You don’t know me!

Yea, I talk about Overwatch a lot. And, I’m going to again today.

I was thinking about the new hero announced, Orsia. Another robot added to the roster, for those of you who don’t play – the majority of the human’s were involved in a war against cybernetic beings called “The Omnic”. That’s all the backstory I’m going into (frankly, there isn’t much more). But they’ve done something, that I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it.

They engedered the robot. This is what she looks like:

orisa-1

Now, I don’t particularly care one way or another whether the voice is masculine or feminine sounding, but I find it particularly odd that they chose to give this bovine machine a gender.

Mostly because the contrasting robot is this:

bastion-gameplay

And all it’s capable is beeps and boops and wooos.

I’ll say this: I have nothing but the utmost respect for Blizzard and their goal for equalising the male/female character ratio and their dedication to diversity. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things about the characters. It’s not just a selection of stereotypical videogame character tropes. I mean, of course there is a bit of that, but I feel like it’s more of a subtle nod or satirical punchline rather than sticking to the “norm”.

But is the ideology so locked in that even the robots have to fall within those lines? Is gender politics too entrenched in the minds of the developers. The fear that someone would consider Bastion to be “male” and, by that action, tip the scales in a way that may offend? My concern is that because art is a liberal medium (generally) that it tends to be too apologetic, too concerned with political correctness that things have to be a certain way or else there will be a falling out with a certain demographic.

And gender in gaming has been a hot button topic for some time know. I’ve seen petitions and criticism over games like GTA not including female protagonists. I do agree that there needs to be better representation of gender/ethnicity/etc in gaming. Especially in the area of not making all females sex objects. That being said – I wonder when I see things like this because I feel like people are taking that too far.

Of course, as I stated at the beginning – I think Overwatch has done a wonderful job in terms of representation – and I think the culture of developers is moving in that direction. Games like Mass Effect allowing the end user to decide sexual proclivity of their characters is fantastic. So I hope that when making decisions in terms of building a character, that the concern isn’t to meet standards or expectations. However, to make the best possible character in terms of the vision.

In this case – it almost would have been cooler/more fitting to have the robot be a little more animalistic – and given Blizzard’s experience with WoW – something closer to a Tauren is exactly what I’m picturing. Especially since the canon has a brilliant African 11 year old as the creator of Orisa. I think that part of the story fits the game perfectly.

Then again, in some ways I prefer the fact that the robot has some personality. Even if it feels a bit shoehorned in. Mostly because the idea of another robot that just makes a bunch of beeping and whirring sounds would probably make me want to pound my head against the wall. So, maybe this is a good thing. I would take a gendered robot over a Bastion clone any day of the week. Nothing more annoying than his sounds.

Maybe I’m just reading into this too much. Maybe they really just didn’t want another bland character who is incapable of actual speech. Who knows? I’m just another gamer with too much time on his hands. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or you can tweet to me or post on the Facebook group.

– The Ego

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Cut me in half and count the rings

So I was online the other day, and I got invited into a chat party on my PS4 while I was playing Overwatch. These guys, who I’d never played with before, started talking to me and asking me questions. One of them was: “How old are you?”

To wit, I responded: “Old”.

Now, in context – it was true. Turned out I had nearly a decade on most of them, and an actual decade on one of them. But, in reality, I’m not that old. I’m currently (shudder) in my early thirties. But, in terms of the demographic, I guess I am old.

I later related this story to my wife, who guessed that they were quite a bit younger than me, and we got to talking about gaming as it relates to age. Which made me wonder – is there an age where people say “I’m too old for this”?

old-lady-gamer

True story: My grandmother is probably as old or older than this lady, and she still games on her NES/SNES. She’s a Donkey Kong Country boss. You need to know where a hidden banana coin is – she knows.

On point: I can’t say that there is a time in my life where I think I will no longer be interested in gaming. And thankfully, I failed 5/5 on this Cracked list of reasons you’re too old for gaming. So there’s that.

But the truth is – it’s pretty rare that I find myself playing with anyone older than me. In the last ten years, I can only think of two times where I was surprised to find out the age of someone I was playing with. One being a 70+ year old who was in my first WoW guild. And, strangely enough, the other guy was someone I regularly played Diablo 3 with. Maybe there is some corollary between Blizzard games and elderly gamers…But I digress.

The thing I find strange is this: to be an avid gamer is really a young man’s game. Mostly due to the kind of time requirements involved. Obviously, responsibilities and priorities change as we age. Significant others and kids, etc get in the way of the 10 hour/full weekend gaming binges we once knew. Though, I can also recall a couple I played WoW with who would parent while raiding high-level content. But, that may not be the best idea. The time constraints of life definitely factor out people after a certain age. I can even see this happening to me.

Simultaneously, though, having the kind of disposable income to keep oneself in games and new consoles is certainly the privilege of the otherwise employed. When I was a student, my gaming library was quite a bit more sparse. Thinking back to…2003/4 I certainly didn’t have much going on in the gaming department. I had my PS2, which I had gotten as a Christmas gift when I was still in high school, a Gamecube I got on sale for a whopping 99$ and maybe 10 games between the two of them before WoW came out. Then my gaming money went to the whopping 15$ monthly.

So, there must be a sweet spot somewhere in there for the ideal gaming age. But again, I digress.

Is there a time where we have to say “I’m too old for this”? I say no. Because I will always love games the same way I will always love movies. Do I foresee a point where I have to step back a little to focus on other things? Sadly, yes. But stepping back isn’t stepping away. Quitting gaming, for me, would be denying a part of my personality. It would be saying goodbye to something that makes me me. So, I won’t be doing that. Besides, giving up now would mean I would never get to use the Holodeck. Yes, that’s where I see things goes. And I won’t miss out.

What do you think? Will you ever throw in the towel? Are you already too old? Let me know below.

– The Ego

Just when I thought I was out…

What’s enough to bring you back to a game. And I don’t mean a franchise. I covered Second Chances on Monday. I mean, you’ve got a game, you probably bought it a year ago, but it’s being published by one of those good studios who keeps giving you content (for free no less). But it’s been sitting on your shelf for the better part of the last year. So what kind of content is enough to bring you back?

Take Diablo 3 for example. Now, Blizzard is renowned for constantly updating and providing new content for all of their franchises, and Diablo has been no different in this respect. Here we are nearly four and a half years later and they are still giving us the goods. Recently at Blizzcon, they announced a new playable character and a new mode.

r16bebzpj11r1478285467370

Yup, it’s the Necromancer from Diablo 2.

So is that enough? I know it’ll be enough for me to dust off the game. And frankly, if I’m willing to, I bet a lot of others will be too. I got the platinum for the regular release on PS3 and I got the platinum for the re-release on PS4. So suffice it to say, I’ve dropped hundreds of hours into the series already.

And it’s not like I don’t have other games to play. But I’m curious. Plus I feel like when companies go out of their way to provide free content and support after this long – I owe it to them to at least check it out. Plus the idea of playing the old Diablo on my flatscreen should be pretty cool. I wasn’t privy to the original Diablo games because I didn’t have a PC that could run any kind of games when I was growing up.

Rockstar and GTA V are another good example. Now, I have friends who play GTA Online and only GTA Online. Granted – it can be pretty fun. There’s a whole slew of things to do there. But after a while, I feel like greener pastures are calling. Playing the same sorts of missions against/with the same sorts of people gets dry and requires a break. But then they release major updates like Heists and Bikers. Again – for free.

With major updates to the game the likes of Bikers (giving you the ability to form a Motorcycle Club and buy and manage illicit businesses, run MC missions and purchase your own clubhouse) it’s a real game changer. And, again, something worthy of blowing off  the dust and popping the game in for another run.

Then again, there is also examples of games like Destiny. Where the running joke seems to be “People still play Destiny?”. They seem to be putting out a combination of free and paid updates to the game, and it seems to be a harder and harder draw towards maintaining and bringing back their player base. Though, that probably has more to do with the initial offering than the applicable content.

But is that enough? Is new content a good enough reason for you to come back or is playing the game while it’s new and fresh the only joy that can be derived from the medium? Especially in this trade and play culture that we have set up all around us. Once beaten, does it get dropped off for something new and shiny? What about when it’s not free? Are you likely to pick a game back up if it requires you dropping another 24.99$ to access the content and play with friends? Where is the limit as far as price goes?

You can sound off in the comments below, I always respond. You can also now find me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So please like, subscribe, follow, etc. Everything helps. And as always, if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered here, just let me know. The new plan is to release content on here every Monday and Friday. This will allow me consistency.

– The Ego

Batteries (not) included

I love, yes love, collector’s editions of games. I have belt buckles, masks, statues and stickers. I think I even have a Kingdom Hearts keychain batting around somewhere. For a very long time, I would pre-order and hunt for basically every special edition that I could get my hands on. The few I regret not getting: Splatterhouses’ mask, the Alduin statue from Skyrim, the bobblehead/lunchbox from the Fallout 3 set and most of all: the Borderlands 2 loot chest. I came pretty close to shelling out the cost on the set when I found one on kijiji. But I didn’t.

With that in mind – I find myself getting pickier and pickier about which sets I’m going to pick up. Part of it: It’s getting way too expensive to just pick it all up. I mean, when I was doing it in the hay day of collecting, the prices of collector’s editions were somewhere in the area of 90-120$. Now, they barely add anything worth picking up (in most cases) and the prices are sky-rocketing. And frankly, I think that they’d have a pretty hard time justifying the price tags.

Compare this:

To this:

Now, granted, the Borderlands set ran somewhere around the 200$ mark (at least in Canada), but something that was 1.5 or 2x the cost of the WoW set – you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck. I like Blizzard, and the packaging and digital stuff is cool. The only thing is: Aside from the digital, and the box, all you’re getting for your extra money is a mousepad and a soundtrack.

Another great example of something worth the money is the new Fallout Pip Boy edition. Look at this thing:

So, it’s a Pip Boy and box I can display. Check.
Amazing videogame collectable. Check.
It actually functions with a smartphone and app. Seriously?

At 160$ – this is a license to print money. It’s no wonder that it sold out within the hour of being posts on Bestbuy and Amazon.

Todd Howard put it best when he said: “As far as stupid gimmicks go, this is the best fucking one I’ve ever seen,”. I don’t envy the people on the buying end of the secondary market.

If this is going to be an on-going trend, other companies need to step up their game. Mousepads, stickers and dinky bobbles are the collector’s prizes of yesteryear. They are going to have to be economical, they are going to have to be something that doesn’t take up an obscene amount of space and they are going to have to be next-level fun. If they can manage that, and I definitely think it’s in the realm of possibility (Bethesda is proof in the pudding). I get that not every edition will come with something that actually functions. Statues aren’t bad. Alduin would look awesome on my shelf – as awesome as anything made of plastic can be. It has to be fantastic. I’ve always liked about half of the pack-ins for the Assassin’s Creed sets. But there are only so many statues of their protagonists that I can reasonably handle. Especially since they’ve all kind of been duds since Ezio…

I hope, going forward, that companies take what Bethesda is doing and step their game up. Assuming they’re going to continue the trend. And why not? People will buy them and the manufacturing of a plastic statue, mousepad, some digital content or a steelbook is a low cost with high margins.

I know this is just a fan mock-up, but look at this:

I dare you to tell me that sucks. I’m not even a huge Star Wars mark, and I would happily display a cool stormtrooper helmet on my shelf.

I’ve already gone way over my image budget, but this:

Yup. If this was an Xbone exclusive set, I’d buy the console for it.

Both helmets, and the rest of the plastic that I have, and will continue to buy, will all look great next to my portal gun. Whooosh.

– The Ego

A lesson learned

So, out of Gamescom, we got the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion: The Legion.

A bit of history:

Back in the good old days, A.K.A when I was at university and still in my early 20’s, a little game came out. Something that brought me a lot of excitement to read about and consider. WoW. Yes, unlike most WoW players, I was in my 20’s when it came out. Both myself and a good friend were included in the beta testing phase. Having been an avid Warcraft player throughout the years, but especially Wacraft 3 and the Frozen Throne expansion, seeing that universe, with the rich and deep lore, in a game where I could navigate freely was something special.

So I played through the beta, got the game at launch. I told myself I wouldn’t open it until I had finished all of my final papers for the semester – which was a bald-faced lie and I should have known better than to trust myself. I think I managed about two days of restraint. Granted, I still got my papers done, but I digress.

From vanilla WoW to the first expansion, I was in a pretty hardcore raiding guild. The guild broke up towards the end of Burning Crusade. At that point, I just quit because I didn’t want to play without my guild.

After that, I said I wouldn’t play again, because, as anyone who’s played will tell you, WoW is a time sink. Then I met my wife. We talked about how WoW used to take up basically all of my time. I mean, raiding was like a part time job. I think I was giving up at least 20 hours a week just to raiding, not to mention collecting mats for raiding, etc. But when we met, she was still at university, and I needed something I could play, but without making noise. In comes Wrath of the Lich King. I played through that, and gave up. Once again, I said I’d not go back.

What can I say: I’m a junkie. I saw Cataclysm, and joked that I wanted to go back. Much to her chagrin. Mists of Pandaria came, I said the same thing. But I didn’t.

Warlords of Draenor…Yea, I gave in and went back. It’s pretty appealing, too, since I don’t need to pay with real money any more. It’s been a pretty awesome expansion all in all. The graphics are much improved, the story and way of pushing the narrative is something unique – even to WoW.

Recently, I’ve given up playing it in favour of going back to my PS4. That and the consistent raiding of the same content, and the lack of real additions.

But here we are: Another new expansion.

I think Blizzard has given up on caring whether or not the subscriptions go up and go down. They know that people will come back and leave again. They know that as content lulls during the current expansion, that the people who complain and bail will come back.

I’m at the point where I’m basically done with the current content, and I don’t foresee myself doing a whole lot more before Legion releases. Unless they come up with something to pique my interest between now and (I presume) 2016. I know I’ll be coming back for this one. Monks were cool, and I enjoyed leveling mine as far as I got him (before I lost interest in the game on the whole). But playing as a Demon Hunter – fighting the good fight against the burning legion? Hell yea. I plan on bringing the hurt. I like the way Blizzard teases stuff. They don’t give away too much, but they whet the appetite by showing you some basic, but amazing looking stuff. I think that Blizard has come a long way from Vanilla, and they know how to bring players back.

Hopefully by then, I’ll have caught up a bit (lot) on my backlog.

– The Ego