Video Games and Attitude

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We have a rule in Hall household that goes something like this:

When you start to get angry or frustrated at a video game, you need to turn it off and take a break.

This rule applies to myself and to my son. Years of playing video games has taught me that taking a break, when angry or frustrated, is beneficial. Even when you are so frustrated that all you want to do is keep pushing through, I’ve found that it is best to stop. There is something taking a break does to the brain. As a kid, I remember pausing a game overnight and then being able to destroy a boss, that was previously impossible, the next day.

But what about when a game causes attitude? Anger that one can’t play longer or even has to quit? I remember a period when I was playing Mass Effect 2 a few years ago. I’d play the game late into the night, ignoring my bride, who would end up giving up and going to bed. I felt a pull while playing that game, a drive to see where the story went. Mass Effect 2 had it’s hooks in me just as World of Warcraft did years before.

I know that I can have issues with some games. Even though I haven’t been hooked on a game in awhile, I know that the right combination of design elements can take me down.

The same is true with my son. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushed all the right buttons for him. It was all that he and the kids at church were talking about. I’d constantly hear about the Divine Powers:

  • Revali’s Gale
  • Daruk’s Protection
  • Mipha’s Grace
  • Urbosa’s Fury

I’d hear so much about Breath of the Wild that I thought I was going to go nuts. And the attitude that came with the game, whenever he had to quit, was frustrating.

Tabitha and I find ourselves at the same attitude point again with Fortnite. But this time it’s a little different due to gaming elements Fortnite embraces (your child is being manipulated):

  1. The Store with Artificial Demand – When you log into the game, you can easily tab over to the Fortnite store. Here you can look/obsess/covet the latest in Fortnite cosmetics. Some of these cosmetics are available for a limited time, playing into an artificial demand where kids think they have to purchase something before it is gone.
  2. The Subscription with a Shady Pay-to-Win-with-Time Formula – Once you buy the $10 Battle Pass, Fortnite is all about unlocking tiers, which then unlock different cosmetics/skins/cool looking things. Fortnite developers Epic Games boasts on their website that the Battle Pass equals: 100 tiers, 100 rewards. One marketing bullet point states that it takes 75-150 hours worth of gameplay to unlock everything in the Battle Pass. Fortnite encourages players to dump as much time as they can into the game through their shady tier/unlock scheme. A pay-to-win-with-time formula, aimed at children.
  3. The Feedback Loop – A typical match takes 20 minutes to play. Unless you are knocked out of the match, in which case you can just jump into another match… and another match… and another match. This creates a feel good feedback loop for your brain. Just one more match, mom.

What is a parent to do? Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • On the Nintendo Switch, you can set a screen time timer to help manage your child’s play. There are several options to choose from when the timer runs out, including shutting down the console (if you are feeling evil; Do not provoke your children… – Ephesians 6:4). Each console has different parental settings, read up on them, empower yourself.
  • Parent. Talk to your child about their attitude. Be ready to follow through with consequences (don’t offer empty threats). Also don’t be afraid to have your child take a day off a game.

Gaming attitude is something our parents did not have to deal with as much as we have to–although I say that while clearly remembering my Mom taking away the NES controllers–. So set some boundaries/consequences and read up/educate yourself on the tools you have at your disposal. Learn about the game your child is playing, the one you are growing to hate because of their attitude. You never know, you might learn something about your child and be able to help them set healthy boundaries to use later on in their adult lives.

You are the parent. You do not deal nor negotiate with emotional terrorism.

Gaming is a privilege, not a right. (I can’t believe I just wrote that as a dad who games.)

How are you working through your child’s attitude when it comes to games?

World of Warcraft Isn’t Cheers Anymore

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A few weeks ago, I decided to stir the gaming pot and ask some of my close friends a simple question:

What would it take to get you back to playing World of Warcraft?

The following are their responses, starting with my own:

For me, right now, the only thing that could get me back into that game would be friends playing it again. That and knowing that I’d be able to play with them regardless of the time difference. Will admit though that playing this game again would feel like taking two steps back for some reason.

A friend from college replied:

I honestly don’t think I could go back. I’ve peg holed it with such negative feelings that I would first need a reason to make it beneficial to my real life. Right now, I just don’t see how it could be. I know my schedule now. I’ll never have hours per week to sit down and play it and so even with friends on there it would have to be something we do once a month maybe, and I can’t even really see pulling that off. Combine that with the monthly fee and there’s no way I’m paying 100 bucks over the next three months to hang out with some friends for 3 or 4 hours.

My friend Lord Andrew said:

For me to play WoW again?  It would take the promise that my group of friends would all commit to playing it together again.  That’s where the enjoyment is, playing with friends.

Combat Chuck replied:

I agree with Lord Andrew, plus I at this point I’d need to add time and money to the equation 🙂 but more than that, video game interest has waned for me and I don’t have a big pull or drive toward many games other than a couple on my phone 🙂

Finally, my friend Scotto finished with some great thoughts:

There might come a day when one of you guys will announce you are playing WoW again…and I will feel that familiar pull to play…but I think something else will finally come along that will be much better. Diablo 3 perhaps?

I’m always up for some Left 4 Dead 2 🙂  Nothing like immediate zombie-killing gratification with friends.

World of Warcraft burnout seems to run deep amongst my friend pool. Quite simply, all of our lives have changed since the game launched back in 2004. Many of us are now married, have moved onto other games, and have been overwhelmed with life responsibilities. As good of a time I had in Azeroth, I just don’t see myself going back. Why visit a place where your friends no longer reside? Why return to a world where everyone doesn’t know your name?

RIFT Impressions 1.2

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Often times I feel like I’ll mention a game on this site and then never talk about it again. I promise you that this is not some small part of a larger conspiracy theory. I truthfully just quickly get bored with games that fail to grab hold of me. Case in point:

Closing Thoughts:

MMO’s are time-sucking-vortexes that I simply do not have time for anymore. While I still enjoy reading about them, I feel that the genre as a whole has not advanced forward. World of Warcraft is the pinnacle of modern MMO gaming. Games like RIFT, though polished, offer me nothing compelling to forget about World of Warcraft and move forward. I do hope that Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 do something to shake up this genre funk. I miss playing a good MMO. Until that day, MMO’s like RIFT have been banished from my computer. Case closed.

RIFT Impressions 1.1

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"Nirvana is coming, the mystic portal awaits."

Ah, the smell of a new MMO! The joy of playing through starting content and actually seeing fellow human players running around completing quests. I had forgotten what this feels like.

During my first play session last night, no matter what, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be playing World of Warcraft instead. I mean, there is nothing inherently wrong with RIFT. I fear though that years spent in the refined lands of Azeroth somehow set a mental bar in my head. Why should I play anything less than the perfection that is WoW?

After leveling to level 4, I called it quits last night. That is, until a few minutes later…when I sat down again and played some more. Call it the MMO pull or the relaxation that mindless tasks (kill ten mystic dudes) bring, but I continued to play until I hit level 5. By then my laptop’s fan was screaming and the base of the computer was super hot.

The last time I really dove into an MMO, besides WoW, was with Warhammer Online. Warhammer had something special going for it. At least I thought it did. The public quests, dark art style, and a land perpetually at war drew me in. Heck, the fact that it was something other than World of Warcraft was enough for me. As I progressed through the levels however, I soon came to the conclusion that Warhammer was a shallow affair. My friends quit shortly after the first few months and I did too. Warhammer was fun while it lasted.

I‘m still not sure what I think of RIFT. Can’t tell if it is just more of the same or if something “special” is just over the next horizon. Like I said in my first post, I’ll keep you updated. Until next time.

Connections

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In the hustle and bustle that has become everyday life, I am beginning to wonder how I ever found time to play such games as World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online. I think that when I was playing them, I was using them as a social means to hang out with friends from back in California. With the time difference proving to be too big of a drawback–I’m usually in bed by the time my friends get around to being able to game–, my friends and I all slowly walked away from MMO’s.

While part of me misses the thrills of leveling and exploring the various game worlds, I more so miss being able to hang out with friends in another state. Slaughtering the digital denizens, while shooting the breeze, created good memories for me. As a guy, doing something with other guys is just priceless, even if it is just playing a game online.

I don’t know if it is this way with every gamer, but I have a core group of friends that I have gamed with since high school. Since moving to Texas, I have kept in touch with them by phone, email, and occasional visits. I ultimately don’t want our connection to be lost due to distance. Though we may have walked away from MMO’s for the moment–Bioware’s Star Wars MMO is on the horizon–, we are all still good friends. I am thankful for friendships that evolve and change with time… and distance.

For the Love of Flight

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Sadly, Jasmine decided to ditch me...for some guy named Aladdin.

Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling

Through an endless diamond sky…

Flying through the forests near Shattrath, I was suddenly struck with the thought that flying in World of Warcraft is lame. I mean, don’t be me wrong, I love the ability to take flight at any time. In fact, I absolutely dislike having to dismount from my flying mount. If I could fly everywhere in-game, I would. That said, the flight mechanics/ physics in WoW are rigid. Flap, flap, flap.

Locked and loaded for a bombing run. The Ewoks won't know what hit'em.

As I flew just below the forest canopy, I wondered why my mount doesn’t increase speed when flying downwards. Why doesn’t the flying mount have the same physics that govern airplane movement? Imagine the excitement this could bring to the game! Aeriel PvP, quests that involve air races,  and dogfighting are but a few ideas that a flight mechanic overall could bring about.

In the end, I want my time spent soaring to not only be a convenient way to get from point A to point B, but to add to the storytelling and adventure.

 

Confessions of an MMO Tourist: Cataclysm Edition

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A few months back, I had heard that there had been a cataclysm in Azeroth. All of the lands and continents of the game had been changed. Realizing that this might be a great time to visit at a discounted rate, I made sure to keep my eyes open for travel deals. No sooner had I started my search, when an e-mail arrived in my inbox with this subject line: “Bryan – Try World of Warcraft: Cataclysm FREE for 10 Days.” 10 whole days of vacationing in a new land, for free? How could I not pounce on this offer? A game client download and a few patches later, I found myself venturing once more in the lands of Azeroth.

A giant lurks in the mist.

Blizzard wasn’t joking when they said that things had changed. Right away I noticed the two new races featured in the game, the Worgen and the Goblins. So I decided to choose a new race. The thought of being a werewolf was too amazing to pass up, so I quickly created a Worgen mage by the name of Ruford. Ruford and I rode around the Worgen starting area, slowly learning about the Worgen infestation and how the great cataclysm occurred.

Ah Gilneas, World of Warcraft at its most refined.

My adventures with Ruford lasted until level 9. It was then that I decided that enough was enough. Though Cataclysm represents a fantastic upgrade to the World of Warcraft experience, the game is still the same. Frustrated, I quit playing. 10 days later I find myself wanting to play again…but alas, it is not to be. Farewell new content!

Gamer OCD

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I have quickly come to the conclusion that I play too many games at the same time. A friend of mine calls it “gamer OCD”. Want proof? Within the last month I have explored:

  • Ratchet and Clank: Future
  • Dragon Age Origins
  • Final Fantasy 13
  • World of Warcraft
  • Little Big Planet
  • Flower (With only six levels, I rocked this game!)
  • Final Fantasy 7
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Did you count how many games I have played off and on? 8! Keep in mind that it is not like I play each game for 5 minutes and then jump to the next. No sir. Instead I dump more than a few hours into each title. With Final Fantasy 13, I have probably played for more than 6 hours total. Run. Battle. Discuss random things. Run. Battle. Etc.

The problem with moving between so many games at a time is that you quickly forget how to play a specific game. Take last night for instance when I fired up Final Fantasy 13 and quickly died. I had forgotten how to play the game. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So, where am I going with all this? This year, I really want to focus on playing one game until I complete it or decide to discard it forever. FOREVER. I inwardly laugh over making such a resolution (I don’t think I’m capable of it) but I would certainly like to try.

Climb aboard my tidy ship of serial-gaming-monogamy. The waters ahead could be a tad rough.

Beyond the Cataclysm

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So, you’ve just shattered a six year old game Blizzard Entertainment, what are you going to do next?

1. Release expansion packs that build upon the new Cataclysm content. Expansion packs are like the carrot on the end of a stick, enticing gamers to hang around for new content. Will there be new races and lands announced in the future? You betcha ya!
2. Find ways to further grow the current player base. Research into video game addiction and recruiting your grandma will no doubt be internally announced soon. “What are the kids into these days?”, they’ll ask. Hopefully the addition of Silly Bandz, Webkinz mini-games, or anything remotely related to cutsey talking animals are added to the Azerothian landscape.
3. With the release of Cataclysm, the ablity to fly all over the Warcraft world will finally be attained (or soI have been told/ lied to). The next logical step, in WoW’s development, will be to add an underground kingdom. Imagine riding around on mole mounts past vast underground cities and luminous lakes. Let the current Minecraft game/ craze be your guide!
4. In-game advertising! Always remember, a druid likes to be reminded of the latest hamburger available at Burger King.
5. Celebrity designed armor sets. Wait, never mind.
6. Drop the current monthly pay structure. Free is the way to be.

*Inspired by Bio Breaks Where can World of Warcraft go from here article/ posty thing.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Launch Parties Are Go!

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A friend of mine was telling me, over lunch, that Blizzard is hosting Cataclysm launch parties. Apparently the party/event closest to him will have developers on hand to sign retail copies. Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Check out this link for a list of stores and events surrounding the December 7th Cataclysm launch.

Monster

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In the beginning:

World of Warcraft (WoW) is a literal monster. I remember the day it first appeared to me, looking all innocent in its shrink wrapped box. Little did I know that what dwelled inside was a digital narcotic that would end up stealing 3 months of my life. Wait. I should clarify that. I let World of Warcraft become my drug of choice; I let WoW rule my life.

Wasted summer:

So there I was, home from college for the summer. My brain fried from finals and from having to drive from East Texas to Southern California. All I can say is that it was a long trip! All I wanted to do was sit back and relax for the summer. My parents, however, had other plans in mind for me. Everyday I was asked when I was going to start looking for a job. A job? I had just slaved myself to death over school and now they wanted me to get a job? I just couldn’t understand that–I do now that I have student loan payments–. So I set up my computer on the kitchen table, and I proceeded to play WoW day and night. That summer was long, filled with nagging, and looking back, a complete waste of my time. I had let a computer game become my escape from reality. World of Warcraft had become my monster.

Fight and flight:

Today (10/22/10) marks the beginning of BlizzCon 2010. The hype train is chugging away at full steam, and Cataclysm is rapidly incoming (December 7th). At this junction, I find myself a tad conflicted. The excitement of friends clamoring for Cataclysm makes me want to go back and check out the game. However, I know that much has changed in my life.

Since that wasted summer, I have gotten married, had a little boy, and overall (hopefully!) have grown up. I no longer feel that I have the time to seriously dedicate to World of Warcraft. Sure, I could log in and dabble around some, but I would be no closer to friends who are not at the same place in life as me. I think, at this particular junction, that WoW is just not for me anymore. I need a game where I do not feel guilt if I don’t play (due to paying $15 a month). I also need a game where I can quickly exit/ press a pause button and it won’t impact anyone (in-game). So I guess that this is goodbye WoW. Don’t bother coming around anymore. I don’t like hanging out with monsters.

Impending Doom

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Nearly 7 years after the launch of World of Warcraft, Blizzard is still reporting player growth like McDonald’s used to report how many customers had been served.

World of Warcraft(R) Subscriber Base Reaches 12 Million Worldwide

IRVINE, Calif., Oct 07, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the subscriber base for World of Warcraft(R), its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), now exceeds 12 million players worldwide. This milestone was reached in the wake of the mainland Chinese launch of World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King(R), and also as global anticipation continues to mount for the December 7 release of the game’s third expansion, Cataclysm(TM).

“The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December.”

Since debuting in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular subscription-based MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 worldwide, and finished behind only World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade(R), the first expansion pack for the game, in 2007. For 2008, the World of Warcraft series represented three of the top five bestselling PC games, with Wrath of the Lich King finishing the year at #1, and in 2009, World of Warcraft titles claimed three of the top six spots.*

At this point in the games life, I am not surprised that the gaming community is still talking about the WoW monster. World of Warcraft is a power house in that it takes systems found in other games and refines them to something close to perfection. The amount of times I have resubscribed to WoW, after swearing it off, is also a testament to how great this game is (or maybe that is an admission as to how addictive it is).

Up until the announcement of Cataclysm’s release (12/7/10), I really didn’t think that I would ever venture into the lands of Azeroth again. However, the release announcement suddenly had me interested. Here is the thing, all my friends will end up diving back into the game. Especially those of mine who are going to BlizzCon. So do I enter back into a game that is almost seven years old? Like the infamous Death Eaters in Harry Potter, I can feel my soul being sucked back into the void. See ya there!

Surf Report – 5/10/10

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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Surf Report.

Woke up this morning to overcast skies and a nice cool breeze. Even though its supposed to be in the high 80’s today, I’m enjoying the cooler weather of the morning.

East Texas has been experiencing record highs lately, which is certainly odd for the month of May. I have been running my air conditioner non-stop — no doubt adding to the destruction of the environment–.

Funny thing happened this weekend, I received an annual letter from the Social Security Administration. Supposedly Social Security funds will be close to depleted by the time I am ready to retire. Correction, people who would have normally received over a $1000 dollars a month will instead receive $700 a month. Guess I need to learn how to eat/ live cheaper. Wonder if my future kids will let my wife and I live with them…

Had a friend get me back into World of Warcraft. I am happy to announce that I have finally made it to Burning Crusade content! Huzzah! Huzzah! What a difference an expansion makes to game play. I love World of Warcraft again. For anyone on the Stormscale server, be sure to look me up (Arclight, Alliance).

Hope everyone is having a great Monday. If your not, go pick up some sort of caffeinated beverage and get to work. Otherwise Tuesday is going to become Monday 2.0.

-Bryan

Searchlight – 5/3/10

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.: Top Searches for 5/3/10 :.

1. dungeon hunter ending – Dungeon Hunter was a great time waster. My biggest complaint was that the inventory system seemed needlessly complicated. Otherwise, the ending was satisfying for what little story there was.

2. cozyquest itunes – CozyQuest will forever be a dream unrealized by its creator. Deal with it.

3. auction house external site warcraft – While this feature has yet to be launched, I’m at least interested to see how popular this feature will turn out to be. Will work as we know it be forever altered? Probably not.

4. character slots on asherons call –  One (1)

5. guild wars 2 blog – here

Celestial Dreams

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Dreams do come true, in World of Warcraft, thanks to the recent addition of the Celestial Steed flying mount.  Celestial Steed? A new flying mount? Your probably asking what I did to obtain such a elusive piece of the heavens. Well, I can tell you that I did not:

  • Complete an epic quest
  • Slay a 1000 Murlocs
  • Or, visit the Galactic Temple high above Darkshore (surely you’ve been there!)

No, dear readers,  I simply paid $25 for this amazing downloadable addition — I love you Blizzard! –. I honestly think that the starry night sky shines brighter; that the very heavens gleam in approval of my new epic flying mount. Eat your heart out haters!

My horse from the Twisting Nether, Josie.

Still there? Good. I have a confession to make, I really didn’t spend $25 on a virtual horse. Why? Well…

  • $25 is almost as much as paying for a 2 month subscription.
  • You could buy 2 1/2 Pandaren Monks for the price of one girly-looking horse named Sparkle Fairy.

While I understand the want/need for downloadable content (money!), I just cannot bring myself to spend $25 for a virtual horse. For those of you who have, shame on you! You are supporting a practice that developers do not need to get used to. So quit it! NOW! You don’t need Sparkle Fairy. At all. So move along. NOW!