Blaugust Reborn: Five Questions Answered
Back at the beginning of August, several of the bloggers participating in Blaugust Reborn 2018, provided some interesting writing prompts designed to inspire those new to creating online content. Although I don’t consider myself to be a “newbie”, having maintained a web presence since 2007, some of those prompts were very interesting. Certainly, a short list of questions posted over at Endgame Viable offered a variety of talking points too good to pass up. So, I’ve selected four of those listed and one other from Moonshine Mansion (who also had an interesting selection) and decided to explore them further in today’s post. I’ll try and be as concise as possible because each specific question could sustain an entire blog post of their own. But sometimes brevity can be a good thing, so here for your consideration are my thoughts on the following:
What do you use Twitter for? Is it a conversation platform? Is it a notification platform? Is it safe? How do you use retweets and favourites?
I primarily use Twitter to converse and stay in touch with online friends. I like to swap news, have conversations and indulge in light-hearted banter. It also provides me with news updates from established outlets. I also use Twitter to promote my own written work. Having built up a respectable following this can have a positive impact upon my website traffic. Twitter can be safe a platform as long as you proactively police who you follow, what conversations you pursue and retweet. I use “mute” judiciously and regularly prune followers that aren’t active.
Are game reviews valuable anymore? Or are they just entertainment?
I find this a curious question as it infers that game reviews are not of value anymore. I draw upon a broad spectrum of game reviewers. Some are from established gaming websites and others are from You Tube. Those that I follow often tend to have a similar outlook upon gaming as myself and favour the similar genres as I do. Twitch also now supplements written reviews, and I’ll often watch someone playing a new title before I make up my mind to buy it. Although there have been controversies of late in some quarters, they often seem to affect reviews and reviewers that are outside of my experience. So, from my perspective, I still seek out intelligent and measured game reviews and have no difficulty finding them.
What are your favourite or most engrossing stories delivered through a game?
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt remains the benchmark for quality games writing. It was the first time that I encountered a game with a narrative as gripping and compelling as a quality novel. The dramatic scope and the emotional intelligence of many of the themes and storylines are outstanding and the game does not render complex ideas into binary outcomes. Like real life the stories are often ambiguous with outcomes that have both good and bad consequences. Another game that has quality storylines is the MMO The Lord of the Rings Online. It has always run a parallel course to Tolkien’s narrative and explored aspects of the source text that are just alluded to by the author. Since the game has now gone beyond the downfall of Sauron, it has continued to maintain a similar high standard with creatively extrapolating what is in the appendices of the original trilogy.
What are your thoughts on lockboxes? Are they necessary? Are they exploitative?
Lootboxes can be both divisive and exploitative. Yet as games are commercial undertakings with a need for monetisation one can argue that they are a necessary evil, or at very least a quick and solution. So, my attitude to lootboxes is one of ambivalence, until I find myself in a situation where their use may be required. Then it’s time to apply my own personal cost analysis to see if it is expedient to buy them. In a game such as Star Trek Online, lootboxes offer additional content. Their main selling point are ships which although varied and unique, are not significantly superior to those that can be earned elsewhere in the game. Therefore, you can play the game effectively without having to ever pay to unlock one. However, in LOTRO the other day, I needed some additional “ashes” to be able to afford a specific armour set and opening lootboxes meant that I could bypass “grinding”. I resented buying keys but not enough to go “grind” for the gear elsewhere. And that’s why these egregious items continue to remain in games. Until we as players are prepared to “go without” to uphold a principle, then publishers will continue to count their cash while laughing at our “hypocrisy”.
What gets you hyped about an upcoming game?
Precious little really. As a mature (in years at least) player of games, I’ve grown tired with the excessive marketing that accompanies major launches. Pre-orders, early access and hype culture are the ruination of gaming and have proven to seldom live up to the expectations they foster. As a result, I don’t often buy a game at launch and will often wait until the release of the “Game of the Year Edition”. That is not to say that I don’t become intrigued by certain titles when they appear on my radar, but I’ve learned to drastically temper my expectations. It’s a habit I have in most other areas of my life. But because I have a strong sense of gallows’ humour and of schadenfreude, I often get more excited by the inevitable PR disasters that frequently incur when the hype train becomes derailed. Star Wars Battlefront II being a prime example.