Category Archives: Rants

Piracy and Legacy Servers

Let me start by saying – I am a game developer. I get paid to MAKE games. I have made games that sold millions of copies. I have made games that barely sold at all. I have been at a studio that got *house buying sized bonuses* and at studios where it was more like “The studio will be closing on Friday.”

When someone pirates a game – I have conflicting feelings about it. You are taking my work, my 70+ hour weeks, spent crunching and killing myself, stealing it, and enjoying it for free. At the same time, my brain is also able to comprehend that pirates are not buyers. 1 pirated copy of the game does not equal a lost sale. Pirates aren’t going to BUY the game regardless. If they can’t pirate it, they just won’t play it. It still fucking bothers me though. It’s still theft.

The WoW social media community is having a bit of a fuss over Legacy servers and the shut down of a large private server. So here’s my point of view. A game developer’s point of view.

FIRST: Private servers are piracy. They are theft. They are stealing Blizzard’s work.

FULL.STOP. The server got shut down BECAUSE IT’S THEFT. They didn’t make the game. They didn’t make the art. They didn’t design the levels. They took someone else’s work and recreated it, and acted like they had done a ton of work. THEY DIDN’T. If I retype the Lord of the Rings, that doesn’t give me the right to sell it, make movies of it, etc. Hell, if I just print it out on my printer, that doesn’t give me the right to SELL that print.

Second: 150k pirates stealing WoW – Vanilla or otherwise – are NOT equal to 150k subs for WoW.

You can’t make the argument that 150k people playing on a private server is 150k people who would be willing to play a legacy server run by blizzard. Sure, there was probably a small subset of people who are already subscribers and just went to play there because they miss Vanilla. BUT it’s likely more than HALF of those people were just pirates who wanted to play WoW but DON’T WANT TO PAY BLIZZARD FOR IT.

Third: Game development, especially with 16+ year old code-bases, is NOT easy/simple.

People like to argue – “Well a bunch of fans did it, why can’t Blizzard?” For one, Blizzard has to make it work within their code base. They would have to do it right – without major game breaking bugs or exploits. They would have to have it work with Battle.Net and all of the tech they use. It’s also not as easy as just “rolling back” to a specific revision. We know WoW has been in development for at least 16 years (probably more like 20). I have worked on 5 year old code bases that were already a tangled awful mess of “what the fuck were those programmers thinking?” I SHUDDER to even think of Blizzard’s. Do you realize how many devs they have currently working for them? How many they have had who have left? They mentioned at BlizzCon they use FOUR different versions of source control. FOUR. That’s a NIGHTMARE. Hell, with that much time, that many versions of source control, and the sheer volume of changes to the game, I would be astonished if they even thought about trying to build a legacy server, much less TRIED. And don’t kid yourself, it would be for less than 100k players at MOST. That would be the population the first 3-4 months. Then it would drop to 50k or less.

Programmers are the most expensive part of a dev team. That is the majority of what would be needed to get legacy servers running. It is simply not cost effective to get a legacy server running, because it the number of subs would be so low, they wouldn’t make their money back. Remember that whole Pirates Copies Don’t Equal Sales – if a FREE WoW server only attracts 150k players – then a paid one would attract less than half of that. (I actually would peg it more around a 10th of that.) Add to this the fact that the BEST programmers suited to this task would be the ones who have been at the company the longest – as they have the most first hand knowledge. That means that they would be pulling their best people off NEW content to work on OLD content for a fraction of the player base. You think garrisons cost you a raid tier? Legacy servers will cost you an EXPANSION – and would KILL the live game in the process.

Let’s look at the example Cataclysm gave us – they went back and reworked zones to bring them up to Wrath levels of quality. And how did that go? It didn’t. Blizzard even admitted that they ended up spending too much time and resources reworking old content THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T PLAY. They said they should have made more end game and high level content.

Finally: Vanilla wasn’t that great. Nostalgia is a weird thing.

Do you like Paladins? Not in Vanilla you didn’t. Remember being an out of combat rezzer? I do. I sat there and did NOTHING and wasn’t allowed to roll on gear unless no one who was killing the boss wanted it, and rezzed people who died. Remember trying to corral 40 people into a raid that took hours and hours and you could only raid if you were willing to play WoW 40+ hours a week? I do, because I couldn’t raid. I had school, then work. I had things I had to do. I wanted to raid.

Bags were only 14 slots. No dungeon groups, just hours in trade trying to form a group. Soul shards, ammo, materials for spells. Keys for UBRS. Shields with shadow power. Hunter pets had to be leveled and friended. Spell Ranks.  Only one way to level – grinding. Only one way to play – grinding.

So no, I don’t think Blizzard should waste time and money they could be spending on PAYING customers (like me!) and making us NEW content on revamping old content for thieves.

Flying – You can’t put the Genie back in the Bottle

Note – This is a rant. I get ranty. And the f-bomb gets dropped with increasing frequency as it goes on. You have been warned.


There are many things they have added to WoW over the years and then later taken out. Like attunements and reforging. There have been many arguments on if these decisions were good or not. But in the end, they don’t impact the current face of WoW terribly much.

This expansion’s argument though is different. Flying. Blizzard decided to not allow flight in Draenor. Not just while leveling, like they did in Wrath, but at all. So here we are, level 100 for 6+ months, and still stuck on the ground.

I hate it. I HATE not being able to fly. It is by far my BIGGEST gripe with Draenor – and that includes the horrible random nature of crafting. I’ve even mentioned it TWICE before in previous posts about WoD:

– No Flying. I haven’t done one bit of archeology or farming because oy is it HARD to get around Draenor. It’s very clear they wanted to gate and limit the player’s movement, but did they have to make it SO MUCH in every zone? It’s a very strong reason for why I don’t want to do these parts of the game. I don’t want to use a glider, I want to fly. Fiddly one off mechanics over a system wide ability I paid a great deal of gold for… yeah.

No flight at 100. I decided to go do the daily in Spires of Arak yesterday and it took me 20 minutes to find my way there. Once I got there (after dying from fall damage) I was greeted by a few HUNDRED people all trying to do the same daily. 20 minutes later, I gave up and went back to my garrison, with 10% of the daily complete. This is NOT how I want to spend an hour of my game time.

So now that Mr. Hazzikostas has implied there may not be flying in future expansions I have to raise my voice. Before, I grumbled, but didn’t write about it, because, well, it was different. And I did need to experience it. And I did need to PLAY it to judge. And honestly, I thought they would be patching it in at the end of the expansion. So now, despite the fact I know people don’t want to hear the griping anymore, I am fucking griping, because not being able to fly is BULLSHIT.

The Problems with No Flying:

First – it’s a COST we already paid. We bought flight for 5k. Then we paid 1k for it in Northrend. Then we paid 250g for it in Cataclysm. Then 2.5k for Pandaria. Some of us have paid this fucking cost over multiple characters. This is not a fucking insubstantial amount of gold. It was an investment in our character that is now fucking worthless.

Second – Flying mounts. There are at least a 100 flying mounts. These mounts look fucking stupid when waddling on the ground. Remember the Netherwing Rep grind? The Cloud Serpent Rep grind? How much time did we spend grinding rep to get flying mounts that are virtually useless now? To head off the arguments, I have a spectral tiger. I have a BAD ASS ground mount. My owning of that mount doesn’t mean I don’t ever want to fly on all the fucking flying mounts I earned and farmed up over the years.

Third – What a Long Strange Trips It’s Been. Really? I spent a FUCKING YEAR doing every single damn holiday, stupid fucking rng within fucking rng achievements, and my reward of super speed flight is what now? A complete FUCKING WASTE. Thank you Blizz, for respecting the time and energy I have sunk into your game. /sarcasm (who am I kidding this whole thing is dripping with sarcasm because apparently some idiot thinks it’s a good idea to not have flight!)

Fourth – Archeology. It’s a profession practically requiring the speed and ease of flying around the world to dig sites. I haven’t done it outside my garrison because it simply takes too damn much time to travel now. So I do it through the mine. I am sure the designer who came up with it is happy to know that their profession has been reduced to something done off hand while getting ore.

Fifth – it just makes the designers build annoying ass landscapes like Nagrand and Spires of Arak. The inflation of time for travel is just fucking annoying. There is no reason it should take me 15 minutes to go from my garrison to the raid. NONE. And I certainly shouldn’t be showing up with a huge group of mobs chasing me that are the equivalent of mosquitoes.

Sixth – It just makes it HARDER to get where we want to go. I am a RABID pet collector. I didn’t go get the wild pets in Draenor until about a month ago because it was too fucking annoying to ride around the zones to FIND them. Making things harder is not going to retain old players or bring in new ones. Path of least resistance is the player way, and sometimes that’s right the fuck out of your game.

Blizzard’s Solution: “We’ll work on flight paths!”

UM. DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND? We want to be DOING things in WoW, not waiting while our character travels.

The game’s gains for not having flying:

Hidden treasures? – They aren’t that cool guys. OH AND RIGHT, you already added Aviana’s Feather, and Gliders, and all kinds of other CRAP to get around that. Can we just use the mounts we fucking paid for?

Jumping Puzzles? – If I wanted to play a fucking platformer, I would fucking play Mario. I want to play WoW, but more than that, I want to play WoW MY way. And if that means ignoring the fucking jumping puzzles until i can fly, then I am gonna fucking do it.

Travel time – Because apparently there just isn’t enough crap in a game with 10 years of content – they are still artificially inflating the time people are playing.

“It makes it feel dangerous!” – Yeah except it doesn’t. Danger is when I am level 90 and running around Shadowmoon Valley. At 100, it’s just annoying and leads to me dragging 20 mobs and finally stopping and nuking them all down. I am sure the poor little player leveling over there didn’t need those mobs for his quest did he? It was totally a great idea for me to drag them across the zone and kill them all. I felt so in danger when my health dipped down to 90%.

More structured leveling experience – this is the ONLY excuse that makes any sense. But again – WHY does it have to continue past level cap? Just require level cap for learning flight. It was done in all of the previous expansions. Yeah, it makes getting rare treasures easier, but at 100, that’s pretty easy ANYWAY. Oh look at that! A simple solution! Gosh, if only you had fucking known it would work really well and mollify your players… OH WAIT. YOU DID. BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE IT FOUR FUCKING TIMES BEFORE.


I get it. I am a level designer. I GET how flying makes it harder to design zones. But you know what? You can’t take it back now. Suck it up, deal with it, and spend the time to make it work. We paid for it. We collected mounts for it. We sunk hundreds of hours into getting it and making it better. You can’t put the fucking genie back into the fucking bottle, we already found our freedom.

It’s a Mad Men World

It started as a joke. “in 40 years, a Mad Men-like prestige drama about a 2010s game studio falling apart” – a funny idea. Take the show Mad Men and make a version of it that deals with game studios dying.

Someone else tried to spin it into a “woman power story” which I could approve of, except for the fact that *I* work in this industry and I immediately laughed at the implausibility. “Underdog female protag starts in QA, becomes the studio’s lead designer in 7 seasons. I’m in.”

I am a woman, designing levels and games, I have a Master’s Degree. I have 8 years of experience. I have shipped 6 titles. Three of my titles have sold over 15 million copies and earned over 3 Billion dollars in 4 years. If a season == a year – this idea for a story line was completely implausible. So we started piling on more “joke” ideas. Only they weren’t jokes. They were things. That have happened to us. The laughter stopped and all that was left was several people staring at Twitter slightly disappointed and dismayed. That was when I realized, it really was a good Mad Men like story. It left us just as depressed and demoralized as if we had been watching Mad Men.

The season arcs do write themselves.

Season 1 – our studio is starting work on a huge game. Staffing up, hiring friends. Getting into the flow of making the game. 3 episodes in, a publishing head hancho comes in and makes some outrageous and insane demand. Adding some super complex feature without adding more money. 6 episodes in, the game is announced. The high is being ridden. Everyone parties, then buckles down to work. 9 episodes in, crunch begins. Episode 12, after 6 months of crunching, the team finally ships the game. Season finale.

Season 2 – The team celebrates launch. Halfway through the first episode half the team gets canned. Those who remain get doctor’s appointments and lawyer appointments to deal with the fallout from 6 months of crunch. The season continues with the team getting to work on a sequel to the game they just launched. The game has gotten a 7.5 metacritic. It sells well enough to get a sequel, but not well enough for anyone other than leads to get bonuses. Over this season, good talent starts leaving and the only ones who get promoted are the idiots to get them out of the way. The season ends with being halfway through the 1 year turn around sequel when a competing company announces a game that is the same game, but with better art, better licenses, and a dynamic lead designer.

Season 3 – The deathmarch of crunch is worse, more talent is bleeding away to other studios. The team is completely demoralized working on a project that no one wants because of the other better game. The season continues showing the life costs of working on this game. Divorces, affairs, lost connections. They finally ship the sequel game, to lower review scores, lower sales, and the internet is calling for those “hacks” to be fired. The finale is the employees showing up to work one day and they are locked out. The studio has been closed.

Season 4 – Starts with a few of our favored protagonists starting an indie studio. They are living on savings, borrowing money, etc etc. They try to get publishing deals for their “genius” idea game. It never works out. The whole time one of the no talent hacks from the former studio goes off, manages to luck out and get a job as a lead designer on an amazing game. The indie guys keep working, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and finally at the end of the season ship their indie game.

Season 5 – Indie game is DOA. They try to monetize it differently. It’s critically acclaimed but no one buys it. They struggle on, as the team loses people 1 by 1 as they all go back to crap jobs at big studios just to pay bills. Maybe even losing one or two to death – especially due to heavy alcohol drinking (which has gotten progressively worse over the series). Season and series ends with only character left getting a super high paying job as a programmer in banking doing mindless menial tasks 8-5, and coming home and playing video games. Not doing his dream job, but happier for it.


There. There’s the outline for the Game Developer Mad Men. I am going to go get a drink now.

The Twitters to the Rescue.

So here’s what happened NEXT.


I see the hotfix note that “Inscription-crafted Warlords trinkets should no longer be able to be upgraded using crystals meant for upgrading Inscription-crafted weapons as this could cause the trinket to end up in a broken state.”

How do I get a non-broken Sandman’s Pouch then so I can use my Molten Tarot?
#6 17 hours ago
Thanks for your reply. Like the previous rep pointed out though, it’s something that needs to be fixed by the devs and that’s why it’s included in a hotfix like this. It will hit everyone at the same time. It’s, unfortunately, not something we can tackle individually.

Thank you so much for your understanding,

Game Master R—

  #7 4 hours ago

Except there are multiple people in that thread that WERE helped.

Also, again, please READ what I wrote. The hotfix DOES NOT FIX my problem. It only prevents the problem I have from happening in the future.

I do not understand. It’s not a complex idea – I have a broken trinket that should upgrade, but won’t. Take my broken trinket, and instead give me a non-broken one that I can upgrade. Or take my trinket and my upgrade item and give me the 3 of 3 trinket.

I have a progression raid TONIGHT and after spending a stupid amount of time farming the mats to create and upgrade my trinket TWICE, I should not be forced to use a subpar trinket because of a BUG on Blizzard’s end. We are not talking about some thing I just threw together. This was 2 months worth of work and over 57,000 gold worth of mats.

#8 2 hours ago
Zormothric – Customer Service Representative     

Firstly, let me apologize for the confusion. My name is Madeleine and I took this reigns on this.This is actually a bizarro bug, that should have been fixed for you much earlier!

So thank you for your patience =] I went ahead and handled it for you, so you’ll see on Joyia a 3/3 upgraded Sandman’s Pouch:D

Again, so sorry for the confusion and the delays here, but thank you for hanging in there with us! GOOD LUCK on your raid tonight! Slay some bad guys, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you get some sweet loots =]

Have a good one!


How did I get from Mr. R who said he couldn’t help me individually to this other GM who handled it?


I made this post:

Less than an hour later, I hopped onto my toon and there is my lovely trinket. The old busted one and the Molten Tarot was gone. (To be fair, I did get stuck on this idea, because it was the easiest solution that got me the trinket I needed for our raid tonight – but they never suggested anything other than waiting.)

The power of social media is that it’s social. I talk about WoW to excess on my twitter. I am friends with dozens of WoW players on there – if not hundreds. Loudly and vocally complaining about something that is actionable (ie – replace this bugged junk vs this is stupid) will get results. Now I am sure this was the person/persons watching the Blizzard twitter and escalating my ticket. It shouldn’t have NEEDED to go that far, but it did, and they handled it.

So why couldn’t it be handled on the first person instead of the later one? Probably alot of reasons. If they are like other CS setups, the first person who sees your ticket doesn’t actually have the power to do anything. They are tasked with reading it, and then filtering it, by either passing it up the chain, or kicking it back to me. That’s why the first person in the previous post suggested I wait for the hotfix. I bet money they knew the hotfix was hitting soon, and thought that would take care of my problem.

My only problem is with the second guy I talked to. He clearly didn’t read anything I had written. He skimmed, he responded, and he filtered it back to me, instead of stopping to even read my replies. I doubt ANY of them followed the link to the bug report forum, or else they would have seen a list of people who needed help. But his insistence that they didn’t handle this on an individual basis was absurd. There are people in the thread who were helped – and that’s why I asked for that specific resolution. This guy failed at his job. More so, as a GM, your job is to fix problems, that’s literally your job. You help the players fix their problems.

That said, tackle hugs to the person/persons running the Twitter and to the GM who did the thing.

This is unacceptible.

Updated: Follow up post here.

I think it says something that in 9.5 years of playing, I have been forced to contact Blizzard Support more since WoD launched than I ever have before. In fact, prior to this time, I have never had to contact them for an item issue at all. 90% of our contact is me reporting someone for circumventing ignore, which is pretty much me just sending a message and letting them take care of it.

But this time. Oh boy, this time it’s awful.

Back in December, after hitting gold cap, I bought a trinket – Sandman’s Pouch. It’s crafted, and really good, so I decided to splurge and get it for my Warlock. I bought the cards and made the item. (About 7k gold, this will matter later.)

Once I got my scribe up to the point where she could make War Paints, I started saving them to create the upgrade items for this trinket. It takes about 35 days to make both upgrade items.

The mats:

The mats for  Inferno Tarot:
150 X  War Paints
30 X  Sorcerous Water (450g)
15 X  Savage Blood (15000g – at the time of creation)

The mats for  Molten Tarot:
200 X  War Paints
40 X  Sorcerous Earth (1600g)
15 X  Savage Blood (10,500g)

Apparently though, I made a mistake when I made the first upgrade item – you see, there are 4 different upgrade items for scribes to make. Two work for trinkets and two work for weapons. I made the wrong one. That’s stupid, but that was my mistake. What happened next was Blizzard’s fault. I used the Weapon Crystal on my trinket (or I believe I may have, I don’t really remember, that was in December, but it’s plausible, and others seem to think that is what causes the bug.) And it WORKED. It upgraded my trinket to the 655 version. So I went back about doing my thing and continuing on raiding and kicking ass.

Now, here at the end of January, I finally got my war paints to make the second upgrade item. I made sure to find the one that said it upgraded from 655 to 665 (really 670, but they haven’t updated the tooltip.) I made the item. And instantly realized I made the wrong one. Again. I made the weapon one. So after much cursing, I decided to list the wrong one on the auction house, eat the 5k price difference and buy the molten tarot off the auction house. I sent the molten tarot to Joyia, and grumbled a bit, but fine. I would have my upgraded trinket.

“This item cannot be modified.” – That was the message I got when I tried to upgrade my trinket. Uh. NO.

After triple checking, I went to the web and found this thread full of people with the same problem. The first post was over a month ago. A MONTH. (This is also where I found my info on the crystal issue.)

I submitted a ticket, waited my two days and this is the exchange:

My Sandman’s Pouch isn’t upgrading to 670 with the Molten Tarot item. My Sandman’s Pouch is 655 and should be eligible, but instead it says “This item cannot be modified.” I spent 30k on the upgrade item. You need to either give me the 3 of 3 Sandman’s Pouch, or refund all the mats used to make the trinket and both upgrade items. <— here’s a whole thread of other people having the same issue.
OH, if you do decide to refund the mats to make the trinket and the two upgrade items they need to be sent to my alt, Summerriver on this account because she is the inscriptor that can make it.
Really it would just be easier to take my Molten Tarot, my current sandman’s pouch trinket, and jsut give me the correct 3 of 3 Sandman’s Pouch trinket.

-1 day ago – Adhaglaudock Customer Service Representative     
Hey there -,

We’re currently aware of the Molten Tarot not upgrading trinkets to level 3 as they’re supposed to and are working to get it fixed. Our Quality Assurance team should hopefully get a hotfix for this released soon, if not it will be rolled into the 6.1 patch once released.

As far as the items go, as the trinket was created back in December we won’t be able to return it to the mats as you have used it for over a month. Returning that to the mats would be unfair as you got so much use out of it so far.

In regards to the Molten Taro, as you bought it off of the auction house we will be unable to refund the purchase. All auction house purchases are all sales final and can’t be refunded as we’re unable to reclaim the gold from the other player and if we didn’t we would be hurting the economy by duplicating gold.

So you will need to wait for the hotfix to be released. We’ll get it released as soon as we can though!

Thanks for contacting me and if you need anything else, feel free to let us know!
#4 –  
Please READ what I wrote before responding. Others who have encountered this same problem say that rebuilding the trinket from scratch and upgrading it properly (using the Inferno Tarot and Molten Tarot instead of the Crystal item, which is why it breaks and will not upgrade properly). I am not asking for the mats to sell. I am TRYING to get my trinket I SHOULD have Sandman’s Pouch 3 of 3 upgrades.

Your solution – wait for the patch – is unacceptable. I am in a raiding guild. I have spent a great deal of time farming the mats and gold to make this trinket and upgrade it. Telling me to deal with having a subpar trinket when I should have a better one due to Blizzard’s bug is not an acceptable response.

If you cannot refund me the mats for all three items – the trinket, the inferno tarot, and the molten tarot – while removing the trinket and the molten tarot – then you need to replace the trinket. I have the 2 of 3 version of the trinket and the molten tarot in my bags. Take those, and send me the 3 of 3 version of the trinket.

For those who might not play WoW, let me explain that Trinkets are a high upgrade slot. Even a “small” gain like this could mean 10-20% better performance. That could mean the difference between my guild downing a boss or wiping all night. That could mean the difference in me being on the raid team and not being on the raid team.

The fact that the CSR’s response was “Oh sorry, we are fixing that bug, wait for 6.1!” is absurd. 6.1 could be 2-3 months off! In addition I am now holding a worthless item I bought for 30k gold! The cost of replacing the trinket would be 37k, if I had the materials on hand. All of this because I can’t be assured of a drop off a boss that is equivalent. (The 670 trinket I would need only drops from the last boss of Highmaul on Heroic. Yeah. That’s going to happen any time soon. *eye roll*)

Blizzard has based their end game on running content and grinding for gear. As such the acquisition and use of this gear is the most important part of lasting dedication to playing the game. Asking someone to wait to use an item they have already earned is extremely rude considering the time investment into getting these items is what KEEPS THE GAME RUNNING. Especially when the lack of this item either means another great expenditure of gold or losing their raid spot?

It’s extremely frustrating. The correct response would have been – well honestly back in DECEMBER when this was discovered, rushing a hotfix to prevent the bug from happening in the first place and fixing it on the broken end. As that is apparently not a priority, the GMs correct response should have been, let me check, grab the bad trinket, the Molten Tarot and mail you the correct 3 of 3 trinket. Apologies for the wait.

A different kind of crunchy mom

It never really occurred to me I should be writing about being a game developer mom. I am a game developer and a mom, but these two things don’t really seem to overlap very much in the public eye. Recently on Twitter, I made a comment to a friend about being a mom in game development, and she replied with surprise, as she rarely talks to other moms who make games.

At first, I thought this was rather odd, I mean, there are tons of moms who make games! But then I stopped to think about the people I work with and have worked with. Um. Well. I mean, none of my companies can be accused of hiring lots of women, but some are over the average (13% female workforce). And yet, I have never worked with another mother, unless they never talked about it. (I even interviewed at a company, that after a while, the guy got me to admit that I wasn’t planning on having kids anytime soon, and his response was “Oh good, you women have a habit of quitting when you have babies.”)

I have worked at a company where just as I started, a producer left on maternity leave. She didn’t come back when it was over. As this was in the middle of a death march of a crunch, I really couldn’t blame her. 60 hour weeks with an infant? You must be crazy.

I guess I am crazy. I got pregnant right as TfB geared up on Giants right after shipping Spyro’s Adventure. We had a 1 year turn around time for Giants. I knew it was going to be rough, but as long as we shipped in June, we would be fine, as I was due in July. No worries. Except for the tiny detail of “Games almost never ship on time.” It wasn’t too difficult, working on Giants. My studio is pretty stress free, friendly, and people worked to get my stuff done first “just in case”. In the end, I shipped my kid the same week we hit submitted. I worked right up until the Friday before my due date (the next Tuesday). I didn’t do this because I was told to, or asked to, but rather because I love my job, I love my game, and I really love the people I work with.

When I first got pregnant, it was always known I would take a few months off, then back to work and back to Skylanders. I never thought of leaving my career to stay home with my kid. I had worked very hard to get where I was in the industry and was very lucky to get a job at TfB working on a game I loved. No way I was going to put that on hold for 5 years. So I found a daycare within a mile of my office, signed Tiny Pittman up, and went back to work exactly 3 months after I left to have my son.

So what is it like being a game dev mom? Weird. But I expect many women feel the same in other fields. I really think though, crunch is the source of my biggest problems with being a game dev and a mom, and likely the reason I don’t find many others.

First, before I had my kid, I only remember one incident of a parent responding to crunch. At one company, we were in the middle of mandatory 60 hour weeks, including 2 late nights. One of the men who sat across the office from me would Skype his kids at home to say good night on the late nights. It was cute, and I really felt it meant a great deal that he was trying. Someone said something to him once about “being a good father”. Then, this very nice, generally calm man, snapped at the commenter with a very harsh “If I were a GOOD father I would be at home putting my kids to bed instead of here working on this stupid game!” It may have been stress, it may have been dissatisfaction with the way the project had been handled, but clearly this person was wildly unhappy about missing his kids, and no one even knew until that moment.

That moment really stuck with me, because I knew that’s how I would be. I was already cranky at working 60 hour weeks because it cut into my WoW time. How would I deal when it cut into my kid time? I talked to my husband about it that night and pointed out, we really needed to make sure our “crunches” never synced up. So at least one of us would always be able to watch the kid and the other could crunch. He is also in the game industry, but fortunately, always at different companies.

That’s a fear I have. I love working in the game industry, but it’s brought me all the way out here to California. My family, and thus my kid’s grandparents, are 3000 miles away. There really isn’t such a thing as 24 hour daycare around here, and even if there was, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. So on each project, I work in fear of hearing those words – “mandatory crunch”. You can mandatory all you want, but if me or my husband can’t watch the spawn, there is no one else. His daycare is open from 7am to 6pm. That is my availability to work. Period. He’s 20 months old, I can’t exactly bring him into the office. But regardless, that is a constant distant worry that hangs out in the back of my mind.

That’s without even taking into account how not spending time with my kid affects me. Right now my husband and I are separated, so every other weekend I have the spawnling. In our big push for a milestone recently, I came in on the weekends I didn’t have him. I worked 3 weekends, and every other weekday night. I managed to keep up, but it was exhausting. And not seeing my kid made me sad. When I did see him, I was tired mommy, not fun mommy. I was “here’s a quesadilla for dinner because I am exhausted and can’t make you something more nutritious”. It’s rough on families. I am not sure if it was working those weekends, but since that usually don’t bother me, I think it was not seeing the spawn, and it made me depressed. I wasn’t able to work as well, and I was noticeably unhappier to my co-workers. Even worse, there were people who commented that I wasn’t there every weekend. They weren’t my lead, or even in charge at all, but there was clearly resentment that I had not been there. My lead is understanding, and never batted an eye, but what about others? Now, whenever I interact with that person, their comment colors my view of them.

Being a parent is all about time management. I have to plan everything and make time for everything. Showers, food, shopping, everything takes time and everything has to be accounted for. If I want to raid in WoW, it has to be with a guild that understands I can *only* raid from the time we start to our set end time. I can’t go 15 minutes over. If I could, I would have already planned it. We have done this on a few occasions, and every time it has lead to me and the kid being late to work the next morning. So having someone else come in and tell me how to spend that time is going to be a huge burden. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with this at TfB (all overtime has been voluntary and at a time of my choosing), but I can see very easily where it would quickly drive a woman to find a different job.

Say what you like about gender stereotypes, but in the almost 2 years since I had my son, I noticed that generally I am the one to give him a bath, clean his room, do the shopping, clean dishes, do laundry, pick up toys… All of this time spent doing things. Not to say my husband didn’t help, but the balance of chores was skewed towards me. When I work overtime, all of those pesky chores don’t get done. That’s the first thing to go. So the dishes pile up, the kiddo’s room looks like a tornado hit it, and there is a huge pile of clean clothes that managed to get washed but no way in hell they will get folded and put away.

To add to the already absurdly small amount of free time, I am a game designer. One of the things about being a game designer is you really need to play games. It helps you learn how other people are solving problems, cool things they are doing, and probably helps you make your game better. But with time already taken with work, chores, kid time, and husband time… that leaves how much for games? I don’t play nearly the number of games I should, and all to often now I just watch some let’s play videos, since I can do that while playing WoW.

When I complain about lack of time, people *love* to say, well yeah but if you didn’t play WoW, look how much time would you have! There are definitely some problems with that. First, WoW is what keeps me sane. It’s my stress release and brain dead time. It’s my hobby. I don’t watch tv unless I am playing WoW. I don’t watch movies unless I am playing WoW. WoW is why I still have friends I talk to more than on Twitter. People always say you should make sure to take time for yourself. Well, there it is. WoW is my one hobby I always hold on to. I quit a Wednesday night job I had teaching just so I would have more time for my kid and NOT have to drop wow.

So I decided to find out… how do game dev dads do it? How do they deal with the time issue and how does it connect to crunch? So I asked the guys I work with that I know I have small children. With varying degrees of gratefulness, relief, and awe, they all replied that it was their wives. Their wives kept their kids, home, and everything running smoothly. The dads who worked every weekend, their wives picked up the slack. A few expressed to me their worry at missing their families, but that was just the way life goes. A few implied, if not outright said, well, that’s the way the world works. (My feminist voice in my head screamed for blood, but I kept her quiet.) Much like in every other field, it seems as if the wife is expected to pick up the slack and tend to the family and home when the husband must work overtime. When I talked to a few women in the industry, sans kids, about how they would handle it, one replied, and I quote “That’s why I am not having kids until I am ready to leave the industry.” !!!

During one particularly long crunch at another company, they offered free laundry services. The employees could bring in a bag of dirty laundry and a few days later get back a bag of folded clean laundry. Someone joked, oh hey, it’s like having a company mom! I replied that it would actually be far more useful to have an onsite daycare for the hours of crunch. Everyone looked at *me* like I was crazy. But really: then employee could work, non-employee could get all the housework done, and there wouldn’t be that slightly squicky idea of someone touching your dirty underwear.

What about single parents? I asked a single dad in the industry. If he has to work, his ex-wife gets the kid more than her share and gets angry at him. So sometimes the kid spends time with his family. Lucky he has family in the area. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to work.

Here’s another strange thing about this whole situation. Perception. I get in to work most days at 8:30. I only take a 30 minute lunch, then leave at 5:30 (my kid’s daycare closes at 6). That’s 8 and 1/2 hours every day. Most of the office gets in at 10. (When our core hours start.) One time, during a Friday afternoon break fairly soon after I came back from maternity leave, someone commented that I was one of those “6 hour a day workers”, with a laugh, then said they wished they had a kid to give them a convenient excuse to leave early every day. I nearly punched him. With a glare I pointed out that despite the fact that HE rolled in at 10:30 every day, didn’t mean everyone did, in addition to being a hourly employee, I clock in every day too, would he like to review my calendar to check I work more than he does? He apologized, and has never made such a comment again, but how many other people think this way too?

When I left for maternity leave, I left on a Friday. Our game went to cert the very next Friday. I missed 5 whole days of the project, in a time when the only people actually making changes were the programmers and only for vital progression or cert bugs. About a year later, talking about being pregnant and shipping the game, someone replied, “Well, yeah, but you left like 2 months before we finished.” My response: “WHAT. THE. FUCK.” I had to correct him too. When did we cert? When did I leave? OH RIGHT. 7 FREAKING DAYS. In his mind, I had been gone “forever” because I was out 3 months. (The 3 months between cert and ship actually.) People’s sense of time skews when it’s not them. But these perceptions matter when everyone is tired, overworked, and stressed.

My experiences are just mine, but I can very easily see women not being willing to put up with it. My kid is absolutely the most important person in my life, and if not for my sheer level of stubbornness and extrovertedness, I seriously would have considered being a stay at home and professional WoW player. Is this one of the reasons we have so few women in the industry? How do we fix it?

Well for one, schedule and scope our games better. All too often work gets re-done or wasted. Leads and Publishers want more than they are willing to give time for. May the producers who build the gantt charts and FORCE the studio to get it to fit within the time frame find eternal joy. (My favorite producer was the one who drew one out, it showed we had 6 months more work than time, and said, “Okay, no one is leaving until it works.” 3 hours later, a very weary set of leads left the room with a workable schedule that did NOT include crunch.) Second, seriously, consider onsite child care. First off, child care is the *most* expensive thing when it comes to having a kid. My child care is almost as much as my RENT, and I live in California. If a company could get me onsite cheap child care, I would do everything in my power to keep that job. I’d take onsite child care over every other perk I get at a company.

I plan on writing more about being a mom and a game dev, but this is where I had to start. The one thing that makes it super difficult to be both. The one thing that would make me leave the industry. I love my job, but my kid wins.

PAX and Acceptance.

There are a ton of people who are super pissed at Gabe. I wanted to weigh in on it, because I feel like people are getting riled up and yes, overreacting.

First, a few points I want to be perfectly clear:

1. I don’t like Gabe. I think he’s an asshole. He’s not a terribly nice person, and he overreacts in extreme ways and INTENTIONALLY tries to piss people off.

2. I don’t like rape*. It’s a way of killing someone while still letting them live. It’s an atrocity and should be treated as such. I am firmly in the camp of “Not only does no mean no, but ONLY yes means yes.”

So. What does this mean for PA/PAX and my love for all things nerdy gamer?

Well for me, not much actually. I haven’t read PA regularly for over a year. I will occasionally go over and read a strip or two if someone links it. I haven’t bought PA merch in a while (5 years?), since it got me in trouble. (MtG shirt that says I’d Tap That… apparently inappropriate when a woman wears it.) But one thing I do, and will continue to do, is go to PAX.

The tensions on the sides of the argument are heavy. One side, rightly so, points to rape culture and the harm it causes through casual acceptance. The other side, again, rightly so, says that censorship is wrong. These, and many other arguments against Gabe/Tycho/PA are all deeply mired into experiences, anger, fear, pain, and rhetoric that is not to be taken lightly.

Today I was told I was a horrible human being and not a feminist for going to PAX. This is not okay. A personal attack against me, or Gabe, or Antia, or ANYONE is unacceptable. Part of this comes from growing up and from two very pointed comments made to me. Once I used the phrase “It’s like Sophie’s choice!” when discussing trying to pick a Magic card during a booster draft. Someone, thankfully, looked at me in shock and asked if I was REALLY comparing picking a card to picking which of my two children would die? I didn’t have kids. I had never seen the movie. I just knew it was an exaggerated phrase to describe an impossibly difficult choice. As a writer, I often consider word connotation, but I had never really thought of idiom choice. I STILL think about that moment regularly. I think about it when I use an over used turn of phrase. The second was when I told someone to diaf (die in a fire) in a random group in WoW. He was being a jerk. When I said it, another person in the group immediately got furiously upset with me. Not normal levels of upset, but more like, if she had been in the same room strangling me with my mouse cord upset. Her father died in a fire, saving her and her sisters. He died from the severe burns he got all over his body. I found this out after managing to get her calmed down to explain WHY she was so mad at me. Not only have I NOT used that phrase again, but I also have spoken up to people I have heard use it and explained that they need to choose their words with care.

This is the crux of everything. Choose your words with care. The larger your platform, the greater care that needs to go into every word you say/write.

People point to the original strip and say, “They made a rape joke! What horrible people!” I actually remember being surprised to find it wasn’t a Fruit Fucker comic. I remember reading the Dickwolves comic the morning it went up. As a WoW player, especially during Wrath, I recognized the dissonance he was talking about. These characters we play are supposed to be heroes, and yet once we were done with a quest we were willing to leave, regardless of how many prisoners remained. I assume he got the idea from the Pit of Saron. I am fairly confident in that, because I remember pissing off groups I ran with because I would free every prisoner, EVERY TIME, when tanking. The first time, it’s a quest. After that, it was me, actively hating that they were laboring away while I would just run past, trying to get to loot faster. I remember feeling horrible over it. I actually told myself, THEY ARE JUST PIXELS GET OVER IT. So at this point, I have to say, I disagree with people who look at the comic and say it’s a rape joke. The Fruit Fucker is a rape joke. Dickwolves is making a not terribly funny joke about players who are supposed to be heroes and instead are mercenaries, It’s about the moral lack they show leaving those prisoners chained up. Would the strip have worked better without the dickwolves or if they had said something other than rape – like beat us every night? It would have been a wash. The “joke” barely made sense to people who play WoW.

Even one step further, I was so surprised people were upset by it, and actually said something to the effect of “Do you READ Penny Arcade? That’s totally the stupid shit they do.” Once more I point to Fruit Fucker. If you go back to the start of the strip they made a dick joke in the second strip, and had a murder in the third. It’s five strips to CHILD ABUSE. Suicide, gay sex, sexism, slavery, human trafficking, and so on. It’s frequently juvenile, disgusting, and crude. Apparently we didn’t mind the Gabe raping a Pac Man cosplayer. And all of that was in the FIRST YEAR. (Even funnier is reading through that first year, I noticed that most of the issues Scott Kurtz has with Big Bang Theory – PA did too! That just cracks me up.) But here we are, 14 years later and we have this. Yes, there are still dick jokes (alot of dick jokes), and jokes that make veiled implications about homosexuality and sexism. To the point where I just have to say… that’s kind of Penny Arcade. That’s what they do. They make a ton of stupid comics that aren’t that funny, then they make one that’s HILARIOUS or one that’s BEAUTIFUL. I stopped reading the comic because I got sick of all the dick jokes. I grew up.

Now here’s where it gets… shifty. There are people attacking ME personally because I went to PAX. There are people who are attacking PAX and Child’s Play because of their connection to Gabe. I don’t like Gabe, but I am aware that making a rape joke, though in extremely poor taste, does not make one a rapist. But he is being treated as such.

I don’t attack someone who likes Chris Brown even though I think he’s a horrible person who deserved some serious jail time. I have friends who are perfectly okay with reading Ender’s Game and deciding to go to the movie, even though I refuse because I think that’s another human who makes the world worse. I have friends who go to Chic Fil A KNOWING they donate to groups that advocate the KILLING of homosexuals. I accept these people, even when I disagree with them, because I know we are all people. No one is perfect. We are all flawed. I am not going to attack someone because I disagree with them, or because I think they are being a jerk.

If you disagree with Gabe, me, or anyone else, it is your right to say we are horrible people. Just like it’s our right to stop interacting with you. But I don’t want to lose more friends over what is a disagreement about freedom.

Gabe responded to the initial response to Dickwolves very poorly. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. What I don’t get, is how people didn’t expect it? Anyone who was a nerd in high school, and bullied for years, is familiar with that instinctual response to defend and lash out. Of course he buckled down and then used every bit of his hard won protective shell of sarcasm to fight against it. We in the community tend to believe we know more than we do of these people. We think because we see them at PAX, read their tweets, and watch videos that we know them. Does anyone saying he’s a rape apologist actually THINK that Gabe would rape someone? Or be okay with someone being raped? There are leaps being made that people cannot back up.

I am also bothered by people who bring up Enforcers and the bad (illegal?) things that happen, and actively blame Gabe/PA for it. o.0 Are you kidding me? How can we blame them for what volunteers do? Of course there are going to be some bad apples in a force of volunteers who are put into a position of power. I am assuming they only do the standard double check on people, but I doubt they can find someone without a record who turns out to be a bad guy? It’s not like they are inviting them back year after year. They have a black list of people who aren’t allowed at PAX, why would we expect the Enforcers to be any different? (To be fair I have only had three encounters total with Enforcers, two were exceptional and one was a guy who was just a bit of a dick.) I am bothered by people who also bring up the bad behavior of people who read the comics. Because it’s Gabe’s fault those people are dicks?

(As an aside, Gabe’s idiotic response to transgender doesn’t really have a place in this discussion, because the understanding between biological sex and gender presentation is still not a broad understood concept. *I* didn’t even get it until a few years ago. And even then, I wouldn’t have if not for actually meeting a transgender person and having it explained, with great patience. He could have responded better, and so could have the people who called him on it. In the end, he said he didn’t care, and this upset people. But I can kind of see his point. I don’t care if someone is transgender. Mostly, because I am not trying to sleep with anyone. The parts don’t matter to me. All I need to know is, which pronouns should I be using with that person. However, it wasn’t unreasonable for him to assume a game with vaginas was aimed at women. Because for the most part, it is. This is part of living in a two gender society, although wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t? Calling him transphobic is not accurate because if he was transphobic, he certainly wouldn’t employ someone who was transgender or be friends with them. He doesn’t know, and that’s different.)

Finally, I have one last point to make. We spend all our time saying that the games, movies, books we consume do not make us violent, thieving, rapists. How then can we say that this comic changes that? I watched Buffy and the rape scene that happened there, but I didn’t attack Joss Whedon. I watched Archer, and the multitude of rape jokes that show has made, and all it told me was, nope, don’t want to watch Archer, got it. when I read PA and it is 80% stupid stuff and dick jokes, I stop wasting my time on it. That’s the correct response. If someone wants to keep reading it, that’s okay too. If someone wants to buy a Dickwolves t-shirt, they can. It just helps me know who I am not going to want to talk to. Just like I am fairly positive I don’t want to talk to someone wearing a redneck shirt or a racist shirt or any other thing I find reprehensible.

So… How can I go to PAX, even though I dislike Gabe? Easy. I don’t go to PAX to see Gabe. In fact, I was three feet from Gabe at this PAX and ignored him in favor of his wife and son, who I talked to about Skylanders. I went to PAX to spend time with people who live far away, but travel to PAX. I went to walk the expo hall floor and not be assailed by booth babes at every step. I went to buy dice and watch people play board games. I went to sit in the Tap House, drink a stupid amount, then go back to my hotel room and play WoW. I went to revel in gaming and gamers for three lovely days.

People will say, you can do that without PAX! Well, parts of it. Some of my friends don’t go to BlizzCon. GDC is mostly professionals. E3 is booth babe central. None are in places like Seattle. People who compare it to DragonCon and it’s founder problem are not comparing the two accurately. One is a guy who runs off at the mouth. Another is a guy who actually BROKE the law.

I love PAX because it’s the first place I ever felt like I could be wholly myself. I could be a nerd and not only was it okay but I was cooler because I did. I love PAX because it’s about the gamers. PA may be the thread that started it, but I actually don’t know very many people who go to PAX to meet Gabe and Tycho.

If you honestly think we shouldn’t be friends because I want to go to PAX, even knowing that I dislike Gabe and his humor, then I am sorry. That’s sad. I agree, Gabe has a huge platform. He could be a great leader from his empire of nerdom. But he’s not. He’s a flawed human that wants to do what he wants to do. We aren’t going to change or educate him anymore than we can change or educate any other dickwad on the internet, at this point he is too ingrained and too convinced of his own power. He is convinced that he can just speak his mind and if people don’t like it, they can fuck off and that’s okay even for him. Instead we need to choose OUR words with care. We need to express concern over his actions. We need to express concern over the comics. We need to express how it *is* a shitty thing to do to wear a shirt that makes a joke about rape. I actually think his decision to “not engage” is a good one. He needs to stop engaging if he can’t choose his words with care. We need to not leap to conclusions and immediately jump to inflammatory rhetoric. We need to, even with Gabe, but especially with everyone, remember to not assume the worst.

As my absolute final comment, how do people who call for bans of PAX and Child’s Play deal with the choice of banning everything associated with Gabe and PA? Are they not going to buy Magic cards? No more Minecraft because Notch goes to to PAX. No more Wil Wheton. No more D&D. No more Borderlands. No more Nintendo. No more of those lovely indie games. No more Think Geek or We Love Fine. Is that logical or reasonable? How about instead write an email (no threats or insults) and explain why that was such a shitty thing to do? Write a blog. Write so the words are out there and people will see it. (It’s a much better medium than Twitter after all.)

*Marks an understatement.



Thanks to Misanthropology for pointing this out.

SERIOUSLY. How do people NOT get this yet?

The whole “She’s a 6.” or “She’s a 10.” is incredibly insulting. You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Even worse, this is a PLAYER that NPCs are critiquing. Take a minute Blizzard Bark Writer who wrote this and consider… you have ~8 MILLION players. about 3M of them are female. How many women in that group have been insulted by men who called her a 4?

I have. It was a COMMON thing at my college (filled with all those lovely Christians learning to be ministers but that didn’t stop them from sleeping with every woman on campus, passing around gonorrhea and generally being jerks) for guys to call women by their number. Mine was 4 apparently.

My roommate was a 4 as well. Except the one semester I lived with another girl who was barely able to pull mediocre grades, in the freshmen level classes, but she spent 2 hours getting ready every morning… She was an 8. (Her nose was “unacceptably large” – ie it was FINE, but not pug like they wanted.) I was “too fat” at 160 pounds. I was also too “GINGER”. Didn’t matter I had a PERFECT gpa, was active in a dozen clubs, tutored people in subjects I DIDN’T TAKE, and singlehandedly put together TWO yearbooks… Nope, I was a 4, just because I was “fat” and ginger.

Thanks Blizz, you just offended me. You just INSULTED the appearance of the FANTASY character I play. The one place I ALWAYS feel beautiful and amazing… AND NOW I FEEL LIKE SHIT.

I have two accounts. I have *every* piece of WoW clothing from J!nx. I am LITERALLY sitting here in an Alliance hoodie and a Healer shirt. But now I want to go home and change. I want to get my Illuminati hoodie. I want to cancel my accounts.

All because some douche on your team is too stupid to understand THIS IS NOT OKAY. Being sexually harassed by randoms on the street, NOT OKAY. Where is the evil review overlord who should have looked at this and say, eh, not a great idea.

I would think this was just an isolated incident… EXCEPT… I have had to talk to writers about changing THIS EXACT LINE IN TWO OTHER GAMES. I worked at TWO companies where TWO different male game developers thought this was okay. Even more so, when I said, hey you need to take this out, it’s insulting to women, he said and I quote “Uh no it’s not. It’s being complimentary, so it can’t be insulting.”


The point isn’t the NUMBER. THE POINT IS: You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Also, why is it I can’t attack these guys? I want to spread their blood from Orgrimmar to Uldum for this insult.

As I write this, I am getting angrier about the whole thing. I see the trend. I see the casual sexism that has been smeared across the characters in the game. Tyrande removed from her position of power in favor of Malfurion. Told to hush and she listens. I see Sylvanas called a bitch and virtually absent from the expansion. I see Jania on the path to being a raid boss and constantly belittled by Varian, Thrall, and even now Andiun. I see Tiffin in the refrigerator. I see Aggra demoted from badass Shaman to Thrall’s wife and offspring machine. I see Garona demoted to mother of Med’an and lover of Medivh. I see Moira forced to rule with two male dwarves DESPITE having right of succession. I see Vareesa consumed with her husband’s death and vengence instead of CARING FOR HER TWINS. I see Alexstraza is only known for her role as mother. I see Lorna, strong, but then reduced to an object and bargained over.


(I literally went through the entire list and found: Ysera, Lady Liadrin, Valeera Sanguinar, Maiev may have some of her own back now that Illidan is dead, Shandris, Lillian Voss to an extent – she is very defined by her father and is “subjugated” by Gandling, maybe Aegwyn, but look at how she is portrayed with her interactions with Aran, Medivh, and Saragas? *yay mystical pregnancy* ugh.)

Anyone else notice ALL the offspring of major lore characters are male? Varian, Moria, Thrall, Rhonin and Vareesa… ALL WE HAVE ARE SONS. Sorry boys… you’ll never get married cause daughters are unwanted.

Even worse, is with the exception of Sylvanas, Tyrande, and Jania, it seems like all of the “growth” of these female characters is completely out of game.

I started looking for strong females who didn’t lose their agency when they fell in love or completely become subservient to the men around them and I had to LOOK. I had to go to Wowpedia and look through the Major Characters list. That’s how I found Lady Liadrin and Shandris, the only two who fully fit the bill of having their own strength, power, and NOT becoming a wife/mother at the complete loss of all their own agency. (Even more terrifying is I started doing the count on Major Male Characters to Major Female ones… At the point I stopped it was 10 to 1 and GETTING WORSE.)

Yay. Thanks Blizzard. How about you hire a WOMAN to help on your writing team? Hell, get Christie Golden if that’s what it takes.

I was uncomfortable with the torture quest. I was WILDLY uncomfortable with Keristrasza’s entire quest line and story. (Really guys? NO ONE thought this wasn’t really something we should do?) But each of these hit as an isolated incident. Each of these passed under my level of “Too Far”. However, over the years I have become more sensitive to women’s portrayals in media and games. So I see it now. I see it and it sickens me.

I love WoW… but really taking a look at it… UGH.


I am one of those insane WoW fans, but I think I might be done. Done with this bullshit until devs can learn to STOP TREATING WOMEN LIKE CRAP.


Update #1:

Well, they hotfixed it out. That’s a step.

The inherent problem remains though. Are they going to hotfix out Tyrande Hush? Are they going to hotfix in a proportionate number of major lore characters who are women to the men? Are they going to find someone ANYONE on their team to check their shit BEFORE it goes live to say, hey maybe don’t do this. We haven’t forgotten Ji Firepaw yet. This problem is not solved. It’s just hidden once more.


Update #2: More lovely words –

The Grumpy Cat says NO.

As a kid, we had a family computer. All games got installed on this computer and played in a public setting. We didn’t have that many games, but the ones we did have were awesome.

One of those games was SimCity. I don’t remember which version, but it was pre-2000, and on Windows 97, so it was in that era.

I loved SimCity. I loved building my town. I loved growing it out to a huge metropolis. I loved being told I needed to buy a bulletproof limo. (I have no idea why it always did that. I had a ton of roads.)

When the Sims hit, I was on board. 100%. I love that game. I bought the Sims. I bought the Sims 2, and all it’s stuff packs. I bought Sims 3. Loved it. I didn’t get any of the Sims 3 expansions after the first one because it required Origin, EAs answer to Steam.

So when I heard a new SimCity was being worked on, I was stoked. I couldn’t wait. City building at it’s finest.

Then I found out it would be always connected. I got a tad worried. It’s not the always connected that bothers me. I don’t pirate games, as making them has made me acutely aware that if you want someone to keep making awesome stuff you have to support them. Generally I play games connected to the internet. I have no problem with WoW requiring a connection all the time. BUT I also played Diablo 3. I played it as a single player game. I saw error 37 just like everyone else. I had connection issues. And that was Blizzard, who of all video game companies likely has the most experience with servers and connectivity. And they had *issues*. For DAYS. Well I thought, I won’t be getting this game day 1. (Look how RIGHT I was. The game is still unplayable 2 days later due to server issues.)

While discussing it on Twitter, something else occurred to me. I would have to install Origin to play the game. CURSE YOU EA. I HATE hate HATE games that require me to install a program, just to install a game. WHY? Why do I need this useless program on the outside? You are just adding bloat to my pc. DO NOT WANT. Hey PUBLISHERS. PAY ATTENTION. I accepted Steam. I don’t like it. I am not happy with it. But I deal with it because it allows me to get tons of games super cheap. I deal with it because it allows me to re-download games I already bought. I deal with it because over the past 10 years they have managed to make it a fairly decent program. It works fairly well in offline mode. But I still consider it a VIRUS on my computer. I deal with it because I have no other option.

But Origin… Origin is alot like Google+ trying to come along after Facebook (although the analogy doesn’t hold up when you consider that G+ is arguably better than Facebook). I already HAVE a third party program that I have to use for digital distribution. I already have a ton of games on it. I do NOT want another one. I would rather just use the one I already have. I would rather not have to use another program at all. What a novel idea!

I accepted Steam because I had to. I needed to use it for class and so I was forced to use it. I couldn’t NOT play Skyrim, so I kept accepting it. No offense EA, but ONE game is not enough to convince me to install your spyware virus program. At least Steam has games from all kinds of publishers. Your virus only lets me play EA games. I am NOT going to have one of these stupid programs for every publisher.

So I voted with my wallet. I didn’t buy Sim City 2013. I wanted to. I STILL want to. But I am not going to. I am NOT INSTALLING ORIGIN. If you want me to buy your games, you HAVE TO MAKE THEM ACCESSIBLE. Origin is NOT ACCESSIBLE. Think about all those Sims 3 expansions I could have purchased. And I would have. Think about that $60 sale you lost on Sim City 2013. I am not giving you one penny for a game on Origin. I am not going to do it. I want to. I want to give you my money and let you keep making Sims games. But I have to draw the line somewhere so here it is.

It occurs to me though, EA will never know. There is no good way to calculate how many sales they lost because of Always Connected and Origin. On my Twitter feed, it’s at least 5, with about 15 having bought the game. So that’s about 25% of people who WANT the game. Who have the money, and are willing to pay $60 for the game. But didn’t because of these stupid choices. But EA will never know.

Which hurts them more? Piracy or lost sales? Is it better to have 20k people pirate your game or 100k never buy it in the first place? Does Origin add enough value to the people who deal with it to make up for the lost sales from people like me? Is it really that hard to code a version that doesn’t require Origin and can be played offline?

How do I tell EA they lost multiple sales from me? How do I tell them I am not going to budge on this? How do I tell them I want to play their game but I won’t until they change their practices?

Big Bang Theory – Learn to Laugh, or you will spend all your time hurt.

Big Bang Theory (BBT) has gotten a lot of buzz on my Twitter lately, with people talking about it being a “bad show” and making fun of nerds. I get the point of view these people are coming from. But I find it very hard to honestly say BBT is a terrible show and shouldn’t be watched. I am a nerd and I love it.

First off, calling it “blackface” is wildly offensive. Both to the people who make the show and to the historical reference. It’s like comparing anyone on the internet to Hitler. Until they have led to the deaths of 6 million people, don’t make the comparison. BBT is not making completely offensive jokes about an entire race of people who have been enslaved, treated like cattle, and then treated to years of offensive oppression and degradation. It’s not even close to the same.

Also, let’s take a moment to realize what exactly we are critiquing. It’s not high comedy. It’s a sitcom. It’s a 21 minute episodic sitcom. It’s not high art people. Some people say, “It’s not laughing with us, it’s laughing at us.” No, Honey Boo Boo is laughing AT people. BBT is a show about nerds and the absurd situations they can get into and how, even though they are super nerdy geniuses, they still have all the same problems as everyone else.

For some reason, some people watch the show and feel like they are supposed to identify with Penny. Penny’s an odd character, but she is not the one I identify with. I feel the connection to Leonard. No, we weren’t raised the same way. No, I am not a physicist who studies lasers. Have I ever been in love with a super hot guy who ignored me to date super hot girls even though they were dumb as a brick? God yes. Have I ever had a moment where I wondered why the hell I was friends with these clearly deranged people? Yep. Have I ever thought about throwing away all my “toys” and trying to be a “normal adult”? That one too. Leonard is the protagonist, he is the everyman nerd that we are all supposed to be viewing the situations from. And really, the argument falls apart when they realize the guys are far more critical of Penny than she is of them. Remember the entire setup where Penny didn’t go to college and feels inferior so she lies about having gone to community college? It was silly, and absurd, and totally could happen. Likely with much worse results on the friendship than in the show.

People point to the references on the show and comment that a. they aren’t “correct” or b. are purely used as a punchline. When the joke is that these guys are saying if they don’t get to play Dungeons and Dragons then the rest of the group will hate Bernadette, then yes, it is a joke. People aren’t laughing at the mention of D&D, they are laughing over the absurdity of the game overtaking real life concerns and relationships. And what nerd hasn’t been in THAT situation? My parents still don’t understand what I mean when I tell them I have to contact my raid to let them know I won’t be on. What does it matter? It’s just a game?

As for references not being perfectly accurate, sometimes things have to be adjusted to make the plot/joke work. No, you can’t have sex in game in WoW. You can cyber though. And the plot required that Howard had done something absurd and creepy (hey, imagine that, as it’s part of his character to be over the top creepy guy) and they wanted to tie it into an online game. Which online game should they reference? The one with the largest player base and thus the best chance of being recognized? Or the one that no one has ever heard of but actually accurately allows for the plot set up? The writers are doing their best to bridge a gap in knowledge between geeks and those who know of geeks.

Another common complaint is that the characters are stereotypes. Well, yes… it’s a SITCOM. Not a documentary. Yes they are exaggerated caricatures of real people. I don’t work in academia or in serious computer science, I work in games, and yet I have met people that are toned down versions of each of these characters. The super nerd that can’t talk to girls without alcohol? Yep, I know a few actually. The guy that is basically nice but has no concept that many of the things he does comes across as super pervy? That too. And while I have never been friends with someone just like Sheldon, I know several people that if you smushed them all into a single person they would BE Sheldon.

One blog (specifically the one that spawned this post) calls out the Halloween episode as setting up the audience to laugh at the guys for making nerdy Halloween costumes. What episode were they watching? Because the one I saw, had the guys get super excited about a Halloween party, and then they took it about 10 steps BEYOND geeky. They took what could be considered as “normal nerdy”, dressing as Frodo, and exaggerated it to the point of hilarity with the guys running off to sewing machines. Am I laughing at them? Well, yes, but not because I think they are stupid or worthy of scorn, but rather because oh man have I been like that before. I spent HOURS researching and then searching down each and every piece of my Amy Pond costume. I know that feeling. I have BEEN that person. How am I supposed to relate to Penny, the sexy cat costume, when I am totally on the side of Leonard and LOVING his Hobbit costume, and absolutely in awe of Sheldon’s costume which so out nerds my nerdiest it makes me feel like a lesser nerd?!? This episode inspired me to sit around trying to come up with other costumes that could represent abstract scientific theories! The episode even goes a few steps further and has the guys successfully integrating into the “normal” friends Penny invites. Raj sleeps with a lady bug. Sheldon manages to push the guys into interacting with others at the party. Leonard manages to do what we have all always wanted to do and make the stupidly good looking jock look as stupid as he actually is. Not by force or being “cool” on the jock’s level, but with his superior intelligence.

As for the “oh they are nerds and can’t get girls” stereotype, this is the one complaint that has absolutely no basis on the show. At various points all of them have had relationships of varying levels of commitment and quality. Even Sheldon finds it within himself to connect to a female and create a relationship agreement. Are they exaggerated? Yes, but again, SITCOM. People call out how it’s “homophobic” when they make jokes about Raj and Howard’s actions towards each other… but 10 seasons worth of them doing so much worse to Chandler on Friends was just whatever? It’s a low brow joke. Do I find it funny? Eh, it’s amusing. Do I watch the show for that? Nope. Is it making fun of homosexuals? Not that I can see, as it seems like it is making a joke at the expense of those who get uncomfortable in those situations.

The blog also calls out the fact that until Amy, all the girls on the show were “normal” and even goes so far as to make cracks about her being lost to have ended up in the comic book store. Uh, well… Are you a girl that has ever gone into a comic book store? Oh it’s funny on the show, but have you had it happen in real life? Because I have. I have had so many experiences exactly like that, they are common place. They don’t even stick out anymore. I was once asked if I was lost at GDC, wearing a World of Warcraft T-shirt and a Nintendo bag. The joke, the stereotype, is based in reality, and it is absurd. It SHOULD be laughed at. They are also clearly overlooking the multiple instances where Penny has shown her growth. Yeah, in the first season she was pretty and dumb, but as the show has gone on she has shown her ability to grow, and her worth to the group. Who can the guys turn to for help when it comes to fishing? The cute blonde. An absurdity that is a classic sitcom setup. She complains to Leonard that he has ruined her ability to date stupid guys. Penny grows as a person over the course of the show, and clearly shows affection and love for the guys.

Do I find all the jokes on BBT funny? No, but then, I also don’t see them as hurtful. They are simply caricatures of people, exaggerations of reality, to create absurdity and incredulity. They are characters on a show that is written to make people laugh. Do I laugh when Sheldon rattles off a list of increasingly ridiculous specifications on his food? Yep. The same reason I laugh when I stand behind someone in Starbucks who does the same thing, and the same reason I laugh at myself when I do it with eggs at Toast. It’s absurd. It’s silly to be so demanding about our food. But we do it. And it is worthy of being laughed at.

Most annoying is the comparison to Community… *sigh* They point at BBT and say that it’s terrible because it’s offensive, homophobic, and laughs at nerds not with them… Because Pierce isn’t so mind bogglingly racist that I cringe every time he spews what is supposed to be funny. Because they don’t make the exact same homosexual innuendos with Abed and Troy. Because they don’t have a character (Jeff) who openly mocks and belittles the “smart” person in the group (Annie) who then falls in love with him because he’s so “cool” in some weird Stockholm Syndrome variation. OH WAIT. It’s also a sitcom. It reaches for the same low hanging fruit in its humor. The difference is, it’s characters aren’t as likeable. It’s setups aren’t as believable or as likely. As absurd as it is, I have had more experiences that are closer to BBT over Community. Maybe it’s why I like it better.

All that, but I can honestly say, I get the point. People don’t have to find the same things funny. People come to a show with their own baggage and wounds that color the way they see and hear things. I was tormented in school for years about being a nerd, and yet when I look at BBT, I don’t see something where people are still laughing at me and those like me, I see kindred spirits that are so much more absurd than I could ever be, showing me it’s more than okay for me to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars, because here’s these 4 successful and interesting nerds that are just as bad as me. It gives me joy to see these guys doing things *I* do and not feeling even the smallest bit of shame. I revel in the absurd level of nerd and enjoy every minute and every reference. In fact, the one thing I really wish they would adjust, over time and at least somewhat realistically, is getting one of the girls as into all the nerdy stuff as they are. Amy is super intelligent, but she shuns or is kept out of the nerdy things the guys do. Those walls need to come down and they need to bring the girls into the nerd world.