Blog Post 2: ‘Power’ing Through a Game to an Exclusive Environment

In my personal experience, games that are more difficult to pick up are less interesting and more frustrating all around – and power gamers have definitely added to that frustration.

No LEGO:LoTR makes sad gamer kid sad

T.L. Taylor writes that power gamers are those who are, “too focused, too intent, too goal-oriented.” Simply by definition that conflicts with the objectives of someone who is a casual gamer. Without experience with most MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or EverQuest, looking over someone’s shoulder as they navigate through the world of WoW as an experienced player, without the other aspects of a power gamer, I already feel discouraged to begin playing. With that in mind, going into an environment with so much to learn and find out when you play the game, and with a game that takes a large amount of time to play to begin with, power gamers would further discourage a player like me.

A high ‘bar’ for entry already affects the breakthrough of gamers into certain games and virtual environments, and with power gamers introduced into the mix it creates a huge divide for the casual gamer and the more ‘intense’ gamer. Hostility in the game world comes in many forms, from extreme and hateful to unnecessary and mean (even if it’s a surface level, ineffectual kind of mean). Power gamers, in my experience, are often the source of the lesser level of hostility. T.L. Taylor briefly touches on the subject of time and time dedicated to a game as the cause of someone becoming a power gamer, and because of that time dedication and interest in achievement within the game realm, power gamers will be better and know more and that can cause a lot of animosity when those players interact with other players who are less knowledgeable and less experienced.

Something that I wish T.L. Taylor had more creatively discussed about power gamers is the reason why women specifically may be discouraged by them. She talked about this lack of time and how many women are still burdened with the duties of a house, and how the video game atmosphere for women in general (especially unusually dedicated women) is not very welcoming. While these are valid points, in class we discussed the idea of space invasion as a cause for hostility and hate speech. If someone feels as though their world is being invaded, it can produce hostility towards others. Power gamers can be seen a great contributor to this atmosphere, as they are spending so much time in a world creating a story (or a list of achievements) as their main purpose for playing a game and participating in that world.

(This video may be fake, it may not be the best representation of all players, but there are players who take these games and worlds very seriously.)

While power gamers are not the only source of hostility and not the singular cause, they are creating a division that makes entry more difficult for everyone, but especially for women who in the video game industry are already seen in the minority.

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2 Responses to Blog Post 2: ‘Power’ing Through a Game to an Exclusive Environment

  1. cstabile says:

    Made the mistake of watching the video first and can’t stop thinking about it.

    You raise some excellent questions about power gamers, some of which were raised by K. and P. previously. I said to them that I wonder if “power gamer” is a useful category because I think there are some players who legitimately just love the quantitative dimensions of the game rather than the social experiences, but who don’t lord it over other players because of their uber skill sets. We may want to come back to that in class.

    You should definitely ask T.L. Taylor your question about gender, because it also comes up in Raising the Stakes, where she observes that competitors in e-sports are invariably male.

  2. Pingback: Blog Post 3: E-Sports are “Real” Sports | CHC Game Studies 2013

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