Video Game Violence Distracts from Real Issues

This week, the president met with representatives from the video game industry. They discussed the possible link between violence depicted and real events. We’ve been down this road before. The search for the boogeyman has been through music, Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon, and now back to video games again. As always, the cause of gun violence is anything but guns. The meeting at the White House was a closed session, not open to reporters. No point or conclusion was met.

Past studies have shown that there is no connection between gaming and actual violence. People are not heading out on shooting sprees after gaming sessions any more than they gardened after playing FarmVille. The most popular games, like Call of Duty and Overwatch, are played all over the world. Same with movies. In countries where guns are not so easily obtained, they don’t have the types of mass shootings we have here in the US. Why does the president think only Americans are impressionable when it comes to games? Every time someone says, “Maybe it’s the guns,” the NRA and those they fund start pointing elsewhere.

Video game violence

Are there some games that take things too far with violence? Yes, there are examples that most people would agree are in bad taste and not for younger players. These games come with an established rating system, and the parents should be paying attention to what their children are playing. People love to say that ratings systems should be enforced more strictly, but what would that mean? Should parents be fined or jailed if it’s found that their child was exposed to inappropriate content? If you’re not a fan of big government regulating how you raise your children, then you probably wouldn’t buy into that.

Trump addresses NRA
President Donald Trump arrives to address the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum in Atlanta, Georgia on April 28, 2017 JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Violence in games is not the problem. Violence in movies is not the problem. Disturbed individuals with easy access to dangerous weapons are the problem. This administration seems to be searching for any party to lay the burden of gun violence on other than guns. It’s hard to take anything at face value from people who take money from the NRA.  NBC News reports that Trump’s campaign received about 21 million dollars from the gun lobby. It’s easy enough to find lists on the web of those who receive large contributions from them. Millions of reasons why the violence boogeyman will always be anything but a gun.

 

Hearthstone Card backs

I only got to rank 17 this month in Hearthstone, as my play time was a bit limited, but I was able to get to rank 17 and earned the new card back for the month. I also was finally able to get the Fireside Gathering back this month, too, so I have a pretty good selection to choose from now. I’d love to see a “random” option for selecting the backs at some point.
 

Wildstar Musings

I didn’t last very long in Wildstar, but I still have a lot about that game that I liked.
I  was listening to some other gaming podcasts this week, and they mentioned that Elder Scrolls Online is going free to play, and wondered if Wildstar would soon follow. I went to my Wildstar feed, and all of the casts I had been listening to had been abandoned. I finally found one that was current. The hosts were passionate about the game, but were not excited about non paying players coming in to the game.
For me, the only way I can give it another shot is if they scrap the sub fee. I thought they did an amazing job on character and housing design. I  don’t raid, so I didn’t give a fig about the hardcover aspects. I  died a lot as well, so that wasn’t fun. I guess I never really loved any of my Wildstar characters the way I do my Warcraft tools. That’s where the game failed for me. I have to want to play those guys instead of being frustrated by them. I don’t think it would take a great deal to get them there, though, so I would give them another shot. Just not for fifteen bucks a month.
I think at this point, WoW has proven that they’re the only ones who can carry a subscription fee. The future of gaming online looks to me to be “buy the box, free to play”. Wildstar is a good game, but to become a great game, they need to adapt to bring in more players. They’ve created a neat world, with a lot to do, but if they can make me love playing my toons, I’ll come back.

Podcasting!

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Hearthcore show with Rodney and Juice, and I’ve gotta say, it was a lot of fun. My day job allows me to sit at a desk for most of the day, and I can listen to pretty much anything I want, and for a few years now, the main bulk of that has been podcasts. They’re like radio stations where the hosts talk about exactly the kinds of things I’m interested in.

I’ve always thought about doing a show of my own, or trying to find one to be a co-host on. These are exactly the kinds of conversations I have all the time, and it would be a hoot to be able to have a larger audience. I could see myself doing a weekly WoW show. I have all of the equipment for it, and I’ll have the time, so I’ll see where this takes me in the next few months.

Into the Arena – Hearthstone

I played a bit more Hearthstone yesterday, clearing a few quests, and made enough gold to pay the 150 coin entry fee. The arena is sort of like a booster draft, so everyone has an equal chance to build a deck from a good assortment of cards. You don’t get to keep them at the end, so they give you some pretty good choices. Play ends after 3 losses, and your random rewards grow with each win you score. You’re guaranteed a pack of cards even if you win none at all, so it’s not a bad deal at all.

 

2 wins in the Arena

I’ve been tweaking some of my other constructed decks with the cards I’ve won, and I can pull a few wins here and there. It’s pretty fun for now!

Kicked some paladin ass

 

Waiting for Wildstar

The next game on the horizon I’ve got my eye on is Wildstar Online.

It’s probably got game-play very similar to WoW, but it looks like it has a really fun style to it with a lot of humor, which I find very appealing. It’s almost cartoon-like in appearance, which to me is better than trying to go for a very realistic look. Sort of like a Shrek movie with a bit more adult humor.

I’ve applied for a beta invite, but nothing in my inbox yet. I have a few days left on my WoW subscription, but I haven’t really done anything there in a few weeks. I just want something really new and different, and while I’m not sure Wildstar will fulfill that, I’m willing to give it a shot.

In the past, there have been some betas that really turned me off to the games, like Rift and Warhammer. I came to see very quickly that they were just World of Warcaft re-treads with some slight differences. Wildstar could be more of the same, but I see a real hint of fun that the others were lacking.

Hearthstone | Beta Impressions

I finally secured an invitation to the beta for Blizzard’s new game, Hearthstone. I’ve played Magic: the Gathering for many years, so I’m very familiar with how collectible card games work, and they’ve done a great job at bringing the format to the screen. Probably a much better job than Wizards has done with Magic Online. It plays fast and is very easy to learn, with all of the concepts taken directly from World of Warcraft.
There is no trading or selling of cards in this game, so you won’t see the gold farmers migrating in to make cash from this one. It also reduces the chance of people only buying the best cards in the game to use against you. You’ll still be at a disadvantage to people who have spent cash, but players won’t be buying packs only to flip them for cash. One aspect I do like is the ability to disenchant cards you don’t want, turning them into dust, which you can then use to create cards you specifically do. 
You can play for free, but you also have the option to buy packs and arena tickets with real money. You don’t need to buy them, but collecting them from currency won in the game itself will be painfully slow, and you will be facing opponents who have much better decks than you do.
It seems fairly fun, and to drop in and just play a few hands at any time will be nice. I just don’t know how much long term enjoyment there will be, as some of the more complex mechanics from Magic are not there, so it may get somewhat repetitive after a while. It’s free, so there’s no reason not to jump in, at least for a while and try it out. The Battlenet friends list is fully integrated, so you can play against your friends easily enough.
I’m also playing Magic 2014 on my tablet, which is mainly a single-player experience, but it really offers some great game-play.

Ruzzle! = Pixelated Crack

I’ve started playing a new phone and tablet game with my friends and family lately called Ruzzle. It’s a quick word game, taking two minutes a round to play, and has been amazingly addictive. I’m open to new friends playing, so look me up as “jeffrwhiting” in the game.

Game Over, Man!

I’ve gone and cancelled my World of Warcraft account again. I’m sure at some point I’ll come back, but this expansion has been a bit frustrating for me. There was a lot to do, no doubt. Pandaria is a beautiful continent with a lot of explore, and full of lore. The route they chose for the end game this time around, with so many reputation grinds before you can buy anything, and all of it through dailies is really tedious, though. I like playing alts, and running all of that again on another toon is just not going to happen. In Cataclysm, I had my army of alts all set up for crafting. I leveled them all up, and then worked on professions, and had a blast using them all together. All of the end game patterns are locked behind the dailies and the reputation grinds now, which is just not as fun for me. I love how they’ve broken down the walls between servers and let more people play together, but it’s just become a big grind, and I don’t feel like doing it anymore.

So, Skulfrak is parked for now. Some day he’ll come back, and maybe put Garrosh in his place.

I still have Diablo 3, and Old Republic is free-to-play, so I may dabble with that here and there. I don’t see that much on the horizon that looks all that exciting, though.

Diablo 3 Thoughts

In the gap between WoW‘s Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria expansions, I took some time to indulge in a slight distraction, also from Blizzard – Diablo 3.  I have the annual pass for WoW, so it’s not costing me anything to play, and I don’t have to stop playing WoW to do it.  I heard complaints of many people experiencing errors and crashes in the early launch days, but my experience has been flawless, with no problems at all.

I rolled a demon hunter, and got to the upper 20s, and started a witch doctor.  Both classes were a lot of fun, with some very unique abilities.  It’s a bit hard to adjust my play-style, with so few hot-bars available and multiple resources to manage.  I’m used to having a spot for every spell I learn in WoW, and having to pick only a few to use, and balance my abilities out took some getting used to.  I also had to adjust specs for single and multi-player, as well as boss fights.

It’s easy to drop in to the game, click a few buttons, and start killing things.  You have access to action almost immediately, so when you just want to pop in, kill things for half an hour and leave, you can do so.  I like that there’s no tank/healer/dps roles like so many games have now.  It’s also refreshing to not have a damage meter going for everyone to stroke their epeens with.
Grouping is easy.  Playing with friends is a breeze, and seeing who is online and what they’re doing through the Battletag and RealID system has never been better.  I had some trouble with a few bosses, and I just set up to join a multiplayer game with people on the same quest I was on, and boom – instant group, and we tore the place up.  The loot system, where anything you can see is yours to pick up, is a nice feature, and area looting has been implemented.  When you’re not grouped, you can choose to partner with one of several NPCs that compliment your main character.

Your stash chest is shared between all of your characters, so if you find a piece of gear your alt can wear, you can hand it down to another toon with ease.  Things aren’t soulbound like with WoW, so when you’re done using something nice, you can hand it off to other characters or sell it on the auction house.  After years of dealing with WoW’s soulbound items, this was kind of neat to see.
I don’t care much for the auction system.  The entire population of the game shares one massive database, and you’re limited to only posting ten items at a time.  It’s hard to know what price to list items at, and while I have found a few better pieces to wear, it can be rather expensive.  I’m not that far into the game, but it’s a little intimidating.

All in all, it’s a nice change of pace, but I found it really lacks the depth to hold my interest long term.  It’s still there, though, and I can pop in any time I want for quick fun, so I’ll keep playing on occasion.