Saturday, November 28, 2009

Being a Female Gamer

I don't really talk about being a female gamer much on my blog, but I thought it might be an interesting topic for some people. I honestly don't address it much because I am an experienced gamer period. I would much rather be known as that then a female gamer. I've been gaming since I was young and to this day do so more then any of my brothers. I don't believe my gender effects my capabilities or aptitudes as a gamer.

The only thing that my gender seems to effect is how male gamers treat me in primarily two ways. Since I don't wish to be treated any differently then my fellow gamers regardless of gender it has been annoying to say the least.

One annoying attitude that I've encountered is some male gamers automatically assuming that because I have inferior skills. This certainly can and has been disproved in the past but it is no less annoying dealing with this type of male gamer. Over the years as more and more females have become gamers the younger generations don't typically carry this same attitude as much. Though some of my fellow female are not helping the issue by calling themselves gamers when they are more interested in being interesting to male gamers. Ladies, it is fine to chase male gamers, I've always had an affinity for them, but please do not besmirch the name of true female gamers everywhere by calling yourself what you are not. Trust me. Most will like you anyway!

Which really leads me to the other issue I've had. A true "gamer chick" is the male gamers dream girlfriend. She is someone that not only won't keep her man from gaming, but will join in the fun! Time and again male gamer friends have expressed feelings for me. Feelings that I haven't returned. It makes things very awkward! I've even had to break off friendships in some cases. Unlike some I take no pleasure in someone caring for me when I don't feel the same.

But being a female gamer is not all bad. It did lead me to the one that has captured my heart. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Search of RP on an MMORPG

I have to admit I'm not married to the idea of playing just text based games. I've played a multitude of computer and console games over the years from games on an Atari and a Commadore 64 computer to the newest generations of gaming consoles and computers. I like graphical RPGs. In the past couple of years I've happily played and "beat" many Final Fantasy Games, Kingdom Hearts I and II, and also Persona III. I've casually played many more. I have avoided getting dangerously hooked on Guitar Hero even though I found it immensely fun at a friends abode. The problem is I found it too fun and my days are packed as it is!

For solo gaming I prefer playing console games though I play graphical computer games as well. So why if I like graphical games do I still actively and happily play an online text based game with no graphics? The answer is simple. I have yet to find any graphical game with a good enforced roleplay environment. Not from a lack of trying either. In the MMORPG genre I've played Everquest, Ultima Online, and Dark Age of Camelot. My last experience was awful and has kept me from even trying World of Warcrack. Excuse me, Warcraft.

When I play an online fantasy game with other human beings I want them to enrich my gaming experience, not destroy it. I like adopting the role of the character I am playing, and if my fellow players aren't trying to do the same it severely detracts from the game for me. The big MMORPGs are trying to make as much money as they can. They aren't willing to spend the time or money to enforce a roleplaying environment. The most I have ever seen MMORPG creators do is designate RP servers but it is mostly on the honor system that those who join to serve whether or not they roleplay.

Several years ago I had completely given up on trying to find a good RP environment on an MMORPG so I decided on a different strategy. If the environment on the RP server as a whole wasn't good then maybe I could find a guild that roleplayed with each other. I spent days trying to research online what the best RP guild was on any Dark Age of Camelot(DAOC)server. I started a character, built them up, and devoted weeks to trying to get into the guild. When I finally did make it in I found that even they didn't roleplay.

That is the primary reason I still MUD. I've found game administrators of MUDs and MUSHs will create and enforce good roleplay environments. If I want to play a graphical game I fire up one of my game consoles and have a blast instead of paying a monthly fee to play a game online with others that actually by and large make my gaming experience worse. I haven't completely given up on MMORPGs yet, but I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dealing with Disruptive Players

Whatever the type of environment that a game administrator wishes to create on their game be it RP (roleplay) enforced to a PK (player killing) game, it is important to protect it. If you are building a nice sand castle, the last thing you want is some bratty kid to come along and kick it down. Unfortunately there will always be individuals that take joy out of destroying what is valuable to others. A game admin can not completely keep all disruptive players from a game, but there are ways to minimize their impact.

Some games require that each potential player gets evaluated before they are allowed on the game. While this can definitely can keep more bad players from the game, it also just keeps players from the game period. Not many have the patience or desire to jump through a bunch of hoops for a game they may or may not enjoy playing. I wouldn't suggest this method if you want a larger and active player base.

One of the most effective ways to minimize the impact of a trouble player is to have a quick and easy way to isolate them from the rest of the players. If the game has public channels then there needs to be some coded mechanism that prohibits disruptive individuals from speaking on them. It needs to be something that can be done swiftly. It isn't pleasant for anyone to have to deal with a string of profanities or insults spammed over and over again.

Another important way to isolate disruptive players is to have a holding area that they are transferred quickly. It should be a room that they can not leave without being allowed. This would be a spot where a staff member could speak to the individual to see if some resolution can be reached.

A game administrator can not be around all the time. There needs to be a mechanism for other trusted individuals to isolate a trouble player from the player base. There should be enough people to cover this duty 24/7. I can remember once when I was a player helper a new MUD when the game admin went on vacation for the weekend. A disruptive player came on the game and started spamming every channel he could. The game admin had not coded any way for us to isolate the offending player so the whole game was held hostage by a moron until he got tired and quit. Thankfully the game admin coded a way for us to keep people from speaking on channels if we needed and we never had the same problem again.

Every game has a way to nuke, dust, or destroy a character. I've noticed from years of experience that for some people any attention is good attention. Many people that cause problems are waiting for a pay off. My best advice is to always stay calm when dealing with trouble players and give them as little attention as possible. The standard way that we deal with obvious troublemakers on the game I am a staff member on is to isolate the player and ignore him. We've found that if we destroy trouble characters they will often come back again and again. But if you give them no attention and you don't allow them to make you angry suddenly their little disruptive game doesn't become as fun for them and they give up.

With some planning and coding, you can easily keep trouble players from being incredibly disruptive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Merchandising for Games

Game administrators are often looking for ways to advertise their game, encourage pride, and make some extra money. While creating your own merchandise may seem intimidating, it truly is very easy to do so. There are many online stores out there that will produce and sell the designs of individuals. With a graphic and just a bit of time, it is easy to create products such as t-shirts, mugs, and bags that can be sold almost immediately.

Merchandising Websites

There are several websites out there that allow individuals to place graphics on their items and place them up for sale in a customizable store. There are differences between sites, but once items are created, then the amount of mark up can be set. CafePress is the most well known site and has more potential for outside customers, but for most online games the player base is going to be the primary market.



Some of the other sites beyond CafePress will allow a better deal for customers because base prices are lower. If a game admin just wants their player base to just advertise their game, they might consider not adding any mark up to the products in their store at all.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Free Marketing Graphics for Online Text Games

Most games already have some sort of graphic that was created for them. If a game administrator doesn’t have a graphic for their game there are many public domain graphics that are free to use. Below are a few alternatives, but there is a lot of good public domain artwork out there.

Public domain graphic sites with Fantasy art

* Karen's Whimsy
* Clipart Guide
* Free Clipart Network

Any image might need some modification. There are fantastic graphic programs out there. If you are looking for a good free one I would suggest

There are a multitude of artists that would be willing to create game graphics for a reasonable price. Look soon for a post about fantasy artists!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons

Playing and staffing a MUD takes a lot of my time, but I still make the time every week to play Dungeons and Dragons. It is a past time that I have been doing on and off for about 23 years. (I was very young when I started!) One of the reasons that I got into online gaming was that I couldn't be in a consistent table top gaming group at the time.

Playing on an RP enforced MUD is the closest thing that I could find to replacing the Dungeons and Dragons experience. If you play on an online text based game and have never tried Dungeons and Dragons (D & D) I would reccommend giving it a go!

D & D Edition 3.5 was getting particularly complex. Even a veteran gamer like myself found it complicated! Dungeons and Dragons got a large overhaul in its fourth edition. While some old timers have complained it makes the game too simple for the novice it is still a lot to learn. I applaud the change because it makes the game more accessible to new players.

For those interested in playing, check with your fellow gamers to see if anyone plays. Most groups wouldn't mind someone visiting one of their gaming sessions to observe. There are plenty of different styles of gaming group so focus on the game play primarily. If the people in the group do not appeal to you there might be others out there. The old fashioned way of finding a gaming group is creating a flyer for your local gaming store and posting it up on their bulletin board. Those who run game stores can be good resources as well.

Playing D & D can get you out of the house and interacting with honest to goodness individuals, an important thing for reclusive gamers to do from time to time. The game play will be likely slower then you are used to, but roleplay can be more enriching.

There is a lot of information online at the Dungeons and Dragons website so if you are interested go take a look!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

5 Tips for Aspiring Staff for an Online Text Game

I've spent almost 6 years as a Staff member and sometimes builder on a MUD. We often have people ask what they can do to become a builder or a staff member. Having seen many people attempt to become staff and succeed or fail, I have a few nuggets of wisdom about this endeavor.

1.) Be patient and willing to prove yourself.
If you are generally inexperienced in building or other skills needed by those who work on MUDs, then you will likely need to spend some time on the game proving yourself. One that has lots of experience that can present themselves as being very valuable will likely be able to get a position much quicker. Otherwise an potential staff member needs to prove that they are reliable before they are hired. A player will likely need to play a game for some time before you will even be considered for a position.

2.) Be an active part of the game community.
Spend time playing the game that you wish to work on. Being a consistent player on the game will help to prove loyalty and reliability. If there is a forum for the game be an active and positive poster.

3.) Get a "lesser" job for the game.
When additional staff members are needed, a game administrator will often look to those who have already proven a desire to work on his or her game. Many games "hire" people to help out new players. Many games also have in character leadership positions. If you manage to get a position then do your best. If you do not present yourself well then you won't be considered for anythign else.

4.) Take initiative.
Look for chances that you can help out the game even if a task has not been assigned to you. Find a way to offer doing the tasks you feel would help the game without causing extra work for the existing staff. Don't expect to hear an answer back right away or at all. If you have offered something that is needed and they wish you to do it they will gladly contact you. Better yet, find tasks to do that do not require authorization.

5.) Put your best foot forward.
Show yourself to be mature, reliable, and level headed. Admins are looking for individuals that will make their lives easier and not more difficult. If you have an opportunity to do anything relating to the type of work you wish to do then jump at the opportunity. If you are given a task completely it swiftly and well. I have seen the majority of people fail at this point by either not completing the work given or doing it in a timely manner.

While you may believe that game administration would take whatever help they can get there are a lot of considerations. It takes a lot of time and energy to train staff and builders, the existing staff needs to know that this investment will pay off. I have seen far more people fail then succeed. Being a staff member is a lot of work and is not nearly as glamorous or personally beneficial as it might seem. If you don't seek to work on a game merely to make a positive difference for the game, then don't even try. If you are seeking to do it for personal gain you will almost always be unhappy or unsuccesful in the long run!

Good Luck!