Reports have been streaming in of a highly organised group of girth-challenged gamers who have a major problem with Blizzard’s approach to gaming and fatness. With more than 50% of the USA being overweight, the group are now clamoring for equal representation in the popular online game, World of Warcraft. The group’s spokesperson and figurehead, Eric McCallum, says that Blizzard’s attempts to marginalize them won’t be tolerated. Apparently, from what I’ve been able to garner from their fat-blog forum, which I’m not going to link to but you know you want to google it, they thought things were going well with the whole Panda expansion. I’m just going to quote from their site because seriously, I couldn’t make this shit up:

“… We thought we were going down a good road with the Pandas cause they’re fat and cuddly and all that, but now with the new expansion we’ve seen Blizzard pulling back and now its time to make a stand. We represent at least 50% of Blizzard’s US playerbase, at least!!, and they have to get with the program or we’re going to flex it for them to see! For a start, there isn’t one single fat statue in the whole of Azeroth. Think about that, not one overweight statue. That’s just symptomatic, man. Symptomatic of this whole conspiracy against fat people. If there was one major lore figure on Azeroth who was fat, then by rights there would be a statue to match this figure, and then we could figure on at least some representation …”

And it goes on and on and on and fucking on. I find it highly amusing that they reckon they have 50% of the US player-base. I would have thought that it would be much higher than that. So they’re asking for new classes, (apparently the monk was too ‘fit’), fat monsters and mobs and even a whole raid based around fatness. I kid you not, this shit is making the feminazis look downright reasonable. Soon they’ll be wanting a whole fat city. Christ knows what they think of the Undercity with its rather thin undead population.

Anyway, I’m wondering what’s next. Not enough Muslims in WoW?

I’m enjoying Elder Scrolls Online, enjoying it. That’s a big thing for me. I’ve decided to play with a few self-imposed rules as well so as to make my own playtime more enjoyable. These rules are designed based on what works for me. These rules will probably not work for you due to the fact that:

a): you are not me.

b): you suck.

So these are my rules. Firstly, no fast travel of any kind. If I get there, I walk. Unless a friendly player is able to teleport me. Then I’ll happily oblige because that is part of the gist of things. It’s like him getting me to open a lock. But otherwise, no fast travel.

The next one is only one quest at a time. No more than that in my quest log. Just the one, and one is all I shall do. When that one is finished I will select another one and do that. This is so I can retain an interest in what it is I am actually doing. By the way, I like how when you accept a quest you never know what you may receive as a reward. You only find out when you present yourself to the quest-giver and he hands over three bits of string and a sea shell. Miserable bastard.

Spend some points on leveling up some crafting. It’s tempting to just shove them into my attack abilities, but I want to round this out a bit. To that end …

No looking things up on the internets. No maps, no items, no hints, no clues, no gear spreadsheets, no class explanations, no complex breakdowns of the best skill sets and ability tree designs. None of it. I am here to explore. I intend to make mistakes. From that I wish to learn. People will call me a noob. They will have mistaken me for someone who gives a fuck.

Lastly, no interaction with the stupid prophet who obviously drives the main storyline. Already he’s going nuts that I’m not returning his calls. Well, fuck him too. I have no desire to be a hero. I have every desire to have a good time. Somebody else can save the fucking world from whatever is threatening it with the latest greatest calamity. Me, I’m going to be exploring this abandoned mine over here.

I couldn’t believe my eyes last week when I discovered that syncaine, Rohan, hell, even Nils has come back to the MMO fold, and they’re all playing The Elder Scrolls Online.

This gave me pause. I haven’t played an MMO in over three years since moving back to Australia. Mostly this was due to there being nothing worth investing my time in to justify the massive time-sink that these games are. But with these guys playing the game and giving it pretty decent reviews I decided to dip my toe in the water and restart the old MMO flame.

The first thing I recommend is that you purchase the game on the CD disks as this is a very large install that took quite a few hours on my powerful gaming rig. Then you have the usual massive patch upgrades to download and then you’re good to go. To date I have only played a very few hours and my starting toon is a lowly level 4. But I have a few observations. Firstly, the starting intro sucks beyond belief. I mean it sucks beyond belief. Why oh why do MMOs fall into the trap of making starting characters special heroes? Once again, for the umpteenth time, if everyone’s a hero then nobody is. But this hero generation doesn’t make any sense. You wake up and then you run down a passage, and then there’s this chick and now you run with her, and bad guys come and you hit them with your face, and then you run some more, and amidst all this frantic running the game keeps introducing important control elements in an attempt to guide the new player in how the interface works, but it’s all happening so fast that you can’t remember any of it.

It sucks. And the graphics are hideous, hideous! And then there’s a big moment where the girl you’re with sacrifices herself to save some prophet and … oh God, by now I was so beyond giving a shit I almost cheered when she got sucked into some prison vortex. But then thankfully you wake up in your starting zone in a little room and now you can actually get on with the game. The ghost of the prophet is there wanting to tell you so many very important things, but I instantly selected the ‘goodbye’ option as I couldn’t bear the thought of having to deal with him any more and I went out into the actual world.

So far it seems okay. I’m still in the starting town and following a quest, but the graphics are better and the town is interesting, and nobody is walking around with yellow exclamation marks over their heads which is nice. Local chat seems to be taken up with players thinking that writing ‘Arse “insert your gameplay word here” is terribly hilarious, so I’m ignoring everyone around me for now. I’ve died a few times and this game certainly isn’t a faceroll, but so far I’m enjoying it. Time will tell though if this is just Skyrim with a monthly subscription.

I took a trip back to Italy last month, which was great fun, but it meant that my gaming activity was non-existent. Arriving back home in Melbourne, my hard drive proceeded to shit itself while gifting me with the blue screen of death. Thankfully Samsung came to the party and rescued me, but I lost a bunch of data that I hadn’t backed up. Because I’m an idiot, obviously.

But now I’m back, and I’ve been playing Banished. Developed by one man over the course of three years, it’s a tiny city-builder which has arguably the best balance of any of these games that I’ve ever played. Seriously. This guy has thought of everything. And I was aiming to write a whole series of posts where I would break down the game’s intricacies for your benefit and to show how smart I am at working this stuff out. But then I thought better because, you know what? It’s more fun to just work this stuff out for yourself.

But I will talk about the game in a general sense. You start with a bunch of people who have been banished from their former community for questioning the wisdom of believing in anthropological climate change … (okay, I made that bit up), and your measly group has to survive and prosper in their new home. I recommend playing on hard setting because … well, because it’s harder for a start and that’s more fun in these types of games. But also it kind of helps you a bit in that it doesn’t lead you down any false paths which the easier settings tend to do. So you get about 20 people and a cart with some food and clothes and tools, and then you’re on your own.

Better start chopping down trees and putting away piles of rock. And then you’re going to need to build shelter, and ways of producing food, and methods to replace your clothes and tools that are wearing out, and did I mention that you grew your population too fast and now everyone is starving to death before your eyes, so you keep your population down but now everyone is dying of old age because you didn’t think to build new houses so families could have some fucking privacy before they do the naughty so they aren’t making any children and what children you do have grow up to be dumb morons because you didn’t bother to educate them and do you see what I mean about this being balanced?

On the game’s forum there is a long thread with suggestions for the developer of additions he should make to the game, things such as bee-keeping and the like. And there is a growing call for him to introduce the option of modding the game. But that would be a mistake, because he has balanced his creation perfectly. Any addition would tip the balance one way or another. You don’t want to do that to a perfect game, and this really is the perfect city builder. So have fun working it out.

This is why Kickstarter is stupid, and why people pledging money in Kickstarter projects are at best misguided, (I use a polite word there as I myself fell into this trap when I pledged money for the Pathfinder Online project – incedently did any of you see their last video? Looking really shit guys, really shit.)

So in that first link our poor misguided Kickstarter comic book writer, (really, I fail to see why you need 50K to write a fucking comic book), falls down hard on his butt because he is no good with money. He then goes into a spectacular tirade against Capitalism as a way of explaining away his apparent need to not deliver on the Kickstarter pledges. At least with this level of public meltdown no one will ever take this guy seriously again. I mean, he’d have to get a sex change and move to Saudi Arabia to have any credibility at this point.

But this is the whole reason that Kickstarter is a bad joke – it enables people with no business or entrepreneurial skills to get their “dream idea” off the ground. If they had any of these skills they wouldn’t need a Kickstarter project. They would be able to sell their idea and even if they had no cash, not one dime, because the initial idea was great, (the really important part), they’d be able to get real life backers. But the internet does not follow real life. So now we have a situation where some douchebag with no financial skills at all is given 50K, screws up the entire business idea, (note – it’s not enough to start a business, you have to be able to run one too), and then burns a copy of the book he managed to produce each time a pledger asks for something they gave money for. Current book burnings stand at 127.

Entrepreneurs are very important people in society. Look around your home and everything in it that you own will have been produced by entrepreneurs. No government or bureaucrat produced a single thing in your home. If you don’t believe that then ask someone in Venezuela right now how much fun it is not being able to purchase basic things like toilet paper. Entrepreneurs are the true heroes of our soceity, not least because for every one that succeeds a whole bunch have to fail. But those that failed were necessary for the one that got up and running. That’s how the system works – everyone learns from what everyone else is doing, tweaks are made, ideas are adjusted based on those that went before and fell at the first hurdle, and then … success!

John Campbell, the individual with the comic book idea, was not an entrepreneur. He risked other people’s money and then didn’t even have the decency to ship what he had produced even when he had it in his hand. He rails against Capitalism, but it is exactly that system which enables people to succeed as entrepreneurs. Which means he is a fraud and a phoney and has no respect for other people’s hard earned money. And the Kickstarter system enables people like him.

Exclusion and oppression are big words. Lots of groups of people have been excluded and oppressed over the ages of time. Only this week the Spanish government voted to allow descendents of the Spanish jews who were kicked out over 500 years ago to come back. Those that didn’t leave were generally burnt alive, so leaving was pretty much the only decision available to them. That is oppression and exclusion. You lose your house, your land, your business, your income, your prosperity, your social hub, your friends, your family, and possibly even your life. And it took 500 years to attempt to correct it.

So when I see those same two words used to make a point about video games, my initial reaction is somewhat along the lines of areyoufuckingkiddingme? When the argument in question is because an upcoming game hasn’t included playable female characters then I wonder why my brain is beginning to hurt so much. Because yes, someone really did use those words in this context. I’m not sure that because of this decision on the game designer’s part that she is going to lose all her possessions and be exiled to some lonely atoll, but hey, it’d be a start wouldn’t it.

Here is the post in question, from someone called Brenna Hillier. She is very upset, very upset indeed. How dare those nasty game designers release a game with a story where women aren’t involved. This is nasty and evil, and wait for it …

“… I’m actually deeply personally ashamed that it took a financial argument to convince me of this, given the inherent, objective immorality of exclusion and oppression …”

It’s funny, but I don’t remember thinking this back in the day when I was playing Lara Croft. None of the people I know were gnashing their teeth in rage because they couldn’t play a male character in that game. But that’s because we are gamers. For us, the game is the thing. It has always been the thing and so it shall always be. But people like Ms Brenna are not like us. They are political activists first and gamers second. Which means they are not interested in games, they are only interested in being fucking stupid.

I mean, really? You’re not going to play the game now even though you had been so looking forward to it?

“… I had been really, really looking forward to Deep Down. I would like to wake up tomorrow and find a statement from Capcom saying the translation was bungled somehow, and that playable female characters will be included in the game – if not at launch, then by god as part of a 100% free patch in the near future …”

So don’t play the game then. Who gives a shit? Go back to pretending that you’re being excluded and oppressed. You don’t need to play a game because you already exist in a fantasy world.

UPDATE: Vox Popoli has a good reply to this as well: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/why-we-dont-put-girls-in-games.html

So according to Paul Mason writing in that bastion of balanced political views, The Guardian, computer games, and specifically Skyrim, can help overthrow Capitalism. Who wouldda thought it? Here’s the crux of his argument:

“… But what if you could choose to play any of these games without trying to gain wealth through conquest, violence or the mercantile capitalist strategy of buying cheap and selling dear? What if you could pursue a strategy to create things collaboratively, outside the market, and give the basic necessities of life away for free? Would you be able, singly or in groups, to screw the slash-and-grab economy so badly that you forced it into a transition state beyond destructive competition?”

Apparently delusion knows no bounds. Look Paul, I appreciate the effort that must have gone into this astoundingly complicated piece, but taking away from the fact that under a socialist community commune Skyrim wouldn’t have been developed in the first place, your argument shows a complete lack of understanding of the online community, and thus human behaviour itself. Far from working in groups to screw the slash-and-grab economy, players would circumvent this in any number of ways. Firstly, there would be a well-meaning and misguided core group of followers who would throw themselves into this great idea at its inception. They would soon become jaded however, at discovering that their efforts were being splurged on by coat-riding slackers who would sign up after promising to do all the required work only to do next to nothing while taking as much of the group’s output as they could get away with.

Que the next inevitable step where the collective sets up a series of rules and restrictions designed to counter this unscrupulous behaviour only to discover that all it does is restrict their own core membership while a few individuals at the top skim off all the profits under the guise of benevolent leadership while ruthlessly purging any members unwise enough to speak out until the whole thing self-implodes in a wave of acrimony and pain. If anything it sounds like just about every guild of which I’ve ever been a member.

But the real hilarity would ensue if this was done in a sandbox virtual world. Can you imagine the licking of lips in anticipation of raiding the “communist socialist popular gnomish front” and taking all their hard-earned gains while skewering them just for good measure? I don’t even want to think about this possibility as I may get too excited and the people next door will call the police on me again.

Mr Paul Mason continues with: “… These are good questions, because a whole school of economists thinks what they describe is the basic problem facing us in the real world.”

No, they’re not good questions, Paul. They’re fucking brain-dead questions. And the fact that you talk about this in terms of the real world and then go on to cite someone from the Harvard Law school, that bastion of ivory-tower group-think which bares no relation to any real world that any half-sane person comes into contact with, (although to be fair, at least he didn’t try to quote some from the Harvard school of Economics), just shows how ridiculous all this is. I mean, Wikipedia? Really? That’s your example of something that creates a glitch within Capitalism? Of course it does, you moron. It’s free. Although, just about every time I open it there’s a pathetic appeal for funds which seem to grow even more desperate with every passing week. Maybe that’s because they’re discovering that providing a free service does not put bread on your table, let alone pay for the bandwidth. But hey, you guys at The Guardian are making such an awesome profit, right?

As to be expected there are many comments deriding Mr Mason’s ability to think rationally about this matter. The best comment? It has to be this one:

“… I was once a capitalist swine like you until I took an arrow to the knee.”

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