Saturday, May 9, 2015

Gamerscore Discrimination

While there are a lot of ways in which other players will judge (and even discriminate) each other in the world of online gaming, perhaps one of the most egregious and objectionable is to judge a gamer  by nothing more than their Gamerscore - or lack thereof...

Due to recent events - specifically one of our very good mates was recently married (well, technically they were re-married) and as they now have a brand new family complete with teenage daughter and two not-identical teenage sons --  they have recently purchased a brand spanking new Xbox One console for their new family. 

Now I am not going to even bother with pointing out that the reason for the purchase was so that the boys will not want or need to play on my mates personal Xbox One.  I totally understand not wanting strange paws on your consoles!

My mate happens to be a games journalist who makes his nut each week by previewing and reviewing games, and covering game events for a major newspaper.  So naturally he has pretty much unfettered access to the studio and PR system and, as a result, a very impressive games library for all of the major console systems.

I actually think that what he has done is pretty cool - it is not like he took the boys to the end of the dock and threw them in the water and said "Sink or Swim BudEEE!"

Instead what he did was hook up the new console in the den, attaching it to the massive 56" flatscreen and its theater sound system there - and then tell the boys:

"You can check out games from my game library as long as they are NOT rated M (for Mature) or above. 

"If you want to play a game that is rated M or above you need to get your Mum's permission - which means SHE needs to come and discuss the game with ME.

"Fail to do that and you will be cut off from access to the games library totally."

Naturally both of the boys instantly agreed to these conditions.

So he walked them through creating their own Gamertags - and he even created a Gamertag for their Mum and made it the primary on the new XBone - giving it 12 months of Gold so basically ALL of the accounts on that XBone have gold.  How cool is that?!

So the boys began playing - naturally enough most of the games that they played were ones that they could both play at the same time and with each other.  They very quickly began to rack up what I consider to be respectable gamerscores - they have only been playing on their new Gamertags for like six or so weeks and they are already each above 4K in gamerscore!

To clarify this I know gamers - in fact I have FRIENDS in my followers list - who have been playing for YEARS and have less than 5K Gamerscores1

So it is pretty understandable how the boys ended up getting upset when some loser in a COD lobby told them that their low Gamerscores clearly revealed that they are totally lame newbs not worthy to play with.

Okay, ignoring for the moment that these are two preteens (they are both 12) whose new dad is pretty hip and cool, and they are not playing lame games mind you, standing over them and totally judging them by having less than a five-digit Gamerscore when they have only been gaming for six weeks?!  That is sooooo lame!

What is Gamerscore?

If you do not happen to be a gamer you may be confused right about now by my use of words like Gamertag, Gamerscore, and the like.  So I thought I would quickly if briefly explain that so that we are all on the same page here.

Gamertags: A Gamertag is the account name - and the actual name - by which you, a gamer, are known on the LIVE Network.

A Gamertag includes a surprising amount of information about the person to whom it belongs, including:
  • Their real name (though it is usually concealed)
  • Geographical Location - where in the world they are and whether they have seen Waldo?
  • Gamer Icon / Picture - an image that they picked to represent themselves 
  • Reputation Score (which by default as long as they have had no complaints lodged against them should be three out of five stars) 
  • Gaming Zone - the self-proclaimed zone in which they think they belong... There are four of them: Recreational / Family / Pro / and Underground.
  • Motto - a motto or phrase that they can add to their profile to express their gaming attitude
  • Bio - a short paragraph or two that they can use to say things about themselves...
In addition to the above the Gamertag also displays the last four Achievements that they have unlocked in the games that they play, as well as a list of their friends and followers.

On the new Xbox One a LOT more information and a deeper examination of their Achievements and actual online activities on LIVE is readily available - but the one other thing that is displayed here that is important in terms of this post is the Gamerscore that they have earned.

Gamerscore: This is a number that represents the cumulative total score that all of the Achievements that the gamer has unlocked is worth.

Every game for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and even certain mobile phones that can access the Games for Windows (mobile) LIVE are required to have a set number of Gamerscore spanning the various Achievements that they are also required to have.

Generally speaking a game should have 1000 Gamerscore (usually written as "1000g" as well as a reasonable number of Achievements (an Achievement is a specific action, activity, or collection of items that the players try to complete in a game).

Rachel fainted when she learned Javier's Gamerscore was 448,545 - overwhelmed by its manly powers!
Despite the fact that Gamerscore really is only an indication of how much game play one has completed, it really is not a very good scheme for judging the merits of a gamer and their gaming skills.

Now the individual Achievements that a gamer has unlocked?  Well that is a different story, because that CAN tell you a lot about their skills.

Xbox LIVE: Xbox LIVE is the online gaming and partly social network to which Microsoft's gaming consoles are connected and to which those willing to pay for the privilege can connect. 

Back to the Post Now

D'accord we should be all on the same page now...

So the boys are out in the den playing some game and some jerk boots them out of the game play lobby for the game and tells them they suck.

Very upset, they pop into Dad's office where Dad and I are sitting chatting and they tell him what has happened.

That triggers one of the major talks that all Dads today have to have with their sons - and that is the "Son(s) the world is full of a mixture of people and some of them are Asshats."

In the end all that he can do is urge them to consider the source, give them hugs, and tell them that they are boss with him!  I of course tell them they are awesome and I will play with them any time they want and to pudding with that asshat!

My wife is constantly accusing me of speaking Eskimo -- when I say something off-color or outright profane she will chide me, saying "That is too Eskimo!" 

Now clearly she must know something about the indigenous people inhabiting northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland that I do not know...  But then she IS a Cultural Anthropologist, so yeah, that would make sense...

UPDATE: I have since learned that the phrase actually originates in a series of books that she read as a child and that she likes.  

The phrase and its explanation can be found in the book Belles on their Toes, by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (Harper Perennial, ISBN-13: 978-0060598235) which is the sequel to the book Cheaper by the Dozen (Martino Fine Books, ISBN-13: 978-1614275008)

""Don't be Eskimo," Mother warned.  "Eskimo" was Mother's word for anything that was deemed evil minded."
So anyway yeah, I try not to be so Eskimo...

The kind words and reassurance was too little to really blunt the pain that the harsh judgement by that asshat had caused but what else could we do?

What is YOUR Gamerscore?

I was more than a little miffed so I went to the den and used the gamepad to chat with the asshat, first checking HIS Gamerscore, which was 11,485.

"Why is a newbie like you judging a pair of 12-year-olds who have only been gaming for like two months?!" I asked.

His reply was "I'ma Pro daddie what is yer gamerscores?" he answered.

Now clearly he thought I was their dad.  I set that straight.

I am not their parent, I am sort of an uncle.  But since you asked, my Gamerscore is 150,855" I answered.

"You are a total liar!" they replied.

"Their dad's Gamerscore is 132,555" I added.

"Bullshit! They declared.

So I told him - "My Gamertag is Recnef look me up."

A few minutes go by and they finally send the following message: "Huh that is really impressive but you probably cheated."

Wow.  Nice.  Classic.

I then showed the boys how to set a Gamertag to Ignore, removing its ability to send you ANY sort of communication or message - and then showed them how to set it to be avoided, though I had to explain that this does not always work.

In practice the game servers will TRY to prevent them from being included in a multi-player game lobby you are in if it can but there is no guarantee.

Live is so short in terms of time and all, so why should we have to tolerate the asshats of the world?  Really!

And hey - Asshats?  No matter how cool and bad you think you are, there is ALWAYS going to be someone out there better than you...

1 comment:

phobet said...

This seems more about cyber bullying than it is about discrimination. Unfortunately, assholes are everywhere, including online gaming. It doesn't mean *every* gamer is an asshole, it just means assholes in the online gaming world are afforded a platform in which they can bully people on a world wide stage. In this case, the ignore button can be your greatest weapon.