Posts Tagged ‘soapbox’

h1

Soapbox 13: My Experience As A Female Gamer

October 27, 2015

I have heard of many people who decry the unfairness of being a female in gaming. They say that as soon as someone knows you are a female in a game, they will discriminate against you. I wanted to see if this was my own experience.

I have played many games, including but not limited to, League of Legends, Puzzle Pirates, Legend of Zelda series, the Halo series, Bastion, XCom: Enemy Unknown etc. You may have noticed that I have played some Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games. These are the games that get the most grief. Because Puzzle Pirates is more focused on female gamers and cooperation, I am going to focus on League of Legends instead for the purpose of this article.

League of Legends is what is known as a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Other games like this include Smite, Heroes of the Storm (HotS) and Defense of the Ancients (DotA).1 ­When I started playing, I played with my husband and his friends only. They were really nice and did not mind when I completely messed up. Usually, their skill could compensate for my newness and I was able to get better quickly by following their advice and their lead. From here, I was able to play with my husband as a duo2 on a five player team. They treated me with respect and the skill that I showed while also expressing their jealousy that their own spouses/girlfriends did not accept their gaming habits, let alone play with them.

From the beginning, I did not choose my name based on my gender, so no ‘Puffy Princess’, or ‘Pink Pixie’ screen names for me. Even with this, I did not hide my gender either. Many times when getting the option to choose my character (known as a champion) I would say honestly that I wanted to play next to my husband and label him as such. I never once got any negative feedback about this. Not once. Nada. Never. I did have people who would swear in chat, would rage3 in chat and be generally uncooperative, but it was always a result of the game itself, not because I was a girl.

With all of my experiences, I do not claim that women are never demeaned simply because of their gender. It does happen far more often with male-centric games like Call of Duty, but we need to look at what they are doing to the men in those games, too. When the men playing those games get angry with each other, they type nasty things at each other that I refuse to repeat here. When they get angry at a girl, they do the exact same thing, but spin it to reflect the gender they perceive the player is. Regardless of which gender you are, nasty, hateful, spiteful things are said to all people in those games. I believe that we need to differentiate these occurrences to see how prevalent the problem truly is.

All in all, I believe that the thought that video games are for boys is a dying point of view among all gamers, providing a far more welcoming atmosphere for everyone to share the joy of gaming together. I hope that this trend can keep going and that we stop saying that girls do not belong in gaming.

 

References:

  1. League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients have long been argued as the best MOBA among gamers. Here is a video that goes over the two and lets the audience choose their own favorite.
  2. A duo is when two players together are matched with the rest of their team.
  3. Raging: When a player gets extremely angry to the point of clouded judgment. Usually symptoms of this is infighting among a team, leaving the game in the middle of play, feeding the enemy team, refusing to cooperate with anyone else, blaming others for their own losses.
h1

Soapbox 9: When a Tightwad Will Fork Over Good Money

September 1, 2015

I consider myself a bit of a tightwad. I live life according to the idea of “buy it new, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

——————————————

Ways I save money:  (Skip to the other dashed line if you want to skip this part.)

  • Clothes: I will wear my jeans until they fall off of me because my size doesn’t change and I buy jeans that are neither trendy nor out of style. I like a more classic look that is more timeless than ‘in’. I also wear my shirts until they stop fitting properly, get holes or stains that cannot be removed (I am no stain wizard).
  • Shoes/Jackets/Purses: I buy black shoes, jackets and purses so they match with everything, making choosing shoes for the morning super simple.
  • Car Filters: I will also never pay someone to change the filters in my car because it is super easy to do it myself if I just buy the filters.
  • Gloves/Scarves: I won’t pay for gloves or scarves because I can make them myself and customize them to my heart’s content.
  • Ice Cream: I would rather pay for a gallon of ice cream at the store than go to Cold Stone or another creamery. I get more ice cream for less money.
  • Meals: I make a large meal at the beginning of the week and take left overs to work instead of eating out.
  • Couponing: I coupon when I can. (Thanks grocerysmarts.com, Hip2Save, Living Rich With Coupons and Fabulessly Frugal for making couponing a breeze.)
  • Hair Cuts: I don’t get my hair cut. My husband is vain and doesn’t like the job I do with our clippers, so he gets his hair cut at a salon for about $10. To offset this, I get mine cut every few years. Because of this, I can also donate my hair or keep it in case my mother or I need a wig later in life. With my family history, this is a high probability.
  • Gardening: Gardens can easily pay for themselves, especially on years when produce prices go up because of a crop failure. Setup is the most expensive part, but even a small garden can save you a lot of money. My favorite crops are squashes, tomatoes and melons.

——————————————

Now that my thifty nature has been established, I will admit that I do spend money on things.  Here are the main reasons:

  1. Some things are more expensive to make at home. Clothes, for example, are far more expensive because of the current technology, let alone the time it takes to make them. This includes sewing shirts or even knitting socks.
  2. Sometimes it is impractical to make everything at home, even if it is cheaper. I do not make my own pasta or bread each week because of this. Working a full time makes time a very precious resource
  3. Can I say enough about quality? I hate when I buy something, just to have it break and have me have to get something new. I buy metal nail files, specific brands of ice cream, certain pasta sauces, and Oreos. Some things just aren’t the same if they are not name brand because the quality is superb when you buy name brand items.

Items I buy because of quality. Here are some of the things that I buy for quality, not for price:

Cameras:

Recently, I have purchased a very expensive camera. I had been buying ~300 cameras, but every 2-ish years, some little piece of the camera would break and I’d have to invest in a new one. That means that by 10 years, I’d’ve spent $1500 on crappy cameras! To avoid this, I researched and looked into a high quality camera that I could take care of and that would last. Eventually, it will pay itself off with the savings from not having to buy another junker.

Dishwashers:

I have had my fair share of junker dishwashers in my house that leave deposits of soap and silt on the dishes. Why did I waste my soap, hot water and electricity on something that doesn’t even clean my dishes? At that point, I may as well have done them by hand.

Can Rotating Shelves:

If you have the room, this one can also pay for itself over time. Instead of having to clean out your pantries and finding can after can of items to throw away, you can get a can rotating shelf that keeps your cans organized and easily accessible. Less food waste and less time spent organizing. Enough said.

Soaps/Shampoos/Laundry Detergent:

I have seborrheic dermatitis (dry, oily skin that gets inflamed and itchy). If I use things that are scented or have harsh chemicals in them, I have a good chance that my skin will be irritated and then I will be itching all night long, cutting into my sleep and all day long, embarrassing me at work. I even got my husband some Old Spice body wash that he liked and then I found out that he’d been putting his luffa above mine after his showers and that was why my skin was becoming inflamed. I will spend extra money to make sure that my dry skin is taken care of and that I am not suffering because of something so simple. This same concept applies to laundry detergent.

Computers:

A good, new desktop computer will last you years and years, while a poor one will have you cursing at its loading speeds and shaking your fist when you try to stream movies. Newer desktops are also very easy to upgrade when something fails or when you need a better system.

Cars:

Getting a good car is worth the money. Any money you save by buying a junker is outweighed by the money you will spend keeping it running.

DDR pads:

Most DDR pads are flimsy and break within the first few uses, making the games unplayable at worst and difficult at best. Getting some good quality dance pads is the only way to go.

Phones:

When I upgraded to a smart phone, I decided not to get the top of the line in order to save a little money. The phone I opted for had great ratings, but almost immediately I found that I was running out of what little RAM the phone had just by running a few apps concurrently. (Greenify app, thanks for making my phone usable.) When I upgrade this next time, I will get the best phone that still fits in my pocket, not the next best thing.

Knives:

Using a dull knife to cut through something is like pulling teeth. It sucks. When I was married, my husband and I invested in a good knife block that has lasted us for many years. Yes, we need to sharpen them occasionally, but the quality of the knives makes cooking less of a chore. If you’ve never used a high quality knife before, go get yourself one. Find a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon and invest. You’ll never turn back.

Bed:

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body. If you skimp here, prepare for years of unrest as your sleep is less deep and less restful. Do yourself a favor, get a good matress. (Also, get a good frame that supports your boxspring or mattress because elsewise, the boxspring can break. We had that happen twice before replacing our supporting frame.)

Summary:

In summary, I like my items to be quality over quantity. If you can convince me that your item will save me money over time or will work in a more efficient manner that saves me time/money/effort, I will probably buy your product. If your product is low quality, meant to break after a few years or is a pain to use, I will pass your product over.

h1

Soapbox 6: Why Fitting in is a Terrible Thing

July 21, 2015

When I was young, and in California, I didn’t care if I fit in as long as I wasn’t being bullied. Having a wide variety of interests, I never really stuck with a single clique. I watched the chess club play, I had conversations with the anime geeks, I was in the band, and I generally got along with everyone. I had my own things that made me unique. I could sing harmony with little difficulty (yes, I am an alto) I knit and crochet, and I hold to the standards of the LDS church. Back then, those were things that were rare. Everyone wanted to be the lead soprano, not the harmonizing alto. Everyone thought that knitting and crocheting were things only grandma did. Everyone thought I was missing out on something by not drinking coffee or alcohol.

I was proud of the things I did and because they were rare, they were obvious things about me that I could show the world. Then I moved to Utah. The culture here emphasizes and values completely different things than California did. Everyone here can harmonize and lead music, so musical talents are a dime a dozen. Knitting and crocheting are less something that grandmothers do and more things that you try once and give up on. Most of the populace here is LDS, so they hold the same standards I do. I had gone from a unique person whose talents shone to fitting in with everyone. I hate it.

I love having things about me that are different. Now that I am the same as everyone else, it is hard to stand out and have my talents shine. I am not a person who goes out of my way to show off or showboat my talents. In most situations, I am extremely introverted and I have hated showoffs for so long that I hate the idea that I might be showing off.  Because of these things, I have to work very hard to let my identity and personality shine through, even if they are not the most unique things anymore.

I am lucky to have friends who value me for who I am, but many of them live far away. I am trying to open myself up to others so that I can make new friends who love me for who I am and not who I pretend to be. I just hope I can be noticed when my talents are not needed.

h1

Soapbox 4: Drawing is an Integral Part of Who I Am

June 23, 2015

When I was very young, I wanted to be a vet. I really loved animals and working with animals seemed like a great thing to do. I grew older and realized that I did not love the medical aspects of being a vet and gave up on that dream. Still being young, I decided I wanted to be an artist. I drew things almost every day and loved the whole process. I also wanted to see how others would respond to my art, so I put them up on DeviantArt and Fanart Central. I started participating in the forums and volunteering for art requests there, generally from young people who wanted to see their original characters (ocs) come to life. I was happy.

Unfortunately, I began to learn that the way my art was designed was simply not popular. When people younger and obviously less skilled had many comments on their art, I would be left with none.  At the same time, I was nowhere near the epic or savant status art that I saw from people I perceived as younger with the same experience as I. It was not just online that I saw this.

In middle school, we had a class on sea creatures and their natural defenses. I chose to do my picture on camouflage, so I drew a semi-realistic picture that showed a fish that blended in with the background, but was still obviously there if you looked for it. The teacher decided to make it a competition that she would judge. I was very pleased with my work and was positive that the extra effort I put into the piece would be recognized. Instead, a very, very cartoony picture of a fish won. I felt cheated. I felt the picture that won was the one that the teacher just liked the most and not the one that represented the competition’s purposes.

Even with that disappointment, I kept drawing and getting better with every pencil stroke. I kept putting my art out there. My friends would tell me that my work was beautiful and skilled, but then I would turn around and see that I was nowhere near my dream of being an artist.

One effort I did was looking into joining an art program for college. Unfortunately, I had realized by this point that art is a popularity contest and that I am never the popular kid, so I stopped. The amount of art I have created since graduating high school is laughable compared to what I did before. I put it aside as a casual hobby that I could pick up when I had time. As life moved on, I had less and less time to dedicate to it until it became something I just did not think of as a pastime anymore.

The last ditch effort I did was take a commission from a friend. He wanted me to draw characters from a novel he was writing. The agreement was that if he wanted to use the art or liked it enough, he would pay me for it. I drew some things for him and he loved it. He said it even changed his perspectives on some of his characters, but it was not enough. He backed out of the project, leaving me feeling betrayed by my own friends. If my friends wouldn’t even buy my art, who would ever? I put down my pencil and worked on other artistic endeavors, burying the desire to draw under the desire for other forms of art.

Recently, I have moved to an office where they allow me to draw on the windows with dry erase markers. It makes me happy to see designs splattering the large glass walls. It gives my corner of the office a little bit of personality. However, it has also drudged up my past insecurities that I haven’t had to deal with since college. If I draw a new piece and no one comments on it in a few weeks, I wonder if it isn’t making those around me happy and I want to erase it. Perhaps they even find it a distraction or ugly. Maybe I shouldn’t draw things others don’t want, even if they don’t say they don’t want it.

Through all of this murky swamp of insecurities, I realized that underneath the mud of disappointment is still a desire to be an artist for a living. I want to draw. I want to be paid for my efforts, so I can make a living off of it. Above all, I want those around me to be happier because of my art.

I will never be famous. I will never be popular. I will never have the skill to effortlessly pump out art that makes people look on in awe. Those things are not meant to be and so I could never earn a living on art. I cannot spend the time and effort art takes from me, but I still want to draw. This is a desire that I wish I could rebury, but I can’t. Art is as much a part of me as breathing. I can only ignore the hungering desire for so long before I am dragged back down into the insecure pit of longing.