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Tag Archives: World of Warcraft

Top 10 (Nerdy) Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

So here we are, deep into February with March right around the corner.  It’s the beginning of tax season and with all that’s fit to buy, I’m going to offer up my top ten choices to spend a tax refund on:

10. Steam Wallet

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First off, Steam is addicting. With a sale for every season and weekly deals the year round, I suggest you dump part (or all) of you refund into your steam wallet. When the Spring sale starts, you won’t be able to cry you don’t have money in your bank account; it’ll be right there on Steam waiting for you to spend.

9. Kickstarter

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Following a close second to the constant games on sale are games yet to come out. Feeling nostalgic for a game you used to play? There’s likely a reboot, or an anniversary edition being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. I’ve got my 20th Anniversary Whiskey Box Edition of Deadlands coming and I can’t wait. New ideas abound there as well. There might be an awesome game you don’t know you’ll love just waiting for you to back it.

8. VR Equipment

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Virtual reality is hot, even Pornhub is into it (so I’m told). The high end phones, and even the PlayStation all have VR tech waiting to gobble up your cash.  There are inexpensive models you can purchase for your phone if you’re not ready for a setup the same price as a full console.

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Women in Gaming: Felicia Day

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I can’t even tell you the first time I heard of or saw Felicia Day. To me, it felt like she burst out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere I looked. I knew she was a nerdy girl but that is about all I was sure of until I saw The Guild on Netflix and, after having it on my list for months, decided that I was going to watch it.

I was confused because the episodes weren’t long at all and quickly found out they were webisodes, so entire seasons were only 20 mins long. I dove in, watching an episode lead to more until I binged everything they had to offer.

I quickly identified with Codex.

A quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t get people. Just wanted to have friends and for people to get along. Couldn’t help but be awkward at the best and worst of times. Check, check and check. Hell, I am still all of those things; there is nothing I could do to change any of that. However, representation matters. So, more than anything, here I was, being represented. Even the character Tinkerballa wasn’t a healer (nothing wrong with healers).

I played World of Warcraft, my main (the character I played the most) is a two-weapon fury warrior. No one believed that I am a girl. Girl’s should be healers, boys play warriors. Watch me roll my eyes. I love my warrior and I always typically make a warrior first in all games I play, even RPGs like Dragon Age. /End Mini Rant.

So here I was staring at my representation and at first I had no idea how to take her. Not only did she fit, but she was the center of the show. A show full of awkward, nerdy, typical geek stuff. Ok, some of it’s exaggerated but not always and not always overly so. So of course, I looked into her even further.

In real life, she is a quirky, weird girl who loved to play video games and didn’t always understand people. Um, what now? I was floored. What am I supposed to do with that? More representation at my very finger tips. She geeks out, is running a successful Gaming Entertainment Company with a fabulous community and is just like the rest of us. She is an inspiration.

Felicia even appeared in one of my favorite shows (Supernatural, so jealous) and played a quirky, weird gamer girl. Even as I do research for this article, I realized that she did the voice acting for a character I just encountered in Guild Wars 2, last night. SHE’S EVEN BEEN IN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Holy crap, I have to go back and watch that again.

She is accessible. Even if you’ve never been on YouTube or Twitch, people typically know who she is. Maybe they remember her from that one episode of House, a commercial from Supernatural or caught her one of the millions of places that she has popped up.

Of course, we could name the tons of times that she has appeared in video games, even getting her own character in Dragon Age 2 DLC, Mark of the Assassin, Tallis, a character she created. They created DLC for a character she created. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

To me, Felicia Day is epic. She is helping to normalize women in all forms of gaming, while actively affecting the gaming industry in more ways than one. Not only her, but her company raises so much for charity. Even more, her representation continues as she announced she is going to have a baby very, very soon.

I wish her all the luck and welcome her to the geeky mom club.

Am I Addicted To Video Games?

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I’ve been considering this question a lot over the past month, as I’ve been working on this article.  It started when Crymson posted an article(1) about reSTART, a rehab facility near Seattle that specializes in treating video game addiction.  The article profiled some of the patients, and I saw myself in them.  Guild Wars 2 is a huge part of my life.  I spend hours every day playing, just like the men in the article.  Do I belong in reSTART, too?

Addiction is a complicated disorder with many factors.  The traditional view of addiction is chemical: the brain releases pleasure-neurotransmitters based on a certain stimulus (usually a drug), then person performs the behavior again and again to initiate the pleasure response, while the brain releases less and less of the chemical each time.  The person has to perform the behavior, take the drug, at higher and higher doses to feel the same effect, and isn’t able to stop without experiencing withdrawal.

Newer theories of addiction look deeper.  Scientist Bruce K. Alexander believes that addiction is a social problem.  In a famous 1981 study(2), he looked at how rats’ addictive behaviors changed based on their environments.  Alexander et al found that rats housed in isolation became addicted to morphine easily, whereas rats housed in large enclosures filled with enrichment items and other rats did not.  He believes these findings can carry over to addiction patterns in humans.

The theory goes that people who have difficulty connecting with others socially may instead turn to drugs, ‘connecting’ to the drug when there is nothing else to connect with.  History seems to back up this theory: according to Alexander’s website, “Addiction can be rare in a society for many centuries, but can become nearly universal when circumstances change – for example, when a cohesive tribal culture is crushed or an advanced civilization collapses.”(3)  Maybe the cliche about having an ‘addictive personality’ has less to do with actual personality traits than it does the addiction-prone person’s social and economic circumstances.

Looking at addiction as a result of social isolation puts video game addiction in an interesting position, because many so-called ‘video game addicts’ play social games.  World of Warcraft is famously addicting, and the majority of the patients mentioned in the reSTART article were at the facility because they played WoW, or similarly massive multiplayer online games, so much that it interfered with their other activities and relationships.  Were those men addicted to the games themselves, or to the social connections they formed through those games?  If addiction is a social disorder, is it even possible to be addicted to social connection, regardless of the form it takes?

Dr. Hilarie Cash, reSTART’s co-founder and executive director, has a theory that social connections formed over the internet are lacking compared to in person interactions.  She claims that “limbic resonance,” a brain process related to the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we interact with people, doesn’t occur when the people who are interacting are not face to face.  “We have to be able to see and hear and touch and feel and smell each other for that release to occur,” she told an interviewer. “But what happens is that people seek to satisfy their social needs online.”(4)

I’m not convinced that this is true.  Some of the most important relationships in my life right now are with people I know through online gaming, whom I’ve never met face to face.  Interacting with them feels different from interacting with my “RL” friends, but I can think of plenty of times when I’ve had the warm, fuzzy feeling that Dr. Cash associates with limbic resonance while chatting over text or voice.  I have a different hypothesis for why gaming can become addicting in a way that in-person socialization doesn’t.

Laws against talking on cell-phones while driving have become commonplace.  When they were first being enacted, there was a lot of controversy.  “How is talking on a phone while driving different from talking to the person in the passenger seat?”  It turns out that there’s a big difference.  David Strayer, a leading researcher in the effects of cell-phone usage on driving ability, conducted a study comparing the two types of conversations.  The results revealed conversing with passengers to be much safer than cell-phone conversation.  According to Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times, “There is something uniquely distracting about talking on the phone when you’re behind the wheel; conversations with people inside the car are far less distracting to drivers. Unlike cell phone callers, chatty passengers instinctively stop talking when driving conditions change, and they offer an extra set of eyes to alert drivers to nearly-missed exits or erratic drivers.” (5)

I believe something similar is going on with MMO addiction.  We get the same feelings of connection, the same social benefits, from interacting with each other online and in person.  The difference is that, while our computer screens are windows into other people’s lives, they are narrow ones.  It’s easier to hid things from the people we know online: things like gaming may be negatively impacting our performance at work or our relationships with our families.  You can raid with someone every week, all the while never realizing that their life is spiraling out of control.  Instead of being an extra set of eyes in the passenger seat, we are the cell phone caller: oblivious to danger.  It’s no wonder that so many of our friends and guild-mates crash and burn.

I’m one of the lucky ones.  Over the past several weeks I’ve been working overtime to keep my guild running smoothly, ensure its stability, and maintain its growth.  It’s left me stressed-out, exhausted, and unhappy.  My in-game friends know me well enough to notice, and care enough about my well being to intervene.  In this ‘intervention,’ they insisted I take a break from raiding and offered to take over some of my duties as a guild officer.  It’s given me the chance to recharge and catch up on some RL duties I’d been neglecting (writing this article, for example).  I couldn’t be more grateful.  With American Thanksgiving approaching, the RWoG staff have been asked to submit a short statement about something (preferably gaming related) that we are thankful for, and this is mine: I am so, so thankful that these people, people whose faces I’ve never seen with my own eyes, are looking out for me.

So, am I addicted to playing video games?  I don’t think so, at least not in the classic sense.  And, thanks to the people in my life, both online and off, I don’t think I’m going to be.

If addiction is a social disease, then we, as social gamers, have the power to combat it.  One of my guild’s founding principles is game/life balance.  We have a flexible attendance policy and prioritize members’ wellness over progress and scores.  I hope other guilds will do the same.  If we can stop being ‘callers’ and become ‘passengers’ in each others lives, gaming addiction will never be able to take hold.

References:

  1. NPR staff  20 October 2013.  “When Playing Video Games Means Sitting Along Life’s Sidelines.”   http://www.npr.org/2013/10/20/238095806/when-playing-video-games-means-sitting-on-lifes-sidelines
  2. Alexander, Bruce K. et al 1981.  “Effects of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats.”  Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior vol 15, pp 571-576 http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/rat-park/212-ratparkjournalarticle1981
  3. http://www.brucekalexander.com/
  4. Gravening, Jagger 2014.  “A Day at the First Video Game Rehab Clinic in the US.”  Motherboard, VICE.com http://motherboard.vice.com/read/a-day-at-the-first-video-game-rehab-clinic-in-the-us
  5. Parker-Pope, Tara 2008.  “Chatty Driving: Phones vs Passengers” NYTimes.com.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/chatty-driving-phones-vs-passengers/?_r=0

5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

Guest Post by: Caroline from Culture Coverage

I would like to thank Real Women of Gaming for publishing this article. They cover everything related to gaming, including conventions and reviews. Check out their Indie Spotlight section if you’re looking for some great new titles to pick up. 

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There’s never been a better time to get into PC gaming. Not only does PC get a majority of the best titles, it also boasts one of the largest catalogs available to users. With hundreds of new games released daily on sites like GOG and Steam, it can be difficult to choose which ones to buy. If you’re not quite sold on the latest releases, why not revisit some of these classic PC games?

StarCraft

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Although not the first real time strategy (RTS) game, it remains one of the most popular PC games even today and has sold over 9 million copies worldwide. It gained a huge following in South Korea, leading to the rise of eSports and the pro-gaming scene. The reason StarCraft stands out against other RTS games of the time is its focus on offering three distinct play styles with the different factions: Zerg, Protoss and Humans. Each faction had different strengths and weaknesses, yet somehow the gameplay managed to be balanced and challenging.

Besides the competitive multiplayer mode, you can also create your own challenge maps or download them if you feel like the game isn’t replayable enough. Before you consider downloading maps off other sites, however, you should first connect to a VPN such as IPVanish as it will encrypt your data and protect you from spam sites. Unfortunately, that has been a problem for some users.

SimCity 2000

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There’s something to be said about SimCity 2000. While not the first of the series, it took the original concept and expanded upon it with new features such as different elevations, underground layers for pipes and subways, and a diametric view. All of these changes improved the overall gameplay experience, making it one of the best simulation games on the market even when compared against more recenttitles. Maxis brought in deeper gameplay and strategy with their improved budget and finance controls. They also included the ability to connect to other cities.

If you get tired of just building up your city, you can also jump into scenarios to rebuild a city after some disaster. Most of these scenarios are based off of real events such as the Oakland firestorm of 1991. The main building mode doesn’t necessarily have an ending, but you can move on to work on a new city. Alternatively, you can unleash your wrath and destroy it with monsters, floods and fires. SimCity 2000 is still incredibly fun to play and even the graphics are acceptable by today’s standards. While not the most realistic game, the pixel art is incredibly detailed and still some of the best in the style.

World of Warcraft

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Say what you will about the game, World of Warcraft remains the most subscribed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) around. Building off of the lore in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (and other games in the series), World of Warcraft continues the story between the Alliance and the Horde. One of the reasons the game remains so popular today is because of its rich story, great balance and ability to play casually or more seriously. As with other MMORPGs, players can customize not only the appearance of their character, but their class and skills as well.

Regardless of what you choose, you can always find other people who have the same interests in terms of gameplay. Many people have started friendships with other players and some have even forged romances in real life. World of Warcraft continues to update their game with expansions and patches to increase and expand content, update graphics, and balance the various classes. While its subscribers might have dropped since its maximum of 12 million players, there are still millions of people playing the game.

Doom

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With the remastered version of Doom now available, you might want to check out the original game that started it all. The graphics definitely don’t hold up to the test of time, but the gameplay is just as frantic and fast. Generally considered the game that pioneered the first-person shooter, Doom introduced a pseudo-3D first-person perspective. This affected both level design and the overall gameplay experience as well. Players can gauge how far away enemies, obstacles and alternative paths are from their position.

Besides the “3D” aspect, Doom also introduced the ability to equip various weapons from a shotgun to rocket launcher, another feature that has become typical for other games within this genre.

Half-Life

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Half-Life 2 might be the more acclaimed game in the series, but if you want to understand Dr. Gordon Freeman’s back story, you’ll want to check out the first in the series. Debuting in 1998, Half-Life took the framework of first-person shooters from Doom and improved upon it with actual 3D graphics and more realistic gameplay.

Although technically a first-person shooter, Half-Life also integrated puzzles for players in order to progress through levels. This differentiated it enough from many other shooters whose sole focus was on defeating enemies. In another departure, the game did not use cut scenes to tell the story. Instead, it used scripted sequences seen through Gordon’s eyes. Many other developers have used a similar mechanic to make the story more immersive and seamless.

There are hundreds of other classic games that still stand the test of time in terms of gameplay. Which ones did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author: Caroline is a freelance writer who enjoys all things related to tech and gaming. She’s excited to see how games will change with the advent of new technology like virtual reality, but also doesn’t want to forget the classics.

Confessions of an Alt-aholic

By Max Urso

WoW Alt-aholic

Character Creation in World of Warcraft

I love games. If there is a mechanic to create my own character, then I’m hooked; the more complex and flexible the better. New character ideas are always popping into my head, and that’s the problem. I rarely stick to one character. If there’s an account limit on toons (slang from City of Heroes I still use to this day), I will fill up my roster in no time. There might be one hero that gets leveled above the others, but inevitably I will have a dozen in their mid-levels while my “main” sits there waiting for the end game that he can never quite reach.

Why? I think I have a Pavlovian reaction to leveling. In City of Heroes, we would toot our own horns in super-group (guild) chat simply by stating, “Ding.” Our fellow SG members would respond with some version of, “Gratz.” I was addicted to the reward, the gratification of progress. I had a small handful of capes that had reached level 50…and were mothballed. Guess who reached level 50? Guess who’s rolling another new toon? Each capped out hero unlocked another character slot as well. They were keeping me hooked. One game after another, new purchase after new purchase, subscription after subscription; It’s not cheap being an alt-aholic.

Superhero games (there are few) are great for satisfying my Alt-itis. It’s the costume creator that reels me in. Champions Online (based on the pen and paper game) has, in my opinion, one of the best costume creation systems ever. It’s not for everyone though, and why play an MMO that your friends aren’t into? So I switch it up, try new game after new game looking for the one that will end my affliction.

I thought it was RIFT. Finally, I had found a character I could stick with. Life gets in the way and might slow me down, but I managed to reach the cap with my rogue. What was different? The secret was in the class system. There were only four classes, but each one had a dozen souls. These souls could be combined by picking three at a time and making the character you want. All rogues are not the same. I leveled to 65 but found the soul system was simply enabling my Alt-itis as I kept changing what souls I had equipped.

It’s not just video games either. I’m the same way with pen and paper RPGs. I have actually gotten upset when my hero makes his death save in D&D. I’ve begged some DMs to kill off my character so I can play the new one I had waiting in the shadows. It’s not as easy to satisfy that fix among your regular Sunday group, though. Continuity trumps boredom. The level progression in D&D is slower compared to video games, too. There’s less “Ding” so I have to find another creative outlet; I DM. Why create one hero when I can create a whole world? The need for new, an alternate game, is strong here as well. I don’t recall how many systems I’ve learned. All different, all fun.

Each game I play, each character I create satisfies a hunger in the moment. I feel a rush flying around Millennium City in Champions Online as the theme from Superman streams in my ears. I track down each new hunter’s pet in World of Warcraft, debating on what new name to give it. I stare in wonder at the backstory I’ve created for my Sunday group, most details of which they may never know. There is definitely a need that creating fills.

My name is Max Urso, and I’m an Alt-aholic.

Games to Get Excited About: World of Warcraft: Legion

As an avid World of Warcraft player, I’m particularly excited about their latest expansion: Legion. From the Battlenet website:

The Tomb of Sargeras has been reopened, and the demons of the Burning Legion pour into our world. Their full, terrifying might is fixed on summoning the Dark Titan to Azeroth – and they’ve already located the key to his return.

With Alliance and Horde devastated, only you can take up Warcraft’s most legendary artifacts, scour the ancient Broken Isles for relics of the Titans, and challenge the Legion before Azeroth’s last hope dies.

Steel yourself, champion. Extinction is imminent.

How freaking cool is that?!

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Besides having a bad ass storyline about freaking demons, Legion also comes with a new class: Demon Hunter! This class is made up of elves who have been outcast because they chose to wield the powers of the Legion. They can tap into demonic powers and change into new, hellish forms.

The Demon Hunters have two specializations, according to Battlenet: Havoc and Vengeance. Havoc – which focuses more on Damage Per Second (DPS) – wields “fiery demonic powers,” while Vengeance – a tank – focuses on melee combat and can withstand massive damage.

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The new expansion also offers five new weapons. These “artifacts of legend” are particularly effective against the Burning Legion. First, we have the Ashbringer, which is a two-handed sword wielded by Paladins. Second, the Maw of the Damned is a two-handed axe for Death Knights.There is also a mage staff called Ebonchill, a monk staff called Sheilun and a hunter’s bow called Thas’dorah.

A new World of Warcraft expansion always features a new area to explore. In Legion, we get to see The Broken Isles. This is where the Burning Legion has its start. The Broken Isles are also home to ancient elven civilizations and other dangers, such as satyrs, drogbar and Kvaldir.

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Along side these awesome new features, we also get Class Halls, where you can bring together NPCs from your class’s order to complete missions at your command. Legion also offers new dungeons, new raids and new world bosses for you and your guild to conquer.

In an effort to bring in new and old players alike, Blizzard has raised the level cap to 110, revamped the PvP system, improved social features and added a character boost to level 100.

Everything I’ve heard about Legion has been absolutely amazing. My guild members have been talking about it for months. Several of us have even pre-purchased it, which has its own benefits: giving you the boost to level 100 and early access to the Demon Hunter class.

It’s bound to be light years better than Warlords of Draenor… hopefully.

If you go to battlenet, you can opt-in for beta testing or pre-purchase Legion today for $49.99 (standard) or $69.99 (deluxe). As of right now, it is set for release on or before September 21, 2016.

We have a long six months ahead of us.

Why I need……

Gaia LogoMy name is Crymson Pleasure of Real Women of Gaming and I need feminism. I’ve been an avid gamer since I was a child and I am sick and tired of being told to prove myself. As a gamer, as a geek, I am more hardcore and passionate about my D&D characters than most people are about anything.

I need it so men will stop asking me if my breasts look as nice as my avatars. So I stop getting asked to send pictures to prove I’m not a guy playing a girl character in World of Warcraft. That is not my husband whooping someone’s ass in Halo with me on the headset. Bitch, I’m just that good. That I don’t play trading card games because my husband asked me to. Goddess forbid I actually enjoy something on my own or have my own thoughts, opinions, ideas or *GASP* interest.

Because I’m not some 400 lbs hermit with 50 cats playing a game, who has never had a boyfriend or sex. Nor am I a whore/slut that will date/have sex with you just because I happen to be female and playing a game. Also, saying no doesn’t make me a cold frigid hateful bitch; it makes me a human being with a choice. I didn’t pick up my boyfriend/husband/brother/friend’s controller and, no sir, I’m buying this video game for me, not the man of the house. Promptly and quickly shove it up your ass.

I’m not a man hater. I’m a troll hater. I want the same praise that you’d give anyone for doing well. I want to not fear talking over the headset because I know the second I am recognized as being a women, I am instantly a target for sexism/hatred/some weird fantasy. I also expect the same shit talk without my gender being brought into play.

I want to play without fear of being outed or targeted. I want to play.

So shut up and play.

~Crymson Pleasure~

Coexist