Suggestions  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Suggestions  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Guild Guide: Making a guild into an inclusive space Sat, 28 May 2016 08:25:48 -0400 Eliot Lefebvre

The Internet can be a really, really gross place. If you need proof of that for some reason, go read YouTube comments.

It shouldn't be all that odd to say that we expect games to be a place wherein we don't have to deal with that. Online games are in and of themselves capable of being really gross places, but ideally a guild is a place where people don't have to deal with that. You might have to deal with gross random players at times, but it seems like a fairly non-controversial thing to ask that your League of Legends team doesn't force you to deal with that on a regular basis.

That can be difficult in and of itself, though. How do you make a guild into a space where everyone can be comfortable? With work, obviously, but where do you even start?

Starting from principles

I've mentioned before that every guild should have a focus, but perhaps it's important to step into a slightly more abstract space from that. Every guild should have principles. A focus is in and of itself comprised of principles working in tandem, but there are principles that need not be foundations of a focus while still being important.

To use an example other than an inclusive space, having a bilingual guild would constitute a guiding principle. That in and of itself is not a focus -- if your guild is composed chiefly of people who speak both English and Spanish, it doesn't say what your guild is working toward or wants to accomplish. But it does still serve as a principle, since players who don't speak both languages will be at something of a disadvantage and it's one of the things that the guild is meant to be serving. Principles, on their own, are just guidelines.

So having inclusivity as a foundational principle of your guild is a good thing, and it's a fine place to start. It says something about your guild that you want to accomplish things without violating that primary point of reference. Sure, you want to accomplish other things as well, but you don't want to lose sight of having your guild as a safe space along the way.

Police it softly

Once you've made the decision that you're keeping this space safe for everyone, you'll quickly find that you have to make massive changes to your guild. And by "massive changes" I mean that you'll probably have to keep a little more of an eye on chat for a bit as people start to think about what they're saying, then it'll become pretty invisible.

A lot of the time, it really is just that simple. Assuming your members are on board (and there's no reason to assume that they're not), most of what needs to be done is just have a very gentle policy of asking someone not to say something that makes other members feel uncomfortable. In other words, exactly the sort of thing you would already be doing.

If a guild member was telling a sexually explicit story in guild chat, you'd probably ask them to stop. If someone was typing out the full text of Mein Kampf, you'd ask them to stop. If someone was sharing a bunch of spoilers for Game of Thrones when the new episode had just aired, you'd ask them to stop. This is the same thing, through and through. Someone is doing something to make the guild uncomfortable, so you ask them politely to stop doing so. That's it. That's all that needs to be done.

More often than not, the member in question either didn't realize that they were doing anything wrong or didn't actually think about it. Which is, quite frankly, totally normal and fine. It's the equivalent of asking your roommate to stop singing a song that's bothering you, something you ask briefly and then move on from.

Of course, that's not all of the work you'll need to do. Just most of it. Sometimes, you'll have to step things up a bit.

Keep a firm hand

The fact that everyone is on board with creating an inclusive space does not necessarily mean that everyone is on the same page about what that means. You are, inevitably, going to wind up with people who might have the best of intentions but will insist, up and down, that what they're doing isn't really bothering anyone, that the people who are complaining are just doing it for attention or they're just plain wrong.

This is where it gets complicated. Because the point of being inclusive, first and foremost, is in making sure that that space is safe. It means that you sit down with members like this and explain that however much they might think no one is bothered by what they're doing, if no one was actually bothered it wouldn't be an issue that kept coming up. It's not about being mean-spirited, it's about the reality that someone is uncomfortable about this and it needs to stop.

It's also important to keep in mind that "safety," in this case, is not the same as "everyone gets along." The point is not that everyone has to have the same tastes or even political opinions, just that everyone should feel as if they're not going to be attacked or mocked for fundamental parts of their identity. Someone who is upset because the entire guild is talking about how terrible Man of Steel was as a film is not being stuck out in the cold; someone who is getting really upset at a guild member's repeated use of the adjective "gay" as a pejorative is bringing up a legitimate issue.

Should you explain this all to the member in question who isn't changing and still find that the same things are happening? Then it's time to treat that like any other rule violation. Penalties are leveled, and eventually that person can't be a part of the guild any longer. A safe space means nothing if you aren't willing to go the distance to make it safe when it counts.

Realize what it isn't about

At its core, having a guild as an inclusive space is about what I mentioned in the opening paragraphs -- it's about making sure that the members of your guild can play a game together while feeling safe from dehumanizing talk and actions. That's all. That means learning and listening, and in some cases it means changing familiar behaviors that have become worn into our brains.

You don't necessarily want everyone in your guild to agree, and it's entirely valid to say that you don't want lengthy discussions in your guild about social issues. Even in a guild designated as a safe space, I think there's plenty of space to say that you don't want to referee a debate about, say, proper inclusiveness of language for trans individuals; it's enough to say that the language used shouldn't be bothering anyone. Understanding why it's bothering someone is important, but you don't need to turn your guild into a think-tank for the best words to use.

If it helps, think of it as the uncle defense. We all have that uncle, the one who says things that no one would ever say in a mixed audience. Racist stuff that would be entirely unacceptable in a larger context, for example. But your uncle says that at family gatherings, because he knows he can get away with it then. He knows that no one is going to call him a racist or say that it's not acceptable or that he shouldn't say those things.

You will always have players who treat guilds like that. Making an inclusive space is, fundamentally, the art of telling your racist uncle that it's not all right to say those things here, either. It's a reminder that the online space is still one of mixed company, and toxic views are still just as toxic when surrounded by people playing orcs and elves.

It's about making sure that everyone can be comfortable and have fun playing games. Which, really, should always be the point.

Games for Grandparents and Grandchildren: Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks Tue, 03 May 2016 06:16:58 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

“I just don’t understand those, whatchamacallit? Damgummed vidja games you play. They don’t make any blasted sense to me.”

One of my grandparents once told me something not too far removed from that sentence. My cousin and I were sitting down playing my brand-new copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on my still shiny, purple Gamecube. (Oh yeah, I am going wayyyy back to 2002.) My cousin and I did our best to explain video games to the bewildered, older person, but our eleven-year-old selves couldn’t convince the grandparent that games were anything other than the preconceptions they held.

You tell those young whippersnappers!

You tell those young whippersnappers!

Just fourteen years later, I have met several grandparents and older adults who either play video games with their younger family members or have expressed an interest in the idea. With that in mind, here's a list of somewhat recent titles that might be starting points for grandparents who want to play games with their grandchildren. Who knows? Maybe you will be playing one of these games and it will catch your grandparent’s eye like no Bingo game ever could.

This is a varied list. Some of these games will be more difficult to play than others, and some of these games are aimed more at mature players than others. I've included descriptions with each entry so you have an idea of what the game is before scurrying off to entice your victim loved one to play.

Let’s get started!



Available on Steam, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360.

Can two players play at the same time?  Yes 

Control complexity?  Minimal

Juju is an extremely cute platformer ( a game where you navigate obstacles and collect floating, shiny things) starring a pink panda bear and his best friend Peyo, who just so happens to be an anthropomorphic snake. (Because video games okay?) Juju and Peyo get into some trouble and wind up releasing an evil bat that kidnaps Juju’s dad and places some dark magic on Juju’s home forest. It’s up to Juju and Peyo to save the day!

The gameplay is almost as simple as the plot for this one. Players control their choice of the two characters, and their partner controls the other. Players navigate levels filled with obstacles, enemies, and tons of floating, shiny objects to collect! The game goes out of its way to entice newcomers to play. The character of Peyo has skills Juju does not, and he is also less targeted by enemies, allowing his player to simply enjoy the game.

The controls in Juju are also simple. You control your character and have buttons to jump and perform an attack. There are five buttons used at most, making this ideal for all newcomers.

Juju’s novice-friendly design makes it a great choice for either enticing grandparents or younger grandchildren. If you want more information about the game, I actually wrote a review about it here! (Shameless self-promotion for the win!)


Yoshi’s Woolly World  

Available on the WiiU.

Can two players play at the same time?  Yes

Control complexity?  Minimal

Much like the aforementioned Juju, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a platformer where you navigate obstacles, defeat enemies, and collect shiny objects. What separates the two is the degree of difficulty and art style. The world of Woolly (the full title is a mouthful) is presented as living yarn, and yes, it is as adorable as it sounds. The art style makes the game appealing to players of all ages and can bring a smile to the face of the most cynical of players, such as myself.

The cute is strong with this one.

Players have the options of four different controllers for playing this one. You have the option of the Wii U Gamepad, the Wii U Pro Controller, the Wiimote, and the Classic Controller. As with Juju, there are essentially five buttons used in gameplay. When playing with another person, both people can also use different controllers, depending on their preference.  


Woolly is also more difficult than Juju. If Juju’s difficulty was rated at a 1 on a scale from 0-10, Wooly would fall somewhere between a 2 or a 3. Just something to keep in mind for newer players. The game allows two people to play simultaneously, so grandma can help you snag all of those collectibles!


Katamari series

Available on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Can two players play at the same time? Depends on the game from what I can gather. 

Control complexity? Moderate

The Katamari series is an example of simplicity done beautifully. The objective of the game is to roll around large environments and collecting everything into a large ball of, well, everything. There is some story about replacing the stars, but all you need to know is you can collect virtually anything into your giant roving ball of objects. It’s a game that is simple to grasp and enjoy.

Here’s the game in action.


The controls are slightly more demanding than the previous titles mentioned, but they don't take long to become comfortable. The controls are similar to controlling the treads on a tank. If you want to go forward, you move both sticks forward. If you want to turn, you push the stick forward on the side you wish to turn. It's slightly more complicated, but not enough to completely alienate people. You can see more of the controls here.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band  

Available on Playstation 3&4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Depends on your difficulty and instrument, but minimal to difficult.

The Guitar Hero and Rock Band series are unique as they can provide an enjoyable experience for newcomers and experts alike. The Rock Band games have modes where you cannot fail, and instead, can simply enjoy the music and your attempts to play it. If your grandparents don’t have the dexterity for the guitar, let them beat the drums to death. If drums aren’t their thing, give them a mic and have them wail to the classics they know and love!

The controls complexity depends on the difficulty you decide to play. Each difficulty adds a new button for the guitar and drums. For singing, it makes some notes harder to hit and adds more difficult pitches and sections. There's a reason these games have become hit party games though. There is a difficulty level for all players to enjoy!

With a large library of songs included with the base game and a huge selection of songs available to download, there’s bound to be some songs your grandparents enjoy. These games can provide an evening of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Before you know it, you’ll have a garage band and participate in the local battle of the bands.

 It may or may not make your grandmother a badass metalhead.


Mario series

Available on the WiiU

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Minimal

Gaming’s most iconic mascot has been the star of countless games that have entranced beginners and veterans alike for years. His newest games are no different. The newest titles on the WiiU are a step up in difficulty from the prior entries on this list, but they also have various modes for beginners and support for more than two players. Now grandma and grandpa both can get in on quashing Bowser’s plans!

 The Mario series is one of the longest-running and most iconic game franchises of all time, yet has managed to retain its charming simplicity throughout all of the years. The controls are simple to learn and easy to master, using six buttons at the most. The challenge comes not from the controls but being precise. However, the series has always been friendly for newcomers and remains welcoming to all.


Super Smash Bros

Available on the Wii U

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Moderate

Now this might be a confusing entry. The Smash series is known for its depth, and the skill displayed by pros at tournaments is mindboggling. The game still remains inviting for newcomers. I have hooked several unbelieving friends with a few rounds of Smash. The game is more complicated and has more controls than some entries here, but it remains a simple one to learn and enjoy.

This is easily the most complex game mentioned here in regards to controls. The game only uses about eight buttons (no matter which of the four controllers you choose to use), but there are multiple uses for many moves tied to these few buttons. Despite that, the game remains a frantic and enjoyable experience, even if you aren't sure exactly what is going on onscreen (which is me when playing most fighting games).

With all of the sheer chaos occurring onscreen, you may not be exactly sure what just happened, but you know it looked awesome and can’t wait to continue playing. The game allows up to eight people to play, and players can customize the amount of zaniness in matches and adjust things accordingly as needed. Just don’t complain when Great-grandma Anita wipes the floor with you.


Madden games

Available on anything. These games are literally available everywhere on every platform.

Can two players play at the same time? Two and more!

Control complexity? Moderate 

Now before you question this choice, hear me out. During some summers, I would visit my cousin, and we generally ending up playing video games. One day my uncle expressed interest in playing. Giddy with excitement, we naturally started him with the worst possible choice, Mass Effect. He called defeat with a few short, but oh so hilarious, minutes.

Next, we tried Call of Duty, he fared a little better, but he could not grasp the concept of operating two joysticks simultaneously. After my cousin met many a death at the hands of his dad’s grenades, we admitted defeat. My uncle then laid his eyes on Madden and being the football fanatic he is, asked to give it a whirl. My cousin and I decided it couldn’t be any worse than the other games, so we gave it a shot. We have regretted it ever since.

My uncle’s knowledge of football outweighed his lack of gaming skills, and he managed to defeat us over and over again. Things got to the point where he was asking us to play him because he wanted to try more advanced tactics.

I mention this story because you never know which games newcomers will do well when first introduced to gaming. If your grandparent has any interest in football, give Madden a shot. The controls are relatively simple, and the commands are usually posted on the screen for quick reference. Plays are assigned to a button so you know which play you are picking. Actions such as running, stiff-arm, and juking are all tied to individual buttons which are usually displayed before the ball is snapped. Each receiver is also assigned a button, so you know which receiver you are throwing the ball to with every play. 

You can also play the game together on the same team to help ease newcomers into the game. It’s a great idea for those who love sports, and an excellent starting point for the world of games.


There are plenty of games grandparents can play with their grandchildren, or can be used to entice your grandparent to give the world of gaming a shot. Star Fox Zero for the WiiU has an invincibility mode for newcomers. Pikmin 3 for the WiiU allows two captains to cooperate and attempt to salvage their spaceship to escape a hostile planet. Rocket League is a more advanced title, but for those who want a challenging and entertaining cooperative experience, look no further. For the truly awesome grandparents, look into Portal 2 for some cooperative, puzzle-solving goodness!

All of these titles I’ve mentioned are barely a drop in the ocean of family/grandparent-friendly games available.  Give these titles a shot, and see what happens. You never know. Maybe your grandparents have mad player skills waiting to be unleashed! After all, I can count the number of times I have beaten my uncle in Madden on one hand. Do not underestimate your opponent!

Do you have any games you play with your grandparents or grandchildren? Let us know in the comments below!


How to Review Episodic Games: A New Hope Tue, 07 Apr 2015 17:52:25 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

Episodic gaming has been around in some form as early as the late 70’s. However, it had largely been neglected for more standard forms of development and release. This thinking changed with the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and the rise of Telltale Games. Telltale has almost exclusively used the episodic format for their titles, and it has worked to their success.

Telltale has proven great games can be delivered in an episodic format. Despite having years to develop a system for reviewing episodic games, games media has stayed with the traditional review format for these titles. This traditional format does a disservice to readers and the games. So is there a better way to review these titles? There most certainly is!

The Audience

There are two major player bases for the episodic genre. The first player always buys the entire season. The second waits to see how the season as a whole shapes up and decides whether or not to purchase. The people who intend to buy the entire season do not benefit from reviews, so reviews should be tailored towards the players waiting to see how the proceedings pan out.

The Problem

The current review system evaluates each episode individually upon release, but it rarely evaluates the season as a whole. Why is this problematic? Well if you want to see how the entire season of The Walking Dead turned out, you have to research each episode’s review individually. Not only does this take a lot of time, but it rarely gives you a cohesive image of the season as a whole. Some seasons have lulls or slower episodes to either build tension or set up major events for future episodes.

For instance, the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands was zany. There were a lot of crazy and exciting things which occurred in the episode. Compared to Episode 1, Episode 2 is more restrained and a plateau episode. It is still good and some zaniness occurs, but it is obvious the episode is more reserved to further set the stage for future episodes. This is perfectly fine, and it is a great tactic to space out your water cooler moments with character and world building. Looking at the score differential between Episode One and Two, you might think there is a drop in quality. This is not the case. The second episode is simply a stage prep episode for what’s to come.

 They deserve to be treated as a singular game instead of multiple entries in a franchise. Your perception of the entire season can change on a whim, depending on how the rest of the season turns out.

So why is this a problem? If the second episode is not as good as the first it deserves a lower score right? Not exactly. While each episode is released individually and sold individually (although I have yet to meet anyone who purchases them this way), they are all part of a cohesive whole: a single game divided into easily digestible chapters. As such, they deserve to be treated as a singular game instead of multiple entries in a franchise. Your perception of the entire season can change on a whim, depending on how the rest of the season turns out.

Remember The Walking Dead: Season Two? It had some highs and lows, which would be easy to overlook as a whole if the final episode knocked it out of the park like Season One did. In the end, I found myself disappointed with Season TwoOn the other hand, The Wolf Among Us also had some issues. However, after playing through the season, I immediately recommended it to several friends. Sure it had awkward pacing at times, some strange character behavior, and under-utilized characters, but it was easy to overlook those flaws when evaluating the game as whole.

Depending on the rest of the season, my glowing opinion of Tales from the Borderlands and my negative opinion of Game of Thrones may change. The beauty of episodic games is how they are smaller portions of a whole. The way they are evaluated should reflect this.

A New Approach

I think the solution is a rather easy one, but it seems no one is doing it. When I reviewed The Wolf Among Us, I reviewed the season as a whole. Since I had just played through the entire season, it was easy to assess the game as a single meal instead of individual courses at a meal. But what about when sites need to keep up with each new episode’s release? Rather than simply reviewing the episodes in a traditional format, write an impressions post. In comparison to a review, an impressions post is more personal and less concerned with delivering a score. Being an impressions post, these posts should also eschew the beloved review score.

In comparison to a review, an impressions post is more personal and less concerned with delivering a score. Being an impressions post, these posts should also eschew the beloved review score. 

I know. I know. Blasphemy right? However, along with writing a more impressions style post and abandoning reviews scores, the posts should evaluate the episodes as they relate to the entire season. Instead of simply appraising each individual episode as separate entities, the posts would detail how the entire season is coming along. How are things shaping up as a whole and paint of picture of the impressions of the season with each release instead of a definite review. As I mentioned before, one episode or moment can ruin an entire season of solid content in the same way a stupid twist can ruin an otherwise solid or decent (stretching that definition there, I know) film.  

  • Stop reviewing each episode as a singular game
  • Refrain from assigning a score to episodes
  • Write more impression-based posts instead of definite reviews
  • Evaluate the episodes as they relate to the season as a whole
  • Keep the consumer in mind

By altering the way we cover these games, we better assist the consumers who did not purchase the season beforehand. After all, aren’t we in the games media covering these games to help the consumer decide what is worth their hard-earned money? If there is a way we can better enlighten the player, should we not change the way we cover these games?

The suggestions I have outlined here are by no means the definitive way to cover these titles, I am sure someone more intelligent than me could devise something more appropriate. But we should rethink the way we cover these games to paint a better picture for consumers and also to do more justice to the games themselves. 

Spartacus Legends Developers Are Taking Suggestions to Improve The Game! Fri, 16 Aug 2013 10:54:58 -0400 Cottagepk

It's always great when a game developer reaches out to their consumers and asks them how to improve their game.

If you are a fan of Spartacus Legends,and you want to put in your two cents... then you can! Kung Fu Factory has opened up a thread on their official forums where they will be reading our suggestions and make them a reality. As a big fan of the game, it's a great time to request some of the long-awaited features, such as offline local play, playing against friends, more legendary gladiators, and more armor and weapon choices. 

The official thread already has some great suggestions and I encourage everyone to +1 all the suggestions they believe are worthy to be looked at by the developers. Some of the suggestions include a list of legendary gladiators and their fighting styles, a new "Axe" fighting style, and other previously mentioned styles. Any and all suggestions are welcome and I am personally  looking forward to all suggestions posted. Here is the official forum topic.

For more articles regarding Spartacus Legends and other games, stick to GameSkinny. For more gameplay and commentary, subscribe to my YouTube channel.