilization for a while, but I played it alone against the computer (you started with a small tribe, you won by being first to colonize Alpha Centauri).

  •  I'm not a gamer (17+ / 0-)

    But I teach with a 60 year old woman who is, and I know she isn't alone in her not-white-maleness. Thanks for making this point so well, Dee.

  •  This is fascinating . . . (8+ / 0-)
    Since the late 1960s the number of people who play video games for at least an hour a day numbers about half a billion, worldwide.
    In that with the technological advances during this time, the number of people playing the ever improving games might be expected to go up dramatically, not fall by almost 1/2 (based on a per capita basis - probably even more if one factors in the number of people who can actually afford them today as compared to 50 years ago).
  •  Great stuff! (15+ / 0-)

    Thanks Dee for the diary and all these references - I have a reading list now!  As your guild mate (and fellow 60-something) in WOW, I can attest to the importance of our guild as a haven in game, but also, I think, a force for good.  While we love our own guild chat where we talk about anything from Republican madness to what "moo" in French sounds like, Wreck List members are also very active in calling out racism, sexism and homophobia in the wider community as well - I guess our unofficial motto is don't just ignore it, report it.    We have many players over 50 - and several over 60 - who participate in every aspect of the game.  One of the things I most cherish about all this is that I play with (and raid with) a group of  people that ranges in age from 66 down to 21 - and the friendships I have made in game are real and I treasure them.

    And it's not just WOW - I have a friend who is African-American, 60'ish, and an avid gamer in MMORGs, although she plays The Secret World, and other games rather than WOW.  She uses the virtual world of Second Life as part of her teaching as well - the possibilities are endless.

    When the WOWInsider article came out about us, there were many comments scoffing at how a guild with our guiding principles could ever succeed - everyone has access to stuff in our guild bank, and we raise money for it communally, thanks to Dee's hard work at selling stuff that guild members grow and send her.  Yet 2 years later, we're always close to the cap for guild members, we have people on line all the time organizing activities, 3 raid groups and many more informal raiding activities - we've been around for 4 1/2 years, while other guilds have come and gone.

    Thanks for this!

  •  Proud female gamer here (15+ / 0-)

    Mostly computer games, although I was never a fan of mutli-player/MMO games with people I don't know.  LAN parties with friends are a different thing ;-)

    On the computer, I tend towards single player games; Elder Scrolls, Civ, and XCOM are my latest time sinks.  Games that don't let you pick a female avatar always bothered me.  XCOM, for instance - your character is never seen in the game, you're just "The Commander" and the game is seen through your eyes.  But everyone refers to you with male pronouns and there's no way to change that.  It's worse when your avatar is visible in a game, and male is the only option.

    I still play D&D at least once a month; our current gaming group is 3 men & 3 women, ages between 33-45 and includes 2 POC.

    Shop Kos Katalogue
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:35:10 AM PST

    •  Forgot to say, awesome article Denise! (10+ / 0-)

      Love the links (just got back from reading the FoldIt one - my husband played with that for a while).  :-)

      Shop Kos Katalogue
      I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

      by Avilyn on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:41:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was like you for a long time (12+ / 0-)

      doing only single player - if it wasn't for Daily Kos that's where I would probably still be.  

      The games that don't provide for female avatars astound me in this day and age

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:44:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There was a bit of grumbling on the 2K forums (8+ / 0-)

        with Civ V, over the number of female leaders included.  (In Civ, you pick a country/civilization to play, and it is represented by a ruler from that country, eg playing as USA represented by Washington or India represented by Gandhi.)  The gamers on the forums felt that non-representative or poor leaders were being picked just so that the game had a higher number of female leaders.

        I just counted and in the base game, the ratio is 15:3 Male to Female.  Their first expansion does the best, with an even 5:5 M-F ratio, but the second expansion is 8:1 Male to Female.  So if you have all of the expansions, you get a choice of 28 male leaders vs 9 females.  Oh yes, clear political correctness and over-representation of female leaders .

        Shop Kos Katalogue
        I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

        by Avilyn on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:15:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can definitely see that as a problem (12+ / 0-)

        in games where you do create/choose an avatar and play as that avatar.

        However, in 'storytelling' games where you play through the eyes of a particular character in a fixed story, I can see an argument for giving that character a fixed appearance and gender. Those games are written more or less as interactive books or movies, and they only ask you to identify with the main character to the same extent that you might identify with the main character of a book or movie.

        It's worth noting that there are quite a lot of high-profile, extremely successful games that fit that description where the main character is female. Portal and Portal 2 come to mind right away. The Lara Croft series. Several of the Resident Evils. I would argue that it would be better to support and encourage more games like this - games that develop a story around a clearly defined female character and ask the player to identify with her - rather than taking what sort of feels like the cop-out route of asking publishers to provide gender options for every playable character so that everyone can just play what feels comfortable.

        (I feel the same way about race representation. I'd much rather have more games that get white male gamers playing as e.g. black women than have a raft of customization options in story games so that everyone gets to stay in their comfort zone all the time.)

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:31:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I like games that have a female char (5+ / 0-)
      Games that don't let you pick a female avatar always bothered me.  XCOM, for instance - your character is never seen in the game, you're just "The Commander" and the game is seen through your eyes.  But everyone refers to you with male pronouns and there's no way to change that.  It's worse when your avatar is visible in a game, and male is the only option.
      for me to pick, but I never really sweated the lack. Sometimes it's an advantage to have a male char and sometimes it would be better to have a female char. Like Denise says, people bring their bias into the game with them. My strategy has been to try to capitalize on it whenever possible. For instance, in direct competition with a sexist male, revealing that you are female (when your char is male) and that they are getting their ass kicked by a woman can drive your opponent to make huge blunders. I have used this to my advantage many times to great effect. Or alternatively, having a female character can cause some male gamers to spend a lot of time trying to talk to you and less paying attention to the game. It depends on the game and the people you're playing with.

      Anyway, I know who I am and what I can do and by extension what that says or doesn't say about my gender as a whole. One of the best things about the online gaming experience is being able to be whoever you want to be.

    •  One odd thing about Skyrim.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, geordie, Denise Oliver Velez

      ...which my partner immediately noticed (she's genderqueer) is that while they allow you to marry a person of the same gender, and there are no homophobic or implicitly homophobic comments in the game so far as we remember, there are no other same-sex couples -- none among the NPCs. Not a single one in the entire game. This is very odd indeed, a sort of patchy implementation of tolerance.

      Then there's Fallout: New Vegas, which contains one (1) lesbian and one (1) gay man. And as you might expect, the lesbian is impossible to miss -- she is literally standing by the side of the highway you'll probably travel down, but the gay man is buried in a compound and takes quite a bit of time to find.

      (Of course, the add-on Dead Money expanded the inventory to two [2] lesbians. However, even though one of them used to be the partner of the other, and the two were broken up by the machinations of the villain, you are not allowed to tell either of them about the other's existence. It gets truly weird when you can get the personal armor, sniper rifle, and so on of one of them and give them to the other one to wear, but you can't say a word about where they came from. They missed a real opportunity to improve the story -- a reunion would have been very moving -- but I guess someone's courage gave out.)

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:40:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  New Vegas contained more than one lesbian and one (4+ / 0-)

        gay man. If you are talking about companions that can travel with your party, then you are right. At that point it's not under representation as there are only six total human characters that can permanently join your party and two of them aren't heterosexual. There's also the cyborg dog and the floating robot Ed-E that can also join your crew. But in the game world there are far more lesbians and gay men in it, you just have to take the perk that enables them for you to know that information. If you're female and take the perk you will meet different lesbians throughout the game that wouldn't otherwise introduce themselves to your character.

        Radio Free Moscow -- A Blue Beacon in the Red State of Idaho -8.5219, -2.0592

        by brentbent on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:41:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but my point stands. (0+ / 0-)

          Unless you take that perk and acquire the game version of gaydar, everyone but these few look straight as straight can be. In other words, the non-straight world is a hidden one to the majority of the population. It would be understandable if there were strong homophobia in the game's society, and thus a need to hide, but since there seems to be none, it's just weird.

          "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

          by sagesource on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:09:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was also a big D&D fan in high school, and (8+ / 0-)

    was playing vid games on my first 286xs12 computer (remember Cosmic Cosmo?) . I played the shareware version of Catacombs of the Abyss, played Wolfenstein 3d endlessly, and went on to Doom and Doom 2. Heck, I still have Microsoft Combat Flight Sim 2 on my computer and play it often. I use my XBox mostly to play Star Wars Battlefront 2.

    Never was much into the multiplayer thing though--usually never had a fast enough Internet connect for it.

    I'm 52, so whenever I get something at the game store I always make a crack about "not being in your demographic".  :)

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:35:21 AM PST

  •  So I am not a gamer, but I am game (6+ / 0-)

    What if you plugged in real world things like our current totalitarian government, the media consortium of 6 companies, the insane buy out of our government by the Waltons, the Kochs and the wall street crooks and big oil and others, the looming global warming crisis, the global economic crises what would happen?

    It seems that all my life we have been bombing someone, teaching them a lesson. Every day I understand more deeply how violent we are. Violent to others and violent to ourselves. - Robert Olmstead

    by glitterscale on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:36:29 AM PST

  •  Never been much of a gamer (8+ / 0-)

    Although I loved me my Atari 2600/5200 and Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command back when they were state of the art (and I was too young to feel guilty about playing them all day) and I will always associate Christmas and the holiday season with video games because that's when all the new games seemed to come out and I had the best chance of having my parents buy me one as a gift (for Hanukkah, of course). But that was before anyone had ever heard of the internet let alone was connected to it, so games were played solely on one's game console, and there was no net-based multiplaying.

    I'm impressed by how far the technology has advanced since then, and keep toying with the idea of dipping my feet back in again, but I have no idea where to start. I did get my young nephews a copy of Sonic All-Star Transformers to play on my PC when they visit, which I sometimes play with them. But I find it kind of boring, as I do all racing games. I'm more of a shooting game kind of person, but the level and nature of the violence, blood and gore of today's shooting games kind of creeps me out. Too "real". I'd probably prefer shooting moving vehicles, planes and space ships.

    Plus, the fake macho aspect of many of today's games puts me off. They seem designed for unhappy chest-beating young and middle-aged conservative men in lieu of buying a new Porsche or playing paintball, who think that combat is cool and the true test of manhood (never having been in real combat or worn a uniform themselves, of course). I view video games as an escape from rather than as an adjunct to real life, as I'm not looking to let my "true self" express itself in games, or earn the respect of fellow joystick jockeys, but simply veg out for a few hours doing something mindless and meaningless but fun.

    I have no idea where to even begin in terms of what games I might like.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:40:46 AM PST

    •  Try Portal and Portal 2 (11+ / 0-)

      Your main tool is a "gun," but it's a gun that shoots interdimensional holes in walls. It's a puzzle-solver, and a brilliant one.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:47:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also the Mass Effect series (6+ / 0-)

        Low on the gore, high on the spaceships, with great roleplaying opportunities -- you can be a Boy Scout, a badass or anything in between.

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:48:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK, reading comprehension is important (5+ / 0-)

          I guess you're more into arcade-style games. I don't play many of those myself, so I'll just shut up now. :-)

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:50:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Non-dystopic shooting games is how I might put it (5+ / 0-)

            I.e. you shoot things that are clearly not people, living or real (although, I suppose, there are people inside those tanks and space ships).

            I really have no idea. If I'm serious about getting back into playing games, I just need to spend some time taking a look at today's titles and see what interests me. For all I know they're still making the Leisure Suit Larry series and it's gotten REALLY realistic. :-)

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:57:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Mass Effect had potential... (4+ / 0-)

          But the third game segued into all of the stereotypical macho crap that I HATE in RPG's.

          Interesting female characters got "Barbied", most of the plot was dumbed down, and there was so much garbage where I just wanted my character to be able to say "This is ridiculous" the option was no longer there, where it HAD been present in the previous games.

          Apart from the exceptional voice performances, there's really no reason to play number 3.  In my head canon, the series ended at 2.

          I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

          by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:34:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, I so disagree. (6+ / 0-)

            One of the things I appreciated about ME3 was that, as much as you were up against the wall militarily, what ultimately mattered in the end was what you could accomplish diplomatically.

            Also, there was less Miranda, which is always a good thing. :-]

            I did find it wryly amusing that on the one hand, the series lampshaded and spoofed various sexist tropes,* but on the other hand, the female characters' breasts got larger with every new game in the series.

            * Most hilarious dialogue in the game:

            "You mean you're her other mother, right?"
            "No. I didn't pop her out."
            "Sorry. If you were human, you'd both be called the 'mother,' regardless of which one gave birth."
            "Well, I'm not human, am I? Anthropocentric bag of dicks."

            "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

            by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:41:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I see that as the last gasps... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi

              of Bioware trying valiantly to resist the EA onslaught.

              Unfortunately, the ending did ruin the series for me.

              I also really dislike how they ended Jack's story arc (My personal favorite character) by "Softening" the character.

              Overall I think the game had potential that was squandered by a last game money grab.

              I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

              by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:46:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  The Mass Effect series does limit your main (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, kyril

          character to being white but they can have gay relationships and even cross species relationships. Not to mention one of the main races is all female. Great trilogy of games.

          Radio Free Moscow -- A Blue Beacon in the Red State of Idaho -8.5219, -2.0592

          by brentbent on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:55:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You can try out Wow for free (10+ / 0-)

      You can play WOW free up to level 20, and give it a try if you like?  We've had a couple of people join the guild recently, from Daily Kos, and one at least (also an older woman) has never played any game like this before - and she is loving it.  I had never played anything like this (well, some pretty futile attempts at playing Ultima on the PC, long before the online version), before I read one of Moody's early diaries, was intrigued. bought the game and joined the guild, and 4 years later, it's a big part of my daily activities.  

      One of the many things I love about WOW is that there are all sorts of things I like doing that don't have anything to do with any sort of combat - I love levelling crafts, for example, and cultivating my farm, changing my toons' looks with "transmogrification", etc.  But there are also all sorts of combat styles  in game too, ranging from shooting monsters one or one to very complex raid fights that require a high level of organization of a team.  

      While I see "macho" aspects in the game, to me they're not the dominant motif - and as you can tell from us older women posting here, it has a wide demographic appeal.  In fact, I think most of the complaints on forums associated with WOW come from young people who'd like it to be more macho than it is.

      There are also other "free to play" games that you could try, like Star Wars:The Old Republic, and I think The Secret World is FTP as well.  It does help to have a good internet connection, though, for all of these.

      •  I believe that would be me you are referring to, (9+ / 0-)

        the newbie old lady Kossack who recently "rolled" my first "toon". I will confirm that I am having a grand time ... ;-)

        During the first few weeks I actually had to put myself on "parental controls" to limit my time online. Just learning the lingo is like learning a second language and I am constantly flabbergasted at scope of the game. Sometimes I just go sit in Moonglade and fish next to the waterfall. Or simply fly around looking at the amazing variety of landscapes. Can't wait to get my own farm, but first I have to figure out which toon I will level up because they are all so interesting that nobody is over 35 yet.

        DOV, thanks for this amazing diary. I loved the links to the Proudmore Pride event and can't wait to parade through Orrigimar next summer.

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:46:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Seconding Portal/Portal 2 (6+ / 0-)

      Absolutely fantastic, creative, intriguing, and just outright fun games. No blood, no gore, everything is actually kind of adorable (in a post-apocalyptic-dystopia-run-by-an-insane-sentient-computer sort of way).

      They have fairly low system requirements - should run decently on a blogging PC - and are currently available on sale on Steam for $4.99 and $9.99, respectively.

      It's also worth just sort of browsing through the Steam offerings. There's a host of indie retro titles of various sorts including space shooters and other silliness.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:39:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  OOOH (7+ / 0-)

      Atari 2600 and 5200 - I still have my 5200 with the games in the garage!!!  As well as all of my Nintendos LOL.

      Once I get through today's festivities (my son's wedding in 8 hours) maybe I will look for them!

    •  It depends on what type of game you like (6+ / 0-)

      A game with all around good game play is Borderlands 2 and it gives you the option to play alone or with a max of 3 other people. The storyline is good and it's not a direct competition game, it's a cooperative game. So if you play with others, you are helping each other defeat the AI. But it is a shooter, so if you don't like the idea of shooting even AI chars, it wouldn't be the best game for you.

      •  I think I would enjoy shooting "things" (6+ / 0-)

        more than "beings", even if it's all virtual. Put it this way, if I was into guns (which I'm not), I'd probably be into target shooting, be they fixed or moving. In fact my only experiences with shooting anything is with target shooting, basically either BB guns or those air-powered pellet guns in amusement parks. Unless you include water guns, in which case living things are fair game.

        So, I would probably translate this to the virtual gaming world. But actual violence, be it real or virtual, just doesn't appeal to me.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:13:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of the AI in Borderlands 2 are robots (6+ / 0-)

          some monster type things and some human "gangs", though they make it easy to shoot these as the gang characters are big and mean, small and crazy, or some combination there of. It's hard not to want to shoot the mad cackling guy running towards you trying to set your char on fire :) I would say that my favorite parts of the game are the guide robot character and the dialogue. It's totally possible to find games without any violence though, but as I'm into FPS mostly, I'm not going to be a font of info on that score. I can tell you that it's pretty easy to find your favorite board games online  now. I've been playing a web based version of Cataan for example.

    •  if you like shooting games but less gore (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Yasuragi, Denise Oliver Velez

      have a look at the (somewhat dated, now) Deus Ex series.

      Its a (series of) shooters with role play elements, an extremely strong narrative, and most of it can be played nonviolently as well (there are thief/sneaker solutions to most levels).

      And since its quite dated now it doesn't require you to have expensive gaming gear.

    •  Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are great open (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, kyril

      ended games where you can play any style of character from a shining beacon of hope to a selfish jerk that screws over everybody and helps the slavers out and any thing in between. The world is open ended so you can follow the main plot line but you can also go off adventuring to wherever getting involved in all kinds of intrigue. And there's quite a bit of social commentary throughout the game, especially the concept that war is stupid and pointless. The setting is a parallel universe Earth where the futuristic promises of the 1950's came true so they have nuclear powered cars, robots, laser guns, etc. Everything was swell until nuclear war frakked the planet over. The majority of the survivors were vault dwellers, people who lived inside massive underground self-sustaining structures. The games take place a few centuries after the wars so most places are radiation free but a lot of water is tainted and some areas of land are still tainted too. Definitely start with Fallout 3 unless you love Vegas or Westerns.

      Radio Free Moscow -- A Blue Beacon in the Red State of Idaho -8.5219, -2.0592

      by brentbent on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:53:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amazing article as always... (8+ / 0-)

    However, I have a just one complaint:

    I was right along with you until you mentioned the Horde. I feel cheated (cheapened maybe?) somehow.

    I have been a fan of fantasy books and games for quite some time, and I am always a little shocked when I read about a character or see an online representation that depicts the outlandish characters as a POC. Trolls in WoW immediately come to mind. They are depicted as Jamaican, from the way they talk to even how they dance.

    Finally, any thoughts about how the characters that are clearly or appear to be ethnic are somehow "whitened" when the show moves to the big screen? I always considered Jon Snow of the Game of Thrones to be a black character, even though that is not supported by any evidence in the books. Projection maybe, but there you have it. I was a little surprised nonetheless to see the character they chose to play him on T.V.  

    PS. For the Alliance!

  •  as the military becomes more and more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi

    computerized, though, games will become the new training tool.  We are already seeing the switch from manned aircraft to remotely-piloted drones, where the "pilot" is sitting at a joystick hundreds or thousands of miles away, watching a screen.

    I can definitely see the Pentagon designing and releasing a series of video games as recruiting tools (like they did with "America's Army"). Heck, if they did a series of sufficiently detailed flight simulators, they could have half the kids in America training themselves as drone pilots before they even reach high school.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:46:49 AM PST

    •  The problem with "Americas Army" (5+ / 0-)

      was that it penalized you for making tactically sound decisions if they were not exactly according to orders.

      For example, you would lose points for sneaking around to the rear of an attacking IFV to hit it with an AT4 because you were "Not in unit cohesion"

      Essentially the game rewarded following idiotic tactics that the Army doesn't even follow anymore.  

      Course that was probably the point, but still...

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 09:38:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are three ways to do things: (2+ / 0-)

        The right way, the wrong way, and the Army way.

        I played America's Army just long enough to reaffirm that when my high school career assessment ranked "soldier" as the absolute worst choice for me, they may have had a point.

        •  Nobody ever thought I would do well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Moody Loner

          in the military because I frankly have a problem with authority.

          But there are few things the Navy rewards more than independent thinking. If you have the guts to challenge authority in an intelligent and reasonably-respectful way, and the self-control to manage to do so in an appropriate time and place, that's called "leadership." I was rewarded for it over and over in evaluations and awards.

          The civilian jobs I've had before and since have been much, much less encouraging.

          I can't speak for the Army but I suspect that in actual practice they probably operate a lot like the Navy. Of course, a live battlefield isn't really the time and place to be questioning very much, and certainly not to be running off doing your own thing; at that point, the key virtue of following the leadership's plan isn't that it's necessarily the right plan but that everyone's on the same plan.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:05:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yay for the Wreck List (14+ / 0-)

    I am so super proud to be involved with such an amazing group of people. My job as guild leader is made so easy with all the support I get from this guild.

    When the article in WowInsider ran, the comments were full of scoffers who asserted that there was no way we could ever survive as a guild run on "socialist" principles. HAHAHAHA!

    We thrive. We actually have the main guild, plus two auxiliary guilds, horde side, one for crafting toons and one for bank alts. All threes of these have guild vaults overflowing with stuff and plenty of gold to pay for everyone's repair bills. Since we started screening heavily through our application process we have never had an issue with anyone taking advantage of our "liberal" guild vault policy regarding the open distribution of resources. If anything, we have more people contributing than making withdrawals.

    We also have a completely open policy on who organize raids or other guild activities. My only job is to set the tone, delegate, promote, delegate some more, answer questions.

    Anyone who has played this game knows that wealth and concentration of power in the hands of the few is what ultimately leads to the disintegration of guilds. We actually saw it happen to another guild on our server where many non-political friends of friends played.

    Back in 2011, we had a member who had joined under our old "friends and family" admissions process who it turned out, was a big fan of Rick Perry and started a argument with one of our members that Social Security was a Ponzi Scheme. She told him where he could put that idea and he left to join the more non-political guild. Because he was a "good player" and helpful in the game, he was eventually given the job of Guild Leader. Then after a disagreement with some of the members, he took everything in the guild vault and moved the whole guild to another server. Yes, he basically stole the guild from those who had founded it and had been playing together for at least ten years.

    I have seen this happen over and over when it is all about taking and not giving.

    A working man robs a bank and it's a federal manhunt. A banker robs a working man and gets a bailout.

    by Grassroots Mom on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:47:49 AM PST

  •  gaming can be subversive (3+ / 0-)

    Playing D&D and Shadowrunner in a mixed gender and mixed orientation setting certainly allowed me and my friends to explore aspects of ourselves and discover out sexual and creative spirits.  It is often looked down upon because it does not fit the presumptions of the common person, nor does it allow the control of adults and participation of the average uncreative person.  

    That said, i am not a big gamer, except for period of Simcity and tetris.  I do not see the big controversy.  Some people want to play these games, some people don't.  As mentioned, the gameplay in a commercial product is determined by the end user.  For years the end user were guys who needed an alternative definition of the alpha male.  While this is still predominate, there are other reasons for games.

    At the base, the best in my opinion, is just the release.  These are the games that are violent, or creative, or focused.  The rules are purposefully rewritten, and magic, and mayhem, are rampant, the player having a level of control that does not exist in real life.  The problem is when games try to put the rules back in.  Like Second Life.  Or one FPS where I could not blow up the school bus.  I had to wonder is this a game where I am allowed to explore my anti-social behaviors, or where I am being trained to be a soldier?  This is where the games get into trouble.  When they are trying to be more than games.

    Traditional games encourage a negotiation between the players on rules and ethics.  This is their value.  Computer games usually impose those things externally, and only allow a competition, the least meaningful aspect of the traditional game, and one most meaningful to men trying to establish pecking order.  We are back to the redefinition of the alpha male.  It is hard to get away from that.  MMOG is one way to expand that appeal.

    But I wonder how far such appeal can go?  I think back to one of the most popular book series of our time, Harry Potter, and what it teaches us.  That problems are solved not through hard work but through magic.  That the alpha female will eventually end up married to the alpha male, in context, and the therefore the purpose of a man to is find a context in which he is an alpha.  

    I wonder if people who are focused on problem solving, on finding a creative and intellectually, as well as physically, stimulating mate, are going to be gamers.

  •  That TED talk... while wacky... is really (5+ / 0-)

    inspiring.

    Great piece, Dee.  And I want to get me some Assassin's Creed games!

    I saw the Berlin Wall fall; And I saw Mandela walk free; I saw a dream whose time has come Change my history
    -- Johnny Clegg

    by Yasuragi on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 06:59:42 AM PST

  •  I've been educated, once again, and once again,... (10+ / 0-)

    ...thank YOU. I'm really enjoying this. You're an amazing teacher, Denise!

  •  There were not "half a billion" gamers in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ReneeNY

    "late 1960's"

    That is an absurd false factoid.

    •  You're reading the sentence incorrectly. (5+ / 0-)

      That "half a billion" is the number of folks since the 1960s, not in the 1960s.

      How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

      by BenderRodriguez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:18:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps that was not clear (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geordie, kyril, Yasuragi

      click on the link - no where does it say that that many people were gaming at the time video games started.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:25:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But that is what YOUR sentence is saying (0+ / 0-)

        I know it's not true, I was there.

        In fact, the link says video games were not very popular at all in the late 1960's.  

        There may well be a half a billion people who play video games NOW, but that hasn't been true for all the years since the late 1960s as your sentence states.

         It's only recently that the number has gotten up to half a billion.

        This isn't silly picky semantics. Your lead sentence is wrong and misrepresents the article you link to.

        •  Read it again, for crying out loud. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, kyril, geordie

          You're misinterpreting.  And what's your problem?  We told you you were wrong in how you interpreted it, and you're insisting you're right.

          "Since the 1960s" -- what don't you get about that?

          And stop fighting.  You've lost.

          I saw the Berlin Wall fall; And I saw Mandela walk free; I saw a dream whose time has come Change my history
          -- Johnny Clegg

          by Yasuragi on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:19:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This sentence confuses me. (0+ / 0-)

    "Since the late 1960s the number of people who play video games for at least an hour a day numbers about half a billion, worldwide. "

    That would mean that since some time around 1968, there have been 500M people playing video games for an hour a day, with no growth.  That can't be what you mean.

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by Spider Stumbled on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:14:22 AM PST

    •  click the link (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geordie, Moody Loner, shanikka, kyril, Yasuragi
      Video games really didn't appeal to a lot of people when they were first invented and introduced in the 1960s, at least not until Ralph Baer created a home console that brought video games to the masses. Decades later, playing video games has practically become the national pastime, and you might be surprised to learn just how many millions of people play every day.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:26:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gamer here, (10+ / 0-)

    But I have to be choosy about my games because a lot of them make me physically ill. I get Vertigo from a lot of the advanced graphics.

    I play Wizard 101 with my 10 year old and Caedy (the battle sequences are completely different from the movement so it gives my brain a break). I loved Diablo 1 and 2, I haven't tried 3 yet. My autistic son learned social skills on Free Play that he never learned in public school, and developed friendships there that have lasted well beyond the game (one of his friends from there is leaving for boot camp in February).

    But I cut my teeth on D&D way back in middle school. I met my other half playing Vampire the Masquerade on Undernet (Mirc). He's a gamer too. My kids both play mine craft, Sims, Spore (which brought on discussions of evolution and genetics!) and console games. I play some Wii games (again, have to be careful of Vertigo).

    I taught them to read reviews and consider the games they play. My son, for example, was interested in Call of Duty until he found out that he'd have to fight against attack dogs in the game. He decided he wasn't emotionally capable of doing that.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:15:35 AM PST

  •  That reminds me (6+ / 0-)

    I have got to get a paper-and-pencil RPG group together.

    We played Encounters at the local game store and had a good time but missed the next session due to settling in bullshit.

  •  Elder Scrolls (9+ / 0-)

    I've often been impressed by the Elder Scrolls when it comes to inclusion.  I'm legally not allowed to say anything more about Elder Scrolls Online beta besides the fact that I scored one two-day beta test key, however their track record as a company ought to lead you to suppose that they do an excellent job at inclusion and at portraying different cultures with depth and sensitivity.

    I really wish I could say the same about Blizzard, but inclusion always seems to be an afterthought with them.  I guess they tell the story they want to tell and then try to paper over gaps with a couple of perfunctory apologies or a token here or there.  The complete 'boys weekend away' nature of the next expansion makes me hesitant about buying it.  And Hearthstone - ugh.  My only female choices are weepy whiny Jaina or some blood elf traitor rogue I had never heard of before the game.

  •  Time to sing the praises... (15+ / 0-)

    Of one of the FEW companies who I think "Get it."

    That company being 2K.

    Apart from one egregious miss-step (Duke Nukem Forever)  the portrayals of women/minorities in their games have been surprisingly progressive.

    This includes full clothing for female characters, non-gender stereotyped dialog, and even poking fun at gaming stereotypes that are ridiculous.  (In Borderlands 2, for example, one of the quest targets was "Find Less Egregiously Sexist Armor")  

    One of the things that really bugs me is that the larger the company, the more likely they are to be playing it "Safe", and that seems to be engaging in stereotypes, not challenging the dominant paradigm, and generally being sexist/racist/homophobic.  

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:28:05 AM PST

  •  Awesome post. Can't read it all now but will (10+ / 0-)

    later today.

    My wife and I recently went back to the original Everquest, after a hiatus of 13 years.  It's still chugging along, still the greatest.

    She always plays a ranger.  I always play a druid.  We spend a lot of time discussing our MMO adventures.

  •  Yes! I love this one! (7+ / 0-)

    There is indeed a revolution taking hold in the gaming community.
    Both in the players and the creators, and people need to recognize.
    Thank you for this Madrina!

  •  52, Nonwhite, Gamer Girl aka Fierce Fng Healer! (14+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for this, Dee. Since my 20's.  With presence in uncountable single-player games, and with avatars in all of these MMORPGs since launch (and in some cases, beta):

    The Realm

    Ultima Online (for an entire two minutes, at which point I decided that paying to be pickpocketed 47 times before I'd even had a chance to move from my spawn spot was not my cup of tea)

    Everquest

    Everquest II

    World of Warcraft

    Vanguard

    Free Realms

    Rift

    Gods and Heroes

    Neverwinter

    (And somewhat impatiently waiting for EQ Next and EQ Next Landmark!)

    Oh, and the DAH? My Erudite Cleric met her Silver Paladin in the Rathe Mountains (EQers will recognize the place) killing hill giants while engaged in hard core roleplay replete with religion, politics, and the flaws of the human soul in November 1999.  All while sitting on opposite sides of the world.  Today, our gaming machines sit right next to each other in our little house, 10 years of happy marriage later.

    Did I mention that I was a girl? ;)  Not an FPS gal, though--those games never did appeal to me.

    I've married people in game. I've counseled people in game. And, yes, I've engaged in fierce political pushback in game, against the right wing trolls that feel even more empowered when hiding behind avatars to spout their junk. Over the decades, just as Wreck List (of which I am a proud, albeit inactive, member too!) has successfully been changing WoW culture, more and more progressives and liberals--many of them, professionals like myself (There is a lawyer guild in EQ1 called "Dewey Cheatham and Howe" LOL)--are speaking up in chat, are reporting the sexual harassment and gay bashing and racism, and are in particular willing to go to the mattresses to combat the right wing lies.  

    Since gaming is truly just a microcosm of the real world, as you highlight in this wonderful diary.  Thank you for it, and shining a light on those of us who the stereotypes of gaming would tell you do not exist!

  •  I always wondered why no one called out the (6+ / 0-)

    Grand Theft Auto franchise for their obvious pandering to white males.  

    No matter what the scenario, the protagonist was always a young white guy and the "disposable" characters that you could exploit for money and weapons were people of color.  

    “Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:37:29 AM PST

    •  I guess a game where the "disposable" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi

      white characters were members of the chess club, the AV squad and the Knights of Columbus wouldn't sell as well.  

      “Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

      by SpamNunn on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:49:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  GTA is just a stereotyped crime movie. (3+ / 0-)

        If you like crime movies, you'll like the game.  If you don't you won't.

        Some of the characters are POC, some aren't.  However, everybody conforms to the stereotypes of crime movies, so it really doesn't appeal to me.

        However, "Red Dead Redemption" which uses the GTA paradigm, is an Excellent example of non-linear narrative, and some of the best writing in games ever.  It both embraces and deconstructs the stereotypes of westerns, and as a result really is moving in a way that films cannot be.

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:15:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary-- thank you for this. Our son plays (6+ / 0-)

    the Assassins' Creed series and I've been miffed at how the women in the different games all seem like pea hens, the same kind of body, same kind of head covering, same background figures just moving through space.  The background men have more interesting and noticeable clothing than the women do in most of the AC games.  

    I have pointed this out to him and he hadn't noticed it, but even after noticing it and discussing it with me, his feeling is "well, so what?  This isn't the real world, Mom!"  (He is nearly 14.)  He understands that the worlds constructed in the AC games include some stuff, leave other stuff out, and are tailored to a certain kind of experience.  

    I am not a gamer but if I were, I imagine that this kind of thing would bother me immensely.  And yet what I've learned from this diary, and from reading at some of the links you give, is that IF I were a gamer, there are so many things that could attract me into the game worlds, and pull me into play, and thus outweigh (or at least balance) annoyances such as the peahen drabness of women in the AC games.  So thank you for helping me understand that!

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:42:16 AM PST

  •  I knew some people (5+ / 0-)

    like to play with their model train set to unwind and forget their cares in their leisure time. Other people like to go jogging, for the same reason. Until now--not being a video game-player myself--I'd placed "gaming" in exactly this same category. Boy, did that TED video open my eyes.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:43:06 AM PST

  •  Usually the scantily clad hot babes (8+ / 0-)

    you encounter in an MMORPG are run by men (but not always). Most female players don't try to seduce other pixels by doing a pixel strip tease.

    Another item--both my daughter and I chose to run black females (though we are both white) in Runescape and yes, we encountered racism . . . the "block" button works wonders when idiots try to out"smart" the text filters by entering one character per line, etc.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 07:45:06 AM PST

  •  "Custer's Revenge" rape video "game" (3+ / 0-)

    glorified the rape of Indian women:  The objective was for Custer, naked with an erection, to rape an Indian woman tied to a cactus.

    In a diary, i included a video of man "playing the game":

    The 2008 video below shows a man playing the game, yelling out yeah, "fuck that bitch," "rape the shit out of her" while he explains that he is playing this game because he is "very sensitive to the plight of Native Americans."  The terms "fucking" and "getting laid" are interchanged with rape. This player is not offended by rape, but seeks raping that is more challenging and of longer duration.  
    I see in my diary that youtube has since removed this video because it violates its policy prohibiting hate speech.

    However, i checked just now, and the "custer's revenge" video is STILL at youtube.

    Thanks so much for excellent diary on this issue. as always!

  •  Great article Denise! (11+ / 0-)

    How many times have I heard (a) girls don't play video games or even worse (b) hot girls don't play video games. As if I care whether some random dude thinks I'm a hot girl or even a girl.

    My name here comes from gaming. I was eventually given this honorable nick name, enraged goddess, as a counter-strike server administrator known for banning and remapping the keys of people who were sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive. The server admins were often called god and I was definitely pissed off! A couple of iterations later and I was the Enraged Goddess.

  •  Trade Chat (5+ / 0-)

    I have been playing MMOs since Anarchy Online well over a decade ago. Since then I could post a veritable litany of MMOs I have played, but I won't bore ya.

    Trade Chat is the most frustrating thing in the game, but doesn't define a game, as you know.  13 year olds shout their manly manness by using so many vile insults both homophobic and racist.  

    On the other hand, gamers and guilds tend to be some of the most inclusive and open minded people I know.  Because gender is so fluid when you don't know who is powering the 'toon, it makes you question a lot of assumptions.

    I might be lucky in that I played one of the most social MMOs (Anarchy Online) for many years and have met quite a few of the players in real life.  The large European base of players also helped with the open minded, inclusive feeling of the game.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:07:38 AM PST

  •  The Wreck List Horde side requirement (4+ / 0-)

    is a deal breaker for me. I've got 2 lvl 90 WoW characters, both Night Elves, a druid and a priestess, and I didn't want to level up my Blood Elf toon, who is only in her early teens.

    I was getting bored with WoW, though, and switched to LOTRO several months ago. Now I have a 71 Elf loremaster.

  •  arguing on gaming sites... (10+ / 0-)

    I've gotten into a number of online arguments on MMO gaming sites about female representation and exploitative portrayal.  And it often comes down to people assuming that I want to make sure that all fantasy female characters are fully clothed in actual practical armor.

    I'd like to correct that assumption right here.  I like having the option to portray my characters as fully clothed OR in skimpy armor.  And I'm occasionally miffed that they don't seem to have any exploitative male armor options.  I am not fully joking when I try to petition gaming companies for more beefcake armor options, yet that's almost never implemented.

    It's really a question of targeting and marketing.  I don't mind that guys are marketed to with the occasional hawt chick.  I just want equal representation.  More shirtless orcs.

    •  As a... flexible... male... (7+ / 0-)

      I agree.  ;)

      I'd just prefer it if gaming picked their own social/sexual mores instead of importing the ones from the MPAA.

      As it is, the ESRB might as well have clergy on their rating board since they seem to follow the same dogma.

      (Violence good/Sex Bad unless it's violent)

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:34:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep (7+ / 0-)

      Anyone who's seen your transmog selections would know that you're not making the argument out of some sort of prudishness.

      I can't say I want to see shirtless orcs, but I would really love some more revealing clothes on my elves.

      One game that I think does quite well on the visual side, despite its other issues, is TERA. Not only is the armor detail absolutely gorgeous, but the elf race has a beautiful fem male model, and several races have very sexy armor on men. Granted the male armor models tend to cover a bit more than the female ones, but when you've got a skin-tight sleeveless shirt open past the belly button, short shorts, and knee-high platform boots, I think you can be forgiven for not wearing a G-string.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:48:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm happy to hear that there is an active (9+ / 0-)

    and flourishing progressive community in WoW. I've considered creating an av there because I've been curious about exploring the world. I've been active in Second Life since 2007 and have enjoyed the creativity, talent and community there though my participation has fallen off in the last few years. Creating virtual environments and organizing all kinds of events, panel discussions and fundraising efforts took up most of my time there since SL is less of a game than a global platform that offers opportunity for great connections.

    I guess the thing that has kept me from exploring WoW is, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you have to fight your way through. Somehow I don't think a character that hated fighting would fit in to a game world about Warcraft lol. If I could be a healer or spells and potions person without lugging around a sword let me know! Can you create content there? I could probably build a badass guild hall :) Just like in life, your experience in virtual worlds is shaped by your community. There's a lot of ugly out there but if you hook up with a like minded group of people it can be an incredibly fun experience.

    "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

    by Siri on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:30:46 AM PST

  •  This is AWESOME! (9+ / 0-)

    I am a proud gamer.  I so want to learn to play WoW but had no clue how to start.  Thank you for such a valuable insight!!!  

    As a person of color one of the things that has been soothing to me through a chronic illness has been FarmVille.  As a person of color, I was annoyed that all the characters and the gnomes were white.  I wrote a nice letter to the FV developers and customer service.  They actually wrote me back and said they were making changes and thank you for bringing something so major to their attention.  

    It helps when you play a game with like-minded people!  The gaming demographic has changed significantly.  What else needs to change is the demographic of the developers and executive management in the online gaming world.

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:32:36 AM PST

  •  The Amarr are religious fanatics and slavers (5+ / 0-)

    in Eve Online, and if you're caught with slaves, you are subject to a stiff fine.  Everywhere but in Amarr airspace, that is.

    One thing I like about Eve Online is the relative maturity of the player community.  You'll get a smattering of racism and gay bashing from time to time, but not that much - certainly not much by comparison.  Eve Online players are equal-opportunity trash talkers :-)

    I don't negotiate with terrorists. I don't vote for them, either.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 08:45:58 AM PST

  •  I used to play WoW (8+ / 0-)

    The homophobia and racism got ridiculous at times, but I never let it stop me from enjoying myself. I was in one of the Proudmoore guilds for a while, too, before I stopped playing; definitely a different playing experience, and a far more enjoyable one. I'm glad to see there is a more progressive presence in The Game.

  •  did you really need to bring in Sarkesian? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, kyril

    the one overarching, enduring critique of her work is that she picks her examples to support her main narrative, not the other way round.

    Is that really something to recommend?

    Other than that, excellent diary!

  •  I have to confess, I have no idea (5+ / 0-)

    what any of this means. I think I'm part of the tiny minority of Americans who has never played a video game. At least not a modern one. Actually, I do play backgammon online, and the three MS solitaire games. I sometimes play chess against the computer. But that's really it.

    It's been something like 30 years since I first heard of Dungeons and Dragons and still have absolutely no idea what it is or how it's played, despite watching a few youtube videos about it.

  •  FFXIV has addressed the color issue (6+ / 0-)

    After a lot of outcry and feedback over the "standard" fantasy colors they used in XI and then again in XIV 1.0, they opened up an entire rainbow for both player characters and NPCs in XIV: A Realm Reborn.

    I've got a diary I started on but have not published discussing the fact that the de facto military leaders of the three city-states in XIV are two women and a black man.

    Alas, while the game has progressed greatly on issues for people of color (and the Final Fantasy series has always been good about gender equality for women - very few characters get tin foil bikinis and every game since IV passes the Bechtel test) - references to LGBT issues remain quiet NPC jokes and Square Enix has stated flatly they will not permit same sex marriage.

    My Free Company in XIV on Lamia server is LGBTQ friendly, so if anyone is thinking of picking up that game and is looking for a safe place, please consider coming to our server and send a /tell to Katarh Mest.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 09:27:18 AM PST

  •  I think you're overselling computer gaming... (4+ / 0-)

    My first post on Kos, and it's a long 'un.

    It's not something that either will damn the world, nor save it. Like rock 'n roll, which was similarly said to save the world at one point, it's at most symptomatic of today's society, and not an agent of change.

    Let me list the negatives I see in today's gaming culture.

    Like some of the commentators here, I too played board games, and RPGs, in my youth--starting with Avalon Hill, but progressing on to games by SPI and TSR and other gaming producers.  Those games I feel represent an outlook a universe apart from today's gaming genre, because:

    a) In the old paper-and-cardboard games, you could be more a tinkerer, an inventor, and a designer. Don't like the way that overrun attacks were handled in a tactical level game like a Panzerblitz, or the way that attacks across rivers or streams are handled in a Napoleonic game, or the way that command control was done in a Civil War game?? Change the rules!

    In the gaming group I was part of, we did everything from adjusting the rules of an existing game up to buying blank counters and creating our own games from scratch.  I personally re-did the Battle for Germany and Destruction of Army Group Center with new blank counters and new rules from scratch, and they play-tested much better (and more realistically) than the original games.  In D&D, which I also played, the group I was in re-did the magic rules from scatch, removing the stupid memorization/re-study rule and making the number of spells a mage could cast at any given time a function of his/her's intelligence and constitution, which could only be replentished with rest.  A friend's dissatisfaction with Panzerblitz resulted in him designing his own tactical-level Eastern front game, with new  command control rules that resulted in quite accurate play--the Russians often had both the numbers and superior hardware; their weakness was in their ability to react quickly to a rapidly changing battle, while the German player by contrast had best not try to slug it out toe-to-toe but try to be a rapier to the Russian broadsword.

    By contrast, as most people don't write code, and as most games are prorietary anyway, computer gamers become more the passive consumers of a product.  They might gripe about the rules, and (I have done this) if they know where some of the software settings are in files they can modify these files, but major changes are beyond them.

    b) The whole perspective of computer gaming greatly differs from the old-school board games.  The old military simulations tried to accurately reflect military science and give players a good summary of what options were realistically available to both sides.  In those games, no matter what the level (tactical, operational, strategic) warfare was presented as a ruthless calculation; as in the movie Gettysburg Longstreet describes his prediction of the near-certainty of Pickett's charge being doomed to a catastrophically bloody failure "a mathematical equation".  It doesn't matter how brave, how skilled, how determined, or what other virtues you have, if you end up on the wrong side of a military situation, you lose.

    By contrast, I see a lot of current computer gaming as akin to Ayn Rand-hero worship-ubermensch stuff. I've seen players walk into scenarios with guns blazing, as the bad guys drop right and left. They may take 'hits' but of course their hits rarely seem to be immediately lethal.  Even in supposed military simulations, this seems true--I was watching someone playing a German fighter pilot attacking a B-17 formation from the rear and it not only did he not get shot down or at least get his fighter massively holed even before he closed into range (the most likely result!) it only took about a one-second burst from his guns as B-17 after B-17 burst into flames, akin to a video arcade (in real life, the reason why the Germans massively up-armed their fighters as they calculated that the average pilot would empty his guns at a B-17 and not score enough hits to shoot even a single one down; many barreled through the American formations and hit nothing).  In short, modern gaming is more akin to today's Hollywood, with the players playing a Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman in another guise and be largely immune from the injury that people suffer in the real world. Whatever simulation is built into the game can largely be overcome-by-joystick

    And as such, this reflects a change in our culture. Look at a film made shortly after WWII, one of my favorites, Twelve O'Clock High with Gregory Peck.  In that movie, whatever its faults, war and conflict is portrayed as a collective endeavor where individual contributions may be heroic but in the end no one is spared and no one is essential to the final victory; heroes in that film fall in battle just like anyone else (an even better example of war as a collective endeavor is Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky").  What these movies stress is that what is needed is everyone's contribution, not that of any individual hero.  War and its casualties are shown as impersonally cruel and frighteningly random.

    In today's Hollywood, what is needed is the individual hero or superhero no matter how big or deadly the foe. And this hero-worshipping individualism has real-life implications; I think that many young people honestly believe that the US faces an enemy abroad, no matter how deadly, that all we have to do is to "send in the Navy Seals".  War is seen as more deterministic and more of a representation of individual skills. But to anyone who's played the old style wargames, the image of "sending in the Navy Seals" to fight a a Soviet Mech Corps is a laffer.  

    •  If you're talking BIG budget, corporate games... (6+ / 0-)

      Yup, yer pretty much right.

      However, smaller studio stuff DOES exist and really does still cover some of the subject matter you discuss.

      A lot of people have been praising XCOM here, and I'll add to that.  Especially if you play in Iron Man mode, the game is extremely hard, and every single move must be calculated at the harder difficulty levels.  Your characters are the "Best of the Best" and they're STILL outgunned and out ranged by the enemy.  True as the game goes on that dissipates, but only through hard work of your support staff.  If anything the game is positively progressive in the idea that everybody on your team is valuable.

      Another one I'd suggest is "State of Decay" which is the best simulation of a zombie movie ever.  Not only can your characters die, but nobody becomes an allmighty god of destruction.  Anybody can get sick, anybody can die, and as a result it's about the community surviving, not the individual character.

      Big corporate games do tend to suffer from what I call "Power inflation" and no game series is clearer to me than the Elder scrolls series.  Game 1:  Nameless adventurer  Game 2: Friend of the Emperor, Game 3: Reincarnated avatar of a Dark Elf Hero, Game 4:Witness to death of Emperor Game 5: Dohvakhin!  Dragon blooded hero!

      Yeah it can be fun, but it gets OLD.  One of the reasons I still like the Strategy and RPG genre, which at least in the indies seems to favor thought to god mode.

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 09:48:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not so much "hard"... (3+ / 0-)

        As "accuracy" and "control".

        (With the caveat being, of course, in fantasy like your zombie game, "accurate" is how you define it. One of the reasons why we changed the magic rules in D&D was to both alleviate magic users of having to carry around spell books into adventures but also to try to limit magic somewhat so to ground our fantasy world in some sort of reality akin to our own--I mean, if your world has monsters roaming around who can eat ordinarly mortals for breaksfast, how are the latter supposed to survive in such a world?)

        I think that a lot of gamers (and this includes gamers of minatures and the old-style wargames too) share the all-too-human trait of wanting to feel in control, to believe that their fate is in their hands. I was suggesting improvements to a Civil War regimental computer game of the Battle of Gettysburg, and mentioned to a dear friend how the computer game would go better with commander ratings for charisma, competency, and initiative and real command control rules.  In such a system, I envisioned players moving regiments carefully to position units, to defend and attack, and then hitting a "Done" button and then see what actually happened...which could include brigades moving off in the wrong direction, not moving at all, or even starting a battle that you'd rather not have seen  started.  All the things that made real Civil War commanders lose sleep at night.

        And my friend answered, "You and I would love a system like that--but the average gamer would HATE it." Because they like being in control" and being able to effortlessly stage complex, coordinated, attacks and marches that were pulled off only rarely in practice. As I said, it's a very human trait, to want to feel that we're in control of our destiny, which is why many real-life soldiers can also get very religious and/or very superstitious (a trait that they share with many pro athletes).

        In addition to this, gamers want games to be in some sense "fair", but real-life simulations are rarely evenly balanced. I remember playing a German player in Command Decision trying to hold off my friend's Soviet mechanized attack c. 1944 or 1945, and my friend set up his JS-2s and JSU-152s heavies in overwatch positions on high terrain behind his advancing T-34s and infantry and could use ther 122 and 152 mm guns to just blow away any armor or anti-tank positions I opened up with.  Such a fight could only be both "fair" and accurate if you continued the battle to include not only the breakthrough, but a possible German mobile counterattack scenario--but even then, given the time in the war, it wasn't like the Germans were able to backstop their defenses with mobile forces everywhere. So the scenario was very instructive, and very illustrative, but not "fair".

        •  See, I LOVE fighting "Grotesque" scenarios... (4+ / 0-)

          One of the other reasons I love State of Decay is that you Don't have full control over the other survivors in your little group, who will often make very stupid decisions.  (But Logical from a survival motivation)

          Same with XCOM.  You're often made to choose between two equally bad decisions.  You can only defend against one alien attack at a time, but the enemy will almost always throw 3 at you at the same time... becomes a matter of minimizing your losses, and praying that they won't choose to attack the ONE nation that you need.

          As far as "Fair" fights, I have to give a little anecdote.  One of my favorite games as a younger gamer was a game called "Robosport" by Maxis.  In that game you set up your scenarios, as did the AI, and then the game played out in Real Time without you being able to control it at all until the next turn.  I often would engage the AI in 3 on 1 battles against me.  I wouldn't win, but it was amazing how numerical advantage can be turned into a liability with enough forethought.

          What I find interesting is that when I "Mod" my games, I often do so to make the game harder.  I love mods like Europa Barbarorum which turn "Fair" scenarios into ones that are intrinsically unbalanced.  Working from a disadvantage is really really fun to me.

          Of course, if you know the origin of my handle...  (Detroit Mech Works is a mech facility in Battletech.  Belongs to one of the weakest factions which depends on intel/stealth)

          Course all of that is my opinion and I'm not exactly a game designer.  If I WAS, I'd make a romance novel RPG with a female protagonist and all sorts of options for love interests.  ;)

          I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

          by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:13:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  On "Fair fights" (2+ / 0-)
            As far as "Fair" fights, I have to give a little anecdote.  One of my favorite games as a younger gamer was a game called "Robosport" by Maxis.  In that game you set up your scenarios, as did the AI, and then the game played out in Real Time without you being able to control it at all until the next turn.  I often would engage the AI in 3 on 1 battles against me.  I wouldn't win, but it was amazing how numerical advantage can be turned into a liability with enough forethought.
            I haven't played WoT, but I have read the forums at times (for military reasons, gah, reading those comments at times are frustrating too, because you read a lot of nonsense--haha). But anyway, the whole premise of the game, where you select and on a budget "buy" things for/on your tank and then use it to fight other tanks of the same level, apparently in isolation to any tactical situation in combination with other arms,  and often selecting experimental tanks where just a single prototype was built, seems to be predicated on constructing "fair fights".

            But in war, like in biology, and football, you try to avoid "fair fights".  Lions don't try to take down the biggest, strongest wildebeast, they take down the sick, the aged, the cripples. A football team doesn't line up their star receiver on the all-pro defender, but tries to line them up against a backup.  In war you don't launch your attack against the enemy's strongest point, but his weakest. And so forth.

            Because of that, there's an adage that it's the operational level of combat where one can make a difference. At the tactical level, you have a front row seat but you're usually overwhelmed by events. At the strategic level, the information is often old by the time you receive it, the details are lost in the fog.

    •  deserves a diary (5+ / 0-)

      You packed a lot into that comment, it really deserves a diary.

      I suspect, but I'm not sure, that you're doing some simplifying.  There's a lot of ruthlessness and setting up nearly impossible situations inherant in the design of many video games.  Not everything is a shooter where you only control a single character.

      There is also a very active modding community in many many of the video games out there today.  Don't like the maps or the units that you're given?  Write a mod and change the rules!  One of the hottest new genres out there, MOBAs, grew from a mod written for the original Starcraft game.

      Some mods are silly or simplistic, but smart gaming companies provide tools to mod their games because it can give the game a very long tail of replayability and it sure adds to customer loyalty.

    •  You might be surprised (4+ / 0-)
      a) In the old paper-and-cardboard games, you could be more a tinkerer, an inventor, and a designer. Don't like the way that overrun attacks were handled in a tactical level game like a Panzerblitz, or the way that attacks across rivers or streams are handled in a Napoleonic game, or the way that command control was done in a Civil War game?? Change the rules!
      By contrast, as most people don't write code, and as most games are prorietary anyway, computer gamers become more the passive consumers of a product.  They might gripe about the rules, and (I have done this) if they know where some of the software settings are in files they can modify these files, but major changes are beyond them.
      The breadth and depth of the Elder Scrolls modding community is amazing - everything from rules and UI changes to graphical and sound changes to complete rewrites of stories to the creation of entirely new stories and areas. The game gives you, for free, the same tools the developers use; no programming is required for most purposes, although some scripting can be helpful for more ambitious projects.

      The Starcraft II Galaxy Map Editor is similarly full-featured. Almost anyone can create a new map; some people have used this, or its predecessor, to create entirely new games. (One of the most amazing projects I saw, and this was actually out pretty soon after the editor was released, was that someone actually recreated the original Diablo using World of Warcraft characters/art assets in the Starcraft II Map Editor.)

      Valve's Hammer Editor is even more flexible, although it's also somewhat more difficult to use. Nonetheless, there's a proliferation of map mods for every Source game, and there are actually a fair number of standalone games created using the Source engine.

      Modding MMOs is more limited (you can't exactly just change the ruleset) but the user interface modding community, especially for World of Warcraft, is huge and thriving. Many things can be done without knowing how to code. For those who want more, UI mods are a fantastic introduction to programming.

      There is of course a certain stratification. There are the people who make the mods, and there's the somewhat larger community of people who give input on them, and there's the even larger community who just passively consume them. But that's always been the case in every game form. Most people don't personally modify board games or PnP games - one person in the group might come up with a rule change or design an expansion, and then others agree to play it, possibly providing suggestions for improvement. In video games, the 'group' is the entire gaming community, but the basic structure is the same.

      b) The whole perspective of computer gaming greatly differs from the old-school board games.  The old military simulations tried to accurately reflect military science and give players a good summary of what options were realistically available to both sides.  In those games, no matter what the level (tactical, operational, strategic) warfare was presented as a ruthless calculation; as in the movie Gettysburg Longstreet describes his prediction of the near-certainty of Pickett's charge being doomed to a catastrophically bloody failure "a mathematical equation".  It doesn't matter how brave, how skilled, how determined, or what other virtues you have, if you end up on the wrong side of a military situation, you lose.
      You might have a look at real-time and/or turn-based strategy games, which are much more in the spirit of what you describe. Modern first-person shooters are more 'twitch' coordination tests than strategic simulations. (There are some exceptions. Counterstrike: Source is often lauded for its strategic and team-oriented gameplay.)

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:31:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi
        Modern first-person shooters are more 'twitch' coordination tests than strategic simulations.
        But that's been my casual experience, even with people who describe themselves as hardcore gamers. A game of Madden NFL football was more decided by who has the best hand-eye coordination and joystick control rather than who did the best playcalling or had the best personnel (unlike some of the old NFL boardgames, where it was playcalling + luck + personnel; though there it was fun to play a "toilet bowl" of two especially BAD teams). :P
        There is of course a certain stratification. There are the people who make the mods, and there's the somewhat larger community of people who give input on them, and there's the even larger community who just passively consume them. But that's always been the case in every game form.
        That maybe true on a larger level, but in my own little mileu we constantly modified, or even constructed, games. I'm not good at passive consumption; it's why I have a hard time sitting through a lot of movies.
        •  Yeah, I don't really touch sports games (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, geordie

          except at work (I'm a console game tester), and I'm so hopelessly clueless and pathetic at them that I mainly try to stick to testing the UI/navigation. I don't even know how to play real football, much less fake football.

          The gameplay in my preferred genre (MMORPG) is almost entirely about strategy and preparation and the metagame. There's a certain amount of hand-eye coordination involved as in any real-time game, but reaction time requirements are actually deliberately minimized in order to preserve strategic gameplay and minimize the impact of network/server latency. Most of the game is about correctly configuring your character and your group and planning where everyone should go and which abilities to use to counter enemy abilities. And it is very possible (in fact quite easy) to get yourself into an unwinnable situation if you don't prepare correctly.

          I'm also a big fan of strategy games. RTSs like Starcraft have some 'twitch' element in the micro game, but the macro game (which is really the core of the game and the deciding factor in low-medium skill competition brackets) is all about strategy, resource management, unit placement, etc.  Turn-based strategy games like the Civ series have essentially no 'twitch' whatsoever.

          And for I think the third time in this comment section, I have to recommend Portal. I'd call it probably the best videogame I've ever played. It's short and not terribly hard, but it makes you think. And it is frankly one of the few truly innovative game concepts I've seen that actually works well and is fun and couldn't really be done at all without 3D videogame technology. (Most games are basically either updates of traditional platformers, simulations of real-world sports/games, or ports of old board/PnP/card game concepts into virtual space.)

          That maybe true on a larger level, but in my own little mileu we constantly modified, or even constructed, games. I'm not good at passive consumption; it's why I have a hard time sitting through a lot of movies.
          I'm a big modder/tweaker/creator myself, which is why I really only play PC games outside of work and why I tend to be active in modding communities. But I also understand that most people aren't like me. The games I play absolutely do make it possible to be creative and in doing so inspire people to learn skills like digital art and scripting/programming. There are some that don't, and that's fine too.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:43:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  i guess you've never heard of mods (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, geordie

      point a) - mods.  just look up PC gaming.  really, pretty ridiculous.

      point b) - look at europa unveralis series, or anaything by paradox.  also, i've been exploring naval warfare games and of course people who made naval warefare simulators for the navy also made games for the general public that were .... accurate.

      •  Mods? (0+ / 0-)

        a) I did, but wouldn't you have at least some degree of open-source character (and coding skills) to significantly modify a PC game? You'll have to either reverse-engineer the code or have all or parts of it publically available for tinkering.

        Some parts of a game can be modified even in proprietary games, if the engine references plaintext files.

        b) I did look up paradox, and europea universalis series. Can't say much about it. A grand strategy game is interesting, but hard to pull off, an impression reinforced by by offhand comments of people who've played them,  and the results they achieved.

        c) Yes, wargames can be accurate. Computer gaming has the potential to be even more accurate plus playable than paper-and-cardboard games, because it relieves the bookkeeping onus that the older genre suffered from if it strove for accuracy. I'm just not sure the genre as a whole appeals to those wanting accuracy; my impression it appeals to those wanting fantasy and heros.

        •  not very true (0+ / 0-)
          I did, but wouldn't you have at least some degree of open-source character (and coding skills) to significantly modify a PC game? You'll have to either reverse-engineer the code or have all or parts of it publically available for tinkering.
          many PC games extend their lifetime with mods.  i still have three different elder scrolls games installed because of mods.  usually, developers release the tools they used to make the game as modding tools.  it does require some research and practice - these are ridiculously complicated things, but no reverse engineering.
          b) I did look up paradox, and europea universalis series. Can't say much about it. A grand strategy game is interesting, but hard to pull off, an impression reinforced by by offhand comments of people who've played them,  and the results they achieved.
          the games are difficult ... damn difficult.  EUIV really pulled it off and is the best one yet.  there is also a huge simulation genre.  one of the last ones i saw on steam was a lumber mill simulator.
  •  I need some interpreters! :) (9+ / 0-)

    My internet game playing is limited to (don't laugh now) scrabble blast, internet checkers, spider solitaire and freecell. I recently got the app for Word with Friends but have yet to play even one game.

    I am not surprised to read of the bigotry in online gaming.
    Back in the day precocious me had a much older boyfriend who'd get me after school and we'd go back to his office to watch cartoons. He'd tell me about the subversive nature of these innocent shows and how they were used to reinforce racial  stereotypes. I have never forgotten those lessons.

    That's what I love about you, Sis Dee. One is always learning something new when you are around. Thanks and have a wonderful holiday season.

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:08:26 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary, thank you! (8+ / 0-)

    I want to one day create a game that teaches the principles of Aikido... and other real life "harmonious" ways of dealing with conflict.

    * Move Sooner ~ Not Faster *

    by ArthurPoet on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:16:58 AM PST

    •  Mists of Pandaria (7+ / 0-)

      new monk class promotes/teaches many of the principles of Aikido who fight unarmed by predicting and avoiding attacks

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:24:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very interesting. Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        Okay, and now I will have to spend some time playing Mists of Pandaria to study what they are doing and how they are portraying it.

        To be clear... I am very glad to hear AIKI principles are seeping into gaming, but my goal is to build an entire game based upon these principles, not merely as an afterthought used for simply one option of a fighting style/attribute that one character type employs (as valuable as that limited approach might be.) My point being that, for me, the principles of Aikido actually inform, and thus, influence, one's entire life path, not simply a single technique used to win a battle. And this principle is embodied in something that O-Sensei himself once said:

        "Aikido is not a technique to beat your opponent, Aikido is the way to make all of humanity one family."
        ~ O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba ~
        ... thus it should influence the quests, challenges, and the game's entire premise itself, if those teachings are really taken to heart.

        And if I may share a little deeper critique/ discussion of the MoP's Aikido character:

        Whilst it makes sense, from a superficial understanding of Aikido, to have an Aikido character fight unarmed (predicting and avoiding attacks), I find this choice to be flawed and lacking.

        Why?

        For starters, let me acknowledge that, yes, AIKI="harmonious energy" ... and yes, this is the core of the power of the Aikido technique, however...

        FACT: All technique in Aikido come from Sword Technique.

        And as such, without the sword, the core principles of Aiki are lost and thus the full depth, breath and power behind AIKI are lost. And in fact, since Aikido is the only style of fighting that I have ever seen or heard of that comes directly from a sword fighting style, I would say that it is rather ironic that it is depicted today as solely an "Empty Hand" style.

        However, having said that... the two brothers of the Minamoto Clan, who first founded these "Aiki" principles over 700 years ago (via studying how a spider weaves her web) were looking to perfect a fighting style that they could employ BOTH with and without a sword ... (ie: What if they found themselves in battle, and had accidentally dropped their sword, and now had to fight an opponent who had a sword... how could they still win?) And, if you study the actual technique being employed in Aikido you will see that in all of the "Empty Hand Sword Takeaway" technique, one ends the technique with the opponent's sword in your hand and ready to use it to cut the next opponent. In other words, the goal of the technique is NOT to just fight (and go on fighting) without a sword, but rather, the exact opposite, namely, to TAKE your opponent's sword... and then use it for yourself ... thus fighting WITH the sword --> THAT's the COMPLETE system.

        Now, yes, O-Sensei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido) taught his extreme martial prowess by demonstrating that Aikido is so effective that it can be used (as it was also intended) as an unarmed technique against an armed opponent, he also taught (and rather extensively, I might add) the identical technique as pure "sword-vs-sword." We also train extensively with the JO (stick) as well. In fact, weapons training are a core integral part of this system. How many other traditional fighting systems today teach empty-hand-technique and weapon-technique side-by-side? Almost none. The Philippine style of Kali (aka "Arnis / Escrema") is the only one I can think of, and that system uses short sticks, not a bladed weapon... although that system probably used to use blades instead of sticks, way back in the day. Of course, people are amazed at Ueshiba's empty-hand vs sword-hand stuff on youtube, but the deeper rare lesson and gift of aikido, as it stands apart from every style I have seen, namely, as a valid deadly (far more broad) sword/stick fighting system, is lost... if you don't include the weapon training.

        Also, on a related note: making it a "monk class" does make some sense, but also limited in some ways... because although, yes, O-Sensei Ueshiba was a "Shinto Priest" and yes, his spiritual path was the inspiration for evolving the Aiki lineage from the more brutal Aiki-JuiJutsu to the modern kinder Aikido, but let's be clear, the roots of the AIKI fighting style are nothing but pure brutal Samurai Warrior battlefield killing. And in fact, (and here's my deeper point, and where it relates to the entire architecture of the game itself) ... you see, if we talk about intent, the entire spirit of what I am speaking about becomes clear.

        I think every trained fighter will agree that Intent is Everything ... another word for this is "Mindset" .... and so my point is this, in Aikido the intent is to:

        "Save the life of your enemy"

        ... through employing harmonious energy --> harmonious connection ... and though there are many "component" principles, (like foot work, hand locks, positioning, etc), that can be employed, no matter what your intent is, but at the core is a "way of moving" that is influenced by your intent ~ and though we teach this principle of movement in parts when we speak of KOKYU--> "breath" ... or "MUSUBI" connection, but at the core, it really is still about "intent" ... and that intent is to NOT KILL. --> "to save the life of your enemy" ... and this principle is embodied in the ancient Japanese Proverb:

        ~ KATSUJIN-KEN ~
        ~ SATSUJIN-TO ~

        ("The life giving sword and the death giving sword are one")

        ...and that is one of the main reasons why there is no competition in traditional Aikido, because the intent behind one's movements is NOT about winning or loosing.... the very intent is to NOT KILL, the opposite of what one is doing in these games. In fact, Ueshiba said that he created Aikido because he had been deeply troubled by the fact that winning at someone else's expense is not true winning ... ie: KARMA... (and then he had that oft quoted mystical vision walking through his garden and suddenly he was bathed in a golden light wherein he saw the evolution of AIKI-JiuJutsu, and thus Aikido was born.) And so I do get the superficial inclination to depict an "Aikido fighter character" as a "Monk Class" ... but there is so much missing in that two dimensional characterization of this life path that I find it, as well, flawed. But I am still, none the less, very glad that they are employing some Aikido.

        * Move Sooner ~ Not Faster *

        by ArthurPoet on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 08:55:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Can I recommend this like 60 times? (9+ / 0-)

    Very well done, and I'm proud to know you, even if it's just in WoW!

    I think being part of Wreck List and having a guild at my back in-game has made me more willing to speak up against bigotry in real life.

  •  This diary, and all the comments included herein, (6+ / 0-)

    except this one, is utterly splendid.

  •  I don't know why... (7+ / 0-)

    ...but knowing you are a long time magic-user makes perfect sense, somehow.  

    I haven't been a gamer since "a maze of twisty passages, all alike" on a PDP,  treasured octogonal dice, and hand painted figurines.   Moody Loner's enthusiasm got me to install WoW at one point, but...game or novel?  People or novel?  Friends or novel?  The novel always wins.
       

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:40:01 AM PST

  •  The last safe harbor of public hate speech (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi, kyril

    Gaming is a bigger industry than the movie industry now - and it shapes modern culture from almost every angle. This has become THE SAFE HARBOR OF HATE SPEECH in the modern era. The one massive commercial space where they can inform and train current and future generations while we on the left sit back and hand it all to them...

    The article hopes to breach the topic and raise awareness of a major culture battle we are losing because we haven't even shown up to fight...

    Shared this one all over Google+.

    We really cannot afford to hand gaming off to conservatives, if we do, we hand them the tool to the future - the way to recover from the ground we have taken from them with the millennials.

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 10:53:41 AM PST

    •  I wouldn't say it's the only place (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, kyril, geordie, duhban

      the comments sections on youtube and some other internet spaces are gagworthy - but I agree that some game spaces are terrible - which is why it is worth fighting back!

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:29:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The difference I find (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez, Yasuragi

        Is that in youtube comments people will fight back against hate speech, and admit that it is there.

        In gaming, gamers will deny it while referring to you with a racial epitaph, and then call you 'gay' for objecting to a rape joke, or use the 'f' word that has two g's in it...

        - And deny that they are racist, sexist, or homophobic... and then the gaming industry and remaining community will get behind them and against you on it.

        Blizzard, the developer of WoW, even hosted a gay bashing video at its annual convention once, calling for violence against gays, and then at first denied it was hateful, denied any link to people who were subsequently attacked during and after but around the convention... and only after a pressure campaign finally put up a "we're sorry you have a problem with yourself" nopology...

        OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

        by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:41:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The GM's on Garrosh (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yasuragi, kyril

          have been very supportive of us - I've reported some pretty gross toon names and they have been forced by Bliz to change the  names.

          "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:44:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  well (4+ / 0-)

          On our server at least, we fight back all the time - we report people, we call them out in trade chat for racism and homophobia, and people do get banned by Blizz.  I am not sure which video you are referring to, but I do know Blizz is responsive now to complaints about homophobic stuff from players and does something about it.

          •  Corpsegrinder (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, Denise Oliver Velez

            Corpsegrinder put out a mixed 'Alliance and Gay bashing' interview some years back.

            Blizzard played it at their convention. After wards some "they look like gays to me" people at the convention were attacked, and a married couple dressed as their alliance characters were beat up in the convention parking lot.

            (To make it worse, if memory serves me right, the couple had flown in from Europe and were on their first trip to the USA.)

            http://www.youtube.com/...
            - That's the video.

            The bad stuff picks up at about 1:05 in... He sounds like he's just an over-enthused fan to some... but the word choice is very poor, and it actually did lead to people getting physically assaulted.

            OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

            by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:58:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  4 year gap (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, Denise Oliver Velez

              Note that the video is from 2007. Blizzard played it at their 2011 convention - and that's when the attacks happened.

              That in turn led to this:

              http://www.change.org/...

              And the blizzard apology:
              http://us.battle.net/...

              Which got a massive amount of fan anger from fans angry that they apologized...

              OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

              by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 03:01:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Disappointing to... (0+ / 0-)

              see George go that route...since I am a CC fan...

              "[I]n the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone...They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

              by cardboardurinal on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 12:56:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I also know... (0+ / 0-)

                that those words are used a lot, even by people who tend to be supportive of the LGBT community, so I hope (and I don't think he was trying to) that he was not actually trying to demean gay men...still he should be much more thoughtful about his words.

                "[I]n the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone...They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

                by cardboardurinal on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:01:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  The parts of the community that I'm active in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, geordie

          haven't been like that for a good half a decade. I can't remember the last time I saw hate speech and the person wasn't already called out on it, except in a few very small groups. And I'm not one of the people who turns off trade chat and only groups with the guild; I'm active on the official WoW forums, the UI modding community, other game forums, several game-related subreddits on Reddit, and more, and I routinely play in pick-up groups in several games. I also work as a game tester.

          It really hit me the hardest probably about a year ago when I went on one of my rare excursions to the General Discussion section of the WoW forums (I usually hang out in Healing and UI and Macro, which are chock full of women and gays). Some dipshit made a passing homophobic comment in a random thread, and it was followed by eight pages of people telling him off for being a homophobic dipshit. And not one statement of support. Eight pages of call-outs. For a comment that was actually relatively tame by the standards of what I grew up hearing. I'm used to that kind of response in my usual hangouts, but General Discussion is kind of a cesspool. That was what made me feel like there'd been a sea change in the WoW community generally.

          (Unfortunately, there are still a lot of sexist douchebags. That's changing more slowly. But I still don't see it go unchallenged; it's just that it gets more support than racism/homophobia.)

          Trans people are also making somewhat slower progress, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way the topic was treated when it came up in the Healing Off Topic thread a few days ago (someone's friend came out as trans). There was clear evidence of a lack of information on the part of several posters, but there wasn't any hate/fear/anger, just confusion over pronouns and identities and wording.

          I gather that the first-person shooter communities can be much worse, and as I understand it the MOBA/tower defense communities are absolutely revolting. But change is happening in gaming culture as it is in real life.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 01:08:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe I should give it another look then... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Denise Oliver Velez, kyril

            That's pretty hopeful there.

            If things are changing, then I'd be very glad for it.

            I lost faith in Blizzard when the corpsegrinder moment happened - and a change there would require me seeing a change in leadership at the company, or the existing leadership showing a genuine new attitude.

            But if the players are improving, then I can separate out the two.

            OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

            by Jyotai on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:21:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Careful... First amendment and all that... (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think you have much to worry about when it comes to progressive policy with millennials.  They are not, by and large, tea party types.

      However, they don't have much love for Feminism.  They don't equate it with egalitarianism.  They see it as self-serving and intellectually dishonest.  Many millenials openly mock feminism.  However keep in mind they are also likely to support things like equal pay measures.  

      Also, the 4chan culture in general has co-opted the word faggot or faggotry to signify unwanted online behavior.  The word does not mean homosexuality in many instances, but it still does overall lets be honest.  There is a decline in the usage of the word, but it's still there.  Keep in mind, teenage boys are largely responsible for this dating back 10+ years.  They ingrained it and it's dying somewhat hard.

      While using the word is certain to offend people, unfortunately the only way it's going to be fully flushed out of the sphere is via economic consequence.  The video gaming market is still dominated by adolescent boys and young men, overwhelmingly.  Either the attitudes of young men need to change - or gays and feminists need to buy enough games to make themselves a desirable economic group to cater to.

      If you try to censor gamers...  As they say...  You're going to have a bad time.  They will push back.  It's not a good plan.  

      Many gaming communities have tried to push forward strict ban policies on "hate speech", but heavily moderated communities often lose membership - rapidly.  Gamers just relocate to spaces where they get to do and say what they want.

      Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

      by meatballs on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:51:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  millenials and feminism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        I don't know which set of millenials you're hanging out with, but I can tell you that my 13-year-old daughter and her friends have recently started delighting me with a series of feminist rants equal to many of the ones I remember spouting back at Wellesley, um, mumble mumble years ago.

        Millenial culture is not fully set yet, and there is still time to encourage many of them to grow in the right direction.

  •  ps on Wreck List (8+ / 0-)

    I still have an alt with you folks unless its been zapped. I was in the guild actively around early-mid cataclysm, but as a San Franciscan it was difficult (at the time the guild was opposed to starting another raid roster) to match times - so I moved back to a west coast server.

    Eventually the racism of the WoW player base wore me down and I left WoW, for GW2 (where it was better but not solved), and then FFXIV (where the racism isn't so bad, but every other quest involves some weird catgirl and midget sexual innuendo).

    My WoW account is still active - and I do wonder if there's much there now for a PST person. If I should venture back over.

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:25:30 AM PST

  •  This is awesome, Dee (6+ / 0-)

    My gaming is pretty much limited to simulation games like The Sims series; I'm too much of a klutz for WoW and similar games (though I did just download Civilization V because it was on sale on the Mac App Store; with Sims 3 coming to an end I may need a new outlet). While the majority of Sims players tend to be women (some have described the series as "Barbie dolls without stepping on a tiny plastic shoe in the middle of the night") there are quite a few men out there who play it as a break from the more intense games like Gears of War and the like. Many of them actually specialize in creative endeavors; one of my favorites creates some wonderful story lines plus builds the best houses I've ever seen, while another has specialized in modding the game so it can be played the way the player wants.

    What bothers me is when the brogamers (to coin a term) get butthurt when someone even dares to raise the question about female tropes in video games, and start to attack the person on social media.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:45:33 AM PST

    •  I am a klutz and manage to do fine (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, kyril, geordie

      though I am known for falling off things - lol - and dying ;0

      Haven't played a Sims since the first one I don't think.  

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 11:53:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Love the Sims. (4+ / 0-)

      I've stuck with Sims 2, though, since there's so much custom content out there for it, and there are some things about Sims 3 that I don't think I'd like.  But the previews for Sims 4 look very enticing.  Should be out in fall of '14.  

      I've also played the Civ franchise since Civ 2, and was pretty disappointed with Civ 5. However, the most recent expansion pack cleans up a lot of the problems.  I still haven't played it as much as I did the previous ones, but I get back to it once in a while.

      •  I played the early Civ's (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill W, Yasuragi, geordie, kyril

        and enjoyed them - I also loved a game called "Celtic Tales Balor of the Evil Eye" back in the days of Dos

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:10:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm on the fence on Sims 4 (5+ / 0-)

        because I'm not sure I can do without Create A Style (that's pretty much killed the need for much custom content -- there's a lot of stuff out there that's badly programmed and causes major game glitches and graphic disasters) and there's still a lot of Sims 3 that I've yet to explore. Plus my favorite Sims 3 modder has already announced he's not going to mod for Sims 4 and that makes me nervous; his Story Progression beats EA's hands down.

        Sims 4 does look intriguing though; I might at least get the base game then see how things go from there. I'm not a graphics purist so I LOL at all the complaints about the "look" of the characters; I'm more into how they interact with each other and their environment.

        Civ V was an impulse buy -- I'll get around to opening it and checking it out one of these days.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:52:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My big issue with Sims is EA. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, kyril, geordie

          Seems every expansion they come out with is riddled with bugs and deliberately disable mods that came before.

          Just my experience, but Sims 2 was more fun modded than sims 3.  I fully expect modded sims 3 (Once they're done screwing with it) will be far superior than anything they do with 4.

          I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

          by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 01:05:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I haven't followed the Sims 3 mods... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          I think the two deal breakers for me from the initial Sims 3 launch were that you couldn't create your own new neighborhoods, and that every sim in the game, even ones you created, aged and made autonomous life decisions even when you weren't playing them.  Did those problems ever get fixed, either by EA or the modders?

  •  Some pushback, but not severe (7+ / 0-)

    A person I'll not name on G+ in response to my linking this:

    People come to games to escape the day to day goings on around them. To be subjected to someone elses political ideology while in game would be a negative factor in staying for any length of time.
    My response:

    Exactly - and that is why the racism, sexism, and homophobia needs to end. It seriously detracts from the ability of many people to enjoy playing.

    Nothing is worse than just wanting to raid, and having people constantly spout off about the n-word at you, or call you or your mates 'gay', or disparage the female members of your guild, and so on.

    - That becomes a severe negative factor.

    Log in sometime while being black (an impossibility as you can't change what you are), or native american, or female - and you'll find these games and their communities get downright vicious towards you.

    That's not an ideology - to demand to be treated with dignity and not singled out for hate-bashing.

    Any beliefs outside of the fantasy world you immerse yourself in, should remain outside. Just sayin.
    Ok, I get that - which is why people with hate-agendas need to stop bringing that into the game. Other than weird moments like the Pygmys of Cataclysm - the game has usually been neutral as you request and I agree. This despite being a world about race-wars, the devs amazingly manage to make it not feel racist. But feel tragic (we as outsiders can see how messed up the two factions have made their own world).

    (Note that most games do not remain so outside-objective. Hate speech is often built into the game itself in competing games. That is was NOT built into WoW is one thing that originally drew me to WoW. This despite my opinions of some things the devs have said "out of game", like at Blizzcon: in the game they have kept it higher.)

    But the community will often sit there and rant against other players with racism and sexism and so on.

    So then we have to say: who here is guilty of bringing in an ideology from the outside? The person bashing others with the n-word, c-word, 'gay', etc...
    Or the people they are attacking? Who merely ask them to cut it out?

    There is something toxic in the gamer community when it gives the people who make those attacks a pass.

    Imagine some of the horribly stupid and hateful stuff Louis Farrakhan has said against whites... He's got some really nasty gems to his record...
    - Picture it in your head for a sec. Now imagine if everytime you logged into your favorite game - at least 4 or 5 people said that junk to you or around you, and when you called them on it - everybody else defended not you, but them...
    - That's what it is like sometimes for minorities and women in these games.

    *

    PS: WoW has not always been as neutral as I state, but I didn't want to cart out long lists at the guy while trying to make him receptive to my point... :)

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:08:46 PM PST

    •  Great response to that person (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, geordie, Turbonerd, kyril

      I've seen similar laments in trade chat - how dare we be "Political" when we have to listen to nasty racist, sexist crap they spew.  

      Wreck List has cleaned up the server quite a  bit - i log in to one of my old servers where i abandoned a few toons and can compare - where racism and homophobia and sexism get pushback instantly on Garrosh - on my other server no one says anything - except perhaps to agree.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:16:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much! (9+ / 0-)

    I've been a member of Wreck List for over a year now and this diary has provided a lot of the history that I had been missing!  I too love our guild and the way we operate.  One of my favorite things (and it may seem like a trivial one but it goes a long way towards both being an example of and reinforcing the behaviors of helping and celebrating your fellow guildies) is that for every achievement that gets announced in guild chat, there are multiple congratulations. Some have taken it to another level, writing macros with humorous messages dispensed at a keystroke :)  There are so many other ways in which we help each other: gear crafting, quest assistance, subbing in on raid teams (and that works both ways- helps the raid teams with their work and in my case it was an amazing education into playing the game at a higher level).  That doesn't even touch upon the ways that we support each other in things which have nothing to do with the game- celebrating life events (an example: Raid Team Z sent a nice gear upgrade to one of our members as a wedding present :), support and advice in hard times, even just a sympathetic ear can be a wonder to someone who needs it.   Wreck List is a family and one that I am very proud to be a part of!  Thanks for celebrating!
    Jantuk Level 90 Tank/DPS

    ps- it also celebrates our four footed assistants (mine is Senseii :)

    "Life is too short for front-wheel drive." -Sabine Schmidt

    by nhox42 on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:20:33 PM PST

  •  I actually hate video games (5+ / 0-)

    I was into flight and space simulators during the '90's on PC, but since those fell out of vogue, I lost interest.  That said, I'm glad to see a conscious effort to have games reflect actual social realities.  And video games are coming to their own as artifacts to be taken seriously by cultural studies scholars.  I'm sure some dickhead conservatives somewhere are going to start whining about "political correctness" infecting video game culture, or some such rot.

    Col. Brandt: "What do you think we'll do when we lose the war?" Capt. Kiesel: "Prepare for the next one." --from "Cross of Iron"

    by ConservatismSuxx on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:23:06 PM PST

  •  anita sarkeesian is a fraud (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    She's been recorded saying that she isn't even a gamer and all her videos on the subject have been debunked

    •  But she is raising important issues (3+ / 0-)

      that deserve discussion -- how many more young (and not so young) women might be interested in gaming if there weren't so many sexist tropes out there? What's wrong with having an option whether to play a game as a male or female character?

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 01:02:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  most of her videos were based around (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez, kyril

        The damsel in distress. It's not a sexist trope. It's lazy writing at worst to provide the easiest justification to motivate a male protagonist to go on a perilous journey. Most the games she showed had their roots in 80s games that had limited storage options so story took a back seat. Let's face it. It's not a real Mario game if you aren't saving a princess. Games that don't have 80s origins tend to have broader stories.

      •  i also forgot to mention that her videos are (0+ / 0-)

        Stolen

      •  i know keep replying to you is annoying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        but you said "What's wrong with having an option whether to play a game as a male or female character?"

        well anita is complaining about that too. She calls it the "Ms. Male Character" in her latest video. You couldn't make that woman happy unless you either destroyed the whole video game industry or handed it completely over to women.

        http://www.youtube.com/...

    •  Rebutted, yes. Debunked, no. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Colossus, Denise Oliver Velez

      I have not yet seen anyone successfully prove her wrong. I have seen a lot of huffing and puffing and sputtering, a lot of strawman misrepresentation of her arguments, and a lot of accusing her of ignoring things she's openly acknowledged.

      Some folks find Sarkeesian threatening because she spotlights the privilege and prejudice that they don't want to admit they have.

      As someone who years ago felt the need to author a gaming geeks' guide to etiquette that included a whole section on dealing with the opposite sex, I find her to be a breath of fresh air.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:06:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  She did it for money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        anime1973

        The whole kickstarter thing she did was just a ruse to rile up Feminists and get people to give her money.

        All that came out of it were some YouTube vids, an anecdotal narrative - and $150K in her bank account.

        Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

        by meatballs on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:09:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you know this how? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          She told you? You have sources on the inside? You can read minds?

          You know she's working on a long series of videos, and that the first four are just that, the first four, right?

          "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

          by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:33:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And heaven forfend someone should get paid (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Denise Oliver Velez

            for producing a work of content that other people want to consume. Next thing you know, writers will want to get paid. And (shudder) editors.

            "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

            by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:34:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The point is (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, anime1973

              It comes off as more of an angle to make money than it is an outlet for outrage.

              There is an industry that is based on stoking anger - and it seems to not have a bias on left or right.  This woman is cashing in on it.

              She isn't even a gamer and she admits as much, so why comment on it?  She doesn't like gaming culture from a far?  

              Seems more like a really good opportunity to create a kickstarter page that solicits money from people who are sure to get angry about neckbeards being neckbeards.

              Look at these misogynistic nerds!  Oh the humanity!

              She's not a frustrated female gamer, even though she's perpetrating herself as one, so she's a fraud.

              Gamers aren't invading anyone's space and causing any trouble.  If they want to save the princess, let them save the princess.  Sheesh.  What's the big deal?  Why cause angst?

              A better idea would be to create a kickstarter page that solicits money for a more "gender studies friendly" game or gaming community - if it is THAT much of a bother to people.  Unfortunately, she would actually have to - you know - be into gaming to do such a thing.  Not only that, but any such game would have to enlist the help of game designers and programmers - and be economically supported by Feminist gamers.  Unlikely to happen.

              Easier to buy a camera and some video editing software, make 10 video rants and pocket the money.  She's profiting off people who think throwing $20 at a bullshit kickstarter makes them fighters against a cause.

              Do yourself a favor and don't encourage charlatains like this woman.  There are better causes out there in which to direct your money.

              Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

              by meatballs on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:25:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You contradict yourself (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nina Katarina

                First you say, "She isn't even a gamer and she admits as much." Then you say she's "perpetrating [sic] herself" as a "frustrated female gamer." Well, which is it?

                The simple fact is, she identified various patterns in video game content. Then she made some videos that illustrated the extent of those patterns by presenting an almost comical superabundance of examples. The only way to argue against her is either (a) to try to claim that those examples aren't really examples of what she's talking about (when they obviously are), or (b) to attack her motives. Both are feeble.

                "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

                by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 03:52:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  she was already making videos before her kickstart (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              meatballs

              The production levels didn't rise after getting over 100k which she said she need for research. All her gaming videos are stolen from other YouTube videos and as said she's already made it clear that she is in no way interested in gaming. She's just a feminist that showed up in a largely male space, stomped her feet and demanded that everything be different because she naturally hates male culture.
              . And if they don't change for her demands that's just evidence of patriarchy and misogyny.

              •  I'd say that the countless MURDER AND RAPE THREATS (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nina Katarina

                are evidence of patriarchy and misogyny enough. In what world is it the slightest bit OK to employ tactics like those against someone for the offense of violating "etiquette"?

                "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

                by Geenius at Wrok on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 03:58:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, kyril, geordie

    Female video game characters are what I've grown up with. They are just as powerful, talented, important party members, main characters, or allies as the males.

    I've experienced games with a variety of characters of different races and cultures.

    Gay people are slowly getting more recognition, too, though that's more recent. New Vegas had some cool gay allies who could join you.

    There is still work to be done.

    Over-sexualizing of females in MMORPGs is particularly bad still, where guys put on armor and it's head to toe plate and on women it's a bikini. If you want sexy armor, that's fine, but a thong is a thong so if it's a thong on a woman it better be a thong on a man too. It's the double standard that pisses me off.

    The Xbox 1 article is a fair critique. The only game worth anything coming out on that system exclusively is Dead Rising 3 and it features a Latino male as the main character, and it's filled with bad-ass women.

    Oh, and in Zoo Tycoon, you can play as a man or woman of different races.

    There is plenty of bad to be said about a lot of assholes that play online games, but the games themselves have come a long way from the 90's.

    Again though, lots more work to do. And I'm on board to help in whatever small ways I can.

    •  One of the more popular couples (5+ / 0-)

      in the latest Sims 3 Store world (that can be purchased and added to game) is a married couple...that both have same-sex relationships on the side. Gay and bisexual couples have always been part of the game -- you can make your Sim gay or bisexual just by choosing who you flirt with (and can increase the incidence of non-player controlled Sims becoming gay or bi through judicious use of mods), but only in the last few worlds has EA actually created gay or bi characters. Quite encouraging.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 12:59:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary - as much as (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Denise Oliver Velez, geordie

    it's a research area for me, I know that I cannot devote time to MMORPGs for example, but virtual worlds are the means for revolutionary change in developed lands, if only it could be further democratized

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 01:44:56 PM PST

  •  Nice blog, thanks. (5+ / 0-)

    It is unfortunate that games are still so focused on the white, male hero stereotype.  People who want to play as a black man/woman or an Asian man/woman often just get a different colored texture over a polygon mesh that has white features.  Most non-RPGs don't even offer that much.

    I am a white guy, but for a long time my main character in WoW was a dark skinned woman.  I actually only ever got a single comment on that and it was something to the effect of "Wow!  Somebody made a black woman character,  Nice."  I'd selected an Arab/Egyptian skin tone, not the darkest one, but it was still a lot darker than most people pick.

    My guild, while headed by a conservative guy, doesn't tolerate sexism, racism or homophobia.  The guild master is a YEC Christian and even knowing I am an Atheist has no problem with that.  Second in command of the guild is a woman.

    I do agree that games need to do better in how they portray women.  MMORPGs in particular seem to attract large numbers of both men and women, making it beneficial for those companies to treat women respectfully.

    A current irritant for me are those offensive banner ads saying "Male gamers only" with scantily clad women for some game that I see all over the place.  Somewhere I went triggered a cookie that is making me get those and the message they send is repulsive and repugnant.

    •  Addendum: (4+ / 0-)

      I also play an online WWII combat flight sim Aces High and while the creators finally had enough and banned political stuff from the forums and in game it is full of far right people who are happy to make that known.  As a liberal who has a fascination with WWII aviation I am very much in the minority there.

    •  Character creation tools (4+ / 0-)

      have gotten a lot better.

      Two of the best:

      The Elder Scrolls series includes a race (really more just a culture of humans) with clearly sub-Saharan African default features and unique hairstyles (it should be noted that the history and culture of this group is not offensive or stereotypical). It's also possible to tweak a character from either this group or one of the more European-styled groups to a light-skinned black or mixed-race appearance. Arab/North African looks are also easily achievable.

      Unfortunately, while it is possible to achieve looks reminiscent of other human groups, it requires feature sliders to be within very particular ranges that limit the customizability of such characters (you can create 'generic Asianesque' Bretons, but not much beyond that).

      Star Wars: The Old Republic character creation included the ability to adjust facial features in ways that allowed the creation of a human with clear African or Asian heritage; your 'typical' randomly-generated human tended to come out sort of ambiguously mixed-race. I thought it was very well-done.

      In general, most character creation tools for RPGs in the last few years, if they permit any face and hair tweaking at all, make a sincere effort to permit a broad range of possible human facial structures and hairstyles rather than just European.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:22:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for reading and sharing that n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, geordie

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:32:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One disappointment for me.... (3+ / 0-)

      ....was that they didn't emphasize the flexibility of Skyrim by doing multiple introductory trailers. All you get is a big beefy Nord doing big beefy things (I nicknamed him the Dragonbore), when you can play as a much, much wider variety. In revenge, I started writing fanfic about a Dragonborn who was a skinny, nervy, obsessively self-critical Breton woman who only manages to survive and keep sane because of the care her female Argonian partner takes of her. Skyrim was hardly a commercial failure, but I think a few trailers with people like my Vivian would had gotten the attention of an even wider audience....

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:55:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just spent much of this weekend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, geordie

    playing the game "Papers, Please" that I had just read about.  It's available for Mac and PC.  You play as a border customs official for an Eastern European '80s type country.  The gameplay is all about checking documents for discrepancies, which sounds oh so boring and tedious, I know, but it's strangely addictive.  The key is that you get confronted by particular situations and people...you CAN let someone through even if you shouldn't (however, you'll have to pay a price in some fashion for it), and you can also deny someone that has all their papers in order.  Do you take bribes?  Do you let the wife through who is following her husband who had all his papers in order, but he doesn't?  Do you listen to the topless dancer who, when you're sending her through, beg you not to let in her horrible boss who will be coming through later that day?  Do you let in the revolutionary to wreak havoc, or not?  Oh, and meanwhile you have a family to support and keep alive...  Because you can only make two "mistakes" - real or unintentional (checking all those documents and following the ever-changing rules - border sanctions against a particular country because of trade sanctions on their part, for instance) per day before it starts coming out of your salary (meaning your family may not be able to eat that night) - you really have to choose when you're going to show mercy or not.  I learned a lot about myself in facing these decisions.

    I really like games that help me learn about myself.  The Walking Dead videogame is another - you play as a black man, Lee, who is trying to get himself and a young orphan girl through the zombie apocalypse alive.  And you get confronted with so many hard moral choices.  Do you loot a car that appears abandoned?  If you can only save one of two people in danger, who do you save?  If you have limited food, who gets to eat that day and who doesn't?  On and on.  Your choices affect who you're close to in the game.

    Finally, I'd like to mention one more game, "Gone Home."  To explain how would be a spoiler, but it's inclusive.  You are a young woman in college who comes home early for vacation, to find that your family - your parents and your younger sister - are not there.  You explore the house to try to figure out what happened to them.  Each of the three have had something they're dealing with, although one's is the most prominent, and you piece their stories together by reading and looking at everything you find.  The game messes with your expectations, expectations that are based on the typical tropes, and the resolution is deeply, deeply moving.  It's a wonderful moody piece.

  •  Nice to see so many older people are gamers, too! (7+ / 0-)

    I never thought I was alone, but it's nice to have verification. I'm 59 and have been playing computer games for decades. Being unemployed, the pay-to-play games are kinda out of my reach.

    Earlier this year, I stumbled upon one of the new app RPG games, Reign of Dragons. It's an electronic, interactive version of those card games the latest crop of young people grew up with. But I entered the gaming world via D&D, so a lot of what was going on in RoD was foreign to me.

    But I persevered and even started a guild. "Hey," I said to myself, "I'll start a guild for female players, where they can be themselves without being subjected to some of the uglier male chauvinist comments I see!"

    I even gave the guild an unmistakably feminine-type name - the Ladies' Tea & Carnage Society. So, time goes on and members join. I was happy and proud of my "girls," until a chance comment revealed that one of the members is actually a guy. Well, okay. He's a nice guy, no one else seemed particularly upset, so it's not a problem. Then I got messages from 2 other members, pointing out that they, too, are guys.

    I began to be a bit gobsmacked. I inquired, as neutrally as possible, why guys would join a guild with such a girly name. The best response:

    "Why does that matter? It's a cool name."
    Alrighty, then!

    It turned out that half my guild was male!

    I was actually walking on air for a couple of days over that. Why? Because I have lived long enough to see The Future, and the Future is pretty damned gender-neutral. This is even better than a flying car, and, as everyone knows, flying cars epitomize The Future. When guys - even just some guys -  can embrace and positively identify with feminine labels, we move a half-step up the evolutionary ladder. That gave me more hope for the future than anything has in years.

    The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature. - Arthur D. Hlavaty Shop the Kos Katalogue this holiday season!

    by Alice Venturi on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 03:25:56 PM PST

  •  For redditors and gaymers there's r/gaymers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geordie, Denise Oliver Velez

    It's a great place for finding people to game with on less popular games. When you have over 7 million potential WoW players getting a progressive or niche guild going isn't too difficult but in smaller populations it can be so there's the reddit gaymers community for us to geek out over of favorite video games. I will readily admit though that this subreddit is primarily male.

    http://www.reddit.com/...

    I also think a big part of the problem is the people deciding what games get produced and the programmers that make them are primarily male, which means that unless the company makes a concerted effort to make sure the game appeals to everybody the game will end up being a guy centered playground, which in this day and age where 45% of gamers are women is just stupid.

    One of the few games where typical stereotypes break down to a certain degree are the Fallout series of games. They are set in a parallel universe Earth where the promises of the future in the 50's have been met: nuclear powered cars, robots, laser guns, etc. Then nuclear war screws up the whole planet. In the first two, you could only be white, if I remember correctly it's been a while, but in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas you can be white, Hispanic, black, or Asian, male or female, gay or straight or even bi-sexual. There's romantic plot lines that allow for hook ups. It's a fairly dark world with a non-linear set-up so that you can follow whatever story lines you desire. Fallout 3 is set in DC so if you want to play around in a post-apocalyptic DC full of mutants, slavers, raiders, and, of course, some good guys and gals, you'll love it. And a key thing to know, unlike most modern video games where you have to be physically dexterous to play them effectively, Fallout allows you to make the combat turn based so even somebody with poor coordination could play the game. And all Fallout games are treatise on how stupid war is. Fallout: New Vegas is kind of like Fallout 3.5, except it's set in Las Vegas and some of the main factions are Mr. House, the 200+ year old man who saved Vegas from the nukes because he was a crazy paranoid multibillionaire who set up his own anti-missile system to shield Vegas but he's pretty much a facist at this point in his life. Then there's the New California Republic trying to do its best to make a better world, but like all governments it has its share of corruption. And finally there's Caesar's Legions, which is a massive army of tribal people united, usually unwillingly, into his massive army that's the classic 'women can't be warriors' patriarchy. While Mr. House may be a fascist he does want to see New Vegas prosperous while Caesar sees it as a den of villainy, depravity, and weakness. And since they are single player games there is no chance of getting histrionic slurs from knuckledraggers. Both are awesome games, and there earlier predecessors are fun classics too albeit with dated overhead isometric graphics. These are definitely Mature games so don't give them to your ten year olds because there's quite a bit of frank sex talk, issues of slavery, and drug usage--you can even get addicted to drugs. And there's no rules as how to play your character; you can be the beacon of hope to the heartless slaver and everything in between. You can help the freedom fighters, the fascists, the slavers, the underground railroad for androids escaping their abusive masters, intelligent ghouls (aka long lived, talking zombies), an underground town run completely by kids and their sister town that's above ground where adults get sent on their 18th birthday, to even freaking cannibals that come off like families from 1950's sitcoms. And if you're a dog lover, both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas allows you to have a dog as a traveling companion for adventure and battle with the one in Fallout 3 named Dogmeat (a nod to the cult classic post-apocalyptic film A Boy and His Dog) and the one in Fallout: New Vegas named Rex and is a cyborg dog, whose brain you can see because it's encased in a clear skull. I mean who doesn't want to go adventuring with a cyborg dog and a giant female mutant who has a bit of a problem with processing reality so she keeps thinkig you are her grandson even though she's over 200 years old and a mutant and your character is human and less than 30 years old. And it's darkness is peppered all over with humor.

    No, I don't work any of the companies that have made any of the Fallout games, they're just my all time favorite RPG games set in such detailed worlds.

    Radio Free Moscow -- A Blue Beacon in the Red State of Idaho -8.5219, -2.0592

    by brentbent on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 05:08:07 PM PST

    •  Programmers have little or nothing to do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nina Katarina

      with the actual content of all but the smallest indie games. Artists and writers have more impact, and designers have the most - and none of those jobs require any more than the most minimal familiarity with scripting.

      It is true that game art and design are still dominated by men - but that's something that can be fixed a whole lot faster than the male dominance in computer science, which is a much deeper-rooted problem that starts in middle school. Changing the gender imbalance in the parts of game development that actually influence content is simply a matter of convincing already-qualified young women to choose to work on games instead of other media.

      That's a hard choice to make. It's a difficult industry to get into; I'm still working on it myself. But there are ways in and women aren't taking them at the same rate as men. The job I have now was almost literally hiring anyone who walked in the door and claimed to be able to play console games at some minimal level of competence; they ended up with approximately a 15:1 male:female ratio.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:26:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  love the diary (2+ / 0-)

    video games have come a long way.  but one thing i do want to point out is that software development is an overwhelmingly male dominated profession.  i got my first degree in comp sci and worked as a software engineer for 10 years before i became a nurse and that provided a demographic whiplash.  i've worked with more male nurses than female software developers.  i think it will be hard to make big progress w/o more women entering the ranks as software developers.  anyone can learn to make games, all it takes is a computer, some freely available tools, and time for studying and creating.  if you don't see the kind of games that you want, there are many many many tools available to you to make those games.

    my daughter loves video games, this is something we get to share together.  i have been encouraging here to consider software development.  indeed, as soon as her math skills reach a certain level of abstratction, i will begin teaching her how to program myself.  this is a vital skill for all humans to know.

    •  I agree and look forward to more young (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nathanfl

      female developers - we already have women in other branches of computer tech (could use more)

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 03:20:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  my daughter (4+ / 0-)

      My daughter made her first Heroes of Might and Magic map when she was 4 (it was cute, all the dragons became your friend instantly).  She's been studying art intensively, with the goal of game design.  We had a tough time in math last year, absolutely terrible math G&T teacher, and I got her through it by pointing out places that math is useful in video game design.

      So hang on world, I've got one coming along.

    •  As I mentioned above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ReneeNY

      programmers have almost no influence on game content. It may be easier to get into the industry as a programmer, but the areas where you actually influence content are art, writing, and design, and there are plenty of qualified young female digital artists, writers, and designers. They're just not choosing to work on games at the same rate as men.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:28:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I started playing LotRO a few years ago, (4+ / 0-)

    I had the misconception that I was in the minority as an older female gamer. Then, I joined the LotRO Facebook page and saw a complete mix of gamers in age, gender and nationality. I took a mooc based on the game and saw even more of that, and "met" people I see in-game now.

    I mostly play female characters. It was a choice at the beginning to "represent" but really I just prefer it. I have characters on two servers and I have one male character on each. I don't think I play those characters differently, which is a question I've heard asked. I don't know that I'm capable of that, really. I grew up in the era of the ERA and gender equality is important to me. My characters have a range of classes, not defined by their genders. When I played D&D in the past, I gravitated to magic users, but I have a couple fighters as well as differently-skilled support characters.

    The game environment seems very polite on the whole. I have been harassed a couple times, but never felt it was because I was a female character. A few times, early on, I was pestered to a ridiculous degree to join a kinship (guild) and one time, someone wanted to PvP, which I didn't know much about so declined. Once I shut a chat channel down because there was so much RW talk going on, but that was one evening a while ago and I haven't noticed it again.

    You're gonna need a bigger boat.

    by Debby on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:35:10 AM PST

  •  Thanks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    for posting this.  It was nice to read this, very thoughtful and nice to see there are a lot more nerds here at Dkos.  

    I tend not to play many MMOs myself much (I tend toward the early Final Fantasy games, Suikoden, Disgaea), but I have been playing Final Fantasy XIV ARR which is fun.  It is also funny the reactions I get when I play.  My two favorite characters to play are both women (one DPS the other a healer/DPS).  The reactions I generally get are positive.  I think a lot of guys assume that I am a woman as well...some really want to play alongside them and will go out of their ways to help me/them.  I have seen very little sexism, homophobia (I have seen guilds specifically for LGBT gamers), racism on these games...not saying they are not there since I usually play outside of guilds and stay away from the large ones like a plague.  

    "[I]n the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone...They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

    by cardboardurinal on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 01:14:46 PM PST

  •  I do puzzles - games are too *social*. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    Crosswords, Sudoku, PICMA, Tetris is more my speed.  Scrabble with like-minded folks is a good blood-sport.

    But I was doomed to not be a gamer.

    For one thing, the timing was bad (high school '77 - '80). Our h.s.'s "gifted" program consisted of the boys hogging the one green-screen computer while the girls stood and watched. Ah, the Good Old Days.

    The two times I joined in a D&D game were hours of dullness; both DMs hastened to reassure me afterward that the games weren't always that boring, honest. Uh huh.

    Now my feeling about video games, as have my feelings about anime, get hammered into disinterest, if not downright loathing, by my adult nephew's nonstop, endless, never-ending playing or talking about them.

    Thank God, the Bob Fosse Kid is here! - Colin Mochrie

    by gardnerhill on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 09:51:33 PM PST

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