Being a Woman in Gaming

Typically there would be at least one other female gamer in the guild that I was in.  I don’t know if this is because we tended to find each other due to the type of leadership that the guild had.  I had refused to play with certain guilds due to how I was treated, or if they had provocative pictures on their forum.  I am fine with pictures of beautiful women but I’ll be out the door if they is pornography in your player forums…just….no.

In my experience there is always a lot of flirting in games.  When your guild has a male to female ratio of 15:1 you tend to see the women getting a lot of attention.  I have benefited from lots of help over the years in the game, I will assume that it was due to being a female.  I always try to pay it back or pay it forward but I’m sure there is an imbalance in my favor.

Along with the attention, women can also be the target of unwanted harassment.  There have been more than a few times where I received inappropriate and unwanted private messages.  It was even worst if it came from people that I played with on a regular basis or members of my guild.  It was a difficult position to be put in.  If a woman deflects advances she gets called a bitch and I’ve seen this type of negative notions get spread throughout a guild because rather than nurse a bruised male ego quietly, it was done with rumors and trash talk.  For about 2 years I refused to play in the same guild as my husband (boyfriend at the time) because there was this ONE GUY that would call me a “little c**t” every time I joined up with them to do group content.  I told him to cut it out, but he saw that it irritated me so he kept doing it.  One of the benefits of being the guild leader is that people don’t test my boundaries like this.  If they were to call me any sort of derogatory term they would be out the door faster a speeding ticket.

I’ve been exploring the world of how female players are treated in gaming to gain a broader understanding beyond my own experiences.  I found the Not in the Kitchen Anymore where a Jenny Haniver publishes clips of negative interactions that she has with other gamers.  I will tell you that I’ve listened to these clips and was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were “yea I hear this all the time” and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  Have I grown complacent to the verbal abuse that we face in these games as women?

So why do these men berate women in these games?  Is it a power thing?  Are the motivations to cat call women on the street or call them whores in video games the same?  I’ve often heard that women would be better off if they confronted the abuser and to this I am conflicted.  A few weeks ago I was the target of unwanted advances while at a fair grounds.  I will tell you that I did not give him an ear full for a few reasons, first – he was operating a ride that my child was on and I didn’t want her to become a target for retaliation after I rejected this man.  Second – I didn’t know what this guy was capable of, was he prone to violence?  or stalking?  I don’t know and I’d rather not put myself in a position to find out.

Barely doing Mythic + dungeons

So I used to think that gaming was going the way of catering to the more casual gamer.  Although, what I’m finding is that I can play some of the things but I’m punished for playing as little as I do.

Back in Wrath of the Lichking people lamented the use of addons like Gear Score and to our surprise Blizzard thought that scoring system for ranking a player’s overall gear was a good idea and implemented it into their base game and call it item level.  You can view a person’s item level when you are using the group finder addon and it is one of the few pieces of information that you see along with their name, class and role.  If you want to take your selectiveness to the next level you can use a website and addon called RaiderIO In theory this type of system is great for weeding out the inexperienced and poor performing players.  There was the occasion where I wish I had more information on the people that I was partying with people who end up freaking out in chat and then leaving.

The way that Raider IO scores a player is a little bit odd.  You get points based on how many mythic + dungeons you complete during the current week and you get more points for completing a variety of dungeons.  You get more points for completing these dungeons with a favorable time but you are penalized if you had a great completion the week prior and did not run that same dungeon this week.  So, in order to maintain your score you must continually do the dungeons.  I currently have a score of 211 which is considered pretty low, I have completed 4 dungeons for the week which were all between level 7 through 9.  If I had time I could complete a bunch of +4 or +5 with a great time and that would give me a better score than simply completing the 9 that I did where we didn’t make the time.  I don’t really get any points for completing raid bosses which is where my focus is for now.

I don’t have a ton of time this week to run these dungeons but I do plan on the future to do some sort of experiment.  I play a desired class for dungeons due to our roots and slows (frost mage) and I shouldn’t have trouble finding groups with my gear.  I want to run some +4/+5 dungeons and see how that effects my score.  I’m viewing my raiderio score as a metagame within World of Warcraft and while I’m a bit angry that I’m being excluded from groups based on this score, I would probably exclude players as well if I were the one making the group and wanted to succeed.

All of this being said, I love the mythic keystone system and its ability to challenge you.  I do want to form a more consistent group to do these so that I can do better.  I really need more practice since I’m a little fuzzy on the mechanics of all the trash and the boss fights.  There is a lot of information to remember and running through these dungeons more will definitely help with this.

What are your thoughts on scoring players based on a point system?  Do you find it helpful or hurtful?  How could raiderio be improved?

Early progression in Uldir

For a couple of expansions now World of Warcraft has been putting in place gates to their content in order to trickle out new things for us to do in game a little bit at a time.    In the past as soon as a new game opened up you would have access to all of the content including the large scale raids that require you to have between 8 and 40 people all at maximum level to be able to kill some bosses.  This often is where the best loot in the game was and was the goal of a lot of players to get to and through it.  The day that the expansion would launch you would have a mad rush to get to the end game, where many of us thought the game truly began.  We would play a crazy amount in that first week and it wasn’t unusual for my friends and I to clock in 16+ hours per day during this first big push.  Once we got to that final level we would switch gears and start hunting for the best equipment available to us outside of raids.  So this meant running the smaller dungeons which only require 5 players to complete, doing additional quests or any other task that the game developers decided that we would need to do to get some shiny new gear.  During this time, if there were attunements needed to get into the higher level content we would work on these as well.  A raid attunement is mostly a relic of the past and was just a way to further gate the content and slow down the progress of a player to reach this content.  Most of the time it was a time consuming task that we were forced to do in order to play the part of the game that we really wanted to play.  I realize that all this makes me sound like the grandma of raiding “Back in my day we had to do an insanely long quest chain in order to even step foot in Onyxias Lair”  and we did this backwards in the snow up hill, or something like that.  I only talk about the past to highlight how much better it is for those of us that enjoy raiding.

Full disclosure:  I used to consider myself to be super hard core.  The way these games used to be meshed well with my play style.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve witnessed the genre mature with me.  To my delight I can continue to play how I want to play and the game rewards me, perhaps not as much as the poopsocking-hard-core-world-first-striving raiders…but I feel like there is still a place for me and I am satisfied with the majority of how WoW feels today.

This time around we got a generous span of time to level up and work on our characters.  What the gates to Uldir finally did open, we were itching to get in there.  The layout of Uldir was reminiscent of Wildstar’s Datascape and Zul’gurub from WoW classic.  There were blood hexers and lots of pulsating blood graphics, which I personally don’t care for.  The fights were messy and chaotic and if your group had high damage output, many of the fight’s mechanics could be bypassed.  Some of the heroic fights were a little too easy and I know that once we clear the heroic version of Uldir we will be clammoring for them to introduce cross-server mythic raiding.

My guild is more community than guild at the moment.  Over the years we have formed lots of friendships with players that love raiding and communities have allowed us to play together without having to force everyone to pay for a server transfer.  This is great for us but we are faced with having to wait an estimated 3 months for the mythic raids to be available to us.  There are achievements for being one of the first 100 guilds of each faction to clear Uldir Mythic, I believe in order to make an effort to re-balance the factions.  More and more people each year are playing the Horde faction because…hello?  Bloodelfs!  The imbalance is especially prevalent at the very highest level of raiding.  Only 5 of the top 50 guilds as of today play the Alliance faction.

Wow Progress

Encouraging raiders to switch factions is a smart way to spread out some of the population.  I know that when ever I’m looking for a faction/server to play on in any game I look for:  1. a high population server and 2. Where ever the best guilds play.  I’m not alone in this.  Take a look at my server Illidan.   There are a lot of raiders on my server which makes recruiting much easier and is very attractive to players that like to raid since there are so many options for guilds if one doesn’t work out.  And if you really want to shoot for the stars we have some of the best guilds in the US on our server.

I’m hoping that Blizzard will decide to open up mythic raids for cross server sooner than the 100/100 clears.  The idea of a guild is changing with addons, cross server play and communities we shouldn’t be squeezed into the green-text guild box the same way that we played in the past.  We are evolving as a player base and measures like gating us out of content is not good for business.

 

Prioritizing play for a casual raider

I’ve come to dislike the term casual raider probably due to all of the negative connotations that go along with it.  When you called someone a “casual” or to really make the insult sting “filthy casual” it meant that as a player you were not very good at video games and lacked the ambition that made the rest of us “hardcore raiders” play so much.  Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I know what used to be the dirty word “casual” is an entirely different market of gamers that developers are now catering too.  First of all I like to let people know that I’m not casual, I’m a working professional with a family and all of that takes up time that I would otherwise be using to play video games.  As a working professional gaming enthusiast, I have had to take a hard look at my priorities in game and ruthlessly cut down my to-do list.  There is no way to do everything that I want to in game each day or even every week.  The following is how I have been balancing life with my insatiable need to play WoW.

Currently I’m playing the new Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft and while some of my friends are able to put in 10+ hours per day into developing their characters, I have about 3 to 4 hours at night and maybe a 6 hour block on most Saturdays to play.  First I look at what my big picture goals in the game.  Currently I want manage a successful guild/community and have us on a consistent raid schedule – further down the road I will want us to clear all of the current raid content.  In order to do this I start with a list of priorities:

  1. Recruitment like-minded players who want to play the same what that I like to
  2. Raid fight research and strategy development
  3. Character development

I’ve talked a little bit about how I’ve been recruiting players and how that’s been going.  I’ve had a lot of luck building out our community through advertising on the WoW forums.  Most of my time recruitment has been spent chatting with people that are interested in playing with us.  I’m terrible  at multitasking when it comes to playing and talking.  If I’m enjoying a conversation I can’t be playing the game at the same time or I’ll get distracted.  So I need to choose either playing or talking to applicants.  Our community numbers are over 200 players with about 60-70 online per night and last night we were able to fill our raid with 26 people.  I’m hoping to grow our numbers even further and get a second group going during a weekend night.  Of course this means that I’ll have to find time to level an alt if I’m going to be part of the second group.  One of these days…

mage

Raid fight research and developing strategies is an area that I want to dedicate more time too.  I typically have a ‘jump in and see where we land’ approach to learning a raid fight.  We can talk about the mechanics on a basic level but I believe that people (I) really need to see how something works to be able to learn how to do it. The first week of Uldir was a rough one for me.  I had done less research than several of my members and they ended up doing the fight explanations.  This week I was on point and spent a lot of time analyzing where our boss kill strategies were lacking and ways to simplify the fight for the individuals through group directions.  Basically means I tell people where to stand, when to stack up and spread out and what to kill and when.  If you can communicate this to your people and they are able to understand the general concept of the fight, we will be able to get that kill.  The more I see a fight the more I’m able to understand how to explain it, so when I had the opportunity to get additional hours on a few of the fights with one of my former raiding guilds I took it.

For the last month I have been spending the bulk of my time in game developing my own character.  No one wants to see the guild leader at the very bottom of the logs, and that’s where I’ve been.  I would be happy if I could sit more middle of the pack but it’s a challenge to do so while still making calls over voice chat.  I’ll sometimes catch myself just watching things happen without hitting my buttons just so that I can fully understand what went wrong so that I can correct the errors.  Sometimes this happens and we kill the boss anyway and then my lots REALLY suck.  I can pull some decent numbers if I keep my mouth shut and just focus on playing correctly.

I’ve finally gotten into a rhythm and will work on certain things every night.  Emissary quests can build up to 3 at once and do them all and that’s how I’ve typically been completing them.  I haven’t missed any yet!  The list seems long but I built this list based on what I’m actually doing and not what I’m trying to get done.

  1. Daily:
    1. Complete every emissary – these are the bonus rewards that you get for doing 3 or 4 of a specific type of world quest.  They also give a ton of reputation which I’m focused on getting in the most time efficient way possible
    2. Check the companion app for azerite quests
  2. Finish Weekly Tasks:
    1. Complete a high level mythic keystone
    2. Complete Warfront activities
    3. Expeditions for the weekly bonus
    4. Kill the world boss
    5. Complete the weekly if the reward is good (this week it is complete 4 mythic dungeons)
  3. Raid preparation:  I wrote about preparing on my mage for raid last week
    1. 10 Flasks
    2. 40 Crit Food
    3. Intellect Potions – I’m currently poor in game so I used these sparingly
    4. Stat Runes – Also use these sparingly
    5. All gear gemmed and enchanted
  4. Complete additional Mythic + dungeons for gear upgrades
  5. Complete world quests for Azerite and war resources
  6. Farm Gold

Since farming gold is so far down on my list, my in-game money has been dwindling.  I’ve been stingy with my consumables and since I’m an alchemist my flasks last 2 hours which cuts the amount I need to buy in half and saves me about 6,000g per week.  I’ve only started to get to an uncomfortably low amount of gold and started looking at some ways to refill the coffers.  One of my characters is a Tailor/Enchanter so I’m currently looking at an item that I can craft a bunch of and disenchant for a profit.   I’ve crafted a few of the alchemy items called Potion of Herb Tracking, which goes on your companions and they return herbs when completing a mission.  I’m confident that I can make enough gold to pay my subscription and replenish my battle net currency back up to the cap of $350.

Mage Consumables for Raiding in BFA

I’m playing a mage this expansion and I know that dealing damage is a much more competitive scene than how I typically play, which is healing.  As a group be are going to be maintaining the stance that you are not required to use the expensive raid consumables this first week.  The normal and heroic versions of Uldir will be out today and we plan to get through all of normal and some of heroic.  While we are not requiring consumables this week I do know that most of my group is competitive and will be using them anyway.  I want to be prepared and will be using my consumables if we are not able to kill a boss in one or two tries.  I may not be using all of the items that I bring in preparation but it is nice to have the option to if I want.

flas of endless Fathoms

If you are going use any consumables at all the best one to start with is a flask.  The great thing about flasks is they will last the entire one hour even if you die.  This is not the case with most of the other consumables which will only last through one death.  Knowing how many flasks you need is a simple calculation of how many hours you will be raiding.  A gain of 238 of our main stat is a huge increase and will definitely help make up for the lack of gear that I was able to get in the first few weeks of the expansion.

 

There are different levels of food consumables and depending on what your stronger secondary stat is you will want either crit or haste as a frost mage.  An easy way to find out your ideal stats is to do a quick sim in raidbots. This will tell you what type of food is best to use.  You can choose a food that will increase a single secondary stat by 41 or 55 points, and you can only use one food at a time.

 

Augment rune

Augment runes are an item that was first introduced in Warlords of Draenor and served as an additional consumable which you could get as a random drop in dungeons, reward from follower missions and can also be bought and sold on the Auction House.  During the first few weeks of a new raid tier the price of these will sky rocket.  Since these do not persist through death you could potentially be using a lot of these on new content.  I have some of these runes but plan to hold onto them until we have a strategy down for a boss and just need that extra damage to hold us over.

The final consumable that I would use would be one of the battle potions which grants great increase for a short period.  You always want to make sure that you are timing these potions effectively.  I’ll be using these along with my Icy Veins during our initial burn phase making sure to use it a couple seconds before the boss is engaged and then again when I have cool downs available.  You are able to squeeze two uses out of these potions if you time it correctly but they are expensive.

One thing that never seems to change with the game is that raiding is an expensive expensive.

Why aren’t MMOs monetizing mobile apps?

I’ve been playing online games for as long as the genre existed and have slowly made the transition from “I will never play a free to play game” to “I could totally pay $25 for that cool mount”  What I want to know is why none of the big MMOs that are able to make enough money to continue to add content are not capitalizing on mobile apps?  I’m absolutely obsessed whenever there is a mobile app for the game that I’m playing.  It helps me feel like I’m more connected to my character.

Have you done the fashion show micro event in WoW?  It puts you in a room with a few other people and you dress up your character based on a random theme that it selects.  They are usually along the lines of “summer” or “winter” or “faction pride” and you go from there!  The last time I played this event it was the only thing that I wanted to do, to the point where I got every armor set of ever armor type on several different characters.  Why is this game not a mobile app?  Do you know how much more time I would spend on my transmog if this was a feature?

There are tons of other MMOs out there that all they have is cosmetic gear.  I could imagine an app with your character model and being able to try on gear similar to how you can in game.  Am I crazy for think this might be popular?  Would this be hard to do?  I know next to nothing about game design so knock me down if what I’m talking about would be crazy expensive.

Also being able to do WoW pet battled would make that part of the game amazingly fun for me if I could do it on my phone.  When I do them in game currently I’m just reminded of playing pokemon on my green gameboy pocket and being able to do it in bed.  I want to play pet battles from the bathtub!  Yes I know I can play the real pokemon but I love the idea of being able to advance my characters in the MMO that I’m playing while not having to sit at my computer to do it.

Finding that Work/Life/Gaming balance

As we close out the first full week of the new World of Warcraft expansion I’m feeling accomplished.  I didn’t put in as many hours as some did but felt like I got a respectable amount done.  I played about 14 out of the first 30 hours that the game was out (don’t judge me).  Once we hit level cap, the hubs and I decided to do what all the hard core players were recommending which was to grind out all of the World Quests.  We did that the first night and that was all that we had time for.  Not wanting to spend 5 hours per day doing world quests, the second night we did minimal amount of world quests and began to explore the game.  I spent some time working through some of the story that I hadn’t finished yet, working on my professions, and doing some casual dungeon groups with our new community.  On Saturday, Sunday and Monday night I worked on the Mythic difficulty of the dungeons since those had some of the better gear rewards.  I was on track to complete them all when my high population server started to stutter.  We had a group and had completed one so far and were heading to the next zone when we got an error of “Instance Aborted”  and were sent back to where we came from.  I don’t recall this happening before and it may be the rose colored engineering goggles but I think this may be one of the worst wow expansions launches in recent history.  First we had a 6 hour period the first night where we couldn’t log on and now the server was having problems and preventing me from completing my last two mythic dungeons.  So sad 😦

On top of this being a busy week of exciting new video gaming, I also found myself extremely busy with work.  I’m part of a fairly fresh team and there is a lot that we want to do.  Anytime there is something that we want to do I add it to my list to work on.  Last week I was about to cross off 6 things from my list but ended up adding 10 more.  This is not the way you complete a to do list…There are a lot of technology challenges currently with the way things are set up and it creates a lot of roadblocks to automating tasks.  I’m a macro/automation junkie and I’m having a hard time when I need to manually do a task that will take me several hours if not several days.  On top of these challenges I’ve been slightly distracted at work last week, making sure that I bump my recruitment posts every hour.  I’m definitely not doing that this week since we seem to be in a great position with guild/community recruitment.  We have a general interest meeting next week that will give us a better idea as to number of players that actually want to do the large group content in the game.

The state of my house has been suffering a bit from last week’s video game binge.  We got take out for dinner more than usual, we almost exclusively used paper plates and the clean laundry has been living in a pile on the couch for the past few days.  At least I’ve been keeping on top of dishes, which I cannot neglect or we will soon have an ant problem.  My house is only moderately messy, thanks to my cleaning spree in preparation for the gaming that we planned to do.  Also my two year old need some more outdoor time this next weekend.  We normally go to the pool, but this past weekend it was cold and rainy and I think she got a little cabin fever from too much sitting around.  This weekend ACTIVITIES WILL BE HAD!  I’m making it a point to not be gaming while my daughter is awake during the week.  That few hours that we get to spend together during the day is precious and requires my full attention.