Opinion » Cybernaut

Troll or die


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Christian Rivera is kind of a dick. He plays a MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena) game called League of Legions professionally for Team Dignitas as "IWillDominate," and on his own using a few other handles. He's clearly awesome at the game. He's 22 years old. And, as I've mentioned, he's kind of a dick.

So much so that in a world that's chock-a-block with homophobic, racist, sexist and all-around shit-talkers that he was actually singled out by Riot Games to receive a one-year ban from League of Legends. In their ruling, the game's tribunal pointed out that he ranked at the top of the list for North American pro players for complaints, and among the worst 0.7 per cent of all North American players, both pros and joes. If you're wondering, they have about 10 million registered players, so you have to be something pretty special to get noticed. It seems almost everyone he played with and against seemed to hate the guy as a result of his "persistent record of in-game harassment, verbal abuse, offensive language and negative attitude."

In their ruling, the tribunal also cited "his lack of cordial demeanor, and his treatment of less-skilled players (that is) unacceptable for any player, especially a high-profile professional player who has a regular opportunity to lead the community by example."

This was no first offence, either. Rivera was cited eight times for previous offences by Riot and the Tribunal before the ban, refusing to clean up his act after the first seven complaints.

Big deal, you're probably thinking to yourself; some pimply-faced, basement dweller won't be able to play his favourite video game anymore, boo-freaking-hoo. And you'd have a point. But this is no ordinary "you're banned from my pizza shop for two weeks!" kind of punishment — League of Legends tournaments have prize purses in the millions of dollars. There was $5 million up for grabs in season two, including $3 million awarded at the championship. The ban could cost Rivera a chance to win some actual money for his video game skills.

Team Dignitas, the day after Rivera's ban, was slated to compete against another top team for around $1,600 in prize money — and that's just for an ordinary game in an ordinary week; something to keep fans tuning in to watch the games at MajorLeagueGaming.com.

The consequences for Rivera were very real, as he seemed to realize after the fact when he went online at Reddit to offer an apology: "Although the ruling is extremely tough, I agree with Riot that player sportsmanship is a serious matter, and I want to apologize to anyone that I've offended in-game and my fans."

That's right. He had fans.

What's missing in Windows 8

One of the chief reasons I've stayed faithful to Microsoft recently and even bought a Windows 8 phone (Nokia Lumia 920), is music. I dislike iTunes — it crashes constantly, it sucks up memory, it requires full updates every few weeks it seems and the sync tool leaves a lot to be desired. The price of music is okay — usually $0.99 to $1.29 per song, and albums are usually $7 to $9.

What Microsoft offers is a service called Xbox Music — formerly Zune Music — that allows me to subscribe to a database of 30 million high quality songs for $100 per year. Considering that I used to spend that much every two months on CDs, it's a bargain. All the songs in my collection expire if I don't renew every year, but I don't plan to let my subscription lapse any time soon.

I also like Windows 8 for most things, but the convergence of the Windows 8 Music app, Xbox Music and my Windows Phone app is a clumsy, disappointing mess. It's next to impossible to organize your collection or generate playlists, the full-screen mode is clumsy and half-baked with very few of the standard features I've come to expect using other music players. Controlling or organizing your music in desktop mode is especially frustrating, and the phone's music handling is disappointing in a variety of ways as well.

None of this is really excusable given that iTunes, as flawed as it is, provided a pretty good model for Microsoft to follow. In fact, there are probably dozens of music players, including Microsoft's own programs, that do a better job of this. Zune Music worked well, as does Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player.

The implementation of music is so disappointing that I would actually discourage anybody who considers music to be a primary use for their computer to hold off updating to Windows 8 or purchasing an Xbox Music account until it's fixed.

I'm not the only person complaining and I imagine that Microsoft will come up with a decent fix eventually, but right now it seems they care more about the tablet experience than the desktop one, and desktop music users have over 10 years of experience using music controllers better than what Microsoft has come up with for Windows 8.