Tag Archives: gaming

Life before the internet

I woke this morning to the following question in a group ‘Older WOW players, what did you do before the internet’ – it is was posted in a game specific post and of course garnered plenty of answers along the lines of ‘we went outside’. The game itself, if you are not already familiar with it, has players of all ages, and worrying as it is to think about, there may well be players who have only known a world in which the game exists.

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But this question is very ambiguous – what is the question asking? Older – how are we quantifying this, if we don’t know how old the original poster is? Older than the internet maybe? But then, the internet is pretty old, broadband is still relatively new in the lifespan of the internet and MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer on line games) are also relatively new. I only really had free access to a personal computer from my early twenties. Before that I was relying on a flatmates or more often, using one at work in my free time. I understand that things have changed, and that most people will have access to the internet freely whether that is via their phone or another computing device.

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My reply to the question as posted in the group is as follows :

What is the question, how did we game or how did we entertain ourselves? Because they are 2 different questions. For example, old as I am, there have been computer games of a sort my entire life so really the only difference is that I now play an mmorpg. If the question is what I did for entertainment with friends?! We would go to each others houses which meant giving our parents a break for a few hours while we ate our friends out of house and home. With regards to entertainment generally, if you are asking how hobbies have evolved, are you asking what people did when they were younger? Because that hasn’t changed a great deal for me. The biggest change for me is communication which is that I no longer tie up the phone for hours on end and can have a conversation spanning and hour, an evening, or days as the participants dip in and out.
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For me the question is still troubling, is it asking what did we do for entertainment as children? Which I guess is implied as it is directed to ‘older’ players? But then, we would have changed what we do naturally as we get older. We might go out more, go out less, have more responsibilities, or more disposable income to spend on expensive hobbies. But the internet is more than just a game, for example, to link in with a recent show – we have access to things like Netflix. So not only do I get to play online, with other players and therefore interact real time with people, I can stream tv shows, movies, documentaries that are ready when I am, and… well let us now get started on my love of social media. 
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What did we do without the internet? Or what did we do before the internet? The answer is, we did things differently. We did most of the same things, if you enjoy outdoors, walking, running, cycling, riding… the internet has not changed this. If you enjoyed gaming with friends, tabletops? This still happens, but now you can also play games like WoW, gaming itself has been around long enough that really the internet has not changed this either. If you enjoy reading? Well, now we can buy books online and have them transferred onto our kindle (other reading devices, I am reliably informed, exist… ), if you love movies, cinemas still exist, people still love going out to see movies on the big screen. But yes, we can no stream movies, and shows etc when it suits us. There is very little that has ceased existing because of the internet, or been entirely replaced because of the internet although it might have been supplemented.
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So what is the answer? Well maybe the question might be, when you were my age, what did you do? That might have made more sense! 

Warcraft cashcow

So this is in no way meant to be a negative post, so please don’t get the wrong end of the stick! Giving blogs a title can be a chore!

So as you may or may not be aware, the Warcraft movie has been released. It was a staggered release over 2 weeks worldwide. It is predicted to do better in Europe that in the USA (which I assume is its biggest single market) and I have noticed several forums where people in past months have become rather upset that it is getting to North America last. I can’t quite say why this is, but I imagine it has a lot to do with generating interest.

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Now there is also a lot of confusion about the film, this is not a World of Warcraft (the game) movie. This is a story of the Warcraft universe, there were 3 games released before the all encompassing MMORPG that is usually referred to as WOW. This is effectively an explanation of how things happened, offering a history, a timeline, a backstory. So I guess for some it might be confusing. But if you have played Warcraft for any period of time, you will understand that the time lines are confused at best, and you won’t necessarily understand the history or who the key players are.

With each expansion is a new storyline and a shift in the universe and even time line, so really when you think about it… how are you going to capture that in a movie. What storyline are you actually going to pick to go down. What side do you pick?

So yes, this movie is a back story, to help us all catch up and what I assume will be a trilogy of movies that will net Blizzard some more money. Again, I sound negative, but you can’t blame them can you ? Why not build on your franchise. I guess what a lot of people will be asking is why it has taken so long? Well remember the Street Fighter movie, or the Dungeons & Dragons movie? Do you REMEMBER them? They are bad and in the case of Street Fighter, creepy. Go watch it… you will have a niggling suspicion that there is something a little ‘off’ about the movie. The sound track. Or lack there of, no ambient sound. It is off putting in its silence. And the Dungeon and Dragons movie is truly cringeworthy. Like it legitimised every assumption and stereotype about the franchise.

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But I digress, Blizzard, in World of Warcraft, have a cash cow. To the point that they are able to take a little more time over other games (let us not think about how long it took to release Diablo 3, and personally it felt like a massive let down. Yes it recreated the other 2 games beautifully… but again a little too accurate considering the time between the releases of the games) and even work on off shots of the game, Hearthstone being a massively popular game which combines a card game with the WOW universe. They have recently added Overwatch to their stable which makes for a pleasing change of direction and hopefully initiate new players to the franchise.

There was an understanding, long held that WOW would stop level 100. That is, that the last expansion allowing players to reach 100 would be the maximum level. That they would then release an entirely new game. But this hasn’t happened. And why should it. Right now, as in today, I had a look at the EU/English speaking servers. I have played for over a decade and so I have characters on numerous servers. Not a single one was listed as having a high population, barely any was touching a medium population. Because people have leveled, they have leveled a few characters, they have done all that can be done and have seen all there is to be seen. Until the next Expansion is released (end of August) people are winding down, enjoying their summer, remembering what friend’s and family look like, and generally relaxing. All hell will break loose when the expansion hits, and the servers will be over populated once again.

So back to the reason for this blog, the movie, the Warcraft movie that has recently been released. It has been timed rather well to cover the down time while everyone waits for the next expansion and hopefully will bring new and old players to the game. Again, it is generating an interest in the genre and game, a game that has been going for over a decade which is pretty good going. It is an innovative marketing strategy!

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I went to see the movie, I was warned by my SO that I would hate it, I have a history of being over critical when watching movies, including genres that I like (The Hulk, X Men) and he still laughs at my falling asleep during The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then waking up during the credits and proclaiming that the movie was shite. In my own defence, I fell asleep. It can’t have been that good a movie 🙂 I also fell asleep during the first Captain America movie… I am a very critical person, in most aspects of my life, so my SO was right in suspecting that I would end up disliking the movie. I was willing to give it a chance, after all, I did give Batman VS Superman a chance!

So let us fast forward to the end of the movie, I walked out of the movie theatre smiling! Literally smiling,  I was really on a high watching a game I have been playing for many, many years, come to life. I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I promise! The movie is fantastic, the cities we all know and love come to life, you can feel yourself being transported into the film. It is the little touches, the spells you recognise along with the in game description (you will laugh, I promise). There is enough background and characterisation that you care about what happens to them, that you become attached but understand the motivation that drives them.

There is something for everyone, there are good looking girls, good looking guys, there is family, romance, there is fighting, explosions, intrigue, magic. Somehow it manages to blend everything seamlessly and it works. It doesn’t feel like a movie about a game, it works because it isn’t a movie about a game, it doesn’t rely heavily on prior knowledge. It isn’t a film for gamers. The things I mentioned earlier, like the spells, the cities, they are part of the rich tapestry of life in a fantasy setting. It is the perfect all round movie that will actually keep an entirely family entertained and should be judged on that and not its pedigree.

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#FORTHEHORDE

Also if you saw the movie and want the leggings, go check out Wild Bangarang By Clicking HERE

Life on line

So this is something I am writing on the back of an incident I witnessed this week. I play MMORPG’s – as I have probably mentioned, and WOW is one of my favourites and I have been playing for over 10 years.

This week, in one of the groups that I am in on WOW, a kid started a thread about how upset he was that he had been banned from wow. It then transpired that he had been due to language he used, and sexual harassment toward other players in game. When people commenting on the thread were not sympathetic to his situation, he turned to racial slurs, death threads and wishing people would ‘die’ – and this was just what was being posted on the thread and not what was being privately messaged to people.

A member of the group messaged the kids uncle and explained what had happened, and updated us to say that the kids mother had contacted the police to have a chat with him.

And this is where it started unravelling. I had passively watched it all happen to this point (sometimes your voice does not need to be added to a situation) but felt motivated to speak when it was suggested that contacting the parents (or family members) was too much.

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Comments where made in the group that people over stepped the mark, that it was just ‘a kid’ being ‘a kid’ and ‘its just a game’.

Okay. Let us just stop RIGHT THERE. This is not a gender issue either – this is an issue of boundaries, manners and respect. The fact someone was so incensed by a situation on a game – and therefore something intangible – was not something to be dismissed. That he then lacked the social skills to deal with criticism, constructive or otherwise and the only way he could react was lashing out. But it was more than that – it was the language used, the threats.

If you are not going to say it to someone face, it shouldn’t be said on line. The anonymity that the internet offers, is both good and bad. It allows people freedom, you can avoid judgements, have another life, but on the other hand, people quickly find themselves either saying or doing things they would never normally do because the mask is in place, or they find themselves victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking. Because it is in line and not so easily quantified, people don’t feel that it can be reported in the same way. 

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Another point made in the threads about the afore mentioned FB post is that if it is reported to the police it would ruin the kids life. I would suggest that if he is under 16, and this is a first offence, the only thing that is likely to happen is that he gets a visit and a chat about what consequences could be in the hope that it knocks some sense in him.

As an adult though, being aware of what you are putting on line is much more important – I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that my actions while in uniform could and would be help up for inspection. This is the same in my working life, I can’t comment on things directly relating to my work, my job. I can’t share views, I can’t (and shouldn’t) make disparaging comments about co workers and employers. This may seem like common sense but the internet, and moreover social media blew up so quickly that employers were caught on the back foot but many employees now find themselves signing confidentiality agreements that include what and what is not acceptable to write online.

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This is another reason, many, like myself, hide behind made up names, and then you have people who because of work, known under different guises, models, actors, personalities who need and want to keep their work and their personal life separate. 

This doesn’t guarantee you won’t be tracked down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have people putting two and two together to find your actual profile – although with facebook these days, you may find it suggesting your actual profile to people who are friends with your work profile. But I digress, putting yourself out there publicly means that you are likely to get complete strangers commenting on things you share… which is what happened here :

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Now, I happened to post this on my personal profile and have this morning had a conversation with a friend on how children act ‘these days’ and how there needs to be be more parental responsibility but I have to say, I don’t think that is entirely true. What I was trying to illustrate is that it is easy to hide on line, and so many different forums, pages, social media devices now that parents may genuinely struggle – especially those not so technically savvy. With life the way it is, working longer hours, often commuting, spending less real time with your children. I would suggest that children may not be worse, and parents are more lax, it is just that things are moving much faster now.

What I really want to say, after waffling on somewhat in this blog – is that we need to report things. Don’t just brush things off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘its just a game’ … ‘they are just words’ … ‘stop being so sensitive’.

If you have comments directed at you publicly, or privately, or you see it happening, please don’t feel you shouldn’t report it. It doesn’t matter what age the poster is. It isn’t acceptable, and the longer people feel they are getting away with it, the more it legitimises their actions and make them become normalised. It then colours the entire environment and social interactions therein. It will have a knock on effect on other interactions that what people feel is acceptable. Not only that, everyone should feel safe, if you don’t feel safe, mention it to friend, report it, take it to the police. Don’t ever feel silly doing it.

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