Plugged-in Players – What is Twitch?

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Rexis here!

It occurs to me that I haven’t done a Plugged-in Players for you guys in ages. This is my little segment where I try to teach you something gaming related you maybe didn’t know. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is up to speed on terms and such that I take the knowledge for granted. Today, I’m going to talk about Twitch.

It’s a word we hear a lot in gaming these days, but what is it and what does it refer to? I had no idea really until I bought my XBOX One and experienced it firsthand. You see, watching other people play video games use to be a ridiculous concept. No one wanted to watch when they could play it themselves. Somehow, YouTube changed people’s minds. Charismatic gamers took to their computer to embrace this new medium and we now have a slew of different game video genres, so to speak.

These genres (that I’m mostly making up, but you get the idea) include Let’s Plays where you literally watch someone play a game, comedy gaming like Angry Video Game Nerd who make fun of games, scripted videos using in game characters initially made famous by Red vs. Blue many years ago, How To videos, unboxing videos, and even videos of people shopping for games at flea markets. I’m sure there are many other types out there, but these are the ones that readily come to mind.

So how does Twitch fit into all this? It’s actually very simple. Twitch is a video streaming system that allows gamers to play video games in real time for a live audience. There are other forms of streaming content that don’t relate to gaming, but the majority of its content does. Some channels do live speed runs of games while others play for charity.

Who runs the channels? Anyone can! My XBOX One has a Twitch app that allows me to broadcast live. Users on Twitch.com can see what I am doing and choose to watch. Of course, it is easier to gain an audience if you already have a following of some sort. To make it easy, think of it like YouTube, but with live videos.

Can you get paid doing it? Yes, absolutely! I will post a link at the bottom of this paragraph for those who want to make a profit gaming, but the bottom line is this; if you can’t build a big audience, you won’t be getting paid. So don’t expect to open the app and start collecting. You’ll need to market yourself and to do that, you’ll need to find guidance elsewhere. This is a blog about gaming, not marketing.

http://www.dailydot.com/esports/twitch-streaming-money-careers-destiny/

That’s basically all you need to know about Twitch as a casual internet surfer. I’ve watched a number of my favorite YouTubers doing live streams and the best part about it, for me personally, is interacting with them. There is a chat room beneath the video and sometimes the streamer will react or give you a shout out. That’s awesome!

Of course, if watching others game isn’t your bag, then you can skip over the whole Twitch craze and you won’t be missing anything.

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Plugged-in Players – Wii and Wii U Confusion

Mass-Confusion

Rexis here!

Watching someone struggle to understand something that you have a complete grasp of is painful. I don’t know how teachers do what they do. I was in a game store recently and I had to watch an employee explain to a customer what a Wii U is, what the bundle includes, and how it’s played. The worst part was that the employee was clueless as well. My stomach was churning as the misinformation flew. So today I want to talk about Nintendo and the Wii / Wii-U confusion. Let’s just get some things straight for those among us who don’t know the difference.

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The Nintendo Wii is a 7th generation home video game console that focuses on motion control as its primary means of gameplay. It was a revolutionary idea at the time of its release. Motion controls have been attempted in the past, but Nintendo finally perfected the idea. The console became a hit and late 2006-2007 was marred with scalpers and sold out units across the country. I managed to pick one up that I happened to find on a Wal-Mart shelf.  Without delving too much into review territory, I will say that the system is a fun little thing and has a number of great games. The console uses a Wii-mote controller that utilizes infrared to achieve the motion control. It is also backwards compatible with the GameCube. The insane popularity of Nintendo’s console inspired Microsoft’s Kinect and Playstation’s Move.

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Fast forward to 2012 and Nintendo gives us the Wii U. This is an 8th generation home video game console and is the current competitor to the PS4 and XBOX One. It is not an attachment or upgrade to the Wii as the 32X was to the Genesis. It is an entirely stand-alone system. The naming of the console seems to have caused a great deal of confusion in that regard and when coupled with its backward compatibility, it’s easy to see why people would confuse it for its predecessor. The console comes with a gamepad that gives the player a second handheld screen with touch capability (like the DS essentially). The system has not sold well despite the fact that is has some pretty fun games. It is backward compatible with the Wii, meaning it can play all the Wii games and can use the Wii-motes (controllers). It also has Wii U-motes of its own, which are improved versions of the original Wii-mote. Just keep in mind that the Wii cannot use Wii U hardware.

So there you have it. Two consoles. Similar names. This may have been information you already knew, and if so, good for you! If you didn’t already know this, I hope it helps clear up any confusion. For what it’s worth, I love my Wii U and actually play it often. It’s a great console for any Nintendo fan.

Plugged-in Players – Zelda / Sheik Gender Controversy

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Rexis here!

Hello internet and welcome to… Plugged-in Players. Kudos if you got that reference. Do you remember 1998? Were you alive then? When Ocarina of Time came out, it was something of a “big deal.” Phrases like “most anticipated game of all time” were being thrown around all willy-nilly. And rightfully so. Despite the complaints about Z-targeting and repetitive sword play that permeate today’s reviews, Ocarina was a great game!

One of the most memorable additions to the franchise, in my opinion, was the introduction of Sheik as a character. Throughout the game, you were never sure of his purpose. He would show up, teach you a song, say something wise, and then vanish before Link could approach him. He represented a power we were working to understand and possibly emulate. He was a mentor. He provided encouragement. He showed that Link was not alone in his conquest to save Zelda and Hyrule.

Then the reveal came. Sheik had been Zelda in hiding all along. Apparently, during the seven years Link was unconscious in the Temple of Time, Zelda was training to be totally BA. So how is it that 17 years later the internet could be so obsessed with what Sheik was packing below the belt?

Theorists are as fascinated with Sheik’s crotchial-region as that double-rainbow guy is with that, you know, double rainbow. (Outdated meme reference? So what? It’s MY blog.) So why all the confusion over something as simple as a woman dressing in drag to hide from a deranged demi-god? I’ll bet no one questioned what was under Mulan’s… uh, typical Chinese crotch armor (does it have a name)?

Being the guy that I am, I started the old Google screen and found a few interesting theories as to why people think Sheik is actually male. The first one I want to debunk requires you to understand the term canonical, as in canon, as in an official part of the franchise. Zelda’s magical transformation in Smash Brother’s Brawl is non-canonical. It is not an official part of Sheik lore. The second debunk is the magic issue. In Ocarina of Time, when Sheik reveals his true identity, Link looks away, there’s a flash, and Zelda is standing there. The flash is caused by what looks and sounds like a deku nut. If Link were frozen in place she would have had plenty of time to change her clothes. The last reasoning I will touch on comes from the idea that transformation is common place in the franchise. Link become a bunny, wolf, deku sapling, goron, and zora to name a few, however, in all cases he is still male. So why is it that Zelda’s transformation should come with a sex change? (Sexist gamers lashing out? Women can’t be awesome in games?)

Theories (and sexist agendas) aside, I’d like to think that no one who worked on Sheik’s design was ever worried about her alleged gender swapping ability. Most likely, they were no more concerned about what was beneath the costume than Stan Lee was about the Thing’s… thing. Luckily for us, we no longer have to debate this issue because Nintendo has finally put the sword to it.

“The definitive answer is that Sheik is a woman – simply Zelda in a different outfit.” – Bill Trinen, Nintendo Senior Product Marketing Manager

Keep gaming, keep learning, and stay plugged in.

Plugged-in Players – MOBA, DotA, and LoL

MOBA Titles

Rexis here!

MOBA. DotA. LoL. What does it all mean?! The fans know all about it. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. It’s taken over many gamer YouTube channels. It’s a national eSports event in South Korea. But what it is?

My online strategy game days ended when I quit playing Final Fantasy XI. The closest I get to online PvP these days is when I pop in Black Ops or GTAV. Then there’s the occasional Minecraft death. Needless to say, the online PvP community is not my forte. And if you’re like me, you’ve been hearing these buzzwords flying about, but never bothered to care. I wasn’t much interested until recently when I saw a Vice documentary about eSports and League of Legends (A coworker calls it League of Virgins. Don’t be offended, learn to laugh at yourself.)

But before we delve into its popularity, let’s start with MOBA, otherwise known as multiplayer online battle arena. This sub-genre of real-time strategy involves two teams battling to destroy the opposing team’s base/structure/whathaveyou.  It is typically action oriented, top-down, and involves RPG elements. Growing your character works into the strategy of taking out your opponent.

That’s not confusing at all! I’m surprised I didn’t know that before. For me, this genre was largely overlooked because I haven’t always been a fan of RTS and that is exactly where this started. Particularly, with StarCraft and a custom map called Aeon of Strife (AoS). This inspired a map called Defense of the Ancients (DotA) for Warcraft III. DotA became the first MOBA to have sponsored tournaments, ultimately paving the way for the worldwide success of League of Legends.

I won’t dwell on the gameplay for League of Legends. If you want to try the game out, it is free to play on Windows and Mac. The more interesting aspect of this story is the development studio itself. League of Legends remains Riot Games only video game to date and the company made $624 million in 2013. That’s only 4 years after the game released. It’s like every indie developer’s dream.

Hopefully you learned something about MOBA, DotA, and LoL from this post. At the very least, you should know what they are talking about when the inevitable LoL conversation comes up.

Keep gaming, keep learning, and stay plugged in.

Plugged-in Players – Replayability, Replay Value, and Etymology

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Rexis here!

What’s up, internet absorbers? I was clicking around the giant web of computational systems many of us call home when I came across an interesting debate that I can hardly believe is a thing. Apparently, a secret debate rages beneath the calm streets of Videogametopia and it revolves around the word “replayability,” or, as some would say, the non-word, because technically it’s not one.

Now I’m not one to be drawn into a debate the offers no victory for either side (hence why I stay away from religious, political, or best fast food conversations) so I would concede immediately that it is not a word. That’s true. BUT! What is a word?  Now I’m no google-ologist, but google-ologing confirms a word is “a single distinct meaningful element of speech” and so forth. So a sentence like “Chrono Trigger has awesome replayability” certainly seems to qualify the word. It is distinct. It is meaningful. Isn’t it? What does a word that doesn’t exist actually mean?

In the grand scheme of vidya gaming, we know what “replayability” is. It is a word exclusively used for video games. You wouldn’t say that football has “replayability.” You wouldn’t say that a movie has “replayability.” (Rewatchability?) And it certainly isn’t as simple as saying “I have the ability to play again.” This word refers primarily to the replay value a video game possesses and fills the need for a slang term, basically. In the same sense, aggro refers to aggression, mod refers to modifications, and own (pwn) refers to defeating an enemy (to name a few).

I’ve always enjoyed etymology and the origins of words. I’ve written a lot of fiction and creating words is fun! Yes, you can literally create words. A somewhat well-known author by the name of George R. R. Martin recently created the word turncloak. So, you know. There’s that. Not to mention the 1700+ words created by Shakespeare, and I’m not talking about his silly words like hobnob. Many words he created have become common language today. Compromise. Lonely. Label. Elbow. Moonbeam. Luggage. And for you forum lovers; rant and bump. All Shakespeare.

“Replayability” may lack a solid definition. It may not be in the dictionary. Yet. It may not be something you fully understand because you’re not a gamer and have never experienced something you would say has “replayability,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a word. Anyone who would argue what is and isn’t a word has a clear lack of understanding when it comes to etymology and coining a word.  Seriously, if you are so passionate about language, maybe learn how it evolves over time instead of forcing your totalitarian views on others.

On a side note, there’s a video game I enjoy that shares its name with a word created by Shakespeare. Unreal.