How Did Teamwork Become Trashtalk? – A Girl’s Look into A Boy’s World

By Lindsey Asay

I remember my first gaming console….vividly. We weren’t big TV watchers in my house growing up. When we did, finding something to watch was easy, there were only 5 channels to choose from. That didn’t bother me too much though, being a tom boy (hard not to with 4 older brothers) I preferred riding my bike or shooting hoops anyways. That all changed the day I first saw the NES…in all its black and grey glory. My days of shooting impossible three pointers in the driveway considerably dwindled. Quickly replaced by days of trying to beat what seemed like the impossible. Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt challenging my dexterity and my ability to do focus on pretty much anything else.

Now in my 30’s with an “adult job” and more responsibilities and bills than I can wrap my head around sometimes …..I still find time to play when I can. This time around though, it’s not just the console that’s different. The playing field, as it were, has changed considerably as well. No longer just you and a friend in your living room pushing two buttons in rapid succession….the ability to connect thousands of living rooms together through online multiplayer games has made an individual experience into a shared experience. Sometimes sharing more than just your first person shooting skills with your fellow gamers. I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Little Big Planet and workout games like Zumba, but I also like to unwind with some serious Call of Duty time. After getting over the..how do I walk AND look around AND shoot part of it all, I found my groove and started to be less frustrated and more able to enjoy the game.

That is, until I started to listen more and more to the other players. A mix of ages, nationalities, locations, abilities….I was amazed how a game could bridge all those gaps. Nothing prepared me though, for the amount of trash-talking that came from an endless sea of assholes with nothing better to do than shout “FAG FAG FAG” or “ F-ing LOSER” for 15 minutes straight. I started to wonder about who really plays these games and what it is that makes them so easily degrade someone they don’t know. That someone who at any given time can be a 12yr old kid who just wants to get in some gaming time before he has to finish his homework. Or me…..a mom and cube jockey looking to get in a quick round or two before starting dinner. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that unless you are an expert player, the world wide community of online gamers would like you to stay the F**K AWAY. Am I wrong on this? Am I wrong to question why a group of overly aggressive, usually single and always dickish players get to verbally push everyone else around? I don’t think I am.

My NES didn’t mock me. It didn’t degrade me for only getting 6 kills in a round or tell me to mute my mike because my kid was annoying him. I didn’t start a game with the intent to bully or call anyone names. I just wanted to beat the level so I could see what came next. I couldn’t wait to talk to my friends about it, to learn the secrets from those that conquered levels before me. Gaming was a shared experience….one that offered up a neutral playing field. Where older siblings played with younger. The jock with the bookworm, all wanting and trying to get better. I still don’t know what it is about our new shared gaming experience that turns the doting dad into a hate-spewing weekend gamer…and I’m not sure I want to find out. This is what I do know. I paid the money just like you….so, I get to play – just like you. Even if I do make stupid mistakes, like sprinting around corners or severely miscalculating a grenade throw… I’m still a gamer… playing in my living room, just like you. No matter how many times you tell me I suck, I’ll keep playing… and I’m coming for you.

The X: Legend Continues With X: Rebirth

I’m talking revolution… One of the greatest space simulation games I’ve ever stumbled across, is about to be reborn. For those of you who know, the X: Universe is a fully formed universe whose mantra is TRADE, FIGHT, BUILD, THINK. Complete with interstellar trade, governments, militarism, and a complex economy, X:3 is a milestone in gaming. For years, German gamemaker Egosoft has been transporting players to a galaxy full of humans, aliens, pirates, peace, glory, war, and most of all: cash in it’s X: series. A fully explorable universe that players will either conquer, or get chewed up, and spit out by. Flying stealthy advanced fighters, to giant turret-filled destroyers, the X: games have brought the universe to your home desktop. Now it’s time for a rebirth.

Long after the events of the previous games, a  supernova renders all previous modes of interstellar travel useless, and the universe much, much “smaller.”

Even the Future has Light Rail!

“In the distant future, the X: Universe faces a period of profound and irrevocable change. While the universe stumbles towards an uncertain future, countless adventures await as new enemies rise in search of power.”

Space-Traffic!

Staying true to the “sandbox,” go anywhere, explore anything format, X: Rebirth brings us a revolution in one of the most popular and critically acclaimed space simulation games ever made. You enter the shoes of a new, brave young hero, who, along his unlikely female ally, will travel the universe in an ancient, battle-worn ship with a glorious past. Two adventurers, alone against the galaxy, the fate of the universe (indeed their very existence) rests in your hands!

Blade Runner Anyone?

From the looks of it, X: Rebirth, is changing (and adding) some serious changes to it’s fundamental formula. With the traditional “jumpgates” obsolete now, more emphasis has been put on interaction. Whereas before, the entire game was played from the cockpit of a spaceship… every indication now points to an out-of-ship experience for players. If you look carefully at some of the screen captures I took from the official teaser, you can see everything from “traffic lanes” in space to highly-populated stations. Even Egosoft has announced that a new interface is going to revolutionize the game. This has really got my interest peaked more than the other big 3 sequel releases this fall: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and the ever-anticipated Uncharted 3 (seriously, if you’ve never played an Unchartedgame, go buy a PS3 and do yourself, and your life, a favor).

An interview with Egosoft’s Bernd Lehahn detailed

Q: “Why another X game? What happened to the “end of the X trilogy” statement?”

Open-Mouthed Galactica? 🙂

A: “Well that is still true. At least partially 😉 We worked on the old X games from 1996 until 2007. That was 11 years of development and 11 years mostly filled with adding features.
Adding features is pretty cool, as you have this solid foundation. You never have to start from scratch. We replaced the graphics engine twice, and we made many other big changes to the technology, but we were never at a point where nothing would work. That’s a very luxurious position for a game developer to be in.

Escaping Orbit

BUT (and it’s a big but), adding features to an existing game design has limits. Especially when we talk about the actual gameplay design. Adding so many features that were not originally planned for was a bit like building a higher and higher tower. You run into problems. Problems like a user interface that gets more and more complex and that’s rarely a good thing.

So in 2007 we decided we need to cut off that legacy and do a fresh start.”

The Rebirth begins this winter this Christmas… stay glued to TOOMBLOG for more details!