Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

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On leaving The Border House

December 18, 2009

Today was my last post on The Border House, for those of you who have read my few posts over there.  I know it’s a sudden departure, but I think it’s for the best for both The Border House and for myself.

I want to take the time to thank Cuppycake, Alex, Brinstar, and the rest of the staff for taking me on the site and explaining feminist ideals to me.  They’ve been really good and nice in dealing with my non-existent knowledge on the feminist perspective, and I’ve learned a lot from my short time on the site.  It’s really important that we have a site that looks at things from another perspective different from our own, and I wish them all the best of luck with the blog.  It has the potential to do a lot of good for many people.

I don’t want to dwell on my reasons for leaving.  To put it simply: I’m just not a feminist.  I’m a female transgendered person who identifies with pretty much everyone out there in one way or another, but I’m just not a feminist.

But, as I want to reiterate, I’m very thankful for the time I got to write there, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned and read, and I hope they continue to kick ass and do good.

~Sera

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Coca-Cola: My Drug of Choice?

December 6, 2009

Want cooooke!!! Want Coooke naaaoooooo!!

I ❤ Coca-Cola.  I don’t think anyone really understands how much I love Coke.  It’s both an addiction and a passion of mine that includes collecting bottles, participating in the Coke rewards program, and drinking it pretty much everywhere I go.  One of my friends once joked with me that he couldn’t recognize me without a can or bottle of Coke in my hands.  Yeah, that’s just how bad it is.

Lately though, I’ve been away from my drink of choice.  Let’s just say that my bank account isn’t overflowing with gaming industry bribe money (unlike the commenters tell you) and my house is still full of Sprite from Thanksgiving, when one of our friends brought over 8 2-liters of the stuff.  With both of those under my consideration, it seemed like a bad choice to go out and buy Coke.  Why waste money when I already have copious amounts of soda I like, right?

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been slowly killing our Sprite supply.  Simultaneously, my productivity has dropped significantly.   It’s not that I’ve lost my will to work — it’s that I’ve been hit by these disgustingly large writer’s blocks.  When I can’t write, it hurts.  Like, it really is painful to sit in front of my computer and stare at a blank page.  It’s intimidating.

I’ve tried lots of stuff.  I’ve tried walking away from the PC, I’ve tried playing a game for a half-an-hour before trying to write again, I’ve tried taking a short nap, I’ve tried free writing (only to find that even my free writing is failing, which is pretty much extremely bad news), and I’ve tried word association where you just start writing words on the paper.

I’ve also gotten tired, I’ve started to hold bad hours of sleep again, I’m hungry more, I have more headaches, and I’ve begun to lose a passion for doing what I love.  Yes, that’s right, video games weren’t even fun.  Of course, my first instincts are to deny that it’s a depression.  I know depression all too well, and it’s certainly a place I’d rather not be again.  So, whenever I feel kinda depressed, I just start telling myself that I’m really not depressed, I’m just having a mood swing.  I actually have the drive to attempt to combat those depressed feelings.

But, sadly, it wasn’t going away.  And what does all of this have to do with Coke?  Well, that’s exactly it.  Today, while considering my depression, I realize that I’m productive.  I’m doing things, I feel active, I feel happy, I’m enjoying writing… and I have a Mt. Dew sitting next to me from a party yesterday.  Yes, that’s right, I’ve been going through caffeine withdrawal without really putting two and two together.

Coke isn’t riddled with caffeine, but it certainly does have enough when you’re like me and drink lots of it each day.  It’s not that I’m addicted to Coke, it’s just that I drink alot.  If you want evidence of that, you should see how I killed off the Sprite stock, or how I can destroy a gallon of orange juice.  I like to drink things while sitting down and writing — it’s all part of my work habits.

But finally figuring out that my mood was shit because I wasn’t getting any caffeine is… well… interesting.  I really never noticed it before, but it’s become glaringly apparent now.  Of course, it’s all going to come down to me sitting here and getting back on my caffeine track and seeing if that improves my general mood and writing abilities back to where they usually are, which is going to take about a week, but my initial guess is that I’m going to be feeling a whole lot better when I crack into a brand new case of my drug of choice.

~Sera

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It’s fantasy, and I can indulge in it

November 28, 2009

My Avatar -- 100% not like me and 110% impossible IRL

After writing this week’s Anti-Aliased and looking at all of the comments (and how many hits it’s getting, hoo-boy) I started to think about how all of this pertains to me as a person.  Why did I choose this argument?  Why am I not offended by women with huge knockers?  What does this say about me as a trandgendered person?  Do I want to be like those women on the video game boxes?

When I looked into myself, I found my answer.  I back up these unrealistic depictions because they are unrealistic depictions.  Shit, I’ve even wrote some into my stories on purpose and I’ve certainly made my share of breast-tastic characters.

In short, I like fantasy because it’s fantasy — nothing more.

I wouldn’t want a cup size of 34FF in real life, but I have to say it’s fun to be able to create something like that and enjoy it temporarily in a virtual world.  Just like I wouldn’t be an extreme, cold-hearted bitch in real life, yet most of my MMO RP characters are cold-hearted bitches.

It’s an escape, and it’s a fun escape.  When we keep trying to see something bad in these things, we’re only really destroying the dreams of ourselves and others.  I guess I put it on the same level as someone who tells me not to read Harry Potter because it’s about witches and warlocks.  It’s silly.  Certainly you may not like it, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read it / make avatars like that / enjoy my imagination.

As an aside — one of the commenters on this week’s Anti-Aliased said that I would be offended if transgendered people were shown in an exaggerated manner in video games, simply because  it would “finally hit home” that exaggerated depictions are bad.

To answer that, um, isn’t that how transgendered people are normally portrayed in the media?  We’re always these super sexy girls who try to lure men into dirty, penis filled traps.  We’re never normal women.  Yet, you don’t see me rioting in the streets over that issue.  Honestly, I’m usually the first one laughing at those jokes because I know it’s exactly not how it is depicted.

Maybe I’m a weird person who isn’t easily offended by anything.  All I know is that I love fantasy.  I love using my imagination to draw up fun characters, and I never, ever want to sacrifice my imagination simply because the masses say I’m wrong.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! (A Modern Warfare 2 rant)

November 18, 2009

FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.....

Ok… in short… if you guys don’t follow me on Twitter… WTF MODERN WARFARE 2?!?!

I’m not going to ruin the storyline for you guys, because honestly it’s pretty awesome in my opinion… until the end.  At that point, I think the entire writing staff went to sleep and brought in guys from crappy summer Hollywood blockbusters.  Why do I think this?  Well… it’s quite simple…

THE GAME HAS NO ENDING.  No, they pump you all up for what… AN OBVIOUS CONTINUATION TO MODERN WARFARE 3.

I really hate this jumping the shark bullshit.  MW1 has this great and epic finisher that really made you feel proud of yourself.  Hell, even MW2 has these seriously sick moments during the single-player that makes you squee with joy.  (Even though one of the “twists” is easily callable.)  But no, the ending is not only horribly contrived, but it doesn’t actually end.  It just sets you up for the next game in the series, because that’s apparently how Activision wants to roll, so sayeth Bobby Kotick.  Push the games that are doing well down our throats, and make sure they never, ever end.

Plus, Soap is apparently Iron Man, as he can take shitloads of punishment without dying.  Just saying… just saying.

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I HATE INCONSISTENCY

November 9, 2009
dudewtf

Ummmm... what?

Hey everyone!  Sorry guys, I’ve been so busy with project for Massively and other sources that I just haven’t had time to blog!  I feel bad, because I have a couple things I really wanted to talk about, but I felt that this topic was the best thing I could vent on to get me back in the mood of talking again — Champions microtransactions.

But, I’m afraid that saying that line is surely a misnomer.  I’m not for or against the Champions Online C-Store at heart.   I don’t intend to buy anything out of the shop, even when they gave me 400 points to spend in it thanks to my GameStop pre-order package.  Likewise, I’m kinda happy it’s there, just in case I do need an emergency respec and I don’t feel like earning one or waiting for a free one to be handed out.

No, what I’m pissed about is the inconsistency of people regarding microtransactions.  Specifically: World of Warcraft versus Champions.

I alluded to my opinion briefly in my last Anti-Aliased, but I’m so fired up about this issue that I think it really deserves its own blog post.  I hate the fact that people let World of Warcraft get away with fucking murder while they go off and rail on Champions.

To give my case a visual illustration, I like to compare this to the South Park episode where Cartman tries to use “psychic powers” to catch a serial killer.  While he tries to help the police department, the South Park police keep missing the HORRIBLY CREEPY DUDE standing in the bikini and blood covered poncho at every crime scene.  They even sometimes stare at the real killer, only to brush him off while they persecute someone else because Cartman said they were the killer.

Warcraft has come out with 10 dollar pets.  10 FUCKING dollar pets.  Not one dollar, not two dollars, no 10 fucking dollars.  I don’t know any virtual pet you could possibly offer me that’s worth 10 dollars of my cash.  It’s a disgustingly high price point, yet people are sitting there and staring at these stupid pets saying, “You know, I really kinda want that.”  Warcraft’s allure and “OMGMMO” status are somehow blinding people from noticing how ungodly expensive this is when compared to…

Champions Online.  The same Champions Online that outraged people when they offered extra costumes at 3 dollars a set.  Or action figure vanity pets for 2 dollars.  Or, even worse, the favoribly priced $12.50 retcon.  No, somehow this game is trying to steal all of your hard earned cash so Cryptic can roll around with it in their pool of money.

No one seems to notice WoW sitting over there, happily peddling 20 dollar server transfers, 30 dollar faction changes, or these stupid 10 dollar pets on top of their 15 dollar a month subscription.  Everyone’s too busy being outraged over Cryptic asking people for 2 bucks on top of their subscription fees.  I even brought this up in Anti-Aliased, and people were blinded enough to tell me that “What WoW offered wasn’t the same as microtransactions.”

I’m sorry, you’re right.  IT COSTS MORE THAN “MICRO” IN WARCRAFT.

But these are the same people who denounce microtransaction item stores.  The same people who spew forth the notion that MTs ruin the quality of the game because developers are too busy putting their work into making MT items and not the game itself.

They don’t care (or notice) that Cryptic only offered five new costumes and a few icon sets versus the 5 events, new monsters, brand new powerset (Celestial powers), new PvP battleground, and new world PvP introduced in Blood Moon.  Not to mention the changes to the game’s weather and skybox to make the place look absolutely creepy.  Somehow, those 5 whole costumes detracted from Blood Moon’s content, even when Blood Moon offered way more than most holiday events.

Let me be clear — I don’t fight for Cryptic because I’m some rabid fangirl of Champions Online or because I’m getting “paid off” by them.  I fight for them because I think they’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to public opinion.  I fight for them because I find the lengths people go to somehow denounce them insane, especially when World of Warcraft does the same damn thing Champions did, only 10 times worse, and everyone’s ok with it.

Do I sound like a broken record at this point?  Probably, but I keep saying this shit in different ways because if I don’t, some idiot is going to come in here and attempt to contradict me because I didn’t cover all my bases.  So let me be clear one last time.

HATE THE COMPANY THAT IS COMPLETELY RIPPING YOU OFF, NOT THE ONE THAT’S MILDLY RIPPING YOU OFF.  OR, BETTER YET, HATE THEM BOTH.  HAVE SOME DAMN CONSISTENCY, PLEASE.

*clears throat and walks off*

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Why I’m excited for Huxley

October 9, 2009
SHOOOOT HER!!!!! SHOOOOT HER!!!

SHOOOOT HER!!!!! SHOOOOT HER!!!

So I’d post this over on Massively, but it would be met with so much Hux-hate that it would probably burn in flames the second it was released on the website.  People are really bitter over Huxley, and I’m guessing it’s coming from the fact that the title has gone from a boxed release to a free-to-play game on ijji.com.  Everyone wanted this big Xbox 360 release (which is pretty much dead in the water at this point, unless they release it as a downloadable title, which would be awesome) and everyone wanted this big game that would kill Planetside.

Well, after getting my hands on Huxley, let me be the first to say that this game probably won’t be killing Planetside.  But let me also say the following: Who the hell cares?

People really need to stop playing rock, paper, scissors with their damn video games.  I’m sick and tired about hearing the phrase “WoW-Killer” or “Halo-Killer” or “Hello Kitty Online-Killer.”  I really am.  Games need to stand on their own merits, and not those assigned to them by another game in the genre.  If they didn’t and every game attempted to one up a prior game using the same systems, then we’d have a bunch of games that were veritable clones of one another.  And if you think I’m making that up, take a look at the MMO genre right now and tell me you don’t see 20 different types of World of Warcraft clones out there.  It’s silly to the point of being ludicrous, and we just keep pushing the developers into these corners by not giving credit to games that break the mold in the right ways.

Ok… that was a rant… sorry about that, but let’s get back to Huxley.  I was in the closed beta test — I can say that because there’s a tag on my forum handle on ijji.com that says “Huxley Beta Tester.”  What I can’t say, however, is anything about Huxley‘s gameplay beyond the information that’s already known.  So I’m going to be a little limited here, but I think I can still give everyone a good perspective.

Huxley is a lot like Unreal Tournament.  I mean, A LOT like Unreal Tournament.  This game cooks.  Everyone’s heard about the freeform deathmatching that you can do at any time in the game, and that mode is pretty much UT3 with your tricked out character.  The only difference is that Huxley characters have unique abilities that you can choose and level up while you play.  For example, Phantoms (the snipers) have stealth.  You could be shooting at the Phantom at one minute, and then bam, she’s gone for long enough to get around behind you and school you.

Then you get into the battlegrounds, which are like Battlefield style matches.  They’re large, they’re full of people, and they give you vehicles.  I can’t say much more about this mode because it’s not really out there, but I can say that I like it.

Then, finally, the mode I really can’t talk about is the questing.  What I can say is that the game provides quests from the city that require you to go out into areas all over the map and perform objectives.  You can do it alone or you can do it in a team.  I can’t say more than “it’s exactly what it sounds like” but I really enjoyed this mode too.  I could see this as being fun for a group of friends who want to hone their skills by fighting side by side.  It’s a great difference from having to go out and get blown up by other people.  Cooperative shooting is always a good plan, especially when it plays like a dungeon crawl.

Oh, and the game has an auction house, and item purchases in-game, and crafting, and weapon/armor modifications.  It’s a full item system with a crafting system.  Take that, other online FPS games.

What’s the best part about this game?  It’s the part that people hate — it’s free.  It looks nice, it plays nice, it’s not too grindy (but there are elements of grind, trust me), but it’s free.  Just to give you an idea how much that blew me away, let me tell you a story.

I threw a Rock Band party one night and just as everyone was arriving I was playing Huxley.  My first friend came in, looked at my monitor, and went, “Dude, what game is this?  Looks nice.”  I told him it was Huxley, and it was in beta.  He never heard of it, but he was shocked to see a FPS that played like an MMO.  He sat down and watched me play for a bit before my next friend came in.  Once again, another person who had never heard of Huxley who was now interested just by watching me play.  He too sat down, and eventually I offered them a chance to try the game out.

Before long, two more people showed up, walked into my room, asked what was being played, and then they sat down as well.  I now had 5 people stuffed into my tiny room, all watching Huxley.  Finally, after doing a couple deathmatches and giving everyone the chance to try the game, someone asked me, “So 15 bucks a month, right?”

It was then when I went, “Nah, it’s free.”  Everyone was like, “Oh sweet!  Good deal!  I have to grab this from GameStop when it comes out!”  Another friend went, “Yeah, I’ll pre-order this.”  Then I laughed and got to say, “Nah, you guys don’t understand.  This game is free-free.  Like free-to-play item shop free.”

It was then when everyone turned to me and said the following, “WHY WOULD WE NOT PLAY THIS?  HOLY CRAP?  WE’RE ALL GETTING TOGETHER AND WE’RE GOING TO OWN THIS GAME.  CRAZY STATIC PARTY TIME!”

And that’s how I got a static party for Huxley with the game not even being out.  That’s why I’m excited for Huxley.  As for you, you should be excited because it’s a solid free game.  It looks nice, it plays nice, and it will certainly be worth your time.  Why?  Because it’s free and running on the Unreal 3 engine, that’s why.

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I’m not the type to talk about this stuff…

September 26, 2009

I think the title says a lot here.  I like this blog to be about games, my musings on games, and perhaps…. sometimes…. very rarely…. my outlook on life.  I’m not the type of person who likes to get preachy with others.  But tonight I was dealt this really odd blow.  A blow that is slowly affecting me, but simultaneously not affecting me.  Yes, it’s that confusing.

So, let me start off by saying that I don’t come from a huge town.  Pittsburgh is really my adopted home — my college home.  But I come from a small town in Pennsylvania called Pottsville, PA.  Some of you may know it thanks to Yuenging Beer…. “America’s Oldest Brewery.”

Pottsville, due to it’s small town nature, isn’t on top of things like a larger city is.  Being gay in Pottsville is a big deal.  My former priest was gay, and he almost lost many members of my church’s congregation because he was simply a gay priest.  Of course, people ended up coming to their senses, but that didn’t ease some of the animosity that he suffered from other priests in the area.  And when holy men are getting into the act of disliking one of their own, you can only imagine what some of the rest of the town gets like.

Well, tonight one of my own friends… my old best friend, to be exact… betrayed my trust.  I got a message from him saying, “Sorry, I was bet 50 bucks to write that on your Facebook wall.  You can just delete it.  I don’t mean any harm.”

I logged in to find he had written “FAG!!!” right on my wall.

Sticks and stones right?  Just a harmless little insult, right?  Yeah, that’s how I felt for about 3 hours.  I went out, I had some fun with friends, and then I came back to find that same word right on my computer screen where I had left it.  I began to really think about it, and that’s when I started just feeling uneasy.

I trusted this guy for more than 10 years.  He was my best friend.  He was the first guy to ever, EVER, know that I was transgendered.  That’s not knowledge I entrusted to him lightly at the time.  He knew even before my parents knew.  I think that says a lot.

You guys want to know why he did it?  He did it because someone dared him to write it for 50 bucks.  He pretty much threw away 10 years of our relationship for 50 stinking dollars.

I was told by many, many people to expect this.  I was told by so many individuals that there would be people in my life who would do things to hurt me.  I expected this, to be quite honest.  But, just not from someone like that.  Not from him.

It saddens me… it really does.  I would never do that to someone, ever.  Ever.  Yet, someone has seen fit to do that to me.  It’s one thing when the Aion community does it.  They don’t have a “face” to be exact.  But when your former best friend does it to you… it takes on a whole new light.