Gaming

Not Your Entertainment

Author Stephanie Braxton

Friday morning, I was browsing Facebook at work and I came across two disturbing things. The first of which was a message from the matron of our gaming clan that she’d had to cuss a random out online for a nasty message he sent her. The second was an article posted by Buzzfeed about a new Tumblr account to trying to shed more light on the street harassment of women.

I came across these things back to back and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because they tie-in to a bigger issue women face.

Boys, we need to educate y’all that, as Pink says, “I’m not here for your entertainment.”

Fellas, let me make one thing perfectly clear. My husband is the only one allowed to catcall me. He’s the only one allowed to tell me I have a nice ass, and that is because he’s my husband and…

View original post 341 more words

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

Take The Heat or Stay Out of the Kitchen!

That is the message I feel I got recently from an Xbox Live Ambassador after asking what Microsoft was doing to update and perfect their rep system. At the time, I was upset by a nasty-gram I received from a complete random during a solo gaming session on an MMO. The message itself was disturbing. But to be quite honest, it’s nothing I haven’t experienced before as a female gamer. I will not disclose the content. I believe words become powerful when you use them and I will not repeat them here. The gamertag of this person I will not reveal because I will not give this person an audience. The behavior displayed is only done so by a minority in the gaming community, at least I would hope so, that is at the very bottom of the food chain and is usually misogynistic. As I’ve said, it’s not my first experience. And actually, it was mild compared to some of the bs I’ve had to endure while gaming. Believe me when I say that I have received “dick pics” from people I don’t know  across XBL before and that is no joke. So yes, I was pissed off when I received this latest message but I could handle it. What I couldn’t handle was that after I responded to this message with a F OFF and blocked that user, I was dinged on my xbox rep. And that really made me mad and prompted me to speak with an ambassador.

For those of you who may not be familiar with system, Xbox 360 Live has a rep system associated with your profile. To the best of ability, I cannot see where it really effects anything at all except possibly matchmaking during live matches. No one can see your rep as far as I know except you the user. You can prefer players or avoid them and the user then has a percentage that begins at 100 percent and goes down from there. As I say, as far as I know, no one but the user can see these percentages. There is a 5 star rating that is public and I know that positive preferences from other users build these stars to full. Not sure if negativity brings them back down. But to me, it was a matter of principle and fairness.

So I contacted my ambassador and asked when Microsoft was going to fix a flawed rep system that gives false results and explained what had happened. What I was told was the most hurtful response I could have been given and it opened my eyes and made me begin to think about my last 8 years of being a part of the XBL community and the things I have had to deal with as a female gamer. It made me think that I’m probably not alone in that. So what advice did my ambassador give me? To set my profile to private, to lock down my messaging system to only receive messages from people on my friends list. To which I responded, “Why should I have to hide to play just because I’m female?” It was a kick in the stomach and what I felt like I was hearing was, “How dare you identify as a female online and not expect the harassment?”

Please let me clarify, ambassadors are NOT employees of Microsoft or Xbox. They are volunteers in the community that are selected to help others. The selection process is done by whom? I’m not sure but my best guess is MS or XBL. I can say with some certainty that these volunteers are not chosen by the community itself. If I happen to be wrong, someone please correct me. Since ambassadors are not employees, I doubt if they have had any official training in dealing with community issues, so the one I spoke with was most likely shooting from the hip, so to speak. That in itself is wrong. And the response was hurtful. Hurtful enough to make me re-evaluate my relationship with my beloved Xbox & XBL.

The second thing I feel I should clarify is  that on XBL the rep system has always been abused. If you play anything online with live random players, your rep is going to take a hit. Play too well, you will get dinged by others who don’t want the challenge that you present. Don’t play well enough, you’re going down. Play well but they just don’t like you for whatever reason ( may be they don’t like your color armor) then you could possibly be dinged down on your Xbox live reputation.  As I have stated other users have the ability to “prefer” you as a player or they can give negative feedback, such as trash talking or disruptive or quit early. People abuse this for personal reasons. It has always been this way and it will until Microsoft does something different. All of us though have learned to live with it. But it is unfair  For instance, most of the negativity recorded on mine is for trash taking. Not sure how I ever trash talked anyone since I never, ever talk to anyone outside my friends list except for friends of friends. And never, ever have I been rude or mean to anyone. I like meeting new gamers that I share interest with. Plus I’m a nice person. Yet there it is on my rep and like I say we have all learned to live with it. What I refuse to tolerate is being dinged as a rude player simply because I won’t participate in the harassment or “Sext” with degenerates hiding within the community. The rep is not a huge thing. Users do have the ability to file reports against the worst of the worst, and that is serious stuff. But to me it is the principle. In itself, the forced toleration feels like a sort of harassment and no one seems to care. I wonder how many other “girl” gamers would agree?

Thirdly, I feel I should clarify who I am as a gamer. I am a adult female. My genre of choice is shooters.  I have been a member of the XBL community for 8 years. For the first year of that relationship, I spoke to no one over LIVE because I tend to be shy like that. Now I only speak with friends or friends of friends. I am not a phenomenal player nor am I the worst. I do not have a competitive bone in my whole body. I just love, love, love  XBL, gaming and hanging out with my friends. I promote Xbox to whoever asks and I even co-founded and administrate a group specifically for adult gamers to come hang out, have fun & a laugh, meet other gamers and exchange game info without the high intensity competitiveness and harassment that is abundant within the general community. I am friendly to everyone I encounter until they give me a very good reason not to be. I judge no one based on skill level. I consider myself to be an upstanding & outstanding member of the XBL community. That is why it is infuriating to be branded a bitch player  for things I did not do and it is especially hurtful to be branded a bad citizen simply because I won’t play along with sexual harassment.  It is devastating to be told by a “representative” of the community  to “hide” and put my communications on “lockdown” to avoid harassment. Is that the best answer? Who has my back and the backs of the countless other females in the community who can’t even ever hope to jump into the game chat of an MMO and speak with our voices and not receive misogynistic responses immediately? This is a problem, people.

I refuse to hide.

I don’t pay  $60 a year to have my experience impeded by rude dudes who have no idea how to treat other human beings, much less a lady.

To the community, I say this: Most guy gamers enjoy the company of female gamers. They are not intimidated by them and are actually quite accommodating to the ladies. These type of guys enhance the gaming experience and are actually a joy to spend time with. They make me proud to be a part of XBL. The rudes are a minority but they must be stomped out. For the time being, it is up to the community to police this and report sexual harassment, discourage it, make it unacceptable, obliterate it. Truly, when I opened the XBL message that contained a full color picture of a hairy penis, the sender had no idea if I was 3 or 30. ( I was in fact playing a game with my young niece, split screen) The sender was no one that I knew or had encountered before, a complete random. This cannot be tolerated. What if the message had been received by your daughter or a young child? Until Microsoft changes the system it is up to us as a community to have each others backs and put a stop to the madness.

To Microsoft & XBL I say this:  Females gamers account for a huge percentage of the community.  I would guess about half.  Of the accounts held by males, probably 80 percent of them, their household entertainment budget is influenced, if not controlled, by a female.   You are a powerful entity with endless resources.  You need to, with a very loud and proactive voice, take care of the women in your community. If you refuse to address this issue and fix a broken system, you are in danger of women taking their accounts and the accounts of their family members over to Sony. Xbox Live is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It is within your power to make the community a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone of all ages, regardless of gender. Make it so.

To other female gamers who may be feeling my pain I say this: DO NOT HIDE! Do not tolerate the abuse! Expose and report the online perverts! Do not allow them to humiliate you and ruin your gaming experience. Scream at the top of your lungs to the powers that be until a change is made and we get the respect we desire & deserve. And by all means, ladies, GAME ON!

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

5 Great Things That Have Come From Playing Destiny

These are my top five favorite things about Destiny. There are many other beautiful assets that I don’t have time to discuss today. We will talk about those in person if we ever run into each other on XBL. 😉

!. My friends and I now have a very good reason to game together. We began as a Gears of War group. We met and bonded over the saga of the fate of Sera. Because of those games  (specifically Gears 2 & 3) I met and became extremely close with some of my best friends. We are like family. Every great game should have the ability to bring the gaming community together. There have been others that my regs & I bought specifically for the multiplayer so that we could all hang out together and have fun. But honestly, this past year the pickings have been slim on games that were both exciting and multiplayer. Destiny has very nicely filled that immense void.

2. There are some very good and very funny Destiny parodies to come out of the community since release date. My personal favorite is this:

I love it! Shout out to it’s creator! If my xbl profile could have a song, this would be it! lol! And seriously, just cruise youtube. There are plenty of Destiny themed, fan-based tributes to the game.

3. The people playing this MMO seem to be extremely nice & helpful. Friends helping friends (both old and new) with strikes & missions & sharing helpful info with perfect strangers is what I’m finding at Tower. This type of positive behavior always makes me feel proud to be a gamer.

4. Finally, there is a game in my library that I can’t seem to take out of my tray. Seems like forever since a game had this effect on me. Something about it keeps me coming back for more. I believe there are many others who agree.

5.Not only have I learned what Fallen, Hive and Cabal are but I also now know some new lingo, such as Dinklebot & Little Light. I have learned that Hunters can’t jump and that Crucible ain’t so bad. That ghosts can be dead and warlocks can be female. To hold on to your relic iron and to use ascendant materials wisely. That all bosses have a weakness and that the Cryptarch is a bit twisted. I have learned that the finale creates more questions than answers. And best of all….there is more to come! I hear the DLC will be dropping in December.

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

Destiny ~ Dinklebots, Space Turtles & The Quest for Exotica

“They blow up planets & moons just for being in their way” ~ Little Light

After an extended hiatus, I am back to discuss Bungie’s latest and greatest, Destiny. Seriously, is there anyone on the planet not talking about and playing this  amazing MMO? Yes, I actually used amazing and MMO in the same sentence. My how times are a-changing!

When I first put this game in the tray of my Xbox, I was totally skeptical about the amount of enjoyment I personally would derive from a massive online multiplayer. I usually don’t dig this type of platform for reasons I have explained previously. Too, the masses seemed to be overly stoked about the release of this game. Rumors of the development budget seemed so inflated that I suspected the potential for disappointment was enormous. I was wrong.

From the first scene, I was blown away by the beauty. Graphics have come a long way since the days of PacMan and Sonic the Hedgehog. There are lots of examples of amazingly aesthetic games to come down the pike in the last several years, no doubt. But…breathtaking! That is the only way to describe the world that Bungie has created

For anyone who hasn’t yet experience it yet, let me give you a quick synopsis. Destiny is a 1st person shooter. The game begins with a Ghost reviving you to life as a Guardian, for you have been found worthy to help win the fight against  invading and destructive forces that are at war throughout the universe. Planets such as Venus and Mars have become inhabitable & as the story usually goes, society crumbles. It is up to you and others who have been recruited to bring order to the universe once again.

Tower is the only sanctuary to be found for a Guardian. It is the social hub of the Destiny world. Here you will find Vanguards for your chosen class (Titan, Hunter or Warlock)  and race. (Human, Awoken or Exo) The Vanguards will supply you with class based items, for a price, of course. Also you will find the Postmaster who gives you messages containing rewards periodically. The Cryptarch is also here. He give you cash (glimmer) for finding encoded items and will decipher engrams that you may pick up during gameplay. Usually these will become armor or weapons. There is also a Gunsmith ( which I find to be totally useless for the most part) a bounty board, where you can pick up bounties to complete for marks and reputation either as a Vanguard, Dead Orbit, Future War Cult, New Monarchy  the Crucible or the Queen. The latter I am told is a limited time event, which may come back into play at some point. At the date of this writing, the queen’s bounties and wrath are still accessible. Marks are used to purchase weapons and armor from said factions. There are others to be found on Tower, such as a Shipwright and Voice of the Traveler, etc. Tower is also where the Guardians hang out in their down time. Avatars can dance, point or wave to each other and most do so without prejudice, in trees, off rails and sometimes on tables or atop the beloved post office. The term “getting served” has now entered my vocabulary & I must say there is something to be said about the comradery found in “busting a move” with randoms.

The foes you come up against come in some unique shapes and sizes. The Fallen, The Hive, The Vex and The Cabal. All present their own type of hell for those who oppose them. My arch enemies are definitely the Hobgoblins, a robotic demon with a devilish tail. Something about the image of this creature and the sounds that they make invade the part of my brain that invokes terror and I play with a kill on sight mentality when it comes to these Vex warriors. Cabal are my favorite characters to go up against. They are 800 lb. space turtles, who are totally militarized and wear awesome jet boots which allow them to jump amazing distances with grace. They make excellent headshot targets.

Throughout the game, be sure to look for and collect dead ghosts, chests, and items such as Spirit Bloom and Relic Iron. Some of these are necessary for upgrades and achievements and you never know what kind of lovely loot may be inside a found chest, especially a golden one.

The modes of this game is one of the features I love most. Story mode or Patrolling can be done alone or with up to 3, Strikes are done with fireteams of 3 (buddies or randoms) and Crucible is totally live warfare. I have not tried Crucible mode yet. Getting my ass whooped by others who have weapons and armor that I have no access to and that is much better that anything I can hope to own anytime soon is not my idea of a good time. I generally prefer a level playing field where victory or defeat is determined by skill not gear. In all fairness though, I am told that level advantages have been turned off on some modes of live gameplay. I personally have not experienced this and truly have no plans to do so in the very near future. Although my regs are determined to drag me kicking and screaming if they must to the carnage called Crucible. That being said, I LOVE this game! The addiction level is definitely high. Bungie did a great and amazing job with this one. There is something for every type of gamer to be found in Destiny. For this alone, I give it 5 stars or thumbs up or whatever term one would use to say Yes! I recommend this game!

On a side note: no matter how close to perfection there are always some things that one would choose to tweak if possible. My list would include changing the color of the names of randoms. Currently, teammates are pale green and randoms are pale blue. I am an “artist” with a trained eye for color and still I find myself following some random around during a mission because the colors are too similar for distinction. Bungie should make teammates color something from the other side of the spectrum such as yellow or orange. Also, there are time when I wish I could give teammates gear. I understand that the inability to do so helps hold the integrity of the game and I respect that, but I have so far received 5 exotic gear drops that were not for my class. ( I am currently playing an Awoken Hunter with a Gunslinger subclass) I have no choice but to dismantle or bank these items for characters I may or may not create in the future. And lastly, if I could, I would make the engrams that drop actually hold gear in the color of the engram dropped. Green is uncommon, blue is rare, purple is legendary and gold is exotic. It is extremely disappointing to pick up a purple engram only to have it decoded into a blue or green weapon or piece of armor. This is a within game issue, having nothing to do with the player or how the game is being played, and in my opinion is an epic fail in an otherwise exceptional game.  These are all small issues and aggravations that in no way detract from the exhilaration of all things Destiny. If you haven’t yet picked up your copy, I recommend doing so immediately. You will not be disappointed.

I will leave you today with a silly list of terms and nicknames that my crew and I have come up with during gameplay. We all tend to do this & it does make “slaughter” more entertaining and in game communication more precise, at least to us.

1. Dinklebot ~ The term of endearment we use to address our Ghost, the ever-present, pocket-sized bot that accompanies and guides you thorough out the game. We also refer to him as Little Light.

2. Space turtles ~ the name we have given the Cabal simply because they invoke images of he beloved Ninja Turtle and they fly with the grace of a Ringling Brothers trapeze act.

3. George Foremans ~ the nickname we have given to Fallen Shanks. They look like flying George Foreman grills, waffle irons or toasters. You choose.

Reminder: When you pick up the game or if you already have, don’t forget to register at Bungie.net. Not only can you show off your character and achievements, but you can also hook up with other Guardians, find out more about the history and story of the game through collected Grimore cards, form a clan and keep up with all things Destiny.

Happy hunting! And may all your loot drops be EXOTIC!

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

Rainy Days & Alien Invasions

With a tropical rainforest climate outside all week and nothing too exciting happening in the game world until this fall, my Xbox hours are getting few and far between lately. When I do power on, I find myself surfing the dashboard for something to get into. Thank the stars for Games On Demand. My find this week is a little gem called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Twenty bucks on the dashboard, 3rd person shooter and squad based action got my attention quickly. You can check out screenshots and game info here: http://www.thebureau-game.com/us/#index

Allow me to set the scene. It is the JFK era. The country is gripped by the fear of communism. But the real threat to humanity is the coming alien invasion by the Outsiders. As William Carter, a secret government agent, you head the team that will save Earth’s existence as we know it. This squad based, customizable, shooter was just my cup of tea, reminiscent of Mass Effect.(BioWare) You have a team of yourself and two other agents, each with their own perks and special abilities, that you control. Upgrades are earned by playing and new agents can be recruited and customized. The story is compelling enough to hold my attention and wonder what happens next. The controls were familiar and easy to maneuver. Of course, it is powered by Unreal and developed by one of the most lovable studios, 2K.

I will not give any spoilers to the story but I will recommend this game to anyone who loves shooters. The price cannot be beat, replay value is present and the cheevos is plentiful. Also there are a couple of DLC add-ons, which adds to the fun.

Frag Out!

Cya on the box!

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

Destiny Beta

Lots of people are super stoked about this one. Friends have been asking me daily, “Have you preordered yet?” Just about everyone I know was salivating for the release of Destiny’s beta. Honestly, I wasn’t giving it much thought. MMO’s aren’t really my favorite thing in the world. They feel invasive to me & cluttered. The marketing campaign was massive. Leaks and rumors about the outrageous amount of money that was spent to produce this game were enough to make me do a double take. When the hubbub is as large as that, I usually shy away a bit, simply because I am normally pulled in the direction of the unpopular & unexplored. I tend to be a nerd that way. (No offense to any nerds that may be reading this. I embrace my inner nerd wholeheartedly. A large majority of my friends are nerds or geeks on some level & I love them all the bestest & the mostest.) Needless to say, I was skeptical. But a friend gave me a code so I gave the beta a try.

Immediately, I was impressed by the amazing graphics. Activision has been in my gaming vocabulary since the Atari days. Bungie has become a household name as well. This, in my opinion, is the most aesthetically appealing game I’ve encountered to date from either brand. As with most MMO’s, your first assignment is to design your character. Choose everything from your class, race, gender right down to the angle of your jaw and the color of your eyes. I personally get too absorbed with this amount of creative flexibility. It usually takes me no less than an hour to hone my avatar to my satisfaction.

In the world of Destiny, you are a space traveler, a Guardian, in a futuristic environment, in a time where the planets and moons have become inhabitable until, of course, conflict and invasion of aliens becomes an issue. You run around space alone or with a group of up to two other players completing missions and solving tasks in the usual way, with crazy, upgradable guns of all shapes, sizes and calibers and with grenades of all varieties. And let’s not forget special powers…It is great multiplayer fun!

The Tower is the social meeting place on the game. This is where you can store your loot in the vault, check your mail, get orders, buy weapons and supplies, get a new jet bike or spaceship, pick up bounties and have encrypted goodies decoded. It is also where you will see other live players hanging out and goofing off. Sitting in trees or high on overhangs, you get a great view of this world. It is stunning! Avatars also have the ability to wave, dance, sit and point, so there is a lot of ass shaking and rug cutting going down at the Tower. It is definitely my favorite area of the beta and perhaps the full game. We shall see once I experience that.

The Crucible is the PvP area of the game. (Six on Six) Matchmaking seems very off balanced but I do not know of any PvP who has perfected that. Playing in the Crucible is both fun & infuriating but mostly fun. Hopefully, the hackers won’t be able to mod this one & perhaps the matchmaking will be a bit more precise & timely when the game releases.

All in all, it will be a great game to have in the library. I miss the beta already & I look forward to exploring the full game. It will definitely help to satisfy the shooter in me as well as my multiplayer desires. I foresee many hours of Destiny with my friends. My pre-order has already been placed.

Standard
Gaming, Xbox

Pick Up Tha Stix, Brah! Let’s Dance! For The Queen!

When I started this blog, my intention was to write about all things Xbox. Unfortunately, with the intro of Xbox One, the gamers still existing on the 360 are hungry, on the verge of starvation, for new and innovative games to sink our teeth into. The are a couple on the horizon. Borderlands The Prequel (Gearbox, 2K) & Destiny (Bungie, Activision) are the ones I have my eye on for our particular platform. But the release dates are in the future. So what is a gamer to do on a chilly, rainy day after all the obligations & responsibilities of adulthood are taken care of for the day? Knock the dust off the old library, of course. There are always games sitting on the shelf, long neglected and forgotten, full of cheevos just waiting to be captured. And never underestimate the power of re-familiarizing yourself with the old standbys, treasures from the past that still have the ability to stimulate & captivate.

Today my friends & I revisited my first love, Gears of War 2. (Epic) It has been months since we have all had the opportunity to play together and even longer since slipping Gears into the tray. Rust, to say the least, needed to be lubricated and worked out. Like riding a bicycle though, it doesn’t take but one single hot minute to get back into the swing of roadie running, two piecing seemingly suicidal grubs, frag taggin’ flail swinging Maulers & chain sawing, ink throwing Kantuses in the face! Put this amazing game together with the incredible bunch of guys I hang with and it is an unbeatable combo of synergy, laughter and good hearted smack talking. Let the fun begin!

Frag Out!

 

 

Standard