No comic today

No comic today.  We just moved and I have a cold.  A Tea comic will be posted next tuesday.  Thanks for your understanding!

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Moving Stories: Part 1

I spent last night packing up the basement of the house where I grew up. You’d think that would have led to Tea and I finding precious objects from our childhood while discovering forgotten memories. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. What we did last night was put books from the library into boxes. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Put the box together, put the books in it, tape it up, next box. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. WRONG! Between Tea’s fibromyalgia and me being embarrassingly overweight, what should have been simple for people in their 20s became a pain filled evening of monotonous torment. I used to tease my father when he complained about back pain. Not in a school yard bully kind of way, but still. I now understand his anguish. The worst part is I know that it’ll just get worse as I grow older, especially if I don’t ditch this weight. I can’t imagine what Tea went through. She started in the morning, I showed up later. That’s right, it took an entire day to pack the staggering amount of books my family has collected and kept throughout the years. By the end I started wishing I could just look at a pile of books and hold the G key on some imaginary keyboard. This would, of course, make the pile of books bag itself like in Payday 2. Then I could toss them around all I wanted and they wouldn’t tear, bend, or otherwise lose value. *Sigh* that would have been wonderful.

Treasure Goblin Folly: The Full Story

Ever wonder where all the treasure goblins go in Diablo 3? Those infuriating little punks that vanish through portals with sacks of loot that are rightfully yours! Ever wonder where all that precious, eye glistening treasure ends up? It turns out treasure goblins disappear into the realm of the demon, Greed and as of patch 2.1.0, players lucky enough to kill a treasure goblin have a chance of going through its portal. It wasn’t in the patch notes, so when Brian, Bryce, Conrad, and I got together we were unprepared. We found our way there not minutes after Conrad went AFK. He went to say good night to his girlfriend and told us to “go on ahead”. Sucker. What we found there was astonishing, astounding, and if I might be so cliched, breathtaking. After defeating Greed, and thanks in part to Blizzard’s generous event buff, we walked away with a ton of loot. Approximately a dozen or so high quality gems, three legendary items, one legendary gem, and 23,000,000 gold each. It was beautiful!

The best part was that Conrad came back just in time to see the now barren chest that had not thirty seconds before fallen from the sky to crush Greed into bits and then chew on the leftovers. Yes, the chest significantly bigger than the demon god Greed ate its former master in the most symbolic way possible. Thankfully it did so after spewing loot like someone with stomach flu intentionally going for distance. Also, every time someone clicked on it, the chest took another bite. That occupied us for longer than I’d like to say….

Conrad complained about it off and on the rest of the night. It didn’t help that we were constantly rubbing it in his face. He’ll think twice next time about telling us to go on ahead without him.

My two cents worth…

https://medium.com/@handler/the-paranoid-style-in-gaming-misogyny-1d412f212bda

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/zoe-quinns-depression-quest

I figured it was about time to add my two cents to the most recent gender ‘conversation’ happening in the gaming community. You know, the ‘conversation’ that has involved a female game critic and a female game creator being physically threatened and harassed. The harassment has gotten so bad, they have had to stay over at friends houses in fear for their lives.

Come on people, really?

Its hard to know where to start with an issue like this. I was raised by my mother and father. Both of them are gamers. The first rule of our home was: Games are about having fun.

The reason why I have not really addressed everything going on up until this point is simple; the real life rule of our house is also a rule of Random Encounterz. Games are about having fun. It does not matter what hangs between thine legs, what your skin color is, what religion you believe in or what culture you happen to come from, as long as your here to have fun.

I think that all conversations regarding improvements to video games or the overall geek culture should revolve around how we make things more fun. I rarely have experienced harassment based on my gender in the gaming community. When I have, its usually when I begin discussing my gripes with the gaming community and someone comes along and dismisses what I have to say.

For the sake of clarification, I’ll list my gripes here:

  1. The female form is used as decoration way too often.
  2. Women present in many games don’t have characters.
  3. There is not enough women as playable characters.
  4. There is not enough moderation in online games to control harassment
  5. My gripes and criticisms of games and/or the gaming community are dismissed because ‘not many women play ‘real’ games’ or because I’m ‘not a real gamer girl’

Up until recently, the dismissive comments were usually ‘The vast majority of gamers are men, so video game publishers will continue to advertise and appeal to the male audience. Its only good business.’

Because I am a minority, I’m not worth listening to? Dafuck?

I feel there is a difference between the gaming community and the business of creating games. In my community, I want to feel like I am respected and what I have to say matters. Its a bit hard to feel that way, when your essentially told ‘I don’t have to listen to you because you don’t represent a majority of our community.’

Very recently, the dynamic of these dismissive conversations has changed. The Entertainment Software Rating Board Statistics reports that 40% of gamers are women and 67% of American households play video games. These statistics should blow a massive hole in the ‘appealing to male customers’ argument.

If only that were true…

The Entertainment Software Rating Board does not discern the difference between Candy Crush and Battlefield 4. This has led to the argument that a vast majority of ‘gamer women’ are not in fact, gamer women at all. Either Candy Crush is not a real video game, gamers who play Candy Crush are not real gamers, or the girls playing video games are ‘posers’ and not ‘real gamer geeks.’

I think the one that bothers me the most is ‘your not a real gamer girl.’ On a few occasions I’ve been dismissed because there was no proof that I am a ‘real’ female gamer. Are we going to start demanding resume’s now? What kind of games do you play, how well do you know these games, do you wear glasses?

I almost wish I did not wear glasses so I would not fit in with the stereotype.

I thought we wanted more women in our community? How exactly can we make the gaming community more female friendly if the criticisms of women already in the gaming community are dismissed (and worse.)? In the past few months the very act of a woman creating a game or criticizing our community is putting them in harms way.

I am just, baffled. Truly baffled. Criticism is not something that is inherently bad. As I understand it, its a tool intended to explore how to improve something. You can love something and still be critical of it. When I say ‘I wish there were more female playable characters in video games’ I am NOT also saying ‘I hate male playable characters in video games.’

These so called ‘men’ feel threatened because of some female strangers opinion about the games they love and/or the community they love. They say its an attack on their masculinity, that somehow a woman being critical of them threatens their maleness. This gets to the core of what bothers me (other than people being afraid for their lives). Yuji has the woman he loves (that would be me 😛 ) criticizing the things he loves and his own personal work on a daily basis. He is very much a dude, he’s not ‘whipped’ and, to be perfectly blunt, he comes from a culture that’s generally more misogynistic than my own. So how can Yuji ‘handle’ this kind of criticism? Its actually a foundation for our relationship, a key element in the respect we have for each other. He respects the fact that I can see things that he can’t, so my criticism only strengthens him. Even if he does not agree with me, his ideas are stronger because he has been able to think about them in a different way. I value him in an equally similar fashion. Through this criticism, we are both stronger.

Yuji is not the only man that I am critical of, or is critical of me. My best friend Bryce, my brother Barrett, and my father Brian are all critical of me as I am critical of them.

Now that I think about it, all the men in my life are like this.

So the people threatening these women? Are they really ‘men’ as many cultures define ‘manliness’? I don’t think so. Based off my observations and understanding, strength is a core element to masculinity, and there is nothing strong about being threatened by the opinion of another.

What Ifs: Watch Dogs Edition

I had a realization the other day that kind of scared me. Being scared is kind of a regular thing for me, but this was different. This realization left me pondering if what I do in video games without a second thought is something I could or would do under similar circumstances in real life. More specifically, could I potentially steal from people that live paycheck to paycheck with no room for error. It would be nice to say that nothing could drive me to such a thing, but people do it every day. Let me explain. A little while back I bought a graphics card that came with a free copy of Watch Dogs. I installed it on my new machine as fast as I could, knowing that I would misplace the code as soon as I turned my back. No, seriously, I knew that little piece of paper with the code on it would just vanish the second I took my eyes off it.

Not a lot happened with Watch Dogs after that. I got distracted by funny Rooster Teeth videos and modding Skyrim, among other things. As you have probably realized I wasn’t overwhelmingly excited about the prospect of playing Watch Dogs. I read a couple of negative reviews, and the controversy regarding its graphics potential didn’t do much for me either. I’m not sure what made me change my mind and play it. Maybe I was just that bored. Whatever it was, I’m glad it caught my attention because Watch Dogs is a lot of fun. Sure, I could get nit picky about this or that, but when it comes down to it Ubisoft released a solid, fun, and interesting game that has already consumed about a dozen hours of my life.

Being a vigilante in Chicago isn’t easy. There’s cops and gangsters and everywhere you turn there’s another petty thug trying to get his piece of some poor sucker’s wallet. In order to fight crime, one needs money. Unfortunately, the main character of Watch Dogs, Aiden Pearce, doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy to want a steady nine to five. And with all the crime in the game’s version of Chicago, he doesn’t really have the time for it either. So instead of that, Pearce decides to use his impossibly powerful phone to hack the bank accounts of any citizen he happens past. It’s incredibly hypocritical behavior if you ask me. Protecting the people then stealing from them. It’s possible that he justifies it by thinking protecting people from getting beaten up or killed in alleyways gives him the right to do ‘whatever is necessary’ in order to continue. Maybe he just wants revenge for the death of his niece and doesn’t care who he hurts along the way. Hopefully the game will explore that more. Whatever the reason, hacking people’s bank accounts becomes a pretty regular thing as one plays the game.

This is where my realization shows up. I was walking up and down the street in front of a gun shop, hacking whoever I could find. I was thinking about the highly rated automatic shotgun I was going to buy for use on my next mission. Then I came across a woman who looked like anybody else. Without considering what I was doing, I hacked this woman’s $430 bank account. Then I read her total income and her profession. She made 23k a year as a day care worker. A day care worker! Someone who works with children, most likely at a non-profit business. At that income level, $430 is a huge chunk of money. As the son of a childcare professional, I was disappointed with myself. I paused the game and hung my head. Then it hit me. In a flash of memory I realized that wasn’t the first day care worker I’d taken money from that day. It was the third.

General Announcements

For the most part we have been quiet on social media aspect of things.  In part, this is because we are moving to a new home in real life.  This has been going on for a while, and we are in the final end phases.

Even for someone without fibromyalgia, this kind of thing is a huge energy drain.  As you can imagine, I’m stretched to my limits at the moment.  The plan right now is to continue posting every Tuesday and Thursday.  I may miss a few posts because there are so many unknowns.  Even if I somehow manage to stay on top of my condition, there is no guarantee I will have access to the internet.  And if you think that Yuji and Bear will continue to post, think again.  They are apart of this move too, and are subject to the same unknowns that I am.  Even our extended cast, like Bryce, Evan and Katie, have been drawn into this.  Its an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of situation.

Once everything has settled, you can expect to see the following things happen…

> More regular blog posts and social media updates.  This may include reviews using the ‘pain no pain’ system I’ve set up.

> A paypal link, if you feel generous enough to fund our operation.

> Comics and/or art posted on Sundays

> We will be exploring the idea of a store and the idea taking commissions.  This probably will involve our deviant art accounts somehow… If you have suggestions on this front, please send them to us at tea@random-encounterz.com

> Creation of a character page, in case your curious about the variety of characters that appear on REZ

> We will be exploring the idea of advertisements.  As much as we love add free websites, we also love being able to eat.

In the meantime, keep enjoying our comics!