Gaming, PC, Playstation, Video Games, Xbox

I AM Gamer

I approach video games much the same as I do life: I want to get something out of it. Whether that something is time with my friends, progression of an interesting storyline, slaying a badass boss or raising my gamerscore, I need some type of payoff to make it all seem worthwhile.

Hanging with my friends is probably the number one reason I game. There is a bonding effect to co-op gaming. Sometimes my guy and I will split-screen when we don’t have to or “pass the paddle” between us even though we both have consoles. We do this because we enjoy the closeness and the comradery created by putting two minds together. And we love discovering & experiencing new adventures side by side. Together.

The same goes for online co-op. There is a feeling of satisfaction when you have found the right wingman or group to game with. I fully believe that once you know a person’s fighting style, you pretty much know them as a person. It is a beautiful thing when a group moves as one across a virtual battlefield, watching each other’s backs, anticipating one another’s next move, achieving victory as a whole. My regs and I could complete the hardest of challenges together, without a word to one another because we know each other’s style well enough to practically read thoughts telepathically. When you spend hundreds of gaming hours with someone, you definitely get to know them in a way that others may not. Some of my closest friends I met on Xbox.

Gamerscore is another thing that motivates me to pick up the controller. I can be a bit of a “cheevos ho” & when the mood strikes, I can farm for hours just to get that 20g. The best is when we all go achievement hunting together as a group. Helping each other and doing whatever it takes to get the bling. Believe me, when you wingman with someone for weeks straight trying to get that almost in reach but nearly impossible achievement without a word of complaint or a hint of hesitation, you have found a friend indeed.

Yes, gaming is a social experience for the most part, but I also enjoy it because it relieves stress and aggression. I have heard tales of people committing horrendous crimes in reality and blaming violent video games or movies for their actions. I find that to be an unbelievable cop-out. Surely, such individuals had major problems before playing that game or watching that flick. For me, there is nothing I like better after a long, hard day at work than to come home and “shoot some shit in the face.” (virtually, of course) I find it rather relaxing, And it is certainly better than taking out any pent-up aggression that I may be experiencing on the real world around me.

Video games once thought to turn our brains to mush and make us anti-social trolls have now been proven to be good for us. They help to develop hand-eye coordination as well as exercise the brain, teach cooperation and foster good sportsmanship. With the development of Kinect and Wi, you can now literally exercise your body while you game. It’s a total win-win.

To identify as a gamer no longer has the stigma it once carried. Gamers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Once accused of having no life, gamers have changed the world by hosting charity events, giving back to their communities and raising awareness of all types of issues. Once stereotyped as basement living, socially inept, teenagers, the persona of gamers has grown to include doctors, lawyers, plumbers, waitresses, business owners and even the hot mom next door, etc. Gamers have proven that they fit into no particular box and even though they enjoy the hobby of gaming, they are capable of and are accomplishing so much more. Truly, who doesn’t game anymore? Before any non-console or non-pc gamers answer that question, think about your reply the next time you grow a virtual garden on your Facebook page or play Angry Birds or Candy Crush  on your phone or tablet. Gamers are everywhere!  And I am happy & proud to be part of the community.

I am gamer. And more than likely, so are you.

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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!

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