Are clans the answer to online gamer's attitudes?

Talking about Halo 2 the other day got me thinking about a common complaint when Halo 3 released: No clan support. I'm sure everyone remembers LAN games through their college dorm network and system-link games at a friend's house with Halo:CE. But when Halo 2 came out everything changed. We could use the internet to link up with strangers, we could play games with max players anytime we wanted. It was glorious for just a few weeks and then the floor fell out from under it. Everyone was an angry, vitriolic, sadist without social constraints. I found myself, like many I'm sure, debating if I could stand playing any longer in this hateful environment. Then I met a really nice guy who introduced me to a really nice group of guys and girls called "The Clan of Bobs." They were a social clan that had a place for me and treated me like family. Then, suddenly, I had hundreds of clanmates on at all times to play with and they were polite and helpful and wanted to play games for fun. To this day, I am still friends with my clanmates from the Bobs and my future competitive clan "The Winged Warriors." And I still find it difficult to make friends with other strangers on XBOX Live because they are so impolite and aggressive.

The greatest tool XBL ever gave us for making and keeping these friends was our clan name and clan status. Without it we had no sense of who we were. When Halo 3 was released without clan support every great community I saw around me began to crumble. What was once a badge of respect, intimidation, or allegiance was no ripped from our chest and thrown in the trash. We could no longer challenge someone or recruit someone to an idea and a mentality, we were just recruiting to ourselves. And alone, we are all the same evil broken people that we see in the public.

Did killing clans in Halo make this less of a community and therefore less important? Do you care about a game longer if you have a clan? How do you make friends online? Are you still friends with old clanmates?

When a deep game asks you to go deeper, what do you say?

It's Thursday, I remember in college this was the night everyone got drunk because the weekend had started for them. Now I just ignore NBC comedies because I will end up watching them on DVD. I am still playing Mortal Kombat (2011) and can't help but feel that moment creeping up on me where I put down the controller and may never pick it back up again. I am at the fork in the road where I must delve in deep and become decent at the game or scratch any last superficial itches and move on. Games with levels of depth always make me answer that question. Will I learn build orders for Starcraft II or will I just watch the GSL? Will I practice and memorize combos and compete online in MK9 or will I finish the challenge tower and move on to Brink? The last game I committed a good portion of time to was Halo 2. I was in a competitive clan, wrote strategy articles, memorized spawn locations.

Do you have to extract every last morsel out of every deep game you play? What is the last game you found interesting enough to make it worth the effort?

Do cheap moments mean bad game design?

These blogs are all short, I don't want to read 2,000 words from a random stranger so I don't expect you to. Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat (2011) is cheap. I know this, you know this, but for some reason my wife didn't know this. So, last night I lay there trying to explain to her what a cheap moment was and why it was so annoying. I said, "Cheap is when you spend a whole game being told 'this is the way you play this game' and then you are presented with a situation where those rules no longer apply." And then she dropped the perceptive bombshell, "Yeah, that's just lazy and uncreative." As our scar-faced gangster, Omar says, "Oh, indeed."

What do you all think? Is this lazy and uncreative or is it simply an old-school necessity that I do not yet understand.

"That Most Limited Of Specialists"

A well-rounded gamer is what I am. I, in fits of rage or boredom, will switch between genres from time to time. But in the end, every genre is still one that holds interest for me. I think the best thing we can do with our gaming time is fully involve ourselves in every moment of a new game, but always always leave the game as soon as it starts to bother you. Why become an expert at something you do not enjoy? Why give up what little time we have to delve deeper into a mediocre experience? There will always be something as fun coming around the corner and you can count on it satisfying you just as much.

So, I implore you, gather up the scraps of your discipline and self-respect. Take out that disc. Find another game.
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