What Was Your Favourite Game of 2015?

imageIt’s that retrospective time of year and i thought I’d throw out a question to our dedicated readership on what your favourite game was this year. It’s not about sales, it’s purely about the game you enjoyed the most during 2015.

For me it’s an easy pick: I enjoyed Destiny: The Taken King the most this year. Fallout 4 is a very close second but I have to give the guernsey to Destiny for chewing up the biggest chunk of my gaming time this year. It’s battle style and graphics totally sucked me in.

What about you – we’d really love to get your pick of the game of the year (and why you chose it) for 2015 and we’ll be discussing your choices in-depth on the next podcast. Fire away!

Destiny: The Rip-Off King

I want to start by saying I am a Destiny fan. I pre-ordered the legendary edition and have no problems with it. I have been playing since the alpha and have enjoyed the game immensely. But today I am seriously questioning if I will continue to play anymore. Why? Because the newest expansion (this one I will call an expansion as it actually looks to be one content wise) is going to cost more to buy in Australia than the original game. Since when has an expansion ever cost more than the original game?

I would much rather be writing about all the great things the expansion has in store for us. New sub classes, new story missions (with actual story included this time round), new strikes and a new raid. All stuff I’m extremely keen to play. Plus I’m sure there will be new trophies/achievements to pickup, which will help entice some of my clan mates back into the game. But instead I’m sitting here writing about how it is going to cost me more than the original game did. And that’s not right.

Let’s first look at the offered pricing coming out of the US. The digital download of taken king is US $40 (AUS $51.77), The “Legendary Edition” is US $60 (AUS $77.65), and lastly the Collector’s Edition is US $80 (AUS $103.53). Also announced today the price for the digital Collector’s Edition items (that’s only the digital items included in the collector’s edition, not the game) US $20 (AUS $25.88). All the prices listed here when converted to Australian currency all look to be pretty reasonable (excluding the digital collector’s items only which I think is overpriced both in the US and Australia) from an average consumer point of view. When Destiny launched in September of last year the Standard Edition was AUS $79 at most retailers. For comparison to another AAA title, I purchased Batman: Arkham Knight yesterday for $69 on the PS4 (on special, normal price is $89 at the retailer I went to). So that’s the prices we should be expecting, however Bungie and Activison seem to have a different idea in mind.

To break it down this is what we are looking at in terms of price from the current pre-order options available in Australia (according to the official Destiny website). To Pre-order the expansion digitally the options are as follows: PS4 $119.95


And Xbox One $119.70:


Those are currently your only digital options Australia. You’re seeing that correct! You can only order the digital collector’s edition. There is currently no way to pre-order a straight up digital download of  just “The Taken King” itself. If you select digital download on the Bungie website for your selected console your only options are “coming soon”, except for the Xbox One which does offer a link to the Xbox store but there is no price currently listed.

The big thing to keep in mind is this is the digital price. Not the physical price. I can’t stress that enough. So shall we compare the physical copy prices now? Well it’s not going to get much better folks. To start with let’s look at what they are calling the legendary edition. The two pre-order options for Australia listed on Bungie’s website are JB Hi-Fi and EB Games (Australia’s version of Gamespot). JB Hi-Fi has the legendary edition listed for all consoles at a staggering $99:


That’s a whole +$20 more than what is being paid in America. Sadly our other brick and mortar option isn’t much better. EB Games is also the only retailer selling the Collector’s Edition. And again they are charging another $20 more than when purchasing in the States:


What’s your take: will you be forking out for The Taken King?

(No damn way at that price – Ed)

Destiny: What’s Wrong With It

UntitledDestiny. It’s one of those games that divides gamer opinion. It’s a game you love to hate, but if it gets its hooks in it will be one you won’t want to stop playing. You only have to look at Polygon or Kotaku any day of the week to see that the game has its fair share of issues. Yet these same people at both sites can’t seem to stop playing it or writing about it. So what is it about Destiny that keeps people coming back for more? Well for each person I’m sure the reason is different. For me, I keep coming back to play with my friends, and with the competitive nature we all share we keep trying to out perform each other. Also I am part of a pretty relaxed raid team that can complete the content and enjoys playing together. And if you ask any end game player, they will tell you that the raids are the best parts of the game.

So what is wrong with Destiny? If you’ve spent even half an hour in the game you will probably notice that the game is very, VERY story light. It’s most noticeable after the second mission when in the cut scene the Speaker says “I could tell you about…” and then doesn’t really tell you anything at all. Even better is another point in the game when you first meet “the Stranger” and she says “I don’t even have time to tell you why I don’t even have time.” Thankfully this has improved slightly in the recent The Dark Below (TDB) Expansion. Eris is a character that at least attempts to fill in some gaps. Not many gaps are filled in, but something is better than nothing.

The biggest problem with Destiny’s story is its delivery. There are countless moments throughout the main campaign where the opportunity to fill in the blanks is missed. An example: the line about the wizard coming from the moon, that was cut last year, is early on when the player encounters the hive for the first time. Now your ghost simply says something about the hive being on earth and that’s the end of the mission. If you were to do only the main story missions you would next go to the moon to track down a missing guardian for the speaker. The problem here is that the main story essentially skips two missions about Rasputin, which itself could be better integrated, and doesn’t provide a link between your first hive encounter and your reason for heading to the moon.

My idea to rectify this plot hole would be to have a dialogue with the speaker or your vanguard mentor where you report about the hive being on earth. Following this they maybe send a fellow guardian to the moon to investigate what the hive are doing there, while they send you back to Russia to find out what the hive are after, which would lead you to discover Rasputin. Once you get Rasputin up and running again, you return to your Vanguard mentor where they inform you that the guardian who went to the moon has gone missing and they ask you to seek him out. By doing this it would give the player the sense of inclusion into the proceedings at the tower and also it would give the NPCs a chance to have a personality. I’m not saying this needs to be fully integrated cut scenes, just put a small dialogue tree in when returning to the tower with mission rewards. It might not be much but it’s still better than what is there now.

As I said before, the problem isn’t so much the story itself, but its delivery. Other ideas to help with story mechanics for House of Wolves, or any other future content, would be to include the NPC characters in the missions. For example, have Cayde-6 (the hunter vanguard mentor) show up half way through a mission to help you track down and kill the boss. Doing this it would give your guardian a chance to speak. The few times you guardian does actually speak in cut scenes are the only good parts as it finally gives the NPCs someone to have a back forth dialogue with, even if there is very little dialogue there. Bungie did this is in Halo with Sgt. Johnson, so why not do something similar with the Vanguard mentors.


The other big story problem with Destiny is the Grimoire. Yes all the story that fills in the blanks is in there. But guess what? No one wants to go to the website to read it. I have seen many people say it should be in the game. One of my mates said just for looking at reputation levels he doesn’t even want to look at it on his phone or on a laptop screen. His reason: he doesn’t want to put down the controller to do it. All these things are essentially menu screens that need to be added. Probably a lot easier said than done, but when you pick up any RPG with extra background information/story, you can usually find it all in a journal of some sorts. Mass Effect and the Elder Scrolls series are great examples of this. Even last years Dragon Age: Inquisition has something along these lines (which reminds me I should go back and play this some more as it is bloody amazing). Hopefully this is something be added in the background for future DLC or updates. If you’re looking for a great way to get into the Grimoire, look no further than the Guardian Radio Networks audio Grimoire cards. All voice acted, brilliantly done and worth a listen.


The other big problem that turns players away in droves is the walls that are placed in front of a new level 20 guardian. This was not something I was aware of until I was listening to Flash Point Episode 92 the other week. Essentially Simon, David and David all said they were stuck at the grind to get better gear so they could just participate in TDB missions. From what I was able to understand they were doing the strike playlists, which itself is a great start, but is not the best way to get legendary gear. The problem with this scenario is there isn’t any real explanation on what to do once you reach level 20 in the game. In the mentioned scenario here I would recommend the guys do the weekly strikes to start out as even at the lower levels the chance to get a legendary piece is higher than doing the strike playlists. The problem with this is the minimum level for this is level 24 (prior to TDB it was 22) so having a few pieces of blue gear with a reasonable light level before attempting this would be a good idea. By doing the weekly strike they would gain 3 strange coins (more depending on the level being completed). Once they get thirteen they can trade them in with Xur, in the tower on the weekend, for an exotic piece of armour. One exotic piece starts with a light level of 30 and can be upgraded to 36. That alone would boost a new player up a few light levels. But there are no tool tips or information provided to the newly levelled player to guide them to discover this.

I mean seriously, just put in the tool tip for strange coins that says something like “can be traded for powerful armour and weapons in the tower”. Not really rocket science here. The other big barrier here is weeklies still have no match making, so if you don’t have a few friends to group with you’re on your own for the entire strike, which is doable but for some new players can be extremely challenging and off-putting.


Finally, I want to talk about expansions. I’ve got no issue with the content or how much there was or even the price. My problem is calling it an expansion. If you look at it as a straight up DLC content pack or more like a DLC episode than an expansion, then size and cost don’t seem like a big deal. Let’s compare it to say, a Call of Duty DLC pack. You get maybe 3 or four multiplayer maps and a co-op map and a couple of new guns, for I believe $15-$20. Most people seem to see that as reasonable. Now for almost the same price with Destiny we get a new raid, some new single player missions (which can be done co-op), 3 new multiplayer maps and new weapons and armour. So comparatively, Destiny’s DLC seems like the better deal. I’m not saying the DLC itself is better, that’s up to an individual to decide, but for price it’s on par with what else is offered out there. But the reason so many people complained about it being small or a rip off, and so on, isn’t because of how much was there, but because of the way it was presented. People see the word expansion and immediately start comparing it to say a World of Warcraft expansion or anything else along those lines. Even the last SWTOR expansion had more content, and I think was for a cheaper price (if you pre-ordered and were a subscriber). The Dark Below feels nothing like a true expansion and therefore should not be called one. Naming it as episodic content or a DLC pack like Call of Duty does would have prevented it from being issue before there even was one.


It’s not so much what is in the game that is the problem: it’s that the way it is delivered to the user is poor in performance. Whether it is by design or marketing, it’s these things that let Destiny down. Because at its core, especially when playing with friends, the game is a tremendous amount of fun, glitches and all. I just hope Bungie can turn around the way it delivers its product before the next DLC.

Raiding On A Console: Destiny

image001A big welcome to latest contributor Ben McJannett. As you’ll read below, Ben’s into console gaming in a big way. Great to have you on board Ben!

Destiny is coming.

Not long now.

In just a little over a week, players on PS4 and Xbox One will be creating their Guardians and taking their first steps. Or maybe you will be recreating your first steps if you participated in the beta like me. Slowly they will meet their ghost for the first time (I called mine the Dinklebot 5000, or Dinks for short), they will take their first steps and say “Is this just Halo MkII?”,  and slowly realise that skills are from skillpoints. Monitoring the reactions of some players I think would be priceless, but that’s getting off topic. Soon they will realise they can create a fire team and join forces against the darkness. Not much longer after that they will get to their first strike mission and join a queue. They will then realise this is an MMO at its core.

For those unaware, Strikes are Destiny’s dungeons/instances. By the time players reach the first one at level 6 they will have seen a little bit of instancing/phasing in the story missions,  but this will be the first time they actually are forced to group with other players and go through the usual dungeon tropes. For most players reading this, they will have already an understanding of the MMO space, but I sense the way Activison is marketing the game towards the FPS crowd we could be attracting a new type of MMO player. Noobs we would normally call them, but chances are these are the same players that will destroy us in the crucible. So Semi-Noobs? Time will tell.

What I am most curious about is the raids Bungie has promised us. If you have read the latest weekly update from Bungie, you probably enjoyed the little Q&A with Design Lead Luke Smith. Luke talked briefly about the difficulty of the Raids and what to expect in terms of loot. All of which, if you’re like me, would get even the most casual raider excited. What really got me wondering though was a comment made by one of the forum members about only being able to get loot from the raid once a week. To the normal raider this is a normal rule, however this game is attracting a completely different subset of gamers to it and they do not understand our strange ways, so to speak. Basically this player had made the comment that it “sucks” they can only get loot once a week from the raid. Many of the other posters were quick to reply and inform our new MMO friend that it is the normal rule in the MMO space. The exchange has piqued my interest in seeing how everything is going to play out.

There really hasn’t been a big name MMO on the console market yet, and I believe this is the first one really on the latest generation of consoles. Elder Scrolls Online was originally supposed to be released in June and has been pushed back with no confirmation of a release yet. Had it come out, this question would be already answered (even if Elder Scrolls hasn’t met such great praise on the PC).  I’m hoping I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing how things go with Destiny and its raid mechanics. Will it be the game that sets the standards for MMO’s on the console? We will know soon enough.

I’ll be there with Dinks, probably dancing on top of a cliff somewhere.

Haters Got To Hate



The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kris Green a line! If you like Kristy’s work, don’t forget she’s co-host of our Flash Point podcast.


The funny things about opinions, is that there are no right or wrong ones. This is why I label all my opinion posts very clearly. I am in no way thinking my opinion is the right one and I do constantly change them when new experiences and/or evidence becomes known to me. So I start off every opinion article with a big label which means everything below is purely based on my own thoughts and feelings at the time of publishing.

So with that in mind, one of my little pet hates at the moment is how quickly the internet twists words and meanings. Once upon a time, a noob was a derogatory term used to mean someone that thought they were awesome at a game but really sucked. A newb (short for newbie) was a new player. Now somehow a newb is no longer used and everyone just calls everyone noob no matter what they are (normally in a way of saying ‘go away’).

I feel the next term to go down the sink is ‘haters got to hate’. It isn’t exactly the best catchphrase in the history of the internet, but it used to mean when someone makes a negative comment for absolutely no reason. An example would be what I saw recently on the Rift twitter feed, when someone replied to one of their tweets with ‘I’m surprised this game is still around. Good job I guess.’ It’s like, really? really? You are tweeting on something you don’t care about just to show your utter disbelief that something you don’t care about it still around? What’s the point? How was that constructive?

The term used to be a way of blowing off someone’s opinion when that opinion was baseless. I can go around talking about everything I hate in the world but I don’t because it’s not constructive or useful. When I talk about things I don’t like, it’s because I want to talk about the reasons why I don’t like them.

Sadly now though, ‘haters got to hate’ really just means I don’t like your opinion and want to ignore it. Which in itself is fine. I don’t care or expect people to agree with me all the time. In fact I love it when someone comes to me and says they disagree and we can have a conversation about why. I find echo chambers to be frustrating and annoying, so please challenge me! I love changing my opinions, especially the negative ones.

I do offer this promise though. I am not going to change my opinion just because you believe I’m wrong. I promise that if you want to talk, I will listen and try my best to understand your position. I will not call you a hater just because you think I suck.

I always find it weird when I am labelled a hater just for having a different opinion. I’m not a hater – I hate hating things. I try and see the positive in everything but I also understand that I can write something which is 90% positive but the moment I get to the but section, it will be seen that I hate everything. We focus on the negatives and it’s really not a nice state to be in.

I spent years with terrible low self esteem. Not that I am loving myself completely now, and my ego still goes between nonexistent to low – but I am better. I know what it’s like to focus on the negative. I would cry after a performance review if my manager gave me even one piece of constructive criticism because that meant I sucked. It didn’t matter that they had spent 40 minutes praising me and only bought up one tiny thing.

This of course is an impossible state to live in. If we focus on our negative points all the time, then we will always be negative. If we focus on only improving the bad things about ourselves we will forget to celebrate the good. I remember when I first got into being active in gaming communities and got a regular section on a podcast. One guy came into the forums and just laid out a lot of crap things about my segment. Not that my bit was terrible, he was just a sound guy and well, my sound quality was crap. I knew then that I was ready to move forward when I listened to his advice, I removed all the bad things and just focused on the parts where I could improve. I couldn’t change my voice but I could change my equipment and I learnt a heap about sound recording.

I could have taken his words as ‘haters got to hate’, because let’s face it, he wasn’t actually being nice about my shortcomings. Instead, I focused on the positive things (even though they were unspoken) and worked with him to correct the negative. To this day I still use the advice he gave me to record podcasts, streams and videos.

Haters aren’t always hating for the sake of showing hatred. Sometimes we just need to look past our own defensive walls and see what is actually being said. If someone is just being a dick for the sake of it, then feel free to ignore it but just be careful about labelling people haters, because sometimes they are just people that passionately care.

I have experienced people hating on me for no reason that I can see or for other things like my perceived gender. I have also seen people hating on me because they are passionate about something or someone and I really love seeing that.

This world needs passionate people that are prepared to be seen negatively in order to improve our society. It is a fine line to walk and I am thankful for these people every day.

[This piece originally appeared on Kris’ own gaming blog]

MMO Launches And The Tears of Pain – Or Is That Joy?


The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line! If you like Kristy’s work, don’t forget she’s co-host of our Flash Point podcast.

Anyone that has ever experienced an MMO launch (or more than one), will know that they are a twisted time filled with so much fun and joy but also so much frustration and pain.

When I think about the best experiences I’ve had in each MMO, there are always experiences that happened either just before or during the launch. Whether it’s an open beta without a wipe, meeting new people in a new guild or the early morning head starts that were so early there was no sleep that night. All these times have been amazing. I remember all the silly games we would play and jokes we would tell because no one could sleep. I remember yelling out “I’m in!” over TeamSpeak only to have my Guild mates not believe me. I remember that exciting anticipation as the game first loads. The quick rush to create your character and that jump your heart makes as you press create, not knowing if someone else had been just that little bit quicker and got your name first.

None of these experiences can happen outside of launch and a game only ever launches once. Sure there might be new content, patches or even relaunches but they are never the same. Of course, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch or in this case, a smooth launch. I doubt there has ever been a launch in which everything has gone smoothly for everyone. Even when a launch is amazing from our own experiences, there are usually someone with a very different opinion.

Launches will always be hard. As anyone that has ever worked on a large IT project (or any project really) knows, you can do all the preparation you can, you can test everything for as long as you like, you can even strip your code down to the most basic of parameters but nothing is the same as production and so launches will never be a purely wonderful experience. There will be people that will be so badly affected it will change their perspective of the game. There will be people that will get so burnt by bugs, error codes or poor support that they will give up.

There is nothing wrong with that. We may have multiple reasons why we play computer games and why we play the specific games we do, but the main reason should always be to have fun. Sometimes launches are so terrible that it is impossible to have this. Whether it’s the frustration of error codes or bugs, the annoyance of not being able to login or the resentment caused by unanswered calls to support. Sometimes we need to be able to say it isn’t working and move on. Hopefully to come back later when things have changed for the better, if things change for the better of course.

It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the moment and we start throwing around terms like fail but the truth of the matter is, if a game is launched and it’s live, then it’s been successful. Anyone in IT has known the dreaded feeling of pressing the On button only to have all the lights switch off into that dramatic darkness and eery silence that can only be done in movies, but this does happen in real life. I remember one MMO that while the servers came up on time, every single player couldn’t log in. There had been a small patch released not long before launch and of course, everyone was eagerly waiting at their launchers and tried downloading it all at the same time – so it crashed the server. Here they were with a server room filled with brand new shiny toys all ready and waiting for players to connect , but not one person could.

That was indeed a failure. One I am sure saw many stressed out and embarrassed game developers and staff.

Nowadays we tend to allow little room for excuses. We see the same mistakes being made over and over again and really, MMOs aren’t new. There are many released every year and it becomes harder and harder to break into the market considering that MMOs are designed around being played for years, not just finishing a 10 hour game play/story line and then leaving it to gather dust on our virtual Steam libraries. MMOs aren’t easy and MMO players are probably one of the hardest audiences to please. We all want so much for our time and money investment and we won’t settle for anything lower than awesome.

I know in the past I’ve gotten so frustrated with launches that I keep saying I will give up. I will wait till the end of that first months once things calm down and people have a better idea as to what they are getting into. Yet, I am there every time. I pre-order, normally with some sort of collectors edition upgrade (physical or virtual) and I will be up at that ungodly hour (unless of course I have fun plans). I know why I do it. I do it for all the fun reasons and experiences I have. That first month of play when everything is still new and exiting and everyone else is just as excited as you and that make it worth all the little (and big) bumps.

So see you at the next MMO launch! I’ll be the haggard one in the corner that has had a little too much tea and not enough sleep.

Oceanic Soap Box: MMO Winter Roll Call

oceanic-soap-boxIt’s that time of year locally where we move into winter and the likelihood of increased gaming time increases without all that damn nice weather to lure you outdoors. For some it may mean more time on the game they love, for others the opportunity to explore something new. I know I’m going through a re-discovery of SWTOR and looking forward to Marvel Heroes launching. I’m also damn tempted to check out Neverwinter after Wayne’s great overview of what it has to offer.

So jump in an tell us: will you be trying anything different over the winter months and if so what?


The Naked Gamer: The Hostile Place That Still Exists


The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line! If you like Kristy’s work, don’t forget she’s co-host of our Flash Point podcast.

Recently I attended a huge LAN event. It’s been a very long time since I attended any sort of mass paid LAN and I admit that I was a little nervous about it all. The last paid LAN event I attended was a very long time ago, it was nowhere near this large and it wasn’t a good experience for me. I was the only woman there and well, I had numerous bad experience with the other attendees that I won’t go into right now.

My friends said not to worry, that they have attended these before and never seen/had a problem and they were right. The moment I walked through those doors I was impressed by the sheer size of the event. I walked in awe to my assigned desk carrying my bag of cables and peripherals (the monitor and computer had to wait their turn). By the time I put my bag down I was completely sucked in to the atmosphere of the event. I was surrounded by gamers and this was going to be over 24 hours of uninterrupted gaming goodness. What wasn’t there to like?

As I went to bring the rest of my gear in, I ran into my friends that were also just arriving. After quick jumpy hugs and comments that I was obviously excited, I was out the door to bring in my computer. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever plugged in and booted her up so quickly. I admit I felt weird but it only lasted ten minutes at most. It was obvious that no one cared that I was a woman. No one looked at me as I walked past, they looked at their screens. No one made comments, they yelled at their games. I was in heaven and I never wanted to leave. Things weren’t perfect – I had network issues where my internet wouldn’t so much stop working as just become unusable. I remember at one point in the night I couldn’t even browse Facebook. It meant too that I couldn’t always play the games I wanted. The constant flow of food and drink vans was very neat however. I think the coffee truck was the best timing I’ve ever seen and an awesome Chai Latte to keep me going was what I needed.

There was one part of the event I really wanted to enter – it was titled the Beast Rig contest and was advertised as being about how well a computer is built, it’s practicality, theme, general “Bling” factor and some personal opinion from the judges. I was excited at being able to show off my new computer. She took me two weeks to design and every piece has been picked for a reason. My computer is a reflection of who I am and I was looking forward to showing the world what I have made – plus the added bonus of being able to see everyone else’s creation and geek it up with hardware talk. Like all these things, the contest ended up running a little late – it was actually closer to midnight than the 9pm that was first mentioned. I thought it was going to be all showing off and benchmarks. I was excited to see how my little computer (who I designed around being simple, neat, organised but more than meets the eye) would compete against the huge boxes that surrounded her. I still believe that she will beat any other machine of her size in a benchmark test. Unfortunately it ended up being more just us talking about our computers. Disappointingly, they weren’t even plugged in nor did it take the full package into account.

I admit that if I knew this, I wouldn’t have entered. It was easy to tell from the beginning that the contest wasn’t going to be about practicability or bling or theme but more which one the judges would want the most. This article is about how I ended up walking away from that contest feeling embarrassed and humiliated by the judges. So what happened? I was number four of six, so I picked up my computer and went to move forward. Before I even put my case down, the words “Handles! And look you’re a woman!’ was said. I put my computer down and stood up thinking, ‘Ok, it’s just one comment. Hopefully they will move on’.

They didn’t.

Before I got to even start talking about my computer, they went into a discussion about the print on my t-shirt which was across my chest. There was no discussion about what the other people were wearing but apparently it was ok to discuss my outfit when we should be discussing my machine’s outfit. They talked about my shirt for a good couple of minutes while I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I didn’t ignore this, I knew that now they were no longer judging my computer but focusing on me. So I called them out, I thanked them for admiring my chest. Apparently they did seem embarrassed by this (I know I was bright red myself). I was hoping this would kick them into focusing on why I was there and not that I was a woman.

It didn’t.

I opened up my case and started explaining her personality. I knew I would have to sell her well because she looks very simple. Something that I was aiming for but not something that looks impressive. Let’s face it, when it comes to computers it doesn’t matter how powerful she is when it comes to staring into the case. Although a friend spent about ten minutes drooling over her when he first arrived at the LAN so I had a little confidence that she might be able to pull it off.

That confidence lasted less than ten seconds.

It became clear that they weren’t listening to what I was saying. As I talked them through her various parts and why I picked them, they were making a lot of eye contact. Normally a good thing when it comes to discussion, not so good when it comes to showing something off. When the other people talked, they all leaned forward and stared intensively at the machine, listening to everything they said. When I talked, they leaned back, staring at me and nodding their heads in encouragement.

When I got to her graphics card and mentioned the Titan, they talked among themselves about it. Mine was the first computer with a Titan and I was looking forward to talking about how it performed in real life over benchmarks but I wasn’t included in this discussion. When they had finished judging the Titan by sight and what they had read alone, they looked back to me to go on. I admit that by this stage, I really wanted to just tell them thanks for their time but they obviously don’t care and I could just take my case back to my desk and start gaming again. But I admit, I was a chicken who was already feeling so extremely humiliated and I didn’t want to be confrontational. I powered on, trying to describe her still and tell them things they can’t see like how she performs, how cool she runs and her personality.

In the end, I really just stopped talking. The only feedback I got was someone asking about the cooling in which someone else jumped in and answered for me. Never once did I feel like I was part of a discussion. The gentlemen standing behind me all had very animated and in-depth discussion, I had a speech which was filtered through nods as if they were pleased that I could talk and say all the right words. When my computer didn’t make it to the next round, I was so very glad. I quickly took her and slinked away. As I walked off thinking well at least this was over, it wasn’t. One of the admins managed to sum up how patronised I felt with a ‘Good job though’ as I walked past. I don’t think I could even manage a fake smile. I was worried that I was being a bad sport by leaving immediately after I lost but after that line, well, I felt completely justified.

I tried to calm myself down afterwards but I just couldn’t. I was so surprised that all the admins and audience just stood back and let this happen. Surely it should have been obvious how the judging panel treated me so differently? That I felt so embarrassed,  humiliated and patronised by their inability to get over that I was a woman. I think even if you asked them now about each of the computers they would first mention ‘woman’ when they remembered mine. The worse of it all though was that their behaviour wasn’t done with malicious intent nor was it done consciously. The truth of the matter is that none of them could get past that I was a woman. This is how they unconsciously think I should be treated, that I am not as serious as a man. I have no problems with me being a woman and I make jokes about it as much as the next person but their dismissal behaviour wasn’t appropriate and should be called out.

If I had gotten one of my male friends to take my computer up, I think I would have enjoyed it more. I could have got him to explain my simple but powerful design. How I was able to achieve this without over loading my case with a lot of useless things. Why I prefer to be minimal than boastful. I like control, I like efficiency, I like power in as small a package as possible.

My faith was restored when a fellow attendee came to ask me a few questions about my case. He had the same case but was having troubles with it. I was finally able to geek it up with him and one of my friends while he tried to explain his problem and I explained how mine was set up. This was what I was hoping for during the contest with the admins. I ended up walking over to see his machine and was able to fix his problem which was really simple. He was embarrassed but not because I was a woman telling him where he went wrong, but because the problem was so simple and he had missed it. I had actually done the same mistake, the only difference was that I realised a lot sooner than he did.

I went home straight after I helped this nice gentleman with no intentions of going back the next day nor helping to pack up like I volunteered to. I went on Twitter to express my disappointment at what had happened. The initial response was sadly the standard please send us an email with your details which never works but I did end up talking with a very nice gentleman from the LAN and we were able to have a wonderful discussion about what happened and how we can prevent it in the future. Twitter of course didn’t know about this discussion and spent the next couple of hours pretty much attacking everything I said and did, twisting my words and filling in any gaps with misinformation. They had no details but that wasn’t going to stop them calling me things and doing their best to prove why gaming is still a hostile place for women while arguing that it wasn’t.

You see, this continues to happen to women. This stuff happens to us and we stand up and speak out about it only to be abused and attacked. I was accused of wanting to do nothing but cause trouble simply for sending one tweet, of being a troll and of seeking out random people online. I have no idea who these people were but they seemed to think they knew me pretty well. This is why I took it to Twitter and why I am writing this article. This stuff shouldn’t be happening and when it does, we need to stand up and speak out about it. It’s the only way we can stop this unconscious negative treatment of women. Their anger shouldn’t have been directed at me but at the admins that treated me like a song bird singing all the right notes. No one disagreed with what had happened to me, only that I had no right to speak up about it publicly.

The gentleman from the LAN committee has no problems with my feelings, opinion or behaviour. They are happy for me to write this article because they agree it shouldn’t have happened and are doing everything they can to stop it from happening again. They want more women to attend their event. This event was the first time I’ve seen the attendee showing the admins how they should have behaved which I think is a step in the right direction – not a leap but a nice step. I think while women are becoming the norm at these sort of events, they aren’t getting so involved. There are still only a few women admins and I only saw one other woman enter a contest. I would have loved to seen other women standing up there with their beast rig at their feet and pride in what they have achieved and I would love to see the admins give them the attention and respect that they and their machines deserve.

The gaming industry has a huge problem with forgetting. We tend to focus on the current big news and then a week later it is forgotten. The more we speak out about any bad behaviour publicly, the more likely we are to remember that not everyone is treated the way they deserve all the time. This is why I am speaking out, this is why I am not naming the LAN but personally would love to give them some positive advertising. They messed up once when none of the admins spoke out when it was mentioned that I was a woman and allowed the negative mood to be set. It’s certainly not worth the hatred on Twitter or fear of bad mouthing.

It is not white knighting to speak out when you see poor behaviour. It’s not inappropriate to express distaste at unfair treatment. It’s not trolling or stirring the pot to speak publicly. Nor is it a reflection on everyone and it shouldn’t be seen as a personal attack to anyone.

This sort of sexist behaviour is such an unconscious part of our community that the only way we can move forward is to call each other out when we see it. I know that I’ve said and done things in the past unconsciously and I am always glad to be told so I can correct it.

Things are certainly improving for all gamers but we still have a lot to fix and it’s something we all need to work together to achieve.

[This piece originally appeared on Kris’ own gaming blog]

PS4 Launch Roundup: My Take

‘And Another Thing’ is a semi-regular look at key events or issues in the gaming industry. Written by Flash Point podcast co-host, dedicated tweeter and all round good guy Simon Potter – drop him a line if you want to suggest future columns.

After a two hour media spectacular in New York which brought parts of the internet to a standstill, Sony have begun the next phase of the Console Wars and announced the PS4.

What will it look like? We don’t know yet. How much will it cost? Again, they haven’t said. What we do know is that it will hit shops Christmas 2013 and that E3 is going to be Sony’s next media blitzkrieg.

The good news is Sony learnt their lesson from the Cell processor and the Emotion engine. Based on the x86 architecture, this machine is going to be a comparative breeze to code for (we saw it running Unreal 4), which eats into one of XBox’s big advantages. The upshot is the PS4 has an army of game developers behind it (‘a console designed by game developers for game developers’).

Obviously it’s easy to get swept away in the reality distortion bubble that these things create, but you are still left with an overwhelming sense that devs are genuinely excited about the new platform, and that means games. Lots of games.

So what about those games? Usually you only see tech demos at such hype-fests but we did get to see some real gameplay this time, specifically Killzone Shadow Fall. Not only did it look startling, even through an overloaded video stream, it also gave some solid evidence of the investment and momentum already in the industry. All the big players were there, MediaMolecule, Activision and their subs Blizzard (Diablo III) and Bungie (Destiny… squeeee!), Sucker Punch, Capcom, Square Enix and others. It really felt like an abundance of riches, just like they wanted it to.

Some interesting facts revealed:

  • You can suspend gameplay then jump back in later without reloading
  • A secondary chip allows background downloads, even when the console is off.
  • Heavy social integration – spectator mode and ‘share’ button.
  • With built in Gaikai tech, the PS4 becomes a games server to your Vita (and potentially other hardware, like mobiles and tablets)
  • Play a game while you download it from the PSN – no more demo downloads to try.
  • PS3 games not natively supported or emulated.
  • Current project to allow you to play PS3, 2 and 1 games on the PS4 or any other hardware through Gaikai tech (how that works with preowned is anyone’s guess).
  • Predictive game downloads (the PS4 knows what new games you’d like before you do)
  • The Dualshock 4 and stereoscopic camera, although whether this is the final look, is uncertain (PS3 boomerang)
Things not revealed
  • Whether online gaming will remain free or be folded into PS+
  • If a pre-owned market for PS4 titles can exist
  • Cost and appearance

It’s hard to say whether Microsoft’s job is made easier by Sony announcing first, but if I had to guess I’d say harder. As was pointed out by the founder of the original Xbox project  in his blog Stupid, Stupid, xBox!!, MS have been laser fixed on integrating their ecosystem across multiple devices. In doing that they’ve made the Xbox into a media/advertising hub. In other words they’ve de-emphasised the games.

What wonders Xbox 720 has in store is a mystery for the moment, but if Redmond isn’t feeling a little nervous right now, they’re not paying attention.

Oceanic Soapbox: Local Servers


Nothing gets a community of gamers more passionate than an argument over game servers and where they are located. Using Star Wars: The Old Republic as an example, there was huge lobbying for local servers, which were finally delivered just under a year ago. Since then, those servers have struggled population-wise, and even with the move to F2P there are still issues and BioWare have the local servers under active review as to ways to deal with the issue.

Based on that, I thought it’d be interesting to have a debate on whether local servers are a deal-breaker or not for you with an MMO or other online game? For me, I’ve not found it a huge issue across my WoW, SC2, GW2 and SWTOR experiences, although I still get more lag than I’d like with The Secret World.

What about you? Also, what games do you play that are in need of local servers if that’s a big thing for you?

The Naked Gamer: #1ReasonToBe


The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line! If you like Kristy’s work, don’t forget she’s co-host of our Flash Point podcast.

One of the first things you do before you start writing anything is decide your target audience. For the most part, this is easy. Normally I write to gamers or to people that might be interested in a certain game. The first part of this article was even easier – I didn’t have an audience in mind and merely wrote it more as a speech on my previous experiences.

This article was always going to be difficult to write. When talking about how women are treated in a male dominated place, it’s never going to go down well – especially when the majority of your audience is probably male. I do however believe that this is something that should be talked about and while I am not the most qualified to do it, every voice counts and I want to add my own.

So I’ve decided to target the silent majority of gamers out there. The ones that either see a problem but don’t want to or feel the need to say something or maybe they just don’t see a problem at all. It’s very obvious that when it comes to this topic, those of us that are talking are the minority. Most people just get on with enjoying games, or avoid the larger gaming community for their own reasons, so don’t see how big an issue this is.

The gaming industry is male dominated although not as much as people might think. When studies show there are more of us than perception might  have people believe, people deny our rights to call ourselves gamers. When women make known we are females, we are accused of being attention seeking or wanting free stuff. So either we stay quiet so we aren’t accused of being attention seekers or we let the world know how many of us are actually out there.

Women can’t win.

The gaming industry isn’t perfect – no industry is. It may be male dominated but that is no excuse for how women are treated by some. I know, I’ve worked in the Information Technology field and currently work in Construction. Both are considered male dominated but how women are treated is completely different. There are so few women that do my day job that I can name (and have met) the only two others in my state. Yet I have never been treated badly as I am in the gaming communities or when I was in IT.

Women can’t win.

Two years ago, I left the IT industry. I never felt welcomed because I would have my work colleagues come into work in the morning and talk about the smoking hottie they passed in the lobby.  They would talk about every woman they encountered as if she was an object. While I was ‘one of the boys’ and so privileged to hear these inner thoughts, it didn’t mean I was one. It still surprises me that my work colleagues think they could break a woman down into parts and that I would somehow respect them or feel like I was a valuable part of the team afterwards.

Women can’t win.

Computer games have embraced the internet – it’s getting to the point where you can’t be a gamer without an internet connection. Sadly it seems that it has also inherited some of the less savoury aspects of the online community. It’s been debated many times whether the anonymity of the internet is to blame for people’s poor behaviour online. I don’t think it is – I think it’s the lack of consequences and many gaming communities are a no-man’s land where there are no laws and no accountability.

This in itself isn’t a terrible thing. People should be allowed to run their communities however they want. However these communities can’t hide from the effect this is having on the gaming industry. You can’t have the gaming world as a place filled with people doing whatever they want and then expect the larger community to embrace gaming as more than an immature pastime.

If the gaming industry can embrace all gamers, no matter what package they come in, then things will only get better. There will be more variety, more people will become gamers and we will have more people to enjoy our favourite pastime with. The first thing we need to do though is stop acting like only young, white straight men play computer games, because this has never been true.

The second step is to speak up. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and if you see something that isn’t right, then take a stand. The gaming industry will not grow until we can all feel like a valuable a part of it.

The biggest change starts with the smallest action. If you think the gaming industry can be better, then start making it better.

Oceanic Soap Box: Rise Of The Hutt Cartel


This week it’s hard to go past the announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s first expansion, Rise Of The Hutt Cartel.
It’s big news for a game that’s had some struggles over the first year of its existence, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get your thoughts.

Are you excited by the announcement? Is it the story direction you expected the game to go and does it sound like an epic storyline? If you’re a lapsed SWTOR player, is this announcement enough to make you give it another try?

Let fly with the opinions!