Archive for the ‘the Mario generation’ Category
Because content only a few people will care about beats no content…
Stingray plays a subtlety rogue. I play a protection paladin. He has the legendary daggers. Right now he is making me take full advantage of the fact that I have two taunts and a threat/damage wipe.
I’ll hurt the first son of a bitch who gives it to him.
Fashion It So, which has been distracting me thoroughly and hilariously for the last two days and looks to keep right on truckin’ through the weekend until I run out of archive. The thing about pretty much all incarnations of Trek is that it’s like a lasagna of good, bad, and cheesy, and the bad and the cheesy are actually as much a part of the appeal as the good. It’s kind of like a stadium hot dog in that sense. You take your servings of bad with the good because it’s part of the experience, and wouldn’t be the same without it. The people writing this blog are watching Trek for pretty much exactly the same basic reason I am, except vastly more focused on the costuming choices.
So the context for this is the folks at Valve had Cave Johnson’s voice actor record a whole bunch of new lines for a new level creator downloadable content package for Portal 2, so that the lines play more or less at random at the beginning of created levels. That’s actually not really important, nor is having played any Portal game ever or knowing who the hell Cave Johnson is. This is all of those lines stitched together in a 25 minute sequence. The experience of hitting “play” on this is like having a mad scientist CEO who took acting lessons from the William Shatner school of scenery chewing come into your work space and emit a stream of consciousness. It’s the best background to reading my news feeds I have ever experienced. chariots chariots
David Sunflower Seeds now comes with a reclosable zip-top bag, so you don’t have to rip an awkwardly sized hole in it that you optimistically try to crumple closed after you’re done with your
feed seed bag for the moment. Stingray, who always has various seed and nut bags in various stages of consumption strewn around his desk because he is actually a parrot, is very excited about this.
Because every once in awhile, it works.
Steamwheedle Cartel-US, Hordeside, Reprisal, 10 man runs, two teams, one on Wed-Fri and one on Tue-Thursday, 8:45 server start time, two hour run time. We need a healer for the Tuesday-Thursday team, and could broadly use more DPS for either, as we’re running low on people that can be consistent and more padding is better than fishing around for alts. A tank, especially one with a strong DPS offspec, wouldn’t be unwelcome either. Warlocks, priests, and hunters are particularly welcome. A resto or elemental shaman would be particularly welcome for Tu/Thu but not so much Wed/Fri.
Ping Thraps, Jujutan, or Emming on that server/faction if interested. Or here.
*peers* Are you there? We’re not. Blizzcon started today. We’re alternately playing with Tank*, eating popcorn, and making fun of Chris Metzen.
So here’s someone else’s snark to fill your time:
A: What do you think of Ron Paul’s budget plan to gut all research?
B: We’ve all played Civ IV. Sure, you’re strapped for cash now, but cutting back will kill your tech tree, and the next thing you know “China has completed Space Ship Stasis Chamber” and Julius Caesar is trying to eat your face.
New blogger, old friend. Not much there yet but there will be.
*One of the things that cemented his name was friend and guildmate Vertel commenting, on hearing of the wasp attack, “Bear tanks with his FACE. …. Actually that kinda works.” He always has resembled a polar bear cub more than anything else…
More accurately, this would be titled “clever biochemists induce a population of people who do spatial reasoning puzzles for fun to solve their spatial reasoning problem for entertainment and bragging rights”.
The journal article is worth digging into; if you can read around the biochemistry jargon it’s a pretty interesting description of the approach the group took and in what ways the Foldit players- non-professionals all- were not as good at the top-performing computer models, and in what ways they were better. More interesting yet is the way the researchers directing the whole thing analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of their players- and what they were succeeding and failing at and why- and re-tweaked their presentations of the problems in order to bring out the biggest strengths of their players. As an end result, they wound up solving a problem in three weeks that had been outstanding for ten years.
Even in the paper the researchers credit “human intuition” and “the ingenuity of gamers”, but what I see here is people being given a toy to play with that builds very specific cognitive skills and then being directed- quite skillfully- to sharpen those skills on successive levels of difficulty. All for the pleasures of teamwork, competition, and the sense of accomplishment.
Reminds me of nothing so much as the Calutron Girls, a pool of young women in Oak Ridge, Tennessee hired to operate the electromagnetic uranium separation machines at Y-12 during the Manhattan Project. They explicitly were never told what it was they were doing or why- for national security reasons- but they were able to outperform the PhDs who understood all of it, because their entire skill set was in the process and they practiced constantly.
You learn what you do, no matter why you’re doing it.
Find of the day: there’ll be a talk in November on the subject of cognition and learning in MMOs, by a member of the PopCosmo research group. In the most literal sense it’s taking place in Australia, but since in effect it’s taking place in World of Warcraft within the Ironforge Library on the Saurfang server, the cost of travel is pretty cheap. I plan to be there if I can manage.
The usual reflexive reaction to a research group that studies games, and does so specifically to learn how our approaches to education are working or failing when we get kids who are completely uninterested in school but deeply engaged with games, is to pass it off as a too-hip shallow diversion into something irrelevant and unimportant. Games are games, shiny flashy play and time-wasting, and learning is learning.
The thing is, though, that what game developers are essentially in the business of is making learning such a fun and organic activity that people pay in real money and real time in order to do it. It doesn’t matter how basic the game is, all that any of them offer is a chance to master an activity at progressive levels of difficulty; Tetris is a spatial puzzle that speeds up. You can see rotation of objects through space as a challenge on many, many different IQ tests. Pac-Man is another spatial puzzle- track yourself and several other moving objects through a maze, complete the maze within a time limit and without running into any other moving object. Any of the original simulation genre is complex systems manipulation and mastery, and the flight simulator became so detailed that its devotees can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment and the software to do something that has no game goal but is just as complex and difficult as flying a real plane, minus the g forces and fatal consequences. The later Sims games are a combination of resource management, virtual architecture, and learning how the AI works. Portal is another spatial puzzle, speeded up and with extra dimensions and physics problems added.
MMOs take things to the next level; something like Portal is meant to be played out over a certain number of potential gameplay hours, but an MMO developer has to make the game interesting enough, and content extendable enough, that players remain interested and engaged with the game for years. Depending on the game and the size of playerbase it’s looking to command, there are usually multiple layers of gameplay to learn and potentially master; a developer’s challenge is to make the transition between “kill ten rats, get ten silver” to “level up (gradually increase in complexity)”, to “master your class and take part in competition demanding great knowledge of the game and your role in it, teamwork, practice, and research” fun enough to be worth paying money for- and the fun is in the learning process; even very achievement-oriented players walk away if there’s no challenge to it.
EVE Online is probably the most extreme example; the point of the game is participation in a player-driven economy, which rather than being centrally controlled by the parent company is entirely player-organized and run, to the point where fantastic acts of economic sabotage that nearly any other gaming company would put their foot down on is merely part of the game experience. It’s also the only game with a player-created and elected governing political body, the Council of Stellar Management, which exists to represent the playerbase to the developer team. It is, in essence, a virtual state with virtual corporations and virtual militaries and mercenaries who do what is in nearly all respects work, with the difficulty curve to match and little effort made to make it more accessible to newer or more casual players. The work IS the point of the game. In essence, people pay real money for a non-real job with far fewer protections and benefits than a real job, except for the freedom to experiment.
There are two possible reasons for why this should be a viable and ongoing business model for the game developers:
1) People are inexplicably stupid.
2) The game developers are in the business of making even a very steep and punishing learning curve, covering multiple aspects of cognition and driven by cutthroat real intelligences, appealing and rewarding enough to pay for.
Personally, I’m betting on 2. Play is already a somewhat murky domain; we know that organisms seem to need more of it the more intelligent they get, that it is always self-driven and self-rewarding, that it seems to carry far more risks to it than just leaving well enough alone would, and that it doesn’t solely consist of aping out real-world skills and motions, though it seems to help somewhat. Games in general and MMOs in particular are play gone professional, at least in their creation; developers compete to offer something customers are internally driven to do that takes up a lot of their time and cognitive resources.
I think there is probably a great deal to learn about learning, motivation, and cognition in there, particularly as the process of development and development cycles themselves break down the moving parts in the system, and the way players interact with them, by small pieces.
I will cop to being at LEAST this vengeful when playing. Evidently I’m not the only one either.
The reality of the internet allowing you to participate in multiple different cultures at once without going anywhere or changing your outfit is fantastic, but it does produce some odd effects time from time when you slide from one set of mores and assumptions to another.
Google ads that tailor themselves to what they think the purveyors of the content on the site they live on want to see are a case in point. When the ad on the sidebar or popping up from the text offers to help me BUY GOLD, I need to check the site I’m at and determine if it’s a geek site or a Wookie-suiter site before I can determine whether the gold in question is virtual and farmed by Chinese political dissidents, or metallic and farmed from retirees with low-appraising jewelry.
It’s when the site in question has a foot in both that I may as well just flip a coin, because hell if I’m clicking an ad like that either way. I don’t need a keylogger.