Gettin’ Prestigious & Gettin’ Out: Bad Poetry, Bad Manners, and Bad Vibes

When I agreed to join the guild WTF, after Burry begged me into it, I knew I was about to become part of a more “prestigious” group of players within our tiny game. As such, I couldn’t just be sent an invite. I had to be interviewed by a guild master.

NEEAAAHHBurry and I were joined by the guild’s founder, Kipsy, who asked me a series of questions, most of which I have long since forgotten. I do remember him asking, however, why I played the game, and what friendship meant to me. I remember thinking how silly it all seemed, but I answered the inquiries kindly and patiently.

I left some sort of good impression, I suppose, because he sent me an invite upon concluding our interview.

When I accepted, my chatfeed came alive once more with a flood of greetings from current members. One of the salutations came from a player named Strongpudding. When he spoke, Kipsy told him to come meet the new recruit.

So, Pudding joined us, and I already felt oddly nervous, as it turned out he was a very popular GM, and a pretty well known player in the rest of the game, as Burry explained to me through tells. He was also one of the guild’s founding members, and apparently had a lot of emotion and time wrapped up in it.

“Welcome to WTF. Nice gear.” He said, after inspecting Rih.

“Thank you.” I replied. I felt downright awkward once more. I had been required to allow the full inspect, to prove I had equips worthy of admission, and had forgotten to replace my privacy setting before Strongpudding joined us.

“I think you’ll be a great asset to our community.”

I nodded, in real life, thinking, “yeah. Ok. I’m sure.” But, I knew I had to play along in order to not immediately make enemies. So, I told him “I will certainly try.”

Strongpudding certainly seemed like a nice enough kid, even if he was way more serious about the game than I would ever be. As such, I didn’t want to offend him, or make him feel like he couldn’t trust me.

Oh God Why?

Oh God Why?

The first couple of days in WTF, I still kept mostly to myself. But, as the holidays rolled around, more and more members were spending more time online during work and school breaks. It became increasingly difficult to be the awkward, new kid in the guild, especially when the officers’s awkwardness ended up outweighing my own.

A couple of nights before Christmas, Kipsy asked me to join him on a mission, winding our way aimlessly through dungeons. We’d completed a few levels when he stopped me before the elevator ride down to the next floor.

“I’m thinking of quitting this game. To focus on my writing. And getting my girlfriend back.”

I dropped the charge attack I’d loaded and, in real life, raised an eyebrow at the little avatar standing next to mine on my screen. “Well, those are very good reasons, I think.”

“Will you read some of the poems I wrote for her?”

Oh boy. I muttered a bit to myself in real life. Oh, shit.

“Sure.” I typed to him, even though I was nervous about the idea. This was, after all, only the second time I had spoken to him. Ever.

He asked the usual question. “What is your Steam name?”

“Ah, I don’t have Steam. Sorry.” I replied, feeling a rush of relief since sure he would not type his highly personal poems to me via game chat.

Or he would. And did. He typed them. To me. In the chatfeed…. his indeed very personal poems for his girlfriend. All up in my chatfeed.

I pinched my mouth in an uncomfortable half-smirk/frown, not sure how to respond. This was something I would have been more than willing to do for a close friend, whether IRL or online. But this was a guy I barely knew. I inched Rih onto the lift as he wrote his poetry to me, no doubt subconsciously wishing that he would accidentally step onto it and activate it.

He got about twenty lines into his first poem that he wanted to share when he stopped, and said, “AFK.”

“Oh… ok…” I replied. “Nice poem though.” I tacked on as an awkward afterthought. But was relieved for the AFK. It gave me time to figure out what I was going to tell him, how I would respond to this super personal poem.

I waited. And waited. Five minutes turned into ten minutes. I started to get angry. If I simply left the party, I would lose some of my achievements and drops. I would have to wait for him to return. I suddenly got the feeling that I was being held hostage in an actual dungeon. He’d been gone for so long, he should have let me simply leave the mission, but his poetry kept me trapped in the dungeon, as I prayed for a miracle. I was too polite (too stupid), to simply start to solo the mission either, so I sat on my couch, facebooking, checking back to see if he had returned.

After fifteen minutes of AFK, he timed out, his disconnection meaning that I automatically was whisked up the elevator, back to the town square. That particular GM never came back online after that, as far as I can remember. I suppose he must have really gone after his girl. And, for his sake, I hope it paid off. And I hope he’s kept that shit to himself, and her, from here on out.

My involvement with the guild became inevitable though, when Strongpudding asked me to take a couple of recruits with me on a level two boss one evening. I obliged, despite knowing better. The deaths were many, and as, people frequently say, I felt, most of the time, that I was herding cats. I could simply not keep up with fatal missteps and after the first couple of rooms, I called a halt to our proceedings. I spent time explaining the best tactics, not just in terms of gameplay, but the ways in which they could anticipate attacks from enemies, and what they should avoid doing. I was calm, and tried to be helpful, reassuring them that I understood they were simply getting the hang of the game.

When I finally got us out of there, just barely alive, I returned to minding my own business, until Strongpudding messaged me about an hour later. “Those recruits loved you. They say they learned a lot from you. Would you be willing to help others learn how to play?”

I cringed. This was something I was not all that willing to do. I wasn’t all that good to begin with. The things I taught the two noobs were things anyone could learn on their own, over time. I had simply given them a small boost. But, not wanting to be a jerk, I replied, with the most enthusiastic response I could type: “Sure!”

Little did I know, I had set off a massive chain reaction that lead to Strongpudding and our officers establishing what they would call “The Academy”. Our guild was, as it turned out, going to become a “teaching” guild. Those of us who were long time members, vets, and officers would be expected to teach and “train” incoming recruits. I became the tutor for the level one and level two bosses and was assigned three new recruits as my pupils.

Just sitting here typing this, I get the giggles. I was so miserable with this setup. All I really wanted to do was play the game, troll some people who deserved it, and make fun armor. That was all I cared about. But, now I was saddled with helping three people understand the game. Repeating three times the same set of directions since they never seemed to be on at the same time. And the few times they were, they filled my mission parties, and drained my revving energy quickly.

HopsnRihMeOne of my recruits, however, was Hops. She was a couple years younger than I, and had the same sick sense of humor I did. We tried to keep roughly the same hours of playtime, and did the most runs together. It was a few days after Christmas that we were about to do a level two boss, but were first laughing, lamenting our old age when we were approached by Connect.

“I’m sorry… can I go with you? I just never find people who are my own age, and I’d like the company of some more mature players.”

Hops and I agreed, friending him, and thus was born my friendship with Connect. As time went on, my recruits quickly became adept at the game, and moved on to other “tutors” or even other guilds. The only one that stuck with me was Hops. She, Connect, Narfle and I became a running group. Between the three of us, we got her the gear she needed to continue to play successfully.

As this group of four became tight-knit however, I became less and less likely to tutor any of the new recruits assigned to me. Much the same thing happened with other senior members in the guild. They met people they liked as they taught them. And, since we were using our own techniques to teach them, our running groups rarely failed at killing anything. Great for the older community of the guild, but for the new recruits, and Strongpudding, this meant there was a gap in participation.

A few times, our GM begged us to continue doing our “work.” I would make half-hearted attempts, but most of the time, I was getting PM’s from so many people, that I spent more time talking to people outside of my run than I did teaching those whom I was supposed to be instructing.

This went on for awhile, us members and veterans not clear on how much we were frustrating Strongpudding. Finally, one day, he had it out with us over guild chat. Telling us he was tired of trying to keep the guild up and running on his own, and that his grades were failing as a result.

Being an ancient fossil myself, I told him that he should remain calm. That if he was having issues with his grades, then he needed to stop devoting so much time to a game, and go study. We would be fine without him. Many of us, even the younger kids who had no real clue what they were talking about, encouraged him in this sentiment.

It wasn’t too long after that I logged on one morning on a day off and found that Strongpudding was gone from the guild list, and my friends list. There were two new GM’s (Carpal and Ari) in place, and the guild’s size had dropped from roughly 100 members to about 85.

“What’s going on?” I asked over guild chat.

The most senior of the two new leaders replied. “Strongpudding has quit the game. He’s left me and Ari in charge.”

“Right. OK. So, this just happened?”

“Last night.”

“And… all those people left?”

At this time, Coon spoke up. “Yes. He quit last night, and everyone knew this guild is dead.”

I chuckled in real life. “Well, let’s not get carried away. I mean, it sucks but we’re not necessarily screwed. It’s a pretty strong group of people, really.”

“No.” Coon replied. “I’m afraid this guild is dead. And, I’m sorry. Bye, guys.”

With that, he left the guild, to a chorus of horrified “No!”’s and “What!”’s

“I think that was maybe a little melodramatic.” I commented mindlessly in Coon’s fresh absence.

“I don’t.” Some one replied, and left as well.

Despite myself, I laughed again. As an adult, I felt compelled to speak again. “OK. Everyone just calm down. The guild is going to be fine. If everyone will just stop leaving, we’ll come up with a plan.”

Next I addressed our new co-GM, Carpal. “So what is your plan?”

“Nothing. Just stop recruiting for awhile till everyone calms down.”

“OK. Sounds fair.”

I expected him to say more, but he didn’t, so I dropped the subject and waited for other members to sign on. As they did, the story needed to be repeated. As it turned out, none of us knew that this had been Strongpudding’s plan: to leave the game. That he was really tired of the responsibilities of guild upkeep. So, he had gone, at a down time, when the drama would be less.

I’m still quite sure he never expected WTF to fall apart. I know he thought his GM’s would get along and create a new guild, based off of the model they would hopefully come up with.

But, as soon as Ari logged on, he was panicked. I was the only one on at that point, as it was early in the morning. He blurted to me “Wait… I’m a GM! Where the hell is Strongpudding?”

I explained what happened, and it went over… not well. I imagined him in his room, throwing things, crying, pounding at the desk top, yelling “Why God, why!”

It was that serious for him. After about ten minutes, I got him to calm down; telling him the same thing I had told everyone: that everything would be fine. That I would help however I could in getting things stable, again.

I meant every word of it. And for a couple of weeks, I worked really hard at healing a every widening rift between Ari and Carpal. They both had such insanely different views of how to move forward, I began to wonder how Strongpudding hadn’t seen this mess coming from a mile away.

I exhausted of constantly stepping in to reprimand the swats they took at one another. I grew bored of convincing our newer members that everything would be fine. I grew agitated and more and more convinced that Carpal was actually crazy, and that this insanity was feeding into even small things, like how to handle a guild in a game.

At the same time, Connect was pestering me to leave WTF and join his guild, which was already essentially dead. But, I had already made up my mind. I wouldn’t be going back to any guild.  It was increasingly apparent that I lacked the soul to be a productive member of any guild. I simply wasn’t invested enough and wanted the freedom to run with whomever I so chose. But I stuck in WTF as an officer for awhile, because I knew it meant a lot to Ari. And I’m not in the business of crushing kids’ dreams. … Well, not the well brought up ones’ anyway.

Finally, one morning, however, I pulled my own Strongpudding of sorts. I noticed Carpal had brought in two new recruits over night, so I asked him, “So, you’ve decided we should start recruiting again?”

This was something Ari had been insisting we should do since at least a couple days after our GM had quit the game. Carpal had maintained the time wasn’t right yet, that we should wait for drop outs to slow.

Without being able to do much, Ari simply complied with this plan though it made him angry, and a bit anxious. So, I was relieved to see the new members in the guild list. This meant my departure from the guild could be sooner than I expected.

Carpal still hadn’t replied, so I spoke again. “Carpal? You want to start recruiting again?”

Finally, he typed back to me. “No.”

I did the confused, skeptical sideways glance in real life, then said “So, who are the two new recruits?”

“Just friends.”

“So, you allowed your friends in, but you’re not letting us bring in new members who really want to be in this guild because they know it’s a good one?”
“Just don’t worry about it. We shouldn’t be recruiting right now.”

Peace out, man...

Peace out, man…

And even as he said this to me, another person accepted an invitation from him. Astounded, and nearly angry, I furiously tyed. “Um, so, you discussed this with Ari, then?”

“No. He doesn’t need to worry about it, either.”
I only wish computers allowed us the capability to reach through cyberspace and punch each other (and hug, too!), but mostly punch.

I would have punched him. Hard. I knew Carpal was older, and, like I said, nuts. So, all he was doing was intentionally upsetting Ari. His co-GM was just a kid who felt like he’d lost a best friend without a word or trace when Strongpuddy quit the guild and game. And, despite what one might think, or believe, I would and, a few months later did, become incredibly upset, when a good friend, Connect, left me alone in my game’s world, without so much as a proper farewell.

“So, only you are going to recruit, then?”

“I think so.”

“…”

I didn’t know what more to say. But, I do know that I didn’t like the fact this guy was getting to me, as I knew I had at least a few years on him. So, knowing that Ari would have Hops and a few other solid officers, I wrote him a quick note. I thanked him for really caring, and for being a great GM even though he was scared. I told him to have fun, and if he never needed me for anything really serious, to let me know: “But, I’m not a very good member of a guild in the end. I had to be nearly begged into applying for WTF. Right now, you guys need to sort out what is best for the guild. I’m not one of the people who can help do that. You need members who have a solid interest and devotion. I’m, admittedly, a bit too… absent to help you rebuild properly. Take care. –Rih.”

And then I left. The pressure was off, and I felt amazing. I joined Narfle in the town square and showed him my newly swinger status. I did a few runs by myself and enjoyed the quiet of my chatfeed, which only filled with news of what materials and items I picked up as I mercilessly murdered the monsters surrounding me.

Freedom was sweet. Numerous friends invited me, and pleaded to have me join their guild, but I was gunshy, and firmly decided to stay as far away from them as possible. I had no use for one. My friends were, for the most parts, spread out across several different homes at that point. There was no way I could choose one over the other.

Well, sort of. But that’s another post altogether.

Who are these jerks?

Who are these jerks?

 

 

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Girding of the Loins: I Survive My First Guild

When I first began playing an MMO, I was pretty sure I wanted nothing to do with a guild. I was there to play with my husband, bat some monsters about, and go on my way.

Within a couple of months though, my curiosity got the better of me. I cast about looking for a particular guild to join; one that I thought would be an excellent match for me. I found one on the forums that I’ll just call… Crackheads. Because thin veil of secretiveness. But also, because… full of crackheads as it would eventually turn out.

2790277I was attracted to this particular group because of the GM’s recruiting thread. It talked of how they were a laid-back guild, no gear or skill requirements to get in. You just had to be an easy-going, friendly person, and if you were a bit of a troll, well then, that seemed to work to your advantage as well. And hey, I like to think that I fit that description quite well. So, I applied humbly, but with a good dose of humor, riffing off the funny things he’d written in the original post. I got my invite within the hour.

When I accepted, my chat feed burst to life with guild chat; people telling me “welcome!” and “Nice to meet you!”

I was quite as pleased with this as I was feeling awkward about joining, not really sure what I had stumbled into. But, I greeted everyone back, and made some small talk before getting sucked into doing something else with Narfle and others.

As the night progressed, I realized I was in a guild full of like-minded trolls. In fact, they were a bit more intense than I was. Regardless, I began to feel at home, and even thought I might enjoy being in a guild.

Over a couple of weeks, I stayed focused on trying to obtain new weapons and armor. I had basic stuff, but thanks to running so much with Narfle, I had unlocked bigger bosses that required more specialized loadouts. I was also still learning the tricks required to easily defeat the mid-level boss. So, still stuck being somewhat noobish, I stuck to running with my dude, trying to get a grasp on everything.

As such, it was with was with great trepidation that one evening, I accepted a party invite to a boss run from the same Crackhead GM that had accepted my application.

The journey started out alright. I kept to myself, trying to avoid interfering with his and another guild member’s system of attack. At times, I felt somewhat useless, but at least I wasn’t dying. “Anyway,” I told myself. “Even if you do die, you joined this guild because they don’t give a shit either, and they know it’s just a game. Not like they’re going to yell at you, and call you noob.”

sadface[1]My first accident came with a slip of the finger. I released a charge attack  by complete accident which, in turn, activated a horde while my party members were still not ready to fight. Flustered, I managed to apologize for my slip up during the fray.

“Whatever.” My GM replied and I assumed he meant “Ah, all good, no worries.”

As a newish player, I was truly trying my best, but I didn’t have the proper gear for the job yet and my deaths began to come in droves. I was also used to the system Narfle had taught me, which was completely at odds with what my guild members were doing. I felt bad that I was so inept, but I knew my reasons for it, so I tried to shrug it off.

It was at the end of the level, before the boss fight when the GM stopped us. “Rih, what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Haha—what…?”

“Don’t you have a single useful weapon? Also, quit using that terrible gun. It’s pointless.”

My jaw dropped when he insulted my beloved fire-throwing, rapid-fire handgun (back then, it was a weapon no one used, but now is in vogue and I laugh seeing people use it. I’m so fucking ahead of my time!).

“I-I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, just do it right. No one should die as much as you just did. What the fuck?”

I sat on my couch, aghast, as he continued to rail on me, my equipment, and my (still developing) play style.  I should just leave the party, I thought for a brief moment, but then realized what that would look like to the other two, and decided to stick it out.

Embarrassed and even a bit upset, I sent Rih along with her raging GM and silent-as-the-grave fellow guildie.

During the boss fight, I tried to mostly stay out of the way, occasionally throwing a vial of poison at the baddie, feeling too ashamed to actually play. After about five minutes, we defeated the boss and I had what was probably two deaths. We were headed back up again when the GM laid into me once more.

“Why the hell were you throwing vials? You should have been hitting it! Even with that gun! There’s no reason that fight should have lasted more than ten seconds. Learn to do it right, or don’t do it at all.”

shame hamsterI won’t lie, by this point, in real life, I was actually tearing up. I chose not to reply to his rage, however, and when we were dumped back out into the arcade, I ran off, gave it about five minutes and then jumped to an abandoned server so as to not appear as a rage quit, but to take some time to collect my thoughts, and calm my nerves. I also turned my inspect function off, making it impossible for others to see what weapons and armor I was carrying, thus not allowing them to pass judgment on me. I was effectively shamed.

For about fifteen minutes, I sat quietly, and thought, and the groundwork for what would evolve into a strong distaste for guilds, was laid down.

I decided that when guild traffic was low, or no one was on at all, I would take my leave of the Crackheads. Then, I would stay out of guilds forever. As this thought formed, I was joined by Burry.

“What are you doing out here, all alone?”

“Avoiding assholes.” I replied.

“What assholes?”

I explained a bit of what happened to him.

“Well, you should come join my guild.”

I chuckled at him. He was in one of the biggest, most prestigious guilds at that time… I’ll call it… WTF. I knew that if I couldn’t cut it in a small guild like Crackheads, then there was no way I’d survive in Burry’s.

“Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll go guildless after this.”

“Well, if you change your mind, let me know.”

I did later change my mind, but first things first.  I left Crackheads in the dead of that night and set about my plan the next day.

The first thing I did was start crafting weapons made specifically to murder the mid-level boss. I crafted toward armors that would better protect me against it, and even offer me a boost in my offensive skills.

inigo1On my days off, and in the evenings, I began to do solo runs on this boss, gathering money, heat, and materials to finish my equips. Over time, my death rate while soloing began to plummet on the levels leading up to the boss fight. I learned monster speeds and patterns, and memorized the best places for Rih to be and when. I became excellent at shielding. And despite my frenetic playstyle, I eventually quit dying at all.

Meanwhile, during the course of these weeks, my former GM noticed my absence and pm’d me. “Why’d you leave?”

By this point, this was like the moment after some epic character-building montage in a boxing movie, where they are now entering the ring against their biggest foe. I felt tough then, and knew I would never go back to his guild, and, most likely any guild. So, I was fittingly defiant.

“I should think that would be obvious.”

“I thought you were happy with us!”

By this point, I had realized I wasn’t happy in Crackheads, even before that terrifying run. When I joined the guild, it had been intimidating walking into a group of people who already knew one another so well. While I’m usually gangbusters on being social, I had felt awkward, and out-of-place, and was therefore, actually shy. So, I’d stayed quiet most of the time, and had not made any friends there, really.

“Eh. It’s not a big deal. I think I’m just better on my own.” I tried to play it all off, but later that day, I ran into an officer.

“Tell me what happened.” He demanded.

Finally irritated, I told him what had occurred during the run with our GM.

“He can be moody.” The officer agreed. “But, come do a run with me, see if I can’t get you to come back.”

Fascinated, and feeling a bit more confident, I agreed. While I didn’t die, however, the officer still pummeled me with what he must have thought were tips that I needed for better game play. Throughout the course of those fifteen minutes, I was made completely miserable again. At the end, he sent me a guild invite.

“Come back to us. We aren’t all about getting pro players or anything. You’re really nice. And we can help you get better.”

I nearly spit my beer out onto my laptop at this. “No, thank you.” I said as he joined me on the elevator and Rih was whisked mercifully away from him.

A few minutes later, I got yet another tell and a friend request from my former Guild Master. Curious for what were turning out be purely scientific purposes (for here I sit, at my computer, telling you this story), I accepted his friend request and he joined me, pming me instantly.

“I’ve been told why you left the guild. I wanted to let you know I am sorry. But, I was only trying to help.”

“Well, it felt more like you were yelling at me, and being incredibly rude.”

“Please come back. We miss you.”

“Thank you for the invite, but I am not going to be joining again. I’m a little gunshy. When I applied to your guild, I did it because I was under the impression none of you took the game too seriously. I thought I could have fun on runs with you guys, and not worry about being some epic player. Boy was I wrong.”

“We don’t need you to be some great player. You don’t even need to be good. I was having a bad day that day and I couldn’t help how I was acting.”

I rolled my eyes. “Well, you should have tried. You obviously want some specific skill level in your members, and you obviously want them to do things the way YOU want them to be done, I’m not interested in some one swearing at me, and dictating to me how I can or cannot play.”

1273775642650“QUIT TELLING ME WHAT I WANT AND DON’T WANT. QUIT BEING SUCH A BITCH AND LISTEN TO ME.”

In real life, I felt a hot burn of fury at some one using that particular word on me, specifically when I had done nothing wrong to begin with, and was simply being honest without being as mean as I would have liked to have been.

“Yes, yes. Because clearly you speaking to me like that really makes me want to hop right back in there.”

“LOOK. I’m just trying to tell you that I was really glad when you joined the guild. I couldn’t believe you sent such a nice application. When I got it that day, it made me smile, and I was so excited that some one like you would want to join. You being in the guild made it so much better.”

“Well, I can appreciate that fact, but, I’m afraid I won’t be coming back to the guild. I will most likely just stick it out alone for now. Thank you, though.”

“Please! Please forgive me!” He seemed to cry out at me through text, and my stomach flip-flopped uncomfortably.

“It’s alright. We can be friends. I don’t mind. I’m just not looking to be in any guild anymore at the moment.”

“NEVERMIND.” He yelled at me. “JUST FORGET IT.”

And then he logged off, leaving Rih, cocking her side from one side to another, and me sitting slack-jawed on my couch.

At this point, I shut off the game, and took a breather, trying to figure out what exactly had just happened. What sort of world did one enter when they joined a guild? Even in such a small MMO that was so adorably drawn and animated? One thing was for sure: I was done taking shit from people. The small Troll in me smiled gleefully at this realization, and looked forward to the next poor soul who tried to tell me how to do a run, or what weapons to use.

IgiveupkittyLater on that same day, Burry approached me once more as I was rooting around my inventory, and he broached the same subject with me again.

“Please, Rih. You should join my guild. WTF is full of really nice people just like you. No one’s ever mean, and you can do whatever you want. It would mean a lot to me if you’d join.”

Well, what can I say? Troll or not, I’m a sucker for those I like and love. So, finally, after having had what I figured would be my last terrible experience in a guild, I took him up on his offer.

“Alright. OK. Get a GM. I give.”

How Your Guild Died: McVillain Knows

PROLOGUE

Any person who’s played an MMO has most likely been part of a guild; a guild being a group, or team of people who enjoy playing together, and that create what is hopefully a tight-knit community within their game’s world.

Some guilds grow big and strong, last months, and years. These gems earn recognition, their members earn prestige. As time goes on, people come and go, attitudes and in-game goals change, people become bored, or frustrated with the game, or perhaps even the guild itself and the fine cracks start to show.

While the names and finer details of your story may vary, I can probably guarantee that the story I’m about to outline is the one of how your beloved guild died.

HOW YOUR GUILD DIED

PHASE ONE: The End of An Early Era- After a long span of time, the guild’s initial goals and objectives change. Over time, as older players leave and new ones are accepted as recruits, very subtly, the guild’s purpose changes. What was once only a group of close friends has swelled to include random invites, people who only wanted in for the prestige of the guild, and others who don’t seem to serve a real purpose in further developing the overall culture (guilty-as-charged). Older members, now a closely knit nucleus, have their gaming identity tied to the guild they may have started, or been an early member of. These are usually the players that start to tire of the group’s shifting ideals first.

Here It Comes!PHASE TWO: A Major Figure Unceremoniously Exits- Most commonly, a beloved original guild master who has spent months trying to manage the above mentioned issues,  grows weary  of their task. Frustrated and exhausted, this well-meaning soul decides to call it quits (either the game or the guild). So, usually, at a time when guild traffic is low, they give notice and promote one or two people to take their place, and then black themselves out from their now former guild.

PHASE THREE: The Aftermath- This phase consist of guild member of higher rank logging on to find their fearless leader gone. People dissolve into panic, crying, “the guild is dead! It’s dead! Flee! Flee!” Those who don’t immediately drop out are disgruntled vets who didn’t see this coming, and new upstarts, who joined for the guild’s prestigious reputation. There is a confusion bordering on mass hysteria, and the guild chat channel will be rife with trauma, and all the makings for drama.

PHASE FOUR: Two Factions Develop- Inevitably, some junior members of the guild will feel abandoned by the leadership they grew to trust. They will not generally support the newly appointed GM, even though they were handpicked by the departed leader. Some of this dissatisfaction may result from what these noobs recognize as a prime opportunity to make a power grab. They will express their heretofore unacknowledged dislike of whomever the new GM is. When they get the chance, they will privately being feeding one another’s rage and riotous tendencies. Plans for a coup are born, demands are agreed upon, ultimatums for the upcoming confrontation discussed. Meanwhile,  the guild’s more senior members mourn the abandonment of some on who had no doubt been a good friend; maybe some one they met when they were both noobs, or some one they started the guild with, even. They’ve been around the longest, and most likely are also friends with and support the new GM on principle. They love the community they’ve built. While their newer counterparts came to the guild because of its prestige, these senior members are the ones who made it so. They want the guild to survive and thrive, to move forward, trudge ahead.

Here It Is!PHASE FIVE: The Shitstorm- This usually begins when word gets around the game’s community that the guild is in trouble. Rumors fly and morale for both remaining factions is low. Then, some rebel guild-noob begins running their mouth openly. They complain about how the guild is dying, according to everyone else outside of it. they place blame (mostly or, well, most likely unfounded) on the still-scrambling new GM. The senior faction becomes engaged, reminding newer members how strong the guild has always been, what it means to be a part of it. Usually, since the squabbling and in-fighting get so out of hand, any neutral parties exit the guild. At this point, the new leadership recognizes that bringing in new members would be an embarrassment, since the atmosphere is so tense. Thus, they freeze recruitment processes. This makes senior members happy, as it provides time for healing, and re-establishing order. The new upstart members, however, see it as confirmation of a guild breakdown, and poor decision-making. They yell louder, and more frequently until finally…

PHASE SIX: The Off Shoot Shoots- One bold, brave junior member decides to leave, and create their own guild, taking  with them those guildies who also have become disillusioned in just a couple days’ time. This leave the older players angry that those they were attempting to befriend and help deserted so quickly, perhaps emptying the guild down to its steady, lifelong members, making it feel as if it has indeed died. In order to promote their upstart guild, the rebels start recruiting, touting themselves as former members of the guild such-and-such.

GuildDramaPHASE SEVEN: Passive and Aggressive In-Game Confrontations and Forum Posts- As a result of the now former guildies’ propagating the “dead” myth, the few strong and dedicated remaining members and the quit harassed GMs and officers must take to defending their community and themselves. With the constant onslaught of bad vibes, jibes and mini-skirmishes, a heated rivalry is frequently born. Forums may develop a rash of “The Guild is Dead” threads which leave its remaining core to be on constant defensive, working to assure potential recruits that their community is still skilled and vibrant, and very much alive.

PHASE EIGHT: The Death Knell- Sometimes, guilds survive these turbulent times, coming out ahead stronger and better focused. Most frequently though, the stress of trying to fetch a guild’s reputation from the jaws of a game’s rumor mill proves to be a fatal task. Senior members, disillusioned by the guild they once so loved being ripped apart at the seams may quit the game entirely, creating a steady outflow of good friends that have achieved a great deal in-game. Or, they move on to another home, tired of attempting to determine the guild’s best course of action. They join up elsewhere or create their own guilds, where there is no stress involved, no reputation to uphold or legacy to save. Over time, their original home dwindles to the sub-par recruits which were all that could be picked up during the confusion of the breakdown. With time, members leave and/or become inactive.

PHASE NINE: Nostalgia and Re-Birth (Maybe)- After time has passed a couple things may happen. The long-dead guild will be immortalized on the forums in “Best Guilds In-Game Ever” posts, written by the same people who once fiendishly discussed its apparent downfall ad nauseam.  An old member of the guild who may have left an alt under its banner sometimes will attempt to revive it, re-starting recruitment, proclaiming a new day. There is a blip of excitement that it has started back up, some players who were once members return, and every attempt is made to restore what once was. Usually, the reboots end in failure. The game’s dynamic, its community, have changed too much for this once great guild to regain the same traction it once had. Frequently as well, those off-shoot guilds, raised in defiance against the flagship, are already long since dead themselves, with very few noticing their passing, and member slinking off into other newer prestigious guilds to wait for the process to start over.

Yes. Sad but true, this is how your guild died…

Not Bad For a First Year Noob!

I have done, said, and written many silly things online this year. Thanks to all my family and friends (both IRL and online) who stood up, cheered, read, shared and, in general, cared about me, and loved me enough to love my writing… and to spend what seems like countless hours with me online making these posts possible. Even when I think I’m writing into a void, I know I have you guys, and that makes it all worth it.

Special love to Tross and Narfle. YOU TWO ARE THE VERY BEST. LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS. ❤

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

WB, Mackers: Five Reasons I Will Always Envy Link

ohaiWell. I’ve been AFK for a couple weeks now. It’s been… crazy, to say the least. Since I played Zhu Zhu Princess, I came down with this year’s monster flu. This left me incapable, and unwilling to play my last two pink-spew horrors. But, I will come back to those. Eventually.  In the meantime, I have been knocked on my ass by illness. Even when I tried to fix it by going to the doctor within two days of developing symptoms (at which point, they swabbed my sinus by shoving a q-tip as long as a number 2 pencil up my nose, then watched as the flu strain grew in a petri dish over the course of fifteen minutes), I only made the situation worse. See, the doc prescribed Tamiflu, because, as she put it I was at least there “early enough that it’s treatable.” Within twenty-four hours, I had an allergic reaction to the stuff. So, I spent a week coughing, sneezing, freezing and then itching. As a result, my brain was broken, and focusing on a game, let alone writing about one was an impossibility.

Add onto this a major schedule/route change that has effectively changed my outlook on my job and life as well as my sleeping schedule, and you might be able to see why my world has pretty much been turned upside down.

Thankfully, Narfle isn’t afraid of lady-tears, nor the quasi-uncertainties we all face in life at some point. Also, quite thankfully, I have great friends IRL and in-game who’ve been sweet enough to hold tight while I get my shit back in order, and who have whispered encouragements to me in one form or another that have pulled me through. You know who you are, guys, so thanks.

Funny thing is though, through all of this, I thought a lot about games and escapism. How wonderful it is to pop a ESCAHPAY!button with your thumb and be absorbed into a completely different world. The concept is not a new one, this wasn’t exactly a series of groundbreaking thoughts on the matter. But, they were deeply personal, and deeply moving for me. Honestly? What are my problems compared to those of the residents in my favorite games? What are they to the residents of Vault 101, or any of those characters who have a dark force to defeat? There is something to be gleaned from the heroes that take on these tasks. There is a lot to envy them for, despite the challenges they face.

But, it’s more than that, in the end. There are warm, cozy parts to so many games that serve to create a stark contrast for the trouble that arises during the course of the game’s storyline. There’s the mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother that serves to give the hero’s quest true purpose. All because there is something for the protagonist to protect, something for them to believe in. This ignites in the player an empathy for the character they control.

For me, Zelda has always hit this chord long and forcefully. So, here’s to the simple things that make all the death’s at Gannon’s hands worth it; the warm-hearted actions of the game inhabitants that make it perfectly acceptable to throw a Wii-mote every now and then. These are the things that cause me to envy Link, even when he is first setting out on his journey, with a wooden sword and shield strapped across his back.

Five Reasons Link is Damn Lucky

5) Grandma’s Chicken Soup In Wind Waker, your tiny, adorable grandmother makes amazing chicken soup. Not just because she probably puts Oyster crackers on top of it before she gives it to you. But because it’s so good, that when you down a bottle, your health is restored. Maybe it’s not full (but when is soup ever really all that filling). But, afterward, you’re feeling damn fine. The last few weeks, while battling the flu, I would have murdered more than my fair share of ChuChus and Keese for the chance to get at some of that soup myself. I mean, as far as I can tell, it’s never caused Link an allergic reaction either, so guzzling it down would have not lead, ultimately, to a 50 mg. Benadryl-induced coma. Instead, I would have been boomeranging my shitty, undergrad neighbors, and kicking clay pots in the garage. Which brings me to number 3.

4) Pot smashing So simple, and yet so true. So many bad days in life could be fixed by simply being allowed to break some shit. If we all were allotted a certain amount of fine China in a year for destruction purposes, we’d all be a lot happier, I think. Double score: you could go into others’ houses, break all their finest pieces, and steal all the money they have in them, and they will not stop you. They won’t even say anything to you. I know exactly whose houses I would ransack first. Also, side-bar: so much FREE money… in pots that regenerate every time you re-enter a space. When Pier 1 starts selling self-fixing, money-filled pots, I’m so there. Mental and monetary therapy all at once… me so happy!

3) Kakariko Village, et. al Link, when we first meet him, is always living a quiet, utopian life in some forest village. Everyone works hard, sure, and there are few bullies about the place. But, always, when Link first wakes up in his tree house, the sunlight pouring in through the bedroom window, a fire going in the fireplace, I know that this is a place worth saving, a place anyone would be thankful for, and would fight for. Running through the trees to visit natural springs, picking fresh vegetables from the garden (maybe solely for the purpose of throwing them at chickens, but still…), or twirling across the sandy shorelines are wonderful, every day things for Link. I find his spot in nature, the adaptability it gives him when he faces down changing landscapes so enviable. Personally, I identify with it since I spent so much time running through the woods myself when I was wee. The sprawl of Link’s world speaks to that kid in me that remembers believing the forests behind my house held a plethora of spirits, monsters and animals both good and bad for me to befriend or defeat. I would give anything for a tree house with a fireplace, too. Though that seems a little… risky.

2) Unwavering Bravery I’m not actually a shit-disturber IRL. I think I’ll put up with a huge amount of crap before I go off. Mostly, I think sometimes I’m just not brave enough to stand up for myself (though I have and will again, no doubt, lambaste people who’ve tried to hurt people I love). But Link, right from the beginning, takes charge and does what he has to do to put things right for himself and those he cares about. He has to stand up to hoards of baddies all by himself, and he does it, without ever looking back once. He doesn’t wait until it’s unbearable. At the first sign of trouble, he takes a stand. We should all be so brave, and maybe someday we will be.

 

Let'sa go!

Let’sa go!

1) That clear-cut sense of purpose It’s usually brought onto Link by a visit from some fairy, spirit or village elder. But, isn’t it enviable, and commendable, the way in which Link recognizes his duty, and his fate, and fearlessly takes up the fight? Some days, when I’m fluffing up chip bags, a part of me wishes some omnipresent being would round the corner of the aisle, look at me, and say “LEWL! You thought this was it? Aren’t you silly? Here’s your passport and the instructions for how to achieve your ultimate goals that you have not, so far, been able to identify. Don’t worry, I got this, kid. Just enjoy the ride. Now, let’s get outta here, and burn this fucker to the ground as we go.” I’d be gone in a heartbeat, knowing I’d come back wiser, braver, and even stronger. Of course, free will and being able to decide what we want out of life is a gift, and a wonderful one at that. But, sometimes, it would be nice for an adventure to come along, shatter the monotony, and point out a purpose we may be missing; test us, show us just how amazing we can be, if only we focus on what we’re capable of, and not just what we’ve got at hand.

Pinked Out, Not Pooped Out: A Villain Goes Back For Seconds

I am beginning to think that maybe this was a bad idea. That no amount of science is important enough to subject myself to the horrors I’ve been enduring via “girly” games. Last week, I played Barbie Jet, Set, Style, and lamented its very obvious shortcomings. This week, I continue the madness with Magical Zhu Zhu Princess:Carriages and Castles.

Let me start out by admitting that I have absolutely no fucking clue what a Zhu Zhu is… a hamster, I guess? So, my complete, and horrified confusing over this game may result, at least in part, from this fact. But, um, I’m pretty sure that knowing what a Zhu Zhu is won’t actually make it better.

I beat this game in an hour. The whole thing. BOOM. Done. Now, of course, once again, I’m an adult. But, honestly, I was instantly irritated and bored by it and wanted it over with as quickly as possible. I couldn’t figure out why these hamsters were apparently part of a feudal system, and when it became immediately apparent that I would not have the chance to submit anyone to indentured servitude, I was ready to move on for the week. Furthermore, the seemingly endless, painful game play consists of running through garden/castle themed “tubes” to find the exit. Sometimes you have to collect some drops. But mostly you just run to the exit. I think there was a rewards system in place. But, it didn’t matter, as far as I could tell whether you got a tin medal or a diamond encrusted trophy, the next level opened without fail. That was it. All you have to do is draw the stylus around the screen. Endlessly. Forever. Until you are lying, face down, on your couch, screaming with boredom into a throw pillow. I have seriously not lived a longer hour since that time I was covered in banana mush, stuck in a room with rabid chimpanzees. But, at least I could ascertain a worthwhile objective in that instance.

When I finally “beat” the final maze, a bonus level opened. I LEWL’d and shut it off. I stopped just short of throwing the cartridge into the toilet because I didn’t want to eff up the plumbing wish such a massive amount of shit. And so began my week of trying to figure out what the hell to even say about it. Even as I’m writing, the only halfway intelligent observation I can make (since the game gave me so little to play with, in so many ways) is that about the multiple levels of “girliness” the creators have layered onto this game needlessly.

First of all, this game is unapologetically flowery and pink. I’m pretty sure that if the hamsters took a dump (as hamsters are wont to do), they would shit sprinkles that you can put on that vanilla rainbow cake you just baked!!!1!!!1!!1!!1!!!!!111

Also, “Zhu Zhu Princess” means nothing about gameplay. Sure, you’re running through tubes set in castles or whatever, but let’s be honest: it’s just that some genius at Nintendo or ActiVision was like “I dunno guise, pink is a good start, but this needs MOAR princesses! Girls love princesses! We’ll triple sales!” Seriously, that’s all it was: a cosmetic lift to convince parents that this game is exactly what their little doll baby will want. A reskin of this to space, and it’s “for boys”. Please, please let’s stop playing the gender stereotypes to attempt to sell products. It’s so gross.

The point of this game is to help Princess Snowcup collect ALL the hamsters until you unlock and claim Prince Dashington. Wonderful. So, the end-game is still to simply get a man. Excellent. You know… maybe Zhu Zhu Princess is the perfect game for the future furry in your family. In twenty years, WoW will be filled with busty, scantily clad hamsters named some variation on Princess Snowcup (Prinzzezz-DDDcup, for example).

Anyway, back to hamsters pooping a lot. I guess the mini-game part is to care for your habitat of creatures. You know, feed them, water them, give them buttercup yellow teddy bears to snuggle with… But of course there is nothing challenging about completing these tasks. Simply drag and drop and five seconds later, everyone is happy all over again. Srsly? NO. Go get an actual animal care simulator; one that actually stand the chance of teaching kiddos how to care for pets. At least in some of them you have to clean up poo. Believe me, in Zhu Zhu Princess, there is zero excrement…. maybe that’s because of the common internet-male misconception that “girls don’t poop” (but that’s another post altogether).

It makes me wonder how I ever managed to trick and win Sim Ant at such a young age, despite my lady parts. There wasn’t a stitch of pink in that game and it had difficult goals and objectives. But, really, my point is that kids are smarter than this. And girls are smarter than all these gender-stereotypical trappings. Give them some credit that their interests could expand beyond carriages, castles and princesses (and men), and that their skills go beyond dragging a stylus aimlessly about the DS screen.

Next up is a game that I’m pretty sure may kill my one feeling, and my wee bit of remaining soul.. stamp them out and spit on them. Should be a good week… D: Till then!

Pinked-Out: In Which a Villain Tortures Herself For Science!

Throughout my life, I have had some pretty amazing, really bad ideas; like drinking Absinthe and then running out into the neighborhood in an attempt to get my neighbors to come have a dance party with me and in turn being nearly tackled by my friends so as to keep me under the roof of my apartment, going 55 in a 25 at the tender age of 17 and ending up with a $150 speeding ticket, and dancing around so wildly that I actually bruised my foot. There’s a common theme here: things that seem like they should be fun, or that should provide others around me with a good laugh that which, in my quest for LULZ, bring me some sort of great pain.

The idea for this post is no exception. It was an idea I had been toying around with for awhile. The other day, upon chatting with a new friend about ladies in gaming, I reached the conclusion that it was time for me to put my set aside plan into motion.

So, the other day, as I was leaving my last account, I stopped by the discount games bin, and dug through. I found three golden nuggets of horror and shamefully placed them on the register. I did my best to avoid eye contact with the cashier as he slid my new games over the scanner. He asked me with a smirk if I wanted the replacement program coverage on them, and I had to stop myself from saying “Dear God, no!” and instead answer with a simple “Nah, thanks, though.”

Feeling as if all the customers in the store were watching me go, and smirking behind their hands, I clung to my plastic bag of nightmares and ran for the door. Once home, I showed my new games to Narfle, who in turn, shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re gonna do this.”

“For science, baby!” I exclaimed. “For science!”

Knowing that I was going to be in for the night, I put on my pajamas, and even though it was only noon, I decided I was going to need a beer. Sam Adams and my Nintendo DS in hand, I plunked myself onto the couch and loaded the first of my chosen games.

Let me tell you. When I picked up Barbie Jet, Set and Style, I knew I shouldn’t expect anything even approximating mediocre. I knew that this was a game to which next to no thought was applied. Also, I knew that it was going to be for small children. Worst yet, for small girls the likes of which I never was akin to growing up.

And here I was, talking with Barbie. She was telling me I was going to be the next big fashionista! We were going to travel the globe together! Doing big, important things! Like… hair…. And make up… and nails… and clothes. If I was good enough, and worked hard enough, I could even perhaps style Barbie someday for her great Glamour Show taking place at the end of the game.

OMG. There are not enough beers on the face of the planet to make this game truly playable as an adult, obviously. But, a part of me believes there is no amount of beer on the face of the planet to make it playable for a child as well.

Here’s why: what got me thinking about this so long ago, and was brought up to me again recently was the idea that women are zoned out of the gaming community nearly from day one. There’s an assumption that girls don’t want to play games, and maybe even that it isn’t their place. But, in some half-assed attempt to sell games to clueless parents, game makers and huge franchises put out “girly” games that are just pink enough to attract young girls to their glossy covers (because they’re taught to adore pink… we aren’t born that way, you know.).

Meanwhile, I think a lot of parents who don’t know much about gaming decide this must clearly be the best option available for their young daughter, and purchase games like these because she’ll “get them”.

The bottom line is, of course, if girls aren’t supposed to like games, then not even pinked-out pieces of poo like this one should sell. And, apparently they don’t since pretty much every time I’ve seen one of them, they are on the discount rack. I think this happens for two reasons: A) Parents who don’t game think that girls don’t like games, and don’t even go to the aisle to see what is available or B) More game-savvy/forward-thinking parents go ahead and buy their daughters real games to play. Even if they may not choose Assassin’s Creed, they may at least choose a great puzzler or something.

So who does buy these games? Parents who are new to gaming and have not quite realized what absolute tripe they are giving their small child by buying her this game. I don’t know, maybe some older gamers with kids buy them for their daughters, but I can’t help but think the majority of them would rather she was at least playing Zelda or something…

Some might be thinking “Oh, here goes McVillain again, off on another feminist rant.” And, sure, to a certain extent, this is. But, not just because this game was only about doing hair and makeup, but also because it is awful, and teaches young girls absolutely nothing. After playing it the whole way through in a 24 hour period of heavy drinking and whining to people about it, I thought “No wonder ladies seem so scarce in gaming. The majority of them must get scared out of the market at a young age. “ And by scared, I mean they get literally bored out of it.

Barbie’s Jet, Set, and Style is atrocious not only because its presumptuous makers concluded that girls will only want to play games about fashion and makeup but also because this game coddles its players.

Some might argue this was a game for young girls, so there shouldn’t be a rewards system, they should be continually encouraged no matter what they do. Laughable. First off, this game required the ability to read (you have to read super urgent blog posts from the Blonde One herself). Secondly, I would argue that games like Pokemon, Bakugan, and even Mario Bros., which are heavily marketed toward boys the same age as the girls this game has in mind, still have a cause and effect system built into them. You can lose matches, and be incapable of capturing monsters in Pokemon, and you can jump off cliffs to your spikey, fiery, drown-y death in Mario. In Jet, Set, however, no matter how far outside my prompt I went, I still was always met with Barbie’s enthusiastic “Glamoriffic!” with every ensemble I put together. I mean, shit, I gave one chick green hair for a job interview and still got 5/5 Barbie coins.

Which brings me to my next point. Every client I had all over the face of this crazy planet, she had a very limited set of tasks for which she needed a make over. If she was interviewing for a job, it was with a cosmetics company. Even the two CEOs were heads of beauty corporations. Otherwise, it was a lot of girls going on first dates, and waking up with bad hair days when their senior picture is just hours away! OH NOES! Most deplorable and grueling, however, were the make overs I had to provide for women who were looking for a great new workout look! SRSLY?! SRSLY? ! I’m gonna fly from L.A. to Milan to give some lady eyeshadow, new nails, a pair of daisy duke shorts and a tank top that reads “Little Doll, Big Dreams”… just so she can go run on a treadmill. Are you fucking kidding me. I thought we laughed at girls who wore make up and designer clothes to the gym. Are we not laughing at them anymore? The whole time that I’ve been wearing my paint-covered t-shirt and yoga pants with holes in the knees to the gym, I’ve been committing fashion sin?! My God, lock up my lady parts until I get a make over! I truly am a fashion emergency!

Here’s the thing of it all, right? Here’s the running background noise of this horrible pink-vom colored world: Aw, hey little girl. Lookit you hitting all those buttons! Op! Lookit at that! You chose a shirt and pants that are the same color! Oh goody! Oh, and hey, look at all these girls you’re helping with their big girl problems! Thank goodness you’re learning that you can never just go to the gym without showering BEFOREHAND too. GOODNESS, NO! Think if you’d gone in there without makeup! Your Ken would never come along for you! And don’t forget, if you’re going to aspire to be a real businesswoman some day, you should totally only go into cosmetics! Let your dad and brothers do all the hard stuff like lawyering and banking. And hey! While that outfit you chose for this big business girl leaves her looking a bit trashy, we’re still gonna give you 5 Barbie coins because we know how emotional you’ll get if you fail at something. Girls can’t handle defeat! You’re safe here, and you should know it! Now let’s dye your hair blonde and change your eye color to violet before your big date tonight!

Know how I know for sure that this game was not meant to challenge or upset young girls? Because when I got to what I jokingly called “The Final Boss Battle”, the game did all the work for me. Your final mission is to give Barbie a makeover for her upcoming Glamour Show (which, wtf even is that, exactly?). I was fully prepared to actually fail at this one. I figured her hair would be impossible to cut even, or that her make up would not look right except for an exact combination or that her curlers wouldn’t stay in, or that she would not be satisfied with any dress I picked for her.

So, feverishly, I cut her hair to her desired length and began to ready myself to wind curlers when the game’s animation took over. When it did, it wound and set the curlers. It went on to brush on her eye shadow, her blush, it chose the purple flowing gown that I never would have chosen and set Barbie against a magnificent starry background.

C’mon Barbie, let’s go— oh… no? You’ve got this one… ? *okayface*

I sat there with my mouth hanging open, feeling robbed, like I usually do the first time I attempt a final boss battle. But, that’s because when I do, the degree of difficulty from my last task has sky-rocketed so high upon meeting with this final foe, that the battle is nearly impossible to win. In this case, I was stunned by the game’s total takeover, the idea that after I’d spent hours creating what were apparently “rockin’” makeovers, I was not allowed to participate in making over the one woman all girls might want to make over in this game: Barbie.

All in all, this game succeeds in little. Not only does it not teach creativity (since you get to use only a small portion of the clothing options that become available to you), it also stifles girls back into their expected gender roles. By being an absolutely repetitive, bloody bore, I think many girls would put down the DS and never pick it up again after a few days, thus reinforcing the idea to less open-minded parents that girls don’t like games. Secondly, girls are pigeon-holed all over the place by being told they must look “glamoriffic” 24/7, no exceptions, not even the gym. Also, the only things they can aspire to be are actresses, fashion designers and models. Srsly. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give a makeover to a female construction worker who’s going out with her husband for their 10th wedding anniversary, than it does to give a make over to a fashion designer? What would be so bad about even having a female client be even just a school teacher if you don’t want the game to go too far outside of gender stereotypes (God forbid!). SWEET JEEBUS. To some degree, I thought we’d moved past the days when Barbie was nothing more than a model and back up dancer. But, I guess not.

Look, if your daughter really wants Barbie’s Jet, Set and Style, then it’s up to you, obviously. But consider buying her something less terrifying in addition to it. But, if she’s really looking like a future cosmetologist, then do her a favor and get her toys that can actually help her learn to do those things she most enjoys. Don’t buy this game. This game isn’t about learning what stylists do. It’s about learning your supposed female role in this world, and how everything will always be perfect.

If you’re going to get her games, get her things that will challenge her intellect, and will help her learn to cope with failure. Get her games that will teach her how to problem-solve and seek out the best solutions; games that will teach her she can be the hero with a sword, that she can run, jump and defeat baddies (and not even need to be wearing make up to do it), and if you get her a game with a strong female lead who absolutely kicks monster butt, then you deserve a parent of the year award. Just please, don’t buy this game.

So, on this note, I’m signing off for the week. I need to go drink this game out of my head. I’ll be back next week with even moar horrors to share.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!*

*Don’t buy crap Pinked-Out games for your daughters on Friday… kay, I’m done now.