Glorious: A Guild of Deaf Players Destroys World of Warcraft’s Hardest Raid

If you’ve ever attempted a high-tier WoW raid, you know that they are tough. In fact, they can be damn near impossible. Yourself and 24 others are asked to balance several leading mechanics with precision while attempting to defeat an extraordinarily difficult boss.

It requires an incredibly focused amount of strategy, coordination, and above all- communication.

Typically this is done through means of voice chat in combat and during wipes, allowing raiders to respond and react quickly with aid of their fellow players. But what if that means is unavailable to you? What if you are a deaf player wanting to be involved in critical raid discussion?

The answer, according to the Undaunted guild (formerly known as Durus Veritas), is finding new and inventive ways to kick ass.

The guild is comprised of a small community of deaf friends who had known each other prior to forming a Warcraft guild. They achieve their goals with the help of PvE mods including WeakAura and Bigwigs, allowing players to receive text-notifications of audibly recognizable boss mechanics.

They also make use of keyboard chat, using fast and meaningful language their fellow raiders will comprehend quickly, “If a tank forgot to taunt a boss to deal with debuffs, the other tank would quickly type in ‘taunt’ as a reminder,” Undaunted Guild Master Jospeph Antle told PC Gamer. “Setting up assignments before raid encounters is what we always do, especially the order of healing cooldowns. Without those assignments, we would have gone nowhere. After first wipes, our players typically memorized their tasks, and it becomes a matter of honing our raid awareness and knowledge of the fight.”

Their resourcefulness and tenacity recently paid off. On January 15, 2017, the Undaunted guild cleared the Emerald Nightmare on it’s highest set difficulty- a feat that the even the some of the most successful audibly-based chat guilds cannot do. Their spectacular story of success despite the odds should be a message to Blizzard and other game developers to keep the deaf community in mind when designing boss fights.

In the end however, Undaunted raiders still overcame a significant barrier and relished the fulfillment of their victory, “We’re especially proud that we have managed to clear the content without any kind of assistance such as voice communication. Most of our raiders have exceptional awareness and remember the assignments given to them beforehand,” says Antle. “We currently have 9/10 heroic bosses cleared in Nighthold, and we’re ranked eighth [out of 120] on the realm according to WoWProgress. I think that’s a wonderful accomplishment for us, but it’s not over yet. We will keep pushing as much as possible.”

 

Classic, Complicated, and Unrequited: Love Stories in Video Games

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it only seems fitting to pause and remember the great love stories that video games have offered our culture. Here, in my opinion, are the top three contenders for most interesting video game couples:

Ezio Auditore and Sofia Sartor: A Classic Love (Assassin’s Creed: Revelations)

little_errand_6

Ezio and Sofia first met while Sofia was running a bookstore at the old Polo trading post in 1511. But it isn’t all roses- this wonderfully down to earth couple goes through a lot. Between Sofia’s abduction, to chasing down Ottoman Prince Ahmet, to Ezio’s journey to Masyaf, one could posit that this couple was doomed for failure. But as fate would have it, this couple would go strong and eventually Ezio and Sofia marry in Venice, Italy. Shortly after Ezio retires from the Order of Assassins, and the two settle down in the Tuscan countryside. Sofia eventually gives birth to their two children.

Spartan-117 and Cortana: A Complicated Love (Halo)

maxresdefault

This one will definitely cause some controversy, but I’m including it…Although Cortana and Chief aren’t explicitly in love, their companionship and devotion for one another has literally survived decades… Both characters are deeply affectionate in their own way, and the instances that they desire to be physically close to one another are pretty overt, leading me to believe their relationship is not just platonic. However their Facebook relationship status would likely be “It’s Complicated” as Chief is forced to put Cortana down when she eventually reaches rampancy. Check out some of  Master Chief and Cortana’s best moments here.

Cayde 6 and The Exo-Stranger: An Unrequited Love (Destiny)

exo_stranger_01

You have to do some digging to uncover this love story, but it’s worth it when you find it. Cayde-6 is a 6th generation human-turned-Exo who now uses playing cards to prompt his access to his old human memories. Any card with a heart symbol represents the girl he fell in love with; Maya Sanduresh. He falls for Maya while protecting the Ishtar-Collective, but Maya remains unaware of Cayde’s love for her as he never builds up the strength to tell her. However, Maya herself is in love with another researcher whom she eventually becomes an Exo for. The two now work separately to defeat the Vex enemy. For more details on this juicy love story, take a moment to watch this Destiny Lore video!

How about you? What are your favorite video game love stories? Let us know in the comments!

Ashley Judd Faces Backlash for calling out Gaming Industry for “Profiteering off Misogyny”

On January 18th, Ashley Judd’s TED Talk about “The Online Abuse of Women” was uploaded to youtube. The spirit of the talk was bold and to-the-point:  the online gender violence toward girls and women is not just offensive- it is horrific and disgusting. And needs to stop. At one point in her talk, she turned specifically to the world of video games, saying “our friends in tech profiteering off misogyny in video games must end. I’m so tired of hearing you talk to me…about how deplorable #gamergate was, when you’re still making billions of dollars off games that maim and dump women for sport.”

Immediately male gamers lashed out against Judd (wouldn’t you know it) online. HeatStreet published an article dismissing her remarks saying, “Outside a few Flash games and extremely niche titles from overseas markets, there isn’t a single mainstream game on Steam that does what Judd describes.” ReviewTechUSA posted a video to youtube entitled, “Ashley Judd, You Don’t Know Video Games. So Please Shut Up” in which the male reviewer asks, “What game have you played by a AAA developer or a reputable Indie Developer.. where your mission is to go out and rape and maim women? There is no game!”

Yes, excluding games such as the 80’s Custer’s Revenge (in which the player finds a naked Native American woman tied to a pole, and receives points for having sex with her),  RapeLay (a 2006 game where the player stalks, and eventually rapes a mother and her two underage daughters which was made purchasable on Amazon.com), and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (a 2015 game where the player’s character appears to rape a female antagonist) there are few games on the mainstream market where players MAIN GOAL is to kill and rape women.

However the larger context of Judd’s message is about decreasing online misogyny and virtual gender violence, which the video gaming industry has absolutely contributed to. So much so, that Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian was able to make a 30 minute video about women as “background characters,” which she defines as “The subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players.”

Sarkeesian references 29 video games releases between 2007 and 2014 which included women as non-playable sex objects and/or perpetual victims of male violence. The list included:

  • A mission in Grand Theft Auto IV in which the player has to kidnap a woman while insulting her and beating her unconscious
  • A gun battle in Mafia II: Joe’s Adventure that takes place over the body of a dead stripper, clad in lingerie, who had been performing for the player moments earlier.
  • A mission in Bioshock 2  in The Pink Pearl where mutilated eroticized female bodies are hung and scattered around the area for the player to see
  • A mission in God of War II where the player pushes a bare breasted princess through the level, using her body to open a gate to the next area

Needless to say, there is indeed a problem here. Ashley Judd may not have extensive knowledge of the current video game scene, but she knows enough to know that today’s games are asking their players to engage in sexually and violently charged themes against women. Hopefully, more developers will hear Judd’s criticism and open their eyes to the bigger picture of what they are contributing to, and what ideas they are normalizing for players.

The Latest Destiny 2 Rumors… From Mega Bloks?

Fans of Destiny are counting down to a results conference on February 9th set up by Activision, during which some juicy Destiny 2 announcements may be shared. In the meantime however, an internet bomb was dropped when Mega Bloks put several unannounced sets up on Amazon.com three of which, were for Destiny.

Here’s what we know.

Destiny Cabal Goliath Tank Building Set Contains:

  • Buildable Goliath tank with rotating turret and articulated jets
  • Tank fully opens to reveal interior troop bay
  • Four highly detailed, super-poseable micro action figures include Commander Zavala, one Cabal Phalanx, and two Cabal Psion
  • Zavala comes with detachable armor and Answering Chords auto rifle
  • Cabal figures come with detachable Siege Dancer armor, weapons, and shield accessory

Cabal Bruiser Battle Building Set Contains:

  • Buildable hangar platform 
  • Set the scene for a clash between a Bruiser’s crushing strength and a master swordsman’s skill
  • A legendary warrior faces his greatest contest yet in the Tower hangar
  • Wielding his Raze-Lighter, hero of the Crucible Lord Shaxx prepares to pit his blade against the furious cleavers of a Cabal Red Guard

Aspect Of Glass Building Set Contains:

  • Buildable Aspect of Glass jump ship with opening cockpit and working launcher
  • Highly detailed, super-poseable Hunter micro action figure
  • Figure comes with detachable Spektar armor and Lord of Wolves shotgun
  • Jump ship stand features transparent articulated display rod

Conclusion? It would seem that the Cabal are going to be some of our main enemies in Destiny 2, and are perhaps planning to attack Tower. It’s safe to say that Zavala is clearly around and we may get some deeper lore for the Answering Chord auto rifle. All very tantalizing information.

What do you think? Do you have other fan-theories? Let us know in the comments!

Mechanics of Playing a Blind Character in DnD

Building a blind character in Dungeons and Dragons can add a unique dimension to your party, while also just being a lot of fun to play. Figuring out your character’s backstory is of course the first step. Are you going to play as a mysterious oracle, a wailing bard, or a blind archer? How long have you been blind? To what degree are your other senses heightened as a result of being blind?

Once these and various other questions have been answered, you must move on to a trickier aspect: figuring out the mechanics of playing a blind character. While the internet offers answers that are often confusing and scattered here are what I find to be the most helpful tips:

Disadvantage on Perception Checks That Rely Mostly On Vision

Most of the time, a blind character can get along with perception checks just fine. Perhaps they don’t see the dragon flying in the distance, but they can sense an irregularity in wind patterns, or they can sense a source of heat getting closer. But, a perception check for picking up on a subtle facial expression is not something that a blind character is likely going to sense.

If Another Sense Becomes Compromised the Character Has Disadvantage on Attack Rolls

This is also pretty intuitive. In a fight, a blind character would rely entirely on other senses to attack, so if they are fighting in a noisy arena, or if the affects of a numbing spell are still wearing off, it’s only fair the character rolls disadvantage.

Gain Advantage on Non-Sight based Perception Checks

Remember, your character’s other senses are how they experience life. Even if your character has been blinded recently, their other senses are being more dramatically exercised then before. Depending on the character’s level they may be able to sense some pretty neat things, like using a heartbeat to check if someone is lying. Or smelling a dead body to tell how long the corpse has been there.

These, along with other ideas can be found at this DnD reddit. Ultimately it is up to you and your DM to work together to figure out what mechanics would be right for your character, and their history.

Have you ever played a blind character in DnD? What mechanics did you use? Let us know in the comments!

 

The Science of Assassin’s Creed: Genetic Memory Revisited

In a recent interview with The Guardian Michael Fassbender talked about the credibility of genetic memory, saying that it ultimately made, “a lot of scientific sense.” While being able to re-live our ancestor’s experiences due to generational DNA-transmission sounds like a long shot, there may be at least a modicum of truth behind the science of the Animus.

In December of 2016, Ancestry.com published an article entitled, “Assassin’s Creed and Genetic Memory: Science-Based or Total Fiction?” It noted that by the 1970’s geneticists had determined that certain life events (a sudden change in diet, exposure to a chemical) could alter genes in such a way that they were passed down through generations. Scientists then began to perform studies on the effects of stress and neglect on subsequent generations. What they found was astonishing: without any concrete changes to the DNA itself, stressful life events were indeed carried down to subsequent generations,

“Rats raised by bad mothers grew up to be nervous wrecks, as a result of methyl groups attaching to their genes regulating the production of glucocorticoid receptors, which regulate sensitivity to stress hormones.”

Soon studies on humans began, and the results continued to shock: how you were raised , socioeconomic status , and even the diet your grandparents had were all recorded and passed down through DNA.

However the jury is still out as to exactly how many generations a genetic “memory” can be passed down, or how a complex memory could be imprinted. A more skeptical view is presented by a Now Loading article by Simon Rune Knudsen, who that the information stored in our DNA functions to ensure breeding and that, “DNA doesn’t actually record one’s life, so biologically we don’t possess genetic memory… It’s very unlikely that audio/visual memory is something our genes would store and transmit to new generations.”

Still, the main point of agreement between the two articles is this: the potential of genetic memory is still largely untapped- unlikely doesn’t necessarily mean impossible. Scientists today are continuing to explore this unusual phenomenon, and while mentally traveling to a distant ancestor’s memory may still be fiction, experiencing the effects of an ancestor’s life can indeed be very real.

Resident Evil 7: My Running Scream Count

WARNING: CONTAINS EXTREMLY SPECIFIC SPOILERS

I’d like to think I’m a pretty seasoned fan of the horror genre. I’ve played several previous games from the Resident Evil franchise, as well as Alone in the Dark, Dead Space, Outlast… The list goes on. Suffice it to say, I’ve come to a point where I no longer scare easily.

But when I am scared, I shriek. I shriek like a banshee getting their eyebrows waxed.

And that is how I have been screaming while playing the first three hours of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Below are the some of creepiest moments/scenes that got me good:

1. The first time Mia turned

resident-evil-7-biohazard-16-930x499.jpg

Playing as a regular Joe named Ethan, we have come to “Mom and Dad’s” house to investigate the disappearance of our love interest Mia. When we find her in the basement of the guest house she is rambling incoherently and refers to a mysterious man named “Dad.” It is made evident that something terrible has happened to alter her physically, and the games goes for their first jump scare as she suddenly turns into a un-dead zombie.

2. When She Cut Off my Hand

11_copy.jpg

I have come across some serious plot twists and unexpected scares before in Resident Evil games before, but none-so-much as when Mia appears suddenly (after thinking she was dead) cut off my entire freaking hand with a chainsaw! I actually froze up after this happened due to shock, and wondering if/how I was going to go through the rest of a survival-horror game with one hand.

3. During the Car Fight Scene

resident-evil-7-biohazard_2016_06-13-16_009.jpg

Basically that entire scene… yeah.

4. When Mom chased Mia in Video Tape

03_gamescom_1471416007.jpg

At one point, we find a tape from Mia that we watch in an upstairs room inside the house. We then play from the perspective of Mia who is attempting to warn Ethan when she is found out and chased by “Mom.” The hackling and cackling screams that Mom emits while chasing Mia with a creaky old lamp sent an instantaneous chill down my neck. A game of cat and mouse ensues and the player has to hide behind objects and solve a picture puzzle while knowing that Mom could pop out at any given moment.

How about you all? What were your biggest jump scares? Let us know in the comments!