Friday, August 7, 2015

My face is weird.

(Note to self: Stop castigating yourself for letting this blog lie dormant for years at a time. Sometimes you wanna say stuff and this is a good place to put it. And that's all good.)

I've been working on something lately, and it's alternately really funny and really difficult.

See, I have this twofold problem: A raging case of resting bitchface and a major, physical inability to keep my emotions from showing on my face. (Several of you are laughing and nodding right now.)

The former has caused me some awkward situations. When I'm thinking hard, distracted/focusing on a number of things at once, or even just staring off and thinking of nothing in particular, I look so angry. The perfect example of this happened a few years ago.

I was standing in line behind a woman at a fast food restaurant. I was thinking that she had the most beautiful hair that I'd ever seen and wondering if it would be weird to tell her that she had nice hair, when she turned around briefly and made eye contact for just a second, then turned around again.

After she got her food, she turned to me and snapped "When you look at people ugly it makes you ugly too" and stomped out before I could reply, leaving me stunned and embarrassed. I mean... I was standing there thinking complimentary things about her, and unknowingly half-glaring at her. Oops.

 So I try to keep a pleasant look on my face and wind up feeling like

The other thing is a lot harder: this huge inability to hide my emotions. On one hand it's fun, because when I'm excited or happy I light up like a Christmas tree and can't help but project my enjoyment. That part is all good. I love sharing that part of myself The more, the merrier.

But on the other hand, UGH. That works both ways--so anger and sadness do the same thing. I joke that telling me to hide it is like telling other people "Hey, make the blood in your veins run in the opposite direction." 

My face does ... I don't know. A thing. Nobody can adequately describe it to me, but everyone who knows me well agrees that there is definitely A Recognizable Thing. Not like sprouting horns, but some sort of expression. And when I'm at my angriest I literally turn colors. I get all red and blotchy from the collarbone up. I think it's the pale skin. It's super attractive, lemme tell you. 

A while back there was an incident that had angered me--a lot--in a place where there were a lot of people. I wanted to take a little while alone to calm down, so I composed my face I thought and went to retrieve my bag near where a friend was sitting. She barely glanced up as I walked in, and immediately did a double take with huge eyes, dropped what she was doing, got up, and followed me out of the room. "WHAT HAPPENED". 

Seriously, you guys. I'm BAD at this. Take whatever the opposite of a poker face is, double it, and there's me. I'm working on it. 

If you think you've seen what I look like mad, you probably haven't. Those of you who have seen it are very aware, and yes I am laughing as I type this. I can at least laugh at this damnable trait--at least when I'm not in the throes of it. 

Hey face. Behave yo'self. I know you can do it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In which I invite flames upon flames.

We recently revisited an old argument in my Guild Wars alliance: the subject of language. It was angering and tiring to me, because it was the second pages-long thread we've had in the officer forums that centers around the use of the word rape.

I really, truly do not get those who just casually toss that around. "lolololol we raped them lololol" Then someone complains and they're completely offended. Lighten up! We're all adults here! You know what I meant! It doesn't mean anything, and you know it.

Yes, we are all adults here, which means I expect you to be able to express yourself a little better than that. And yes, it DOES mean something. I am lucky -- I'm not a rape victim, and I've never even been in a situation where I felt threatened. But even the thought of it is enough to make me flinch, and it is really beyond me why *anyone* would find that appropriate to joke about.

Think about it. No, seriously. Take a second to think about the actual act -- someone being violated in that way and not being able to do a thing about it, no matter how hard they try. I don't care if it's never happened to you and you don't know anyone who has been a victim. The concept alone should bother you.

If you've ever used the word in that concept, I really, sincerely want to hear from you, because it seems like basic human compassion to avoid using that in a joking tone, for two reasons. One, it's simply not funny -- it's a completely unacceptable form of slang. Two, it's entirely likely that you will say that in guild chat, alliance chat, local chat, a forum, whatever, and it will be read by a rape victim. That person went through one of the most horrifying things you can go through, and now they're sitting there watching you mock the experience and turn it into a joke. Sure, you can make the standard excuses: that's his/her problem, not mine. Don't read it if you don't like it, blah blah blah.

Or you could, you know, show (again) basic human compassion and just find a better way to express yourself. Because it's not funny, and it should never ever ever ever be used in that context.

While I'm at it, the same goes for calling something "gay." I'm sorry, did you seriously just take someone's sexual orientation and turn it into a slur? NICE. I don't care whether you agree with it or not, using the word gay as a derogatory term for something you don't like just makes you look like a tool in dire need of a thesaurus. (If you still don't get where I'm coming from, substitute the phrase "sexual orientation" with "skin color," "nationality," or "religious affiliation." Still wanna tell me to lighten up and that it doesn't mean anything?)

Stop being cretins, people.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Free to play. It's not out to ruin your life.

There's been a lot of talk at Massively, both behind the scenes and out front, about the free-to-play business model. I've avoided weighing in until now because I just couldn't decide. Which makes me late to the discussion, but I'm okay with that. ;-)

I'm so torn on this, because on one hand the bickering over semantics annoys me to no end, as does the fact that so many people are just outraged that for-profit companies are out to make a buck. Hi, of course they want your money. That's sort of why they exist. It doesn't make them evil, it makes them like every other business in the world.

The constant back and forth is what interests me. Too many players take "free-to-play" at face value, which is fair to a point. They expect to be able to play for free. But you've got to use common sense. No business is going to fork over the whole store at no charge just because the devs think you look like a nice guy. They still aim to make a profit, so it's sort of a "You can play for free. And you can play even MORE for a few bucks."

The other part of this is that these companies are constantly testing to see what the market will bear. Again, this is good old common sense. I know little to nothing about the inner workings of F2P games, but I imagine that no company can afford to stagnante and continue offering the same tired uber sword of buttkickery for $3 in the cash shop. Eventually every player will have one and you cash flow stops. You can't keep up that way.

Better to keep trying new things and seeing how the market reacts. Different price points, different items, different incentives, different forms of earning income. You can send out surveys and study your customer base all you want, but sometimes putting it into practice is the only way to know for sure. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Look at Allods. Look at the DDO Offer Wall. Those things... didn't work out so well. On the other hand, look at the infamous Sparklepony. A year ago, would you have considered $25 a reasonable price for a cash shop item? WoW gambled on what the market would bear, and it not only worked out well for them, it caught on elsewhere.

It's just the nature of the game -- these companies want to keep you spending. It's how they continue to exist. But the games are not unavailable if you don't want to spend, so I really fail to see why people are so insulted when they bump up against an in-game store, or when devs add new or different items and price points to the store to see what sticks.

For what it's worth, I continue to think that Turbine has the most outstanding business model out there. I know there are people that don't like some of the F2P restrictions, but I view their a la carte options as pure genius. Want to pay a flat monthly sub and move on with your life? You can do that. Want to play free and maybe pick up a few items from the DDO/LotRO store now and then? You can do that too. Want to play without ever spending a penny? No problem. (And yes, you can do that. There are a hundred guides out there on playing completely free. I wrote one.)

Anyway, I generally think the F2P business model is a good one. Bicker over semantics and call it whatever you want, but if I'm playing and I've not paid any money and I can do so as long as I like, then I am playing for free. Free. to. Play. The end.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Whee! Bring on the hectic!

Wow, last night was kinda crazy and I loved every second of it.

See, Thursday night is Massively night in Guild Wars. I get together with our readers and we play through Guild Wars together. We started with Prophecies in pre-searing and are working our way through. In the past few weeks we've thrown Eye of the North into the mix, proceeding through those storylines to add some interest.

Last night was Bloodstone Fen and part of the Knowledgeable Asura storyline. After getting my kiddos to bed for the night, I headed to Bloodstone Fen early as usual to help everyone get settled in. Fielded a few guild invitation requests, chatted with guildies and alliance mates, and wrapped up a few work things. Besides the usual contingent of guildies, some alliance people joined, and an old friend from the original Guildcast alliance showed up.

At the appointed time, we divided up into groups -- we've always got too many for a single group -- and off we went. And then all heck broke loose. One guy's mic wasn't working on Vent, and someone else was having volume issues that caused every person's voice to come booming out of her speakers. Then someone else had a minor medical issue that required her to afk and re-apply a bandage/brace.

We stood around at the beginning of the mission for quite a while trying to get everything sorted. This is exactly the sort of thing that causes more impatient players to throw their hands up in annoyance and rely on heroes. But here's the thing: I revel in it. Sure, we weren't accomplishing the mission at top speed, but I was with five people that I *really* like. We were laughing, joking around, helping one another sort out technical glitches, and generally having time.

Now. I haven't even gotten to the fun part yet. We finally got settled and started the mission in earnest. We got about a third of the way through when I got an IM from my husband, who'd been web browsing during some downtime at work. There was a new ArenaNet blog post about Guild Wars 2.

Now here's the thing about Guild Wars 2 news: It's...well, it's Guild Wars 2 news. I jump on it and write it up immediately, and it usually gets published asap. Other stuff, particularly gaming, has to take a back seat. Now I want to be very clear that this is not a complaint. Not a day goes by that I don't smile at *some* point because of what I do for a living. I'm the lead Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2 writer for our site. I *get paid* to write about this game that introduced me to MMOs. I *get paid* to do something that I am incredibly passionate about and that I'd do for free.

So when this sort of thing happens, I have this crazy combination of "/shriek New info, new info!!!" and "OMG MUST WRITE NOW." My fangirl self and my work self are both hopped up on adrenaline and excitement and my biggest problem is trying to stay under a certain word count.

What's funny is that the very same thing happened last Thursday night. New GW2 info surfaced just as our Massively GW mission was well underway. I told my group what was happening, and they sent me off to a safe place to leech while I wrote. They were so kind about it.

I felt too guilty to do that again this week, so I explained on Vent what had happened and that I needed just a moment to talk with Shawn and figure out how long the story was going to be. Once I got that settled, we finished the mission in record time and everyone shooed me off to get to work.

I am so, so, so fortunate to have gameplay friends who "get it." Things like this interrupt their gameplay, and in their shoes I might be a bit impatient. They are saints about it. Partly because they are great people, but partly because this sort of thing is incredibly exciting for them too and they completely get why I'm so preoccupied and anxious to get to work.

My gamer friends are the best. <3 And keep the hectic coming, everyone involved. I love it so much!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Convention season -- it's a storm of OMGOMGOMG for me

I am really sad that I won't be at gamescom for the first hands-on with Guild Wars 2, but honestly, I find it hard to stay disappointed for long. Gen Con is this weekend, and then PAX.

Oh my gosh, PAX. This is an event I've wanted to attend for several years, but never had the opportunity. (That sentence was so mangled. If Bree ever sees that, she'll kill me in my sleep.) And in 29 days, I will be in Seattle, WA, attending PAX Prime. 28 days, actually, since I plan to arrive a day early.

It's ridiculous how excited I am about this. Every time I think about it I break into this huge grin and get a few little butterflies in my stomach. I am going to PAX. I have an appointment with the GW2 crew already, and my little fangirl heart can barely stand that fact.

Shawn told me I'd probably need to look at Aion 2.0 as well, to which I replied "As long as they show me that pet that poops out loot, I'm totally cool with that. I've never seen anything literally crap a weapon before." Aion's been tugging at the edge of my attention anyway, and I may give it a try after PAX. Just need to find space in the budget for a sub game.

But for now, in two days I'll be in Indianapolis for Gen Con with my Kev, and Shawn and Justin from Massively. That's going to be such fun. Matt Forbeck is there, and Felicia Day. I'm hoping for photos with both. Shawn and I interviewed Jeff Grubb a while back, and I'd love the chance to say thanks to the other half of that team for such a great book.

Once I return from Gen Con, I'll resume my countdown to PAX. Lots of prep work to be done: making appointments, confirming reservations, and making sure everything's in place for a Massively fan meetup. (The lovely and talented Seraphina is setting that up.) Every step of the preparation process is just insanely exciting for me, and I hope I can convey that excitement to Massively's readers that week.

(28 days. OMG.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I should be fired. We should all be fired.

The downside of what I do is that someone will always be ready and willing to tell you exactly where they think you've gone wrong.

Sometimes they're correct. Maybe you've made a typo, or missed a fact, or God forbid, presented old news as new. In which case, you fix it, learn your lesson, and just accept that much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over your mistake is going to be wildly out of proportion to the actual error.

I saw an excellent example of this the other day. Some sort of weird glitch -- possibly on Facebook's end, who knows -- caused information about the Guild Wars Wintersday in July event to be posted on the official Guild Wars Facebook page. The event itself was back in mid-July, so it was well over and done with. The text of the announcement contained the correct date (July 16th), but the Facebook posting had the current date, August second or something.

The commenters went insane. There were numerous all-caps comments stating simply "EPIC FAIL." One person said "The person who posted this should be fired." (Really? You think a person should lose his livelihood, his health benefits, the way he supports his family and keeps food in his fridge, over a Facebook error? Really?) People went on and on about what a travesty this was.

It's weird. It was the internet equivalent to... I don't even know. The cashier at Macy's forgetting to add one of the items you purchased to your bag. You see it still sitting there, you remind her, she fixes the error, and everyone moves on. Nobody is rallying his friends, standing outside Macy's, screaming EPIC FAIL at the top of his lungs and calling for the cashier to be fired.

Things online are amplified so much. You will be tarred and feathered for every typo. You can write 1,500 words, and if one of those words is out of place it will become the focus of the entire piece for the majority of the readers.

So why even bother? Why not turn off your computer, walk away from these lunatics, and go work at Macy's instead?

Because there's an upside too. For every person who is demanding that you be fired and put in stocks, there are two who love what you do and want to tell you that. Unfortunately, just like those people I was talking about earlier, we have a tendency to focus on the negative. It's just human nature. Ten great comments should be more than adequate to bolster your ego after three or four negative ones, but it never seems to work that way.

Growing a thick skin and learning to deal with jerks is probably the hardest part of this job. I guess any job where you deal with the internet masses. These days I'm shutting down and walking away more often, to go hang out with the RL people, the ones who really matter. They're the ones keeping me sane. But I still work hard and often, and at the end of the day, I still have the best job in the world.

(Note to self. Read that last paragraph 2-3 times a day as needed.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I need to revive this poor old blog. It's been an amazing year and this thing fell by the wayside.

On September 17th, 2009, I was offered what is seriously the best job I've ever had in my life. I am a contributing editor for, and even after nearly a year I find myself amazed that I actually do this for a living.

I play MMOs for fun and relaxation, and suddenly I write about them for pay. It's mind-boggling.

Most days I'm confident that I'm good at what I do. I've still got miles of room for improvement, but I think I started out well, and I've learned so much from my incredible editors. I should probably thank them more -- they seem to only hear from me in a professional capacity when there is a complaint. Note to self, do something about that.

Actually, that segues nicely into what's been on my mind this weekend. People seem to have an endless capacity for negativity, and I wonder if it will ever stop taking me by surprise. There is always someone who is just dying to tell you all about why "x" game sucks, what you did wrong, how another gamer or commenter sucks, just anything negative. They love it so much, and every now and again the flood of negativity just knocks me flat.

It's another facet of that tendency: we focus on the negative and blow off the positive. I could get 50 people saying how much they love my work, and five telling me in great detail exactly how and why I am a disgrace to my profession. Guess what I'll focus on. My current project is to break myself of that habit.

If I figure out the secret, do you suppose I could bottle it and sell it?