Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Community: Gaming Edition

No! Not THAT Community!

In this day and age of online gaming we have begun to see gamers build a sense of community online.  From Halo to COD, Warcraft, gamers are meeting total strangers from all walks of life and building friendships just from playing together.  Groups of people create guilds and/or clans, or just get on around the same time and shoot the shit.  So the misconception that gamers are loners or hermits gets thrown out the window.  Yes, they in their day to day lives some gamers might just be anitsocial or keep to themselves, but when day ends and they come home to the recesses of their rooms or man caves or what have you, they have a group of friends awaiting them online.

But what is it that drives this sense of community?  Why is it that some games have this great sense of community, whether competitive or just good ole comradery, and some just fall short?  Well for me to answer this question I should define, or give my personal opinion, on what makes a good community.

1) A GREAT GAME - Kind of an ubaduh, but needs to be said nonetheless.  How could you ever have any community if your game is absolute trash. Bad games seem to have the worse communities, if any at all.  How could there be a common bond if we just don't like playing the game.  If it is trash you still will have a community on your hands.  There will be a common bond: an online community who will dog your game in various message boards, reviewers, people with pitchforks and torches, etc.

Bring us the heads of Lucy Bradshaw and everyone else at MAXIS!!!!!!!

2) PLAYERS - When I say players, they can fall into several categories.  The casuals, the hardcore, the MLG's (yes I have to have a category for MLG itself because they're just a whole 'nother level so I'm not even gonna get started on that one).  Point being, these specific types of players will gravitate towards others like themselves; sort of like a high school cafeteria (jocks, nerds, band members, etc.).  Sure you have the gamers who will get online by themselves just to play, but the majority of people are in parties (well....... on Xbox, yeah; PS3 they'll just find each other).  If a game ever gets critical acclaim, the people they thank first, 8 out of 10 times, are the fans, the gamers.  The gamers make or break a game, period.
3) WHY ARE WE HERE? - When you get online there's a reason that you and your friends are doing the same exact thing, besides the fact that you might be similar, personality-wise.  You all probably have something already in mind going in.  "You feel like doin some CTF or some regicide?", "wanna do this raid with us?", "Super GT's at Fuji?"   Sure, sometimes we just like to fool around online and do some random playlists, but the majority of community gamers stick to their guns when it comes to playing online.  For example, MsHeartAttack plays nothing but Search and Destroy on COD; nothing else.  Its not a bad thing, she just knows what she likes, and while doing that makes new friends as well (plus the fact that she's a youtube celebrity doesn't hurt, but still makes friends, regardless).  When I play GT5, I spend the majority of time on Nürburgring, not because I'm not good at any other tracks (You should see me at Cape Ring and La Sarthe!), but I just love it; its the most difficult track and I wanna continue to push myself at that track.  For the games we love, and we do love the whole game, there are some specific gametypes that we just tend to stick to.  We'll venture out every now and then, but we all know why we're gettin on in the first place.

That's it.  To me, these are the things that make a great community in gaming.  And just from this criteria we have a lot of games with great communities.  Halo?  In FPS's the Halo franchise has defined the community; has been the template, in my opinion, of how to create a great FPS community.  Look what has come out of it.  Forge, Red vs. Blue and many other Machinimas, thousands of clans, the list goes on.  COD?  That one's a little tricky.  If this was strictly a numbers game then COD would have a better community just out of the sheer number of people that get on.  And COD has got the same things going that Halo does as well.  But, to be honest, Halo is a bit more relaxed, an everyman's game.  I can go in by myself or in a team and not worry about anything.  But with COD there's more dedication, not to say that Halo doesn't have dedicated players, but with COD there's just a lot more of them.  That's their main community; the hardcore/MLG (do you even MLG?).  I feel like if I sucked ass in a game of Kill Confirmed my 12 year old teammate would be telling me how bad my K/D is.  Community, yes, just not my kind.

See these kids?  They just got a K-9 Unit and a VTOL Warship and are kicking your adult asses.

I'm a racer, so naturally Gran Turismo 5 is my game (as I have stated and will continue to state).  But Gran Turismo, a little too often, gets compared to the Forza franchise.  Forza 4 was the better game in the year those two came out (and this is coming from a GT fanboy).  But all in all, Gran Turismo still has the better community.  Why?  Simple.  Gran Turismo is a driving simulator, and with every incarnation one thing has remained the same.  Gran Turismo actually teaches you how to drive.  They give you tools and techniques to tackle any race.  I felt proud knowing that I got gold on every single license test so that when I do go online I won't be a complete noob wrecking everyone on my way to 1st place.  While Forza, visually is the better looking of the two, and has many customization options, it just puts you in races.  Yes there's a driving line you can use as a guide but nothing else.  Its not going to break down the Nürburgring into sections and coach you into tackling the Green Hell.  Its just gonna stick you in a race and say good luck.  So when I did go into online lobbies in Forza, all I got where a bunch of people who'd wreck each other without a sorry or anything.  The GT community is a serious yet relaxed one.  We take our shiz seriously, but we also have fun and keep the gentlemanly spirit of racing.  That's not saying that GT doesn't have its fair share of douches.  Every game does.  But the majority of us are serious racers.  Hell, we have a site dedicated to our glorious franchise were we can talk cars, share tunes, organize races and series, etc.: (Shoutout to Jordan Greer, the owner.  A great man who gave GT fans a virtual home away from virtual home.)


If you're an online gamer you have a friends list.  The reason you built that friends list is because you play the same game with someone else in the same lobby.  If it was an even better experience you added a bunch of friends.  Congratulations!  You have your own community amongst the game's community.  Its that damn easy.  For a lot of us we have different perspectives as to what makes a great community.  My friend Ash says a great gaming community is made of "passionate and enthusiastic gamers that are always willing to help and offer a hand to their fellow gamers. As long they are mature (to some degree), open and non biased (I hate fanboys) I'm happy"  And I agree, (maybe not the fanboy part, because until Kazunori Yamauchi makes a terrible GT, I'm gonna be drinkin his Kool-Aid lol)  But I also believe that it's a healthy balance.  The games make the community, and the community makes the games.  Without one there is no equilibrium.  I have met a lot of great friends thanks to Xbox Live and PSN and will continue to do so as long as I have great games to share.  So venture on gamers, and build our communities up, not down (you f*#*ing trollers).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Will the real Gamer Girls please stand up.....

(For those who have been living under a rock (top left to right ): Naomi Kyle, Jessica Chobot, Morgan Webb, Tara Long, and Lisa Foiles)

 These lovely ladies pictured above? Like it or not, these are the first ladies of gaming. Are they hot? Uh... am I black? (The answer is yes by the way...if you haven't seen my picture). Well known? If you DON'T know them, you either don't view the gaming media outlets or have been living under a rock, or a combination of the two. But here's the million dollar issue that always seems to come into question with these lovely young ladies: ARE THEY TRUE GAMERS?

Every time I hear this issue come up I kinda cringe because its really a non-issue to me. Let me start of by giving my answer to that million dollar question. Yes, I believe they are, in fact, gamers, or girl gamers as some us call them (I honestly hate that term and I will tell you why in a minute). I understand that some of the "real" (as they like to call themselves) gamers have a bit of flame on this subject and will say 'they're not real gamers! They're just a set of tits reading the news!' or 'they don't know what they're talking about!' Believe me I've heard it all. But level with me here flamers, what right do you have to determine whether ANYONE is die hard or faking. Hell, you might be a poser yourself. A lot of gamers, majority male, some female, go into this whole rant of "do you even game?" with other gamers but I find that these ladies get the majority of it because they're at the forefront. So I'll speak on them first and then female gamers in general.

Yes, it may seem like they're just reading and don't have opinion of their own, but they do have an opinion. See there's this nifty thing we have in society called "The News." And when you watch the news, the reporters are reading from a prompter. Reading facts, things that have actually happened. Well guess what chicken butt? This is the gaming news and these ladies are doin the exact same thing! <GASP!!!> AND THEY'RE EVEN THROWIN IN THEIR .75 CENTS! <BIGGER GASP!!!!> Second thing, (and this is key because this applies to all gamers male, female, popular, etc.) unless you have worked with them in the past, go to dinner with them every now and then, have them on speed dial or what have you, YOU DON'T TRULY KNOW THEM!!!!!!!!! They have a job to do so they have to talk about things either you don't care about or they don't care about. More often than not they are reading reviews written by other editors, or just reading what's going on in the gaming world. But know that they do have an opinion, just like everyone else. But when the lights go off at the IGN office Naomi could go home and get straight on Warcraft all night. Lisa could probably kick your ass at Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Morgan has said "Skyrim is a way of life." Jessica probably kicks Blair's ass on a nightly basis in ANYTHING! But we're not there, so we don't know, so we can't judge, and even if we could its not our place!

Then there's this whole "gamer girl/girl gamer/whatever the hell people are calling female gamers these days" thing. Last time I checked a gamer is a gamer regardless of genitalia. Yes, the majority of gamers online and off are guys, and because of this many people believe.......

But its not. It's just a thing. Period. If I meet a girl on Gran Turismo 5 (my fave PS title by the by) I'm not impressed by the fact that she has tits and a vagina, I'm impressed that she just dusted me on Nurburgring in an underpowered car. Or I would be impressed that she's a good regicide player in Halo 4. I'm not saying all female gamers are in just for the game, there are indeed some who do it for the attention; the fame and the following so to speak. Some just get that following just because they are hot, or they are female. Some really don't ask for it. Weren't even trying that hard that hard to get it. It just happened. So because of the ones who do it for the attention, a lot of other gamers, male and female, have their guards up in terms of who's real and who's fake. Again, not my place to judge. If you do it for the attention, that's fine. I personally could care less. We all have our individual reasons for gaming. So why should someone else's reason affect the way you look at them. Our reasons for gaming are just like our brains, everyone has them, but no two are the exact same.

What happened to the days when you played with someone or liked someone because you have common ground or because of, I dunno, SKILL? 'Hey I see you play <insert game here>, too. Let's be friends!' 'Wow, that was a great race, let's do another one and maybe you can help me with my tune.' What the hell happened to that? Now it's turned into 'do you even game?' and those 5 lovely ladies pictured at the top are taking all the flame. And for what? Because they happen to be hot as hell, and that's enough cause for doubt? They didn't ask or beg for the attention, they just got it, hell, earned it. So why hate or doubt them? Or any gamer for that matter? You don't have the right! You're not gaming Jesus or gaming Obama. So take a page from gaming MLK's dream and live in a world where gamers of all races, creeds, genders, sexualities can all go online, join hands, and sing in the words of that proud gaming spiritual "Kicked yo ass! Kicked yo ass! Good God Almighty we kicked yo ass!"