Why I Abstain From Ranked

After 5 years of playing League of Legends and the majority of that time, playing ranked I've decided I will never play a video game competitively ever again. I don't say that because I am adverse to competition. If I didn't like to win, I probably wouldn't enjoy video games as much as I do, but I realized something about ranked that makes it impossible for me to continue playing, it wasn't fun and it was making me meaner. Not just in-game but in my life outside of video games as well.

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The Persistence of the Gender Binary in Video Games

The video game industry relies upon clearly defined boundaries, good vs evil, playable vs unplayable characters, clearly defined classes, and even ranks in competitive video games. In the last 45 years, the industry has existed, these concepts have been rarely contested. So far the industry resists breaking the mindset which organizes things within binaries and both the historic and current handling of gender is no different. It remains highly binary. You get the option of being a cis boy or a cis girl and more narrowly if you choose to pick a girl, you're also choosing to play as a fem. And there's absolutely no option to play as a fem if you pick to play a "boy". If you exist outside of those highly defined binaries, good luck. 

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The Switch Effect

When the Nintendo Switch was first announced, people had strong reactions to the concept of a portable at home console. The announcement video with people playing their Switches all over the place just seemed a little far fetched. I mean, gamers usually play games at home. The idea of going to a party on a rooftop and playing Mario Kart was absurd. The screen was small so how could you possibly play multiplayer games on it. And the joycons are tiny, would it even be comfortable? As an early adopter of the Switch I can say, many of these worries are accurate. But, somehow the Switch's concept has been working better than anyone could have expected. By breaking the ties to the living room, so that local multiplayer can exist in the world, the Switch has become larger than itself. It's become a tool for gamers to connect back to the world.

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The Black Gamer's Revolution: My Gaming Home

Exclusively Black spaces exist for a reason. It is tiring to be out in the world, being subjected to the casual racism that exists in our society today, all the time. It's not a big deal if one "nice" white lady says you speak well for a Black girl but, try it on 10, 20, 100 times and it can get to you and that says nothing about the frequent overt racism out there. But for various reasons, I didn't have access to all Black spaces outside my household for a fair bit of time growing up. So, video games became my retreat. But in, what was supposed to be, my restorative safe space, there was always a negotiation to be made.

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How Harvest Moon Taught me how to get Through College

One of the first games I got really good at was a game called Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. It's a farming simulator in which you are required to manage the daily operations of a farm as one singular man. Your daily duties, depending on the season, range from courting a bride, caring for your child, befriending town folk, milking cows, shearing sheep, watering crops, collecting eggs, feeding the animals, grooming animals, training your dog, riding your horse, mining for ore, foraging in the mountain, chopping wood, breaking stones, and cooking. All in a game where the clock is set to move ten minutes in-game for every second real time.

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Understanding the Casual Racism of the Gaming Industry

Sometimes I like this fun game called, count the Black people when I go somewhere where I expect there to be very few. I've been playing this for a while in a lot of different places, including countries which are supposed to be homogeneous and let me tell you, I have never counted zero. Black and Brown people are everywhere, even in places we ain't supposed to be since the beginning of time. So how is it that I can play through a video game, based in the world we all live in, with no Black people anywhere?

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Localization Drama

If I had a nickel for every time I've read a comment about an instance of a localization team removing a reference or changing an outfit being referred to as "sanitization" I could retire at the young age of 22. Most recently a member of the localization team for the game, Akiba's Beat, posted a full thread detailing a few of the changes the localization team made during the game's translation from Japanese to English. Then announces he doesn't want to be in the credits citing the "sanitation" that took place as his reason. He also says he's fighting "the good fight" against censorship.

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Building a a Troll-Free Community

I don't know any adult person who looks back at the person they were when they were younger and thinks everything they did and said are still things they would do and say today. We've all done things we aren't proud of, said things that were hurtful to others and, possibly, even contrary to our current beliefs. If you can think of a time you've used the internet to belittle someone else, then we have something in common. I was and sometimes still am an internet troll.

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The Fragility of the White Boy Gamer

he damaging nature of the frail white boy ego to the video game community can not be understated. To take a recent and highly visible example, Toronto Esports player, Matt Vaughn, who  said nigger (with the hard er) for 26 seconds straight then, after being caught, shortly thereafter apologized citing tiredness and server lag as the reason for his tirade. That's all it took, feeling tired and server lag and by no means is Vaughn unique. Harassment is an everyday occurrence.

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What's there to Gather from the fall of Dellor and the continued Success of JonTron and PewdiePie?

Making the rounds on the gaming sites, today has been a story about former (haha) Toronto Esports' player Matt "Dellor" Vaughn, who reportedly didn't know he was live on his very public and well-watched stream,  yelled nigger (with the hard ER) for 26 straight seconds without taking a breath. No shit, this is one of the wildest things I've ever heard. Even among gamers, this was extreme and from a public figure who, streaming live or not, is known among the Overwatch community. If you want to watch it, I've linked the video.

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A Small Story About Caring

About 10 years ago, back when I was playing World of Warcraft still, I was hanging around Orgimmar, as people often do, when a message came over the trade chat from one of the server's top guilds. It was odd because there was an actual rule in their guild that they couldn't get into conversations with people on trade chat usually, so when I saw the name I was confused. And for a moment the endless barrage of trade chat messages stopped.

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Sorry, Customizable Protagonists Don't Count Towards Diversity

Today, there's no shortage of games featuring a customizable protagonist. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Divinity Original Sin, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, among many others, with little effort you can play through the game as a cis woman or in some cases, if the developers are feeling particularly sassy, a person of color. Yay diversity! Right?

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An Argument Against the Trend of Realism in Video Games

Our ability to engage with and enjoy playing video games as a leisure activity cannot exist without the line between us and the game's subject matter. Call of Duty, for instance, is an enjoyable game based on being a soldier in the line of duty and comes with all of the death and all the fictional mortal peril that one might expect from a war game. It is an extraordinarily popular series but there's no debate that subject matter of the game comes from something horrifying. Being on the battlefield in real life involves the fear that you won't come home alive and the guilt and mental trauma associated with taking another human being's life. Nothing about war is fun. A war video game is fun because nothing about it is real.

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