This is going to be a short and to the point post.

There was a pretty big NDA breach and info leak today, regarding the cash shop. No, I will not post the images that were leaked, nor will I point you towards where to find them. Chances are if you’re here you’ve seen them already, and if you haven’t, it’s not hard to find them. And, as ever, people are flipping out.

What do I have to say?

Shame on you all.

The person that broke NDA in the first place, those who spread the info around, and those who are screeching to the high heavens about it – you should all be ashamed.

I do not blame the owners of the forums where these things were posted – the first few links I saw pointing to it on GW2G, for example, were deleted. I understand that once stuff like this gets out, it is near-impossible to stop it. I am, however, disgusted with the individual members who decided they needed to post these things everywhere they could. I am disgusted with the “end of the world” nonsense from people. We are all adults here – or at least, for the most part. We should all know how to express disagreement without resorting to sheer hair-tearing rage.

But I am the most disgusted and appalled with whoever it was that leaked the information to begin with. Izzie pointed out earlier on twitter that she thinks that this was malicious in nature, and I agree. Whoever leaked this knew that it was something that would cause a lot of trouble within the community. Not to mention the timing of it – just after details about how microtransactions would work. They knew what they were doing and did it intentionally.

Today is one of those days where I do not envy the community managers their jobs in the least. And I hope that whoever leaked this info is found out and faces the wrath of Martin.

Who am I? (Another Tale)

Dak again, to join in the GuildMag character diversity blog carnival!  This is written from the second person perspective, as speaking to one of my planned characters, since I couldn’t resist a chance to hear him speak myself.

Well, all of the stories, really.

Ah, hello!  Come, join me at the bar, my friend.  The stoutest ale for the both of us.

You seem new to these parts, so allow me to welcome you to Hoelbrak, my home and the home of many norn, when we’re not testing ourselves against the wilds.

Myself?  I am Arrun the Chronicler, son of Asgeir the Iron-Maul.  Norn are people of great deeds, and we achieve immortality by performing feats none other can.  When our tales have passed into legend, retold night after night by a raging fire, then we become eternal!  And I have taken it upon myself to gather those stories, catalog the greatest epics the world has to offer, then tell them wherever I go.  When my tradition is spread through the norn nation, then I, too, will be legendary, the Great Chronicler!

Ahhh… a wondrous draught if ever I tasted one.  Of course, I wouldn’t be much of a norn if I couldn’t handle myself!  I am a ranger, as fleet of foot as my arrows take to the air.  But in my mind, the most important quality of the greatest of heroes is cunning.  Only with guile can you outwit your enemy, or your prey, with truly legendary style.  Mental prowess keeps a hunter like me one step ahead.

For the most part, anyway.  We all have our lapses, and, well… at a recent moot, I had a bit too much to drink, and wagered a family heirloom on a test of strength… I lost.  But we norn are ever optimistic, and when I meet him again I will get it back somehow!

I know this because Snow Leopard, one of our Spirits of the Wild, spoke to me when I was but a cub.  She teaches us strategy, stealth, independence, and how to laugh when danger looms.  Her wisdom has guided me since, and I know she has great intentions in store for me.  She has even sent me a snow leopard pet to aid my life’s journey, and its grace and stealth is ever an inspiration for me to act in kind.

Tomorrow I will go to the Wayfarer Foothills, and visit the shrines to the Spirits of the Wild there before heading to the Great Hunt with Eir Stegalkin and Knut Whitebear.  I’ve had a feeling that my life will soon change, and I intend to throw myself into it headlong.

I am Arrun the Chronicler, and in collecting the stories of many I will create a story all my own.

Gold, karma, and gems, oh my.

Today we got a new blog post from ArenaNet – and this time, about something that can be truly controversial; microtransactions, and how they will handle them.

It’s no surprise at all that they will exist in Guild Wars 2; that we knew already. After all, it is a non-subscription game, so they need some other way of making money than just box sales, and they’ve told us for quite a while that they will exist.

Essentially, in Guild Wars 2, there will be three forms of currency that can be used to purchase things. Gold, which is just regular standard in-game money you get from playing the game and can be used to purchase items, both from NPC merchant and others. Karma is a special type of currency that you earn from doing in-game events and you cannot trade. And gems, the new one, which is purchased with real money and can be used to buy things in the cash shop.

Oh, and gems can also be traded to other players for standard gold, and vice-versa.

That part I’m…honestly, I’m not entirely sure what to think about it. They do state that they do not want anything purchased in the cash shop to give an unfair advantage. But the fact that gems can be traded for gold to buy in-game items is…iffy. It is an advantage for those who have a bit more disposable income, but I’m not convinced it’s an unfair one, which is the real crux of the argument here. Chances are slim (or non-existent entirely) that you’ll be able to purchase anything that’s really any better than what you can pick up for your level, after all. You won’t be able to buy armor that’s drastically better, just maybe different-looking. Ultimately, I feel like it will just wind up being cosmetic differences in the end.

But I don’t know. Something about it still doesn’t sit entirely right with me. It does seem to go against what they’ve done before. It’s not buy-to-win by any means (you still have to play the game after all!), but it just feels a bit…off.

One part about it I do like, though, very much. The fact that gems can be traded amongst players means that cash shop items are actually now also purchasable with in-game gold, albeit in a slightly roundabout way. For example, say there’s this awesome costume you really want, but you just don’t have the extra cash for it at the moment. You have been doing a lot of stuff in-game lately, though, and have a nice stash of gold. Just buy some gems from another player, and that costume is yours!

It’s basically what people had been asking for since things like makeovers and costumes first got added to the Guild Wars 1 shop.

The biggest issue will be the effect the economy in the game. I see that taking a while to really balance out; especially early on, no one’s going to really have any gold since we’ll all be starting out on a clean slate. Anyone that buys a bunch of gems right away hoping to translate it into a full bank vault of gold will be a bit foolish. But it’ll be interesting to see how things work out over time. I’m just hoping it won’t be like ecto and armbraces in GW1, where your fortune will fluctuate constantly depending on the current market. Hopefully it will reach a stable level pretty quickly and not constantly go all over the place.

It also will depend on just what sorts of things are available in the cash shop, how much gems will cost in real dollars, and how much they’ll wind up costing for gold in-game.

We’ll see. I’m a bit hesitant to say it’s a completely good or completely bad thing; I like having a cash shop like they did in GW1 available, and I like both the idea that gold can be used for cash shop purchases and the fact that it will cut out real-money traders (which means less spamming and scamming in chat!). But being able to buy gold just feels a bit weird to me. I’ll hold off my full judgment for now; what do you think about the new microtransaction model?

Who am I?

This post is written for the GuildMag blog carnival on character diversity, and is from the point of view of the character that will be my main in Guild Wars 2. As such, it is more of a short story than a traditional blog entry.

Who am I? That question is one that has multiple answers. I am a sylvari, I am a Mesmer. I was born of the cycle of the Dusk. In fact I was born just very recently, only having been born of our mother, the Pale Tree, not at all long ago. It was a lovely evening, as I recall; having awoken, my knowledge of the Dream telling me that it was sundown. There were many other sylvari waking up at the same time as I was. The Dream also told us of that, of the threat to our world that necessitated more and more sylvari being brought into Tyria.

As I was born, I only knew what the Dream told me, though, and a few select other things. I knew that my name was Liusaidh. I do not know why I knew that, or why I chose that name – or did I? Did the Pale Tree choose it for me? I knew that I would have talents in magic. Illusions, particularly.

I learned to better wield my magic; I favor using a scepter and a sword. An unusual combination, to be sure. But I feel it sends a message. Do not think me an easy target because I stand back and cast spells; if you get too close, you shall meet my steel. Nor is it wise to think that because I use my sword in my off-hand that I am not a skilled duelist and can only use it for a last-minute defense. I can swap my scepter for my sword with a moment’s notice, taking a focus to facilitate my spell-casting.

I never go anywhere without my sword. Despite that I am not a Warrior, it is as much a part of me as my magic is.

I have been told that sylvari that are born during the time of dusk tend towards being philosophers; sharply intelligent and always thinking. I do not believe it bragging when I say that I have a mind as keen as my blade. I wear a mask, however. A pleasant smile that I show to the world; let them think a serious thought has never crossed my mind. Behind that mask, though, is a mind that does not stop thinking.

It is amazing the things people will say in your presence when they believe you to be utterly vapid.

Perhaps this is manipulation. But I am a Mesmer, after all. It is what I do. You would think that more people would realize that to enter into any sort of conversation with a Mesmer, even a newly-born sylvari, is to risk being trapped in a web of illusions.

Why am I here, though? Why was I awoken on Tyria? The dragons have awakened and are threatening the world, the Pale Tree tells us. We must learn to work with the other races in order to defeat this threat. But at the same time, she tells us…do not become so wrapped up in this that you forget all else. Learn all that you can, for everything that a sylvari learns will enter the Dream. Learn who you are. Learn about love. I have heard about love from others; I have seen the passion between two that share the same heart. I do not understand it, yet. I would like to some day myself.

There is just so much out there to see, to do, to learn! I would like to know it all. I know that this is impossible, realistically speaking…but even so. I know that the other races have been around for a long time, and have long histories and repositories of information. I would like to travel Tyria, visit other parts of the world. I would like to meet new people, make friends, perhaps even…fall in love.

But…at the same time, I cannot forget the threat that is the dragons. There are many teachings within the Tablet, that we base our society upon…but to me, the most important of the teaching that Ventari left us with is to act with wisdom, but act. I am here for a reason, as are we all. I have a calling, and I will do what I can to help this world. I will not sit idly by when there are things that need doing. That is not my style.

I am curious. I am determined. I am a duelist. I wear a mask of a smile. I am a Mesmer. I am a sylvari.

I am Liusaidh, and there is no one else like me.

Guild Wars 2: Not as straightforward as it seems

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve covered how both gender and race are represented in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, pointing out that despite not being perfect (and let’s be honest, unfortunately nothing ever will be), ANet does a damn good job with how they portray these things. This post is going to be talking about the subject of sexuality and how it’s portrayed within the games.

I am going to, before I go any further, state that I will not tolerate any sort of homophobic comments on this post. Zero. Any will be deleted. Go be hateful elsewhere.

So, sexuality. Something that is always, sadly, a subject of controversy. Something that real-life society still frowns upon in a hard way, for archaic and nonsensical reasons. And whenever any sexuality other than just being straight is portrayed in anything, be it movies, books, TV shows, or games, there tends to be two parts to it – first, the portrayal tends to be offensive, playing off of stereotypes. Second, people tend to flip the everloving hell out over it.

I read recently about people being angry that Mass Effect 3 did not have more straight-only romance options (as in, male NPCs that will only be a romance option for a female Shepard and female NPCs that will only be a romance option for male Shepard), and the only straight-only options are ME2 carry-overs. This is despite the fact that, to my understanding, there is only one same-sex only option per gender, and several options that are open to either gender. I’d say the bigger issue there is the fact that so many are locked to ME2 carryovers, and the fact that ME2 has almost no same-sex relationship options (I want to romance Kasumi, damnit! But for now I’ll flirt with Kelly and Garrus).

Speaking of Bioware, they recently announce that there would be same-sex relationships available in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Eventually. At some point. Various “family values” groups in the US promptly flipped their gourd over it, because obviously this is such a horrible thing!

Just wait until they get their hands on Guild Wars 2. Because I expect there to be complaining from those sorts. Why?

The sylvari.

You know, that race of humanoid plants. Who do not reproduce. And do not conform to gender roles, as there is no need for them to do so. They do have genders, though – sylvari are definitely male or female. And they are capable of falling in love and having sex. However, to them, it’s not about gender. A sylvari will not be fussed if the person they are sleeping with or in love with is the same gender as them or not. The physical part of it, in fact, is not terribly important to them at all (though I’m sure they find sex as fun as anyone else would :P). To quote Ree Soesbee, from this GW2G post:

To a sylvari, love is about inspiration. Physical touch, ardor, and sensuality are beautiful things, but what the heart feels, what gives joy to the spirit – these are most important, and that has nothing at all to do with the physical form. Love is not bound by gender. It does not ignore the pairing of hearts simply because the bodies are alike. Indeed, the sylvari feel free to love (and love openly) regardless of the physical qualities of their beloved. It would surprise them to hear that someone of any race felt differently. They would say that love is too precious to be passed over simply because someone’s eyes are blue, their hair is dark, or because they are of the same sex.

Sylvari view love and attraction as a primarily emotional and spiritual thing, as it made clear. While I am sure that there are sylvari that prefer those of their own gender, or those of the opposite, for the most part, it would probably be the most correct to say that sylvari lean towards being bisexual or pansexual. It is quite possible that individual sylvari will be heterosexual or homosexual, of course.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all going to just be background lore and will never be mentioned or shown in the game. After all, how could they not do so, when Caithe is a member of Destiny’s Edge?

Yes, Caithe. One of the Firstborn sylvari, a Thief that is a member of Destiny’s Edge. The first of the sylvari to leave the Grove…along with Faolain. Another Firstborn sylvari, who eventually became the Grand Duchess of the Nightmare Court…and before that, Caithe’s lover. The two had left together to explore Tyria, and during their travels, their deep respect for each other turned to love. Caithe turned back when Faolain turned to the Nightmare, though, but Faolain has vowed that Caithe will return to her, going so far as to state “Your heart belongs to me” in Edge of Destiny. Caithe, while refusing to join the Nightmare to be with her love again, also at the same time cannot truly leave her; Ree describes Caithe as standing at the edge of the Nightmare.

Personally, I think it’s quite a daring move, to make such an important character the lover of someone the same gender. At the same time, I dislike the fact that it’s even seen as a daring move, but it’s also big one. I do, however, like how ArenaNet has handled this. To the sylvari, it is not a big deal. The gender of their lover is not important to them; it is the person themselves that is. They see no reason to not love someone because they may both be women or men. It is natural and normal. And I like the fact that ANet themselves has not gone to direction of shouting from the rooftops “hey, we have gay characters!” like some other game developers have done. Instead, their approach has been the same as that of the sylvari themselves – a position of yes, there are gay characters, why wouldn’t there be any? It’s perfectly normal, after all, so why not?

And this sort of complete normalization is something that I wish to see more of. As someone who’s not straight myself, I prefer it. I am, after all, just as normal as everyone else around me. And allies that claim loudly and repeatedly how supportive they are and how awesome they are for basically being a decent human being can be very grating.

Unfortunately, the sylvari are the only race that we know anything about how they approach and view sexuality. In Guild Wars, there’s a quest where, depending on what gender your character is, you wind up accidentally engaged to a norn of the opposite gender, and there are a few heterosexual human couples seen (Koss and Melonni, Gwen and Logan), but that’s really it, and I don’t necessarily see those as being indicative of their societies as a whole. It’s certainly a subject I’d like to see explored more, and I could speculate further on it, but I think this entry has already gotten long enough. Perhaps in the future I will do that further.

Last post to come in this series will cover religion and how it is handled in the Guild Wars universe.

Guild Wars: Just as diverse as reality.

Last week, I wrote about how Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 are in terms of representing women in their games, and the consensus I reached was – rather well done. Not 100% perfect, but well done. Better than most games around. This week I am going to talk about another area where GW has shown themselves to be more progressive than many other games – the presentation of race and ethnicity.

Put short, this isn’t a white-washed series of games.

Starting out in Prophecies, at least, the game seems to be a standard Western fantasy game – the setting, as well as the characters, all seem to be western European. And then the Searing happens, you leave Ascalon…and that is about the last time you see that from the games again. The next place you visit in the game, Kryta, is still clearly European…but the inhabitants of Kryta are darker-skinned, with a more Mediterranean look to them. This includes not only the standard NPCs that are all over the region, but also the White Mantle and Shining Blade members themselves.

The Shining Blade leadership in Prophecies

Factions and Nightfall are games based in regions with cultures that are not typical Western fantasy at all; Nightfall really shines at setting itself apart, but I’ll get back to that one. Factions is set in an East Asian setting. It’s mostly Japanese…which, okay, yeah. That’s a bit cliche. But considering the fact that anime had just become very popular in the US not long before Factions was released, isn’t too surprising. The campaign isn’t entirely based on just Japan, though; there are also Chinese influences there (the celebration of Canthan New Year, for example, which takes place real-time during the Lunar New Year, and the fact that Cantha uses the Chinese zodiac cycle). There are also two vassal nations that are ruled by Cantha – the Kurzicks, which are heavily Germanic (the names in particular) and use architecture reminiscent of Gothic architecture, as well as the Luxons, a nomadic people whose names tend to be based on Greek names.

Istani Sunspears

And then we have Nightfall. My favorite campaign for a number of reasons. Nightfall truly stands here, I think. The setting is one that is not at all commonly used in games; the Elonan nations are based on and influenced by a blend of Northern African cultures, as well as some Middle Eastern influences (especially in Vabbi). As a result, there are almost no typical white European characters in Nightfall – except for possibly your player character and a few henchmen (mostly the ones recruited to help from Tyria). The Zaishen are also there, but they are Canthan in origin. Elona as a whole is portrayed to having been in the best shape of the three continent seen in the games – Tyria had Ascalon battling the Charr for ages, the Cataclysm, and the rise of the White Mantle long before the game started. Cantha has been dealing with the war between the Kurzick and Luxons as long as the Empire had existed, as well as increasingly xenophobic tendencies.

Whereas Elona has Istan, a nation that is a meritocracy as well as the home of the Sunspears, who protect the entire continent; Kourna, a more war-like and militarized nation; and Vabbi, a rich province led by a trio of merchant-princes. All three nations were able to co-exist with no problems until Varesh began poking into Abaddon and Kormir awakened the Apocrypha. They have a thriving economy, and while the three nations are separate from each other, they do, up until the game has started, work together quite well.

“But, Verene,” you might be asking. “What’s the point of mentioning this? Why does it all matter?”

Well, here’s the thing. A lot of video games in the west tend to feature solely white characters, and if they do feature anyone of other races, it’s done so in a way that panders to stereotypes. In other words, it tends to be not handled well and it’s not uncommon for it to be downright offensive.

Guild Wars, though, blows this out of the water. There are other races and ethnicities than just “generic white person” shown, and they’re shown to be intelligent and competent, as opposed to simply falling back on offensive stereotypes in their portrayals. The argument can be made that Varesh Ossa, a black woman, is the most terrifyingly competent character in the entire series. This is so exceedingly rare in games as to likely be almost unique.

(I intended to talk more about Kormir and Varesh in this post, but there’s so much about them that I could discuss I plan to save it for a future post.)

I do hope that Guild Wars 2 continues in this trend. I hope that there are expansions where Cantha and Elona can be visited. I was very pleased to hear a few weeks ago that, while if you create a human you are playing a Krytan, you can choose to be ethnically Canthan or Elonan (pleased me as my human thief will be the descendant of my Dervish, so I needed the option to make a black character). I can’t wait to see the variety of characters we’ll see in-game, and I do hope that we do see a wide variety. Why take a step back from what your previous games established, after all?

Posts still to come in this series include discussions on sexuality and religion and how they are handled in the Guild Wars universe.

Everyone’s in this together

The newest blog post over at ArenaNet covers the topic of the community, and namely how the community management team at ANet wants to handle things. There’s some interesting stuff, like the fact that they are going to have official forums for Guild Wars 2 (yay!) and they’re doing away with the fansite program, as the nature of the community has changed greatly since Guild Wars 1 released.

Which is understandable. Social media has become far more relevant, and blogs have really taken off in the GW2 community. The old fansite program just wouldn’t work with how things have evolved.

However, their community philosophy in general I really like. To quote what Martin wrote in the post:

Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration.

This, I feel, is really an admirable goal. It’ll be a difficult one for them to pull off, for certain. I’ve mentioned before how good people are at blowing up at little things. However, I’ve also mentioned just how awesome the community can be – between doing things like crashing sites in our excitement, making really amazing creations (both practical for the game and just awesomely creative works of art), and then Gamers Giving Back and their annual fundraisers…the Guild Wars communities can be pretty amazing.

I mentioned a long time ago on here that I did not get involved with the actual community in any way (beyond some GWG posts) until I joined GuildMag. The real truth of it? Until that point, I had never gotten involved with any sort of online fandom or community. Sure, I’ve always followed various ones, but I never felt the need to participate. Until I got into Guild Wars. And really, I’m glad I did. I love being a part of it.

Martin goes on to say this:

We want to set a new standard and make the Guild Wars 2 community a mature, friendly, helpful and inclusive one that is recognized throughout the industry as being so.

I really do hope that it turns into that. It’s already far more friendlier and more mature than many communities I’ve seen. It’s going to be a lot of work to make it that way, and it’s not just all on the CMs’ shoulders. That’s on us as well. The fans. The bloggers, the tweeters, the podcasters and youtubers, the forum-goers – it’s just as much on us to help make the community the sort to be proud of as it is on the ANet team.

Let’s do this.

You want my money? Okay.

So, today we got a bit of awesomeness. Also known as, the Guild Wars 2 collector’s edition was announced.

Yes, it’s going to be expensive. $150 if you’re in the US. That’s not cheap. However, that’s also the same price that the Old Republic CE was, and personally I think this is way better. I mean, just LOOK AT THIS THING.

Making-of book. Art prints (<3). Soundtrack (<333). A STATUE OF RYTLOCK EFFING BRIMSTONE. And that’s on top of all of the other digital goodies you get with it, the best of which is a miniature Rytlock.

Tasha Darke makes a good point, though – it would be nice if there were exclusive digital goodies for just the CE. Like the Divine Aura from Prophecies (wish I had that!), or the dances from Factions and Nightfall (which are awesome). Sure, the extra physical stuff is amazing, but an exclusive digital item or two would be nice, as well.

Not that I’m complaining, mind. I’m pretty pleased with what the CEs going to contain.

There is, of course, still no release date for it; pre-purchases can be made on the website starting April 10th. There’s nothing I saw about if the CE will be available for purchase at a retail store – personally, I hope it is. I want all that stuff ASAP, I don’t want to have to wait for it to be shipped to me. Combine that with the facts that I work at a gaming retail store, and I’ve had my copy of Guild Wars 2 preordered there since August of 2009…yeah. Would much prefer to pick it up there, if possible!

Also, make sure that you scroll down to the bottom of the info page there – there are minimum system requirements. I’m not 100% sure (I can’t find a good comparison between my graphics card and the one they want), but seems my three-year-old laptop should be able to run it just fine. Which is good. After that CE, I won’t be able to get myself a new computer just yet 😛

What do you think about the CE? Happy with it? Something else you were hoping it’d include? Are you going to buy it?

Guild Wars: The Game of Badass Ladies

Not too long ago in the comments of a post on Livejournal, a small discussion popped up about diversity in video games and how most of the industry tends to not be very progressive (in terms of including strong women characters, characters that are not white, and characters that are not straight). It was pointed out that, while it’s not entirely perfect, the Guild Wars series is likely one of, if not the most progressive major game series around.

There’s a lot to talk about on these subjects, and it’s going to get long, so this will be broken up into several posts over the next couple of weeks. Here is part one, discussing the presence of strong women in Guild Wars, and women in general, within the games.

Trust me, you won't want to mess with her.

I’ve noticed that in many games, there’s a magic ratio of 3:1; where for every three male characters, there’s one female character. While the numbers (among heroes and henchmen) are not entirely 1:1, they’re certainly far better than 3:1; I counted up the heroes and of the 29 available, 11 of them are women, nearly 40% of them. Pretty good! I didn’t count up the henchmen, as there are a lot and many overlap between the campaigns, but a quick glance over the lists show that it’s a very similar proportion to the heroes.

Now, in most fantasy games, novels, movies, etc., the female characters are generally relegated to the roles of magic casters, and healers in particular. Here we have another place where GW likes to subvert the trope a bit. While yes, a lot of the female henchies tend to be casters, they’re not absolutely stuck to those roles only. In fact, the heroes completely flip that, with seven of the women being professions that are not casters, and only four being magic casters – and only one of those casters being a Monk. Of the non-magic professions, only Warriors have more male heroes than female – Assassins and Rangers are dominated by women, and Dervishes have one woman, one man, and one golem. The magic casting professions are far more male-dominated, with no female Elementalists, one Monk, one Mesmer, one Ritualist, and one Necromancer. An interesting flip of what you usually see!

The presence of women in the series carries over to NPCs, and amongst the major ones, ones that have power or are well-known, the games really shine. I mean, first and foremost, the Six Gods that humans worship. Of the six, four of them are women, and Dwayna is the leader of the six. That’s pretty awesome. The Shining Blade’s leadership was very heavily female-dominated, and the two monarchs of Kryta that we know of (Salma in GW1, and Jennah in GW2) are both women. In Factions we have Soar Honorclaw, leader of the Angchu Tengu, Reiko Murakami, head of the Ministry of Purity, and Vizu, who defeated Shiro the first time around; the Luxon clans are all led by women. The Sunspears were led by Kormir, and the ruler of Kourna was Varesh Ossa. The Ebon Vanguard was first led by Captain Langmar and then Gwen. Destiny’s Edge in Guild Wars 2 has Eir, Caithe, and Zojja – three of the five members are women. The Vigil, one of the Orders that can be joined in GW2, is led by Almorra Soulkeeper.

(Caithe and her awesomeness will be further discussed in a later post.)

She will mess you up.

While we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at the charr. The shamans decided to bar the women from fighting, and boy did that come back to bite them in the ass – Kalla Scorchrazor led the other female charr (who of course had been training in secret) against the Flame Legion, ignoring orders from the shamans that they were to stay at home. The presence of Kalla and her warriors doubled the number of charr fighting the Flame Legion, overthrowing them easily, and effectively changed charr society permanently. Anyone that tries to tell a female charr that she’s not the equal of a male likely will regret it very quickly.

Also, don’t forget the “six or none!” ultimatum when it came to designing the female charr.
Even minor NPCs – quest givers, collectors, and even just the guards you see patrolling (especially the Sunspears, Kournan guards, and Vabbian guards) hold a great number of women, definitely many more than I can recall seeing in many other games.

Now, is it perfect? Of course not. But it’s still far better than any other game I’ve played, and is certainly far ahead of most of the gaming industry at this point in time. And as a woman who likes (non-sexist and non-stereotypical) representation within media, I’m pretty pleased with how ArenaNet has done things so far, and how they continue to handle things.

And with that, Happy International Women’s Day to my readers!

Fellowship of the Fans

As I’ve mentioned already in previous blog posts, Guild Wars 2 fans are an…interesting bunch. We crash websites in our zealousness to sign up for betas and view beta counters (and apparently this past week’s Guildcast was another site crasher). We flip the hell out at anything we don’t necessarily like.

And sometimes? Some really, really cool things are created by the community.

The first was already mentioned here in Dak’s post about the trait blowup, but it’s worth another mention as it’s just really, really cool. The folks over at GW2Tools made this awesome trait calculator, which lets you play around with the trait lines for each profession and see what the options are for minor/major traits are for each one.

The lovely people of the French fansite Luna Atra have had a skills tool up for quite some time, but it was incomplete for a long time. Now it’s been updated to include everything from the recent press beta weekend, traits, and underwater skills. You can even share your builds when you’re done creating them!

If you’re looking at that and trying to figure out what roles different weaponsets play, Guild Wars 2 Junkies has your back. They have an awesome graphic that shows which playstyles different weapons support. So if you’re ever unsure as to what weapons would be best for offense, defense, support, or healing, there’s your first stop.

And for something a bit different but still an awesome fan creation…we all know that Guild Wars has amazing music. Have you ever wanted to be able to play it yourself? Well, if you play piano, you’re in luck – Shewstr has created sheet music for both the Guild Wars 2 theme (from the start of ANet’s MMO Manifesto) and the Asura theme to play on piano. Amazing!

If you just want to laugh? Well, then go check out lolcharr. I don’t think I really need to say much about that one, other than just including this image:

Hyperbole and a Half, meet Guild Wars 2.

There’s a ton of other really cool community-made things out there, of course; these are just some of the big ones that have come to my attention this past week. All of it is worth checking out! You won’t regret it, trust me on that.