Browsing Category Gamer Culture

Are Exploits Cheating?

Of all of the topics to ponder in the world of multiplayer games, the one with perhaps the most grey area is the subject of exploits. In MMO’s specifically, some exploits and bugs are left unpatched for years, allowing enterprising players a simpler path to victory than intended. Other exploits, however, result in account suspensions and outright bans.

The question of “are exploits wrong?” has been explored at length by more qualified gamers than myself, and the answer that we always seem to land on is “it depends”.  In fact, it depends on several things. Does using the exploit give the gamer an unfair advantage in a PvP situation? Does using the exploit wreak havoc on game systems (such as the economy)? Does using the exploit degrade or disrupt the experience of other players in the game? Even the answers to these questions are seldom black and white. After all, a player might contend that my constant kiting or jumping during combat is ruining his/her immersion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m doing anything wrong. Likewise, is gaining high-level gear more quickly than intended truly putting a player at an advantage if they haven’t also gained the PvP experience that goes along with obtaining said gear?

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My love for online communities

I began playing SWtor at launch and was utterly new to MMO’s. In fact I had no intention of spending much time interacting with other players. I had a few real life friends who had expressed mutual interest in the game and that was cool. I intended to play the game for the story alone as I was already a fan of Bioware & Obsidians outstanding Knights of the old Republic games. Obviously this all changed and I soon became part of an online community within the game. I was just casually minding my own business, levelling on Voss as I recall and a guy asked me to group up for a heroic quest. This was pretty alien to me at the time, mingling with a complete stranger in a virtual environment, but was very rewarding! The sense of accomplishment and teamwork was great and something which I had yet to experience in video games.

After completing the quest, the player who invited me to the party offered me a place in his “guild”. This was another concept I was unfamiliar with, but the last novelty went ok so I said “sure” and took my first gm ‘Ruuk’ up on his proposition.

Being part of the guild certainly had a positive effect on my time in game, advice and help was always offered and there were always people around to just hang out with. It’s funny how someone just saying “Hi” can put you in a good mood when you log into a game. Which brings to mind the question, are there other online communities outside of gaming that can induce a strong feeling of interpersonal bonding? I ask this since the competitive nature of playing video games and the immersion factor appears to enhance the connection.

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Leadership part 2 – Interview with Dakaru

So this week Rav and I will be doing another twin piece post on in-game leadership. For my second article on the subject I decided to get in touch with Dakaru, GM of Nostrum Dolus and team leader of the ND ranked team. Him and his team were, to be blunt, hated by many, but their combined level of skill was unmatched on the server they played. It is surely one of the reasons they generated so much hate. Dakaru has since moved on from SWTOR and is currently playing Evolve where he is again finding himself in a leading position.

To give a bit of background, Dakaru started out as an officer in Nostrum Dolus back when it was mainly a PvE guild. He was most interested in PvP himself which led to Dakaru being given a leadership role in ranked when that came into the game. Eventually the GM and Co-GM quit the game and Dakaru took over leadership of the guild. As he did so many of the PvE players in ND were quitting and Dakaru ended up slowly turning ND into a more PvP oriented guild. The ranked team he collected was a slow progression according to Dakaru. “I got as many good players as I could find together, and kept shuffling around over and over”, he tells me. By the time of the transfer to Nightmare Lands the game had lost a lot of players and so had Nostrum Dolus. They ended up merging their ranked team with another team who had lost a lot of people as well.

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Leadership comparison: RC vs. ND

After conducting these two interviews with SWTOR GM’s of Reality Check and Nostrum Dolus I can’t help but wonder about the differences between the two. In this bonus post I will briefly discuss the differences in the two leader types. Why? Because the two personalities presented are not only interesting when discussing leadership in-game but in general as well.

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Leadership – Interview with RC’s Rummel and Anthis

After a Skype chat with Ravs about gaming and blogging we decided to write a twin piece about in-game leadership – specifically that required when leading a guild in SWTOR. She would focus on PvE guilds and me PvP. My very first thought was that I would love to get an interview with the GM of old Reality Check; a guild which gained it’s reputation on the server for putting up a fight against Nostrum Dolus. By going from occasionally queuing with unfavourable compositions Autumn 2012 to being a force to be reckoned with on TOFN by mid 2013 RC managed to establish themselves in the top tier bracket. With 60+ members, a lot of which were extremely strong minded, stubborn individuals, how does one manage the guild and keep it together?

Since the removal of 8v8 warzones the guild has unfortunately been mostly inactive. Being new to the game this interview would be especially interesting to me since I was not around at the time of ranked 8v8. Getting it however was not easy, I had to use all my powers of persuasion, but luckily for me I somehow tend to get what I want in the end. Rummel, GM of RC, finally agreed to conduct the interview with me under the condition that his friend, confidant and Co-GM Anthis could join – a condition I was happy to agree to.

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“Rules of conduct” and Ranked

As a part of our theme week focusing on SWTOR and Ranked PvP previous to patch 2.0, I decided to write a piece about the rules that were agreed upon back in the beginning of year 2013. Anthis from Reality Check and Mylex from TWATS were two of the people present at the meeting held setting the terms of this agreement. Last Friday I brought them both on the GD TS hoping to find out more.

Mylex begins by telling me that before the server transfers between Nightmare Lands and TRE there was some but not much in terms of ranked activity on TRE. When the server merges happened the best team on TRE was LotD and on Nightmare Lands it was Nostrum Dolus. Mylex continues to explain that LotD didn’t do that well against ND in those first few days of queuing and subsequently over a period of time fell apart. A few of their better players moved to ToFN for a time. Eventually RC started queuing but up until then the only other regular teams were ND and TWATS.

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Can video games improve your resume?

In the past, I wrote about a tech startup called Knack on my blog which used video games as a means to test job readiness and streamline the hiring process. Like comic books long ago, video games are at an odd place. The industry makes billions, spans the globe, and continues to grow. More and more colleges are adding video game-related majors. Video games have even boomed as watchable entertainment, either through Twitch and YouTube or by having them broadcast on cable television as sporting events. Despite this, the perceived value of playing a video game remains in question, even when the skills a gamer might learn from doing so could easily transfer into real world success.

During my tenure in World of Warcraft, I raided on a schedule with my guild. As I was promoted up the ranks into a leadership role, raiding in WoW took on many attributes similar to a management position at a company, despite being something I did for fun and entertainment. I often handled training, I helped maintain and exemplify our community culture and behavior policies, and I sometimes had to discipline people. Raiding also required project management skills, both in the raids themselves or leading up to them.

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Social anxiety and WoW – Interview with Mipsy

I was always quite skeptical to the concept of so called “tweets” which rarely seemed to hold much meaning in their 140 characters. If you’ve read my blog posts you know that expressing deep meaning with just a few words was never an art I mastered. For the sake of the blog however I reluctantly resigned to my fate as a “twitter user”. I have now found that sometimes interesting things do surface, even on twitter. About two weeks ago something caught my attention.

Jun 21
Randomly reading an MMO Champ thread about raiding, just found out there’s an EU WoW guild specifically for people w/ social anxiety.

I instantly knew that I needed to get myself an interview with someone from this guild. It was too interesting to pass up. So I wrote the GM who was friendly and very helpful.

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Guild: Paranoid – GM: Mipsy
Server: Emerald Dream EU
Main faction: Alliance
Game: World of Warcraft

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On Paranoid’s website the following description is given of the guild:
“Paranoid is a guild for the socially awkward, the shy, the people who’d like to raid, but get a headache just thinking about all the things they could screw up. The people who type a message to someone who’s LFM in trade, then backspace, then type, backspace, type, stare at what they’ve written, backspace again and go quest on their own. And if they do press enter, they’re relieved if they get the reply: ‘Sorry, full.’

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Gaming and Self-esteem – Part 2

A lot of research done on gaming is focused on its harmful effects. Our self-esteem and social life is known to suffer especially from MMOs. So why do people want to game? Are we simply satisfying our human, self-destructive nature by doing so? Or is it just maybe possible that gaming can have positive effects on its “victims”?  Could it help us better our image of ourselves?

Last week I wrote an article regarding some research done by Barmy on the connection between online gaming, self-esteem and escapism. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. After looking closer at this subject and discussing it further with Barmy a lot of thoughts came to me. In this part two of the article I will explore these questions and reflect deeper on my own ideas about gaming and how it relates to self-esteem.

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What is a gamer?

A gamer. Who is that? If you would take it literally, it means someone who plays a game. So that would make practically everybody a gamer, and it would be a pretty empty word to describe yourself. Like t.v. watcher. Or driver. Gamer is not an empty word though: you see people calling themselves a gamer everywhere.

The connotation I have with the word gamer is someone who plays games professionally, or at least passionately, or is a games connoisseur. Hence, I would never describe myself as a gamer, just like I would never describe myself as a pianist. I’d say, I play the piano, or I play games. To me it would sound wrong to state that I am a gamer.

But the word gamer is out there. Not just for the professional gamers. There is something else going on here. It is the designation of a subculture. It is an identity label. Like hipster, foodie, emo, goth, etc.

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