Battle of the Sexes

Ladies who seek cred are out of luck, among true gamers, you're only good for anever mind.

The Gamer Code; Chapter 5, Final Verse

I’ve saved the crème de la contrived for the very last.

You’re not a gamer if you’re a girl. Strange, because the last time the Entertainment Software Association of Canada checked, 46 percent of gamers were women. 

Ah, but they only play Candy Crush Saga and iPhone games, I am told. One: those are real games. And two: nope. 

Mobile games only account for 38 percent of gaming in women between the ages of 18-34 (keep in mind the average age of a gamer is 31.) The remaining 61-62 percent happens on consoles and computers—that can mean Facebook, but it also means World of Warcraft, any game purchased via Steam or Origin, or any hard copy of a game. 

Penny Arcade is a comic by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. The Internet either loves or hates these guys. Stop by their site to make your own call.

Okay, fine, but girls who play so-called real games can only be so pretty, otherwise the girls must be fake. So every time I pick up a tube of mascara, my Xbox knocks an achievement off my profile, is that how it works? Or will I spontaneously combust if I pick up a controller while wearing nail polish?

In the current state of the gamer community, if you want to have ovaries and also be considered a gamer, you’re going to have to pull a Mulan. And for the love of God, if you wear a game t-shirt, you had best be hideously disfigured or be prepared to be quizzed.

Being a woman who loves the games she plays, I don’t understand why my mere presence is often reviled among men who play the same games. I can’t imagine what I could have done to deserve it. And even if men don’t want me in their games, they do still want games, right? Because if the gaming industry wouldn’t completely collapse without the participation of women, it would certainly die a long, drawn-out death. To quote a  woman in the gaming industry who is no stranger to controversy, former Senior Writer at BioWare, Jennifer Hepler (in an interview with Polygon): “Women represent over 50 percent of the population, tend to be in charge of household finances, and are the majority purchasers of games (when factoring in games bought by women as gifts for husbands, children, friends, etc.) To indulge a community that is actively trying to alienate this powerful market segment (not to mention gay men, casual gamers of all types and anyone new to the hobby), is suicidal."


Wren Guilmain

Wren.jpg

Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.

As Opposed to Fake Games?

The games you play affect your cred, forsake Farmville and play XCOM instead.
The Gamer Code; Chapter 4, Verse 1

VG Cats, written and drawn by Scott Ramsoomair is an institution among video game webcomics, and it's Canadian to boot! Go check it out.

This is my absolute favourite rule about gaming. You’d think I would save it for last, but I just can’t wait anymore. 

You’re only a gamer if you’ve played certain games. These games are so arbitrarily established as credible, and different for every gamer, that there is no point in trying to list any here.

Certain types of games are not respected, lately mobile games and social games are easy to pick on. I’ve even said that social games are not real games. I didn’t mean than anyone who plays them is not a real gamer, I meant, “Mom, for pity’s sake, QUIT sending me game invites over Facebook, and remind me to kill whoever showed them to you in the first place.” Social games are not my cup of tea. But they are games and they account for a lot of gamers. This is not too different from people who say MMOs are not real games. Or that the frustrating games that come out of QuanticDream are not real games.

Well then what is a real game?

As defined by a textbook I liberated from an Algonquin College Game Development graduate—yep, that dude I live with again—a game is "an activity that requires at least one player, has rules, [and] has a victory condition." It goes on to say that a video game is that, but on a video screen.

Pretty inclusive, right? It doesn’t say “any screen but a phone.” It doesn’t say it has to be popular or difficult or even good by anyone’s standard. It’s a game.

So I submit to you that anyone who is passionate about the games they play, whatever games they may play, is a gamer—my Mom is a gamer; she spends over an hour each morning playing Candy Crush Saga. She nearly lost her mind last fall when her hard drive fried. I went out and bought her a new computer for Christmas almost a month early because she actually couldn’t go a whole weekend, much less a month, without one. My Dad was a gamer—he played over a hundred games of Freecell, in order, and charted which games could be beaten. 

I come by my passions honestly. I’m a gamer too.


Wren Guilmain

Wren.jpg

Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.

 

Guide Guilt

To rise above the mere gaming whelp, never debase to ask for help.
The Gamer Code; Chapter 3, Verse 1

CTRL+ALT+DEL is a webcomic written and drawn by Tim Buckley

Check out his site for more webcomics, videos and a great blog

The myth that real gamers don’t ever consult walkthroughs or game guides is hilarious to me. It’s this generation’s version of a refusal to stop the car and ask for directions. How can you be expected to just know everything? Sure, part of the fun of a game comes from figuring out how to play it, but where is the fun in getting stuck on a map for three hours because you just can’t find the objective, to say nothing of completing it?

But, you may be tempted to say, if you can’t figure out how to beat a level, then you really haven’t earned the right to progress to the next one.

I suppose that’s a way to look at it. But that argument presupposes that every video game is designed well enough that any player who pays attention should be able to figure it out.  I spent a very frustrating hour, a few weeks ago, trying to figure out what, in the name of God, the designers of Beyond: Two Souls wanted from me. All I could glean from the voice of Ellen Page was that I hadn’t found the thing that I was supposed to interact with. I received no direction, except to tell me I was doing the wrong thing. Just as I was about to throw the controller at the screen in an epic rage quit, the guy I live with pulled it out of my hand and fought Ellen Page for another 20 minutes. He eventually figured out that I was supposed to go do something in an obscure corner of the map. 

Is he more of a gamer than me? Maybe he is. I think it’s probably that he studied game design for three years at this college and is now working in his field. When Nintendo Power died, I think part of it joined with his soul.  

While it’s true that the games of old didn’t require long prologue levels or official game guides, consider that those games were a lot less complex. A simple explanation of the controls is all you got because that’s pretty much all you need to understand Duck Hunt. It takes a little more direction to get the most out of Halo 4.


Wren Guilmain

Wren.jpg

Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.

Give Me a "Real" Challenge

“If you’ve not the cred you ought be getting, perhaps augment your difficulty setting.”
The Gamer Code; Chapter 2, Verse 1
 

If you're into games and you haven't given this one a shot yet, you probably should.

If you're into games and you haven't given this one a shot yet, you probably should.

“Say, Wren, what difficulty did you play The Last of Us on?” 

My hackles rose. I knew where this was going. Gamers don’t ask that question to start a friendly conversation. 

“Easy.” I could have lied, but I shouldn’t have to, so I didn’t.

The gamer, a co-worker, scoffed. I expected that.

“So: you didn’t really play it.”

I expected that too.

In just about everything else you do in life, when you start at the beginning, you have nothing to be ashamed of. When you learn to read and write, you learn your ABCs. Not so in gaming. If the rules of gamercred applied to literacy, you’d have to start by correctly spelling and pronouncing “hyperbole.”

Dara O'Brian, on video game difficulty and design. Some of his themes aren't for kids, folks, but then neither is Grand Theft Auto V.

The bulk of early video games started as arcade games. They were short and hard to beat because they were limited by the technology of the times. Now games can be more than just something to beat. Technology has taken leaps and bounds and we can do more with medium. The Last of Us is the very moving story of a man learning to trust and care for others in a world that had gotten well out of his control—and I wanted to experience the entire story for myself without getting spoiled. I’m a busy person, and I only had a day to spend on it, so I set it on easy mode and powered through.

“But that’s not real,” my co-worker actually tried to tell me. “You don’t have to, like, conserve ammo or scavenge for stuff. Stuff is everywhere.”

It’s a game, dude. Games are, by definition, not real.

But, insanely, my co-worker is a portrait of the typical gamer attitude toward game difficulty. Many gamers believe you can only be a gamer if you’re good at games. Playing to experience the story is almost blasphemous.  Again, I think this comes back to gamercred boiling down to commitment. The consensus among many gamers is that if you were really committed to games, you would be better at them. Right?

Well, that’s like saying if you were really committed to sports you’d be good at all of them. And I don’t think that Wayne Gretzky would do well rushing the Argos' defensive line.


Wren Guilmain

Wren.jpg

Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.

 

 

Hardware Hardship

“If a gamer considered, you wish to be, make haste and purchase the consoles three.”
The Gamer Code; Chapter 1, Verse 1

I’m staying out of PC gaming for this, not because PC gaming isn’t real gaming, but because PC gaming is actually a cut above console gaming. There are more variables, it’s more customizable, and if you’re really dedicated, the quality is better than anything you could expect from a console. That fact alone makes just about all the arguments gamers make all but moot. But I have to get five blog posts out of the weird rules of gamercred and I don’t want to trump them all with the same argument.

theGaMERCaT is a webcomic written and drawn by Samantha Whitten. Mosey on over to her website and have a look at it.

So let’s, for a moment, forget that games are expensive. Let’s forget that gamers also have other bills to pay like rent, food, hydro, Internet and sometimes tuition. Let's forget all that, because the spirit behind this rule is not to set up a financial barrier to getting into gaming (although it certainly does), but instead to set a standard by which to measure your passion.

By this rule, it’s almost forgivable if you don’t have all the consoles because you can’t afford them. We’ll almost consider it a hardship as long as you never give up hope. What is not forgivable is if you don’t want them. Under the rule of “the consoles three,” you must love games enough to want all the major consoles, even if you don’t have any interest in the games they run. Because, if you don’t love all the games available on these consoles, you don’t love gaming enough to call yourself a gamer.

Does anyone else smell a little hypocrisy?

For those of you who don’t know, the Wii U is NOT selling well. At last count, the Wii U has only sold 3.45 million units worldwide in about nine months. Well, you say, maybe there are only 3.45 million gamers in the world.  Maybe, but the other console sales would suggest otherwise. But maybe they’re the only real gamers. Maybe they’re the only ones who really care enough to call themselves gamers and look down their noses at the n00bs. Maybe they’re the only ones judging. Or maybe a lot of so-called “real gamers” out there aren’t living by their own standards.


Wren Guilmain

Wren.jpg

Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.