Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross usually covers E3, MOBAs, MMO-ish multiplayer games, and game related studies for Massively OP. He's a hardcore PvPer who delivered pizzas to shard defender supply runners in Asheron's Call's Shard of the Herald event, fried fish during Darkfall's World War 1 and 2, and killed many alliance members in World of Warcraft for picking "his" flowers. He is a terrible jungler, but can usually stay on the road in Mario Kart.

For science: New long-term study shows video games don’t make adults violent

Before we start, yes, I’m sure many of our readers are feeling a big wave of “duh” at the statement in the headline, but remember that testable results carry more weight than anecdotal evidence and feelings. And these results are solid.

As researchers Simone Kühn, Dimitrij Tycho Kugler, Katharina Schmalen, Markus Weichenberger, Charlotte Witt and Jürgen Gallinat note in Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study, the paper here is the “first to investigate the effects of long-term violent video gameplay using a large battery of tests spanning questionnaires, behavioural measures of aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk-taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions, before and after 2 months of gameplay.” While two months may not be that long, it’s pretty good when you consider the number of shortcomings we see in game aggression research.

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Interviewing an Asheron’s Call Shard Slayer: On griefing, doxxing, losing mates, and winning MMOs

Last month, I put together an article and pair of videos discussing Asheron’s Call’s Shard of the Herald event to celebrate the game’s first deathiverary. It was a bittersweet experience for me, as it was not only my first MMO but the game that taught me a lot about life, and a lot of those lessons occurred during the Shard event.

Naturally there was some good nostalgia in there for fellow AC players, but apparently for some families as well. Someone claiming to be the son of Vidorian, the infamous Shard Slayer recruited by Turbine to end the event in a way that would respect the lore they built, reached out to us in the comments section. A quick chat with her verified that yes, she was the infamous savior of Bael’Zharon, and she agreed to answer some of my questions about the event. Even better, she’s provided us an unseen screenshot of the event! More than a decade after release, I feel like I’ve learned a lot more about what occurred behind the scenes of one of the seminal in-game events of our early genre.

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Pokemon Go brings back party-hat pikachus, announces bulbasaur for next community day

I have to admit that Pokemon Go‘s really been on a roll lately with the rapidly rolled out events. Despite some bugs during the last community day, the event was pretty enjoyable, much like the first one. We’re seeing more lore being at least acknowledged beyond small easter eggs, even if we’re sadly still swimming in Pikachu hats.

And while POGO is celebrating Pokemon’s 22nd anniversary (“Pokemon Day“) with party-hat Pikachu again, at least it’s bringing three times its normal stardust value, as well as Present, a move we also got on Santa-hat Pikachu at Christmas. At least the new cash shop clothes inspired by the game’s remake are adding some visual differences to the game.

We’ve got more to look forward to next month, though. The game’s next community day is featuring Bulbasaur, the mascot from Pokemon Green, as Japan originally released Blue as a third option post-launch.

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First impressions of ‘wizarding world’ MMOARG Maguss

If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.

I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.

But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.

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Taking a tour of the global Monster Hunter World community on PS4

While I’m not nearly the hardcore veteran our illustrious hunter Matt Daniel is, I can at least admit to physically living among the Japanese hunting community. While we both can speak a bit of Japanese, I enjoyed a solid chunk of time playing Monster Hunterface-to-face with Japanese players, plus a smidge of some other MH games being demoed at Japanese game conventions. International communities are certainly different, but what western players (and especially those watching from the sidelines) may not realize is how different the series is in Japan, as it’s largely a portable title that can be played anywhere. Japan’s console market is vastly different and the PC gaming scene is probably as niche as our VR scene.

Monster Hunter World’s Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC announcement was huge since it sent the message that this would be a title aimed at western players, who enjoy the series but not nearly at the same levels as Asian players, who already have two MMO entries in the series. While MHW certainly makes the game feel more accessible for a western audience that doesn’t even have an arcade culture to make public gaming feel normal, I sadly feel like something isn’t clicking with the western Monster Hunter community in the same way the Japanese have taken it.

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Pokemon Go weather trio throwdown, Team Rocket appears in Japan

Pokemon Go players are beginning to see the introduction of Poke-lore to the MMOARG. While the last big update brought weather to the game in a unique way, people noted that it didn’t seem quite enough since the Generation 3 mascots are thematically oriented more than weather-based, but still fighting each other: Kyogre, the whale of floods, battling with Groudon, the land loving drought bringer, with air-poppa Rayquaza trying to get them to settle down.

So what is Niantic doing to reinforce this? A kind of raid-boss battle. From now till March 5th, Niantic has brought back both Groudon and Kyogre during the current Rayquaza craze. It’s the first time Niantic’s brought back retired legendaries for a non-regional event, which is highly significant as both are arguably more powerful than EX Raid exclusive Mewtwo and will remain some of the most powerful Pokemon when POGO implements all the current generations.

There’s more, though, and lapsed players should really take note!

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Leaderboard: Do you use built-in voice chat systems with strangers in MMOs?

I’ve been playing a lot of Monster Hunter World when time permits, and while I’m enjoying the game, I’ve noticed it’s been, well, oddly silent. Initially, I thought maybe it was just a PlayStation 4 thing. Then a friend who roped me into playing with her told me she felt the Overwatch PC crowd was much worse than the console crowd, but since she’s not much of an online gamer (and lacks a PC), I shrugged that off too.

However, as I’ve spent more time in online games that aren’t MMOs lately, I’ve noticed that don’t really use voice chat with strangers, even when it’s built into the game – maybe even especially when it’s built into the game, depending on how I feel about the community. I didn’t bother in World of Warcraft, and apparently EVE players aren’t into it much either, yet Heroes of the Storm is going to get it years later despite uproar. It’s not that I dislike voice chat; I’ve just been around the internet and feel that most randoms can’t be trusted with unmoderated chat.

What about you, readers? Do you use default voice chats? Maybe only with fellow PC users or to help keyboardless console users? Let’s take it to a poll…

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Perfect Ten: The top 10 sexiest monsters of Monster Hunter World

I remember my first time. Unlike many hunters, I didn’t stalk her. In fact, she bumped into me. I was just strolling down the beach, collecting some bugs and BAM! There she was. Larger than life. I was a little scared, and I admit I tried to hide in a bush. She saw right through it. She chased me a bit since, well, I was hiding in a bush, but admittedly, she was also a predator. She wanted me, badly, and I kind of wanted her. We moved from the beach to the forest and even went on a bit of a mountain hike where I was finally able to mount her. I gave a few quick stabs before pulling out my big sword, deeply penetrating her and finally cutting off her tail. Tail cutting is kind of what I’m into…

…eh? I’m talking about my experience in Monster Hunter World, of course. Although, come to think of it, some of the monsters are kind of sexy if you really think about it. You do want to thank about it? Well, considering the season, I guess I can we can try a top ten of the sexiest monsters of Monster Hunter World. I’ve already consulted with one of our sexperts and veteran hunters, Matt Daniel. We had some deep(ly uncomfortable) conversations about criteria and decided to rely on our… um, “gut” instinct. I’ll be going beyond looks and dip into monster personality plus kink factors. There won’t be any discrimination between newcomers or old veterans, and all genders are welcome here. Just, um, no rotting flesh, no matter how great your personality is. Sorry, Odogaron.

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Re-examining Asheron’s Call’s Shard of the Herald event on its first deathiversary

Although the Asheron’s Call series has now been dead for exactly one year today, it’s far from forgotten by fans. It was admittedly a cult classic, and as the youngest of the “Big Three” graphical MMOs, it was the easiest to ignore, especially as it used an original sci-fi/fantasy setting rather than, well, something with elves.

MMO AC converts I’ve met regularly said the game was more solo-friendly and more story-driven than Ultima Online and EverQuest, receiving monthly updates that felt like downloadable content before DLC was a common industry term. These weren’t simply automated addons but events that were often curated in a fashion that is similar to Game Masters in tabletop RPGs, meaning that those who built the scenario sometimes participated as their own lore characters, placing themselves at the mercy of their own game and community. While several events in both AC1 and AC2 made use of this kind of interactive story-telling style, none is better recalled than the first event: The Shard of the Herald.

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Monster Hunter World hands-on: Our first impressions of the PS4 launch

Hey fellow hunter! Did you also enjoy the Monster Hunter World weekend betas as I did? Wondering if the full version is the same? Well here’s the short answer: Nope! Article finished, time to go back to hunting.

Just kidding! While the release version of the game isn’t the same as what you played, it’s still recognizably a Monster Hunter game. We’ll talk more about the online experience once the game’s been released to the masses for awhile, but a few hours in with a review copy of the launch product have answered some questions and concerns that came up during my beta experience.

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Pokemon Go adds monthly community events, summons giant (pokemon) whale

Still playing Pokemon Go? Wish you were, but couldn’t find a group to raid with? Or maybe you are in a group but want to fill out the roster a bit more? Good news! Niantic will begin doing monthly community events for the game starting January 20th. The plan is for Niantic to host a monthly event “starring a special Pokémon, which will appear frequently around the world for just a few hours.”

While that sounds like a good way to distribute regionals more, the kicker is that the Pokemon caught during the monthly event also will have an exclusive move. Naturally, the first Pokemon is Surfing Pikachu, but before you wander off to join the rest of us waiting for Squirtle Squad Squirtle, you should know that other bonuses will also be in play, such as increased XP or Stardust, plus Lure Modules activated during the event will last for three hours. It’s probably not going to help build communities as well as in-app social media communication option, but it’s a start.

The timing’s quite nice, as Niantic recently released a new Legendary whale, Kyogre, who (like Groudon) has Mewtwo-esque stats for those of you still pining away for EX Raid passes, but has been difficult for many trainers to catch.


Academics weigh in on ‘gaming addiction’ claims

We’ve previously discussed that according to the Manual of Mental Disorders and the industry standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, gaming addiction isn’t a thing.

But new research says otherwise. The Independent is reporting that The International Classification of Diseases, last updated 27 years ago, may be throwing in with a “yes” in its update. Part of the reason appears to be a 2016 University of Oxford study in which fewer than 2 out of 3 participants indicated signs of addiction. Lead author Dr. Andrew Przybylski particularly noted that the issue is an “internet gaming disorder” but admitted that “the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health.” The researchers themselves concluded that their findings’ “evidence linking Internet gaming disorder to game engagement was strong, but links to physical, social, and mental health outcomes were decidedly mixed.”

It doesn’t end there though. The World Health Organization will also add “Gaming Disorder” to its 2018 international classification of diseases.

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The Daily Grind: When did you last humanize an opponent in an MMORPG?

It’s that time of year, dear readers. As it says in the holy book of that one deity (probably Lawful Good), “Peace on earth and good will towards your fellow gamers.” Or, well, something like that.

But seriously, even as a non-religious person, I know this is the time of year to reach out to my fellow humans. As a gamer, I know we get worked up over the unfair ganks, the auction house snipers, the whales drowning in skins… but at least today, try to reflect on a few times you were put in a situation that humanized your opponent. I’ve talked about past instances before, but I’m still working on it. In fact, just this month, I finally met my long-time Pokemon Gym rival in person. And she was so nice. We’d both noticed that we’d been trying to ease up on the other and even talked a bit about custody terms for our turf. Meeting her face to face (and finding out her husband instigated a lot of the battles!) made me glad I kept an open mind about the nature of game-enforced factions, and now my group’s got a new, active raid partner.

What about you, readers? When was the last time you considered your MMORPG opponent’s perspective or met your enemies in a neutral area and bonded?

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