A Flashback, A Card Game, and Two Lands of Fantasy

It is Sunday 28th November, and as the rest of you converse about your GT5s and your turkey over-consumption, it’s once again time for me to set my word processor to stun and produce another “thrilling” weekly blog.

Last Week’s Blog

 A glimpse into last week's writing process.

So as some of you reading this may know, last week I posted a blog on the stigma surrounding video games and what action each of us can take against it. I think it’s fair to say it’s been by far my most recognised blog on the site. I’d like to thank all who contributed to the debate following the article, and give a special thanks to ZombiePie for putting out word of my blog over the GiantBombSquad Twitter feed and featuring my blog in this week’s Community Spotlight. I didn’t think it would get anywhere near the attention it did, and I was very happy to see so many reading and commenting on my weekly piece.

As a number of you commented in response that blog, the stigma surrounding games is largely a generational issue, and as those who would cast a slightly wary eye on video games steadily become part of an older crowd, and a new wave of people who’ve grown up with video games take their place, we’re probably going to be see a world in which playing a video game will be an activity in the same vein as watching a movie. However, I’d like to stress that in many ways I still think the behaviour of a lot of games enthusiasts out there is slowing the process, and causes a whole host of other problems. Another thing I learned from reading those comments was that a number of you simply don’t care about getting rid of the stigma surrounding video games, and I can understand that viewpoint, but there’s still two points I’d like people to take away from my post for the sake of ensuring better relations between games enthusiasts.

Civil Discussion of Video Games

When you discuss video games with other people, behave in a civil and at least somewhat polite way, “It’s just the internet” is an excuse I’ve seen used too many times for not caring when a conversation or community is steered in a direction it shouldn’t be. Giant Bomb is one of the most intelligent and accepting video game communities on the internet, but even here I’ve seen people behaving in an offensive manner to others, and it doesn’t make people look good when they do it.

There’s also no need to turn your hatred towards “casual gamers” and “casual games” simply because they’re “casual”. I know this has been a vague theme of a couple of my blogs before, but I think it’s an issue. Pre-Wii the situation was always that when a video game, console, or peripheral was released, the people who were already fans of video games were the audience for these products, and their opinions were relevant to consumers of the game, and to an extent the critics and industry. With the wave of gaming we’ve seen for a new audience, with the Wii, the Move, and the Kinect there’s now a whole new kind of video game just not aimed at the traditional consumer, and there seem to be a number of people who are having trouble adjusting. Granted, even when talking about what’s aimed at the “casual” crowd there’s the good, and there’s the bad, but if you just don’t like motion control games then you just don’t like them. It doesn’t mean that the point repeatedly needs to be rammed home that motion control isn’t popular with most players of traditional video games, and there’s no reason to look down on people who do enjoy casual games.

Poker Night at the Inventory

 This game is worth buying for Tycho's "giraffe speech" alone.

Now we’ve gotten our weekly sociology lesson out of the way it’s time to talk about what this blog was made for; video games. Despite a slightly annoying delay on the release of the game, this week Poker Night at the Inventory dropped out of Steam and onto the hard-drives of hundreds of people, including me. As far as poker games go Poker Night at the Inventory is one of the best, if not the best poker game out there. A pretty big prerequisite to playing it is that you do know the characters in the game, and while I’m not too familiar with Strong Bad, I was rather excited to hear that Max, the Heavy and Tycho were going to be in the game when it was announced. The game does a great job of capturing the personality of these characters and listening to them chatter away is always entertaining, and often amusing, especially when they’re communicating with each other, providing a bizarre and yet brilliant clashing of fictional worlds.

The game doesn’t have multiplayer and occasionally the dialogue of the characters will get in the way of the game, but the game is much more about the characters than it is about the poker. The poker and the AI definitely work, but if you’re just looking for a poker game then there might be better places for you to go. Otherwise, for a £3.25 game Poker Night at the Inventory is very good.

World of Warcraft

After some time of working out how best to clear 4GB off of my hard-drive so I could install a 113MB patch, I was ready to boot up WoW this week, and jump straight back into the game to see how Azeroth was looking after its timely apocalypse. For a while I’ve found the concept of them completely resculpting the most well-known persistent game world out there fairly mind-blowing, although I must admit after seeing the new Azeroth, it’s hard for it to really sink in that the game’s new environments are here to stay for the rest of the life of the game. I was never the biggest WoW player, but I still felt like all the areas of Azeroth were very familiar to me. I’ve still got a massive amount of the game world to explore all over again, but none the less, the new content looks like good stuff so far.

While I’m typically someone who reserves most of their play time for one specific character in MMOs, I have been thinking of creating a new character for another run through the game, although I feel like there are two real barriers to this for me. The first of these is just whether I’ll have the time and enthusiasm to work my way up to level 60 again, and the second is that I’m rather disappointed that if I do try and work my way through from the start, there’s no WoW EU guild out there to share my adventures with. I know there have been people asking about an EU guild before, and there have been some efforts to set one up but it’d be good to see a group of people on one server we could all drop in on regularly and just play WoW with, but I digress.

Lord of the Rings Online

 LoTRO earns my contempt for featuring the worst video game hat I've ever seen.

While we’re talking MMOs I might as well give my two cents on Lord of the Rings Online which went free-to-play in Europe not too long ago. After my first hour or two of the game I wasn’t feeling terribly impressed with it, and after putting several hours into the game LoTRO still isn’t doing it for me. I don’t know what everyone else’s thoughts on the game are but I feel like it’s one of far too many games out there with generic MMORPG syndrome. It’s not an exact copy/paste of WoW, but it’s really not far off, and the phrase that kept returning to my mind all the way through my play experience was “A poor man’s WoW”. That sounds a little harsh, and if you’re not expecting too much from your MMO, and you want something free to play, or you’re a fan of the universe of Lord of the Rings, then you get some good game time out of LoTRO. For me though, I think I’ll be holding off on returning to Middle Earth for a while.
 
 


Duder, It’s Over

That’s another recap of the video game pursuits and loosely connected thoughts that have made up my week. Thank you for reading and to all you dear community members I say, get the hell out of my blog. Good luck, have Banelings.

-Gamer_152

12 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by Gamer_152

It is Sunday 28th November, and as the rest of you converse about your GT5s and your turkey over-consumption, it’s once again time for me to set my word processor to stun and produce another “thrilling” weekly blog.

Last Week’s Blog

 A glimpse into last week's writing process.

So as some of you reading this may know, last week I posted a blog on the stigma surrounding video games and what action each of us can take against it. I think it’s fair to say it’s been by far my most recognised blog on the site. I’d like to thank all who contributed to the debate following the article, and give a special thanks to ZombiePie for putting out word of my blog over the GiantBombSquad Twitter feed and featuring my blog in this week’s Community Spotlight. I didn’t think it would get anywhere near the attention it did, and I was very happy to see so many reading and commenting on my weekly piece.

As a number of you commented in response that blog, the stigma surrounding games is largely a generational issue, and as those who would cast a slightly wary eye on video games steadily become part of an older crowd, and a new wave of people who’ve grown up with video games take their place, we’re probably going to be see a world in which playing a video game will be an activity in the same vein as watching a movie. However, I’d like to stress that in many ways I still think the behaviour of a lot of games enthusiasts out there is slowing the process, and causes a whole host of other problems. Another thing I learned from reading those comments was that a number of you simply don’t care about getting rid of the stigma surrounding video games, and I can understand that viewpoint, but there’s still two points I’d like people to take away from my post for the sake of ensuring better relations between games enthusiasts.

Civil Discussion of Video Games

When you discuss video games with other people, behave in a civil and at least somewhat polite way, “It’s just the internet” is an excuse I’ve seen used too many times for not caring when a conversation or community is steered in a direction it shouldn’t be. Giant Bomb is one of the most intelligent and accepting video game communities on the internet, but even here I’ve seen people behaving in an offensive manner to others, and it doesn’t make people look good when they do it.

There’s also no need to turn your hatred towards “casual gamers” and “casual games” simply because they’re “casual”. I know this has been a vague theme of a couple of my blogs before, but I think it’s an issue. Pre-Wii the situation was always that when a video game, console, or peripheral was released, the people who were already fans of video games were the audience for these products, and their opinions were relevant to consumers of the game, and to an extent the critics and industry. With the wave of gaming we’ve seen for a new audience, with the Wii, the Move, and the Kinect there’s now a whole new kind of video game just not aimed at the traditional consumer, and there seem to be a number of people who are having trouble adjusting. Granted, even when talking about what’s aimed at the “casual” crowd there’s the good, and there’s the bad, but if you just don’t like motion control games then you just don’t like them. It doesn’t mean that the point repeatedly needs to be rammed home that motion control isn’t popular with most players of traditional video games, and there’s no reason to look down on people who do enjoy casual games.

Poker Night at the Inventory

 This game is worth buying for Tycho's "giraffe speech" alone.

Now we’ve gotten our weekly sociology lesson out of the way it’s time to talk about what this blog was made for; video games. Despite a slightly annoying delay on the release of the game, this week Poker Night at the Inventory dropped out of Steam and onto the hard-drives of hundreds of people, including me. As far as poker games go Poker Night at the Inventory is one of the best, if not the best poker game out there. A pretty big prerequisite to playing it is that you do know the characters in the game, and while I’m not too familiar with Strong Bad, I was rather excited to hear that Max, the Heavy and Tycho were going to be in the game when it was announced. The game does a great job of capturing the personality of these characters and listening to them chatter away is always entertaining, and often amusing, especially when they’re communicating with each other, providing a bizarre and yet brilliant clashing of fictional worlds.

The game doesn’t have multiplayer and occasionally the dialogue of the characters will get in the way of the game, but the game is much more about the characters than it is about the poker. The poker and the AI definitely work, but if you’re just looking for a poker game then there might be better places for you to go. Otherwise, for a £3.25 game Poker Night at the Inventory is very good.

World of Warcraft

After some time of working out how best to clear 4GB off of my hard-drive so I could install a 113MB patch, I was ready to boot up WoW this week, and jump straight back into the game to see how Azeroth was looking after its timely apocalypse. For a while I’ve found the concept of them completely resculpting the most well-known persistent game world out there fairly mind-blowing, although I must admit after seeing the new Azeroth, it’s hard for it to really sink in that the game’s new environments are here to stay for the rest of the life of the game. I was never the biggest WoW player, but I still felt like all the areas of Azeroth were very familiar to me. I’ve still got a massive amount of the game world to explore all over again, but none the less, the new content looks like good stuff so far.

While I’m typically someone who reserves most of their play time for one specific character in MMOs, I have been thinking of creating a new character for another run through the game, although I feel like there are two real barriers to this for me. The first of these is just whether I’ll have the time and enthusiasm to work my way up to level 60 again, and the second is that I’m rather disappointed that if I do try and work my way through from the start, there’s no WoW EU guild out there to share my adventures with. I know there have been people asking about an EU guild before, and there have been some efforts to set one up but it’d be good to see a group of people on one server we could all drop in on regularly and just play WoW with, but I digress.

Lord of the Rings Online

 LoTRO earns my contempt for featuring the worst video game hat I've ever seen.

While we’re talking MMOs I might as well give my two cents on Lord of the Rings Online which went free-to-play in Europe not too long ago. After my first hour or two of the game I wasn’t feeling terribly impressed with it, and after putting several hours into the game LoTRO still isn’t doing it for me. I don’t know what everyone else’s thoughts on the game are but I feel like it’s one of far too many games out there with generic MMORPG syndrome. It’s not an exact copy/paste of WoW, but it’s really not far off, and the phrase that kept returning to my mind all the way through my play experience was “A poor man’s WoW”. That sounds a little harsh, and if you’re not expecting too much from your MMO, and you want something free to play, or you’re a fan of the universe of Lord of the Rings, then you get some good game time out of LoTRO. For me though, I think I’ll be holding off on returning to Middle Earth for a while.
 
 


Duder, It’s Over

That’s another recap of the video game pursuits and loosely connected thoughts that have made up my week. Thank you for reading and to all you dear community members I say, get the hell out of my blog. Good luck, have Banelings.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
Posted by BraveToaster

You make some very good points and hopefully the message behind this blog isn't overlooked. 
 
I'm part of the majority of gamers who hate casual games/gamers. I failed to realize the negative impact this has on the future of gaming. In order for any form of media to remain stable is to change. Many of us don't welcome change when it comes to things we're insanely serious about. The videogame companies don't release casual gamer-friendly games to piss us off, they do it in an attempt to get more people interested in games. The more people interested in games, the better imo. The Kinect and Move have the potential to change many people's opinions about the gaming community. 

Posted by Sweep

"  Giant Bomb is one of the most intelligent and accepting video game communities on the internet, but even here I’ve seen people behaving in an offensive manner to others, and it doesn’t make people look good when they do it. "

See, this is why we can't have nice things. 
 
I'm determined not to start playing WoW again, I'm in my final year of university and I have other fucking priorities. I'm interested in starting a new character to see all the new stuff as well but, similar to yourself, I don't know if I care that much about it to do so. As for EU guilds, that has never really been a problem for me. I find it pretty easy to join leveling guilds and just get chatting away - I have to say that for WoW, whilst it may have a reputation as a bunch of elitist jerks there are still a lot of cool cats out there playing it and they aren't too hard to find either.
Moderator
Posted by Gamer_152
@Axxol said:
" You make some very good points and hopefully the message behind this blog isn't overlooked.  I'm part of the majority of gamers who hate casual games/gamers. I failed to realize the negative impact this has on the future of gaming. In order for any form of media to remain stable is to change. Many of us don't welcome change when it comes to things we're insanely serious about. The videogame companies don't release casual gamer-friendly games to piss us off, they do it in an attempt to get more people interested in games. The more people interested in games, the better imo. The Kinect and Move have the potential to change many people's opinions about the gaming community.  "
Thanks Axxol. Judging by the lack of views on the blog since I posted it, sadly, I think the message here might get lost below the countless other threads in the forums right now. I completely agree with you that the more people that are into games, the better. It's not as if the traditional video games industry is going to disappear because of casual gaming, it's still worth billions of dollars, just as it always was, and by supporting casual gaming we can have every hope of expanding the traditional games industry. I've become tired of seeing so many people complain that they have no interest in products that were never made to pique their interest in the first place, and potentially holding the industry they like, and fighting against other peoples' rights to play games while they do it.
 
@Sweep said:
"

"  Giant Bomb is one of the most intelligent and accepting video game communities on the internet, but even here I’ve seen people behaving in an offensive manner to others, and it doesn’t make people look good when they do it. "

See, this is why we can't have nice things.  I'm determined not to start playing WoW again, I'm in my final year of university and I have other fucking priorities. I'm interested in starting a new character to see all the new stuff as well but, similar to yourself, I don't know if I care that much about it to do so. As for EU guilds, that has never really been a problem for me. I find it pretty easy to join leveling guilds and just get chatting away - I have to say that for WoW, whilst it may have a reputation as a bunch of elitist jerks there are still a lot of cool cats out there playing it and they aren't too hard to find either. "
Sounds like it may be best if you continue resisting the allure of WoW. That stuff can really lead to anti-productivity. There are plenty of EU guilds around and I'm sure I could just join up with any old bunch of people and start questing and levelling, but I'd still love to see an EU Giant Bomb guild; a way all the European GB members who play WoW to get together in a friendly atmosphere. There are far too many elitists on WoW but you're right that there is some good amongst the bad.
Moderator
Posted by Arbie

I thought it would be pretty cool to see a GB EU guild, but I don't think I've seen anything of it either. Maybe it's underground and you only get notified of it at a certain GB lvl! 

Posted by Gamer_152
@Erzs said:
" I thought it would be pretty cool to see a GB EU guild, but I don't think I've seen anything of it either. Maybe it's underground and you only get notified of it at a certain GB lvl!  "
God, I hope so. Really, if a few other people were willing to get together and get a small guild going I'd be happy to be a part of it. I might just end up making a new character on a random realm anyway.
Moderator
Posted by Claude

A civil discussion on the internet about video games is fine as long as you know that I'm right and you're wrong.

Posted by Gamer_152
@Claude said:
" A civil discussion on the internet about video games is fine as long as you know that I'm right and you're wrong. "
Damn you Claude! You're single-handedly holding back the entire games industry, you know that?
Moderator
Posted by Aetheldod

I do not hate the "casual" gamers per se , rather I dont like the "bad" stuff that has been brought , and the most dire to me is the increasing cost of videogames to final consumers , because with the attempt to over reach , millions are spent on publicity / pr stunts etc. , hence it legalizes the producers claims that making a product is very expensive. I for instance , live in a country where you wont find a single publicity spot of videogames , nothing like that and the only way to know whats out , aside from gaming sites and specialized magazines , is to visit a store .... so I have to pay for something I never needed , all for the sake to make soccer moms buy little Timmy another motion based mini game compilation in the US. The more the merrier yes , if it benefits both types of consumers (everything in between too) , but as I see it we are hardly getting that much benefit.

Posted by Gamer_152
@Aetheldod said:
" I do not hate the "casual" gamers per se , rather I dont like the "bad" stuff that has been brought , and the most dire to me is the increasing cost of videogames to final consumers , because with the attempt to over reach , millions are spent on publicity / pr stunts etc. , hence it legalizes the producers claims that making a product is very expensive. I for instance , live in a country where you wont find a single publicity spot of videogames , nothing like that and the only way to know whats out , aside from gaming sites and specialized magazines , is to visit a store .... so I have to pay for something I never needed , all for the sake to make soccer moms buy little Timmy another motion based mini game compilation in the US. The more the merrier yes , if it benefits both types of consumers (everything in between too) , but as I see it we are hardly getting that much benefit. "
You'll have to excuse me but I don't understand what you mean about paying for something you never needed, are you saying it costs money for you to visit stores to find out what video games are out there? I agree though that the "bad" motion control games need to stop, they don't help traditional video games fanatics, they don't help people new to video games; they don't help anybody but cheap-ass publishers and developers. As for more people playing video games benefiting the traditional games market it's not something that we're going to see immediately, but something that will take some time. With millions of people playing "casual" video games there's a better chance than ever of a large number of people making the jump to traditional video games and us seeing the industry expanding. The traditional games industry and the motion control games industries are separate in many ways but I'm sure in time we'll see them both benefiting from each other.
Moderator
Posted by Aetheldod
@Gamer_152:  Sorry :P , what I meant that I do not need to see commercials ads, etc. to know about videogames , and practicly   most gamers dont need to , and the casuals only see what the store has , they dont care if theres this or that game being made announced  , they just buy what they see "in store" .... but still we need to pay for all the costs that took the producers to advertise their games in 1 country ...
Posted by Gamer_152
@Aetheldod said:
" @Gamer_152:  Sorry :P , what I meant that I do not need to see commercials ads, etc. to know about videogames , and practicly   most gamers dont need to , and the casuals only see what the store has , they dont care if theres this or that game being made announced  , they just buy what they see "in store" .... but still we need to pay for all the costs that took the producers to advertise their games in 1 country ... "
Okay, I think I'm with you now. You're saying since the motion control "revolution" we've seen publishers pouring much more money into advertisements and raising game prices, claiming advertisements as the cause.
 
If we may back up a little I don't think it's the case that all traditional video game players have an idea of what's coming out; spending time in a place like Giant Bomb it's very easy to get that impression, but there are millions of people out there who play "core" games who aren't going to go on the internet every week and check what games are doing well and what aren't. Think about Call of Duty, it's a phenomenally well-selling game, but the average CoD fan is just someone who wants to sit back on their sofa and shoot guys for a few hours, they don't want to spend their time on forums, reading countless reviews, or checking out the latest video game articles. As for the "casuals" I believe ad campaigns have a massive effect on them; I don't think we'd even be seeing the new wave of consumers we are if it weren't for Nintendo's gargantuan Wii ad campaign or Microsoft's wide-spread Kinect campaign. On top of that we then have games like Wii Fit which have had massive ad campaigns and then gone on to sell extremely well. Beyond just informing people about products we also know that advertisements do have the power to get products into peoples heads and make them buy them, it's a well-documented psychological effect. I don't think the companies are stupid either, if console manufacturers and publishers are still putting out adverts it's because they know they work.
 
What I'm trying to say is that I believe is that advertisement is still a very large part of the video games industry and it has an effect on both casual and traditional consumers of video games. I don't believe that casual games publishers have been putting out a lot of advertisement, and that traditional games publishers have been jacking up the prices and using the casual advertisement costs as an excuse. Not only are we seeing more and more advertisement from both sides of the spectrum, but I think even without these advertisements we might still be seeing games around the same price they are now anyway. The Wii launched in the UK over a year after the Xbox 360, but we were still seeing Xbox 360 games being sold for a lot more than games of previous generations. Even for a considerable amount of time before it was obvious what effect motion control gaming had on the market, and before publishers could react to it, Xbox 360 games were still being sold for around £40 a pop.
 
Even if the publishers out there are using the rising advertisement costs as an excuse it's a poor one; most PS3 and 360 games may be going for £40+ in the UK right now but Wii games, the so -called behemoths of advertising still manage to stay at a £30-£35 price point. If the gap in prices is legitimately to do with development and manufacturing costs then it's more likely that the difference in figures is to do with larger development costs for typical 360 and PS3 games when compared to Wii games, and the fact that instead of using an optical disc system like the Wii has, 360 and PS3 games are printed on the more expensive DVD and Blu-Ray formats. Anyway, thoughts?
Moderator