Virtual Versus Reality…

There were two topics that I went back and forth on while choosing to write my final paper. Since writing two final papers wasn’t in my agenda, I decided to blog about the second one. 

Something that I thought a lot about towards the end of my World of Warcraft experience, was the idea that people actually spend hours and hours of their time, and spend their money, playing this game. I mean, some of the dudes who joined up with some of us in the dungeons got unnecessarily aggressive with me and others playing for the class. I remember that there was one dungeon where, at one point, a player not in the class guild started “shouting” at me because my wolf’s growl was turned on. I had no idea that the player was even talking to me, let alone what he was getting all huffy about, so I ignored him for awhile and he got progressively more angry. 

I couldn’t help but think that only someone who had invested so much time, effort, and energy into playing WoW, could possibly get that upset over something that, to me, seemed so trivial. This specific experience brought my thoughts to a book that I read for another class last year by Jane McGonigal titled “Reality is Broken”. The first section of the book is called “Why Games Make Us Happy” and discusses why McGonigal believes people spend so much time hiding behind virtual worlds. She argues that people enjoy video games because they don’t like the actual realities in which they live. I think that this idea makes perfect sense in the context of WoW, because the entire game is a completely crafted world that the player interacts with. The player can choose to be whatever profession they want, can interact with and have relationships with whoever they want, and can kill bad guys at their leisure. The monetary system in the game is a bargain system, so money becomes less relevant and less of an actual stress.

The player has the option to do essentially whatever they want while playing the game, and because you can’t ever really die in WoW, there aren’t any consequences for their actions. WoW really seems like the perfect escape to an alternate reality where the actual problems of reality are temporarily dissolved. 

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Playing Videogames in class

As I was deciding what to write for my final paper, I had many different ideas.  Not all of them coalesced together, so I decided to make blog posts our of the other ideas that I had.  I had never heard of the term gamification before this class, or had been exposed to playing games such as world of warcraft to such an extent in class as we did.  One of the things that I think I greatly benefitted from playing WoW in class was the social interaction.  I had not really spoken to many people in class, or really Brad for that matter.  Playing WoW online with all of the people from class I believe helped me open up more.  I found it easier to communicate with other people in class as I already sort of formed some sort of bond through playing online for hours with everyone.  I also found it easier speaking with Brad.  Playing the game online helped bridge the gap between student and teacher I feel.  Being able to communicate online helped make less intimidating to speak with Brad inside or outside of class.

I also feel that it was almost like a team building exercise.  There were many people who had never played the game before, myself included.  There were also those who had played before or were significantly more experienced.  I found it refreshing to see everyone working together to help one another level up and complete the goals for class.  This came into play especially once we began running dungeons together.  Many of us stayed up into the wee hours of the night battling together to try and reach the specified level before class the next morning.  Although I am now done with school, atleast for the interim, I wish that I had more classes where games or a similar structure would have been composed to aid in the learning process.  This was definitely one of the more enjoyable class projects or tasks that I encountered while in college.

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Gamifying Molecular Biology

This is related to my paper, and I thought some of you might find it interesting.

https://fold.it/portal/

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The Prophet Bogost Was Right in the Wrong Way

The franchise that breathed life into my love for computer games has stabbed me along with fellow gamers in the back.  The Age of Empire’s series has always been award winning franchise. Age of Empire’s 2 put them on the map and Age of Empire’s 3 was on the forefront of modern strategy games. These games were massively competitive and hours were put into it to make your avatar stand out on the leader boards.

Things started to go bad when they made Age of Empires online. It was a toony version of the series that was marketed towards players who still actively kept up on club penguin.  I was  still loyal to the franchise and knew they would get back on track when they would start creation of Age of Empires 4, then dynasty would be restored and Age of Empires Online would only be remembered as the ugly step-child. This did not happen.

Three days ago the developers of the series announced Age of Empires: World Domination. This game would not be available on the computer but rather only on mobile devices. The game play looks shallow and simple. It will most definitely be able to attract a wider audience but players who are familiar with the series will mostly likely feel betrayed.  I would not mind it if they made areal sequel and added the mobile game as a bonus.

Bogost made sense when he said gamers were going extinct but it is a shame that it is happening like this. I thought the term gamer would disappear as more people became active participants in the hobby. When prominent games become nothing more than one-click time wasters they lose their meaning. As far as I’m concerned Age of Empires is officially deceased.

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Bikers in Azeroth

So apparently this is a thing.  I know we spent a good amount of time in class today discussing how video games are not limited to adolescent males, but I’m not exactly sure what audience this marketing attempt is for.  Enjoy the video.  

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Slash Commands in WoW

For the longest time I thought character actions/emotes in WoW were some hidden function that only pros knew about, because it definitely wasn’t something that anyone in WoW explicitly trained us on. I am a very expressive person and frequently use emojis and emoticons in text messages, Facebook posts, and tweets, so I was pretty upset thinking that this function was limited to a particular group of players. It is not.

Noobs, lo and behold an enormous list of all possible emotes that you can make your character act out just by typing a few simple characters into your chat box:

commands

All slash commands can be found at the following link:
http://www.wowwiki.com/Slash_commands

I’m probably really late to this, but oh well.

Enjoy! :)

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Three, Two, One, Jump

On Tuesday, we ran out of time before discussing “A Note on Death and Dying,” which I had been eager to discuss at the time.  Between then and now, I found an interesting game that handles death in a completely different way: Asphyx politely asks that you, the player, hold your breath when you go underwater in the game as you continue down some cave you’ve entered.

The game takes no more than ten minutes to play.  I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I urge that you play it first.

Completely opposite to World of Warcraft (and almost every other video game I can think of), this game’s death mechanic is entirely dependant on the player’s honesty.  The game does not know nor care if you are David Blaine, and doesn’t chide you after an hour passes and you are still underwater, as you may have actually died (respect for the dead and all).  There is nothing stopping you from breathing underwater, but this takes away from the sheer panic induced upon you toward the end of the game.  And the end, how it paints life as so frail and unfair when you are dumped in a pool several screens deep, no end in sight besides the escape button, it’s just absolutely beautiful and terrifying all at once.

Death is also “the point” of the game, directly opposed to WoW‘s mild setback of death.  The latter is simply protocol, prodding that you should change your tactics for next time for a more successful outcome.  With Asphyx, there is only one death (two if the player does not continue to breathe after passing out), much like a rougelike, but even without the emergent storytelling present in most rougelikes, it doesn’t squander the emotional impact of the death.

[P]layers are more emotionally affected by those forms of
natural death that are closest to a death one could imagine happening in real life. I personally hate drowning….

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