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Some Like ‘Em Bigger Than Others!

This post will discuss mega-guilds vs smaller guilds, a Blizzcon 2014 wrap up, and a quick blurb about the Nexy Show!

Big vs Small: Which guild is right for you?

We’ve all seen or heard about mega-guilds. Alea Iacta Est (AIE) on Earthen Ring US, Horde side, and Convert to Raid (CTR) on Aerie Peak US, Alliance side, are two that immediately come to mind. These aren’t just large guilds, these are guilds so large that they quickly surpass the limit cap of 1,000 members so that “co-guilds” must be formed and guild chat connected with an in-game add-on called Greenwall, which was developed for this purpose. 
Now that the Warlords of Draenor expansion is upon us, many of the guild perks have been stripped away. There is no XP benefit anymore, as well as many other benefits we enjoyed. So, whether you’ve remained with WoW, you’re returning after a hiatus, or you’re a new player, you may be confused about which type of guild you belong in, or even if you need a guild at all.
For me, the mega-guild is a perfect fit. As chatty as I am on social media, I’m the polar opposite when I get in-game. I don’t want to talk (except for my bf or very closest friends), I don’t want to be bothered or noticed. Some people complain that you get lost in a mega-guild, but that’s exactly what I want. Yet, these guilds set up a Looking For Group chat channel which has lots of activity. This allows me to get in on a group if I’m in the mood and have time. It allows me to be social when I feel like it, and anonymous when I feel like it. Plus, forums exist to help people find guild activities and raid groups. There’s always something going on, any time of day or night. For someone with an irregular schedule, this can be extremely useful, especially at end game.
Because many people are looking for a more personal feel in a guild, the smaller guilds might be the answer. Do you want to be greeted by name when you log on? Do you want to engage in guild chat with a closer-knit group of people? Are you able to be online when the bulk of your guildies are raiding or running in various groups? Or you just want to be able to socialize? Then perhaps the smaller guild environment is right for you. Keep in mind that many smaller guilds are unable to complete the achievements to make some guild perks available, so if this matters to you, do some research on what perks you need and make sure that the guild can offer that. But being in a guild with friends can offer some unrivaled experiences in game, chances to laugh and have fun with other people through the same activity. I do keep a character in the Bitter and Salty guild on Earthen Ring US because I like those people and I like spending time with them in game. But their guild environment is one that is conducive to my need for space when I want it. You may have to hop around some smaller guilds before you find one that is a right fit for you.
If flying solo is your thing, you don’t need to be in a guild. Some people attach a stigma to that, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a personal choice many people exercise. There are methods like Open Raid and O-Queue to help you find a raid group or pick-up group when you feel like it. It’s a no-pressure way to enjoy the solitude if that’s what you need. Let’s face it, as stressful as day to day life can be, many of us turn to these games as a sanctuary, a place to unwind. And intrusive chatting can ruin that for many people. If you’re more comfortable being alone, don’t let the lack of a guild tag dissuade you from what’s comfortable to you.

Blizzcon 2014 Wrap-up!

I was among the fortunate to have attended Blizzcon 2014, and it was probably one of the best Blizzcons yet. Perhaps because Blizzard has so many titles now, and another on the way in the form of a first-person shooter (FPS). It’s not just World of Warcraft-con. Starcraft II continues to dominate the eSports scene in real time strategy games, and has a new stand-alone expansion upcoming. Diablo III, a dungeon crawler, recently offered up some new content. Hearthstone, a collectible digital card game, is new to eSports this year, but the competition was riveting, and there’s an expansion, Goblins vs Gnomes, in the works. Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA similar to League of Legends (from Riot Games), while still in technical alpha stage, showed the potential for eSports dominance with some exhibition matches. And now with the inclusion of Overwatch, a team-based FPS, Blizzard once again delves into a new genre with the potential for eSports competition, as well as being a fun casual game. Blizzard seems to have the uncanny knack for taking any genre of game and making it fun and easy for casual players, but offers up the options for hardcore players to take it to the next level.

WoW 10th Anniversary Party at Blizzcon 2014

Also exciting at Blizzcon was the additional information and a teaser trailer for the new Warcraft movie, and the premier of the Looking for Group documentary about the development of World of Warcraft, its rise as a global phenomenon, and what it means to so many people, from celebrities to members of the Warcraft community. Plus there were lots of displays, booths, and game demo areas for attendees to enjoy, as well as the WoW 10th Anniversary Party on Friday night, where you, too, could try some Thunderbrew Ale!
Next year’s Blizzcon might be the biggest one yet, with as much is going on right now! Will it expand to 3 days? We’ll see next year!

Fem Fem Fem Logic on the Nexy Show!

 I was lucky enough to join Esmeralda Sky (@casuallycasual) on her World of Warcraft podcast, the Nexy Show! Joining me was @Jaygurrl, and the three of us discussed our viewpoints on social issues in gaming from our own unique female-gamer perspective in a segment called Fem Fem Fem Logic. While none of us are self-described feminists, we have a different viewpoint on several of the gaming issues that have upset many in social media. You might find our viewpoint different and refreshing.
I recommend you make the Nexy Show (@NexyShow) a part of your permanent WoW podcast rotation. But if you’re looking for the episodes I mentioned, you can find Episodes 17 and 19 here at! I look forward to your feedback!

The Great (Gender) Divide in eSports

The notion of sexism in video gaming, and the video game industry as a whole, is one that keeps returning to the forefront of discussions on forums and social media. And many times, for good reason. While some incidents seem like molehills made into mountains, other incidents really leave you scratching your head and wondering what century you live in.

Recently, an eSports competition was taken to task over having separate divisions for male and female gamers. What’s so wrong with that, you ask? Well, it’s “e” sports. There is no advantage in physical size or strength between men and women working a keyboard, mouse, or controller. Mental acuity and hand-eye coordination are the main abilities used by gamers, and these abilities are not influenced by sex or gender. And to make matters worse, there are fewer games available to “females” in this competition, as opposed to the “male” division.

Several analogies have been made between this competition and the fact that many professional sports have male and female divisions, which may have led these eSports coordinators to feel it’s natural to do the same for their competition. I also received a comment that perhaps it helps to spotlight women in the competition that might not otherwise be noticed. Fair points, but allow me to share some personal anecdotes that might shed light on why this still doesn’t help women who want to compete in eSports.

I’ve always been a horse lover and owner, and I am an avid horse racing fan. In 2004, I discovered an arcade game from Sega called Derby Owners Club, or DOC. It allowed you to breed a “racehorse” from a list of sires and dams, save it to a magnetic card, race the horse, retire it, and use it as breeding stock to create your own bloodlines. The deeper you got in generations, the more powerful the “offspring” were. The DOC machine, which could be found at Dave & Busters, Jillian’s, and similar arcades, had eight consoles for people to compete against each other, for fun, bragging rights, and (as it turned out) ranked competitive tournaments.

Me being me, as soon as I found out I could compete seriously, and that there were tournaments all over the country, I set out to join the ranks. I got resistance immediately. As much as women typically love horses, there were no women competing on the west coast, and very few women competing around the nation as a whole. The first practice I tried to attend, I was turned away. I was told that I didn’t know what I was doing, and that I would be behind the “pros” at every step. I won’t lie: I cried on the way home, from anger. I took to the forums of that game, and blasted the folks who had ostracized me. Surprisingly, one of the local racers took pity on me, and invited me out to help me learn the proper methods to train and race my horse for competition. He basically held my hand throughout my first practice, and I was gratified when I actually won a race (out of 19).

I started attending every practice. Never did I see another woman compete. The only women I saw were the other competitors’ wives or girlfriends. But I wasn’t discouraged. I entered my first tournament in Peoria, IL. I was eliminated in the first round. Memphis, TN, I was eliminated in the second round. Alpharetta, GA, I made it to the semi-finals. Ontario, CA, I made it to the final table. By the time I quit racing in 2006, I had won a major tournament (the first and only female to have done so since the major tournaments were implemented), placed 3rd in another, was consistently making the finals, and was twice invited to the Tournament of Champions in Wyomissing, PA. I cracked the top 20 of 350 racers, and yes, by that time, I was the top ranked “female racer” in the rankings. Considering there were maybe six or seven other women out of 350, that in and of itself was not much of an achievement.

I still remember the surprise from some of the racers who were pioneers of this eSport when I beat them. I remember the incredulity when I got my trophy and prize money for winning the West Coast Major. I frequently heard my male counterparts tease each other with the put down, “You just got beat by a girl!” I knew what they were trying to say, and I didn’t get it. It was a video game. I was pushing buttons, not running around the track on my own legs. I didn’t care about being the top female racer, I wanted to be the best racer, period. And I was thrilled to make it into the top 5% of all ranked racers in the country.

This is why I strongly object to gender divisions in eSports. What good is it to be the champion of a limited field in a competition where physical differences (besides those who are physically challenged) don’t exist? Who wants to be the best of 10 competitors when they can be the best of 100? A gender division doesn’t help a female gamer feel empowered, it doesn’t help spotlight her in a positive light. It makes her feel less, like she isn’t capable of competing against males. She deserves the chance to hear “You just got beat by a girl,” so she can pat herself on the back and say “Damn straight, because I’m just as good, if not better, than the competition, male or female.” She’ll feel like an equal. That’s empowerment. And that’s what ANY eSports competitor deserves.

Afterword: I wrote this blog post on July 2nd. Today, July 3rd, the governing body of the eSports organization putting on the gender segregated tournament made a statement saying that it recognized the gaming community’s concerns and was altering the tournament format. There will now be an “open to all” division, with all the previously “male” game categories, and a “female” division with only two games, Starcraft 2 and Tekken (which, curiously, is not offered in the “open to all” division). The word on the street is that Blizzard Entertainment had a hand in bringing about this change as they didn’t want their games to be used in an environment that wasn’t all-inclusive. This is a step in the right direction.

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