30 Days: PvP or PvE

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

I think (all two three, there’s three now, of) you already know the answer from the featured image.

Oh, I suppose I could spin off some prose about the oppressive origins of labeling those who prefer Player vs. Environment as ‘carebears’.  I could definitely write a good thousand words about how this feeds into the patriarchy by enforcing the masculine stereotypes of a warrior culture, and degrades those who do not fully participate within that culture as being both less masculine; and therefore degrades femininity as being lesser and an object of scorn.  I could.  I could wax political about how the hyper-competitive nature of PvP, especially that in MMOs, lends itself to reinforcing gender stereotypes in a culture that’s already struggling to be more inclusive and less harmful towards women.  I could, I could.

Yeah, you know what, fuck it, let’s do this.

Let’s stare into the abyss and mind not what stares back.  Let’s discuss video game culture, especially that of an MMO (where this conflict comes into question the most, for varying reasons) and the division and denigration of players based on their gameplay preferences, and, how that culture is fed by and feeds back into gaming culture as a whole.  And yes, we’ll tie this into the patriarchy as well because goddamnit, I’m feeling like breathing smoke.

So.  Some terms.  PvE.  In most MMOs, the default state of play – you create a character, you either by yourself or cooperatively gain experience and sometimes items by defeating computer-controlled opponents, collectively, referred to as “mobs” (short for “self-mobile units” from old MUDs).  Usually a very controlled environment, the computer’s advantages are typically a higher threshold for taking damage and a higher capacity for dealing damage, tuned in a way that usually requires coordination and communication, or just overwhelming force to defeat.

PvP.  In many, but not all, MMOs, an alternate style of play that can either conflict or complement the base PvE game.  There are a few MMOs where PvP is more of the focus or the default state.  (A good, modern example of this would be Guild Wars 2, which is tuned around PvP balance with PvE adhering to PvP rules and not the other way around.  Players again can individually, or cooperatively, gain experience, currency or some form of advancement by defeating other players.  The challenge is that other humans are unpredictable and less constrained by AI, and are (in theory) equally matched in power.  In some games, the PvP and PvE experience are mutually exclusive, including EverQuest, where most of these terms, and the divide between them, originated.

The idea of PvE being a “lesser” version of gaming style in MMOs has strong roots than the pubescent male warrior state of mind.  In fact, in EverQuest while it was a “harder” way of playing, it was a poorly implemented and frustrating experience for those who “went red” (PvP players had red names to notate their status.  The default for names was blue, hence “bluebies”, a thinly veiled reference to “newbie”.)  This higher degree of difficulty wasn’t due to any additional requirement of skill, the switch to go red was simply an afterthought.  It was fairly easy to see that the frustration of playing as PvP character led to the need to denigrate those who did not.

The term “PK” or player killer, came from EverQuest’s predecessor, Ultima Online, a game, which, in full disclosure, I haven’t played. The model of the player killer was well cast when EverQuest came around, indicated in no small part by the name.  Misappropriation of the “gangsta” image and persona happened fairly rampantly, birthing the image of the overly masculine (but barely pubescent) male gamer content to “own” people at a sociopathic rate.

Where does this all tie together?  Let us then take a look at the phrase, “care bear” as it’s applied to PvE players.   Care bears, for those unfamiliar, are multi-colored anthropomorphic bears with various cheerful images on their bellies, like a smiling sun, or a heart or a rainbow.  They’re toys and cartoons marketed toward young girls and are renowned for their dealing with adversary by their “care bear stare”, in which rainbow colored beams shoot out of their bellies and I don’t know, rainbow you into happiness or something.  It’s fairly cloying and overly saccharin, and applied as a label towards people not interested in player vs. player combat, completely intended as a degrading label.

I think you can see where this all leads.  It’s the ultimate denigration that I’m concerned with here, so let’s jump a few paragraphs into the good stuff.  It’s one thing to be upset at others that want – and get – things you don’t, especially when a lot of MMOs will try to cater the experience to the broadest market.  For many MMOs, PvP considerations can be considered secondary, if at all. While nobody likes being treated as if their interests are secondary, consider the target market for video gamers – heterosexual males from teenage to early-mid adulthood (as best illustrated by the “straight male gamer” a few years back.)  This is a very privileged group – a group that is quite steeped in their own privilege especially in American patriarchal society.  And by the same story as linked above, that privileged group doesn’t like it when they are not catered to.

There is also the competitive nature of PvP versus the cooperative (or at least non-competitive) nature of PvE.  This is, I believe, the root of the term ‘care bear’, painting the PvE landscape as an overly saccharin cooperative paradise, with not a single competitive drive to be found.  Again, this language is that of hyper-masculinity, and lends itself towards degradation of those who don’t participate as unable – unable to compete, unable to handle the supposed ‘rigors’ of competition (as if there were some stake outside of virtual points), and so on.   Consider also the language of the victors in a PvP competition – gendered terms as insult, or just as often, sexuality terms as an insult.  (Author’s note: I really don’t need to spell these out here, do I?)  These terms are all either feminine or referencing homosexuality, which is often in homophobic constructs, a form of femininity as well.  Again, these are oppressive terms meant to degrade an individual, but reinforce culturally the idea that women, and femininity, is the lesser, is less able to compete and is something to be scorned.

So why use the term “care bear” in my post?  I honestly enjoy the term and embrace it.  Gaming culture is filled with colloquialisms and acronyms that often are nonsensical that are appropriated from many sources.  While there are some words and phrases that are beyond redemption (seriously, calling someone a ‘naga’ in World of Warcraft is not funny and incredibly oppressive,) there is certainly power in taking a word or phrase and owning it, embracing it and making it something that’s a positive.  Personally, I think my PvE tendencies are awesome – I could camp a spawn like a BOSS back in the day, and my role play?  Mmmmm chiilllld…

Plus there’s not a damn thing wrong with rainbow lasers.  So there.

30 Days: Least Favorite Gameplay Mechanic

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

Can I choose a whole genre here?

I had originally planned this to be about mandatory mini-games, especially that of Final Fantasy X, from which my hatred stems.  To name my pain is to say “Blitzball” which I felt the introduction to as a side game was poorly timed within the narrative.  But, that’s not my final answer.  No, today we’re going to be discussing First-Person Shooters.

Like any socially awkward and sexually repressed teenager, I embraced Wolfenstein and Doom with a passion for carnage and the primal thrill of shooting demons and Nazis until they were dead, dead, dead.  But the genre never really got its hooks into me, and by the time Half-Life came around, I was rating FPS games a solid “Meh”.  However, around the time when Ernest & Allen was discovering that we could, in fact, get paid to play video games, Unreal came out.  I too joined the fragfest until one day, I started to have a new feeling towards the game.


I don’t know what it was.  The buzzing of flies over freshly splattered corpses?  The way blood & entrails streamed in every direction after seeing someone (or yourself) take a direct hit from a grenade?  Or perhaps the way someone’s head… okay, I can’t complete this paragraph.  Let’s try again.

I know exactly what caused it.  Call it a weak stomach, or that I’m just a sissy, or not a “real man” (I literally cannot roll my eyes hard enough at that phrase) or maybe just acute motion sickness, something about that game just caused me to beg out after a few minutes of play.  About that time, I would load up EverQuest or Starcraft and be content to play a less volatile gameplay experience.  This was further exasperated when I went over a friend’s house years later to play the otherwise excellent Jedi Knight II, which apparently affected quite a number of people.  I still get queasy thinking about it – I lasted about five minutes and had to go lay down and close my eyes.

It is a shame – there are a lot of great first-person shooter games out there, but just the thought of them makes my head feel light and my stomach to churn.

I need to go lie down for a bit.

30 Days: Favorite Protagonist

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
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We’ve given the bad guys their day, let’s talk about our heroes.  For as much as I lauded the role of villains in video games, its the heroes that we adore and remember and sometimes want to be like.  And what a bevy to choose from – video games have given us some of our most iconic heroes through the years: LinkMarioSonicCommander Sheppard, Master Chief, Gordon Freeman, Samus Aran, Guybrush Threepwood, Mega Man… oh, the list goes on and on.  But as I said, the best protagonists have the best antagonists, so there can be no other answer than Tassadar, Executor of the Protoss.

It’s odd to me that I should choose Tassadar over so many of the other fine examples above.  It’s equally stunning, I’m sure, to my readers (all two of you) that Link isn’t the go-to choice here.  But the issue with the Zelda games is that Link is, for the most part, a shell for the player.  TFG answered “me” for this entry, and I think that’s a great answer – many RPGs will present to you the skills, the abilities, the tao of the character, but it’s up to you to decide the personality.  Even the excellently written & voice acted Commander Sheppard bears some resemblance to the player’s own view of morality, though Sheppard is probably a close second or third in this category.

Tassadar wins out for me because the player never shapes his outlook, never changes his destiny, and is ultimately driven by the executor towards Starcraft’s ending, setting a rich world for Brood Wars and Starcraft 2 where perhaps the finest example of nobility in the universe hangs ever-present as a backdrop to the dirty dealings of Terran, Protoss and Zerg alike.  Within a few playthroughs of the Brood War campaign, the constant “En Taro Tassadar” became to ring a little hollow to me – at first I thought I was just annoyed at the self-reference, but I realized that the Protoss were no more noble than their enemies and without Tassadar to serve as their conscience, they too would fall in line with the corrupt Terrans and insane Queen of Blades.

That’s another reason why I liked Tassadar as a protagonist over Jim Raynor.  Raynor’s a great character, a timeless archetype of tough guy/loner with the heartbreak turned enemy in Kerrigan.  However, I liked that Tassadar and Kerrigan never had a personal relationship, and that Tassadar’s triumph really had nothing to do with Kerrigan.  If anything, his act of sacrifice helped propel Kerrigan into her role as the “Queen of Blades” – but stopping Kerrigan wasn’t Tassadar’s role.  In relation to each other, Starcraft’s protagonist and antagonist were on disparate arcs, only coming within contact as diametrically opposed forces.

Starcraft would have had a terrible ending if Raynor was the one pulling the sacrifice move – trying to pull too many heartstrings at once.  Raynor’s broken heart is just another force in the world, not the focus.  The story of Starcraft, the war, the fight for control of the galaxy, these are concepts too big to be ruled by a guy like Raynor; his effect on the world is supplemental.  However, his heartbreak does cause ripples within the world they’ve built, and Tassadar’s sacrifice & Kerrigan’s ascension just add to his continued suffering, allowing him to effect the world without making the story about Jim Raynor.  That’s good story telling there, and probably Blizzard’s best writing.

30 Days: Favorite Antagonist

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

Oh we do love our bad guys.  The best bad guys make the best games, it’s really that simple.  While a good antagonist isn’t all you need to make a great game, a well-written villain can make a game memorable, tense, fill you with dread as you play, and then, relief and joy when you, along with your protagonist, throw down your enemy and smote his ruins on the mountaintop.

Sorry, I was getting a little dramatic there (not me!)  Let’s delve into what makes a, uh, good bad guy.

It’s a funny thing that so many games delve into the realm of good & evil.  Most bad guys are evil, but a handful of games have got it really right – the best bad guy isn’t an insane evildoer with no reason to cause a ruckus (see: Diablo, or Wart getting all up in Mario’s dreams – omg spoiler!) but rather has a drive that the gamer can identify with.  I would say that the best bad guys are NOT evil, per se, but pushed to their limits, or just opposed to the protagonist.  The antagonist is the reason for the game, after all – it’s why your protagonist has their panties all up in a bunch to go save the world, after all.

Or… is that true?  Sometimes the best antagonist is not the primary enemy, but rather the thorn in your side, the stinging pest with their own agenda that sometimes aligns with, and oft contends with your protagonist.  Sometimes that pest is incredibly powerful but you just can’t do anything about it at the moment, focusing on the greater challenge or direct threat.

Sometimes the best bad guy really is bat-shit insane.  But that great kind of insane that endears you as you just have to admire the perfection of it all, the pure beauty of their deadly plan, their grace in destruction, their plans within plans.

That’s quite the list, no?  Well I think there’s one antagonist that meets those requirements.  Her name is Sarah Kerrigan, The Queen of Blades.

Over at TFG’s site (who answered the same), I suggested that Saren Arterius, the primary antagonist of Mass Effect, was my favorite antagonist.  In Saren, you had somewhat of a sympathetic villain, a rogue agent that had touched the veil and made somewhat of a Faustian pact in order to save the galaxy.  Saren was pretty hardcore, a prototype that Commander Sheppard wouldn’t deviate too far from (especially the renegade version,) but with a coldness that was pretty brutal to behold.  Saren ended up being a pawn of the galaxial reset-button known as the Reapers, and after Mass Effect, a footnote in the series.  After giving it more thought, Kerrigan is the clear winner, and one of the all-time great video game bad guys.


30 Days: Best Cut Scenes

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

In a previous post, I had detailed out one of my favorite moments of video gaming, during Ocarina of Time, when a young pre-teen Link first encounters Ganon face-to-face and rashly challenges him with a wooden shield and a hand-me-down sword.  Ocarina was a hallmark game for Nintendo, and the use of then state-of-the-art Nintendo 64’s graphics engine was best shown in that scene, where a resolute Link is able to express emotion & thought for the first time, and the game’s tone is set on a more serious note for its duration.

But, it’s not the best.  Ocarina of Time might have been the best video game ever made, and its cut scenes are incredibly well done, but no game has ever got the narrative power of the cut scene better than those of the Final Fantasy series.

Choosing one out of that series is tough – technology and growth being what they are, the quality of the games steadily improved over the years.  Final Fantasy VII was a huge step forward from its predecessors but now the limitations of the platform are pretty apparent.  Final Fantasy 8 is incredibly well done as well, being that first step into the quality that one expects now from Square Enix.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Final Fantasy X, but that might not be due to the game, but who I had played the game with.  It might also be due to crashing a wedding by sliding down anchor chains from an airship.  Either way, Final Fantasy X is my answer.


30 Days: Favorite Character Class

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
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Oh I’ve been waiting for this one.  Like a fine wine, I want to savor this, because there are so many enjoyable choices that stand out in my mind.  The whole concept of RPG class is amazing to me – an archetype refined via thematic flavor, limited by the constraints of the system, game balance and said thematics that produces, hopefully, a unique team role that inspires the imagination while providing a rewarding game experience through unique efficiencies and weakness.  Of course, the key word in that previous sentence is “hopefully” – in many RPGs there have been classes that just have not fit the bill: D&D 3.5’s Fighter is a prime example – generic, uninspired, and ultimately passed over by every other class in the game.  But we’re not here to dwell on the failures.  No, we want the classes par excellence – at least those in the opinion of this particular author.

Which are those?  Well they are…

BARD (EverQuest)

EQ’s ‘jack of all trades’ class, the Bard specialized in not having a specialty. EQ Bards could replicate nearly every spell effect in the game, though often to a lesser degree and always for a shortened duration.  Bards could weave any combination of 4-5 “songs” together to create a constant set of buffs tailored to the situation, or, create a completely different effect at a moment’s notice in response to a changing situation.  Unlike other spell casters in EQ, Bards did not have a resource to manage for most of their songs, only time.  The limit on a Bard’s power is that their effects would only last a few seconds, creating the need to ‘twist’ several effects to achieve constant effect.  A good bard had to know which effects to drop in order to provide a new ability to a changing fight.



SHAMAN (World of Warcraft)

WOW’s original utility hybrid, the Shaman was a unique unit to the Horde until The Burning Crusade introduced Draenai shaman to the Alliance.  The Shaman has undergone several design changes throughout WOW’s life, but the underpinnings of the class have remained the same; the Shaman is an offensive hybrid with area-affecting buffs in the form of ‘totems’.  Totems could also heal others, deal damage, or provide utility such as snaring enemies or curing allies.  While the Shaman ultimately had to specialize in either hand-to-hand combat, ranged combat or healing, specialization did not lock out other functions,unlike the Druid, whose specialization came with a form change that would lock out other abilities.  The Shaman had unbridled freedom in ability but was limited by specialization, making their unspecialized functions ineffective.  A good Shaman was always situationally aware, and ready to drop the right totem for the right situation.


DEFENDER (City of Heroes)

Mislabeled the “healer” for all of its career, the Defender is one of the most misunderstood classes in any MMO.  The Defender was never just a “healer”, the Defender was a force multiplier.   The Defender was an archetype that offered a variety of playstyles based on the powersets you chose for your character.  Only a few powersets offered direct healing ability, but all of the powersets offered differing ways to tilt the odds in favor of their allies, and against their enemies.  For example, the Empathy defender, considered the game’s only “healer” focused on providing superior buffs, and yes, direct restoration.  The Kinetics defender did much the same, providing buffs and heals, but did so by draining enemies, and focused on speed.  Darkness defenders would debilitate enemies much like Kinetics, but focused on making their enemies less accurate and do less damage.  A good defender didn’t try to shoehorn themselves into the ‘whack-a-mole’ healer role, but rather always looked for ways to tilt the board.


One might notice a common theme in my favorite classes: versatility.  This is a no-brainer for me when picking a class in a new game – can I tailor my gameplay to the situation on the fly?  Can I adapt?  And most importantly, can I be rewarded for quick thinking, for being forced to use all the tools in my box?  My least favorite classes are the single-minded classes, aka, the 3.5 Fighter.  You might also notice that all three are in some measure, support classes – this is also a major gameplay draw for me, can I make my friends the best they can be?

So which of these three are the best?  Well you know how we do around here, we’re just going to have to break this down…. Dr. Jack style.



Jumping right into it, then, let’s see what tickles the versatile bone the most.  The defender jumps to an early lead here, by virtue that it was like, 8 different classes (much more when you consider the combinations of primary/secondary, which did make a difference).  On its own, though, COH had a pretty limited number of abilities available for each powerset, so your very first choice was definitely limiting.  Some powersets had a bit more utility than others – Darkness and Radiation both had some pretty nifty tricks but nothing on the aptly named Trick Arrow.

Still, at the end of the day, the Bard is the clear winner here.  Being able to replicate nearly every spell effect in the game made the Bard nearly overpowered in some senses, and certainly the group member everyone wanted for that final slot.  While everyone could do something better than the Bard, nobody did as much and nobody did it with as much style.

Winner: BARD


Ease of Play

Let’s throw the scent off here – playing a bard was TOUGH!  Before the introduction of the /melody command (kids these days…) a Bard had to “twist” 4-5 songs by starting one up, letting it pulse once, stopping it and immediately starting another, and repeat.  This led to the joke that Bard was the “carpal-tunnel” class, and it wasn’t too inaccurate.  However, you could tell a good bard when they’re twisting three songs and keeping two mobs mezzed, and being able to take a few pokes at the current target.  It took timing, almost musically, which just felt right.  Still, not easy.

Now Shaman, there’s a winner right there.  Early Shaman just had to hit Frost Shock every 4 seconds and instantl… okay, okay.  Frost Shock was an over-abused and over-powered ability that would do considerable damage and prevent something from running away.  Further redesigns to the class would introduce more complex rotations and choices to the class for offense and make it a much more interesting class to play.

Defenders, again, had a limited powerset but the complexity and nuances of COH’s system of ‘gear’ (enhancements) made the base game somewhat daunting to pick up.  Not to mention, to an early player of the game, the lack of ability to solo early on as a Defender is rough.

Winner: SHAMAN



Where the Defender did shine was in the area of support, which is a good thing since that was the primary focus of the class.  However, support in other MMOs traditionally means some “boring ass buffs and reduced dps”.  But the COH Defender made supporting a team a rewarding and interesting task, more so than any other class that I’ve ever played.   What was more enjoyable were the different ways each powerset could deliver this goal.  For example;

Empathy: The traditional “healer” was more of an uber buffer, making their teammates better versions of themselves.  Enhanced regen of stamina & health led to less downtime, more in-combat longevity, more damage and more control.

Radiation: Buffed teammates to be able to use their powers faster (the insanely wonderful Accelerate Metabolism) and weakened enemies to be slower and take more damage.

Darkness: Radiation’s cousin, blinded enemies, snared them in inky blackness and increased the damage done to enemies.  Darkness could actually ‘tank’ by reducing enemies and keeping them afraid and snared.

Storm: Introduced “controlled chaos” to the battlefield by herding enemies around with a personal hurricane & gusts of wind, not letting enemies get many attacks off.

And that’s just four subsets.



Defensive Longevity

Wait, what’s going on here?  What’s that music?  Who’s that heavily armored red haired woman coming down the walkway with the oversized weapon?  Why is everyone naked?  THIS IS PANDEMONIUM …

“Oooooh, I’m the greatest.  I’m the greatest of all time.  I’m bad, I’m the baddest Paladin ever.  I’m a baaaaaaaad ma… wooooman.  Oh yeah.  I bubble like a butterfly, hearth like a bee.  Better watch out for Jest Lightbring… er, ee.”

Okay, okay, I get it already, Jest.  I left one class out of the favorites discussion, World of Warcraft’s PaladinAND EVERY DEFENSIVE SELF-HEALING CLASS EVER.  It’s my go-to class option when the hybrid option isn’t to my liking (read: shapeshifting druid where you can’t see your fancy new loot.)  And I played a lot of WOW’s Paladin, far more than I did my Shaman (but don’t tell Jest, I liked the Shaman better.)  Still, when it came to outlasting the competition, nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, outlasted WOW’s Paladin.  The early version with two bubbles (aka, total immunity) and an instant full heal, and built-in full powered healing ability, the Paladin was the king (or Queen, yesssth) of being able to soak up oodles of damage while not really being able to do much herself.  Basically, the Paladin is the turn-off-your-brain, alt-tab in the middle of the fight and watch porn class.  Jest liked that, the pervert she was.

Winner: god, okay, fine.  PALADIN (“Woot!”)



Let’s not pretend that it’s all X’s and O’s here, kids.  A huge part of a class is the aesthetics, the theme, the lore-based definition that transforms the stale “force multiplying buffer/de-buffer” into “the Kinetics Defender is a master of physics, bending Newton’s rules to his whims.  Foes of Paragon City aren’t wrong or right when they stop a step short of engaging a team with a Kinetics Defender, the Defender just took that step from them.”  And maybe it’s three years of addiction rising here, but no class did it better than EQ’s Bard.  The Bard was a rockstar, a diva, the Bard was capable of heroics that the other classes really couldn’t muster.  Oh sure, the rogue just got an insane crit backstab, and the cleric can full heal the warrior with clock-like precision, but the Bard was the class that stepped up with just a flute in hand said, “Don’t worry, I got this.”

The music-based focus of the Bard was ever-present, too, and none better than in the class-specific epic weapon, the Singing Short Sword.  The particle effect of music notes coming off the blade made for a great aesthetic, not to mention EQ’s limited animation meant that the Bard would strum his or her sword like a guitar.  (Okay, that sentence seems really naughty.)

Perhaps what really tied into the rockstar theme of Bards were their particle effects for their songs, most specifically the song that made them and their party invisible.  There were a few, but the best of them all also made the entire party levitate and run really fast.  Selo’s Song of Travel, it was by far the best way to travel overland.  While the game would make you completely invisible, it would not hide the spell effect, which would happen every three seconds.  So instead of being invisible, you would be a bunch of sparkles popping up out of nowhere.  Turning off the song and cancelling the effect right as you would glow was the best entrance ever.  David Bowie couldn’t be more sparkly.

What’s more rockstar than that?


30 Days: Game Played Over 100 Hours

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

Uh… only one?

Well, I’ve already talked to death Civilization.  I just got done with rehashing the first step of my recovery from EverQuest addiction.  However, neither of those compare to what’s taken up most of my time.  Civilization is just tourism.  EverQuest?  A gateway drug.

No, we must battle the beast that should need not be named.  Let’s talk about World of Warcraft.

WOW, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, is the spiritual successor to EverQuest, but has surpassed the earlier game so much so that it has transcended it’s predecessor.  The same is true of my play time for the game, though, to the everlasting relief of my soul (not to mention my wife,) the game never took me like EverQuest did.  World of Warcraft was always a game I played a lot of, not a lifestyle like EQ was.  A good part of that comes from the gameplay elements that WOW improved upon from EQ; the much relaxed death penalty, the quest/objective driven structure of leveling, and most of all – INSTANCES.  Instanced dungeons, while not first introduced in WOW (I think Anarchy Online was the first MMO to do instances, but I could be wrong.  AO was certainly my first exposure to them) were certainly perfected in WOW and became a fixture (for better or worse) once the Dungeon Finder match-making service came around.  WOW was a much more casual game, a game where you could be rewarded for logging in an hour at a time – EverQuest, an hour was barely enough time to get a group & a camp.  That reward system made WOW much more enjoyable to play, and of course, I spend much more time playing it.

When I was playing EQ, though, I was at a point in my life where, well, maybe I needed drama.  And the Fourth Wall never failed to provide it.  (Our unofficial guild motto: “Fourth Wall: We Know Drama”.)  The drama, perhaps, was more addicting than the game.  But by the time WOW had come around, I had shaken myself out of the funk that lay on top of my EQ years – I was in a better head space and no longer needed that drama.  While I was embroiled early on with a guild that seemed to enjoy it, it didn’t take long to shed that and play with TFG and our circle of real-life friends.  My wife eventually got into the game, and by the time Wrath of the Lich King came around, we had a solid group of friends that spend our Saturday nights together on Ventrillo, some of us separated by hundreds of miles, playing the game together; having fun.

It was, easily, the best time I’ve ever had playing video games.

We’ve mostly all moved on, and the game has since lost a lot of luster for me, having fallen into the “been there, done that” category.  I look back on WOW with no regrets and no ill-will, unlike EQ which mars my life with the ugly stain of addiction.  I’m happy to have spent that time playing WOW – I don’t consider it a loss in any sense of the word – it was ever entertaining, and almost always fun.

Isn’t that what games are supposed to be about?

30 Days: Gaming System of Choice

This is one of a series called “30 Days of Video Games“, an exercise on daily writing.
Follow the link for the full list.

While I’ve had platforms of all shapes and sizes, I gladly go back to the PC – or, to put it in the parlance of our times, PC Gaming 4 Lyfe.

There’s not much to add.  The flexibility to mod games (Skyrim, I’m looking at YOU), the more familiar controls of a keyboard and mouse, and the wealth of titles and their bug fixes tip the scales in favor of a desktop computer.  I say PC, but I mean it in the most generic sense.  My home computer is a Mac Book Pro, running both OS X and Windows, and has been doing so admirably.  Let’s face it, with all my talk about RPGs, MMOs and Civilization, how could I go any other route?



Oh, uh, hey, sorry Link.  Nintendo’s pretty boss too.