In response to “Midgar is Burning” from The Escapist Forum: It’s really fascinating to see what people do with the tools that are available. And the evolution of that micro society matches similar situations I have witnessed, from SCA groups to MMO guilds to rock bands. So many things are generated out of passion, its no wonder that they cannot last forever. As a veteran ‘passionista’, I usually know, while I am in the moment, that it is transitory and should be treasured while it is happening, it won’t be around forever. Adds a bittersweet note, but makes me pay attention and try harder in the meantime.
For a few short years, I was amidst not the AOL chatrooms, but instead, the IRC. It was there where there were true macros and calculation systems being used, some so elaborate and detailed, actual RPG battles could be held, with number generations, move lists, health, magic, and turns. Sure, there was no “role playing” outside of our internet personas, but it certainly was fun.
The group I was part of was called #BOTVGH, short for “Battle of the video-game heroes.” They had a website and everything, where people wrote what was essentially script-style fanfic of video game characters. Personally? It was boring as hell to read. I was more fascinated with the chatroom itself, and the personalities within. Eventually, near the end of middle school or so, I got banned, so eh. Had a great time, though. Was an interesting introduction to the internet, full of scapegoats, drama, and ostracization.
I think that world is gone now. There are remnants found through google, but it seems like it died around 2004.
In response to “Are You Evil?” from The Escapist Forum: One problem with the expression of evil, or personality in general, in RPGs is the reliance on dialogue trees. A position thrown at you a lot is one covered in the article: demanding payment for heroic services rendered. If I were playing a game through “as I would do it” I would probably accept as reward as possible for my actions, but actually saying “I think I deserve more gold than this,” or “Hand over more or your daughter dies by my hands,” just seems ridiculous.
I don’t know if this is an especially solvable problem, but I did recently find an RPG that successfully tempted me into evil actions: Vampire: Bloodlines. Even though her creation was originally a “humane” act, I found myself more and more willing to accept the power I held over “my ghoul”, ordering her around brusquely, accepting the money from her college loans, and was made really uncomfortable by how natural the actions felt.
I totally agree that the “goody goody or prick” choice that most games give you are highly unsatisfying, but it doesn’t help that most gamers will play that way. Neither the games nor the players are stepping up to the challenge of looking at these issues in a more complex manner.
One of the few games I’ve seen that gives you greater choice is Neverwinter Nights 2, which is pretty surprising considering D&D’s black and white alignment system. The characters that joined your party had motivations that, while still fairly primitive, were much more interesting than good and evil. The dwarf fighter that joins you early on is, while still an out and out good guy, always looking for a good punch-up. So, despite alignment differences, a violent, evil character is more likely to gain favour with him than a diplomatic, good one.
In response to “Holding Out for a Heroine” from The Escapist Forum: Just when I get burnt out reading or writing or discussing anything video game related, the Escapist comes out with another hard-hitting essay. I love this. It’s even got me reconsidering how I play into the idealized female archetype in my own stories, and rethinking them.
I think the problem is two-fold. On the one hand, video games have traditionally been marketed towards young men. That much is obvious. But as Gerard Jones said (I LOVE that book), it’s just as much that it excludes female gamers from the target demographic as it is that it particularly caters to the males. But this is yesterday’s news.
The other issue, I think, is that most of the people writing these video game plots and characters are males. How equipped is a male author to write a truly believable female character? I consider myself a good writer, but I will admit that one place I struggle is accurately depicting the many particular complexities of being a woman – in the normal world, let alone a fantasy or sci-fi world where she is faced with impossible challenges on top of her normal struggles. So what my female characters end up being are bits and pieces of different media archetypes I’ve seen on TV, in games, in books, with a little bit of real world inspiration for good measure. I have no real frame of reference, since I am not a woman. So we need to see some more women writers in the industry.
In the end of the day, men and women are different – they think differently and they act differently. I think it will be better if women act like women, and men act like men, instead of doing a “strong female chracter, that is actualy a lesbian” or a “emotional male character, who is actualy gay” where you umix things up.
A women can save the world, but not the same way a men would. I men can be emotional, but not the same way as a women.
I can tell right now that when someone finally releases a game with a proper female lead, many gamers wont be able to accept it. Well right away anyways. especially the Xbox people with their big tough manly games.
In response to “Sociolotron: How the Other Half Plays” from The Escapist Forum: Really appreciated the article. The insight into avatar-human relations was really interesting, particularly the progression from objectification (focus upon appearance) to personalization (felt the need to protect; empathized) to identification (feelings of guilt, shame, feeling as if you were participating in the acts instead of the character). I’m sure most of us who play online games have gone through things like that, but this article managed to encapsulate so much in relatively little word space.
Would your emotional response have been different it were all text and no visuals – “traditional” cybersex (what a concept!), I wonder? The presence of an avatar and another character creates a sort of personhood for both of you that you’re stuck with, whereas with text you are free to use your imagination or change anything at any moment.
Sure the most significant lesson learned here – and it’s one that very few men can grok – is the physical vulnerability that women live with 24/7. It doesn’t have to affect their whole worldview, and I’ve known some women whom it would damned dangerous to mess with; but the simple fact of I-can-be-raped is something that women have and men don’t, at least if they’re not in prison. I get the impression you caught just a glimpse of that reality.