Is Dreamhack Still Going ahead in 2021?

This global pandemic has hit everyone hard. There is no doubt about that. Nearly every industry out there is suffering. Concerts and sporting events have been canceled all over the place. And the gaming community is left wondering if the most popular events in the gaming world will even go ahead anymore?

This year we saw some of the biggest gaming events canceled. E3 didn’t go ahead, and instead, we were treated to individual showcases from the studios. With a lot of great surprises along the way.

PAX had to cancel a few of their expos as well. Usually, at the hub of the gaming community, this was a hit for everyone.

But the big question on everyone’s mind is this: Is Dreamhack going ahead in 2021?

 

What is Dreamhack

Dreamhack, for those that don’t know, is the world’s largest LAN party. Owned and run by a company of the same name, every year hundreds upon thousands of gamers flock to Sweden to participate in a solid 72 hours of non-stop gaming.

Due to the nature of Dreamhack, it also features the world’s fastest internet connection and is responsible for the most web traffic of anywhere at any time.

Dreamhack hosts all of the top-level e-sports games, such as Counter-Strike and LoL. There are high-end tournaments taking place over the weekend, with large cash prizes up for grabs. And there are small tournaments designed for anyone to be able to enter and take their shot at a few prizes.

Dreamhack also has a designated sleeping area where people can crash with their own sleeping bags. Rather than spend time in a hotel, just take a power nap and get back to gaming as soon as you’re ready.

But it is so much more than simply gaming. Dreamhack is also host to a slew of live concerts as well. This is matched by a myriad of fascinating art exhibitions, panels with game developers, costume contests, and a variety of food trucks. Dreamhack is a festival all its’ own, fueled by the passion for gaming.

Those in attendance can bring their own PC with them, or hire one for the weekend. So even if you don’t have a top of the range gaming PC, you can still take part.

2020

Everyone was geared up and ready for Dreamhack Summer 2020. The main hall had been retrofitted with All DXRacer gaming chair series chairs, to make sure all those in attendance were comfortable for their prolonged gaming sessions.

But then we were hit with a global pandemic. Dreamhack is not a festival that can socially distance. The sheer number of computers means there is little space between attendees. Not to mention the sleeping areas are always packed and the walkways are tight. So the decision was made to cancel the event for everyone’s safety.

A sad, but understandable decision. Originally, the event organizers had no idea what the world would look like in 2021. No one did for a while. And to an extent, we still don’t.

 

2021

As of this moment in time, Dreamhack summer is set to go ahead in 2021. But there are some provisions to that. The world is still in an uncertain position. We have no idea if companies will even be allowed to host events next year. Not to mention 2020 could still throw something else at us with a few months left in the year.

The organizers are warning people to plan for the trip, but don’t set their hopes too high. If they have to cancel again, it will be because it is the safest option and they are hoping people will understand.

How Profile Boosting Makes Gaming more Accessible

Profile Boosting is a controversial subject in the gaming world, is it right that a new user should have access to some of the higher-ranked unlockable in any game, without going through the process of unlocking themselves. The short answer is yes, and the longer answer will be explained now.

 

Does it Create a Fair Playing Field?

It seems the only people that are against profile boosting are those who got onto a game early and managed to get the best items before anyone else had a chance. This means that players who are late to a game will have a far tougher time getting to the same point. Profile boosting completely levels out the playing field and allows for new players to have a similar level of enjoyment.

 

Is it Safe?

This is another major criticism from other players, the shear safety of the process. Well, this is a yes and no situation, because it completely depends on who you go to for the profile boost. The more established companies, like Rat IRL are obviously completely safe, though their services may come at a higher price. This does come with a safety promise and an understanding that your profile will be handled with care, unlike others who may promise to do it on the cheap, but it is highly likely that they will be scammers who are simply looking to steal your information.

 

Is it Bannable?

This depends on a game by game basis, but games CS-GO and LOL are fine with the process, there are no hacking or mods involved, it is simply another player using your profile. Even in the gaming companies, they see profile boosting as a necessity in keeping their games both fair and active. So please do not worry.

Are Gaming Lounges The Future Of Multiplayer Gaming?

For those who are old enough to remember, Internet Cafes used to be a real thing. Banks of computers all lined up paired with a full cafe service. I remember going on holiday as a child and being amazed by this wonder of computerized convenience. Now, we walk around with the internet in our pocket, running on phones more powerful than any computers of the early 2000’s.

And with the internet, gaming has also developed and changed. Time was, arcades were the social hub of the gaming community. Everyone would meet up and crowd around Pac-Man or DDR, funneling coins into the machines to have a good time. Now, you can play with your friends from the comfort of your own home. We have slowly seen gaming move from an in-person activity, to a distance one.

And this is great for its own reasons. Ease of access, comfort, not to mention how it benefits those with anxiety. But as the modern high-street changes we are seeing a new wave of gaming community form. Gaming Lounges.

 

Gaming Together

The idea is simple. Like an internet cafe, gaming lounges are filled with a variety of consoles and games, paired often with comfortable seating and cafe services. Clients can pay a flat rate to enter and then play any of the games. The business will make its money back from the entry fee and the food and drink they sell.

You might think this wouldn’t work, that people would just play their consoles at home. But there are a number of factors to consider.

The biggest being community. These lounges allow friends to come together for some retro couch co-op, letting them experience the games of their childhood. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people. It is often the gaming aficionados that frequent these lounges, so everyone has a lot in common.

Secondly, comfort. These lounges are specially designed to create an optimal gaming experience. Custom low-back couches. As we know, these couches are great for gaming. Top-quality TV’s to play on and waiter service to bring all your food to you. Its the extra comfort that makes it all worth it.

Hidden Gems

Often these gaming lounges are run by people with a passion for gaming. And, as such, they strive to make sure their lounge is filled with only the best games and quality consoles. It is very common to find a lot of rare titles hidden away in these places. For the general gamer, if they want to play an old rare title, it could cost them up to hundreds of dollars. Or they can spend a small entry fee and play it at a lounge while supporting a local business too.

Playing Pro

If you look at the community based around trading card games, their pro environments thrive in person. This is partly, of course, due to the physical nature of the game. But if you fill a room with 20-30 players of a game, they are going to share ideas, tactics, and stories.

This is another advantage of gaming lounges. For players who approach their games with a more professional attitude, they can come together for practice sessions, pre-arranged battles and just to chat and share their tips and tricks. This social hub for gaming, like a sports bar, can only bring multiplayer gaming further into the future.

So, are Gaming Lounges the Future of Multiplayer Gaming? I think it’s impossible to say they are the be-all and end-all of it. But they are definitely changing the social landscape in a fantastically positive way, and their impact on the multiplayer scene can’t be ignored.

Why More Retirement Villages Are Utilizing Video Games For Their Residents

Some retirement villages have started introducing their residents to video gaming. Sound strange? Not to the residents who are making gaming a part of their day. Video gaming is no longer just for the younger generations. Older generations are taking advantage of their free time to see what’s changed about gaming since their youth, and they’re becoming the pros. Video gaming has become popular in retirement villages because of the positive effects on their residents; from eradicating feelings of loneliness, staving off boredom, creating an online village (as well as living in one), and defeating stereotypes about the elderly, video gaming is doing all kinds of good.

 

Making Your Mind Run A Mile

Being active when you’re older can become harder, but being active doesn’t always mean running a mile. Video gaming is a great way to keep the mind active, like puzzle-solving, escapism, testing reflexes, multi-tasking and being creative; gaming tests all kinds of skills provides all kinds of outlets and is more engaging than simply watching TV. From consoles to PCs, gaming is no longer a generational phenomenon. If you looked, in some retirement villages you might find its residents waiting out respawn times on World of Warcraft with a digital crossword, with the ability to Unscramble Words in seconds with their newfound technological skills. The true multi-tasking gamer.

 

Loneliness, Stay Away

Loneliness happens to everyone. But one of the many good things about living in a digital age is, even if you can’t be physically close to someone, there’s always another person on the internet, just a click of a button away. Bringing video gaming into retirement villages is a brilliant way to stop more of its isolated residents from feeling lonely. Whether or not there’s direct communication with other players on games, the simple act of playing with other people can be enough to brighten someone’s day. On the Nintendo Switch’s game ‘Splatoon’, you’re thrown together with random players and forced to cooperate in order to win. Victories are made all the sweeter after finding a way to win on a team of complete strangers, and losses are made easier knowing you’re not alone in your disappointment.

 

Community Fun (And Bowling Feuds)

Aside from keeping loneliness away, video gaming can also create communities. Whether that be online or in-person, video gaming is another gateway to making friends. Online gaming communities are vast, from the gaming platform itself to apps made for easier communication and grouping, or websites where discussions about gaming endlessly take place, there are opportunities to find community niches everywhere. It can, again, be refreshing to find those online who fit your gaming niche who you never would have had the chance to meet in person.

In retirement villages, video gaming can also create in-person communities. Nintendo Wii bowling tournaments can create friendships that they never have formed otherwise. They also give residents and event to socialize around and activity to bond over. Although, I’m sure they can get pretty heated too.

 

That Sweet Nostalgia

While some make jokes that older generations don’t know how to use technology today, video gaming wasn’t invented in the 90s. Bringing video games into retirement villages may bring happy memories spent in arcades and of gaming away youthful summers for many residents there. Video games may be a welcome reintroduction to the world of digital entertainment. And without jobs or time-consuming commitments, video gaming is a great way to spend time relaxing and enjoying retirement. Although procrastination isn’t as fun when there’s nothing to procrastinate, video games are still a great commodity to introduce into retirement villages.

 

From keeping the mind active (and cheating on crosswords), keeping away loneliness (and getting very invested in Splatoon), being part of a community (while arguing over bowling team names) and bringing back memories (ah yes, Pacman), video gaming is a great tool, and not only for the younger generations. There are many reasons why retirement villages are utilizing video games for their residents, and the above are only some of the many benefits gaming can have. So next time you visit your elderly relatives, maybe ask them if they want to play Fortnite. And I would practice beforehand if I were you.

The Content of Our Characters

It’s been a little while — sorry! I had hoped to have written a whole series of posts (languishing in draft stage) right now, but I suddenly got a new job, and while I was adjusting to that, my Kickstarter for Dog Eat Dog wrapped up (with a total of $6,704, woo!). Suffice to say I’ve got a lot on my plate right now! And, of course, in the middle of all that, I got embroiled in a discussion of racism, growing ultimately from the same source that drove me to write Big Chiefs — a perception that some of the entries in Game Chef were appropriating elements of Native American culture without much concern for how that might affect their audience.

I don’t want to write a huge screed about racism in the gaming community — for one thing, I’ve already written like five this week. But here’s a thing. The gaming community — for almost every form of gaming — is predominantly white, predominantly male, predominantly hetero, cisgender, etc. etc. ad kyriarchum. Most of the time this passes without notice (except by the queer female gamers of color, etc.). But every so often somebody will ask a question like “How do we attract more women to gaming?”

This is the wrong approach to the problem.

Women aren’t a scarce resource or a prey animal. The majority of people on the planet are women. They have access to the same media, the same conversations, the same decision-making process as men. They’re just making different choices, in the aggregate. Just look at Facebook. Some game designers have negative opinions about social games, sure, but there’s no denying that they have a radically different — and radically more inclusive — demographic than older, more traditional forms of gaming. (Which is one big reason any game designer should be paying attention to them.) So it’s not as if there aren’t as many women out there who enjoy games in the abstract as there are men. It’s the individual examples giving them pause — and the communities built up around those examples.

Cognition is a network process — necessarily, it’s built around pattern recognition, because networks are specialized towards forming unexpected connections. People understand their lives in terms of narratives, because narratives are patterns of human behavior and interaction. So when people see narratives, either in content or discussion of that content, in which people like them are nonexistent, or used only as foils, villains, freaks, or comic relief, they absorb those narratives, and connect them to the content in question. (And to themselves, in the longer term.) When people perceive the mores of a community as requiring them to swallow their hurt or pretend not to be the people they are, they extend those mores to the topics the community is centered around. (And, again, to their own mores.)

Here’s James W. Loewen, from Lies My Teacher Told Me:

Caste minority children — Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics — do worse in all subjects, compared to white or Asian American children, but the gap is largest in social studies. That is because the way American history is taught particularly alienates students of color and children from impoverished families. Feel-good history for affluent white males inevitably amounts to feel-bad history for everybody else…Most have-not students do not consciously take offense and do not rebel but are nonetheless subtly put off. It hurts children’s self-image to swallow what their history books teach about the exceptional fairness of America. Black students consider America history, as usually taught, “white” and assimilative, so they resist learning it. This explains why research shows a bigger performance differential between poor and rich students, or black and white students, in history than in other school subjects. Girls also dislike social studies and history even more than boys, probably because women and women’s concerns and perceptions still go underrepresented in history classes. (p. 301-302)

And history is something you have to take in school.

The question to ask isn’t “How do we attract more women (or people of color, or queer people) to gaming?”

It’s “How do we stop driving them away?”

Imagining Better Futures Through Play — 2013 Call for Proposals

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated here, and I hope to come back soon to talk about finishing up my Kickstarter and about my next game — a board game about waiting tables — and possibly plans for the future.

For today, though, I wanted to tell you about my current focus, the Allied Media Conference, a yearly gathering of media makers focused on social change. I debuted Dog Eat Dog at the AMC in Detroit last year, where it appeared in the Drop-In Playpen as part of the Imagining Better Futures Through Play track, a set of sessions focused on using games to create new media experiences and new narratives with which to understand our world. You can imagine how excited I was to hear about this track originally, as it fit perfectly with what I originally designed Dog Eat Dog to accomplish! If you’re somebody who’s interested in socially conscious and radical game design, and you can only go to one convention a year, I’d recommend the AMC over every other conference. Of course, you’d expect me to say that, since I found it so rewarding last year that this year I’m working on the Imagining Better Futures Through Play track myself!

Right now we’re trying to put together our list of sessions for this years’s convention. If you design games, write about games or just play a lot of games, and you think you might want to come to AMC, I encourage you to propose a session. We need skills and viewpoints from throughout the spectrum, from tabletop to computer and beyond. Here’s the official Call for Proposals. If you have any interest, here’s the link at which to submit a proposal. Don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the other coordinators for help putting a proposal together.