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Mattchew’s Dota Musings: Moaning on Morality

Anti-Fun

Do you remember the good ol’ days in school, when you were on your soccer/basketball/football/chess team? Don’t you remember when a teammate messed up a play, how you threatened to kill him and his entire family?

What? NO?!

Yet this seems to be the norm in treating fellow players in Dota.

Why do we do this?

And I don’t use “we” lightly. I’m just as guilty as the next person in dishing out the hate.

To better answer this, I think it’s helpful to first analyze a normal, in-person competitive team mentality. When you were on that club in school, likely many of the members were your friends, or you had some semblance of a relationship. Almost everyone had a sense of team mentality- if enough people were getting too down on each other, the entire team would suffer, which also harms the individual. Performance goes down, the chances of winning goes down, and thus the chances of you attaining those warm and fuzzy feelings when you beat a team in a game requiring skill.

I would say that is probably the biggest driving factor of why we treated in-person teammates well. We knew, consciously or not, that if we were too hard on too many teammates, we would suffer. Not only in the game, but out of the game. There was still a social life to be had, and not too many people would want to hang out with someone that was constantly berating them.

So passion and social acceptance are likely the biggest factors of what kept us (mostly) civil during and out of team games. And not wanting to get punched in the face.

But then, what happens when there is an environment that is almost entirely divorced from those two factors? CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION. You can now do the following!:

1) Punch the person in the “face” by trolling or feeding.

2) Tell your teammate how many times you had sex with his/her sister.

3) Go on a mentally raping rampage about how you feel about a teammate’s abilities (I mean, let’s be honest, that Sniper WAS a n00b).

All because there’s no relationship fallout!

And if we’re completely honest, some of us find that fantastically liberating.

Dota is, for a lot of people, a kind of psychological escape from real world relationships. This is not implying  that these people are necessarily lonely in the physical world or have no friends on Dota. It’s just that when you speak to a Dota stranger in a way that you would never speak to a stranger on the street, you’re likely doing it because part of you is always tired of keeping up that facade. Dota provides release (…not that kind of release, Michael Scott).

Some might say this is a good thing. Competitive online games that allow people to act in this way provides a kind of psychological purge. Better that people take their aggression out in a fantasy world than the real one, where damage can be done. In fact, there’s reason to believe video games actually have lowered crime rates (link), and that may be the reason why crime rates have been fairly low during this recession.

That very well may be the case. And, when it comes to violence, I’m glad if that’s reality.

However, I think that treatment of people is in a different category from violence when it comes to this theoretical purging. We’re always engaging with people relationally; we’re rarely engaging in violence. I believe we’re always on the bleeding edge of telling people what we really think in the bluntest terms; and, as a society, we’ve created manners to dilute that speech so there isn’t as many misunderstandings.

When we start to disregard those manners, they atrophy. It’s easier to spill over to that side that doesn’t care how we say things.

And I think that’s really, really bad.

We treat, for the most part, the random person on the street well because we would want to be treated well. If everyone just acted on impulse and passion, we know that would be the crappiest society to live in. And it takes constant work to maintain those “manner muscles”.

Not only for your own humanity, but for the Dota community, treat random pubs as if you were going to see them the next day. Remember that there is fallout when you treat random people harshly, even if it’s not apparent, and even when they deserve it. We don’t want Dota to be the poopiest gaming society to play in, because it’s one of the best games to play.

When all else fails, hit the mute button.

Davvic and Duke Play Hawken

Continuing our spotlight on Hawken, we’ve made a Let’s Play video. Enjoy the adventures of Davvic and Duke as we romp through the beautiful world of Hawken. We’ll be making plenty more of these videos for Hawken and other games, so stay tuned.

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Starcraft 2 – LIG ducK [Z] vs thebrotoss [T]

Duck has been dominating the League of Inadequate Gamers for some time now. And when I say dominating, I mean he hasn’t been number 1 since the LIG started. Will thebrotoss be able to take down the Swarm? Find out as they battle it out (videos after the bump)

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Medal of Honor: Modern Warfare

I have many fond memories with the Medal of Honor series. Frontline and Underground are my favorite World War II games of all time. The first game was the brainchild of Steven Spielberg. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Medal of Honor has always been a cinematic experience with a fantastic music score, but if that is what you are expecting from the new title, you will be sorely disappointed.

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Halo: Reach – Let the Teabagging Begin!

Last Monday just before midnight, I found myself in a Gamestop full of awkward nerds who must have been trying to kill all the employees with the toxic fumes that their un-showered bodies produced in a desperate attempt to get their copy of Halo: Reach early. Upon asking the manager about this, he told me the midnight release of Starcraft 2 had prepared them for this underhanded tactic and built up an immunity to it.

Fast-forward a half hour and I perform my first teabag. My victim was a little kid who became quite furious after I told him he gave me Bieber fever. Kids these days.

The first thing you may notice is that the control scheme has changed a bit. Melee attacks are now more conveniently executed using the right bumper and action command/reload has moved to the X button. The only change that feels awkward to me is the B button, which changes your grenade type.

Physics have changed as well in Reach. Beatdowns (now called pummels) are less powerful, cutting down on the notoriously annoying “double beatdowns” from Halo 3, and you can now die or get hurt from falling too high like in previous games. You also can’t jump like Neo anymore, so you don’t think you can confuse people so easily by jumping over their heads.

Neo...jumping really really high.

One of the biggest changes to the game is the addition of a class system. Some gametypes will offer different weapon loadouts or abilities, such as a jetpack or the ability to create a hologram of yourself to trick enemies. Otherwise, you get to sprint, which can certainly be helpful in gametypes like SWAT when you need cover to survive. I find one ability in particular to be a little cheap as it lets a player become temporarily invincible and avoid taking damage from…oh let’s say a barrage of grenades.

The multiplayer maps in Reach are a mixture of old favorites and levels from the campaign. I feel that there are too few maps, most of which are ripped straight from the story, while a few others look like they were made by the developers in Forge. I would have liked to see much more variety here and am hoping they release a map pack soon. While most of the maps feel well designed, it’s only a matter of time before they get old. All the classic gametypes make a return with a couple of additions that are rarely ever played, like Headhunter.

The veto system has been drastically improved, now allowing players to choose 3 map/gametype options or the high school reminiscent option, “None of the Above,” which generates a new list for players to vote on while insulting each other’s choices over their headsets. Matchmaking in general has been beefed up as well, giving you more search customizations that help you be paired up with the sorts of people you actually want to play with. While this system has nothing on eHarmony’s 29 dimensions of compatibility, it still works pretty well. Unfortunately, you will still run into matchmaking searches that start over constantly as well as in-game connections issues. Nobody likes a laggy teabag, but we don’t have much of a choice, do we?

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Alan Wake DLC Numero Uno

I downloaded the first DLC of Alan Wake with no idea of what to expect. I had foolishly assumed that Alan would find himself in some new town or location, sporting a name just as ironic as Bright Falls. I was mistaken. To be honest, the setting is somewhat curious. While some of the terrain is new, much of it consists of revamped versions of chapters from the main storyline. I understand that developers need time to create new maps, but do they truly believe that gamers aren’t disappointed when they play through “new” content that isn’t actually new? To avoid this problem in the future, maybe they could try not releasing a DLC within a month of the game’s launch. Moving on.

Aside from that little tick, I didn’t really have any problems. The DLC adds a new chapter called The Signal, which sends Alan on his merry way through what appears to be Bright Falls again. I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure if it really was the happy town from the main storyline or whether it was a world created by Alan’s mind. The story was a little dry. This time around, Zane has Alan trying to find the source of a mysterious signal. Along the way, he encounters lots of TVs that narrate the events that you are about to face.

We have seen already that Alan isn’t exactly the sanest character in a video game, but in this chapter it becomes unbelievably apparent. The world is affected by the his mind and it definitely reflects the madness within. The chapter plays like a bad acid trip and you can really see the writer’s sanity crumbling. This alone made the DLC my favorite chapter in the game.

Alan seems to have a lot of control over the world in this The Signal. Like at the end of the previous chapter, he can now use his words to create objects into the world. Often times, you will find words in the environment like “boom!” This clever onomatopoeia creates an explosion that you will surely need to take out the mobs of enemies converging upon you. There is also a fun little section where you are surrounded by “booms” and “enemies” and are being attacked by birds. You have to be careful or you could bring these to life and quickly find yourself overwhelmed.

The Signal gave me another fun hour or so and really got me excited to see where the next chapter takes our brooding writer. Though this chapter didn’t really explain much, I’m hoping the next DLC will reveal some key set piece that will put things in perspective.

The Good: More great Alan Wake gameplay.

The Bad: Still stuck in Bright Falls.  Not a lot of story.

The Verdict: A must download for anyone who enjoyed the main game.

Written by Not Judas

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