Quotulatiousness

August 14, 2017

The schizophrenic nature of gamer complaints over Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 from the very first demo weekend, but I’ve never really become an “expert” player … I’m just another one of the huge mass of “filthy casuals” that the really good players complain about. And people do complain about GW2:

It’s long puzzled me that GW2 can both have a reputation as one of the most casual mainstream MMOs, demanding a low level of player skill and little in the way of dedicated discipline and organization, while simultaneously being castigated for the unforgiving difficulty of almost all of its high-level open world content.

As soon as the first cohort of players started to trickle into Orr, five years ago, the complaints began: the mobs were too tough, there were too many of them, they didn’t play fair. Orr got a good few thumps with the nerf bat and the complaints quietened down, only to return with just about every new piece of max-level content or large-scale, open world set piece event we’ve seen since.

I haven’t played many other MMOs, so perhaps I’m taking the nature of GW2‘s combat for granted:

Talking about whether a particular MMO is or is not “casual friendly” isn’t going to get us far when we can never agree on a definition of “casual”. That’s always been a stumbling block to my own understanding of why it should have been that I, playing with what I would self-identify as a casual mindset, experienced Heart of Thorns [the first GW2 expansion] as a liberating, exhilarating explorer’s paradise, while others, similarly self-identifying, found it a constraining, frustrating turn-off.

UltrViolet, returning from a long sabbatical from the game to give the demo a run, found it confusing and frustrating in a whole number of ways, most of which I heartily endorse. As an advertisement for the game it has all the welcoming warmth of a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. What I found particularly interesting, however, was his description of the combat experience:

    “It is a typical GW2 fight – totally chaotic, a million bad guys throwing a million AoEs and other effects at you all simultaneously.”

Exactly, in other words, just what I love most about combat in GW2. It’s explosive, colorful, exuberant and above all utterly chaotic. It’s the kind of combat I think many of us dreamed about back when we were root-rotting treants in West Karana, standing motionless, casting a spell every thirty seconds or so then sitting down to meditate so we’d have enough mana to cast another thirty seconds later.

GW2‘s frenetic, rolling, dodging, mayhem, where everyone is healing herself and everyone else, where buffs last seconds and part of the gameplay relies on battle-rezzing anyone who goes down, is exactly the kind of free-rolling, liberating fun many of us could never even have dared to imagine, back when we were huddled together in the corner of a dank cave beneath the Crypt of Nadox, shaking with fear as we prayed our tank could hold agro and no roamers would wander along and add.

You mean other MMOs aren’t a blazing, eye-searing mass of particle effects as soon as combat begins?

So why isn’t everyone loving it the way I do? Jeromai can explain:

    “The number one killer of people used to other MMOs – staying stationary or facetanking mobs in GW2. Every time.

    You can observe this phenomenon on Twitch or if you watch newbies in the lowbie zones and so on. They lumber up and just STAND THERE because that’s what they do in other MMOs to attack. They expect a tank to deflect the aggro and a healer to take care of their health.

    You’re thinking, “OMG move move too much damage incoming you can’t heal that up with your self heal OMG red circle why u stand there still plz MOVE”

    Couple minutes later, they fall over. RIP.”

Well, no wonder. No wonder people are finding it hard. No wonder they aren’t enjoying themselves. I had no idea.

After all, why would I? Here’s my description of how I play, from my own comment at Why I Game:

    “My tactics, if you could flatter them with such a name, are to fire off every ability on my hotbar as often as it becomes available, while moving constantly. I don’t just dodge all the time, I run about, jump on objects, strafe and generally behave like a toddler on a sugar rush who just peed up against an electric fence”.

It’s a slight exaggeration. I don’t always do that. If the situation requires it, I can be more tactical and anyway I do have a few channeled skills that require me to stand still. In general, though, I like to keep moving.

May 9, 2015

A rather satisfying way to punish an in-game cheater

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:24

BBC News picked up the story of a Guild Wars 2 player who’d been cheating on a massive scale:

A character controlled by a hacker who used exploits to dominate online game Guild Wars 2 has been put to death in the virtual world.

The character, called DarkSide, was stripped then forced to leap to their death from a high bridge.

The death sentence was carried out after players gathered evidence about the trouble the hacker had caused.

This helped the game’s security staff find the player, take over their account and kill them off.

Over the past three weeks many players of the popular multi-player game Guild Wars 2 have been complaining about the activities of a character called DarkSide. About four million copies of the game have been sold.

Via a series of exploits the character was able to teleport, deal massive damage, survive co-ordinated attacks by other players and dominate player-versus-player combat.

To spur Guild Wars‘ creator ArenaNet to react, players gathered videos of DarkSide’s antics and posted them on YouTube.

The videos helped ArenaNet’s security head Chris Cleary identify the player behind DarkSide, he said in a forum post explaining what action it had taken. Mr Cleary took over the account to carry out the punishment.

H/T to MassivelyOP for both the original story and the BBC News link.

March 4, 2015

QotD: The macroeconomic insights of MMO gaming

Filed under: Economics, Gaming, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Video game communities, social economies, give us something that we never had as economists before. That’s something of an opportunity, a chance to experiment with a macroeconomy. We can experiment in economics with individuals. We can put someone behind a screen and experiment on the subject, and ask him or her to make choices and see how they behave.

That has nothing to do with macroeconomics. Macroeconomics requires a different scenario. You conduct controlled experiments with a large economy. We are not allowed to do this in the real world. But in the video game world, we economists have a smidgen of an opportunity to conduct controlled experiments on a real, functioning macroeconomy. And that may be a scientific window into economic reality that we’ve never had access to before.

Yanis Varoufakis, talking to Peter Suderman, “A Multiplayer Game Environment Is Actually a Dream Come True for an Economist”, Reason, 2014-05-30.

January 31, 2015

QotD: MMO economies

Filed under: Economics, Gaming, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

A multiplayer game environment is a dream come true for an economist. Because here you have an economy where you don’t need statistics. And elaborate statistics is what you use when you don’t know everything, you’re not omniscient, and you need to use something in order to gain feeling as to what is happening to prices, what is happening to quantities, what’s happening to investments, and so on and so forth. But in a video game world, all the data are there. It’s like being God, who has access to everything and to what every member of the social economy is doing.

Yanis Varoufakis, talking to Peter Suderman, “A Multiplayer Game Environment Is Actually a Dream Come True for an Economist”, Reason, 2014-05-30.

January 24, 2015

ArenaNet formally announced first GW2 expansion #GW2HoT

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:28

I just finished watching the ArenaNet livestream from PAX South, where they introduced the first expansion for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.

Lots of unanswered questions, a few of which are answered in the new FAQ.

Dulfy has the livestream notes if you want to read about what was revealed.

January 13, 2015

Rumour confirmed – Guild Wars 2 expansion coming

Filed under: Business, Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:21

NCSoft, the Korean company that owns ArenaNet has registered a trademark for a Guild Wars 2 expansion called Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. Here’s the Reddit thread.

GW2 Heart of Thorns

December 31, 2014

The psychological value of online gaming

Filed under: Gaming, Health, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:17

At Massively, Andrew Ross talks to the lead author on a recent paper that — unlike the pop-psych headlines in the newspapers — shows a much more positive side to gamers and online gaming:

Every time we talk about scientific research on Massively, readers argue that results from game studies should be “obvious” and are a waste of time/money or that everyone knows MMOs are filled with anti-social trolls. Kowert told me that game studies are “not unique in these criticisms,” though “they may seem stronger within this field due to the perceived frivolity of games and gaming as a field of study”:

    Even though gaming continues to grow in importance and popularity within society, there is still so much that remains unknown about how and why people are using this medium and what are its potential uses and effects (both positive and negative). For example, it has long been assumed that online game players are all reclusive, overweight, lonely, teenage males. This is reflected in the cultural stereotype of the group as seen in the news media and popular culture (Make Love, Not Warcraft, anyone?).

In her paper Reconsidering the Stereotype of Online Gamers, Kowert and her colleagues examined the validity of these stereotypes. As we discussed yesterday, the results proved that the opinions people hold about gamers don’t quite match the media’s stereotypes, even among non-gamers. Without research, we wouldn’t have this information, and for me as a gamer, it’s encouraging to know that times are changing. Plus, it gives you ammo when Uncle Frank tries to put down your hobby this holiday season.

During my examination of the research into online games and real world friendships among emotionally sensitive users, I realized I could see myself in the findings. As a child, I was very shy; part of the problem was that I didn’t know how to react to people’s emotions. One article about social gaming and lonely lives argued that people who game a lot can sometimes have trouble connecting with non-gamers. Many “enthusiastic hobbyists” also have this issue, whether their hobby is sports or soap operas or games.

Kowert says this is correct to an extent; we’ve all met the hardcore sports fans who spouts sports jargon. “There is some uniqueness in the social profile of individuals who choose to exclusively engage in hobbyist activities that are mediated by technology, such as online games,” Kowert told me. “For instance, you state that you were shy as a child and preferred standing in the background rather than diving right into new social situations. Knowing this about yourself, you may have been more apprehensive to join, let’s say, a sports club or a board game group, than popping in on an online forum discussing sports or joining online gaming club.”

In other words, it’s not that all people who play online games are shy or are using the internet to overcome some of their social problems, but for those who suffer from those problems, online gaming could be a good way for them to meet others. Being online allows people to share a social space without the fears and consequences associated with face-to-face socialization. For example, I rarely went to parties in high school, but I did run events in the online games I played, especially in older MMOs. In more raid-oriented MMOs, people constantly told me I was doing something “different,” something unique or strange, and that made me stand out as also being different. In short, I was using the game world in a different way than other more mainstream gamers did, which echoes Kowert’s research about emotionally sensitive players using game spaces in unique ways. She explains:

    Previous research has largely focused on the relationship between MMORPG play and social outcomes, as MMORPGs are believed to have a unique ability to promote sociability between users (see Mark Chen’s 2009 book Leet Noobs for a more in-depth discussion of the social environment of MMOs). As cooperation between users is often crucial to game play, the social environment of MMORPGs differs from other genres, such as multi-player first-person shooter games where gameplay is more about competition than cooperation and the social environment is more often characterized by competitiveness, trash-talking, and gloating (for more on this research see Zubek & Khoo, 2002 [PDF]). These differences in social environments are likely to differentially impact the social utility of the space as well as the social relationships that may come from it.

December 22, 2014

A new paper on the exaggerated claims that MMOs are harmful

Filed under: Gaming, Health — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:04

By way of Massively, the abstract of a new paper by Dr. Rachel Kowert and her co-authors, investigating claims that massive multi-player online games are a public health threat:

Highlights
• The psychosocial causes and consequences of online video game play were evaluated.
• Over a 1- and 2-year period, evidence for social compensation processes were found.
• Among young adults, online games appear to be socially compensating spaces.
• No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for adolescents.
• No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for older adults.

Abstract

Due to its worldwide popularity, researchers have grown concerned as to whether or not engagement within online video gaming environments poses a threat to public health. Previous research has uncovered inverse relationships between frequency of play and a range of psychosocial outcomes, however, a reliance on cross-sectional research designs and opportunity sampling of only the most involved players has limited the broader understanding of these relationships. Enlisting a large representative sample and a longitudinal design, the current study examined these relationships and the mechanisms that underlie them to determine if poorer psychosocial outcomes are a cause (i.e., pre-existing psychosocial difficulties motivate play) or a consequence (i.e., poorer outcomes are driven by use) of online video game engagement. The results dispute previous claims that online game play has negative effects on the psychosocial well-being of its users and instead indicate that individuals play online games to compensate for pre-existing social difficulties.

October 3, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:42

My final Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. After 250 posts at GuildMag, I’m not burned out, but my new job (and the daily commute) won’t allow me enough free time to do the column justice, so I’m trying to go out gracefully. Aside from my “farewell address”, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

September 19, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:11

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The community’s reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released last week finally seems to be settling down: at least the ratio of complaints to compliments moved in the general direction of balance. The Fall World versus World tournament also began last week and runs for another three weeks (much shorter than previous tournaments). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

September 12, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week features a lot of reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released earlier this week. Typically, the “sky is falling” brigade led the charge, and the “hey this isn’t as bad as we thought” corps reported for duty sometime yesterday. Later today, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament, which will run for the next four weeks. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

September 5, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:09

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week ArenaNet has been adding more information about what will be coming in the September Feature Pack to be released next week. The Feature Pack will revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

August 29, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:26

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week is the second anniversary of the GW2 release, and ArenaNet has been spending a lot of time publicizing what will be coming in the September Feature Pack. The Feature Pack is intended to revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournaments. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

August 22, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:26

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This has been a very fraught week for (certain parts of) the Guild Wars 2 fan community … and we at GuildMag were accidentally instrumental in heightening tensions. We published an interview with some ArenaNet developers from gamescom in Cologne, with several questions provided by members of the GW2 community. Some of the answers were perhaps not as well phrased as they could be, and in no time the agitators and conspiracy theorists were in full panicked flight. It took a while to begin to subside, and the ruffled feathers are only just settling back into place.

Next week will be the second anniversary of the GW2 release, but so far ArenaNet hasn’t dropped any hints about what celebrations may be scheduled. There will be a short WvW tournament in September, beginning right after the next feature pack is released.

Aside from the post-interview angststorm, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

August 15, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:17

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The current chapter of the Living Story is The Dragon’s Reach, Part 2. ArenaNet have also made several announcements from gamescom in Cologne where they’re running a Europe vs China vs North America PvP event during the convention. Perhaps the most interesting of those announcements is that the next Feature Pack will be released in early September (more details to be trailed over the next few weeks). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

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