We’re doing some work here.

GBD has been pretty damned quiet of late. I’ve had some issues IRL with my mental health because of my job, so concentrating on anything has been a hell of a tough gig. Still. I’ve been reworking my other site, melissapearce.net, and this one is gonna get some changes, too.

I’m gonna have weekly posts going up as well as a slightly larger array of content: reviews will join the guides, and I’ll have more games to talk about since I’ve branched out from WoW (I think it’s been a year since I last played).

GBD is still going to be a gaming and roleplaying blog first and foremost.

Please look forward to it!

What’s Realistic in World of Warcraft? Part Two – Magic

In the first post on this subject, we went over what technologies exist in World of Warcraft to give an idea of what sort of stuff is realistic in the game world. This time, we’re gonna talk about the more esoteric crap.

Magic

wowscrnshot_083116_035028
Muppet-effing MAGIC.

Magic is a massive aspect of the Warcraft universe. It’s the reason the Burning Legion even showed up on Azeroth, it’s the one thing that the Sin’dorei were thirsty for for the entirety of The Burning Crusade expansion, and it powers some Azerothian technology. Mages use it (obviously). In fact, Azeroth is criss-crossed by ley-lines that provide much of the planet’s magical power (more-or-less) and that are used for everything from powering arcane sanctums in the Eversong Woods to creating moonwells. Portal magic relies upon them.

An Azeroth without magic is an Azeroth that would probably not manage to exist for very long.

Dragons

wowscrnshot_090116_050136
I was gonna use a screencap of Ysera, then made myself sad.

Massive and powerful, the dragons of Azeroth have existed since before the world’s recorded history, their flights charged by the titans themselves to protect the planet. All that remains of the great dragonflights are the dragons that are alive today, since they can no longer reproduce post-Fall of Deathwing.

The leaders of each flight aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be, either, but dragons can still take mortal forms and wander about.

WoW’s dragons have been present for every major event in Azeroth’s history, sometimes even saving all life from certain destruction — usually at great cost to themselves. It’s entirely possible that Azeroth would long ago have ceased to exist without the dragonflights and their aspects.

The Burning Legion

Okay, not a member of the Legion anymore, but... still a demon (and I love her).
Okay, not a member of the Legion anymore, but… still a demon (and I love her).

Demons. It’s made up of demons. Demons that were drawn to Azeroth because MAGIC and keep trying to destroy it. Warlocks, having a death wish, learn to summon them from the Twisting Nether and usually wind up being killed by them.

Basically, nearly every major threat to Azeroth has had demonic influence: orcs drank Mannoroth’s blood before the whole “invasion of Azeroth” thing, Gul’dan’s entire character arc was demontastic, the plague was concocted under Kil’jaeden’s direction, the War of the Ancients was the direct result of demonic interference — seriously I could go on forever at this point.

In short: if not for the Burning Legion, Azeroth would be a very different place.

Undead & Undeath

wowscrnshot_091215_165029

In Warcraft, the dead don’t alway stay that way. It started with the plague of undeath and the Lich King, and continues with the Death Knights of Acherus — people that were killed and raised into undeath (sometimes a second time) to serve as the Lich King’s army, and then immediately betrayed during events at Light’s Hope Chapel in the Plaguelands.

Undeath is literally another case of “it’s MAGIC!” because dark magic is what fuels it. No magic, no undeath.

Shapeshifting

wowscrnshot_090116_052115

Dragons can do it, druids do it all the time, and other creatures can do it, too: shapeshifting. Dragons turn into members of the mortal races, druids become different animals, shamans become wolves. Shapeshifting is a pretty everyday thing in Warcraft.

The Entire Goddamn Game World

wowscrnshot_092916_223430

World of Warcraft’s Azeroth is a massive collection of tropes, pop culture references, memes, and a lot of what the developers think is clever. It’s full of stuff that simply can’t happen in real life — obviously — and is usually better. I mean, you don’t hear any “get back in the kitchen” jokes in canon, women and men alike are able to succeed and thrive, and the dominant religion runs on three major tenets: respect, tenacity, and compassion. Notice how “religion-fueled hatred of various sexualities and genders” isn’t part of that and actually goes against the first tenet? Huh.

Whenever someone tries to say that something isn’t realistic in a world of magic, dragons, space ships, goblin machinery, and other assorted sci-fi/fantasy/pop culture crap … they’re ignoring EVERY GODDAMN THING IN THIS FREAKING GAME.

Tell your friends.

A Friend In Need

Keep Kar's Kids' Power On (Kareth's Kids)
The kidlets, image from Youcaring.

I’ve known Kar since my early days on Thorium Brotherhood, when I was a newbie to roleplaying in a MMO – and really, to MMOs in general. We created so many stories together, helped one another through various forms of drama, and confided in one another. He and his wife were, and are, among the kindest people I’ve ever met in the game.

Even though we don’t talk as much as we used to, he still means a lot to me.

Kar, his wife, and his kids are in desperate need of help. He lost his job of fifteen years a few years ago now. He fell ill. After a diagnosis of MS and treatment for related vision problems, things started improving for him and his family as his wife found a well-paying job.

Then, suddenly, in the summer of last year, Sam got sick. Nobody has any idea what the cause is, and because of all the sick leave she had to take, she lost her job, too.

Kar is limited in what sort of work he can get by his illness, as is Sam. They’re coasting by right now, and in order to keep a roof over their head, they need our help.

If any of y’all can spare a couple of bucks, head over to Kar’s Youcaring fundraiser and send it his way. Please.

What’s Realistic in World of Warcraft? Part One – Technology

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since it could even loosely be described as mostly high-fantasy in Vanilla, but even that was a stretch: goblins and gnomes had technologies that could be described as computer-like, with flying machines and airships. As time has gone on and new expansions have been released, more technology, pop culture references, and other non-fantasy elements have been introduced.

It’s been argued that non-white humans and Sin’dorei are on the same level of unrealistic for the game world as take-out cups and cameras (which exist in-game). Lore police use the “unrealistic!” battle cry to turn down anything that doesn’t fit with their view of the game, although they consider real-world examples of sexism (e.g. “get back in the kitchen”), homophobia, and transphobia as being “realistic” for the game world.

It’s interesting that people of colour are “unrealistic” to these folks, while various forms of bigotry must be present. Huh.

Anyway, back on track.

Here’s a short list of things that World of Warcraft has that make “that’s not realistic!” arguments seem especially ridiculous.

Internal combustion engines

exhibit-a
WoW’s motorcycle collection even has rumbly engine sounds.

From flying machines to airships to motorcycles, the internal combustion engine – in the real world, the electric-start engine was a product of the 1900s – is a frequent sight. Goblins and gnomes are fond of putting engines in things, with goblins even having their own idea of a hot rod.

The Iron Horde operates its machinery with coal-fired engines – the Iron Star that were originally used as highly-destructive weapons.

Robots

WoWScrnShot_051216_170056
Mechanical toys in Dalaran.
WoWScrnShot_051216_164622
Mechanical gnome in Pandaria, with fighting bots.

If you’re an engineer, you’re very familiar with the robots of WoW. Repair bots have been in use for years, Blingtron has been giving us daily gifts for a couple expansions now, and promotional fighting robots with their own special fuel are things that have actually happened.

We’ve also had access to mechanical non-combat pets and mechanical animals that act as weapons since Vanilla: see mechanical squirrel and explosive sheep.

Soda/Pop

WoWScrnShot_051216_164557
It’s Kaja Cola!

Much like a lot of stuff in-game, Kaja Cola is something that was introduced with the Goblins in Cataclysm. The drink made players yell ideas (not all of them any good) and was part of the influx of pop culture that the Goblins are known for. In the real world, the stay-tab can came about in the 1980s – it’s difficult to tell if that’s what’s being represented, or if it’s actually the pull-tab version that was from the 1960s.

Take-out food

Image from ironyca.wordpress.com

Goblins also seem to have introduced take-out food in its iconic little boxes, which can be spotted in the barge in Thousand Needles as well as throughout goblin towns and the starting zone.

In Mists of Pandaria, people that took up cooking were able to get their hands on a recipe to make a noodle cart, which provided really good buff food for the time – plus, it was kinda cool.

Image from WoWhead

Electricity

Electric lights, weapons that use electricity to zap stuff (and aren’t magically powered), and the occasional appliance have existed in World of Warcraft for a long time. Mainly the stuff of goblin and gnomish technology, we’ve been seeing its applications all throughout zones like Gnomeregan and Kezan. We could also make the argument for battery-powered gear, since we’ve had to go after energy packs of some kind or another in quests since Vanilla.

Indoor Plumbing

For some reason, sinks and bathtubs are common on Azeroth, but they haven’t entirely figured out actual toilets (that I’ve seen). Goblins are keen on a good old-fashioned bath now and again, though I still wouldn’t trust one of their tubs to not explode.

Unfortunately for most people, the outhouse is the most frequent sort of toilet found in the Warcraft universe. I am absolutely not going on a toilet hunt in this game.

That’s it for part one. Next time, we talk about the other weird shit in WoW.

 

 

“Dark” Roleplay Requires Consent

Okay, so, there are some roleplayers that claim their style as “mature” or “dark”, which advertises that they’re open to RPing stuff that’s for a very limited audience. I mean, they’re cool with roleplaying stuff like gore, torture, sexual assault, and stuff of a similar nature.

Stuff that they need to be reminded isn’t for everyone.

If your “Roleplaying Style” flag in your RP add-on of choice is “Mature” or “Dark”, then we need to talk about consent in RP.

Different people roleplay for different reasons. Some want to explore lesser-known areas of the game’s lore, others like following the lives of the common people, still others want to be heroes. Some RP to relax and flex their writing muscles. Others RP due to boredom. Some have less-than-honourable reasons for their RP and use it for badness. Whatever reasons folk have for roleplaying, the one thing they tend to have in common is that they’re trying to have fun.

It’s not fun having content pushed on you that you aren’t comfortable with.

The problem most people wind up having with “dark” and “mature” roleplayers – what makes them the butt of several jokes – is the tendency of so many of them to just… thrust whatever edgy stuff they’re into on unsuspecting people. That’s not cool. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are regarding content warning and “censorship”: you have to be considerate.

You can sometimes figure out what sort of RP somebody’s willing to do by checking their roleplay profile. World of Warcraft add-ons like XRP, TotalRoleplay, and others allow players to write a description for their character. Lots of people also use these to add warnings and notes of what they are not interested in RPing, while some use them to point out what they’re looking for – some of which might be what you’re after.

Ask first.

Let’s use a tame example here. You’re playing a character that’s a thief. You’re interested in stealing something valuable from another person’s character. Send that person a private message telling them that you’d like to roleplay a specific scene (a ‘scene’ refers to a scenario), and what that scene is. If they agree, great! Have fun! If not? Move on.

If you throw a massive fit or otherwise just try to proceed even though they said “no”, you’ve failed. Go sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done.

Some types of RP are not meant for this method.

If you’re roleplaying things of a far more sensitive nature (themes of torture, grotesque violence, and stuff I don’t want to mention here), it’s best to put in your profile that you’re open to this, that, or the other thing, and look for guilds that are up your alley. There are communities where you can find like-minded folks, such as Darknest. You can put out your feelers on Tumblr and post in specific server tags saying that you’re looking for partners for that sort of roleplay.

But for the love of kittens, don’t force it on people that you’re running into out in the game world.

Have you dealt with people trying to force their style of roleplay on you? How did you deal with it?

Taming the Steam Library

Steam is the devil.

Alright, alright, that’s a bit of a stretch.

Below is a peek into my Steam account. You see that number that’s highlighted in red? Do you see that? Most of those games I’ve never managed to beat. I start playing them, sure, but do I beat them? Nope.

Steam Library screencap with the number of games highlighted.

I collect them, kind of like Pokémon, and then they kind of sit there until I boot something up.

There has to be a solution to this. I mean, it drives me nuts that I have all these games, but have only played a small percentage of them. I keep defaulting back to World of Warcraft since it runs nearly flawlessly on my PC (at low detail, mind you).

Each game I have fits neatly into one of three categories:

  • has an ending (linear RPGs and FPS games, mostly)
  • does NOT have an ending (survival, sandbox)
  • MMO (which also do not end)

MMOs can be further broken down into:

  • have reached level cap
  • have not reached level cap

The only games where I’ve hit the level cap? WoW and SWTOR. Whoops. TSW is a dirty cheater because it technically doesn’t have a level cap or levels.

How I tamed my Steam library

When you’re in your Steam library and you right-click on a game, there are several options. The option that you want is “Set Categories”, which you’ll see below in the red box.

Steam screencap showing where you can set categories.

This is where the magic happens. When you apply a category to a game, it gets tucked under a heading, which can be collapsed. Games that you can’t run can be hidden from your Library (like I had to do with Ark, which wouldn’t even load after an hour after my initial foray into Lagtastic Potato Dino Land).

The actual process is fairly simple: type in the name of the category you want, click ‘Add Category’, make sure the proper box is checked off, and hit ‘OK’.

Steam screencap showing the Set Category screen.

My categories are so simplistic it hurts. The idea is just to be able to go to a single category that has all the games that are beatable (without taking ages to do so), so while technically there are modes in games like Civ that can be beaten… I’m not interested. That’s not why my boyfriend bought it for me. I think he mainly bought it for me so he could listen to me screech and wail about him kicking my ass in it (though we have yet to play together), but I actually play it to run a match against the computer. And build all the ships. Yes.

​Below is what my library now looks like, with everything tucked into its category sections.

Steam screencap showing a cleaned-up library.

Oh, look at that. The collection is slightly tamed.

I took this a step further by going in and hiding games that I either can’t play because my computer sucks, games that are unplayable for other reasons (like super-old Civ-related games that constantly crash, according to reviews, or don’t load at all), or games that were part of packages that I had 0 interest in anyway.

As a bonus, let’s look at my MMO category:

Steam category screencap: all Grumpy's MMOs.

Admittedly, some I haven’t played in ages (TESO doesn’t run well, FFXIV I can’t get into because it just doesn’t hold my attention, STO’s next update is 11GB) but holy shit​.

‘Hardcore Gamer’ Isn’t a Positive Label

Picture
(image from reddit)

A comment on a post I made to Facebook fired up my thinkybits.

See, I’m of the (correct) belief that women belong in gaming, and that the content doesn’t keep in mind that we’re a little over half the gaming population. Games are unrealistically geared toward men, who are seen as the default in every video game (and other piece of media) and over-represented as a result. Video games make the world look as if it’s mostly male when there’s an equal split (and there are other genders that receive absolutely no representation and are assumed to not exist).

When someone tries to bring in the casual vs hardcore gamer argument to justify this representational issue, I start seeing red.

Back in my day, “casual” and “hardcore” meant very different things from what people now seem to think they mean. Facebook didn’t exist, but puzzling games did, so did simulations and point-and-click, and there was no separation between players of those games and other gamers. Somebody that played the (limited number of) first-person shooters wasn’t considered to be more of a gamer than somebody that played Super Mario Bros and other platformers. RPG gamers weren’t lesser than somebody that was an avid Tetris player.

I’m not sure when the separation between “casual” and “hardcore” started to be about what gaming platform somebody used instead of how deep into the video game rabbit hole somebody was.

I’m from the generation (early millennials and late boomers) that started seeing hardcore gamers as being the people that dedicated everything to their gaming. There were no bathroom breaks during raids, there was a beer bottle and a sock for those people. Gaming was serious. Mistakes? Meltdown fodder. A casual gamer was viewed as somebody that didn’t take things quite as seriously and viewed gaming as a hobby and something fun instead of a job and something that was about as serious as a federal election.

Now, it seems that people (or at least the gamers that want to be gatekeepers to the hobby) separate “casual” and “hardcore” depending upon what type of games people play.

To this brand of gamer, a “casual” gamer plays Facebook games or mobile games, and they tend to cite “Candy Crush” as the main “offender”. Facebook and mobile games are made up of just as many genres as other PC and console games, encompassing puzzle, sim, hidden object, point-and-click of other fashions, roleplaying, dungeon crawlers, first-person shooters, MMOs, and more. I’m going to assume that Facebook gamers are generally considered to be people that play Candy Crush Saga (a puzzle game) and the other games are ignored.

In this version of the conversation, a “hardcore gamer” sounds like somebody that plays CounterStrike, HALO, and other FPS-style games or is generally a console gamer (I’ve heard ‘hardcore gamers’ insist that FPS games are not meant for PC gaming, even though FPS games had their beginning on PCs) and looks down on people that aren’t like them.

The TL;DR version of everything is basically: this conversation is bullshit. The “casual vs hardcore” thing is just another form of gatekeeping, which is something that we really ought to be fighting against, not encouraging. Being “hardcore” isn’t a positive, it’s a negative – it places the gamer into the position of being completely unwelcoming toward people that are new to the hobby or whose pursuits aren’t of a certain kind.

If you play video games of any kind, whether it’s Farmville, Tetris, Skyrim, or CounterStrike, you are a gamer. Don’t let some self-described “hardcore” blowhard try to tell you that you don’t belong – you do, and if you ever have any doubts, drop me a line here or on Twitter. We have to stick together.