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    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing: An Unofficial Story for Shopkins Collectors

    from Kenley Shay and Sky Pony Press

    Marsha Mellow Goes MissingMost parents who have been in a toy store in the last year are familiar with Shopkins, the tiny grocery-themed collectibles that fly off of shelves whenever a new shipment comes in. Their popularity has sparked hundreds of millions of views of Shopkins fan videos online, and an official cartoon series set to release in 2016. So, needless to say, they’re kind of a big deal.

    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing is the first novel in a series of unofficial Shopkins stories from publisher Sky Pony Press, known for their exceedingly popular unofficial series for Minecrafters. Written by Kenley Shay, this adventure follows nine-year-old Maggie and her friends of the Shopkins Kids Club on a camping adventure where, as the title suggests, a Shopkin goes missing: the ultra-rare blinged-out Marsha Mellow. As Maggie searches desperately for her most prized possession, accusations fly and friendships are put in jeopardy. But when her little brother Max goes missing, Maggie starts to learn the importance of her relationships with friends and family, and that maybe she hasn’t been acting like the greatest sister or friend.
     
    [quote type=”center”]Kids who read this story will learn about the bonding power that exists when we are passionate about something, and the importance of inclusion.[/quote] 
    This middle grade novel is perfect for independent readers ages 7-12 and could certainly be read by an adult to younger Shopkins enthusiasts. Kids who read this story will learn about the bonding power that exists when we are passionate about something, and the importance of inclusion. We all know that fandom can be a means of bringing people together or tearing them apart. This novel shows both sides of that, settling on the lesson that bringing more people in just makes things a lot more fun.

    Shay, a Shopkins enthusiast herself, captures the excitement of these adorable collectibles while handling very age-appropriate lessons for young readers, about caring for your belongings, relationships with family and friends, and knowing when it is time to apologize when you’ve done something wrong. The writing is both captivating and easy to understand, and the balance between the intensity of fandom and the accessibility of narrative is perfection. Shopkins lovers and those unfamiliar with the brand would both find much to love about this book.

     
    [quote type=”center”]We all know that fandom can be a means of bringing people together or tearing them apart. This novel shows both sides of that, settling on the lesson that bringing more people in just makes things a lot more fun.[/quote] 
    My daughter (who is eight and is also, coincidentally, named Maggie) and I have been into Shopkins for several months now and this novel has only fueled our mutual excitement for the toys. She can’t stop talking about how much she wants a Marsha Mellow of her own! She found an ultra-rare Shopkin over the weekend and was so excited because it made her feel just a little bit closer to these characters.

    While reading through the book, my daughter and I split reading duty so we could include my son who is four. Their relationship often mirrors that of the characters Maggie and Max in the text, and reading through their struggles and triumphs has brought my children even closer. As a parent, I was relieved to discover that the story was so appealing and entertaining that I wanted to find out what happened next as much as my kids did!

    We had such a lovely time reading through this story, and I would say that it is a must-read for Shopkins kids and families. I look forward to getting my hands on more books to come in this series, as well as check out the unofficial stories for Minecrafters published by Sky Pony Press. These books are a genius way to blend fandom for toys and games with literature and get kids truly excited about reading!

    Marsha Mellow Goes Missing is on sale now from a variety of retailers (including Amazon.com) in both paperback ($7.99) and Kindle ($4.99) format.

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    Late to the Game – Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead

    TELLLLLL

    Last month, I had the transcendent experience of playing Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, Season 1. As a busy single mom, it’s really difficult to find time to play games. I generally tend to not get my hands on even the best games until at least a year or two after they’ve released. Fortunately, my incredibly busy schedule also tends to minimize my time reading about games, and thus I  miss most spoilers. And, though I usually end up kicking myself for not having played the good ones sooner, it’s a fun experience when my friends get excited about my play-throughs like they’re vicariously experiencing their “first time” all over again. That, and I have a propensity for geeking out about things.

    llll

    I’ve been waiting for a game like this to come along since I started gaming. I became intoxicated by the power of choice in games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, but typically my complaints would be “Man, I wish there was more talking/relationship building and less fighting”. I even brought this game up in my philosophy class today (yes, I interrupted the professor to talk about games, someone high-fived me) when we were talking about ethical thought experiments; because this game is essentially a series of said experiments which all tie-in to one another, and where not only is there no clear “good” answer, but you’re essentially punished for every decision you make.

    I know that might make it sound like a very unfulfilling gaming experience, but I assure you it is quite the opposite. The emotional ride that this game will take you on is absolutely unlike any other I’ve experienced. There’s a reason why people everywhere fell in love with this game, even with it’s lack of the action/battle-fueled pwnfest archetype.

    If you’re looking for a game that’s going to make you feel something, this is at the top of my list of recommendations.  With a gold star next to it.  And a button that releases confetti and plays “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.

    GIRLLLL

    I don’t intend to turn this into an official “review”, because by this point there are a million and a half of those plastered all over the internet written by people much more knowledgeable and articulate than me. But I will say this: when it comes to story and character development, the power of player choice and emotional experience, this game has no rival — nothing even comes close. It’s a living, breathing comic book, just waiting for you to read it and write it for yourself.

    Play it. It will change you.

    (And then talk to me about it so I can geek out about it all over again.)

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    5 Ways Kids Are Like Boss Battles

    Photo Credit: gtrwndr87 via photopin cc

    Photo Credit: gtrwndr87 via photopin cc

    Becoming a parent means many different things to different people. To me, it’s invigorating, frustrating, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time. Recently in a rare moment of quiet when my daughter was taking her afternoon nap, all of my professional writing and editing duties were finished and the dogs had settled down and decided to stop bothering me, I realized the act of raising a child holds a lot of parallels with fighting a boss battle in a game. Here are just a few of those similarities.

    Their arrival is met with both anticipation and trepidation

    Being pregnant is like living in a constant state of anticipation. Besides your own feelings, everyone around you is also eagerly awaiting the arrival of your child – friends, family, strangers who suddenly feel the need to talk to you and touch your belly. In many games, I’m often eagerly awaiting the next boss battle. After defeating the hydra in God of War, I was on the edge of my seat to see which fantastical mythological creature I would be battling next.

    But then at some point, the anticipation turns to trepidation. Games achieve this by giving you glimpses of the creature you’ll be fighting before you actually fight them. To stick with the God of War example, throughout the game, you can see the hulking figure of Ares causing death and destruction in the background, knowing all too well that you’re going to need to be the one to bring him down. There are certain times during pregnancy that can do the same thing. Perhaps you see the blank, exhausted look in the eyes of a mom who is pushing her screaming child in a cart in the grocery store. For me the trepidation started when we set up my daughter’s room. For some reason, the relative permanence of the furniture was a sign that this was really happening. It was that “Uh oh. Here we go” moment.

    They drain your health and energy

    Bosses in games are always powerful, and a direct hit from one can often take you down to half health or less. But besides your in-game health, fighting a well-designed boss can be mentally fatiguing as well. Your alertness and reflexes need to be hyperfocused, and in some games (I’m looking at you Ocarina of Time) the sounds associated with running around with low health are enough to drive you insane. Kids are no different. Even after you successfully navigate the sleep-deprived newborn stage, your kids will have an uncanny ability to catch all sorts of nasty illnesses that will then be passed on to you. Not to mention the mental and physical energy it takes to deal with a willful toddler who insists on doing the exact opposite of what you say and then finds it hilarious when you get angry.

    They require you to make use of all of your skills and abilities

    Often, fighting a boss battle will require you to come out of your gaming comfort zone and put to use some things you may be able to get by the rest of the game without doing. Personally, I’m not very good at using ranged weapons in games, so whenever I would come up against a boss that had some element that required me to use a ranged weapon, I would always groan. Similarly, my daughter has forced me to be extremely patient, more empathetic and markedly less sarcastic than I’ve ever been in my life before.

    Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they change things up

    Kids are notorious for this. A child that has loved to eat a certain kind of food will suddenly refuse to touch it, or a baby that has been peacefully sleeping all night long will start waking you up at 2 a.m. again. I’ve personally found if I feel like I’m cruising along comfortably when it comes to my daughter, then I better watch out because some new challenge is just around the corner. Bosses are the same way. Most traditional bosses have at least three different stages, each of which requires its own strategy to defeat or survive.

    Finishing the battle is both exhausting and fulfilling

    Defeating a particularly challenging boss can leave your in-game character low on health and your hands feeling like those of an arthritic old man, but it’s satisfying all the same. In parenthood, the battle is daily. At the end of each day I often feel like I’ve been running in circles while accomplishing little, but then my daughter will give me a hug and tell me that she loves me, and I know I wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything.

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    How Store-Bought Costumes Ruined Halloween For Me

    femaleheroes

    I used to love Halloween. From childhood into the late 1990s, I used to wear costumes every October and then wonder why we couldn’t do it every day. I mean, wouldn’t any given Monday just be better if I could wear my Supergirl costume on the “el” as I commuted to work?

    My disillusionment with this most wonderful holiday of the year – I mean, come on, no family obligations, just dressing up as someone else and getting candy, what’s the downside? – began about the time I started looking for a Hogwarts costume one year. I couldn’t find a nice long Gryffindor robe that would make me look like a student at Harry Potter’s school. Ah, but I could find a Sexy Gryffindor Robe, so if I wanted to I could both freeze in the Chicago night and look like the Harlot of Hogsmeade instead. Whee.

    A year or two later, my well-meaning husband actually went to Target and picked out a Halloween costume for me – a Sexy Soccer Player outfit. See, being a kick-ass female footballer isn’t sexy enough in itself. I have to be pink and black, wearing a mini-skirt and carrying a matching ball-shaped clutch purse with thigh-high socks on. I’m sure that’s really helpful out on the pitch. Actually, I’m amusing myself imagining a chick in spiked heels tripping across the grass trying not to break a nail while Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe fly past on their way to possess a not-pink ball before it gets to Hope Solo.

    If only I was a cosplayer – but my skill with needle and thread and makeup is pretty negligible. If I could sew (or afford to buy quality handcrafted costumes made by actual seamstresses), I wouldn’t be at the mercy of costume makers who think that Every Single Costume Available for Women must be cheaply made, super-short, frilly, lacy, sequined, patent leathery or otherwise girly, feminine and skimpy.

    Leaving aside questions of sexualization, and how the ubiquity of such costumes might be internalized within the psyche of young girls, I just want to say that I like pink and glitter and tutus as much as the next woman who played with Barbie dolls all throughout her youth. I’m not the type to slut-shame. I get that this is what many women want – and it’s not at all wrong for women to want to look beautiful and desirable. I get that this is how costume companies make money. I’m not going to delve into the societal issues this brings up about women’s self-esteem and images in the media and all that important stuff. But is it wrong to want some choice here?

    When it comes to Halloween, donning a costume to look and act like someone else, I don’t want my only options to be Whore In a Ghostbusters Outfit, Whore from Gotham, Whore With Tongue from the VMAs, Whore Dressed in A Nurse’s Outfit, or Whore Garbed Like Food With Strategically-Placed Bits (Get It? Get It?!). Ultimately it’s no choice at all, if I’m only being asked to choose between 31 flavors of Woman Dressed As Someone Else’s Sex Fantasy.

    ninjaturtleAnd then there’s the issue of WHOM these 31 flavors represent. Sure, we girls get to co-opt male superhero roles by dressing up as Iron Man or Captain America (only sexier! With glitter and ruffles!). But my main problem with gender-bending costumes is that I wish there were more famous, well-written (and better-represented on the silver screen) female superheroes so that girls wouldn’t feel the need to become their male counterparts. I mean, I loved Spider-Woman and Batgirl and Supergirl and Wonder Woman and Laurel Kent (was rather devastated when she turned Manhunter) as a girl. But it’s way more likely for you to see a girl in a Spider-Man suit at any given Halloween gathering. I’d like to see more actual kick-ass females in the mix.

    Of course, we as women all want to look good. But I don’t think I’m the only one who finds store-bought costumes to be degrading, impractical and unimaginative. All I want is the option to not look like bait for rapey assholes, no matter my age.

    My beef with all these sexualized costumes has to do with the fact that I like dressing up as someone else to channel their strength, their abilities, their experiences. It’s fun, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – to pretend. It’s just that not all of my dressing-up fantasies involve putting out for someone. Sometimes, I want to actually look and feel like an interesting, powerful woman, one who is interesting and powerful regardless of how traditionally “sexy” she may or may not be. The lack of options here is discouraging at best, harmful and misogynistic at worst. It is what has made Halloween lost some its wonder and excitement for me.

    I am still going to sneak some of my son’s candy, though. Just sayin’.

     

    [box type=”info”] Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion or position of The Mommy Gamers.[/box]

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    A New Perspective on the Console War

    console-war-ps4-vs-xbox-one

    The internet is a buzz with smack talk about how Sony obliterated Microsoft and that the Xbox One is doomed. This type of banter isn’t new to me. This will be the third console generation to happen while I’ve worked in the game industry, and the talk happens every time, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating or short-sighted.

    Let’s a take step back in history, shall we? This E3 is actually very similar to the E3 following the last console reveals/launches, with the players in different places. Sony, the then market leader, announced an outlandish price for the PS3. Do you remember what it was? $599. That’s right! More expensive than any of this upcoming generation’s consoles will be. During this same time, everyone pretty much considered Nintendo down for the count, because the “gamers” weren’t that interested in what the Wii had to offer. Microsoft was riding high coming out of that of E3. Having already launched the 360, they were able to focus on the games. Now that we’re at the end of that generation, let’s take a look at how it all played out.

    At the start of 2013, worldwide sales of the Wii were close to 100 million. Xbox 360 and PS3 have garnered 77 and 70 million respectively. In the end, Nintendo kicked everyone’s butt because they appealed to a broader audience, and Sony’s ridiculous launch price didn’t put them THAT far behind in the long run.

    Now, we have Microsoft at the highest price point, Sony making competitive pricing decisions, and Nintendo has already launched the Wii U. Microsoft is trying to broaden its audience by releasing a system that does more than just games. Sony is releasing a system targeted squarely at “hardcore gamers,” and Nintendo is revealing its heavy hitting software for the Wii U.

    If previous E3s have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t really predict what’s going to happen because the consoles and their launch prices have very little to do with the long-term success or failure of the system. It’s all about the games, people! The Wii U is seeing a boost in sales after announcing new games in both the Mario and Zelda franchises, as well as a new Mario Kart and a new Super Smash Bros. These are the games that everyone wants from Nintendo. And while the Wii U has been struggling thus far, the promise of these titles should help sales of the system improve.

    Microsoft is taking a different approach with Xbox One, seeing gaming on the same plane as other media, including television, music and movies and wants to make a device that will appeal to people who would like to have all of their entertainment in one place. But, it’s also taking an aggressive approach in the DRM and required connectivity issues that aren’t sitting well with a lot of gamers. Many gamers have said they feel like Microsoft is “abandoning them.” And while that language feels a bit melodramatic to me, it is partially true. The hardcore gaming audience is no longer the primary focus.

    Sony has pulled no punches. They’re releasing a system focused on games. It will have other media features, but the games are the core. They’re also stressing how open the system will be in terms of DRM and online connectivity. Their approach is pleasing to the hardcore crowd, but it doesn’t seem likely to broaden their audience. In the end, that may not matter, but it’s hard to discount if you look at how the Wii shocked everyone.

    Microsoft and Sony are taking two different approaches. How the world responds to those approaches has yet to be seen. In terms of software, Sony is lacking one important element that Nintendo and Microsoft have nailed down – the blockbuster exclusive that will sell systems. Nintendo has the most going for it in this regard because it has more than one (Mario and Zelda), and their brand recognition surpasses any other gaming franchises. Microsoft has Halo, but it won’t be a launch title. Sony doesn’t have one huge franchise that has crazy sales. Rather, they have a number of popular franchises that sell well, but not as much as Mario or Halo. However that doesn’t mean Sony won’t find its gem this generation.

    So to wrap up, no one, and especially not me, can say with any certainty what will happen this time around. It’s way too early to count anyone out of the game, so let’s ease off the trash talk. I know it plays off the us vs. them team mentality, but this isn’t a football game, folks. A loss of any of these console makers results in less competition, which translates into less innovation. A person who truly loves games should not want anyone to fail.

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    The Co-Op Experience

    Imagine playing your favorite solo campaign. You’re getting hit from all sides and it really looks at times to be damn near impossible to make it through. You’re struggling to work through a tough part and you think “Man it would sure be nice to have a little help here.” Of course you have the option of a co-op experience, but at the moment you’re all alone.

    Then all of a sudden a recently added person on your friends list pops up… “Ker-plink”

    You know of them, you have played multi-player with them before with your other friends, met them in a random lobby, or they were with you at a midnight launch event. You had a great time joking around and thought they were awesome in one way or another.

    You send them a game request and boom…to your surprise they accept. You and your partner link up and “poof” you’re not alone anymore.

    At first everything seems great. You both think this is going to be easy. You’re going have the same amount of obstacles and enemies. It will be be a cake walk. But then the system throws a monkey wrench in the cogs… you realize it’s not going to get any easier. It is going to be just as tough as the lone experience except this time you have a friend along for the ride.

    The system takes into account that there are two people playing and ramps up the amount of difficulty. Instead of the single player experience that your used to you both realize that each of you still have the same issues it’s just doubled. Now things look even more impossible. Wave after wave of enemies bombard your little encampment. Communication begins to break down. Both of you start focusing on different objectives.  You’re thinking that separating for a little while will get you through this game. You both are completely mistaken…. Soon you see the dreaded “Game Over” screen. Each of you blames the other for the fail. Then with both of you angry and bitter, you log off.

    Game-over

    Games can be tough but there is no need to get all defensive and huffy about it. You both made mistakes. Now is the time to move on or apologize to each other and jump back in.

    Here is my advice on having a great co-op experience.

    #1 Communicate.

    Communication is and has always been the most important strategy to any successful game. Without that one key component you both are dead in the water. You must be honest, clear, specific and and in agreement with each other on how to proceed in the game. Communication becomes even more important and critical when you’re several hundreds of miles or even a  continent away.

    #2 Take your time.

    In all cases slow and steady wins the game. Enjoy the level and take time to look around. Be in awe of all that is there to offer. When enemies pop up take them on together. I mean this is the reason you both are here together. You both have decided to put in an investment of ones time, skills and resources. Why try to rush though something that has such a high cost in today’s society?

    #3 Understand each others strengths and weaknesses.

    Find a way to help each other out with individual flaws. Give encouragement when needed and above all else, never point those flaws out in a cruel and hurtful way. Remember you’re in this together. Observe these flaws, take them into account. Understand that your skill set is different from theirs. Use these to your advantage and find a way to make those skill sets compliment each other in a cohesive unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

    #4 Be ready to upgrade.

    There will be the possibilities of add-ons in most games. Understand that if your Co-Op partner wants an add-on or four  you will be expected to take them on as well. You might be hesitant at first but remember this can only enhance your experience together. If you’re not willing to get the add-ons then don’t waste the others time. Remember tip number one…communicate.

    #5 There is always a continue.

    Sure games get difficult. No game is easy… especially the good ones.  There are always a few bugs that pop up now again. Sometimes there are objectives and achievements that you both were striving for in single player mode. But in almost every case  you have the opportunity to get those together.

    SONY DSCNow if you read this and didn’t “get it”… replace the word “game” with “relationship”.

    Funny how gaming and life can imitate each other huh?

    I hope these five tips that my wife and I have learned help you with your “Game”. But there is one last tip that really can’t be put into the above hidden message…

    Neither of you can ever say  “I love you.” too much to each other. We are never promised another day. Take advantage of each and every opportunity to say those three words.

    All games become retro but I’d rather have a classic that I will continue to play for the rest of my life than a flashy game that loses it’s luster in three months.

    This month my wife and I will be celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary. This is the best, most rewarding and addictive game I will ever want to play. She always has my six and I keep giving her the encouragement to keep going and achieving the next level.

     

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    In Defense of Games

    Large Arcade Game

    Photo Credit: Giant Video Game by KB35

    Since becoming a mom, I’ve become all too familiar with popular attitudes toward video games. Since I’ve worked in the industry for 10 years, most of my friends and acquaintances were people who played games as well. Unfortunately, very few of those people have kids, and more specifically babies. Because of this and the desperate need for social interaction that involves more than high-pitched baby talk and being vomited on, I’ve entered the world of the Moms’ Groups.

    When meeting these other moms the inevitable question of what I do for work always comes up. “I’m a writer,” I say. “Oh, what do you write about?” they continue. “Video games.” Most of the moms I’ve met think this is totally cool, even if they don’t play games themselves. But then there are the others – the ones who lift their eyebrows and casually decide to talk to someone else, or worse the ones who feel the need to tell you that games are the root of all evil, and that you’re a terrible person and mother for fueling violence into our kids.

    These debates don’t rattle me because I’ve built an arsenal of knowledge to counteract the common misconceptions about games. So, if you ever find yourself needing to defend your hobby, try these myths and facts on for size.

    Myth #1: Games are all violent murder simulators.

    Fact: Despite all of the attention they get, Mature games make up a very small amount of the entire library of games. According to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, in 2010, only 5 percent of all games made were rated M for Mature. The majority of the games made – 55 percent- were rated E for Everyone. Violent games that involve killing other humans are ALWAYS rated M, meaning they’re intended for games aged 17 or older, just like R-rated movies. While E-rated games may contain a little bit of violence, it’s always of the cartoon variety and is no worse than anything you would see in kids programming on television.

    Myth #2: Games make kids violent.

    Fact: While it’s true that excessive exposure to violence in any form can change the brain in subtle ways, no one is going to suddenly become violent from only playing a game. Other factors play a bigger part, such as psychological disorders and social problems. You can also point back to the first myth. Violent games are not intended to be played by kids. The rating system is in place to make sure parents know what their kids are playing.

    Myth #3: Kids can buy M-rated games despite the rating.

    Fact: According to the Federal Trade Commission, from 2006 to the present, game retailers have a done a better job checking for ID than movie theaters, DVD retailers, and music retailers. It’s much easier for kids to get into an R-rated film, or buy an R-rated DVD or Parental Advisory-labeled CD than it is for them to buy an M-rated game.

    Myth #4: Games have no educational value.

    Fact: First of all, there are tons of games out there whose sole purpose is to educate. Games based on popular kids’ franchises like Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street always have an educational component. But even games that aren’t designed to be educational can help kids in a number of ways. They encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and can help to develop hand-eye coordination. They can even help your speed and accuracy when making decisions. Check out this Wall Street Journal article for more.

    Myth #5: Playing games makes kids overweight.

    Fact: Obviously, sitting on the couch all day whether you’re playing games, watching TV, or reading a book will have a detrimental effect on your health if you don’t get enough exercise to balance it out. But now, game makers are now actively making an effort to produce games that promote movement. The Wii started the trend, but Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have followed suit with their Kinect and Move add-ons respectively. Even games that aren’t solely designed to be fitness games can help you get a work out. The Dance Central series is a good example. Games don’t make kids gain weight on their own – a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are the real culprits.

    Armed with these facts, you can educate other moms about the truth about games. Most of them have simply only believed what they hear on the news, which is often very one-sided. As gamers, we can help the industry get the respect it deserves.

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    How To Slay Xbox Live Bullying Dragons

    Dragon Slayer

    The following is a guest post by Microsoft MVP (Xbox) Nori Fox. Read below to see how you can help prevent kids on Xbox Live from turning into gaming bullies.

    A Tale of Dragons and Flames

    Once upon a time an amazing gaming service called Xbox LIVE came into the world. At its beginning it was the greatest thing that happened to gaming because you could play with anyone…anywhere! It was and is gaming heaven, a never ending stream of competitors for you to try to beat. But as happens to all good things, an evil began to creep in. Abusive gamers, hereafter known as Dragons, had figured out that they could say anything they wanted, no matter how vile, because they could retain their anonymity. I’m sure these Dragons are thinking they aren’t really hurting anyone, they are just venting their rage, spewing flames wherever they go. As adults we know we can boot these gamers from the game, mute them or simply quit and play with our friends. We generally let their flames roll off our backs.

    The Dragons, however, forgot about something. Something they ARE burning badly…the kids. Yes, we know they aren’t supposed to be on LIVE but they are and they always will be. Most Dragons are too old to remember shock value; they forget that bullying hurts even when it’s anonymous and these kids don’t forget easily. So what do the little ones do to cope? They do like they always do…imitate. Children learn by example and the example of these Dragons is loud and clear: Spewing flames is cool.

    I am fully aware that Dragons are one of the most annoying things about live gaming and that Dragon babies are even worse, but my post today is intended to ask you a favor, and it’s a big one: Please don’t abuse these little dragons back, because I really don’t feel it’s their fault. Not completely…

    I realized this one day while on LIVE. There was a particularly annoying little Dragon in my game, spewing flames everywhere. I did my best to ignore it until he singled me out and explained some sexual things he was going to do to me. I should have been offended but he had gotten the terms all wrong…he had no idea what he was talking about! That’s when I realized what was going on. He was simply doing what he’d heard from a big Dragon…and he thought it was cool if he said it too.

    When it comes to big Dragons I have no problem turning them over to the enforcement team. But ever since that day, when it comes to baby Dragons, I take the time to talk to them first. I messaged this young would-be pervert and explained that I KNEW this wasn’t him. I knew he had heard these things from older gamers and that if he wanted to really have fun gaming and to build a great friends list…one that even includes girls…that he needed to stop imitating those big flaming Dragons. I explained that it doesn’t make him look cool at all, because the grown-ups who say those things aren’t seen as being cool either.

    To my surprise his reply was pleasant. He wasn’t happy being mean but he thought he had to be. How sad is that!? He thought that was how we are supposed to behave on LIVE. I realized that It’s on us…the grown-ups…we are to blame, we created these little flaming Dragons. If we don’t want to deal with the flames, from any age Dragon, we need to not be spewing them ourselves. I did tell the little Dragon that he shouldn’t be playing M rated games online but if he insisted on it he should mute himself and just play. From that day forward I have done the same with many a little Dragon, and hopefully have made the gaming realm a better place in some small way or at least kept some little Dragons from growing into big ones.

    The moral of the story is clear and obvious. It’s an old tale told in many ways: “Let peace begin with me”, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”, “remember the golden rule”, “be excellent to each other”…it’s all true. Kids learn by example and like it or not they ARE on Xbox LIVE and not going anywhere. I know that there is a lot of anger and frustration involved with playing video games so if you feel you can’t handle yourself, MUTE! Because ultimately we’re on LIVE to slay Dragons, not be one.

    photo credit: Ran Yaniv Hartstein via photopin cc

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