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Seth Nesenholtz
Works at Blizzard Entertainment
Attended University of Texas at Austin
Lives in Austin, TX
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Seth Nesenholtz

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Video Games, Violence, and the "Mainstream Media"

Gamasutra's Mike Rose wrote an interesting piece, Video Games and Gun Violence: A Year After Sandy Hook (http://goo.gl/Fj3Ny0). If you forgot: Violent video games were found in the residence of the Sandy Hook shooter, news outlets and talking heads blamed video games, Barack Obama tasked Joe Biden with investigating links between violent video games and violent behavior, and... well, nothing. No (government-funded) study was ever conducted, the news dropped the issue, and everyone forgot about it.

It's fine if you didn't follow this closely because it's a similar cycle to what happens after every mass-shooting: Young person kills others with guns, video games blamed for the violence, no change is made to the video game industry.

Rose and Gamasutra took issue with people in the biz who met with Biden, saying that it was an admission of guilt. They also target the Mainstream Media for repeatedly blaming acts of violence on video games, and that blaming their industry is redirection attention away from gun laws.

If that comment sounds familiar, it's because it's the same one gun rights advocates say: Mainstream Media repeatedly blames acts of violence on firearms, and blaming their industry is redirecting attention away from violent media.

I'm not going to get into this debate (where I might mention video games have never been conclusively linked to violent acts, whereas guns are linked to 100% of gun violence) because I think both sides are missing the point: Mainstream Media is to blame for violence in Mainstream Media.

Instead of targeting the whole of Mainstream Media, let's focus on news media. Years ago, I fell in love with Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, a curmudgeonly reaction to television, circa 1985. His basic thesis is that TV news is no different than anything else on TV -- just entertainment.

I am very familiar with TV news -- I used to watch and report on local and national news for a living. And Postman is totally correct. TV news exists for no other reason than to keep you watching through the commercial breaks. There's sexy news, funny news, scary news, stupid news, boring news, and most-importantly VIOLENT NEWS. Some people like violent video games or violent movies... and some people like violent news. That's how they get their fix -- watching awful stuff on the news. Whether people get thrills from Call of Duty headshots or watching Nancy Grace berate a woman to suicide, it's the same violence.

So why would the Mainstream Media portray the gun lobby and the video game industry (simultaneously, apparently) as the people to blame for Sandy Hook? Because that's what makes money. Mainstream Media is just doing what it does -- the same reason Colt still makes firearms and Activision still makes Call of Duty.

We shouldn't be concerned when the Mainstream Media creates scapegoats for a few minutes -- We should be concerned that nobody cares enough to do anything, ever.
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Seth Nesenholtz

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Tropes vs Women in Video Games IV: Ms. Male Character

The latest installment of Anita Sarkeesian+feministfrequency's Tropes Vs Women in Video Games has actually been my favorite so far.

Sarkeesian hones in on the habit of generating female characters out of male characters (a la Adam's rib), and does it with her usual exhaustive detail and a sprinkle of well-deserved snark. The star of this episode is Ms. Pac-Man... And I think she made a misstep this time around.

Sarkeesian reminds the audience that tropes don't necessarily make a game bad -- a game can be sexist and still be fun. However, she fails to go into is how Ms. Pac-Man is far superior to Pac-Man. Ms. Pac-Man may be "inspired" by women's notorious love of dessert (LOL, watch the video!), but that inspiration led the programmers to add strategy, variety, and just enough randomness to make the game punishing without being infuriating. Pac-Man is child's play compared to that.

Geek nostalgia aside, this is a fun episode. Give it a watch!
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Damsel in Distress: Part 3 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games

The third episode in Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women in Video Games series has dropped! This one neatly wraps up all the loose ends from the other two episodes.

Sarkeesian touches on Third Wave Feminism's brief foray into pop culture: Girl Power of the mid and late 1990s! This is something I think she might swing back to later, since it surely deserves more than the five minutes it gets here. We also get to the (so-called) antithetic Dude in Distress motif, and the ironic sexism that has prevailed in games over the past decade. Sarkeesian even delivers a punch in the stomach to Indie games for their glorification of ironic sexism. Considering the countless incidents of sexual harassment (leading all the way to assault) at recent game conventions, she's not wrong. Regrettably, Indie is still far from progressive.

And I finally got what I've been waiting for: The Damsel in Distress scenarios from the Monkey Island series. Tbig twist in The Secret of Monkey Island is that Elaine Marley, the game's Damsel in Distress, has been working on her own escape for the entire game and doesn't need protagonist Guybrush Threepwood to help her at all. The majority of Monkey Island 2 is a flashback that takes place as Elaine is saving Guybrush from an untimely his doom (yet again).

Part 3 is my favorite episode so far. Sarkeesian makes insightful points while still showing that she's a gamer with a sense of humor. Give it a watch!

===
#videogames #TropesVsWomenInVideoGames #feminism #AnitaSarkeesian
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Seth Nesenholtz

Azeroth Inn (General Chat)  - 
 
Favorite D'oh Moment: Boot Upgrade!

When Cataclysm launched, I was initially scared of Heroic Dungeons. They were more complicated and required more skill than Wrath Heroics, and my gear was pretty lame. My friend Adrian invited me into a group and with his iLevel, I was able to get in and start gearing-up. One of my first big upgrades was an awesome pair of boots for my tank spec.

A few days later, I'm running a Heroic with Adrian. He says to me, Nice boots! I'm all, Thanks! I thought they were pretty awesome, too. Later on, Adrian is doing some auctioning and try running Heroics by myself. But the system tells me my iLevel isn't high enough...

I've been getting upgrades so I don't know what the deal is. I bank all the gear I don't need with me and start going through what I have equipped. Lo and behold, I'm not wearing my awesome boot upgrades, I'm using some gray piece. And I don't mean gray boots I got from a Cata zone. This is vendor trash that would have dropped off a scorpid outside Orgrimmar.

I go through my bags and my bank and can't find the good boots at all. I must have sold them hours ago by mistake! I mention my huge fail to Adrain and he goes, Yeah, I know! Why do you think I said your boots were nice? I go, Why would I wear vendor trash to a Heroic?! He's all, I dunno, you're the tank, you tell me!

I've learned that anytime Adrian says anything about my gear, I need to double-check everything.
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I got the impression Blizzard used a combination of feedback from customers and some internal stats about how often people run dungeons, etc... To me, scenarios  sometimes require more skill than the MoP Heroics, but they both seem like different animals now, serving different purposes.
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If you don't follow +The Onion, you've probably missed this gem. Dr. Good is The Onion's take on Dr. Oz, and it is seriously some of the most brilliant work from an already hilarious institution. Check out the most recent episode.
 
[NEW: Dr. Good]

If you thought drinking hot soda was healthy, think again. Dr. Good is setting the record straight:
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Seth Nesenholtz

Life/Roleplay/Cosplay  - 
 
Is anyone else really bummed that the overthrow of Garrosh is right around the corner? I knew it was coming since Blizzcon 2011, but now it seems I never got enough time with him T_T

He may be a jerk, but he's my jerk! <3
 
Garrosh Hellscream: Corrupted Patsy or Straight-UP D-Bag?

Over a year ago, I prayed that divisive Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream not go down the path so many raid bosses do, and succumb to corruption (original post: http://goo.gl/Yd4Yg). Despite datamined filenames like "Garrosh2_Corrupted," I'm going with my gut and saying I think Gary isn't serving a greater nefarious purpose (like helping the Burning Legion or an Old God). I think he's simply playing to win... In this case, winning means stealing the still-beating heart of an Old God and using its power to crush all opposition.

Garrosh is using the Sha power-up for his own goals instead of whatever the essence of Y'Shaarj wants--which is prolly to destroy the world, like every other Old God. That would make Garrosh officially the most well-adjusted of all the World of Warcraft bosses. I absolutely love that there's none of the turned-evil-while-doing-good that plagued Illidan, Kael'thas, Arthas, etc.

Argh, what drives me crazy with this whole thing is the 1-60 Horde storyline. Garrosh put the "war" back in Warcraft, and he did it for his people. He had you assassinate demon-collaborators and personally dispatched a loose-cannon orc commander who nuked a group of neutral druids. Garrosh was always a hot-head, but was he always supposed to become a tyrant like he is now? Blizzard isn't known for kowtowing to popular opinion, but when a vocal majority of people think a Basic Campfire would make a better Warchief, maybe that made them second-guess the course they had set for him.

Whatever his fate is... Garrosh, I love ya. Sorry you had to go down like this. I hope Patch 5.4 is merely a setback, even if it means something as ridiculous as fighting your ghost daily in a new Spring Break-themed WoW holiday. Stay cool, bro.

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#worldofwarcraft   #garroshhellscream   #garrosh2012   #wow   #warcraft  
Image from MMO-Champion.com
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Garrosh is not corrupted he is using his power, but going too far.
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A World Without World of Warcraft...

Eliot Lefebvre over at +Massively has an interesting take on what the MMOs would be like in an alternate universe where Blizzard never released World of Warcraft.

As someone who loves WoW almost as much as he loves alternate universes, this is a fun exercise.

Blizzard has started a push toward smaller-scale games released between the tent-poles releases of its holy trinity of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. Not that Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm aren't drawn from those IPs, but I see them as a "gateway," or Blizz's way of testing the waters with familiar faces to make things more palatable.

In this WoW-less universe, I'd hope Blizzard would see the appeal of smaller games much sooner. So here's to you Blackstone's Revenge, Lost Vikings III, Nomad, Starcraft: Ghost, Rock n' Roll Racing Online, and all the other Blizzard titles that might have soared in this alternate timeline... and might soar in the future!
 
One theory on what the genre would look like without #WoW: http://ow.ly/tjCmi
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Not-So-Random Randomness

I've been having recent issues with the random number generator (or "RNG") that rules my life in World of Warcraft. I'm going for my final Archaeology achievement, "The Seat of Knowledge" (http://goo.gl/8BQwKF), which rewards the Seeker of Knowledge title. It's arguably one of the hardest achievements in the game due to the sheer monotony. Nevertheless, I'm going for it — I want that title! — but RNG is keeping me down.

WoW's RNG is particularly punishing due to its true randomness. That's why some players (myself included) see such long dry spells, drop-wise. In true randomness, you see strange occurrences — twenty 0s in a row — because that's completely random. It's not based on fairness or how much you deserve something. And a few months ago, I would have resigned to take the punishment RNG doled-out... And then I came across this article: http://goo.gl/Ip0Iqk

In this little article, +Carsten Germer outlines a way to synthesize randomness without the pitfalls of random randomness. Germer's process still keeps luck as the fickle gatekeeper between you and that piece of loot, but gradually escalates your changes of getting the loot when you try repeatedly.

I'm not sure if developers should tell their players if a system like this is in their games. On one hand, if I knew Rivendare's mount was guaranteed sometime between the first one-thousand kills, I might have a renewed interest in getting it. On the other hand, if everyone else felt like that, then the mount might not FEEL rare, just super-hard to get. When it's super-hard, it feels like dedication gets you your reward — When it's super-rare, it feels like the light of providence shines down on you.

So what how do I want my randomness?... I think I want the devs to say it's truly random, but for it to be really just simulated randomness... Aw c'mon, a little easy-sauce is never a bad thing in moderation, especially if you don't know it's there ;)

Until then, I'll go back to farming archaeology, ever resigned to being a seeker of the "Seeker of Knowledge."
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seems to me, something is either random, or it's not. as a fire mage, I feel your pain about the RNG, since my rotation and DPS both rely on it. that title is awesome (I want it myself!). don't give up hope for your title. you'll get it!
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How's it going?

Since April 2013, I've been on an extreme Google+ Diet. Not because I necessarily wanted to, just because one day I didn't crave it anymore.

I come on about once a week to review things from my family circle, but that's about it. I don't spend hours and hours reading my stream like I used to.

So — How have things changed in the past 11 months? Did I miss anything really cool? Did all the numb-nuts leave so G+ could go back its geeky/hipster roots? Is it worth coming back?
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I'm asking the same, seth.
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For anyone using a synced note-taking program, check out Hashnote!

I'm a huge fan of Google Keep and honestly didn't think I'd take to using hashtags for the notes. However, I recently started compiling lists of items that fit in multiple lists -- Instead of having to constantly duplicate the same item on multiple lists, Hashnote lets me just add a second hashtag. Simple idea executed beautifully.
Hashnote is a modern, elegant, easy to use note app designed to stay out of...
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Seth Nesenholtz

Azeroth Inn (General Chat)  - 
 
WoW Community Challenge: Best D'oh Moments!

Remember that time you thought Rogues could stealth better with more +Int? Or that Warriors could use wands? Or that gobins were half orc and half gnome? We've ALL had those D'oh Moments! Tell us about yours! Let's share the silliest noobiest mistakes we've made, cuz we've all been there!
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I always carried drinks with me, even though I never needed them because I didnt use mana. I ate on a regular basis too, I didnt realize it was only to restore health, and well fed benefits lol.
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Seth Nesenholtz

Life/Roleplay/Cosplay  - 
 
SPOILER ALERT - Play at your own risk!

In 5.4, all of Wrathion's quests finally pay off when he reveals his endgame. I think the Black Dragonflight is in good hands...
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He is with the Alliance! Yes! Well, he was....
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Tagline
Geek - Gamer - Writer
Education
  • University of Texas at Austin
    Radio-Television-Film, 1997 - 2002
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  • Blizzard Entertainment
    2007 - present
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Austin, TX
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Brooklyn Pie Company
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Brooklyn Pie Company hasn't shared anything on this page with you.

How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer
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You want to become a better writer. I know this because you're reading Copyblogger. I also know that you fear becoming a better writer. This

RainyMood.com
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Rain makes everything better.

Google Drive
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Access everywhere. Google Drive is everywhere you are—on the web, in your home, at the office and on the go. So wherever you are, your stuff

Triple Town
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Triple Town, by Spry Fox, is an original puzzle game in which you try to create a great city!

Juicy Beast Studio
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We handcraft casual games for fun's sake.

Razer Naga Hex Review | D3Sanc
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I finally got around to finishing my review video of the brand new, Razer Naga Hex. This mouse is designed specificly for MOBA and Action-RP

Overworked and busy waitstaff. Two words: mole enchiladas.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
Tiny little taco joint. The pollo asada is amahzing.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
An efficient chain location, usually quiet, just kind of a pain to get to if you're coming from MoPac
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
Awesome food, if you don't mind long waits and a hipster vibe.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
12 reviews
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Get. There. Early. Don't bother bringing any chairs with legs. Unless you're super short, relatively good seating from any spot.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
Has a chain feel and a nice little variety of food, and everything is prepared very well.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
Clean, friendly Taco Bell experience.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago