Gamer Geeks, help a sistah out

I need to put together a list of blogs and news sites for gamers, but I have scant knowledge of the field. I know a lot of my friends are into that scene, though, so I’m asking for your help. I’d like to gather as diverse a list as possible, so I’m looking not just for the major gaming sites and blogs, but the individual or group blogs about games and gaming that you love. I’m also definitely looking for sites that focus on gamers of color or female gamers. This is for work, so sites that cover exclusively console stuff won’t be useful, but basically anything else you can think of to suggest, please add to the comments.


Update: Because of my spam and moderation settings, long lists of links are putting comments in moderation, even from those who’ve been approved previously. Don’t worry, I am on it! I’ll fish you out as I have the chance.

Online RPGs and Freedom

I’ve been wondering this for a while and I’m hoping some of my more gaming-inclined friends can help me out.

This weekend at Comic con the folks behind Champions online and Star Trek online were there drumming up excitement for their games.  The Star Trek one looks really cool and the best part seemed to be the character creator — play an existing Trek race or create your own.  Yay!  I immediately thought of creating a whole race of super awesome black people and then tearing up the universe with them.

Anyway, I asked one of the people there if players were allowed to get together on one ship and ride around the world as a self-made crew and if they had to follow pre-set quests/storylines or if they could make up their own the way tabletop gamers do.  She said that each player has a ship of their own, so you can get together with buddies, but you’d all have a ship.  Also, there were quests you could go on or you could just explore.

As cool as I find the concept of MMORPGs, I feel like this is kind of a flaw.  And maybe this is a flaw of just Star Trek Online.  It seemed to me that WoW and Everquest and such was a lot like playing tabletop with the exception that you couldn’t create your own dungeons.  But you could still put together a group and go off adventuring together.  Everyone having their own ship is fine, but it’s not the same as putting together a crew, yanno?  And she didn’t mention if you could be part of a planet and then form planetary alliances and such.

I feel like there could be so, so much depth to a game like this — creating your own race, your own planet, your own government that then interacts with the Federation or your own space-faring military and other people’s planets and races and such.  That kind of freedom within an online game I could get behind.  I would pay good money for it.

As I said, I am not really a gamer, though, so I have no idea how realistic this is or if other MMORPGs do this better.  Anyone care to enlighten me?  I’m really curious!

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto

Wil Wheaton has a great post about moral panic and GTA, sparked by the fact that GTA IV comes out today. Before the game is even out there’s people freaking out about bus ads and screaming WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN and whatever other nonsense. Cue eye roll.

The fact that kids shouldn’t even be playing the game and that, if they are, then perhaps the problem is their parents’ inability to parent never comes up in certain circles. Go fig.

But what really annoys me is the panic about how horrible and morally degrading the game is. Not because of the violence, necessarily. People rarely ever get up in arms about that. But because the character can have sex with and also kill prostitutes. OH LORDY.

First of all, the player does not have to kill prostitutes if they don’t want to. Second, the player can kill just about anyone, not just prostitutes. Why are people so concerned about pixilated prostitutes and not pixilated old ladies?

I think we all know the answer.

Anyway, I only care about this because I love me some GTA. Oh yes! I own GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas. Surprised? Maybe not. But it may surprise you how I play these games.

When I fire up GTA, I do pretty much the same thing. I first activate a cheat so that the cops will leave me alone. I then activate a cheat to get a bunch of dangerous and fun weapons. Then I walk out of my safe house and find a car. I then carjack it. Then I drive off in a random direction and explore the city while hitting pedestrians, running into other cars and making their occupants angry, and trying to find new ways to travel to San Francisco and Las Vegas (if I’m in San Andreas). Sometimes I get out of the car, pull out a weapon, and randomly kill people just because I can. I particularly love the flamethrower. When nighttime comes, yes, I go around looking for prostitutes. I enjoy the little having sex/car jumping animation. Sometimes, if I am in the mood, I kill the prostitute. Sometimes I kill the ones that won’t get in my car. After about an hour of flying the plane, killing people, picking up prostitutes, and causing general mayhem, I turn the game off and go do something else.

I could make a joke about how doing this in a game keeps me from doing it in real life, but the truth is that I have never had the desire to find a flamethrower and go to town on some random folks. I don’t drive, but if I did I think I could refrain from crashing into cars and running down pedestrians. I don’t have any interest in prostitutes or in killing them, or killing anyone. Playing this game has not made me more likely to knife anyone. I am not more hostile than I used to be (I’ve always been pretty hostile, just ask F. Paul Wilson). I bet this is true for most people. But I am sure there are plenty of moral outragists who will pass out from the vapors upon reading my GTA routine.

These are the same people who are convinced that Harry potter will turn kids into Wiccans and/or Satanists. Basically people who themselves are unable to distinguish fantasy and play from reality and right thinking. People who, because they listen to whatever some authority figure tells them without applying their own critical thinking skills, are convinced that everyone else is the same. Sorry, but no. I can think for myself, I know right from wrong, and some book, tv show, or video game isn’t going to change that.