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Xbox’s Clubs Feature, the Gender War and Games Media Profits

Xbox’s Clubs Feature, the Gender War and Games Media Profits

TT_NotTheFandom

I originally wasn’t going to write about this new feature, because it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  It’s just another social media type platform for a game system.  In a way it is no different than the clans and guilds that formed around PC games, many of which I’ve been a part of myself.  Generally a clan is a group of people who enjoy the same game, or group of games, get together on Ventrilo or Teamspeak, and chat in their own website forums.  Xbox’s clubs feature is basically that, hosted on the console’s Live platform.  It will let people form their own club, select interests and tags, moderate, chat, share game videos, and basically share their interests with other gamers.  It does also allow you to filter out the clubs you don’t want, avoid the players you want to avoid.

Unfortunately some of the games media have dropped the ball on this, with headlines like “Xbox Live Is Getting A ‘No Trash Talking’ And ‘Females Only’ Mode” from Kotaku were slightly annoying, then I saw Microsoft Wants to Make Xbox Safe for Gamers Who Aren’t White Men” from Bloomberg.  First of all, the ‘modes’ offered by this are far more complex than ‘Females Only’, which screams the opposite of inclusive.  These modes, both LFG and Clubs, will allow gamers to join groups and find games with a wide variety of criteria.  Examples from Microsoft include:

Henshaw used the example of “parents who can only game after 10 pm”, “mic required”, “gender inclusive” and so on, as examples of tags people can attach to their Club, to seek like-minded players.

While I’m not a huge fan of separating the community, I have far less issue with these new features now than I did when I first read some of the games media’s reporting on it.  My first instinct was, that’s what the mute button is for.  I mute people all the time on games I play.  Not the smack talkers, or the people taking jabs at me, but the real jerks, yah I’ll mute them.  That’s not what these features are about though, despite what the major game’s media is making it out to be.

That second headline, from Bloomberg, is what convinced me to write this.  That headline, and the article that follows, is so condescending on many levels.  First, the implication that anyone but white men are somehow less capable of dealing with the jerks online.  Are women and minorities delicate flowers that must be sheltered from mean words online?  This seems to be predicated on the idea that white men are somehow safer?  Like we don’t get harassed, insulted, and verbally abused online?  If Dina Bass did a little research, or was honest with her premise, she’d know that everyone, white men included, get harassed online.  If she doesn’t know this, or isn’t capable of the level of research it takes to find a poll related to her topic, why is she writing for Bloomberg?  If she does know, why did she dismiss it in order to write such a biased article?  In either case the media is simply dropping the ball in reporting these features from Xbox, and perpetuating a gender war in the gaming community that they continue to profit from.

Following that up, the second line of the article from Bloomberg says:

The company is creating safe spaces for people who’ve felt uncomfortable or endured abuse at the hands of other gamers online.

This is not what Microsoft is doing, though it is a result of what is being done.  One result among many.  It’s more honest to say that the company is creating a way for gamers to interact specifically with groups that share their own interests.  They are creating a way for everyone to pick who they want to play with, not just ‘people who’ve felt uncomfortable or endured abuse’, but then again knowing that everyone has felt uncomfortable or endured abuse, maybe Dina is correct without knowing it.

The problem now is the popular games media has created this environment where everything has to be about gender, and a perfectly benign and inclusive feature (that helps people segregate themselves, yah strange I know) is now tied to this constant gender issue the media is pushing.  It’s creating rifts in the community that don’t need to be there, and isn’t helping heal the ones already here.  It keeps people on one side of the fence or the other, with many caught in the middle just wanting gamers to game.

Like I said, when I first read these headlines I thought they were actually creating a mode that was going to be called ‘females only’.  The misinformation in the media made me not want discuss this because it seemed so asinine that it wasn’t worth my time.  Then I went to Microsoft’s site, read about the feature from the original source, and realized I should have done that first.  It’s a difficult habit to break, to ignore the media and go to the source.  Even as a writer and journalist it’s something I have to consciously do, so I know how easy it is for people to take everything they read in the media as factual.

Yes, there are assholes online.  I run into them on a regular basis when I play FPS games.  It’s nice to be able to mute the ones that get out of hand.  I’m told that the Xbox community can be worse than the PC players, though I personally have no frame of reference.  If people want to be able to separate themselves into smaller cliques based on interest, more power to them.  It’s not going to solve the issue of assholes online, and it won’t make the community better, it will just split us into smaller groups.  I do know for sure, however, that the media is only making things worse and that’s a sad state of things.

We gamers really need to do more ourselves to keep our community growing, getting better.  It’s become more clear over the last few years that the major games media has no interest in actually helping.  Like the news organizations beating the political drums of one side or the other, the games media is only interested in keeping the drama going so we’ll keep on clicking and fighting.  We must stop reading their headlines and believing everything they post.  We have to stop letting them divide us into classes and groups, we’re better than that.  Gaming has always been a great community, and it can keep getting better if we stop paying attention to the drama profiteers who only want to make a buck.

Unfinished Business

m_diablo3_01I was having an interesting conversation with my husband the other night. I was looking at the games on sale for the Xbox One and asking him if he was interested in any of them. I noted that “Lego Marvel” was on sale for $5 – but he would rather spend that on the next episode of “Tales of the Borderlands” or “Game of Thrones” (which are two very impressive episode games, much like “The Walking Dead”). I also saw that “Diablo III” was on sale for $30, the collector’s edition.

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Neverwinter Review by Queen of Hell

Dragon Age: Inquisition

sep_29_-_keyart_groupSo, I have been waiting so impatiently for Dragon Age: Inquisition to be launched. I even blew through Dragon Age 2 in 3 days to prepare for it. I’ve loved the entire series. Origins is still one of my favorite games of all time. I can’t wait to play through them all again, in order!

I have to admit that I was vastly disappointed when I realized my saved games didn’t matter. I didn’t have to plow through DA2 in 3 days. I didn’t even have to play the game. Now, that doesn’t bother me (all in all, I appreciate a game that you can pick up and play, having never played the originals); however, I’m pretty pissed that it didn’t use my previous save files like its predecessors. Of course, there is one main reason I’m upset about that and I will get into that a bit later.

When I bought the game, I only had an Xbox 360. The 360 version appears to be the most glitchy version of the game out there. Please don’t get me wrong, I loved DA:I, but this game was frustrating as hell simply because of the glitches. Even after numerous patches, they didn’t stop. I fell through terrain several times; the textures would take up to a minute to load; and, sometimes, the whole environment wouldn’t load properly. Going through equipment, the faces of my companions would bug and they would look awful. If you accidently jump before speaking, you do this weird floating dance the whole chat. My favorite glitch requires you to have the subtitles turned on because the sound files will sound corrupted and, if you don’t have those subtitles on, you have just missed an entire conversation. I wish to holy hell those were the only problems, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been playing video games since Nintendo came out and this is in the top five of the most glitched games I’ve ever played. It felt rushed, which is a shame because this would have been a polished masterpiece if it were shown the proper love it deserved.

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Understanding the question

Gaia LogoSo many times I have sat and had the same conversation with Vanri the Rogue and that conversation might surprise you. It’s a conversation that I am sure happens a lot; a conversation that should happen if you don’t understand the topic.

I didn’t understand feminism. I didn’t get it. I innocently thought it wasn’t for me in any way, shape or form. I thought, like so many others, that it was a bunch of – pardon the phrase – feminazis who were demanding everything in the world be un-girly. We honestly have such screwed up views as to what it actually is because there is no positive explanation of it in our everyday lives. When it’s brought up or portrayed, it is always given a negative undertone or worse (to me), chalked up to ‘girl power.’ *shudder* Not everything females do can be summed up in a Spice Girls song.

Well, Vanri sat me down and schooled me. She did this after I had said for the millionth time, ‘I’m not a feminist.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Oh, dear, Crymson but you are.’ Ok, maybe not just like that, but you get the gist. She sat there and listed off all of the feminist things that I do on a daily basis. You know what #1 was? If you guessed Real Women of Gaming, you’d be right. Talk about a wake up call.

This is what she explained or, more importantly, how I understood what she explained.

Feminism is the right to choose, to decide. She explained that it isn’t unfeminine to be a stripper (which I totally assumed), it’s oppressive to not have the ability to decide if you want to be a stripper or not.

I was seriously floored. Was it really that simple? Yeah, apparently it is. When we lack the ability to make those decisions, the same ability men have, then it is oppression.

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E3 for you and me

Crackdown 3

E3-2014Looks like awesomesauce! I was a huge fan of the first two. Well, the first one a bit more than the second, but that happens. I am really wondering what turn the storyline will take with this one. However, this game did give me achievement issues. As in, must have them ALL!

Halo Collection
Halo is the reason I got into Xbox in the first place. Well, that or Ghost Recon. I don’t remember that well. Anyway, I was excited to see that Halo was picked back up and beautifully done with Halo 4. I think I might have to pick this bundle up.

Halo 5: Guardians
SQUEE! Of course there is a beta with the purchase of the bundle. Damn it!

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Gaming Couples

It's Dangerous There seems to be a lot of stigma surrounding the ever elusive creature known as the ‘gaming couple.’ I have heard a lot of negative things about gaming couples and very little positive. I also hear a lot of crap directed at one person or the other in the relationship. “Oh she only plays X because he does;” “Oh he plays Y because his girlfriend/wife made him.” I am here to clear up more than a few things about the mysteriousness around it, but one more than anything else.

Everything you’ve heard is utter bullshit.

Lets start off with a bit of background. I’ve ALWAYS been into video games; my husband has ALWAYS been into video games. We have ALWAYS been into Trading Card Games; we have ALWAYS been into board games. He doesn’t force me to play anything and I don’t force him to play anything. Out of respect for our bond, we will totally try something that the other one is into, but that doesn’t mean we are totally into it.

I can’t play any of the Ghost Recon/Call of Duty games for shit. I’ve tried on several occasions. I like them enough but I don’t like the realistic aspect of it (not to mention the fact that I REALLY suck at them). Now, give me Gears of War or Halo and I will beat a bitch’s ass whilst trash talkin’ ‘bout your Mom (a habit I am really trying to break), but I try every game he asks me to. He tries every game I ask him to, also. This doesn’t stop at gaming. I got him into Doctor Who; he got me into Hell’s Kitchen. I got him (kinda) into Anime; he got me (kinda) into sports.

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