Posts Tagged ‘Article’

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Girls On Games (With Thanks To MP.net)

November 22, 2011

Time to take a break from the slew of SWTOR posts I’ve been tossing up on here lately. Today, I’d like to bring your attention to a great post by Steve “Slurms” Lichtsinn, blogger and podcast host for Multiplaying.net.

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Slurms asking if I would like to answer a few questions for an article that he’d been planning on for quite some time. It was to be a feature about women and gaming, and he wanted to know if he could get some of my opinions on the topic.

I was happy to participate for a few reasons. First of all, I found many of his questions to be interesting and insightful. Second, I think it’s great that people are actually contemplating these matters and are willing to reach out to female gamers to find out more. It definitely takes a discerning mind a certain amount of guts to approach others with a delicate topic such as this, God know we ladies can be a little scary sometimes. And third, I ended up having a lot of fun answering his questions.

I’ve received the go-ahead to repost my own responses here, but I do encourage you to check out the original article on Multiplaying. Over there, Slurms has included the answers from four other lovely gaming ladies from the blogosphere/twitterverse: Stargrace, Arislyn, Maeve, and Doc Swarley. I have to say it was fascinating to be able to read their thoughts regarding women and their place in gaming, and realize many of us appear to be on the same page.

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Are you concerned with the current state in gaming in regards to how women are viewed? Is it too male dominated from an in game, lead character role, a developer role, or both?

Could there be more done in terms of how women are viewed in gaming? Always. But am I concerned? Currently, my honest answer has to be no. But then I’ve always been told I’m a glass-half-full kinda girl and you’d have to go out of your way to offend me, so take my answer with a grain of salt. I actually think women have come a long way in the industry, both in our games and in the gamer demographic. I wish I could give more insight into this question, but I’ve just never really sat down and contemplated this or encountered any reasons to despair for the future of women in gaming.

I do think gaming could benefit from being more a more welcoming and attractive hobby to female gamers, though. And yet, no matter what the industry does, I think our society still has a lot more to do with this. Gaming still isn’t considered as mainstream as I’d like, let alone be seen as a “girl” thing, and I still get weird looks sometimes when I tell people I game or that I write a game blog.

This is probably a stupid question, but would you like to see more female protagonists? Or at the very least, the option for one i.e. Mass Effect?

I don’t think it’s a stupid question. When there’s an option to play a female protagonist in a game, I ALWAYS choose it. It’s a personal choice, as it makes it easier for me to relate to the character, especially if it’s an RPG. I always appreciate developers for giving gamers more options.

And I love it when I see strong female protagonists, I wouldn’t mind seeing more. Be that as it may, it wouldn’t do to just insert them into a game for the sake of HAVING strong female characters either, or making that decision at the cost of game quality like story, etc. I notice a lot of voices currently appealing to developers for a stronger female presence in games, and while I agree and also admire their efforts, I personally prefer not to push the issue TOO much. I’d rather see a sincere effort than mere tokenism that would be a disservice.

I don’t mean to ask this in a negative way, but, do you feel that women are harder to please, thus making games for women a more difficult task?

Oh man, I am totally the wrong person to ask. Are women harder to please? Some are. Sometimes. Heck, I can be pretty high maintenance too about certain things (just ask my husband), but when it comes to my geeky interests and hobbies like games, movies, comics, etc. I gotta say I’m as easy going as they come. Forget the little details, just entertain me and give me fun, dammit! That’s all I ask, and if you deliver, then no complaints from me.

Ultimately, do you think that the core problem has more to do with the audience, or the creators? (i.e. do you believe that a game with a strong female lead isn’t being done much because of the people who buy the games, or is it a gold mine waiting to be cracked open by a studio who’s not scared to go for it?)

I don’t think it’s the former, because I believe historically games with strong female leads have generally been received quite well. With regards to your question about the audience or the creators, I may have already touched upon this in an earlier answer, but I think it’s a two-way street. Before creators can make any headway on the issue, there may be a few socio-cultural obstacles to overcome first, like the gamer image, and such.

If someone does create a “Triple A” title with a female lead, what would you suggest they do to keep the character likable by a majority of female gamers?

Keep her “real”. She can be drop-dead gorgeous, a super-heroine or whatever, just as long as there’s something about her that we can care about — whether it’s her hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, etc. She’s got to be relatable to be likeable. Come to think of it, if you ask me, a lot of male leads in games these days can stand to be fleshed out like that too. Whether it’s games or books etc., I always love myself a good story, and they are always better when I can connect with the characters.

Do you hate the fact that people even talk about this? Part of why I’ve never written a post like this before is because I always figured women who are actually gamers (not the “GRL GAMER, look at my bewbs, oh btw I like Mario” type) are in some way disgusted when this stuff comes up and that I would come off like a jerk by even trying to include them in the conversation.

No, I don’t hate the fact people talk about this, even though I realize I rarely broach the topic myself. My blog name may be MMO Gamer Chick, but I’m aware I don’t often talk about female gamer issues. It’s not because I’m disgusted by or don’t like to talk about this stuff, but rather because my gaming life is more about the games, and I identify on the blog as a gamer first and foremost, the female thing being secondary.

Whether I agree with them or not, I’m always open to reading others’ thoughts and opinions on any topic, and maybe to offer my own. Actually, I think it’s quite awesome that people are aware of issues in gaming and are taking time to contemplate them and opening up to discourse. And I have to say it’s also kinda brave of you, as you’re touching upon a subject on which A LOT of people have A LOT of differing opinions, and I’ve seen sometimes that these discussions can get out of hand. The fact that you are even worrying and have to ask this question shows that it is controversial.

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It Happens In A Flashpoint

January 28, 2011

Late in the evening on Thursday, Gamespot published a new article about Star Wars: The Old Republic Flashpoints so it wasn’t surprising to see that it was also the subject of today’s update. The new entry titled Flashpoints Overview is pretty scarce on information, though it does include a new video featuring a first-look at Taral V, a mid-game (level 32 and above), Republic only flashpoint (Darth Hater also has a cool dissection that’s worth checking out):

Here’s a random thought that possibly might only interest Hunter, given our little wager over the number of planets we think there will be at launch — with the reveal of the Taral V flashpoint, could we expect the presence of other individual self-contained instances like this scattered across the game on many different worlds? This led me to think that the famous “dozens” of planets claim by the devs could have meant these worlds as well, and not just the fully explorable ones released so far. I think our bet came forth from that quote in the first place, which is why the thought struck me.

Anyway, the update also lists the names of a few other flashpoints we can expect to see in game. It’s not complete, but it’s enough to see the availability of flashpoints to players on both factions and its apparent spread from early game all the way up to end-game. Nevertheless, I felt more information could be gleaned from the Gamespot article.

Some of the answers about Taral V in the Q&A from World Designer Jesse Sky are worth contemplating:

Taral V can be played in roughly 90 minutes, which is about the average length for a flashpoint. A completionist play-through would probably take more than two hours. If you have any stealthy friends, you might find them particularly useful on this mission.

Interestingly, in the video we actually get to see a quick glimpse of a “stealthy” player at work. Sky’s choice of words give me pause, and let’s just say I cross my fingers and hope that “particularly useful” doesn’t translate to “almost necessary”.

90 minutes is I think a fair length for a flashpoint, though I have to question what he meant by a “completionist play-through”. Does that simply mean clearing the place completely of all enemies? Or are there other little extras we can expect from inside these instanced flashpoints? It’s Bioware, so I had to wonder. Especially given what Sky says later on in the interview:

Flashpoints are repeatable by design, and we strive to include elements that keep them fresh for multiple play-throughs. The gameplay focus in a flashpoint is very tight, which contrasts a bit with adventuring in the open world, but it lets us empower players in some really interesting ways. For example, you might explore the area and discover a secret that changes the mechanics of a boss fight. Or you might make a story decision that alters the course of the gameplay.

The inclusion of little extras and secrets notwithstanding, that’s incentive enough for me to explore flashpoints, though Sky is still vague on what he means when he says they’re “sympathetic” to players who are tired of the “traditional” dungeon experience. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but having the best equipment found in flashpoints and other “reward structures” in place to me sounds like item progression, which on the face of it I wouldn’t mind so much but which I hope won’t be too greatly emphasized. Admittedly, I’d be a little disappointed if it were, but I can’t say I’d be very surprised either.

Personally, what motivates me isn’t the gear, it’s the cooperative gameplay. Speaking of which, that’s another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot — flashpoints are balanced around and intended for a full group of four players.

I know smaller groups make for more intimate and tight-knit interactions, and not that I mind getting cozy with my fellow players, but I do admit I’ve been perplexed by SWTOR’s group size ever since last year — especially in light of this post I saw on We Fly Spitfires last week, where Gordon points out that larger groups allow for more variety in party make-up. According to him, 6 is the prefect group size and 5 is World of Warcraft trying to be special, but Bioware seeks to one-up (or should that be one-down?) even Blizzard with 4-man parties. I look forward to seeing how the dynamics in a four-player group are going to work out in this game.

Finally, Sky ends the Q&A on a positive note, mentioning that they are heading into their “homestretch”. Despite rumors that surfaced earlier this week that SWTOR will be delayed for a September release, the devs appear to be giving the impression they are still on track, and as late as Tuesday evening, community representatives are still acknowledging a Spring release (thanks to Harbinger Zero for the link). Personally, I still very much doubt we’ll be seeing the game until at least late summer, and it wouldn’t surprise me even if the rumors for a fall release turn out to be true.

Would that be so bad though? Don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping SWTOR will come out sooner rather than later, but God knows I have enough games to keep me busy this spring and summer, and I fully trust Bioware to know when the right time is to release the game. I figure I’ve waited this long already, a few more months isn’t going to kill me…though on the other hand, sifting through the angst and vitriol on the forums that will come with another half year more of Fan Fridays just might.

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Now Let’s Blow This Thing And Go Home

August 18, 2010

Yesterday a new Star Wars: The Old Republic space combat video was released as a special for Gamescom 2010. Short as it was, I was very excited when I saw it.

I was also able to pick up the latest issue of PC Gamer yesterday which features space combat in SWTOR, so I wanted to wait until I had the opportunity to peruse it before I put my thoughts together. It was nice having some reading material to go with the awesome imagery from the new trailer, because in a way the footage and the new article complemented each other very well. Like sources have already confirmed, space combat can be described as a “tunnel shooter”, but damn…being on rails has never looked and felt so good.

There are several things I took from the PC Gamer article. First is that while space combat is an important and anticipated feature in SWTOR, gameplay is likely to be a heavily directed and controlled experience. Second is that for better or worse, Bioware is taking space combat in very specific direction, and that is to capture the most iconic and memorable space action moments from the movies and somehow recreate them in their own way for the game, so I would be expecting to do some trench runs and asteroid dodging.

My gut feeling is that the devs have a very good idea of what they want players to see and feel while they are experiencing space combat, and presumably utilizing things like “hot spots”, cinematics and a “tunnel shooter” style is their way of strongly steering us towards all of that.  After thinking about it, I realized I don’t have much of a problem with this. So space combat isn’t going to entail a “fly-anywhere-you-want” type of gameplay, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well or won’t be fun. In fact, I’m more comfortable with the fact that Bioware appears to have a clear direction in which they want to take space combat, as well as concrete goals they seem to be actively pursuing. Despite all the information we’ve gotten on space combat in the recent weeks, I still get the feeling that Bioware is being really careful when it comes to the topic; it’s a fine line between feeding the hype and releasing what they know they can deliver.

In any case, I think they have been pretty transparent with what they have revealed so far. On rails or not, I would rather have a polished space experience at launch complete with well-defined objectives than a half-assed, muddled end product that doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going, which might be the case if they were trying to please everybody. I’m certainly not trying to appease people who are still less than impressed by SWTOR’s space combat, but what I saw from the video did indicate to me how much care and work must have been put into it — everything from the ship movements, visuals, sound effects, voice work, music, etc. A part of me does kinda hope that the quality of the trailer might have at least lifted the spirits of some of those who were disappointed before.

Another thing I realized after reading the PC Gamer piece was that there is a lot of potential for space combat. All throughout the entire article was a sense of hope and suggestion that what we get at launch will continue to be a work-in-progress that may one day contain more aspects of space combat, perhaps features like difficulty levels, PvP and co-op gameplay or even missions in space that would affect players on the ground. The positive angle makes me think that people who maybe aren’t so happy with space combat right now can look forward to future possibilities.

There’s more to the article, but it would be too much to go into the finer details. A few things I do want to mention is that there are plenty of nice images (some that are very similar to what we see in the trailer) and a lot of interesting speculations, such as mission types and ship classes. Related to the latter, I noticed at least six different models of ships in the video and recognized the two that were confirmed (Corellian Vanguard-class for Jedi Knights and Consulars, Fury-class imperial for Sith Warriors and Inquisitors).

One last thing is that there was also an offhand comparison to the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games when describing the gameplay. After watching the video I can definitely see that. Gotta say, I loved that game back in the day when I played it on the N64…just please, all I ask is leave out the repetitive, irritating “Rogue Squadron, where’s our cover?!?!” type dialogue, which quite possibly was the most annoying video game line of all time.

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