Girls and Gaming

I’ve been an avid gamer for a long time. I’ve been big into online games since Vanilla WoW, though I’ve been doing more beta than live WoW these days. There has been a lot of talk about girls and their treatment by other gamers. I have decided to weigh in as someone who has been doing this online thing for probably just over a decade. I don’t really want to do the math because some days I already feel older than I’d like to admit.

Gaming was a lot easier for me before I started raiding and had to speak on Vent. Before then, I could just be a good player. Okay, mediocre at best. I had potential, I just get in my head and decide the living is more important than the meters. It was easier back in Vanilla. There were defined roles. Priests were healers, backing up their Paladins in the 40 mans. It was cut and dry. Then instead of just being a player, you became a “girl player”. That was that. Girl first, player second. Eventually, for a short period of time, I became a named GM as part of a council. My peers, male, were regarded as just being “boys”. If I had to reprimand someone or give orders in raid, I was the bitchy girl bossing them around. It happened. The guys laughed. It bothered me a little at first. Not because of what they were saying but because I know why they said it. Anytime I was in an Officer style position after that in WoW, it was the same thing.

When people made jokes about me, they treated me like a wounded animal. It’s okay, they’re just jerks. It’s instinct, right? Protecting the little girl. It sucked but you sucked it up because you couldn’t show weakness. I started mouthing off and not taking it. That’s an easy way to make you a heartless bitch again. You get over it. After a while, things in the game got better. Aside from comments like “we have girl players. Some of them are actually good.” You have to work harder than your male counterparts.

Games like Overwatch are much worse about this. I refuse to talk on chat, unless it is absolutely undeniably necessary. Why? Because despite being praised earlier on in a match, the minute I spoke and came out of my gamer closet as a girl, I was suddenly no longer a badass. I was now terrible at the game. I was playing the same level of play that I was earlier on in the match, but suddenly now I have to get off of competitive because I have no idea  how to play. They would have respected me more if I pretended I was a pre-teen boy who hadn’t experience puberty yet.

It does scar you a little bit. It makes you not want to fully engage the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe there’s another girl in the group. Maybe there are some more open-minded gamers. It’s not even a majority of the time you experience it, at least in my case. If I’m on a winning streak with a group and got 3 PoTGs (Play of the Game) in a row, I’ll speak up and get comfortable. But when it does happen, it stings. I shouldn’t be afraid to chat while playing a team based game. Look at what happened to Geguri. She is ridiculously good, so she obviously has to be cheating as a player. I’m not entirely sure she would have faced the same scrutiny if she were a male gamer.

The moral of this story: it depends on the game and the people you surround yourself with. In WoW, my guild treats me as one of the guys. They don’t care about anything other than that I’m a team player who shows up and does my job. There’s still a little bit to go with games like Overwatch, but I feel as though part of the problem is the age and maturity of the players. As more women dominate this game, I think it will be a strong turnaround.

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The Internet is a Scary and Dangerous Place

The horrors that you find online are terrifying. They lurk in the shadows of anonymity. You don’t even know they are there until… that moment when.. you log into your social media account. That’s right, I’m talking about the keyboard warriors that feign outrage as the tides tell them to. The ones that you respect until you see their social media posts and you wonder, “Who is that monster?” I get it. I’m terrified also anytime I log onto social media. In fact, I would probably avoid the whole thing entirely if my livelihood didn’t exist in this scary, anonymous world.

See the thing is, I have never said anything on social media that I would say outside of it. My blogs, as boring as they may be to some, are me. They are genuine and authentic. Sure, sometimes they are so dripping with sarcasm and mockery of things that I find ridiculous. But I promise that I mean every word that gets typed up in this little box. I really don’t have any care if people hate me by the time I’m done saying something. That’s their problem; not mine. My mom always told me to never say something behind someone’s back that I couldn’t say to their face. Unfortunately for her, the lesson took too well. Because I do just say whatever the hell I want and I don’t care if I say it to someone’s face. Good thing I can defend myself if I need it because I’ve seen the look in other’s eyes when words just come right out of my mouth. Honestly, I wish I could say I felt bad afterwards. But, I usually don’t. I take it back. I just don’t feel bad afterwards. I’m pretty terrible.

Back to the original point. I see the way people talk to each other online. It’s sad. “deranged lib”? You can not be a deranged lib and still think Trump is terrible. I think Trump is terrible and I make no secrets that I thought Hillary was also a horrible idea for president. There is a middle road, just more people need to learn to take it. I didn’t even really like Johnson but by the time I went through my list, I decided to vote for the Vice President I’d rather deal with. No brainer: Weld all the way.

People hate each other. Hate. It’s not one sided. The so-called “deranged libs” are just as guilty as the other side… I’m not even sure what the Republican equivalent is… I only see the “deranged lib” or “libtard” on my social media. The minute you even correct someone for their blatant (or misguided) disregard of the truth or point out their hypocrisy on topics, you are automatically a villain. Sure, I’m a villain that’s a fan of facts. Yes, the Space Force is a waste of money when there is already NASA and the Air Force Space Command. Yes, the wall is a waste of money. What about people who tunnel in underground? What about the ones who manage to sneak by an underpaid border agent that really doesn’t care or the ones that get bribed to look the other way? How about the people that come by taking a boat? Walls won’t help any of these situations. I’m a realist.

If I correct you on social media because of any of these things, it’s not because I’m a deranged lib or an alt-righter. It’s because it’s about time people worry more about the actual facts of a situation without following blindly with an “it’s us or them mentality”. It’s because I believe in civil discourse. It’s because I believe name-calling is wrong on all levels, especially when it’s over who you voted for or what your personal beliefs are. I don’t hate you. I don’t even care about your political beliefs. I have some people who I wholly disagree with on so many levels on my social media. I don’t mock them for it. I add in a comment pointing out that they are factually incorrect on something and stand my ground and then leave it alone because apparently people hate reason. Friends are friends and they aren’t worth losing over a hopefully short-term trend of “if you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy”. I won’t stoop.

I don’t think the baker refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding is the same as denying a Trump employee service. Following your morals, whether I agree with them or not, is respectable. I can just choose to not spend money in your business. Refusing to serve Sanders in a restaurant? Petty, but it’s the choice of the business. If you don’t like it, don’t spend your money there. Spoiler people: things really are just that simple. I don’t purchase things from Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A because my beliefs don’t align with theirs. I don’t make posters bragging about that. They have their rights and I have mine.

People say, “Well Obama started it..” blah blah blah. Guess what? You can stand on your adult feet and end it. Change only happens if you care to make it. If you’re not trying to create change, you are part of the problem and have no, and I mean absolutely no, right to call anyone else the problem. People are spending too much time stooping. You cannot call someone a “libtard” or “deranged lib” then get pissed if they return the jab. Be better. Everyone needs to be better. I’m actually really sick of writing about this. I’m sure I’ve written a very similar post at least 5 times already. It’s disgusting. I’m disgusted.

I hope I have successfully berated all of you, no matter who you voted for or who you follow. United we stand….

First Impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

I start by saying that if you haven’t read “Before the Storm” yet, you need to. It was a fantastic book that really sets up a nice picture for the upcoming expansion.

I was fortunate enough to have participated in the alpha and then was later invited to the beta. I have been streaming my progress on the beta, which you can check out on Twitch: username Leighanneore. I have already leveled a character on both sides of the aisle to get a comparison of the story and try out different characters. Currently on my stream you will see my leveling a Lightforged Paladin, waiting eagerly to try out my boomkin Zandalari that I have been waiting so desperately for.

The first play through happened when the beta first came out. Despite all the bugs, the first zone I completed was Tiragarde Sound. I was disappointed because there seemed to be no story. What happened to Jaina? Do you ever see a resolution to the Ashvane storyline? (In a recent update patch, you did at least a resolution to the Lady Ashvane story.) The leveling was very quick in comparison to other expansions. My biggest problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a good story on the Alliance side. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any real story on the Alliance side so far. Drustvar has the most interesting quests and storyline as of this point, but that isn’t a knock to this zone. This zone has a really really good storyline to it. The bonus is that the zones on Kul Tiras are stunning.

The Horde side does have a cohesive story that was actually very well done. The zones are complicated and confusing to get around. So much so that you may see me on my stream just flying from one side to the other rather than traveling by mount. Though as soon as I learned the portal, I just did that to get back to the main city area from the docks. Still, flying to the docks is the quickest way to get there. Bwonsamdi is a nice touch to the zone (don’t want to spoil too much about this character), which I think helps to make this story better than the Alliance side.

Each side has their own positives and negatives at this point. Still, overall I have to say that I think this is an unimpressive expansion. Maybe they are saving a lot of the punch for launch, but as it stands right now it is just a little bit more interesting than WoD. I say that because at least I got my Pandas in MoP, but both of those expansions were unimpressive. Battle for Azeroth may not have even been that bad if it weren’t for the fact that Legion was such a good expansion.

Check out my Twitch channel for videos of play throughs. Eventually I’ll update my YouTube page with past videos. Maybe this week.

The Overwatch League- The End of the Regular Season

The final stage of the Overwatch League’s inaugural first regular season has finally ended. Shanghai never got their win, but they did get significantly better. Things are going to turn around for them next season when they work out their little issues, such as not being able to close up a match even though you fought hard. Here is a quick look at what happened this week.

Boston Uprising started off the stage with no wins but turned it around, winning every game that they needed to in order to stay in the playoff contention for the post-season. This team, that everyone predicted would finish in last, actually finished off in 3rd place and will cry home with their fancy  guaranteed $150,000 prize money on top of the $25,000 they won for second place in Stage 3. Just for getting into the playoffs, they will walk away with a minimum of $50,000. Not bad for playing a video game.

Valiant did not walk away with the first seed in the Stage 4 playoffs, but they did walk away with the championship. Valiant defeat the reigning Stage 3 and 4 champions the NYXL to take the $100,000 prize pot for the stage. This win wasn’t a surprise. Valiant had a solid Stage 4 and in the previous match, NYXL struggled against the Dallas Fuel to even make it in the finals. With no break in between to rest up, they weren’t the strong team NYXL fans have grown accustomed to. As much as I love SBB and Pine, I was glad to see another team walk away with the championship title.

The playoffs are a month away and these teams are going to be practicing non-stop to get their hands on the $1 million prize for the Grand Finals champion. I hope my Uprising makes it, but realistically it will be a NYXL vs. LA Valiant for a rematch. I hope to be surprised but that is my early prediction.

I also can’t wait to see what’s in store for the All-Star matches. I’m hoping for some Mystery Heroes or Competitive Deathmatch action. No matter what happens, that will certainly be a fun event to watch.

Amid the Parenting Struggles, It’s the Little Things

There are little things that parents who have had “normal” children take for granted. It’s ok. I get it. My oldest child has always been, and is still in a lot of ways, the “perfect” child. He’s so well-behaved that it feels like I have to pick at something small to make him seem worse than he is. Sure, he doesn’t help out around the house as much as I’d like but what teenager really does? He gets straight As, has a plan for college, and is pretty much loved by everyone who meets him. He won’t even pull out his phone in class without asking permission first. He is just too good. He crawled, walked, and spoke well before the milestones said he would. He could read at an early age and was reading at a college level before he went into middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and adorable. And most importantly, he’s kind and protective.

It’s a shock to go from that to a “abnormal” child. I use the quotes in both cases because I’m using society’s definition. No child is normal or abnormal. They just do things their own way. My youngest started following the same trends, hitting most of his motor skill milestones as early as his brother or in some cases earlier. I had no idea that there was going to be a problem. I knew at some point before his first birthday that he didn’t say his first word. By that time, my oldest had already started 2 word sentences. I didn’t think about it. Every kid is different. Milestones, blah blah. Except by 2, he was still practically non-verbal.

When I wrote “A Special Place for Noah”, I reiterated a simple point: every little thing matters. The joy I feel every time my youngest looks me in the eyes to have a conversation with me just can’t be described. He’s engaged. He makes eye contact. Even at 3 by the time he started preschool, he still barely spoke or looked anyone in the eyes. It’s tough knowing that you are doing everything that you are supposed to and still sucking at  your one job. He went from not speaking, to speaking at us, to now actively engaging in conversation. He reads visual cues from an expression on our faces. He’s empathetic, comforting his friends. He plays with kids now, not just next to them.

It seems silly to other parents that don’t understand. They don’t understand that every time a child makes eye contact with you, when they spent so much time avoiding it, is a huge moment. Any time that they don’t have a meltdown because their routine was messed up in some way is a huge moment. All of these little things matter. I don’t care if you think I’m ridiculous in celebrating these little things. Great, your child was potty trained by 2 and speaks exceedingly well for their age. Guess what? That perfect mom isn’t telling you all of the story, only the parts that makes her look like supermom. I used to look at my youngest after seeing posts like that and wondered how I screwed this all up. But I didn’t. I did everything I could. I’m doing everything that I can do. That’s enough for me to go to sleep fine at night.

Some kids just have a slower path but eventually they all get where they were meant to. Sometimes you just have to remember that everyone is different, some requiring a bit more time and patience.

The Power of Words

Today’s post was originally going to be a statement on parenting children with “difficulties”. As a result of recent events, I’ve decided to postpone that post for a treat on Thursday. Maybe this means I can get back to this more often? No guarantees, but I’m really trying to be more regular with this. Back to the point. I’ve decided to finally talk about something that I will probably get hate responses for. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve made it along just fine not really caring what people think and at 34, I don’t really see this changing anytime soon. I’m too old to change.

As a writer, I understand the power of words. I make a living off of this power. I try to use this power for good. In my books, I write about some issues that may be tougher to deal with but there’s something that you can relate to in them. It gives comfort to others reading something that resonates with them. For instance “A Special Place for Noah”, has a mother breaking down over her child’s issues. Even if you don’t have a child with developmental delays or other issues, every mom has been in that moment where they just locked themselves in a room and cried alone. Just saying this now, you may have nodded in agreement that you have been there. You just connected with those words. Those words had power.

That’s the thing with bullying, isn’t it? People use those words, that power, to hurt others. They use those words to control or harm. And those words do sting. Sometimes those words sting for decades later. I can remember every word a bully said to me back when I was younger. It’s the reality that words are more painful than a lot of physical harm that someone could do to you. Back then, I’d rather someone punch me in the face than use their hurtful words against me. I had no voice then. But I did have one powerful left hook and strong kicks.

I take freedom of speech very seriously. I understand there is a line that you don’t cross. I understand toeing that line of offensive and not. I understand that racial epithets are never okay. Most decent human beings do. I understand that other words take on different meanings to other people and they may find it offensive even if I find it ridiculous that it offends them. It’s not my place to judge. I spend too much time judging as it is, I don’t need more to add to the list.

I understand that there is a big difference between using the word “ape” against an African-American person and the “C” against any woman, though both carry an offensive nature to them. I don’t care to get into debates about which word is more offensive and whether or not celebrities on either side of the aisle get unfair treatment over words. Both sides push their own agenda. For instance, Roseanne was just practicing freedom of speech and it wasn’t racist at all so ABC was just pushing a liberal agenda firing her just like they did with “Last Man Standing”. It’s just another way the liberal media is taking down conservatives. No. Facts matter, people. Don’t just listen to mouthpieces pushing whatever agenda they are paid to push.

However, you cannot say that she was expressing freedom of speech using a term synonymous with racism while demanding that Robert De Niro should be boycotted for saying “F- Trump”. You can’t place freedom of speech wherever you want to make it fit your agenda. If racism gets a “freedom of speech” pass, so does saying “F- (insert a president’s name here)”. I don’t remember seeing those people voicing such disdain when people kept saying “F- Obama”. If saying “F- Obama” is perfectly fine, so is saying “F- Trump”. You can’t have it both ways. It’s either wrong for anyone to do or right for everyone. Me? I say that it’s a perfectly acceptable way to express your opinions. Also, I have been called the “C” word many times in my life and it never even bothered me. They’re probably right. I know who I am. And I can be kinda a “C” word.

Words are powerful. We should be teaching our children to use them wisely. In fact, we need to be better about how we use our words. Our kids are watching us. How are you going to use your words today?

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 4

With the final week of the Overwatch League finally upon us, it’s time to take a look at how things are shaping up for playoff time. Fortunately the post season will keep us occupied for the next month, but when I don’t have to post about OWL I can post about the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth beta. But until then, let’s take a quick look at this week in OWL.

The first point that should be mentioned is the fact that the Valiant is still undefeated and have their spot in the Stage 4 and the post-season playoffs locked up. Shanghai Dragons had some seriously strong matches, but still ultimately came up short in their hunt for their first win of the season. This team has some strong players but they just can’t seem to close the deal to get those crucial wins. Their only real chance for a win would’ve been against the Mayhem, but they ended up losing in a heartbreaking match. That doesn’t stop the crowd going wild for this team, rooting for them to at least get one win by the end of the season.

Then there was my Boston Uprising. I was skeptical that they were going to even beat Shanghai this week, but Boston seems to be getting back up to their Stage 3 form. They have found their stride so much that I would actually buy NotE that corgi if I had the money to. They went 2-0 this week, which helped their shot at making the post-season playoffs. We went from worried that they would even make the playoffs to now being able to say that they have clinched a spot in the post-season. Will they get far? They could, especially if they find themselves in sync as they did all last stage. They have figured out Brigitte finally and have 2 wins on Hanamura now. If they keep this up, they are going to have a strong showing in the playoffs. Though, we should be happy that they even made it there considering the experts had them in last (or second to last) place prior to the season starting.

This is going to be an exciting week at OWL, watching the last teams clinch up their spots in the playoffs. Who will win it all? Probably NYXL, but there’s always a chance for an upset.