It’s Not the Band I Hate; It’s Their Fans

I have never played Path of Exile. I probably never will.

A promotional screenshot from the action RPG Path of ExileThis is not entirely because it’s a game that doesn’t appeal to me. As a free to play fantasy ARPG, it’s in my wheelhouse enough that it should theoretically be worth a look, if nothing else. Unfortunately, its community has done a singularly good job of turning me off the game.

You see, I can’t recall ever hearing anyone say anything good about Path of Exile that wasn’t couched in the form of a dig at Diablo III.

This is a turn-off on a number of levels.

Firstly, if the only good thing you can say about your game is that it’s not another game, well, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? Drawing comparisons is one thing, but any game should be able to stand on its own merits.

Second, there is a strong streak of elitism in the criticism leveled at Diablo III, and therefore also in the praise of PoE. While some people do have legitimate grievances of D3 that I won’t argue with, a lot of the time it’s people who seem to think it’s too “dumbed down” and childish, whereas PoE is a “real” ARPG with “proper” skill trees and an appropriately “mature” tone. UPHILL. IN THE SNOW. BOTH WAYS. LIKE A REAL MAN. GRR.

Related to the above, a lot of the things people hate D3 for are the very same things I like about it. I like that I don’t need to Google a guide to figure out my build. I like that experimentation is encouraged. I like that freedom and flexibility.

My crusader in Diablo IIIThe end result is that I have been given the overwhelming impression that PoE is not just a game that isn’t for me, but a game designed for and occupied by people who don’t want players like me around.

Now, I grant it is possible — nay, probable — that I am being unfair. I don’t doubt that a great many people playing Path of Exile are perfectly fine, and not embittered edgelord elitists. It’s also quite possible it’s a fine game I might enjoy.

Unfortunately, the embittered edgelord elitists are the ones you hear from most often, so for me they have become the face of PoE and its community. They’re the first thing I think of when I think of the game, and it’s a negative association that’s gotten so ingrained over the years that it’s hard to overcome.

I started off this post thinking only about Path of Exile, but mulling it over, it occurs to me that PoE is not the first gaming experience I’ve been turned off of by the community.

Despite the fact I’ve playing MMORPGs avidly for the better part of a decade now, I’ve never really gotten into raiding, as longtime readers undoubtedly know. I flirted with it during Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, but once the Raid Finder was added, I gave up on “real” raiding forever. Not even my beloved Secret World could make me care about its raids. I never even attempted them.

On reflection, this has at least as much to do with raiders as it does with raids.

A raid group in World of WarcraftMy experience with the raiding community has been almost uniformly one of bitterness, scorn, and elitism. Raiders are the ones who spent years calling me a “filthy casual,” and that’s by far the least offensive label I’ve been given. Raiders are the ones who fly off the handle the moment anyone like me has even a shot at minimal progression. Raiders are the ones I saw treating everyone outside their clique as something less than human.

And again, I know not all raiders are like that. Many are just fine, I know. But that was the prevailing experience I’ve had with raiders. That is the public face of the raiding community, and that bile is what immediately comes to mind for me when I think of raiding.

And that is one of the driving reasons why I never became a raider. There are other things I don’t love about raiding — such as the time commitments — but the community turned me off so badly I never had much motivation to give it a serious shot. Maybe I never would have gotten into raiding anyway, but we’ll never know.

My disinterest in PvP is also affected by this kind of community negativity. Never, in my entire WoW career, have I seen a battleground team lose with good grace. It always ends in name-calling and rage, without exception.

Now, PvP is fairly outside what I find compelling in games to begin with, and I have other issues with PvP outside the community, but the experience I’ve had with people who PvP hasn’t improved matters. PvP was never going to be a favourite activity for me, but it might have made up a larger portion of my gaming diet if my experience with its community had been one of sportsmanship and respect rather than a teeming mass of homophobes, tea-baggers, and nerd-raging man-children.

My rather pitiful rank in Heroes of the StormAll this is just more testament to how negativity and toxicity is poisoning gaming. If you want your hobby to prosper, you need to present a welcoming face, not elitism and hostility.

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IntPiPoMo: The Stable, Part One

For the first time, I am choosing to participate in the blogging event known as International Picture Posting Month, generously organized by Chestnut of Gamer Girl Confessions. I’d like to say this decision is motivated by an upswell of community spirit, but in truth it’s mostly because I heard there were prizes.

You may accuse me of many things, but you can’t say I’m not honest.

Posting 50 new screenshots in a month is not much of a challenge for me. My picture folder on my computer has over 10,000 files, and the large marjority of those are video game screenshots.

Still, my usual posting schedule might not have allowed me to reach the goal, so I figured a special picture post or two might help. Ever the virtual narcissist, I immediately thought of posting some portraits of my many MMO characters… and then it occurred to me I have so many alts across so many games I could probably hit the 50 goal just by posting one of each. Let’s find out, and as always, remember to click the images to see them full size.

And so, without further ado, I present you… ALTS! ON! PARADE!

1: Human rogue, World of Warcraft

My human rogue in World of Warcraft2: Blood Elf warlock, World of Warcraft

My Blood Elf warlock in World of Warcraft3: Night Elf monk, World of Warcraft

My Night Elf monk in World of Warcraft4: Human paladin, World of Warcraft

My human paladin in World of Warcraft5: Blood Elf mage, World of Warcraft

My Blood Elf mage in World of Warcraft6: Blood Elf demon hunter, World of Warcraft

My Blood Elf demon hunter in World of Warcraft7: Orc shaman, World of Warcraft

My Orc shaman in World of Warcraft8: Dwarf warrior, World of Warcraft

My Dwarf warrior in World of Warcraft9: Worgen druid, World of Warcraft

My Worgen druid in World of Warcraft10: Tauren death knight, World of Warcraft

My Tauren death knight in World of Warcraft11: Nightborne hunter, World of Warcraft

My Nightborne hunter in World of Warcraft12: Blood Elf priest, World of Warcraft

My priest claims Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire in World of Warcraft 13: Chiss agent, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Chiss Imperial agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic14: Mirialan consular, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Mirialan Jedi consular in Star Wars: The Old Republic15: Sith Pureblood warrior, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Sith warrior in Star Wars: The Old Republic16: Sith Pureblood inquisitor, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Sith inquisitor in Star Wars: The Old Republic17: Sith Pureblood smuggler, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Sith Pureblood smuggler in Star Wars: The Old Republic18: Cyborg bounty hunter, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Cyborg bounty hunter in Star Wars: The Old Republic19: Miraluka knight, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Miraluka Jedi knight in Star Wars: The Old Republic20: Zabrak trooper, Star Wars: The Old Republic

My Zabrak trooper in Star Wars: The Old Republic21: Dragon #1, The Secret World

My Dragon in The Secret World22: Templar, The Secret World

My Templar in The Secret World23: Illuminati, The Secret World

My Illuminati in The Secret World24: Dragon #2, The Secret World

My Dragon alt in The Secret World25: Dragon #3, The Secret World

My third Dragon character in The Secret WorldTo prevent this post becoming too bloated, I think I’ll stop there and bring you the rest later…