Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fuck You, I Won't Do What You Tell Me

So I was reading an article on League of Legends (LoL) and how it's rumoured to now be more popular than World of Warcraft (WoW). The online count and playerbase are now higher, but there's the obvious facts that 1. WoW requires a monthly subscription, 2. WoW is now 7 years old to LoL's 3 years, and 3. LoL is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and WoW is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG); two very different genres.

A lot of people I know are aware that I'm not too keen on either game; I dislike Blizzard as a company and the monthly subscription model and most people I've come into contact with who play LoL change as people after playing the game; they become a lot more confrontational and generally douchey. The attitude of LoL players isn't unique to the game though; I have many memories of arrogant PvPers from Guild Wars too, something which severely held that aspect of the game back in later years as the PvP player base dwindled as people moved on to other games.

Online gaming as a whole can be a very daunting place for a newbie. I'm of course not talking about Farmville and its clones, but what I consider to be 'proper' online games where you interact with large groups of players. While there are a lot of adults such as myself who grew up with games and still play them, gaming as a whole is still viewed, somewhat unfairly, as a child's pastime. Personally speaking, I see no difference between watching a film and playing some Halo for 3 hours. If anything, I'm more likely to be immersed in a game than I am a film due to the level of interaction and how players are more in control of the story development, even in games with a linear story.

Poor sportsmanship is something that's too common nowadays in online gaming, whether it's PvP, PvE or co-operative play. There's a long history of it and over time it's gotten worse. One famous example is:
Leeroy Jenkins
While Leeroy was amusing as hell with what he did and said, it was one of those moments when someone decides to be an epic douche for whatever reason and end up spoiling the game for others. I still laugh at the video though and it's certainly a world apart from the abuse that some people dish out daily in online games.

When I first started online gaming in 2007, I was very reluctant to party and compete with others. There was the worry that I would either let my team down or not be good enough. I know this is something that a lot of people still concern themselves with and generally speaking, the more established the game, the less they're going to feel comfortable with playing with others. The worry is always there that you're going to be cussed out for being called a noob and receive abuse. I actually got into PvP in Guild Wars whilst in a PvE guild. There were a few people who had PvP experience who wanted to mess around with the daily quests and earn rewards who didn't mind taking less experienced players under their wing. Being a relatively quick learner in PvE roles, I decided that I could apply the same to PvP and would feel more comfortable doing so alongside people who I knew who were patient. The first thing I learned is that everyone makes mistakes, even the 'pros'. I would quite often observe PvP matches too in order to develop my playing as well.

I mentioned before LoL's poor sportsmanship and I have heard the LoL community blasted a lot by players and critics alike so seeing a professional player was permanently banned for poor sportsmanship was incredibly positive. I've thought for quite some time that the standard of behaviour in online gaming has fallen dramatically over the years. Yes, there were always people who were absolute wankers to others, but now it seems as if every single damn person in competitive online gaming is suffering from the same problem. I'm well aware there are many children and teenagers playing online who think they can get away with terrible attitudes online. I've also met plenty of adults who are the same, sadly. Of course, it doesn't just apply to gaming but the internet in general; gaming is just the one area where it's really apparent. Seeing Riot take action against a professional level gamer sends a very positive message to the gaming community as a whole, especially with LoL's recent spurt in popularity and the poor reputation of its playerbase. I was banned myself for 72 hours on Guild Wars for being abusive to another player in PvP. There's generally trash talk involved to some degree in PvP as it is and I admit that day I was goaded into it and crossed a line along with another guild member. The person who reported us was heavily disliked in our alliance and had a serious grudge against us involving stuff that had gone on before I even joined the guild. Seeing our tags that day and us kicking her ass, well... I didn't quibble with the decision and sat my 72 hours out doing other things. I was pretty ashamed of myself that I had risen to the bait. I made sure after that ban that I watched what I said, even when I had rank 10+ players baiting my entire team. It's not worth getting banned because someone else is being a douche.

From what I could understand of IWillDominate's actions, he was someone who had routinely flamed and bashed other players, thinking that because he was a professional level player that the rules didn't apply to him and he could get away with his behaviour. The really interesting part is some of the reactions to his ban where other professional players think he shouldn't have been punished because he had earned the right to do as he likes. Sadly this attitude of "I do what I want" is prevalent throughout online gaming. A lot of people enjoy the anonymity that comes with being behind a computer screen. The thing is, actions have consequences, even online and few people seem to be able to grasp this. The sad fact is, it's not just the children. Adults who should know better and be aware of repercussions following their actions also exhibit this behaviour, possibly forgetting that if they displayed the same attitude, it would cost them their job. As IWillDominate was a professional gamer, that's essentially what has happened with his ban and Riot were well within their rights to take said action.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Primary Role of the Government is to Protect Property From the Majority and So It Remains

You know, it's been quite an amusing December 3rd. First of all, it was International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which in England was particularly ironic considering  some new legislation especially for us with disabilities! No, it's not the re-opening of workhouses, but it's pretty close. From today in England, all of us who are on sickness benefit and deemed 'fit to work', will have to do so. For nothing. For as long as they feel like making us do it. If we don't? We lose our money.

Now, I get some people haven't worked in their lives. I'm not one of those people. Currently I'm having to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as I'm long term sick, have no specified date when I will be fit to work again and wouldn't be able to hold down a job. When ESA was brought in, the idea was to replace the old Incapacity Benefit (IB) which didn't have reassessments and people just claimed for as long as their doctors would sign them off for. Obviously this wasn't the most efficient of systems, hence the reformation and introduction of ESA which would work nicely if it worked properly. See, the problem with ESA is that the government contracted this French IT company called Atos to do the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs).

Something struck me as strange about this; why would you ignore the fact that we have a national health care system who could do these assessments and appoint an IT firm to do them? So, Atos basically pays "healthcare professionals" to conduct these WCAs. When you go to them at/around the 13 week period of your ESA claim, you're not even guaranteed to be seeing someone who has an understanding of your conditions. They're meant to have information from your GP and any hospital/medical reports. You are in turn expected to provide any details of medication and treatment. The WCA is divided into two sections: the interview and the physical. The interview is a series of questions about how your day to day routine is affected by your illness, the physical is meant to assess your ability to perform simple physical movements. As far as I can tell, the ESA50 form that you fill in prior to this is meant to dictate what happens in the medical itself.

In my personal case, I have both physical and mental health issues. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) at 19 following 5 years of depression and self harm, soliosis (curvature of the spine) at 18 after 3 years of issues with my knees and back which I initially thought were due to the physical nature of the work I did and playing hockey, then borderline personality disorder (BPD) at 24 following further self harming, depression and suicide attempts as well as increasingly erratic behaviour. In my WCA, I was asked about how I had been coping with the wait for the medical, how I had gotten there and some questions about my daily routine. Now, as someone who has health issues that fluctuate (particularly the BPD), I wasn't entirely sure what sort of response to give, so I spoke as if it was one of my worse days. When it came to the physical, I was having issues getting on and off the couch which was raised a fair distance above the ground and had no supports to help me stabilise myself, on top of the fact that as I was getting down, even though the woman doing my assessment saw I was having issues, she walked back over to the desk and didn't bother helping. Apparently I'm far from the only person who has had this happen so courtesy is something also excluded from these assessments.

I'm currently waiting on the results of my WCA, so only time will tell whether they find me fit to work or not. The really dispiriting part is that people have been dying as a result of these inaccurate assessments. Last month, disabled rights movement Spartacus published The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment, which was a report put together by those who have been through the ESA system themselves or helped others through the process in a response to Professor Harrington's third and final independent WCA review. An average of 73 people die each week as a result of the WCA process. In a first world country. Britain.

Today there was a 2 minute silence in remembrance for those who have died as a result of these despicable assessments. There has been increasing social media coverage of events and even celebrities speaking out against the effective genocide in my country. It's funny because it also makes a mockery of the Second World War; you know, how Britain fought against the Nazis and has similar inhumane acts going on.

Groups like Spartacus, DPAC, UK Uncut and The Black Triangle Campaign have been doing sterling work across social media in drawing attention to and in supporting those who are experiencing distress and strife with the cuts from the government.

Although there have been a number of demonstrations (I'm going to a local one on Friday outside the Atos branch that I had my WCA at), one feels as if nothing's changing. There are more and more people speaking out now about the persecution of the disabled, and yet there are no changes to anything and everything seems to be falling on deaf ears. I seriously worry how much more blood needs to be shed before something happens.