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Tales from the Neighborhood: Gamers, Be Good Sports

By Jessica Cook on May 06, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Gamers, Be Good Sports

May just started and it’s already shaping up to be an exciting month for game bloggers.

There’s the aftermath of Valve’s decisions to sell and then not sell mods, news about television executives making jokes at the expense of eSports fans, and the beginning of a little thing called the Newbie Blogger Initiative. And in between all of the news and events, we’re still trying to keep up with our ever-growing game backlogs and maybe finish a title or two.

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With all of these things to talk about we’d better get started. To the blogosphere!

The Newbie Blogger Initiative has officially begun. Each May the community comes together to encourage others to start their own gaming blog, podcast, or video channel. There are organized challenges, giveaways and prizes, post prompts, and many, many advice columns. Newbies can find mentors to answer their questions, and established blogs are on the lookout for new sites to link to and share the love.

If you’ve considered starting a gaming blog, podcast, or video channel, check out the NBI site and join the discussion. The NBI organizers are an extremely welcoming bunch, but you don’t have to take my word for it: just read this post by organizer Eri from Healing the Masses. Eri has been a great force for community good in the blogosphere over the years, and she is about as excited as she can be for the 2015 NBI. Come join in the fun!

Valve may have temporarily halted their plans to introduce paid mods into Skyrim’s Workshop, but the debate over their original decision rages on between gamers. Syncaine from Hardcore Casual is a little infamous in the blog community for his strong opinions, and he doesn’t hold back in his post on “More Steam Mod Talk”. He asserts that paid mods are going to become a new paradigm in developer profit models, much like Kickstarter and crowdsourcing.

Adding the potential to make a little money will keep amateur modders interested in their supporting their work even after release, which is good for players. Additionally Syncaine wonders if money from mods could make indie games and other titles with small margins more profitable. When your budget is tiny, making a dollar or two off a mod can be a huge difference to the bottom line. More money for indie developers means more creative games, and that can only mean good things for gamers.

On the other hand, as Azuriel from In An Age points out in his post “On Mods”, creating paywalls around content that was once free is generally a sign of bad things to come for consumers. In the past free mods such as Counter-Strike and DotA have inspired entire genres of games, but would they have caught on as quickly if they were available for cash only? Azuriel feels that modders should probably be paid for their work, but points out that nothing is stopping players from finding their favorite modder’s email address and sending them a few dollars over PayPal.

No matter what Steam does next, it seems that the debate over paid mods is here to stay.

What game is on your “rainy day” list? Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs writes a post about a sentence that every gamer has said at one time or another: “One day I will play you…”. Paeroka’s gaming bucket list  includes Trine 3, Torchlight, Defiance, and The Secret World, and maybe giving Skyrim another shot. In the era of Steam sales it’s easy to end up owning a huge library of unplayed games, and it’s probably a good idea for all of us to figure out what’s on our list and get playing!

One of the reasons MMO players might have a huge backlog is our love of games that have no official end. On that topic, Stargrace at MMO Quests wonders when do games actually end? Completing a game is a subjective decision for so many genres. Is an MMO finished when you hit the level cap? Or see all of the content? And even if the game does have an official ending, are you truly finished if you haven’t completed all of the achievements, or do you just play until the story is over? As Stargrace notes the important consideration is whether you’re still having fun so perhaps a game is never really over as long as you’re enjoying yourself.

Last week’s column highlighted some of the blogosphere’s responses to the Heroes of the Dorm championship on ESPN2, but the topic has gotten a little more controversial since then. A few days after the event President of ESPN John Skipper quipped to a reporter that he’s “mostly interested in [covering] real sports” rather than video games. Pro-gamers and eSports fans were incensed at the remark, and it was a hot topic on social media for the next few days.

Braxwolf from the Gaming Conversations blog responded with a post titled, “Gamers: Be Good Sports!”. Gamers are no longer the “losers” from Revenge of the Nerds who have to defend themselves from the evil jocks – eSports are undoubtedly a part of the future of sports coverage. Instead of getting angry, gamers should be celebrating!

Brax points out that Twitch reported 100 million viewers in the month of January, 2015, while the Super Bowl (historically one of the most-viewed television programs ever) racked up 114 million viewers. There is clearly a strong viewership for eSports, and those numbers are growing. Fans of gaming should support their favorite game and professional team and not worry about what some executive said.

And that’s the news from the blogosphere this week! If you see a great blog post that you think should be highlighted here, leave a link in the comments below or let me know on Twitter at @Liores.

Jessica Cook / Jessica "Liore" Cook is a longtime MMO blogger, fan, aficionado, and community goodwill ambassador. She hosts the MMO podcast Game On, and writes the weekly column: Tales from the Neighborhood. You can read more at www.lioreblog.com.