Blogging about games: But…

final fantasy xiv

It’s funny. I think the only time when I can actually write something on this blog is when the online game I REALLY want to play among the games I have in my stockpile is having maintenance.

Case in point, right now I’m writing because I Elder Scrolls Online has maintenance right now.

Funny thing is, I could be spending this time working some first impressions articles for work, but I really want to just unwind with the game I actually want to play.

I want to blog about games more, and maybe re-earn my monicker as a “games blogger” but instead I’m a tech writer/editor and a games columnist for the two jobs I have.

Funny how that works. I’m still happy and I still get to play games, but sometimes, you sorta miss the days when you weren’t busy. Then again, I’m likely to miss the days when I actually had a job.

Ah well, I’ll enjoy my time, however I find it.

Saying Goodbye to Massively

I’ve written part of this story before, so I apologize if some of you may be reading it again.

Back in 2006, I was working for a video game news website. It wasn’t a very strong website so much as it was a job that I felt empowered doing. My writing meant something, and people read it, and I got paid for it.

I learned through that experience that I could earn a living by writing, by honing my craft, and by being the best darned person I could be.

In 2008, I was let go from that job, but they never quite explained to me why I was being let go. I doubted my writing abilities for for nearly four years, only writing blogs instead of looking for paid writing work.

I sunk into a depression so deep that I treat 2008-2012 as horrible years for me professionally, as I hid in Graduate School yet never finished because it wasn’t really what I wanted.

Throughout this time, I wanted to write for Massively so bad. I’d wait for openings, and I’d be too afraid to sign up or I’d try but not get picked, and I’d feel let down… but that feeling of wanting to write for Massively was strong enough to make me keep on writing on a blog. This blog.

In 2012, my friend Cassandra invited me to try pitching (that was a new word to me then) as a writer for MMORPG.com, and I jumped at it. I was afraid of the rejection, but I tried anyway because writing about games meant a lot to me.

I got in, and eventually after getting enough courage to keep trying to find paid writing gigs, I got a chance to write for Rappler.com as a tech reporter, and now as a desk editor as well as writing tech and the gaming piece here and there.

Living out my passions meant a lot to me, and I’m sure that same feeling runs through each staffer of Massively and MMORPG.com in equal measure.

The pay and the comments, however high or low the pay was or however bad or good the comments were, these were reminders that my writing meant something to someone. That my writing mattered. That I mattered.

I’m writing this to say that if it weren’t for the inspiration I got from reading Massively in its early days, I probably would have been a very lost soul today.

I salute the staff of Joystiq and Massively as they go on new endeavors, an unwritten journey that has yet to be chronicled.

-Victor Barreiro Jr.

Restarting this contraption

victor-barreiro-rappler-20130415

So I’m going to do it by saying that I love MMOs, I love gaming, and I love writing.

I have an awesome job I love writing about technology and helping my fellows out at Rappler, and despite being in the company of awesome people at work and online, I sometimes feel like I either hate myself or I feel like I’m missing out by not writing what I want to write.

Instead, I play games or sleep a lot to bridge the gap in between days when I feel sad, like I do now.

I can’t promise a daily blog, but I do believe I’ll be using Games and Geekery as a test bed for some thoughts and ideas that may eventually see print on the day job.

-Victor

Missing Games and Geekery

Boy, am I rusty.

I have not had a good update on Games and Geekery in a few months, so here are some updates on my end.

The first update is a job-related one. In addition to my work for MMORPG.com as a columnist, I’m also a news writer for a Rappler.com. I do mostly tech news, which is nice. I hope to one day branch out though, if they keep me on after my probationary period.

With regard to gaming, I’m trying to strike a balance with work, play, and other leisure activities. If I can fit some exercise in there, that’d be excellent.

As for the blog… well, Games and Geekery is not going away, and I should focus on improving my home base, so to speak. I will slowly work on adding more content and redoing the blogroll as a separate page over the weekend.

I’ve also updated my blog guidelines to reflect the potential for ad-based guest posts on the site, primarily to pay for hosting. As such, these should be few and far between.

More than anything else, I love writing. I cherish knowing my words mean something, and I hope to continue doing that no matter what happens.

 

*hugs everyone on the Internet*

-Victor

Stream of Consciousness: Syncaine’s Observation, Gaming Memories, and Personal Growth

Syncaine made an observation recently that had me reflecting on my gaming history and what I wanted out of it. In his post, he talks about how the MMORPG has changed fundamentally in terms of its method of providing people with enjoyment.

Some MMOs seem exist in a sort of experiential vacuum, wherein a solo player can do a lot by himself, and fun can be had without the need for a group to run through content. The opposite type of MMO has a more collectivist bent, where the enjoyment of the game’s actors is derived from group experiences, whether it be against monsters or against other people.

Both attempts at providing entertainment for people are valid, but the nature of the player each game brings in is decidedly different.

What Syncaine’s post left me with was a sense of disappointment, partly in myself but also in my circumstances, because I cannot seem to commit to an MMO anymore.

In my case, my second MMO ever was World of Warcraft, and I played that for seven months straight when I first got it and was relatively unemployed after college. I didn’t worry about timezones, and I joined a cool-sounding server name and found a guild that I liked, called In Strict Confidence.

My strongest memories of playing MMOs were as a result of being in raids or in groups, because I learned from the people I was interacting with. Being with people, even virtually, helped me to grow as a person and part of my personality now, from my demeanor online to my diplomatic, thoughtful nature, is a direct result of learning to be with people online.

I now get the same rush of friendship and camaraderie from my friends on Twitter and from my friends in real life. The games I play don’t necessarily need to provide that high of friendship and camaraderie for me anymore, but it helps to hook me in.

Going back to Syncaine’s post, I wrote in a comment to him about how he made me think, and how in my reflection I realized I sort of feel left out because I do not have a long-term commitment to a game. It seems (to my mind, at least) I still miss the rush of growing as a person by interacting with people in a virtual world doing something epic.

Syncaine replied to me with the following:

I suspect that part of the issue is that you are judging the games just on the content as you experience it solo, which is going to yield less-than-steller (sic) results (MMOs are not great for that, even solo-focused ones like SW:TOR, compared to a real sRPG).

When you play with a set group, much of the ‘content’ is experiencing the stuff together, so even bugs or grind can become a source of amusement because you have 10 people in vent bitching about it and laughing rather than just you smashing your head into it solo.

Look at something like a fleet Op in EVE. Would anyone find that even remotely fun as content in an sRPG? Waiting around for hours, shooting structures, and going home? Of course not. But get 250 people into Mumble, and it can be a riot, regardless if a fight happens or not. And when a fight does happen, it’s better than anything a single player game could ever hope to create in terms of epic, memorable moments.

That’s why people (should) be playing MMOs; for those rare but awesome moments. Sadly a lot of today’s MMOs are incapable of providing such a moment due to poor design and an overemphasis on the solo at the expense of the group.

I agree with him, really. At the same time, it also made me fearful.

What he’s written also means that I cannot provide the same commitment or be in the same social circles that would allow for the fun of an MMO in a group setting. I not only live in a different time zone from most people who would play something like Darkfall: Unholy Wars, but I’m also going to start a job that requires a worthwhile time investment to be good at.

I value the opportunity I’m getting at this new job, but it also makes me sad that I can’t be an important part of that bright world where people are fighting a good fight of epic proportions against dragons and liches and Cthulhu-like monstrosities.

Then I have to remind myself to calm down.

Because I have to remember that as much as the online worlds beckon to me, I’ve already connected with hundreds of people and made tons of friends who’ve helped to shape my personality and make me better than I was six years ago.

And I will keep making friends online and in the physical world, and my interactions with them will improve the person that I am, and ultimately, allow me to also impact their lives meaningfully and (I hope) for the better.

Feeling a Little Thankful, and a Little Hurt

Two pieces I wrote came up this week for people read on MMORPG.com. One was a discussion on progression via levels and skills for Devil’s Advocate, and the other was my explanation for why Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn might very well be a defining moment in MMO history.

On the one hand, commenters on my Devil’s Advocate Post mentioned Asheron’s Call as a game that sort of fulfills the melding of Levels and Skills, and due to my never having played it, I completely skipped it as a talking point.

I felt embarassed. At the same time, I was thankful. Someone had pointed out an issue with my article and it had given me an idea to sort of compare Asheron’s Call and Project Gorgon. It was a good angle to take, and one that I’ll explore for the next Devil’s Advocate.

On the other hand, I also received a comment on the FFXIV post that reads:

You sure did gush a lot for a non biased column.

How much does one of these columns cost a company?

For me, I can read this as trolling, but after the Eurogamer issue that occurred recently, it touched a nerve. As I’m also starting a job at Rappler, a social news site in the Philippines, on November 1, it made me anxious to have my ethics as a writer put into question. Basically, it really stung.

I responded thus,

Just so you know, this isn’t the Devil’s Advocate for this week, and as far as I can remember when I wrote it, I did not mention that I was unbiased.

I like the Final Fantasy brand. At the same time, I will admit that I was disappointed by FFXIII and FFXIV. The information given so far for the game gives me hope, and the potential of a game like this to be a defining moment in MMO history makes me pause, because it can cost tons of jobs and change lives if it fails.

I am enthusiastic for the game based on its potential, but at the same time, I’ve played enough games to know that the potential for something to be good does not make it good unless I try it and make that distinction for myself, based on my personal opinion and my understanding of the situation.

The idea that I am some sort of paid shill is a hurtful insinutation on your part, and while I would defend your ability to say it on this forum if push came to shove, I will not stand by and accept your accusation. Frankly, as a fellow person on this planet, I am hurt by your words, and I honestly hope that you would actually consider the gravity of what you’re saying to me or to anyone else in the future.

In any case, this is just sharing on my part. I take great pains to make sure my pieces are well-written and meaningful, but there are really a ton of variables I can’t account for. I know I should let it pass, but it really soured an otherwise happy day.

You Games-Meandering Bastard

Yes,Victor, you games-meandering bastard.

You’re playing or trying TOO MANY freaking games.

You have Borderlands 2, Dark Souls PC, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and Morrowind (using the Morrowind visual enhancer) to tide you over on the non-MMO front.

Then you have an active sub to LOTRO, which you don’t play actively, and WoW, which you’re having trouble connecting to reliably.

AND you got a year’s membership to Pirate101?!

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!

Now you’re considering getting The Walking Dead and subbing to RIFT and getting the Storm Legion expansion? I mean, I understand wanting TWD, but you could never stick to RIFT!

And you want to go back just for the freaking housing?! What the bloody, bloody hell is churning around in your head?

*imaginary hairpull*

For the love of all that is finger-licking good, like fried chicken, curb your purchases, at least till November.

 

Signed,

Victor’s Meandering Mind.