Category Archives: gaming

#TIC104 Summary: “Internet gaming disorder and the DSM-5″

Almost ten years after the last incarnation was published in 1994, the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published in 2013. One of the many changes in the new DSM was the addition of Internet Gaming Disorder to the manual.

The article describes the process that the people writing the manual went through to recategorize abuse disorders such as substance abuse disorders, gambling disorders and Internet Gaming Disorder.

The article mentions that there is very little information available about IGD at the moment and poses that its inclusion into the DSM-5 was in order to encourage more studies into peoples’ internet use habits and when they may become unhealthy. An interesting thing that the article notes is that the criteria in psychological studies relating to internet use vary wildly, some coming to the conclusion that only 0.1% of participants may be affected by unhealthy internet habits, and other studies put that number at 50%.

I find this paper very interesting, as it is a great example of how psychology must adapt to the movement of technology and, by extension, how the human mind also adapts to it, as something like Internet Gaming Disorder would either have not existed in 1994, when the DSM-4 was released, or would be so rare that it would likely have been completly unheard of.

#Gamergate: Something I Found a Little Funny

Above is an image that over the course of the past few days has been posted to multiple subreddits, along with 19 others, all under the title “Have you heard about how social justice activists/warriors are planning to kill gaming? Well, it turns out that’s wrong. They’re not planning. They’ve already been working at it for years.” This photoset has caused monumental drama in reddit’s gaming communities, with some lauding it and some criticizing it.

The image above shows a promotional screenshot from Bioshock: Infinite, where a character, Elizabeth, is shown wearing a rather low cut outfit by the standards of 1912, the game’s setting. Below that are screencaps of two articles discussing the outfit and a tweet from controversial game critic Anita Sarkeesian criticizing Irrational Games’ choice in Elizabeth’s dress. The bottom portion of the image shows another screenshot from Infinite, showing Elizabeth now wearing a white blouse with all of the buttons done up.

Worst dad and hot Jesus.

The implication is supposed to be that Irrational caved to the demands of critics and changed Elizabeth’s outfit to something much more conservative, supposedly proving something or other about the continuing dastardly plot to destroy video games because… for shits and giggles I suppose.

The funny reality is that anybody who has actually played Bioshock: Infinite will know that both outfits are present in the game and [spoiler alert!] Elizabeth changes from the more conservative one into the low cut corset about halfway through the game and both outfits get just about equal screen time in the game. Not to mention that the second outfit is the one featured on most of the Infinite merchandise. Take the poster on my wall, for instance.

For someone supposedly extremely passionate about the state of the video game industry, and considering Infinite’s popularity and the time it spent in the headlines, this seems like a rather bizarre mistake to make. Rather ironic, really, considering how many of the rebuttals leveraged at people who critique video games for their diversity insist that they do not care at all about the industry, but instead are only interested in pushing some sort of agenda. Absolutely fascinating.

And for the kicker, it is worth noting that Irrational did, in fact, change the model for Elizabeth’s second dress at some point during development. It is unknown whether or not they did so in response to the controversy about how low cut it was for the era, or if it was just one of the many small changes that get made during the development and design process.

oldCapture

Both of these models are present in the game’s files and the one used in the game is on the right. Although the colouring in the first picture more accurately matches that of the used model, the neckline of the dress and shape of Elizabeth’s waist resemble that the old model much, much more. As you can see the corset of the dress in the newer model is much less sexualized than the (mostly) unused model, with a more natural looking waist, a higher neckline of the corset and less noticeable cleavage. There is also a  lace trim at the top of the corset that is not present in neither the unused model nor the one in the screenshot at the top of this article.

This change was exactly what the creator of the graphic was looking for to complain about, yet somehow neglected to mention at all. Perhaps because making a neckline ever so marginally higher and adding a lace trim to a character design is not nearly as sensational as implying a complete redesign.

The conclusion? They did change Elizabeth’s outfit, just not to the one that the person behind this infographic claims, and not nearly by as much as would constitute an actual change to the character’s design.

And even then, would the entire gaming industry really be dismantled by the absence of a single pair of breasts?

Is the MMORPG Genre Done?

Do genres die? Do they just become less popular until they fade into obscurity but still exist in there, somewhere? Do they die for all but a few hipster throwback titles that exist to capitalize on nostalgia? Perhaps they never do. Can you think of a video game genre that we can say for sure is completely dead. Even genres that have barely been touched on since the 1990′s can’t be said to be completely dead. Take the Multi User Dungeon for example, which eventually evolved into the modern MMORPG that we know today. So will the MMORPG ever die?

Is it doing so already? Developers keep trying to bring out new MMORPGs, but they all seem to be falling flat into the same trap: massive subscription loss after several months, followed by going to free-to-play and implementing a cash shop. Hell, even World of Warcraft, the most successful subscription based MMO (based on it holding the highest number of subscribers of any MMO in history at its peak) has begun to sell premium cosmetic items and, more controversially, the ability to instantly boost any character to level 90. A possible hint to Blizzard’s plan for the future of WoW’s payment model, perhaps? The free-to-play model seems to only be increasing in popularity and one can plainly see the appeal for so many of these games to take up on it.

Then why do so many of these new releases initially decide to try first the subscription based model, when the history of similar moves doesn’t exactly look favorably on them? Having to switch from one payment model to another makes a game look as if the initial model failed them, and that they could not draw in enough long term players to make people want to pay a recurring fee. So wouldn’t it, in light of the amount of failed sub-based games that came before them, developers see that the model just isn’t working and skip straight the micropayments stage? Perhaps it’s just an honest-to-god attempt at overtaking World of Warcraft from the number one spot in the genre. If so, you have to praise the ambition as the MMO market has no gone almost ten years with very little competition for Blizzard’s behemoth. And when a market lacks competition, it stagnates and results in choices that are ultimately bad for the player.

Or maybe it’s just a cash grab. Cynical as it may be to think about, subscription MMO’s do tend to make massive amounts of money in their first few months of existence before eventually dying down to a point where a micropayment system would be far more profitable. Mike Preach once posed a good theory that these games aren’t made to last but instead make all the profit that they need during the first few months that they run on a subscription, and everything that comes after that is a nice bonus I suppose. I suppose it’s good for a business model, but not a terribly good way to dip your toes into a genre of gaming that’s known for it’s longevity.

And again, games that are supposed to die after six months offer no competition in the MMORPG genre, which once again forces passionate MMO players to pretty much deal with whatever they’re given by whoever owns the leading title. Where else are we going to go if we don’t like it? The Old Republic?

So is the MMORPG genre done? Despite a distinct lack of change of dominant titles, there has been a consistent change in the way things are done in MMOs, both new and current. Things are becoming overall more casual-friendly, possibly to combat the rising popularity of other, less time intensive genres, like the rapidly popularizing MOBA. So perhaps the genre is not entirely dead; it’s still evolving after all, but it is extremely close to stagnant and the lack of competition in it continues to be very concerning.

Preparing for Summer and Other Fun Stuff

Well, it’s finals week again. Or it will be next week. Yup. Two days and one week until I am entirely done with uni for four whole months and I have a good list of things that I want to get done during that time.

Firstly I want to start streaming again. I had some good fun last summer when I did it and I’m sad that I couldn’t continue at university due to a heavily throttled upload speed. I made some good friends last summer and had some good times interacting with chat and I’d like to do that again this time around. I’m trying to figure out all of the good ways to incorporate the stream into this blog right as I type this.

Secondly I’d like to finally build my new computer. I’ve been planning on doing this for the past year and it’s just now that I’m able to get the opportunity to save what little else I need to make that goal (plus my aunt offered to contribute $200!). Look out for more news of that, because I think it’s related enough for it to get posted here. ;]

And finally on the list is finding part time work to support all of this. Hah.

Good Sportsmanship in Gaming: Why the “gg” is Important

I remember PE class in primary school very clearly. We didn’t have any PE uniforms. In the winter we wore our winter uniforms, ties and all, and in summer we wore our summer uniforms, even if that was a dress. We only ever played four or five games; football, rounders, cricket and sometimes stingball (dodgeball, but played with tennis balls) and at the end of the lesson both teams would line up opposite each other and the PE teacher would force us to go to every member of the other team, shake hands with them and say “good game”.

This had an effect on us as kids. Even at the end of morning break, when there was no PE teacher to make sure we did, as soon as Miss came out into the playground and started ringing the bell we all lined up, shook hands and said “good game”. It was ingrained in us. It probably leaked out of a lot of us as we got older but for some reason it never did with me.

I’m follow this up with a World of Warcraft anecdote. I don’t really PvP on my Priest. I love my Priest, I main my Priest, but I hate PvP on Priests. Over the course of MoP I tried to start PvPing on my Priest a few time, but it just never happened. One of these times brought me to running the Isle of Thunder PvP dailies every day. Now usually when I do this alone and I come across an enemy player, we spend quite a while trading blows where they didn’t die because my Disc self barely does any damage and I didn’t die because my Disc self also doesn’t take any damage. Eventually someone dies and whoever survived goes and carries on their life and if we do meet and fight again the person who lost the fight at least gets a little time to get their health and buffs back up and re-orient themselves, etc.

One time it did not play out this way. One day while doing my IoT PvP dailies I ran into a Rogue. We traded blows for about fifteen minutes. It was pretty fun and I ended up dying and thought that was the end of it. I ran back, rezzed at my corpse and Mr. Rogue almost immediately popped back out of stealth and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for him to kill me again. And again. And again. I was being camped. So I did what people who get camped do; I logged off. I went to play another toon for about an hour. And when I logged back in and re-rezzed? Mr. Rogue pops out of stealth once more. The guy had been sticking around for an entire hour, over my toon’s corpse waiting for me to log back in for what must have been minimal honor per hour spent playing. Well, a Hunter friend of mine on the sever happened to be doing the same dailies at the same time that this was happening and she ended up chasing the guy off after killing him only once.

Oh well, right? I lost an hour, but shit happens, right? And if I wasn’t prepared for this particular brand of shit to happen I would have never have flagged, right? However, a little while after I’d finished up with my dailies I get several particularly nasty whispers from a level 1 with the name Dontcrynow. It was Mr. Rogue again, apparently taking out all of his misplaced adolescent anger at the healer that he had camped for two hours. The whispers each came in very quick succession, like he had written them out beforehand, and before I could reply the toon had been logged off of and most likely deleted. I took a screenshot of my chat window and sent it to my Hunter friend and we both had a good laugh at it, but then I got to thinking about this dude.

There’s not a whole lot of honor to be gained from camping the same person for two hours, especially when half of that time is spent completely rez free. It’s like ganking low levels: there’s no real reward to it other than your own enjoyment, if you’re into that sort of thing. So this dude finds it fun to fight people who don’t really have the full ability to fight back and when someone actually beats him he gets so offended that he feels the need to go out of his way to send nasty messages, not to the person who killed them, but to the person they were camping? And then logging off in order to avoid being responded to? 

I think our friend Mr. Rogue exemplifies a huge problem in the gaming community, be it in WoW or LoL or Dota or TF2. And that is that a good fight can never be respectful.

You see, the gaming community is toxic. It’s not just a problem with gaming though; anything competitive has the ability to create highly toxic people that muddy up the experience for the rest of us. Take my primary school example above, for instance. Sure, we really got into the habit of telling each other “good game” no matter whether we won or lost, but there was always one or two kids who didn’t get into that habit, who played aggressively because it wasn’t about the game, it was about the win, and when they didn’t get that win or a play didn’t go their way they a fight would probably start.

And I use the word toxic because this is toxicity. There’s a very important part of my primary school PE comparison that might not make it as applicable and that is that the people involved in this anecdote are children. And as children they act as such. Grown ass adults or even teenagers who are playing games online should no better than to throw tantrums at the first sign of losing.

In the average game of League, either Blue wins, or Purple wins. In randoms 50% of the time Blue will lose, and 50% of the time Purple will lose. I don’t care if you just like playing the game or you only like winning, acting like children when you do eventually lose creates a toxic environment for all involved including you, your team members and your opponents. Throwing a tantrum isn’t going to erase that loss and it’s not going to make your next win any more likely.

If you do something for fun, have fun. Your enjoyment of a hobby shouldn’t be conditional and your feelings towards your hobby shouldn’t lie on the two extremes of the spectrum. Going out of your way to send someone nasty messages after your loss doesn’t make you enjoy the game any more, and honestly, we’ve all become so desensitized to how toxic these communities are that it doesn’t make the person you’re sending them to enjoy the game any less.

We all want gaming to be taken more seriously as a hobby, an art form and a legitimate form of competition, because right now video games are still seen as a thing for children. And we’re never going to change that view if we act like children while we’re playing.

Even if that just means saying “gg” a bit more often, even if you lose.

If you’ve been watching the Sochi Olympics, or have ever watched any Olympics at all, you might notice that, after the event, athletes from different countries shake hands or hug at the end of their events, even if they don’t speak the same language. Those are professional competitionists. The kid that starts a fight with the person who called the off side? He’s not.

That isn’t to say that you can’t get away with a reasonable amount of angry shouting, because even I, the one preaching this nonsense have been known to be very creative with the applications of the word ‘fuck’ when on the mic with only the people on my team. ;]

The Internet Playground

The Internet playground : children’s access, entertainment, and mis-education by Ellen Seiter talks about how the internet in combination with computers is a poor tool for children to learn. Seiter explains the aspects of the internet in an educational setting can be beneficial if properly used however that is a difficult task. Rather it does more harm and is less effective that traditional lecture. Ellen did her studies in California through two case studies at two schools through an investigation of the societal, cultural, and economic contexts.

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