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Vote with your wallet

I suck at the whole voting with my wallet concept. It’s the idea that you show your opposition or inability to tolerate something about a game by abstaining from purchasing said game. The adage started becoming relevant to games, especially MMOs in this sphere, because of the fact that gamers (like me) tend to just buy everything new regardless of the games questionable development. A few weeks later we quit, probably have buyer’s remorse, then complain about the game until we repeat the process again.

I knew WildStar would tank. I pushed myself into it anyway. I knew ESO was going to be ‘meh’ but I pushed myself into it anyway. I do rationalize some of it by saying to myself, “Hey self, you can play and write about the game so it’s not a total loss.” It’s just an excuse.

ArcheAge started today for those willing to spend money. I didn’t pull the trigger. I’m willing to try the game as a F2P game, but can’t see myself putting money into a game that I know deep down won’t make it past the 3 month mark for 90% of the initial players.  Still… to see all those live streams and think, “Maybe there will be grand adventures on the high seas with players pillaging villages and sinking ships and pirating trade routes! It’ll be a marvelous adventure!” (That’s my imagination getting away from me).

It’s the whole idea of missing out. I hate missing out on things, and sometimes I would rather grumble about $60 wasted than having not picked up the next best thing. A huge part of the problem is my inability to trust my instincts. I have amazing instincts — a golden gut — that tell me exactly how something will turn out.  I need to learn to have confidence in those instincts and allow them to serve me well.

Yes, if we could all vote with our wallets maybe crap would stop making it to the shelves with AAA budgets. I do believe in and agree with the sentiment. If only it was easy.

Video Games Aren’t Sports

John Skipper, President of ESPN, commented on Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch.tv for roughly $1Billion by saying that video games (eSports) are not “real sports”. I tend to agree.

I’ve never thought of video games as a sport, just like I do not think of poker, chess, Magic the Gathering, or even Nascar as particularly sporty. When I think of sports I think of what’s in the Olympics or Soccer, Football, Basketball and Baseball. While some might disagree completely that racing cars is entirely sport-like, I think that still leaves a very large gap for DotA 2 to traverse.

To say that video games are not a sport doesn’t denigrate the games or the act of playing them — even competitively. Video games are a competition, a hobby, and entertainment — the best available, in my opinion. I’m not sure why players or those who enjoy watching eSports feel the need to vehemently defend the label. Does it make video games any less fun or enjoyable to watch because we can’t put them in the same category as a bunch of guys in shorts running back and forth throwing a ball into a hoop?

Skipper is getting flack for the comment because ESPN does indeed cover events like MTG, chess, Poker, and even DotA 2. Even though Skipper doesn’t see video games as sports, ESPN still sees them as something worth showing on their network. That alone says something and should be all the validation people need to continue calling this competitive show of skill, even “eSports”, whatever they want.

They’re not sports. Really, they’re not. But in the end they are awesome, take enormous amounts of talent, and clearly carry with them the ratings and the interest to be worth billions.

What Kind of Gamer Am I?

What kind of gamer am I? I’m reflecting on this question and my gaming habits more and more lately. I know the kind of gamer I used to be when I was younger. I used to play games all day every day at what many would consider hardcore or even unhealthy levels. I scaled it back significantly to what I would classify as a “serious” gamer while in college, and somewhat serious after that.  Now, things are starting to change.

I’m a picky gamer. I’m a particular gamer. I might even be a gaming snob. I know what I like, and I no longer need to play games just for the sake of having games to play. Games are my greatest passion, my beloved hobby and pastime. I would absolutely return to the days of playing games for hours on end and loving every second… if there were games to be played that I could enjoy for that long.

I can consume games like Assassin’s Creed. I can casually play games like Minecraft and Civilization on and off. If I could pick one style of game I love the most it would be MMORPGs. I love the immersion, the world, the social dynamics, and the progression over an extended period of time. I can play MMOs for years. What I can’t do anymore is justify being the tourist bouncing around MMO to MMO. That’s why I stopped playing WildStar and I’m skipping games like ArcheAge.

Settling for and buying every new MMO just isn’t in me anymore. Why bother? I can think of plenty of other activities I’d rather do than act desperate and throw myself at every promise. I’d rather be extremely picky and overly critical.

I think the best way I can describe myself as a gamer now is ‘unemployed’, ‘unoccupied’, or ‘idle’. The part of me capable of devouring games is hibernating and waiting for something to change. The only game I play now is the waiting game. Something will eventually come along. Something always does.

Has your way of gaming changed over the years? What kind of gamer are you?

Should Do

My friends and I are once again in our go-to game: Minecraft. We have a server up and running on Feed the Beast Monster which contains like 100+ different mods and all sorts of crazy addons. The biggest problem I run into with modded Minecraft, especially with so many mods, is an overwhelming sense of having no idea what to do. I feel like there’s so much to do, and so many options, that I spin my wheels and almost do nothing because I can’t decide what I want.

I said to my friends, “I don’t know what I should do first,” to which one replied, “There is no “should do” in a sandbox.” Fascinating concept, and at first I felt like that was totally true and chastised myself. Now the more I think about it, sandboxes or every game for that matter need a ‘should do’ even if it’s a loose direction. Sometimes that ‘should do’ is a little hard to identify — that’s okay. Thinking over Minecraft, my ‘should do’ is gather resources and accumulate resources like electricity and power. In a MMO the should do is advance my character (whether a prescribed way or however I choose).

There’s a balance in there somewhere. Too much and it becomes a themepark leading you by the nose to every objective. Too little and it ceases to be gamelike. All of that said, I’ll err on the side of less ‘should do’ and more freedom any day. For me it’s all about having something to constantly work toward and achieve. Once I identify what that is, or I can create my own objective and it’s truly meaningful, I’ll play for years. As soon as that objective seems pointless, like a stopping point, or too easy to obtain, I’ll put it in the ‘why bother’ category and move on.

You know what’s great? Cross-buy.

I really appreciate how a lot of stuff on the Playstation Network supports cross-buy. Cross-buy is when you buy a game once and have it for use on multiple systems, so I could buy Game X on PS4 and also get it on PS3 and even Vita. Not every game on PSN supports it and not all games are always on every Sony platform, but it’s appreciated when it shows up. Actually I did mention two cross-buy games a little while back: Rogue Legacy and Oddworld: New ‘n Tasty.

I would love to see Nintendo adopt a cross-buy policy. Their account system is really outdated and has been for years, which has been the source of complaint from many players. What I find aggravating is the need to re-purchase  things like virtual console games. Back when the Wii came out I bought Super Mario World for 8 bucks or whatever it was. When the Wii U came out you had to purchase your stuff all over again. I think any game tied to your Wii was reduced in price to like a buck or two but that still seems petty. That’s actually another annoying aspect of Nintendo systems. Most of your content is tied to hardware so you are forced to do system transfers if you get a new system. For the 3DS they used to limit these to like 1 a year or something but fortunately they changed that. I do love Nintendo but they seem extremely slow at adapting to new technology and concepts.

One thing that you pretty much never see is cross-system cross-buy. Take Zen Pinball for example. Currently it is released on pretty much every platform imaginable and by now there are a crap-load of tables. It would be really awesome if your tables were tied to your account, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. It’s especially frustrated for anybody who bought tables on the Wii U since they all but abandoned the console outright. That’s pretty much what happened in my case so if I wanted to move over and start purchasing some of the new tables on PS4 then I would need to repurchase every table that I had on Wii U. That’s like over $30 in pinball tables. BUT… the tables are cross-buy within their respective brands so all of your tables on PSN are shared across PS3/PS4/Vita and Xbox 360/One. Still, it would be pretty sweet if you could hop onto Steam and access all of your tables when away from your consoles. A global account would be much appreciated.

Speaking of Global accounts, I think BioWare actually does something to that effect. I believe all of your content is tied to your BioWare account, or at least some of it, and is accessible across various systems. I haven’t tested this out between consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360 but I was able to access a majority of my content in the PC versions of Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 after having previously played them on Xbox. I remember Keen and I thought that was pretty nifty at the time.

In general I would like to see a lot more cross-buy enabled products and overall it would be great if there were more cross-system compatibility. I’m not completely certain but I think I heard Keen say that the iPad version of Hearthstone uses your same account and cards and I think even lets you play with PC people. If I’m mistaken I’m sure he will probably edit that out. That’s pretty much the end of my ramblings.