Games, Guns, Politics and EA Earnings Call

“… there has been an  enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field about looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence, and they haven’t found any.  And I could give you long stories about how people in Denmark or the UK or Ireland or Canada consume as much or more violent games and violent media as they do  in the United States, and yet they have an infinitely smaller incidence of gun violence.”

- John Riccitello, EA Earnings Call, 31st Jan 2013

Like many non-Americans, I watch the current round of discussion in the aftermath of the (latest) tragic school shootings with mild bemusement. To me it reads as though the NRA blames computer games and basically anything and everything else they can think of except guns. And whilst the various industries and groups picked out rebutt the claims, they don’t seem able to respond in kind. Like:  It’s not the games, it’s the everything else including the guns. (I know how playground arguments go, that’s what you do.)

The part where the government then runs around consulting everyone and tries to think of some kind of quick fix doesn’t induce mild bemusement, that’s business as usual – except that the US government is more competent than our homegrown omnishambles.

Riccitello isn’t politically able to take a poke at the NRA  (too many US gamers and investors don’t want to hear that argument), but it is his job to defend his corner of the gaming industry, which is an uphill struggle when you can’t use one of your best arguments. As soon as he starts citing countries like Canada, the UK, Denmark, and Ireland (as per the above quote), it’s kind of implicit that:

  • Gamers are gamers. People are people.  So you can compare like with like in different countries.
  • One of the big differences between all of those places and the US is that they all have strict gun control, which may be relevant if we’re talking about gun crime.

In any case, EA are shuttering the Medal of Honor series for awhile, because the last game was a critical disaster that vastly underperformed in sales.   This is a purely business decision and nothing at all to do with the political climate. They’re enthusiastic about other shooters like Battlefield and again, they’re too reliant on selling shooters to criticise them or stop making them anyway.

So again, a bit of dancing on eggshells to put this across while backing the government’s call for research into video game violence and also asserting that there’s no connection between gaming and RL violence.

Gaming <—> Violence? Who knows?

We take tremendous joy in virtual violence. We squeal with glee when life-giving liquid squirts out of men’s necks. Does that cause violence? Probably not. I don’t have any concrete reason to believe so, anyway. But it gives violence an active, constant role in our day-to-day lives. We can’t just ignore that. We shouldn’t ignore that. It’d be outright irresponsible to do so.

– Nathan Grayson, Rock Paper Shotgun

Personally, I’m all for more research being done on links between gaming and violence. I doubt that gaming has much to do with violence, it’s as likely to be a substitute (i.e. people who might otherwise have gone out and got into fights may play games instead) as a normaliser. But I could be wrong, and it would be good to know more if we can.

And if it becomes less politically fashionable for devs to make ultra-realistic ultra-violent shmups then I won’t be complaining, since it increases the chance that more games will be made that I personally like. John Walker (also in RPS) argues that EA should not have canned Medal of Honor but instead use it to springboard a series of FPS games that challenges the players preconceptions and portrays the experience of soldiers with more choice (and therefore taking responsibility for the consequences of those choices) and less railroaded “kill X enemies” scenarios.

And I think “yes, that sounds interesting”, I’m playing through The Walking Dead at the moment and loving how it carefully explores its genre. I could imagine a war game that took a similar approach. But I don’t like FPS games, and that’s the problem in a nutshell. Your average FPS player may not be your average story-loving RPG fan. EA probably did the right thing to shoot MoH in the head.

Thought of the Day: Measuring engagement with games

As a gamer, what I really want in an MMO is to be able to hook up (for gaming :P ) with other players who are roughly as engaged in the game as I am. That’s much more important to me than how hardcore or casual they are in terms of hours played. If I care about the lore, I want to play with other people who care about the lore to about the same extent – maybe a bit more or less but not with a huge difference in approach. If I care about raiding, I want to raid with people who care roughly the same amount that I do. And so on.

Alongside this, players tend to get more engaged in a game (assuming they like it enough to keep playing) as they play, possibly reaching an apex and then either burning out or dropping to a more casual level of engagement. And some players will never be all that engaged with a game because it’s not their ‘main’ game anyway.

The games I most enjoy will tend to be the ones where I find a guild that also attracts other people who share that sort of level of engagement. The officers are likely to be more engaged and rank and file tend to be less on the whole, but people who really don’t fit will be in the minority. Add to this that some players are more engaged in some of their alts (or guilds)  than  others (“Oh, this is just my goofing about alt”) and really the problem of finding the right match in a player group is just becoming so huge and complex than I am amazed we can ever find a good guild in game.

So the problem is: how to find other players who are similarly engaged with the game to you, will share the same engagement curve for awhile at least, and that you are able to get along with. That is to say, players who care about it as much as you do, but not too much more or too much less.

Gearscore, for all its faults, is a kind of way to measure engagement because you usually have to put a bit of effort into the game to get better gear. But this isn’t really useful if gear can be easily bought and sold for RL cash (as in Diablo 3) because RL money spent doesn’t equate to engagement in the same way that time does.

And although I think there is an increasing drive to find a guild through out of game communication (eg. fellow bloggers, people who post on the same bboard, members of a previous guild), you cannot really KNOW how engaged a player will be with a MMO until they actually play it. So the best guild matching can only be done in game.

Is it possible to be too engaged?

Whilst it can infuriating to play with someone who genuinely doesn’t care about their character, playing well/ better, or reaching any in-game goals at all unless you’re coming from exactly the same angle, it’s also really annoying to be playing with people who just take the whole thing too darn seriously (unless you are one of them in which case it’s great.)

I have been thinking about this from a discussion I was having with Stabs in the comments to his post about Prime, which sounds like a fun game that will inevitably be dominated by people who take it too seriously for my tastes. It’s not for me, but if you enjoy playing with a hardcore take-no-prisoners crowd, then keep an eye on this one.

So many games, so little time

It’s that time of the year again – just as the weather is getting warmer and everyone is recovering from the inevitable colds, flu, and chest infections and wants to be outside (apologies to anyone in the southern hemisphere for the UK bias) – what happens? We get hit with a slew of AAA computer games. And offers on old ones.

Games I am playing at the moment:

Rift – I really do enjoy Rift, and I don’t think people are anywhere near appreciative enough of the PvE/ questing content. It’s not revolutionary but bug free and nicely executed. Technically it’s good too – there’s a nice variety of kill quests, collect quests, use the item quests, use something in the environment quests, etc etc. And if you actually read the storyline quests in each zone, they’re good fun.

It’s a very easy game to spend an hour or so in quietly, even if you don’t feel like running the Rifts, instances or warfronts. Of course my character is still only level 30 so I can’t speak for the endgame. I intend to write longer posts about Rift since I’m happy with my 6 month sub, love the warlock, and looking forwards to seeing how things go. It is noticeable that the population has dropped off after the first month, but maybe they’re just all busy with single player games. Tipa writes a more thoughtful review here.

Dragon Age 2 – I haven’t gotten very far with my second play through as a mage yet, but it’s on the back burner. The more I think about this game (and I have been thinking about it) the more I love what they were trying to do. I find that a) I’m quite forgiving of games that fail to meet their vision if I agree with the vision and b) my characters in Bioware games default to Captain Jack style bisexual (he’ll screw anything as long as it’s gorgeous).

Mass Effect 2:  Since Bioware have been giving this away free to DA2 purchasers, it would have been rude not to download it. I got as far as where Shepherd first meets the Illustrated Man but haven’t really felt the need to play it since. I want to, even though I think I have probably forgotten the various commands for switching guns and … whatever other shooter stuff it does. It’s strange that the Dragon Age games have been so compelling for me but I struggle to get very far with either of the ME ones. I don’t think ME3 is on my shopping list either, now that Bioware have been busy perfecting the shootery gameplay which I’m so bad at.

The Witcher: Another game that I really like but have not been driven to play for ages. Picked this up in the Steam Sale over Xmas and enjoyed the parts that I did play. Again, I wonder if I’ll be able to remember the controls or whether I should just restart from the beginning if I get the urge.

Dragon Quest IX: This is the game which for me defines why it doesn’t matter if you never finish a CRPG. I’m still barely half way through, I think, but wandering around and fighting animated cucumbers never gets old. It would be dull on a PC but on a handheld that you play for 30 mins at a time on train journeys, it’s great.

Sims Medieval: The issue I have with this game is that it’s not really the sort of thing you can just pick up for 30 mins: it needs time, preferably more time than you have. My evil Sim queen got pregnant and I got bored waiting for her to drop the sprog. I will go back to it, because I think they did a lot of things right with this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In particular the idea of a simulation game using genre simulation rules rather than real world to help with telling genre-appropriate stories has HUGE potential. Imagine if it has been Sims Fairy Tale instead of Sims Medieval — I think that’s where the franchise needs to go. An unholy mix of simulation and storytelling, and I’d be so there.

LOTRO: Finished the most recent epic book content and enjoyed it a lot. Very tempted to sign up for some casual raiding but I have one major issue. I don’t understand the new legendary item changes, so I have no idea how bad my gear is or how to improve it.

You’ll notice a running thread in my more peripatetic games which is that one of the barriers to me continuing with it is worrying about whether I will remember how to play. Remember this, because it’s just as valid with MMOs that you put down for a while and then pick up again.

On the queue or the wishlist:

Pirates of the Burning Sea: I still really want to find time for this because I loved it! But wow it’s been hard to find time.

Bioshock: I remembered being recommended this game so picked it up from the recent Steam sale for a pittance.

Portal 2: Out next week, in case you missed the hype. Tempted to wait a few months until it is cheaper.

Witcher 2: I think I should finish the first game really, and have some concerns about how well it might run on my system. But it sounds as though it will be awesome.

Steamlands: Some kind of bizarro steampunk tank building/tower defense game? I don’t know, I just know that I’m already sold on it.

Is this the end of the PC retail market?

There has been a lot of speculation this year about how F2P is the future of MMOs, and maybe of all PC Gaming.

But where exactly do bricks and mortar retailers fit into this model? The answer is that they don’t really. Cataclysm – likely to be the biggest PC release of the year – being downloadable directly from Blizzard on pre-order, is just the icing on the cake.

Sure, there will be many people who:

  • like boxes
  • trust the post office
  • have amazon/etc vouchers to spend
  • like saving money
  • don’t mind if their copy is a few days late
  • are being bought the game as a present so have to wait for the present-giver to turn up with it
  • aren’t able to take time off to play at launch anyway due to that pesky college/ work thing
  • want a collector’s edition
  • like standing around at midnight in a queue for hours dressed as a night elf because it’s social or something

But for everyone else, the ability to just download the new expansion in advance and be ready to go on the stroke of midnight is going to be hugely appealing. Especially in a genre like MMOs where getting to max level quickly is important for hardcore players. Those extra hours count (if you believe that the servers will be stable).

Clearly Activision-Blizzard will make out like bandits from being able to sell their game directly to players without having to pay a cut to retailers and distributors. Yes, the retail market is important for advertising but increasingly, that trend is diminishing.

Game Shop Nostalgia

And yet, I remember a time  …. a time when we would eagerly trek out to the specialist computer gaming shop to find out what was new on the shelves.

I remember one shop in particular, because it was near where my boyfriend (now husband) lived, somewhere in the great expanse of South-West London (“south west london nice part” as he likes to describe it, or “south west london miles from civilisation” as I would put it). The shop was down a narrow alley and consisted of one small room with white-painted walls which was full of shelves.

The shelves carried boxed PC programs. They weren’t stacked tightly so that all you could see were the titles, many were placed proudly so that the front of the box was on display. And boxes back then were quite large. Many of boxes contained games – some were years old, others new imports from the US – but there were also operating systems and various utilities or bits of business software. PC software at the time was very all-encompassing. When we went to the shop, it was a little, limited piece of geek heaven.

It closed many years ago. And the world has moved on.

Anyone else have memories to share about buying games in gaming shops?

Thought of the Day: How do you decide when to pay in a F2P game?

I think that the amount people decide to pay in a F2P game is highly dependent on what their friends are paying.

If you have friends in the game and they are mostly playing for free, you’ll feel like an idiot if you pay. If your friends are mostly buying a few things, you’ll be encouraged to do the same. If you don’t know anyone else who plays, or haven’t made any in game friends then chances are that you will only be playing until the next game catches your eye anyway. (Unless it offers a stellar single player experience which is not usually the case.)

So one goal for a F2P developer might be to nudge new players to engage socially with the more hardcore who are already paying.

The LOTRO F2P strategy of having both F2P and subscriber players on the same server might prove to be very smart indeed.

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Thoughts on burnout in MMOs and how to avoid it

via pwnware.com I was reading about Nick Yee’s idea of the five-phase player lifecycle in a game.

This can be paraphased as:

  1. Starting out. Everything is new and exciting.
  2. Ramping up. You know the basics, now you’re setting more long term goals.
  3. Mastery. This includes being settled in a social group for endgame as well as mastering your character, for whatever type of endgame you decide to do.
  4. Burnout.
  5. Casual/ Recovery.

The first thing that strikes me is that many players (probably the majority) don’t ever go through the  mastery and burnout phases. They hop straight from ramping up to casual, possibly even skipping the ramping up phase if the game offers that option.  (There should probably be a “6. Bored/ Distracted by new game or hobby” phase too.)

This means that casual guilds potentially attract a mixture of ex-hardcore players and never-will-be-hardcore players. Or in other words, our definitions for casual need  more work because some people will play a game casually but still be far more invested in it than others who play similar hours.

The other thing that strikes me is that ramping up is often seen as a noobish phase. It’s the part which the elite players try to rush or even jump, and everyone else is encouraged to short cut it by making use of offsite guides, videos, and other player generated tutorials.

And yet, if you ask players which their personal golden age was in their favourite game, often it will be the one where they had the longest time in the first two phases. Usually the first MMO they played, or the first one they were invested enough in to master.

So the pressure to master a game quickly might actually be encouraging players to have less fun, and get them to burn out faster too.

Another thought is that if people keep playing similar games and then picking similar classes, it will mean that they master a new game more quickly. Sometimes that’s even part of the appeal. If you anticipate a lot of competition in the role or an aggressive playerbase, it’s a confidence booster to know that you have previous experience with a similar class.

Once enough people do this, there is no one for the ramping up people to play with. We see this happen in older games. Starcraft (original)  is a good example, people have been playing that competitively for over 10 years. How many of them do you think are still ramping up or might be fun to play with for a newbie? Eventually, designers don’t bother with much of a tutorial. They assume the majority of players will be familiar with the genre. You see this a lot in shooters at the moment.

And people who pick a similar class because they just love the playstyle will still master it more quickly. That means that sometimes, playing the games and classes you love is a fast track to burnout.

I suspect this is part of the reason why post-WoW style MMOs have struggled to maintain long term subscriptions. The hardcore players mastered them fast because they were so similar to existing games, and it’s very difficult for a new game to instantly ship with enough content and depth to keep the hardcore interested for several months. Yet at the same time, casual players checked the games out and decided for whatever reason that they didn’t want to make a longterm commitment.

Burnout can be a mental health issue

If you type burnout into google, you won’t get a bunch of gaming links up top. You’ll be directed to mental health websites.

Here’s a definition which I picked from one of them:

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Being burned out on a game is very different from just being bored of it. This is why burnout is so strongly associated with hardcore players, who make the most commitments and feel the most stress.

So if you care at all about your own health, you really should act if you feel that you are burning out. Why? It will make you happier and less stressful in game and, perhaps more importantly, can show you how to cope better with burnout in real life if you should ever face that.

There are two types of player, those who burn out and those who don’t

And yet, there are players who do play similar games or similar classes for years at a time without ever seeming to get bored. They either find challenges in tweaking the playing style they love, or they enjoy the ease which familiarity gives. Or maybe they mostly know how to skip happily to the casual phase of play without ever worrying about mastery.

So what are the secrets to avoiding burn out?

  1. Recognise the signs of burnout before it hits. Unfortunately you probably need to have burned out on a game at least once to do this accurately. If you start hating the thought of logging in on a specific character or to do a specific instance or doing so puts you into a bad mood, then that’s a fairly good indicator.
  2. Is there one specific issue causing the burnout. One instance that you detest, some players in your guild who are driving you nuts? If so, can you find a way to minimise those?
  3. Diversify your game. Try a different character or a different spec. Join another guild with an alt and get to know new people. Try a different server.
  4. Play less on the character/ playstyle that is burning you out. This can be tough if you have time commitments to a raid guild, but you won’t be any benefit to anyone if you burn out. And no decent guild leadership would pressure  you to stay if that was the case.  (If they do, it’s a sign that you need to find a new guild anyway.)
  5. Diversify your hobbies. Putting all your free time into one hobby may help in mastering it, but it can help a lot with burnout to look at doing other things too. Getting more sleep also can’t hurt.
  6. Step away from or minimise stressful commitments. If being a guild leader or raid leader is stressing you out to the point of burnout, find someone to share the job or step down. Yes, it’s hard but this is a game. Also, it won’t help anyone if you burn out. It is sometimes possible to find ways to delegate or reorganise guild management so as to put less stress on one person, look into those. The bonus of recognising the signs of burnout is that you can do this before it is too late.
  7. Talk to people. Make new friends. Friends and communities in game can be surprisingly supportive, even just by being there. If your community is not supportive, it’s time to find another one. Spending more time with friends offline can help a lot too, it just resets your perspective.
  8. Know your limits. If you have X hours per week to play a game, don’t mimic a playstyle that really requires X+1. Don’t rush to be as hardcore as possible if it’s just not practical. Stress between life/ gaming balance will make burnout more likely and may make the consequences way more severe.
  9. Redefine your notion of success. In WoW at the moment, a hardcore raider might see hard mode Lich King as the only achievement worthy of note. And yet, many casual guilds are rightly proud of their normal mode kills. A casual player with no guild might be just as proud of having gotten a character to 80 and earned enough emblems to buy heirlooms for alts. So who is right?
  10. Consider whether you want to make the shift to a casual/ recovery playstyle. I’ve mentioned a couple of times the possibility of switching guilds or reducing responsibilities in game.
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6 Rules for Enjoying Hype (and some cool videos from GW2 and Clone Wars)

Some people just don’t deserve hype.

Here we are, stuck in the doldrums of the MMO year and going through the motions in games or expansions where the shine has long since worn off. You’d think that injecting some optimism and excitement about upcoming games would be welcomed with open arms, right?

But some players (and bloggers) seem to take it personally every time their expectations are raised and then shattered on the jagged rocks of a cruel reality that may ship with bugs and not offer some random class/ race option on which the player had set her heart.  This is precisely NOT the way in which to enjoy well presented hype. It’s a thrill ride, a trailer, an insight into the hopes and imaginations of the artists and producers. That’s all it is. Not a promise graven in stone.  Sometimes it’s more fun to go along with the ride and then – just like a rollercoaster – enjoy the inevitable emotional fall through the floor later on.

Film style trailers have become a big part of game advertising. They range from gorgeous high budget “artists impressions” that bear no resemblance to the game, all the way through to Bioware style mini-documentaries about how some part of the game was made. I think the Mythic crew have a lot to be proud of in the way that their regular videocasts used to promote different aspects of Warhammer Online and why fans might be excited about them before that game was released. It has obviously had an effect on the rest of the industry.

A couple of trailers released this week did a particularly good job of capturing my imagination:

  • Guild Wars 2 Manifesto – manifesto implies some actual promises and debate and the GW2 team don’t disappoint. It is also gorgeous. The game looks as though it’ll be great, although I don’t quite understand (from the voiceover) how if you love MMOs you’ll love it, and if you hate MMOs you’ll love it too.
  • Star Wars Clone Wars – this is SOE’s Free Realms style Star Wars game that is launching next month. This trailer sold me on it and I’m definitely going to check the game out. It just looks FUN.

But what happens when hype seems to promise something that no real world game can deliver? Whose fault is it really if people are disappointed when they see the real thing and it fails to live up to their hopes? It’s our fault. We are not naive little flowers. We know how the media works. We know how advertising works. We know that trailers intended to sell you on an idea and a setting may not be 100% game accurate.

So here are some basic guidelines to help you enjoy the hype for what it is, and not let the hype ruin your experience in the game when you see it later on.

  1. Enjoy playing the game in your head. Trailers are meant to be inspiring and to encourage you to imagine how the game world might be. If one catches your imagination then enjoy the ride.
  2. But play the game in front of you when/ if it arrives. You can choose to either look for the fun in the game you have, or complain about all the ways in which it fails to match the game in your head.  For example, people who complain because hunters in LOTRO don’t have pets, ignoring the fact that there is another ranged class which does have pets that they could also play. Sometimes you have to either say, “No this is not the game for me, I must have a bow class with a pet,” or “OK, I can change my concept a bit.”
  3. Don’t take the trailer too literally. Just because you thought you saw a blurry shot of an elf with a broadsword doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to play elf fighters as PCs. A dev team may also not be able to implement everything exactly the way they would have wanted it when the trailer was released. It’s not a guarantee.
  4. Take the trailer literally. Don’t assume that it implies something which the narrator didn’t say or show. For example, Gordon wonders how much instancing will be used in GW2 to let players feel that they affect the world around them. We don’t know the answer to that yet (although he’s probably right), as the trailer didn’t touch on it.
  5. Enjoy the emotional journey. We’re fans. This is our hobby. Getting worked up about trailers and arguing the minutae of minor lore details is what we do. If you read general MMO blogs you’ll notice that a lot of bloggers position themselves quite early on in the hype cycle as either fans or cynics. That’s the most fun way to ride the hype out. (I’m a huge Bioware fan, for the record. They won my heart with DAO and I can’t wait to play a smuggler in SWTOR. So I’m not going to post anything too dismissive of that here.)
  6. But don’t take it personally if you later change your mind. It’s OK to hype a game and then find, when you actually see it, that you don’t enjoy playing it much at all. Laugh and move on, on to the next wave of hype.

Thought of the Day: Why do games go out of fashion?

This week, I’ve been playing a variety of older games, or games which are built around unfashionable playing styles.

  • Starcraft 1 (THE old school RTS)
  • Dragon Quest IX (old school RPG, you wander around and kill stuff and get xp)
  • Thief 3 (picked up from the last big Steam Sale)
  • WoW/LOTRO (may be popular but the game model is 5 years old)

SC2 and DQ9 are both current chart-topping mega-sales games. Both of them are polished revamps of types of game which simply haven’t been fashionable over the last few years. Civilisation 5 will also probably be one of the big sellers of the year when it is released, and not because of its innovative game play.

So clearly players love them and are racing out to buy and play. Aside from the question of how Blizzard could afford to ignore a red hot property like Starcraft for 10 years rather than putting out a couple more expansions, maybe we need to think about why we view games as going in and out of fashion.

Some computer games will go out of fashion because they were designed around hardware that no longer exists. Or they were designed around limitations that no longer exist.

Some will go obsolete because of the internet. For example, these days you can assume that anyone who wants to know spoilers, tactics, or walk throughs can just hop online and get them. That affects the types of puzzles which people play.

Some won’t go obsolete precisely but will be refined out of recognition.

Some just reflect the current preferences of game designers or current views by publishers on who their main market/ profit is (Who is the core player? How much time do they have to play? What makes them buy games? What makes them pay more?)

Good design does not go out of fashion.

Why B Movies make the best games

And now for something completely different.

There’s been a lot of talk recently (and not so recently) about whether games are or can be Art. And although I’m sure that some would definitely fit the bill, I have a sneaking suspicion that the best games might not be inspired by the best Art …

And here’s a guest post I wrote on Syp’s Marvellous Biobreak Blog, about why B movies make the best game storylines.

10 cool posts to read over the weekend

I haven’t done a good links post for awhile. But not for the lack of material!

  1. Flaim at The Cognisance Council has some thoughts for tanks, from someone who doesn’t tank. Big Bear Butt Blogger has some more thoughts about the tank’s role in a group, from someone who does.
  2. I’ve often seen bloggers wish that MMOs were based more on skill than on grind. But here’s the other side of the picture, MMO Designer discusses why it may be better to reward players for time spent, rather than for challenge.
  3. Dwism writes a timely post on some of the easter eggs in WoW. The little details that bring the world to life (a bit) which people might miss if they just dash through following questhelper like dogs on leashes.
  4. Leigh Alexander discusses an indie game that lets you take your virtual revenge on guys who make catcalls in the street. (Warning: if it bothers you that some women may not like being accosted in the street, don’t read this.)
  5. A couple of great posts from The Psychology of Games. One on how people pick their guildies, and how players pick their guilds. And another on whether people behave better online if they pick an avatar that looks more like themselves.
  6. Back in March, Keen swore that he’d never touch another F2P game. It’s something that he still feels very strongly about, and he describes why he thinks F2P is going to ruin LOTRO.
  7. Jeff Vogel at The Bottom Feeder discusses anti piracy solutions. And explains why he thinks the options that players hate might be the ones which work best.
  8. Back in February, Larisa was already asking how WoW players were going to keep their enthusiasm going until November. We still don’t really know the answer to that.
  9. Kava is a Wow player and musician who writes a druid blog at Evil Tree. She’s recently been sharing her passion for gaming music, comparing classical music and opera with the Warcraft soundtrack.
  10. Syncaine talks about the lure of grindy gameplay in MMOs. Why do we enjoy spending hours killing mobs or doing dailies to chase that extra 0.1% damage?