Friday, August 29, 2008

Xbox Politics

An interesting joint project has MTV's "Rock the Vote" releasing some promotional material over Xbox Live. Apparently, by downloading a gamer picture, you can indicate your desire to register to vote, and Microsoft will provide a way to register. I'm not sure how the logistics of this will all work out, and to be honest, I don't necessarily care, since I've already registered. I've always been a little dubious about the whole "Rock the Vote" campaign anyway. Sure, it promotes awareness and participation in the political process, but it doesn't seem to do much to make people take it seriously.

But anyway, part of the promotion included gamerpics of the frontrunners for the two major political parties: McCain and Obama. Without getting into political details (this is a gaming blog, after all), between the two, I support McCain over Obama. However, I don't choose to identify myself as McCain, so I didn't see the need to download the picture and make it my own. Besides, I know when it comes to identifying people online, I see the gamerpic as part of that identity recognition, and I didn't want to "confuse" other people by changing mine. And, admittedly, another part of the decision was a concern for how the unrestrained masses of Xbox Live would react to a political statement with which I'm sure a non-insignificant number don't agree. (After all, there are two topics that are almost always dangerous on the internet: politics and religion.)

However, after a discussion on, and after noticing people on my friends list downloading these candidate pictures, I decided not only would it be fine, but it might actually be an interesting experiment to see what happens. So, I downloaded the McCain picture and set it as my public-facing gamerpic. (Because I didn't want to include friends in this "experiment", and out of respect for those who may identify me by my BugBash picture, I left my friends-facing picture the same.)

Last night was my first night in Xbox Live matchmaking with my new gamerpic. I decided on Catan, both because of the high-visibility of gamerpics in the game and the fact that I still need the "accumulate x points" achievements.

It's difficult to say what reaction it provoked, if any. The first game I played, one player dropped out immediately, leaving a computer to fill the seat. Even though there was an AI to pick on, and I was behind for much of the game (with the AI and one human battling for the lead), both other humans seemed to take great joy in hitting me with the robber. This didn't last the entire game, though, and, ironically, I was able to come back from behind and win that game.

Right after that game, I ended up in another ranked match with fellow Geezer AylaAtHeart, and we played through that game without any noticeable incident. I did check my reputation during that game to see if the previous gamers left any feedback, but it seemed unchanged.

Ayla and I played, and then we spent some time attempting to coordinate getting into a ranked match with another Geezer, bifercatur. During that process, I did end up having to back out of two games that attempted to start. (I mention this because this kind of behavior is something that, by itself, could be worthy of bad feedback.) We did eventually get into a game, and then we played one more after that which Ayla couldn't get into.

I didn't notice any disproportionately mean play (except for some good-natured ribbing from Ayla and bifer, which I'm reasonably sure was not gamerpic-related since they would see my BugBash pic). I did have more than one string of bad luck, but that was due to bad dice rolls, not players. All in all, for expecting fire and brimstone spewing from my headset, it was fairly anti-climactic.

Although my 360 Blog did report a drop in rep yesterday. I'll have to check that out.

I'll add new posts with this label if anything interesting happens, but for the moment, it doesn't seem that political statements on Xbox Live matter all that much.

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