The Struggle Between Morality and Capitalism

Some people call this “cancel culture”, but in reality, there are more than just the products or services offered by a company that make consumers choose to give them their money. I’m no different than any other consumer. I choose to buy my groceries at Big Y (only the one in my city) and sometimes the local grocery Fruit Fair because I have a positive view of them as a company. The owners of these companies are active in our local community and I’ve never had an unpleasant experience with any employee at either place, which is more than I can say about the misery I feel when I go grocery shopping at the other options in the area. Consumers make decisions based on factors like a positive impression of the brand, positive experiences when working with the people at a company, and whether or not that company’s morals align with theirs.

A company’s morals and how they align with mine is a factor I consider when purchasing items. For example, I refuse to step foot in Hobby Lobby due to their belief system and those are beliefs that I absolutely cannot support. And it’s easy for me because I’ve never had to be concerned with them because there are other craft stores in the area that I can spend my money at. Chick-fil-A is another company that I just can’t support. However, I did eat there a couple of times and then spent an equal amount of money on charities to make myself feel better about betraying my beliefs. Plus, full disclosure, Chick-fila-A is overpriced and nowhere near as good as Wendy’s or Popeye’s chicken sandwiches.

For the most part, directing my moral outrage at a company hasn’t really impacted me because those were typically products or services that I wasn’t buying to begin with. But when the news broke out about Activision Blizzard, I was immediately conflicted. Blizzard games have been a huge part of my life for nearly 2 decades. I’ve met great people and friends through these games. I play Overwatch and World of Warcraft (Classic and Retail) practically daily especially to break up my work and reset my brain. I religiously follow Overwatch League. To hear this news saddens me. No. It destroys me. The fact that companies like that get away with being disgusting for so long is disturbing to me. The wholesome image we get of Blizzcon is shattered. This brand betrayed its fans, especially the female gaming community that love their games.

Blizzard fans that give a crap should feel betrayed right now. The moral conflict is whether or not this is a company that we should give money to, despite the profound impact that their games have had on the community. Are these bad actions something that predates the Activision Blizzard merger? If so, does the ire we should feel reflect on Activision’s games, not Blizzard’s? Do we stop giving money to a company, which causes harm to the innocent developers that make these games that we love? Do we wait to see if they own up to their actions and hand down consequences for these vile actions? At what point do we give up on something that we’ve already dedicated so much to? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves.

We should stand up and fight, but my conflict is rooted in not just my outrage but also my need for routine and comfort. It’s seems like an easy choice: stop supporting a company that causes so much pain. But there’s another side. Especially at a time when people need comfort and stability, these video games offer them what they need. I need the comfort that I’m going to log on and get “Hey Ginger” or “Sup Leigh”. I need the comfort of mindlessly doing things while interacting with others. It’s the break from reality that some people need on a regular basis more than others. But at what cost? What would I like to see? I would like to see them be held accountable for their actions. I would like to see massive chunks of money being donated to RAINN, top suicide prevention organizations, and women’s rights/sexual harassment prevention causes. I’m talking like massive amounts of money. They need to make this right.

This isn’t “cancel culture”. This is deciding if you want your money to support something that you don’t believe in. Sometimes, that decision is much easier than others. But isn’t that what capitalism is all about? The consumers making decisions about where to spend their money? I don’t call it “cancel culture”, I call it “moral consumerism”. And I’m really struggling with it right now.

Toxicity of the Overwatch City

Normally Monday’s blogs are dedicated to gaming. Typically during the Overwatch League season, it sticks to that. But the Summer Showdown ended up with a great battle that ended in a whimper between the two APAC teams: Chengdu Hunters and Shanghai Dragons. It would have been cool to see the Hunters win, but Shanghai has gone through so much that it was nice to see the back-to-back tournament wins. Plus, Fleta is just a monster and I image they might win it all in the countdown cup and Grand Finals with him getting another MVP trophy, this time for the Grand Finals MVP. As for my favorite team? I’ll just be happy to see them in the final tournaments. I’d be ecstatic for a win. But I’m a realist. Maybe if they actually keep a full roster for once, next year could be our year. If they actually keep their full roster for once.

There’s something about games that end up bringing out the worst in people. Take, for instance, when the San Francisco Shock once again failed to meet the high bar of excellence that they have set as the first back-to-back Grand Finals champions. Their “fans” turned so fast and so hard. The hate the community of gamers seems to just easily spew is a little bananas. I’m not sure that they forget that they are targeting real people with real feelings; rather, I’m a cynic that just thinks people don’t care. Maybe it’s because my oldest is about the same age as some of these kids (and they are just kids when you think about it), but I just can’t. I want to punch all of them because my protective mom instinct kicks in. Or in another instance, when a fan had a poster with a mascot sexually assaulting another mascot. Eek. Toxic.

But it just isn’t towards the pro players and anyone associated with those teams; it’s when you play the games. Normally when playing Overwatch, I stick to mystery heroes. I’ve discussed before my aversion to the other game modes, since I typically play tank or support and this will require me to talk on chat. Girls being on chat is a hit or miss. You get some people who don’t care, or the majority who decides that they are already going to lose because they have a girl on their team. Mystery heroes doesn’t necessarily require chat. It’s generally far less toxic, though my games yesterday (and lately) really test that theory. Like when this girl came on chat and kept repeating “You guys are lucky I don’t want to get angry. So lucky.” Being annoyingly passive aggressive is just as toxic as the guy screaming on chat about everyone being trash. Or this other girl who went off on this guy for seemingly no reason, trying to pull the “I’m not the a-hole, you’re the a-hole”, then making a show of throwing while smoking a bong on voice. It was a super fun match. Or the one guy that was actually so bad I blocked him. I have a very high tolerance for things, so if I block or report someone, it was something extreme.

The point is that there’s toxicity all around in the gaming world. Overwatch I feel is no more or no less toxic than any other game. At least the team behind the game tries their best to curb this behavior. They do what little they can, and I think that makes them stand out from other games that just sorta go “mad cuz bad” rather than figure out ways to address the problem. I think that’s an important distinction to make. Will it get better? Probably not. Because before the equation was exactly as the team at Penny Arcade said with their Anonymity Equation: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Jerk (paraphrasing. I like to keep things at least PG, if not PG-13). The problem is that now people are emboldened to be the jerk even without anonymity, meaning that they get even worse with it. Maybe solve the “stop raising jerks” issue, then we can go back to normal levels of turds on the internet.

The Shadowlands Patch: Chains of Domination

I was looking for great story and in comes Tyrande, flying in and seeking vengeance for her people. Only to.. fail? Ysera appears alongside her friend to help her through this moment of failure. It was a decent story. I gasped as Ysera appeared again, even though I knew she was reborn in the Shadowlands. The story wasn’t disappointing. It was decent. I did want more. I hope I do get more. But then the questing started and I was hoping to get much more excitement back into retail than I did.

One of the things that I love about retail over Classic is the fact that I don’t have to nearly kill myself using Shadow Word: Death to tag mobs since the patch that occurred in late Burning Crusade hasn’t happened yet. The one where I can tag mobs just by putting my dot up instead of having to wait for that first tick. The one where people can’t ninja my mobs because I didn’t realize anyone was around and didn’t open with a Shadow Word: Death. I also love that mobs can be tagged by anyone, as long as it isn’t tagged by a group or the opposite faction first. I can just dot everything people are killing, get credit for the kills/get to look the bodies for quest items, and call it a day. I don’t like in retail that they make these quests where only one person can grab and item and the rest of the realm is trying to do the same quest only they can’t because only one person can grab it and the respawn timer is apparently 20 minutes. (Needless to say, as soon as I see these types of Maw/Korthia quests, I just don’t. I don’t need the rep that badly.) If I wanted to get annoyed by questing, I’d play Classic.

And I do play Classic a lot more now that I’m not struggling as a holy priest in Vanilla. Turns out, being a healer is more fun with friends you make along the way. Shadow has practically no downtime when questing, which I like. I’m only 63/64ish, which isn’t bad considering the limited play I’ve been able to get.

I just want flying. I’m sure if I had flying, I’d play retail more. Mostly because Revendreth is the worst zone and I refuse to do dailies there until I get flying. Also, it’d make leveling up my alts a lot easier. I have a lot of those. I know. I’m spoiled by the ease of retail, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thriving in Classic either. The fact that I have leveled so many alts means that I’ve done the quests enough that I know how to cheese things a little to make life easier. Like farming up glowcaps and fertile spores before you get to the Sporeggar rep in Zangarmarsh. Free XP tip, courtesy of BluishOblivion.

This patch is a bit lackluster from the patch that they hyped it to be. The zone is okayish looking. But it’s nothing spectacular. So far my favorite thing about it is that I don’t have to stop doing Maw stuff because of the Jailer debuffs. I think I like that even more than being able to mount there finally. I’ll still play because I find the game to be mindless fun that allows me to just play games without taking things too seriously. But, the next expansion better be a stellar one because eventually people are going to stop throwing money at this game. Looking at you, Activision.

Finding Your Way Back to Classic

Lately, I’ve had a bit more free time than usual. I decided to get back into WoW Classic and boost my character up in preparation for the Burning Crusade release. I tried to level as a holy priest as I did back in Vanilla, but it turns out that it’s less fast and fun if you don’t have a group of people to play with. That was something that I never did manage to experience during my first round of Classic’s release. I topped out at 28 and never looked back. The idea of boosting my character so that I could play B.C. helped me decide to give it a go again. In the original release, I was holy up until our guild started raiding Karazhan since there was the need for a Shadow Priest. This time around, I decided to just skip the step and go into SP (Shadow Priest) leveling.

In Burning Crusade, I seemed to find my love of classic again. People were helping each other. I joined a guild that seemed perfect for a casual player like me, rather than being booted repeatedly from guilds because I wasn’t hardcore enough. It was thrilling to hear the sound of the Fel Reaver while the screen was shaking and run on instinct, fearing for my life. It was even funnier watching people who didn’t know better try to fight rather than accept their fate or even who thought that at 60 they could solo one. Even leveling as shadow has proven to be a more enjoyable experience than leveling as holy the first time around. Aside from the annoying fact that there wasn’t a patch until later on that allowed you to tag mobs with your dots. Of all the quality of life changes that they should have included upon release, that was the the one.

I tried to go home again in Classic. I even wrote upon its release of whether or not you could go home again. Whether the nostalgia was better than the experience. Going back, I realized that it was more nostalgic than actually enjoyable. Especially as someone who has sworn off any real raiding due to burnout and annoyance from past experiences in my last raiding guild. It wasn’t worth getting stressed over a video game. The feeling of isolation while in a guild was depressing. It wasn’t good for the mental and I refuse to look back.

But with the release of Burning Crusade, I did find a bit of that original magic. I engaged with people. I had fun. It was truly magical and reminded me of why I love the game. I’m not someone who makes friends easily. I do have an admittedly abrasive personality that most people don’t appreciate. But in World of Warcraft, that didn’t matter. There was a connection with others over a common goal. I would argue that some of my best friends were made through the game. Some that I still talk to outside of the game. One of the greatest of them, Tars, I wish I could still talk to today. Even years after his death, I still think about him as I would anyone else that has died and left an impact on my life.

That’s the thing that people don’t understand about video games, especially ones like World of Warcraft. It isn’t just about the game. It’s about the experience. It’s about the connections that you make with real people, who may not be just like you but have the same general interests and goals. That was the original magic of Classic that somehow got lost along the way in retail. While it may be hard to go back home again in the sense of forming that community and connections with others, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some magic in those small moments that you have when you’re playing the game. That’s the beauty of the fantastic worlds that video games create.

Overwatch League: June Joust Knockouts and Lost Hopes

I’ve pointed out on many occasions that I’m a lifelong Boston fan. Which is going to happen when your family is from Boston. Even though now I don’t follow baseball or basketball since living on my own, growing up I remembered the pain of being a Boston fan. How they either just set the bar low for expectations and keep it there or raise your expectations, only to hit you in the face with “psych!” Then, you stick by your team in hopes that one day your loyalty will pay off. If it doesn’t, you’re stuck because you’ve already purchased all the merch and you’re too cheap to jump ship. I’m more on the “wait for the loyalty to pay off”, because it did work for my beloved New England Patriots. We’ll get there again, hopefully in my lifetime.

The Boston Uprising and the Houston Outlaws fans are both used to this pain. The Houston Outlaws fans so far have had quite the rollercoaster ride, with solid performances in the qualifiers only to fall very short in the actual tournaments. I actually feel bad for these fans because they did have signs to backup their hopes for greatness. The Uprising, on the other hand, have not really had the best start. Going 1-3 in the May Melee qualifiers was a very rough start. But then, we start the June Joust qualifiers and we are dominating teams. It was exciting! Could we make it?! The next 2 matches were going to be rough as both Paris Eternal and the Los Angeles Gladiators were both really solid teams, especially with this hero pool meta. Even if we lost both matches, if we could at least get one map each and other pieces fell into place, we could still make the Knockouts. Right?

….Well…

We did lose both matches. We did get one map off of the Los Angeles Gladiators and 2 off of the Los Angeles Gladiators. We played (mostly) strong, but there were things that weren’t working out. Why was Im37 way over wherever he was and dying all the time? Why did the team go super aggressive and practically spawn camp when they should have stayed closer to the point? It wasn’t the result of one person failing, not with either the Outlaws or the Uprising. It was about the team not coming together or silly mistakes that were made by everyone. These are humans, who have real emotions that soar during these matches. They get angry because they are losing and make silly mistakes. They are so desperate for a win to show their fans that they are capable and that their fans should stick by them. Because even when you lose, real fans will always stick by if there’s a glimmer of something to root for.

They did make it into the June Joust Knockouts, which was exciting. Could we shape up and beat Atlanta Reign? Even if we could, how well would we do against the San Francisco Shock, the back-to-back Grand Finals champions who have had their own struggles this season? Well, we got 3-0’ed and only really put up a fight on Numbani, which we then didn’t put up a fight and just fell apart when we were so close to victory. At least the Reign was also a strong enough team to beat the Shock… so there’s that to comfort us?

The Uprising seems to have reverted back to their days of “Let’s bash our heads against a wall doing something that obviously isn’t working” and refusing to find a way to adapt. They did that well in earlier matches, making adjustments to comps and strats during the match. They didn’t win, but at least they would try to adapt. Why didn’t Punk come in on Numbani, especially after that last time when he absolutely dominated on the map? Why didn’t we try going with mirror comps? Why didn’t we play to our strengths instead of forcing something that wasn’t working perfectly? I get that you practice something so much that you want to get stubborn and stick with it, but when it doesn’t work it is as frustrating for the fans as it is for the players. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and most of these players are the same age as my oldest, but I feel so sad for those players when I see how those losses affect them.

I believe in my team, though. I’m rooting for them to shake it off and come back stronger in the Summer Showdown. I like this team and they have such potential if they only have the support staff to help them. I trust in Lori and I even trust in Ascroft. But I feel like there’s something behind the scenes that isn’t clicking and I’m not sure it’s on Lori. I think if we just leave him to do what he does, the team is going to make a great comeback.

Overwatch League: June Joust 2021, Week 1

The June Joust began with hero pools in effect. The heroes that are out are: Sombra, Tracer, Reinhardt, and Zenyatta. Hero pools are the perfect way to shake things up… and boy did they break the pick’ems. I could go on and on about how the mighty teams so far have fallen, but really I’d rather just talk about my favorite team this week: the Boston Uprising.

The May Melee was definitely disappointing, though we did win our last match of the tournament. It still wasn’t enough to get us into the bracket. This win, despite it being over my other favorite team (London Spitfire, who’s had their own very disappointing season this year), wasn’t necessarily that much of a win. They had as bad as a start as we had and is widely considered to be one of the weaker teams in the league. Still, it was a win that I think we all needed.

Over the break, offtank GaeBullSsi was signed and him and Fusions made it to America before the June Joust began. Who would start: Punk (who’s been a solid player for us), or the new guy? The answer for the first match of the tournament against the Toronto Defiant was GaeBullSsi. His synergy with the other players from WGS Phoenix (Valentine, Faith, Im37) and their coach Lori made this the best choice in my mind. And I can’t say I was disappointed. I loved Punk, but the aggression and new blood seemed to give this team new life. It was amazing to watch as a fan. I expected a close match and hoped for a win. What I didn’t expect was a 3-0 win over the Defiant in such a solid showing. Was it close? Absolutely. But it was still solid play from the boys in blue.

Sunday’s match was against the Washington Justice. This was a team that had a strong showing in the May Melee in the qualifying matches. This was probably the match I was most scared for. But, the Boston Uprising ended up rolling them in spectacular fashion. I correctly pegged Faith as the Player of the Match because he had such a strong showing. We also saw something very rare for the Uprising: a substitution during the match. Punk showed that he does have a place on this roster with his excellent performance on Sigma. This also showed that substitutions can be a good thing, allowing you to let players play to their strengths. It was incredible as a fan to see. I have some high hopes right now, but as a Boston fan for life, I know it can either lead to disappointment or a surprise championship.

It’s just great to watch and I’m going to enjoy the ride while I can because I am a Boston fan and know that you always have to celebrate the wins because you never know when they’ll stop. But for right now, I’m so happy with how well our team is doing.

Overwatch League Season 4: May Melee Week 2

After the hype, the Boston Uprising finally had their first matches. This team, with some really solid fresh faces and returning ones out for redemption, had a lot of hype around it. The preseason tournaments had strong showings for the team, coming in 2nd in the SteelSeries Tournament, then winning the Overwatch Experimental Card Tournament. They looked great in the preseason and that gave a lot of us fans hope that this upcoming season would be the beginning of the Boston Uprising redemption arc. But did we get there? We’ll see. But first, a JJANGGU appreciation post.

How does he keep getting away with those ridiculous, big brain shatters? Does he whiff some? Sure. Does he make massive shatters when it counts (even when it really doesn’t)? Absolutely and it’s insane every time. If he keeps this up for the rest of the season, I think he’s definitely making a strong argument for OWL’s 2021 Rookie of the Year. Houston, a team I’m heavily rooting for this year outside of my normal Boston Uprising and London Spitfire hopes, looks so strong right now and honestly, they really deserve it. Even with star player Danteh in the hospital, they looked unbeatable. I think they could win the May Melee tournament. And I’ll be so happy for Outlaws fans to see their pain turn into joy after some rough seasons.

Now, back to the Uprising, a team that also brought so much hope to fans. Only to bring us pain.

I’m not sure what went wrong this week. They definitely didn’t look like the solid performing team we saw in the preseason. They looked strong, if you can look past those mistakes that they made that you can’t get away with when you are playing some very strong teams. But there were some things that left me going “What was that?” For instance, the Doomfist pick in their match against the L.A. Gladiators. I get it, in theory. Shu and Moth are deadly good supports and if you can get a Doomfist in to disrupt that, you get a nice win. Only, that didn’t work. Shu and Moth were just too good and at some point, realize that and fix it. Don’t stubbornly stick with picks that are obviously not working. That’s a complaint I think myself and other Uprising fans have had about this team since the beginning. Then obviously a Mei is a solid pick on most maps, but we decide “Nah, let’s put a Doomfist against a Mei.” (?!?) Enter in the full 3-0 sweep.

During the match against Dallas Fuel, even though we also got 3-0’ed, it was a much stronger showing. We almost won 2 maps, had we not made some small mistakes or just let Doha pop off and destroy our entire team. Doha is easily the strongest DPS on their team. You can’t just let him go running free. You handle Doha, you win the map. Letting his Sombra just walk all over you and EMP without anyone there to really stop him was major. Letting his Hanzo just sit comfortably and hit you isn’t going to work. It was just painful to watch.

Do I still have hope? Yes. Despite all of the bad, you can see the hard work, dedication, and heart these players have. You can see their talents. Maybe it was just first week jitters. Maybe something just wasn’t clicking for them. Whatever the case may be, I think next week will be better. We might not beat the Washington Justice, but we could. We might beat the London Spitfire, because that is a team that doesn’t really look strong at all this season. Every week is a new week and I think the Uprising just needs to shake it off and get back out there. Rise Up.

Overwatch League: Season 4 May Melee

Gaming Monday is back now that Overwatch League is back for its 4th season. (Yay!) This season has already kicked off with so much excitement, even if my favorite team the Boston Uprising won’t make their 4th season debut until next weekend. (Sad.) But, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything worth watching this weekend.

First of all, this new digital format is amazing. I was skeptical at first because last year it didn’t quite seem as impressive as it does this year. The production team killed it. From the way that they make it look like the casters and analysts are together in one space to the addition of the face cams during game play (more on this later), this feels like a cohesive and well-done setup. I’d also like to mention the 4K broadcast. Because at first I was like “Why is that even necessary?”, but then I had it and I don’t think I ever want to go back.

The biggest stories that I think should be mentioned of the weekend is the Houston Outlaws, who went 2-0 this weekend despite a very shaky and disappointing season last year. The new additions, especially JJANGGU and Happy, were really able to shine. The JJANGGU and Piggy tank duo were great. These new additions really let Hydration and Danteh shine more than ever, which showed us a fantastic team that all fans can be excited about. Plus, putting JAKE out there on Brig for Dorado was actually quite beautiful.

Now the real story with them was the way that they took down the San Francisco Shock in an exhilarating 6th map. (Those sneaky JJANGGU shatters were on fire.) Though, I would like to mention the earth shatter that shook Super’s world, which was made even better by watching Super’s reaction on the face camera. Seeing Striker take the loss so hard stung a little, but I was rooting for the underdogs to do well this weekend. And they more than delivered on that.

The main story of the weekend is the fact that no one knows what’s going to happen. Houston beating the Shock? Insane. It was a meme pick by the desk and it happened. Chengdu taking 3-0 over Shanghai? Insane. This is likely going to be the best season of Overwatch League to this point. And I can’t wait.

What do I hope for next weekend? I hope that Boston can prove that maybe scrimbucks do matter after all and our new team can come together as strongly as they have so far in the unofficial preseason tournaments. While SoOn was a great piece to have during those tournaments and it really sucks that he won’t be a part of the team for the rest of the season, our new additions and our veteran players are a solid squad this season. I hope that I don’t regret my optimism with them.

Fighting!

Overwatch League Playoffs 2020: The First Week

I went into the knockouts expecting the Boston Uprising to lose their first match. I still was going to watch and root for them, since I’m not the type of fan that just turns my back on my favorite teams. But I mean, they weren’t going to win right? Even if they were going up against Houston, who has had a difficult time lately. I would’ve been okay with a Houston win, since I like the team. They are good people, have great role models for kids, and are just generally hilarious when you read their social media or watch them stream. But then, the first match broke so many brackets. Because Boston won that first match!

I couldn’t believe it. They did so well the first map. They rolled out with different comps each match. They tried new things. They played aggressively. Our DPS played on characters that they were actually good at. Myunbong was on his apparently most amazing character ever (Ana) and just tossing out sleeps that seemed impossible to get. If this was the team that we had all year, we would have had more than just 2 wins in the regular season. While I admit that when I saw Fusions roll out on the Roadhog I was scared, it turned out so much better than I thought. He was able to play more aggressively, which seems to be his preference. Punk was amazing. They were all amazing. It was incredible and bittersweet to watch. We finally get a meta that works for us, and it’s in the playoffs.

Then the drawings happened for the playoff teams to pick their choices for the next round of knockouts. The first team didn’t pick us. (Gladiators) Then, Atlanta’s resident “villain” picked us. However, instead of his normal trash talk saying things like “ez”, he picked us because he wanted to see the drama and storyline about Decay (Justice) going up against his old team (Fuel) that released him while badmouthing him right before the playoffs.

Now, of course we lost the second round, but I’m not disappointed in the loss. They didn’t get destroyed. They put up a fight. They looked good; just Atlanta looked better.

The playoffs showed me that this team had talent. It showed that I was right; you figure out a way to let these guys play the characters they are good at rather than forcing a meta and they win. They look and play more confidently, which means that they are more aggressive. It was far more enjoyable watching the Uprising lose to Atlanta in the playoffs than it was to watch them lose practically all their matches all season long. Why? Because they played their heart outs. They looked great out there. They weren’t losing because they were terrible; they were just losing because Atlanta was just a little bit better.

What do I want to see next season? I’m definitely hoping for new coaches. Ones that can plan out better strats and work with the strengths of the players rather than forcing something that obviously isn’t working. Is it the coaching or HuK micromanaging? I’m not sure. If he is, maybe he should take a step back and let the coaches do their job. The playoffs showed the potential of this team. I wouldn’t be opposed to everyone staying now. I would even keep Fusions as a tank. I want the team to have more players next season, so that you can swap players in and out like other teams do. Because character picks can be dependent on the meta and the map, so the ability to swap players in and out means that you can get the perfect comps for each map. At least one backup for each position. I’m not asking for a lot here. And maybe next season, actually swap players in and out. Or change strats on the fly. Because there were so many games this season that the team just smashed their head against the wall repeatedly hoping for different results but getting the same exact stomping by the other team. Maybe then, we can have a winning team.

My pick for the Grand Finals winner is Shanghai. I have them in my now deceased bracket going against the Shock in the finals, but I’d love to see a Shanghai win. Plus, Fleta was my pick for MVP so I’d like to see that too. The Shanghai redemption arc would be so amazing if they could add “Grand Finals Champions” to their name.

Those Incredible People You Encounter When Gaming

I debated writing about my experience in the Shadowland Beta this week, but maybe I’ll focus on that another day this week. Today, I was inspired by my encounter playing games today in Overwatch.

I’m not the best Overwatch player. I’m decent enough. I would argue that I’m Mystery Heroes good. I play decently enough but I play because I have fun. I play Mystery Heroes because I was tired of being bullied in competitive, though I would have really loved to make at least Plat since I came so close before quitting. I would have loved to get a gold weapon for at least D.Va. Why did I quit? I primarily play tank or support. Both roles require chat, probably more than other roles. It’s insane how quickly people turn on you at the lower ranks the minute they hear a female voice.

So I don’t play any Overwatch that requires voice chat. I can have just as much fun and get the competitive experience just by playing Mystery Heroes all day long. Sometimes, on Tuesdays, the husband and I play together and he gets me to play quick play for the quicker queues since he mostly plays DPS. But I enjoy that because he can speak for me. I don’t have to worry about anything and he does the call out and I do what I’m supposed to. It’s simple. And I have the safety net of support when playing.

Usually things aren’t too bad lately. But today I played for a little bit before work and having to take my kids to their school to pick up their lunches and it was a nightmare. It reminded me of why I hate playing video games that require interaction with other people. Things were going well until we were getting held by 2 Torbs (Mystery Heroes, of course), and tanks on the final area of Dorado. Finally, we get a healer. I was Mercy. One of the Torbs on the other team Molten Core. This guy and the Rein decide to go through the fire, which would kill me. I stayed back to wait for it to go away and then went in to heal. The Rein died and this guy nearly died. Healed him up a little, then rezzed the Rein. Went back to heal him, he got focused and killed. Then someone says “Too bad we don’t have any good healers.” I didn’t engage, because I never engage. Then he said “Right Leigha?” (My gamer tag is Leighanneore.) Again, ignored it. Eventually we get a better comp, I’m back healing on Baptiste, and we roll through pretty easily after killing the Torbs. I had over 6k healing and gold and I was only healer for that last point. So, I guess super bad?

I paid such little attention that I didn’t even know who said it. I just endorsed everyone on the other team. I end up in another match. Blizzard World, again on attack. We rolled through the first point pretty easily but then started to get held on the last section again. I was Rein, trying to shield a Pharah from above and the rest of the DPS. I stayed with the payload, people were behind me, and I had my shield up to protect the team from the Pharah. The Pharah shot behind my shield and a baby D.Va died. . Same person as last time, “Nice shield, Leigha”. I rolled my eyes. I was getting frustrated because why take us losing out on me? I ended up on Torb, we destroyed through the map and again won. I even ended up with a terrible PotG where I killed a couple people, then dumped lava everywhere and killed more.

I ended up in another map with this same play, fortunately not on the same team. I felt bad for the other team because the way he was mocking me was ridiculous. And uncalled for because it wasn’t my fault we were losing. It wasn’t my fault Rein doesn’t have a dome 360 shield or that Mercy can’t heal through a dumb idea of running through lava. I know that logically, but it stung more than it should have. My team beat the other team and I got to knock him around as Brig. Then he went into another commentary about how everyone was bad at the game but him.

I didn’t want to stop the day on a bad note. A note of a reminder of why I avoid multiplayer games and social interaction in general. I get into my final match of the day and I was shocked by something: kindness. A teammate was being friendly and others joined in. We rolled and they were excited and being so awesome. I never interact, but I did comment in between rounds: “I’d legitimately like to say that this was my first positive interaction in the game today. I’d like to thank you for that.” I meant it. They were giving smiley faces and being generally awesome. I was Mercy, did moderately well, we won. They were happy and saying great job and everyone rocks and how fun it was. That one positive interaction made up for all the negativity for the rest of the day.

Just like in the real world, some people are absolutely trash human beings and others restore your faith in the other players in the community. The fact that they can be anonymous, a faceless bully makes them feel like they are powerful. But they aren’t. They are the same level of trash as people who bully in “real life”. They use their power of words to take people down because they are terrible people or because their life is terrible and they want to take it out on you or because they feel small. Knowing this doesn’t make you feel better in the moment. In the moment, you just feel small and without confidence.

It didn’t get into my head. I still focused up and played despite what will just become a minor inconvenience to my day. A brief feeling of never wanting to log on the game again because I can only block him for 7 days, so what’s the point? There’s no way to monitor someone harassing people on voice chat, so there’s no point in reporting him for toxicity. I even re-watched the moments where he acted like a fool to see if I made any mistakes. After review of myself and a second/third opinion, it wasn’t my mistake. But being right doesn’t matter. What matters is that people tend to ruin everything.

So what’s the moral of this story? For as much trash as there is in the gaming community, there’s even more good. I’ll still never feel confident enough or comfortable enough to play competitive and climb the ladder. But I can take be mostly ok with this and bring it to every arcade match. Because I don’t need to win. I don’t need to do anything but have fun and get better at the game.