Procrastinating fool

Okay okay, I’m a procrastinating fool. It’s Friday though, so I think I’m allowed… or something. Blah. I think I’m just going to finish the article & send it in tonight, rather than keeping trying to get it done now. My mind just isn’t on it, I think it’s this headache.

But I got paid today (yay!) so I can buy myself some lunch… it’s really nice out, summer weather, so I guess we’re skipping spring this year. There’s already that city-haze going on (alright, I’ll call it what it is… smog.) I still want to live here though… just in a different apartment. Not up to that topic yet though, it requires more effort than I have today.

Random thoughts

fneu. Still got that headache. Probably food related, but hey, whatever. Anyhow. Still working on the article (on breaks & stuff at work) but I think it’s starting to work right. Nothing interesting is happening now. I wore a dress today, haven’t done that since last September or so.

I don’t do mornings…

I can’t get my eyes to open properly. I’ve been trying to wake up since about 5am, but it’s just not working out. So much for getting up early to work on the writing thing. When I try to, I seem to get this nasty evil headache and don’t want to move, so I just go sit on the couch for a bit, then pass out again. Bleah, I’ll keep trying to wake up, I guess. Can’t focus on anything, & my head hurts. I hate the morning.

Just an update

Still trying to write that article… I’m about 3 sentences farther into it. I think I’ll go sit across the room for a bit and just remove myself from my monitor. Hungry, too, but we’re out of food until tomorrow sometime. I hate the beginning of the month.

Gaming and writing

Clan match is still going, but I left early – the other team had some people who had to go, so the teams were uneven. I played pretty well though. I took a screenie of it to put up on our clan website… I played well for me, but I’m nowhere near as good as my boyfriend Jay or most of the rest of my clan. I have fun though, so it doesn’t matter too much most of the time… except when I get in that “I suck and wish I was actually good at this game, damnit!” kind of mood.

Anyhow, I’m now trying to work on my article. It has to be done by tomorrow morning sometime, so I can send it out in the early afternoon. At least I’ve got an idea this week, last week I was up til 3am on thursday night before I even figured out what to write about (and that article got me mention on Slashdot!! I felt like such a geek! It was great!)

In other news. I want to move. Very very much. However, I’ll rant about that on another day, because I should be working on my article and not rambling here.

Counter-strike politics are irritating

Thinking about working on my article… haven’t had the ambition to do so, lately. *shrug* I never have the ambition to do it until I actually start doing it. I guess that’s a telling point.

I’m getting close to my self-imposed deadline though… I seem to work best with a deadline of some kind. fneu.

Drinking some Mountain Dew. I learned just over a year ago that american mountain dew has caffiene in it… but Canadian doesn’t. No clear pops in canada have caffiene in them. I guess there’s some law somewhere that forbids it… works for me, though, since caffiene in any form besides Tea gives me a nasty headache and makes me freaky-hyper for about 3 hours, then makes me crash.

My counterstrike clan has a scrim against another clan tonight at 10. I’m looking forward to it, but the internal politics of the clan got annoying this past week… one guy quit, then came back, and no one can figure out what was bugging him in the first place, besides a little immaturity… but it IS a game, it’s not like it’s a workplace or something. Whatever, I don’t understand it all, I’m just in the clan because I like playing with the people in it… I don’t get politics. If it gets too stupid, I’ll just leave too, I guess. fneu again.

Here’s where it all begins

Okay, I wanted to try keeping an online journal thing, so here it is. Cyn from I have a secret suggested I start with this for a week, so here I am. Question is, does anyone really want to read it? I guess I’ll have to wait & find out, now won’t I?

Guess I’ll start by introducing myself to whoever might be reading. I’m 23, live in Toronto, have a boyfriend and two cats (all of whom live with me in a very small bachelor apartment) and make mp3’s for work. No, really. I get paid to make legal mp3’s. Sweet deal, eh?

Anyhow, I’m also a bit of a freelance writer at WomenGamers, which is a lot of fun. I do a lot of writing about whatever crosses my mind, which tends to turn into train of thought rambling – ideal for a journal, really.

There you go. Hi.

What if… no, scratch that

Everyone has a game concept that they would love to see happen – my own pet being a properly done PC game based on the Dragonriders of Pern fantasy books by Anne McCaffery (once upon a time there was a Commodore 64 game of dragonriders… but I digress). How about those endless game ideas that you just know will never happen? Those games that are just a bad idea from initial conception…

Compiled here, for your contemplation and enjoyment, is a list of games that should never be made, will never be made, or if they are made will be the kind of thing that make you stop and say “What are they thinking???”

We’ll start with simulation games. Everyone loves The Sims, flight simulators, and property management games like Roller Coaster Tycoon. How about house maintenance simulations, where you can wander around the house repairing things, doing laundry, washing the dishes, gardening, convincing your significant other that they should do work while you play on the computer, and so on? Yes, The Sims touches on this (the flies buzzing around a plate usually let you know when you should clean up…) but imagine an entire game dedicated to it! Hours of entertainment!

Or what about putting a new twist on flight & driving simulations – inebriation levels? I realize that this idea is entirely non-politically correct, completely a wrong thing to encourage, and wouldn’t make it past anyone in management who had any sense… but can you just imagine trying to control your vehicle when the monitor keeps blurring out, trees and buildings keep transmuting into doors or spinning tops, and the responses to your keyboard commands are sluggish and occasionally go off on tangents that you have no control over whatsoever. If you want some variations, try the Psychedelic settings.

For more simulations, you can try “Workplace Politics at the Watercooler,” (like there isn’t enough of that already), SimDiet (you too can become a supermodel waif in 2 short weeks… until you’re hospitalized for malnutrition), SimElections (what underhanded politics can you exercise on your way to the presidency?) and many, many more!

Spin-off games are always popular, too. There are countless games based on all of our favorite films and television shows, so how about some new ones that no one has thought of yet (maybe with good reason)?

Cops! The Game… be the camera guy in the back seat of the police car as they travel around the city answering calls, capturing bad guys, going on high-speed chases, and watching everyone try to over-act for the camera. Make sure you blur out any faces and license plates, or you might get sued! And then there’s Daytime talk shows – how messed up can you make your shows’ guests to keep the ratings high (a la Jerry Springer)?

Escape from Titanic: The Movie. You get to be Jack, try to defeat the script and survive that icy Atlantic ocean, getting the girl and the necklace! Or how about Horror movie madness: the college dorm sleepover – traipse around in a nightie, screaming and giggling and screaming some more, doing every single thing that you just know is a bad idea and will get you turned into a zombie, ignoring those voices in your head that keep saying “Don’t go in the basement!! Everyone who’s gone in the basement got zombie-fied, and it will probably happen to you, too!”

Game developers could play on music fans’ nostalgia with a Groupie game… follow your favorite band around the world on their tour, sleeping in vans and tents surrounded by strangers, trying desperately to get that autograph you’ve always wanted, and get a chance to hang out with the band in their tour bus, all the while avoiding the perils of the road, the crowds, the trends, the eventual dissatisfaction with your band of choice and the call home to mom and dad begging them to send you money to get you home.

For the anti-adventure fans, there could be games like Professional Painter – travel around town in your overalls, painting people’s houses in 47 different shades of ecru. News Anchor – you don’t have to be part of what’s going on in the real world, just report on current events as they happen… bonus points for sympathy stories. And who could forget the classic “Open This!” – the game that puts your strength of will (and arms) against the toughest jars of pickles, CD wrappers, and shaken pop cans.

Now, to be utterly tasteless (and I warn you now, if you don’t want tastelessness, don’t read this…) you could present Ruthless Revenge, Truth or Dare (interactive webcam version,) Gangsta (how to make your way through the ranks of the ghetto to the penthouse… imagine your own methods here…), Proctologist (need I say more?), Hard Time (a prison life sim,) and finally, The World’s Oldest Profession. Plenty of tasteless fun to be had…

But we all know that these games don’t exist… or at least we hope that they don’t. They don’t, do they?? Please tell me they don’t… If you do find any of them, I’d definitely be interested in seeing them. Until then, I’ll just keep an eye out for these smashing titles and more under layers of dust on my local game retailer’s shelves, and let you know if I find anything.

Short attention span gaming for the minimalist

Last week I got tired of my usual games. There was a monster I just couldn’t defeat in Drakan, so I took a break from that. I could only play Counterstrike for an hour or so before my eyes started bugging out because my monitor is too small. My Sims family had stagnated because they couldn’t buy any more stuff and they had somehow alienated all their friends, and I wasn’t giving them the attention they were demanding from me (they’re worse than the cats!). I found myself playing Minesweeper for entertainment, but that quickly lost its appeal once I had high scores in every level. I needed to find something new to entertain myself with, so I went on a quest for the ultimate in short attention span internet gaming.

Long ago (well, actually four months ago) when my computer was a Pentium 100 and couldn’t handle most of the games on the market, I had to find alternative forms of entertainment. I had a small collection of classic games released on CD that would run fine on a 486, but I went through those relatively quickly. I also had a net connection… and that’s what saved me from playing Minesweeper until it got burned into my retinas. I became a master at finding java and shockwave games of every imaginable genre – short attention span gaming at its best. There are people online who have a lot of time on their hands, and use that time to entertain anyone who might be interested.

This past week was spent revisiting some of my old favorite sites and checking out new ones for games that I could play without having to download anything. Not everyone has a fast computer up to the standards of some of the new games on the shelf, so I tried to limit myself to games that I might have been able to play on my Pentium 100. The first site I visited was one that I first discovered in 1996, the year I ‘got connected’ – The Centre for the Easily Amused, or C*E*A*.

C*E*A* is basically a jumping point to other sites, and it’s always offered me minutes of entertainment with their lists of Sites that Do Stuff: Games, Random Silliness, and Short Attention Span Site of the Week. Within each category (and there are more than these three, these are just the ones that I visit most often) is a list of various forms of absolutely silly but generally amusing games, giving you amusement at the expense of celebrities, strange versions of classic arcade or paper games, quizzes, trivia challenges, and anything else that people have come up with and posted on their homepages somewhere. C*E*A* has too much for me to even try to describe it all… everything from links to the Alanis Morrissette Lyrics Generator to an Air Traffic Controller game, and whatever you can imagine in between. I can’t vouch for the quality of the games individually – you’ll find some gems, but they’ll be hiding in with plenty of complete time-wasters. Half of the entertainment I got from visiting the Centre for the Easily Amused was the chance I took clicking each link – that I could either be thoroughly amused by a site, or completely unimpressed. I’ve been going back to C*E*A* for four years now so they must know something…or it just proves that I’m easily amused.

When I tried to play a shockwave game, my computer was kind enough to let me know that I needed an updated version of the shockwave plugin. Logically, the next place I went on my quest for entertainment was the one that would supply me with that nifty plugin – Shockwave. It was there that I found retro heaven…also known as Frogger. It was half an hour before I tore myself away from Frogger and took a look at the other games available on the site, and I was impressed. Classic arcade games that I hadn’t seen since my Atari days, sports games, card games, adventure games, game shows, jigsaw puzzles, I didn’t know where to start once I’d got Frogger out of my system. I drifted from game to game, sampling them all like a trip through the food department at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. Shockwave had something for every mood I could possibly be in, and more.

My next voyage in the quest for cheap gaming took me interactive. I wanted to be social and play against other people, so I went looking for something simple – card games. It was Yahoo! Games that came to my aid. Armed with my Yahoo login name I entered the social lounge for Euchre and sat down at a table that looked like it needed a fourth player. Not having played Euchre since college, I had to relearn the rules, but it wasn’t long before I was playing as well as I had back in the college cafeteria (which isn’t necessarily saying I was good in college…) After a few nights, I phoned my mother in Vancouver and asked her if she wanted to play a game of Euchre with me. Her response? “What’s Euchre?” So, over the phone and online, I dragged her into the games lounge, sat her at a table across from me (across the country), set up a couple of Robots to play against, and taught her how to play. I think after about an hour and a half of it, she was getting the idea, but I haven’t played her since… (*note to self, email mom a request for a game sometime soon – see if she remembers how to play, or if I traumatized her for life…)

Euchre isn’t the only game at Yahoo! Games, though. Blackjack, bridge, poker, and go fish are some of the other card games they have, as well as crossword puzzles (great for breaks at work), chess, checkers, go, mahjong, and the incredibly addictive (or so I’m told, I’m afraid to try a game when a friend tells me that they’re already addicted to it…) Yahoo! Towers. There’s more, but I’ll stop listing them off now. All of the games I tried were Java based. And I thought Yahoo was just a search engine…

It’s a known fact among my friends that I am a wellspring of useless information, so my next experience quite simply had to be trivial. I looked for a web-based version of my favourite restaurant trivia game, NTN trivia, and was rewarded with BuzzTime. To my delight, it was the same as NTN from the restaurants, only online, and you played against people online instead of the ones sitting at the other tables. The site isn’t done yet though, there are only a few sample games to try out, so I’ll have to wait and see what else they have when they launch. Until then, there’s always the old standby, the You Don’t Know Jack netshow at Bezerk – this site also hosts Acrophobia (fun with acronyms!), Get The Picture, and Cosmic Consensus. I ran out of time before I could try Get the Picture and Cosmic Consensus (okay, I admit it, I fell asleep at the keyboard), but I’m going back to try them this weekend because they looked like fun. For the Bezerk games you need to download some stuff and install it, so make sure you’ve got hard drive space – I didn’t, and didn’t realize it until I was 3/4 of the way through downloading.

And so it was that I had a week of minimalist gaming. Great fun was had by all (well, by me anyhow), and I found some entertaining sites for when I’m sick of the games I own, am between paychecks, or waiting endlessly for a much-anticipated game that keeps getting pushed back. Not only that, but I can play a lot of these games with one friend of mine who I never get to play games with, because she won’t complain about her computer not being good enough to deal with them! Of course, now she’s teaching me how to play (and subsequently getting me addicted to) a strategic card game called Sanctum… but that’s a story for another day.

The nice girl’s guide to gaming etiquette

One of the things that kept me from getting into multiplayer gaming for a long time was the way players treated each other. The utter lack of respect that people have for each other under the cover of anonymity appalled me, initially… and it still does. The fact that there were more insults flying around than at my family reunion picnic left me speechless and wanting nothing to do with the multiplayer gaming scene as a whole.

When I asked a friend of mine if she would want to play online games with people who insisted on being obnoxious, she replied, “I would definitely be discouraged. I would want to go somewhere where I could have fun. Not somewhere where I would get annoyed and frustrated. I would leave and try to find somewhere else to go – or just stop playing on-line in general.” Considering the state of most multiplayer gaming, I didn’t take that as a promising sign that she would be online playing in the next week. It took me a while to learn that the only way for me to enjoy these games was to learn how to deal with it myself. I had to face facts… the most vocal members of the multiplayer gaming world are the ones who love smack talk – taking frequent, nasty stabs at other players.

I started speculating on the origin of the term smack talk, but didn’t really find much info about it beyond articles pertaining to the social impact of it in gaming communities, and plenty of examples of it on gamer bulletin boards. It’s the nature of slang to adopt whatever meaning for words which is current and popular, however, so I suppose the origin isn’t really relevant. Let’s just accept that smack talk is, at this point in time, a sometimes frustrating and unfortunate part of multiplayer gaming. I’ve seen evidence of it in all genres of multiplayer games, from online euchre tournaments to trivia games to first person shooters. No game is completely devoid of it, they all seem to have it to some degree.

There are certainly times when it’s satisfying and fun to brag about your prowess at a game, or to throw a friendly taunt at someone you’ve just fragged. It’s when that taunting degrades to insults designed to make someone angry, accusations of cheating, or all around tasteless flaming of other players that it takes the fun out of the game. And games are supposed to be fun. That’s the concept behind playing them, last I checked, and that’s why we play them. I wondered what I could do to avoid that entire aspect of gaming, and realized that my options were either to deal with my own reactions somehow, or leave the game. I can’t hope to change the course of multiplayer gaming by myself, after all – that’s definitely a group effort. Not wanting to quit a game I enjoyed playing, I went on a quest to learn how to deal with my own reactions to smack talk, since that’s the only thing I have ultimate power over.

The first thing I did to try and keep myself from reacting to the insults that were being directed at me was take a close look at who they were coming from. Most often, the deliverer of the too-cool-for-you comments was portraying immaturity in every way imaginable – accusing someone who is a good player who continually beats them at the game of cheating, questioning a player’s parentage, whining and complaining about their connection speed, or your connection speed, taking stabs at your team if you have one, and so on.

I found that, with this sort of situation, there are a few basic options. If you want to play their game, egg them on some more and really get them riled up, call them kids – a lot of them seem to really hate that. If you’re more creative and can insult them intelligently it might confuse them, but be ready for retaliation from that because it will most likely just make you more of a target. If you’re up for the insult game and not taking it seriously, then by all means go ahead, although I don’t think that this really helps my personal campaign to put an end to smack talk, so I’m not 100% willing to sanction this particular method… but sometimes I’m having a bad day, and being polite just doesn’t cut it.

Another choice, and the advice I was most often given when I asked for it, is to ignore them completely. Don’t react, don’t respond, don’t even acknowledge their existence. They will get bored and find someone else to target, if they really need to have someone to bully so that they feel more powerful. I seem to remember my mother telling me to ignore bullies back in grade school, and it didn’t work then, but I think the effective difference is that the only way an online bully can know if they are bothering you is if you respond actively – getting angry and talking back to them – where in school at recess they could keep following you around and harassing you. Most of the bullies in public school grew up, though. I’m hoping to see the same in gaming communities.

It’s not always easy to ignore the insults and comments. The other night, I was playing against a guy who spent half of the game making comments about my complete lack of talent. He was right in saying that I wasn’t very good, but I’m still learning, and it took a lot of control for me not to respond emotionally – either by fighting back verbally (which, incidentally, I’m really not good at) or by quitting the game. I didn’t want to quit – I wanted to play and have fun – but he wasn’t making it a very fun environment for me. I was seeing red. I finally just ignored him entirely after yelling at my monitor for a couple of minutes, and enjoyed the rest of the game.

That said, not all taunting and teasing is totally out of line. Good-natured teasing between gamers is a social experience, and it’s part of the fun. Usually, the friendly taunts are balanced with compliments about other players or teams, which is far more satisfying than beating someone down. I would suggest taking each situation individually, since there are plenty of different ways to react, each one having it’s own consequences. Here are some examples and suggestions, if you have any more, feel free to add them.

The Nice Girl’s Guide to Gaming Etiquette
Types of situations:
Immature insults
Accusations of cheating
Attacks on your abilities
Reaction Positive consequences Negative consequences
Laugh it off. Laughter is good for the soul, and the person may start to like you or leave you alone if you’re laughing at yourself as well. No really serious negative consequences, to my knowledge, although there is potential to hurt someone else’s feelings if you’re laughing at them. (remember, this is a nice girl’s guide…)
Ignore Whoever is trying to bug you. They’ll get bored and find another target who will react, since you won’t. Potential for the insulter to find people to gang up on you with, if they’re really determined. Also, sometimes they will push the wrong (or right) buttons with you, and ignoring them becomes an ordeal.
“Eye for an eye”. Satisfying in the short term, and effective if you’re creative about it. Why bother lowering yourself to their level of immaturity?
Quit gaming. Never having to deal with immature gamers again. No more Gaming?? Are you Crazy???
Be nice.
Compliment them.
Shows your maturity, and might start a new trend in gaming – respect. This also makes an impression on other players who are annoyed by nasty insults. Impact of your maturity may well be lost on those who have none of their own.
Beat them at the game. Satisfaction of winning. If you gloat, you’re not being nice. They’ll know that you won without you telling them so 25 times over. If you aren’t that good at the game yet, keep playing, and you’ll get there.
Never start gaming in the first place. Never having to deal with immature gamers at all. No Gaming?? Ever?? Are you Crazy???

Smack talk isn’t going away in the foreseeable future, but there is hope: always remember that the nice people DO outnumber the obnoxious ones… they’re just not as vocal.