Violent Video Games: A Catalyst for Violent Teens?

A friend recently shared a story with me regarding the perceived role of video game violence when it comes to outward acts of aggression by young people.

The author of the story (which you can find here), a high school teacher, recounted his days as a troubled youth and his obsession with weapons and killing – an obsession that found him going so far as to carry loaded guns in his backpack at school or knives in his pocket, and write about killing others.

As the story progresses, it is revealed that after making it through the worst of his youth and experiencing some “maturing moments” in his life, he was able break away from his violent tendencies and recognize the folly of his actions.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit.

That is, until he cited a difference between himself and some of the individuals who have carried out violent acts against peers/innocent victims: He didn’t play violent video games.

This is where he lost me. And here’s why:

While I get what he’s trying to say, and I’m glad that he was able to turn things around, even this is example is difficult to use as validation that violent video games are the catalysts that drive teenage shooters to commit such horrible acts. To be honest, I don’t really think it’s valid in this case.

The reason I say this is because when I was in school, the majority of my time spent between 5th Grade and around my junior year of high school (by my senior year, no one really cared), I dealt with bullying/teasing/prodding/etc as well. I, too, had access to weapons – including shotguns, pistols and a small rifle. And yes, I even played violent video games at this time (I bought my first PS2 using money from a summer job between my freshman and sophomore years). Of course, I never brought any of those weapons with me to school. Nor did I ever fantasize/talk about killing people.

My friends and I would engage in games of Halo on the original Xbox or I would play the likes of Half Life and Resident Evil and Medal of Honor on PS2, which allowed me to basically kill anything that moved. We’d talk about how we were going to headshot the other or kill the other with a sword. But beyond the aggression it created between friends/siblings, I don’t ever recall having the desire to use the sequences in which I was engaging as a means of “practice.”

In my honest and obviously non-professional opinion, the man who wrote this story had some major psychological issues while in school. Like I said, I’m glad he was able to turn things around, but it seems like a cop-out to me for him to suggest that the only reason he didn’t snap was because of not playing violent video games. I don’t believe that for a single moment. “Look, I know I carried guns around in my backpack at school, carried a knife on me a lot of the time, had an obsession with weapons and fantasized about killing people – but at least I didn’t play violent video games!”

No. That feels like a contrived place to direct the blame instead of saying what he should be saying: “I was never pushed to the point of breaking and I’m damn lucky to not have been.”

I would also be interested in knowing what his home life and extra curricular life were like, as I believe that has a great deal to do with how you view what life beyond your own problems (i.e. high school, social circles, etc) is actually like. I had a great group of people around me while I was dealing with the aforementioned rough spots in life. Despite my low self esteem, my family, friends, church family and even co-workers when I started work were positive influences on me. Now, I’m not saying I would have committed some horrible act against my peers, but it’s easy to say that given the direction my life took and the people who helped me see it. Had the people in my life not been there, I shutter to think about the type of person I would have been.

Because he doesn’t really delve into this very much, save for talking about his mother’s disdain for games, it’s hard to say. But, if anything was the difference, I would find it more believable that it was the individuals in his life more than his lack of video game interaction.

For sure, he’s free to justify his lack of action any way he pleases. But as someone who was in a similar position in terms of social acceptance and placement, this strikes me as yet another attempt to place the blame on something else instead of looking in the mirror and seeing where the problem really is: The person.

People aren’t talking about the mental health aspect of these shootings like they should be. And as long as people keep looking to place the blame on violent video games, I fear we never will.

Far Cry 3 Initial Impressions – A Steaming Pile of “Meh”

Every video/gameplay highlight/developer diary I’d seen of Far Cry 3 before release suggested one thing: This is going to be AWESOME.

The freedom to explore an island reminiscent of the one that captivated my heart back in college with the first game; beautiful graphics in full HD display – even the chance to take on a human foe that has the potential to be one of the craziest villains I’ve ever encountered. The game looked fantastic and I couldn’t wait to play it.

Now? Now that I’ve played it, I don’t know that I would even recommend it to someone I don’t like.

I’m a pretty accepting person when it comes to gameplay. That’s why even I am surprised with the level of inadequacy that I feel I’ve been duped into playing with Far Cry 3.

For whatever it’s worth, here is my list of initial impressions of things that are ruining this game for me, in no particular order:

– The save mechanic is awful. You can’t save during a mission and when you do save, even if you’re on the other side of the island, if you haven’t unlocked a tower or outpost, you restart back where you came from. This means your entire travel experience was pointless if you didn’t finish what you were doing. Oh, and the same goes for when you die, also. The only respite from this is if you happen to be in an active story mission and your game just autosaved at a checkpoint.

– The story is non-existent. I’m not compelled in ANY way to care about this character and it’s still really unclear just exactly what the goal is. “find your friends. No wait, go here. No, you need to go collect leaves for this tutorial. Hey lets go overtake this thing. Go see the doctor.”

– Combat is ok, but not great. You get one weapon, which is fine, but if you shoot someone, 12 of his buddies show up and you’re pretty much guaranteed to die. Even if you try to be stealthy and sneak up behind someone, it ALWAYS alerts others, which defeats the entire purpose of the stealth kill mechanic, so your only real beneficial means of travel is a car in hopes they don’t follow you or sneaking around everything to avoid everyone, which is time consuming and annoying.

– The menus are ridiculous. There are so many menus, I haven’t even begun to try and understand them because it takes away from my gameplay time. The menus have menus, for goodness sake. It feels like Exzibit made the menu system.

– I CAN’T CLIMB THROUGH A F***ING WINDOW!? Seriously. It doesn’t allow you to climb through windows. At least not yet/not that I have experienced. Maybe that’s a skill that has to be earned? Come on, Ubisoft. Even Call of Duty lets you climb through windows, and I barely even like Call of Duty anymore.

– Since when does a tiger require multiple shots to the head with an AK-47 to kill?

– Jumping down 4 feet costs me health. It regenerates, but that’s not the point. The fact that small jumps can cost me health is one of the most foolish things I’ve ever seen. I’ve jumped from tree limbs in real life higher than the points I’ve fallen from in this game and been fine.

Other than the things listed above, the game is great! Unfortunately, the items I’ve mentioned have left such a sour taste in my mouth to this point, I’m not sure I should keep playing it or sell it while it’s still a hot commodity. In the end, part of me things the cash will be worth more than the frustration associated with trying to play a game that has been humped into popularity by gaming media everywhere.

Irresponsible Journalism and Gaming

Anders Breivik

Why do we read stories in the news?

For many of us, it’s to gain a better understanding about the world in which we live. For others, it’s to see what’s new with something that might interest us or maybe even learn something new about an intriguing topic.

Whatever the case, the stories we take in have the great potential to influence the way we see many things in life – our hobbies, our environments and even our fellow men and women. That’s a great deal of power at the fingertips of those who write these stories for us to consume. The power of influence.

That is why it bothers me so much to see stories such as this one: A recent article about the Anders Breivik – the Norwegian who murdered 77 people that – with its headline and introductory paragraphs – suggests the video games he played for more than seven hours per day (primarily World of Warcraft) were primary factors in why he murdered 77 people.

Now, for those of you who read further than the first couple of paragraphs (which is very few of most news consumers reading online), you will notice that the story is actually about Breivik’s mental capacity and how it appears that it does not support the ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

But that’s not the problem I have. The problem I have is that an article about one thing would be teased as an article about another – at the detriment of the credibility to the gaming community.

As a journalist myself, it’s insulting that a writer would try to indicate that video games would be a symptom of someone murdering another person. This is likely done for the shock value to get people reading and nothing more.

I play plenty of video games myself. I play most of the war-based shooters, as well as other games that include violent sequences. I can tell you very positively that I don’t get sudden urges to go out and murder people, let alone engage in violence against other people. And I doubt the millions upon millions of WoW subscribers/players do either.

What bothers me the most about this story? The fact that most people who have no idea what the gaming community is like, will read this story (or, more than likely, the first couple of paragraphs and the headline) and believe that video games are the problem with this man. Nevermind his extremist agenda or his likely mental deficiency – it’s the violent video games that are to blame.

Some of you may read that and scoff at the notion, but believe me – people are that blind and impressionable. They will read something and – because they have no real knowledge of it themselves – they will see precisely what the article intends them to see: A controversy that doesn’t exist.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Because without people reading these stories, and not taking the time to educate themselves on the subject and the information as it actually exists, there wouldn’t be the outrage to perpetuate this sensationalist journalism.

Unfortunately, the only thing many of us can do is sit back and defend our interest in the medium that we enjoy so much and hope that eventually, some of us will have the opportunity to spark change within the journalistic ranks. Until then, I suspect this is just the latest of what will be a long history of bad journalism that targets gaming.

Game Changer: Modifying Mass Effect 3 Ending

For as long as I can remember when it comes to gaming, it has always been satisfying to get to the end of a series.

Even if I haven’t necessarily enjoyed the ending, the journey is typically worth the price of admission.

Some people will view that as a half-hearted investment in the experience, but I would absolutely disagree. And, I would do so on the following assertion: How we experience games is and SHOULD be different from gamer to gamer. The way I enjoy a game will never be the same way you enjoy a game because our values and how they apply to the gaming experience have been formed differently.

That being said, I find the notion that BioWare needs to change ANYTHING about their recent game, Mass Effect 3, to be insulting not only to game makers everywhere, but also to gamers who have stayed true to games despite their disagreements with the creative directions.

Why should they change the game THEY made? It’s the direction the game was decidedly pushed in and we, as gamers, should accept that. What’s more, we should be thankful to BioWare for such an awe-inspiring series as Mass Effect in the first place.

The moral choices that have been put before us and the way our actions impact not only the course of the current game, but the courses of the games that follow it have been unique and moving experiences for gamers everywhere – myself included. Who are we to say that the end result should be done a certain way?

You don’t go up to a painter and say “I don’t like what you did with that particular portion of the picture,” and ask them to change it. You let them finish it and – good or bad – you take the art for what it is: An expression of the artist completed in a way that the artist wants to public to view it.

By telling BioWare that their ending is inferior to what people THINK it should be is a slap in the face to a company that has been nothing but outstanding when it comes to the Mass Effect series.

What’s more, petitioning BioWare to change their game because people are clamoring about it sets a precedent that I honestly think will threaten artistic freedom when it comes to game production.

And what if it doesn’t stop here?

What if more games are requested to be changed because people don’t like the way it ends? That carries with it the potential to destroy the value that a community presence brings to the table. In order to avoid having people question the creative direction, game makers will avoid community input entirely. Then where will we be? We’ll be here wondering why game makers aren’t listening to the community with no one to blame but ourselves.

If BioWare gives in to the demands to change the ending, I will have lost all respect for them.

Because it shows me that they would rather pander to “fans,” than have pride in their product. A real fan – of the Mass Effect series or gaming in general – may be disappointed in the endings, but they would never ask the company to change it.

And don’t give me that “well, we’ve earned a good ending.” Stow it.

You’ve earned the right to play something that numerous individuals have spent countless hours making. Assuming you have the right to demand a change to the finished product because you – on your own time – decided to play a series of games is a sense of entitlement that I have only seen in the most selfish of people.

For better or worse, the final curtain call is what we play for. If you can’t handle the finality in the end, then maybe you just shouldn’t be a gamer.

Dear Parents – 18+ games are not for your children

lukas

This little guy is my pride and joy and even has his own controller.
Even if it doesn’t actually work.

It’s no secret that parenting as a whole has experienced significant changes to its value system over the last several years.

From parents not wanting to discipline their children for fear of what repercussions it might have on their personalities to parents trying to be “buddies” with their children, it seems – in many cases – that the job of parenting has been reduced to the “option” of parenting.

The disappointing part of this for me is that I not only see this out in general public settings, but also in the gaming community. Usually it comes in the form of a 10-year-old playing an online multiplayer game such as Battlefield or Modern Warfare, but it also extends to children playing M-Rated (Mature) games that contain certain themes that may be considered over their heads or beyond what they should be experiencing for their age range. (questions of morality, violence, sexuality, etc).

Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception among parents that just because it is a video game, children who are not necessarily the age recommended for playing the game will understand that it is not real, thereby making it acceptable to ignore the suggested age rating entirely.

This, in my humble opinion is a problem. Not only for parents and their children, but for the future of gaming as well.

Children in the Theater of War

Far too often, I have been online enjoying a battle or two on the likes of Modern Warfare or Battlefield when all of a sudden I hear the meek voice of what sounds like a child chiming in about the awesome headshot he just got or how he just ran over someone with his tank. This is usually followed by some kind of expletive that serves no other purpose but to show that he knows how to use a four-letter word.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve used some unnecessary language while playing online. Usually, it’s while bantering back and forth with a teammate about the action or something that just happened to one of our characters. However, there is a huge difference between me and others my age (I’m 26) using coarse language in a game that employs inherently and a 10-year-old doing the same thing.

The difference? I’m an adult playing a game meant for adult players.

Fortunately the solution to this is easy. Parents, you need to stop being your child’s friend and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are mature enough to play such a game respectfully while understanding what the images they are seeing represent and that what they might hear from other players is not how they themselves should speak.

Just because your 10-year-old thinks the new Call of Duty game looks really cool and tells you that some of his friends are getting it does not mean you need to buy it for him. Thinking you know your child well enough to predict how they will act while playing such a game and hearing the language present while playing is you giving your child too much credit and you taking the easy way out of telling them “no” and having them nag you about it why.

The bottom line is this: If they aren’t even relatively close to the age of the game’s suggested rating (at least 16), then they shouldn’t be playing it. And at the ages I’ve experienced children playing these games, the only people allowing/enabling children to play these games are the parents (don’t blame the retailers, parents – the majority of retailers require proof of age to make an M-Rated purchase). You are not your child’s friend – you are his/her parent.

Putting it in Perspective

To give you an idea of why I’m talking about this in the first place, consider the following:

I enjoy gaming quite a bit. Currently, I don’t own a single game that isn’t M-rated (only eight games, but still) and the majority of those games employ a combat system (i.e: Hand-to-hand, gunplay, assault vehicles, etc).

I also have an 11-month-old son, which leaves me in the unique position of being able to practice what I preach (eventually). Fortunately, I have no doubts about my ability to govern the use of my console: No age inappropriate games, no M-rated gaming experience until at least age 16 (online gameplay will require me to play with him) and if he wants a new game, he’s going to do what I did: Ask for a birthday/Christmas gift or buy it himself. Or trade current games towards a new one.

My hope is that this will not only benefit my son and my relationship with him when it comes to gaming, but also his long-term gaming experience by teaching him respectful gaming and understanding age appropriateness.

After all, if you’re trying to choose the areas in which you’re going to be a parent, then you’ve already lost. If there’s anything I’ve learned very early on as a parent, it’s that it’s an all-or-nothing deal.

And if that means I have to regulate things that include one of my own passions, so be it. Because in the end, it’s not about me.

BeachHead Studios Caught in Lie about MW3 content drop for PS3 Elite Premium Users?

It seems the release schedule announced for the first all-inclusive DLC pack for MW3 has drawn the ire of more than just a few PlayStation 3 users – and perhaps with good reason.

According to a recent article in GameInformer, the release date for content pack – which will go to Xbox players first – is slated for Xbox Live on March 20.

Where the issue comes in for Elite Premium users on PS3 is the implication that they will be receiving Overwatch on the same day – March 20 – or the next day, March 21. What this means is, PS3 Elite Premium subscribers will either receive their third content drop the day of, or the day after, non-Elite Premium Xbox owners get ALL of the content for the first collection.

This would not be a problem save for the fact that at one point, Beachhead Studios (the makers of Call of Duty ELITE), stated via their Twitter account in response to a question that PS3 Premium members would receive their DLC before Xbox non-premium members. (see photo below).

Original

BUT WAIT! There’s more.

I happened to take a screen capture of the tweet in question and a copy of the URL of the tweet. I then asked via Twitter (not expecting a response), if Beachhead could explain why the information provided in the GameInformer article appeared to contradict the information in the aforementioned tweet (as is evident in this tweet).

A few hours later, the link I sent myself that referenced the tweet was no longer valid, and the tweet itself appeared to have been edited to read as follows:

new post

Fortunately, through confirmation of the player who originally asked the question via twitter, the original tweet was in fact that answer that was provided to begin with (see below) Notice also the difference in time stamp on the original tweet and the newly-found tweet.

verification

So, with all this being said: Did we just happen upon Beachhead trying to cover their tracks by altering information? And if so, what should this suggest to PS3 players – such as myself – who paid for Elite Premium with the assumption that we would have our content before non-premium members?

Personally, I will never purchase Elite again, whether it comes with DLC or not. Additionally, I will make an effort never to support another Beachhead-supported endeavor. Because if you would rather lie to me, your customer, than admit you made a mistake, then I don’t believe you should ever have my business.

I also personally hope others who find this situation insulting will do the same, as I don’t believe a company that engages in such a poor business practice should be allowed to make money on a demographic that it is lying to.

But that’s just me. I suppose I’m just some silly person who happens to like knowing that he is getting what he paid for.

An Open Letter to Significant Others: Why We Love Gaming


If you’re married to/dating someone who doesn’t like gaming,
you’ve likely been given this look before.

If you were to ask my wife about her involvement in gaming, she would look you off with a roll of her eyes and a very likely “don’t get me started.”
That is to say, she shares very little of my interest in the gaming world.

So little interest, in fact, that she would rather me stay up all night playing and not spend time with her than play them while she is in the room.
I realize not all significant others are like this, but I suspect my wife is not the only one who views gaming with such disdainful fervor.
Fortunately for me (and I hope those of you who share my situation), I am able to accept this.

What I cannot seem to do, however, is understand it. So, I’ve put together a list of things that all non-gaming significant others should know about your counterpart’s interest in gaming (you know, for those times when you say “I just don’t understand the interest.”). So, if you continue reading, I’ll be writing the remainder of this entry as though I’m addressing my wife (or, a group of significant others that don’t get why we love our games).

We love the stories
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a well-written story. Whether it came in the form of a picture book from my childhood or a novel as a youth and adult, I always found satisfaction in taking in a thoughtful piece of writing.

That is why, in many (if not most) cases, I love the gaming experience: Because the game has the ability to provide that great storytelling experience with an interactivity that lets you progress the story with your actions.

Games like BioShock, the Mass Effect series, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, the early Resident Evil games (speed runs on Resident Evil 2, anyone?) just to name a few, are titles that have left me feeling satisfied and thankful for the experience I was able to enjoy. Each of those games are also games I’ve played multiple times because – like any good book – sometimes one reading just isn’t enough, given the contents of the story.

We love a good challenge
As much as I love putting challenging puzzles together, there’s something about a puzzle that just doesn’t hold a candle to the challenge of besting your own best effort in a game.

BioShock, for example, was a great game. It was a game I had beaten more than once on the normal setting – so many times, in fact, that I knew most of the points in the game that were supposed to the main character.

However, there came a point when I decided I wanted more out of the game. So, I played it on Survivor mode, just to see how well I could do and if I had the patience and ability to finish the game.

The interesting thing about this experience is, it took the game to an entirely different level. Not only was it more challenging, but those same points I knew about in the back of my mind had me genuinely scared for my character. Now that’s awesome.

We LOVE competition
There are a lot of us who really enjoy the competitive aspect of games. Whether it’s besting our friends’ times in a particular time-based course/car race/whatever or destroying an enemy team in a Team Deathmatch/Rush match, our need for competition and our desire to be the best is allowed to shine brightly in online multiplayers.

Some people might tell you that they do it just for fun – and that’s fine – because they probably do. But anyone who says they don’t care if they lose the match is being, at the very least, somewhat dishonest. If we didn’t want to win, we wouldn’t play.

Sometimes you just can’t explain how good it feels to be engaged in an incredibly close match and end up winning by a single point at the end. Real life or not, those of us who still want to compete but don’t have the *cough* physical ability *cough* to do so can enjoy some great multiplayer action (and, it turns out may be good for your eye sight!).

Trust me – we may sound angry when we play a first-person shooter, but it’s not anger at anything other than the fact that we’re getting our behinds handed to us, so please – don’t take it personally.

We love to pretend, but we also know what is real
You may scoff at this, but it’s true. Some of us just love to use our imaginations and step out of our own lives and into the world and lives of the games that we’re playing.

And what’s wrong with that? Sometimes the best way to deal with stress in our lives is to take a step back and put our minds somewhere else, even if that is in the form of a video game where we’re playing as a Nord Warrior who is seeking to save the known world from the clutches of an evil, world-eating dragon (I’ve been playing a LOT of Skyrim lately).

Of course I realize that my virtual life should never take precedence over my real life – and it doesn’t. Never would the progress I’ve established in a video game trump the fact that I have a wonderful real life with a beautiful family.

However, the more you harp at me for playing my games, the more it offends me that you think I value my game system more than you. So stop it.

We simply love our video games
That might sound like a “duh,” but truth is, we really enjoy the experience of playing our games. If we didn’t we wouldn’t spend $60 a game to get our hands on the latest and greatest titles.

Similar to my first point, it’s like having an author or genre of books that you really enjoy – when that author comes out with a new book, you want to read it, right? Well, we want to play the next title from our favorite author or play the next entry in a series that we’ve invested so much time in already.

When it comes to entertainment, personal preference is hard to argue against. If everyone liked the same thing, we would all play on the same console/read the same books/drive the same cars – you know the deal; we’d be boring. Fortunately, we all have different ways in which we thoroughly enjoy spending our time. It just so happens mine is video games.

* * *

I don’t know what difference something like what I’ve written here will or would make with my or anyone else’s significant other, but I do wish those of them out there who have such a poor view of gaming would take the time and try to understand their counterpart’s interest.

Who knows, maybe having a little more insight will be all it takes to bring another convert into the gaming family and change some attitudes at home. We can dream, right?

Editor’s Note: I realize this is not an all-encompassing list, so if you have something you think should be on it, by all means let me know and I will add it to the list with your name attached to it!

Battlefield 3 Patch for PS3 Incoming

bf3

For those of you who haven’t yet seen the details of the Battlefield 3 patch for PS3, here are the details.

Personally, I’m excited to see some changes in the spawns (listed below) for Team Deathmatch.

Happy gaming!

——————————————————————————–

BATTLEFIELD 3 PLAYSTATION 3 CLIENT UPDATE NOV 30TH

General fixes

• Significant improvements to the Squad Join interface, full details in this earlier blog post
• Removed FIND ME A SQUAD option
• Allow players to join empty Squads alone, thus having 1/4 Squad members
• Change order of options to LEAVE SQUAD, INV A FRIEND, SWITCH TEAM
• Disable Privacy flag when 1 man Squad
• Reset Privacy flag from Private to Public when Squad drops to 1 player
• All occupied Squads will now show up colored blue on the Squad selection screen
• Players who choose not to join Squads will also show up as Blue in the “Not in a Squad” line
• Squads that are currently empty will display as white — if you wish to join an empty Squad, you can choose the first one marked with white text
• Added round duration and ticket summary at end of round screen
• Fixed sound for when climbing ladders
• Fixed and issue with some weapons’ sounds in first person view
• Fixed a swim sound loop error
• You should no longer be able to damage a friendly vehicle when sitting in an open position
• Grenades now drop to ground if you get killed while attempting to throw it
• Spawn protection now should work in Conquest so you no longer should spawn too close to enemies
• You should no longer spawn too close to enemies in TDM and SQDM
• Fix for missing input restriction during intro movie, causing players to potentially fall and die while watching movie if moving controller (or having a controller with a bad stick zone)
• Combat areas on Kharg Island in Rush mode tweaked in order to disallow defenders to access the carrier ship after first base is taken and being able to enter the AA gun
• Fixed a problem with revived players not being able to get suppressed
• Fixed a problem with the camera when being revived in co-op
• Spotting VO now plays when spotting from MAV/EOD bot
• Fixed several issues regarding the kill card, including showing wrong weapons used for the kill
• Fixed that sometimes you would be stuck on a black screen when kicked from server
• Fixed so when a team captures two flags at the same time, the UI does not show wrong owner of the flag
• Fixed a problem where the capture progress bar was shown as friendly when the enemy was capturing
• Fixed a problem with the bipod deploy sound
• Fixed a problem that you could be spawned in with no weapons after being killed while using the EOD bot
• Fixed problems with health bars not displaying health properly when using EOD bots
• Fixed a problem with flickering name tags
• Fixed a problem where you could damage friendly helicopters
• Fixed a problem where you could get stuck in the co-op menu when attempting to join the session twice
• You should now be able to spot explosives
• You should no longer spawn in home base if your selected spawn point is disabled while waiting to spawn (e.g. if your teammate dies right before you are about to spawn)
• Damage from bullets will now continue to cause damage even after the firing user is dead
• Fixed several client crashes
• Fixed a problem where players could get stuck in the join queue
• Fixed the repair icon on the minimap
• Fixed a problem with changing camera on certain vehicles
• Fixed a problem with the grenade indicator when in guided missile mode
• Fixed a problem where the machine could hard lock when joining a public coop game
• Fixed a problem where the headset attached icon would not show up in the UI
• Fixed a problem with the falling antenna on Caspian Border. It should now more instantly kill anyone in its falling path
• Fixed a problem where tank turrets would turn too slow
• Fixed a bug on co-op mission “Exfiltration” where you could end up outside the vehicle and not being able to enter it again, thus blocking the mission
• Fixed a problem where a user can become invulnerable after being resurrected
• Fixed a problem with the M60 reload sound
• Fixed a hang in terrain streaming, causing the user to get stuck on black screen under special circumstances in single player
• Fixed a problem where the enemy would not be able to get a road kill on a user that was using the SOFLAM
• Fixed soldiers disappearing in the mortar kill cam
• Fix for Type88 and MG36 zoom in animation offset when in supported shooting mode (using bipods)

Balance changes

• Increased the damage of helicopter miniguns, AA guns, and jet cannons against infantry
• Increased the damage of helicopter miniguns against jeeps
• Reduced the physics impact of AA guns and jet cannons so players under attack from these weapons no longer should lose control
• Increased the damage of the 44 Magnum slightly
• Increased the range and minimum damage of the .357 Round from the MP412 Rex
• Increased the range of all .45cal and 9mm weapons
• Slightly increased the range of the P90 and MP7 and PDW-R
• Slightly increased the range of the 5.56mm PDW-R and decreased the minimum damage at long range
• Slightly increased the minimum range of the Mk11, SVD, and M39 EMR 7.62mm rifles
• Decreased the maximum damage and maximum range of the G3 and SCAR-H 7.62mm weapons
• Reduced the damage from FIM-92 and SA-18 IGLA missiles against aircraft
• Increased the damage and range of the 40mm BUCK rounds
• Reduced the damage .50cal weapons do against helicopters
• Updated T90 canister shell tweaks to match Abrams canister shells

Source: Battlefield 3 Forums

Camping in Online Multiplayer: Tactical or Cowardly?

camper

If you’ve ever played a single round of any first-person shooter on the market, you will have no doubt noticed (or been killed by) individuals waiting for other players to cross their paths so they may kill them.

For those unfamiliar with the term, this is known simply as “camping.” You know, “he’s holding so close to that spot, he might as well set up camp”? It’s meant as a derogatory term for players who stay in the same spot on a map for extended periods of time, hoping to increase their kill count without having to put themselves in danger.

For the hardcore players out there, camping is an offensive act. It’s done by players who are otherwise incapable of maneuvering around the maps and who couldn’t get a kill if the player they were trying to shoot was standing still.

For the casual players, however, they are merely a minor nuisance, serving as that little speed bump in the road to the occasional MVP match.

Campers are usually an easy kill once you know where they will be. If it is a confined area, it’s usually easiest to flush them out with an explosive of some kind.

But it’s never really been about how easy it is to kill them or who has how much anger towards them. The question that I have always encountered is to whether or not this is an acceptable tactic.

On the one hand, it’s hard to say what play style that happens to suit someone is “incorrect,” as play styles are largely subjective (what’s good for one is not necessarily good for another). So to that end, camping is technically as valid as you want it to be, if it is indeed allowable to call it a play style. After all, much what it employs is using the particular map you are playing on to your advantage by way of hiding in concealing areas near or in high-traffic choke points.

However, on the other hand, some might argue that camping is a cowardly response to one’s own lack of understanding when it comes to the maps and – very likely – the weaponry being used in the multiplayer matches. If you know how to use your weapon and do it well, and you know the map like the back of your hand, there is no reason why you should be backed into a corner, waiting for someone to walk buy so you don’t have to put effort into aiming, right?

Personally, I think it can be considered both.

Tactically speaking, there are some times when holing-up for a couple of minutes will allow you to collect your thoughts and maybe even a kill or two, allowing you to get back into the game – both mentally and mathematically. Alternately, if you’re playing a game mode where defensive positions will benefit the team, staying in the same area might not only be a good idea, but also encouraged by teammates to ensure a decisive victory.

People may be upset with you for these reasons, but at least they are serving a purpose. The best examples are Domination mode Call of Duty or Conquest mode in Battlefield. If you have an objective that requires capture and containment, then once you capture said objective, setting a “perimeter” around it and staying within that perimeter might be considered camping, but it is also a tactical approach to keeping the game in your favor.

Conversely, I think if you’re outside of those situations (or outside of sniping, which isn’t camping if you’re in a hide trying to take out enemies around the the map), you’re a coward. I mean come on, with how the maps in Call of Duty are made, it’s difficult to be terrible at this game and NOT get at least five to 10 kills in a match. On top of that, camping immediately implies that you don’t know the map (at least to me) well enough to be dangerous – which is exactly why you should be moving around it; you need to learn the different paths to be a more effective player.

And, worse than hindering your own ability to benefit your team, you’re hindering the other players’ chances of enjoying the game by employing a cheap (and have I mentioned cowardly?) method of getting kills, usually against people who are better than you and are expecting you to face them head-on.

So what is there to be done about this? Simple: If you’re the camper and you’re not playing a defensive position on an objective, try growing a pair and moving around the map. You’ll die quite a bit, but that comes with the territory of learning the layout so you can *gasp* GET BETTER. You’re not only hindering yourself by sitting in a corner, you’re ruining the game for other people.

If you’re one of those players who plays the objective and goes for defensive points or likes to snipe: Mute everyone on the opposing team. Because if you end up destroying them, you’re going to hear about how much of a camper you are, even if what you’re doing isn’t really the camping that they think it is.

Lastly, if you’re in a game and you come across a camper, make it a point to target that one individual the rest of the game – preferably with explosives. Trust me.

First Impressions: Modern Warfare 3

Similar to what I did with Battlefield 3, I’m going to save most of my comments for the full review, which should be complete by Monday. That said, here are three lists of five – What I love, what I hate and what the jury is still out on:

Five Things I Love

— The reward system is great. It plays to the strength of the player and makes itself flexible for people who enjoy a variety of game modes.
— The maps are a lot of fun. The Call of Duty series is about being fast-paced and these maps encourage that type of gameplay very well.
— The campaign. It has a lot of excitement, you’ve been invested in the characters since the first Modern Warfare, and keeps the action moving very well.
— The perks. These are actually useful (which hasn’t been the case in past games, if you ask me) and leave me torn on which ones I want to use more.
— Spec Ops. If you thought you were going to miss having a new Zombies mode, you’ll quickly change your tune.

Five Things I Hate

— Connection problems. I hate being dropped from games that are in the middle or near completion.
— Spawn points. This is always a problem with FPS games, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to be spawned right in front of an enemy player or have one spawn right behind you.
— Hit detection. It still lacks consistency. On more than one occasion, I point-blank shot someone in the head with a shotgun and they lived and killed me.
— Quickscoping. It’s stupid and should have been left out of the game. It’s a distraction for players who are trying to win against people who know how to use their weapons. A glitch in the system should not be a style of gameplay. It should be fixed.
— Lack of sniping maps. You can make a map a sniping map by using a sniper rifle and getting creative, but none of the maps feel conducive to sniping, which is really disappointing.

Five Things the Jury is Out On

— ELITE Service. Since this has been suffering from overload for the first week, it’s hard to say whether or not it’s a good service. Part of me thinks it will be, but it’s just too early to tell.
— Weapon advancement system. It’s an interesting idea to advance weapons based on your performance with them and having specialized perks for each one. I’ve only been able to advance through one weapon so far, so I don’t have a solid opinion yet.
— Strike Packages. These are a good idea, though I’ve only had the pleasure of playing one so far. It should be interesting trying the other two.
— Split-screen multiplayer. This was very laggy when I played it on MW2, so hopefully it has been tweaked a little bit to make it more fun in MW3.
— Weapon balance. I haven’t ventured into very many weapon combinations yet (trying to get used to the maps with a single weapon first), so I haven’t had a chance to see whether there is a lack of balance or not. Hopefully this will be a non-issue, but I fear that is wishful thinking.

I haven’t quite finished the campaign yet, so once I do, I will begin my final review. If there is anything you have a question about, feel free to ask!

As always, happy gaming!