Don’t they teach recreational mathematics any more?
I haven’t stopped playing video games. Just WoW.
Recently I played through a great mid-price indie game ($25 is mid-price, right?) called Owlboy. It felt like a SuperNES-era zelda game, all exploration and adventuring. The amazing thing that this game does is so simple it seems dumb it hasn’t been done before. It’s a metroidvania-style platforming game but instead of platform jumping you just fly.
Owlboy is the most vertical game I’ve ever played. Imagine zelda-style world map exploration, but you just keep flying up, and up, and up and up and up. The music changes as you keep moving up, into and through a seemingly endless sky full of floating islands; towns, dungeons, friends, enemies, secrets. And you collect coins and unlock additional weapons and buy upgrades and eat vegetables to regain health.
It’s got a pretty decent Final Fantasy style story to it too. I’m generally opposed to unskippable story scenes in games, but I didn’t mind these ones too much. (For the record I thought The Stanley Parable was pretty cool, and I didn’t bother to “play” Dear Esther.)
More important than any told story Owlboy has atmosphere.
And now I’ve played through it all twice and I’m bored with it. If only there was a way to somehow generate unique gameplay situations every time you played, he said, awkwardly segueing.
I played a bit of The Binding of Isaac, quite a bit of Spelunky, and a metric fuckton of Darkest Dungeon.
I love the roguelike genre. The inability to completely control your environment creates a need to play to 100% of any potential advantages, and to weigh every choice carefully using incomplete information.
I see it in a way as a simulation of life. Failure may be inevitable, but every choice matters. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, so the simplest route to success is generally the best one.
The other game I’ve been playing is Hearthstone, which is based on Magic, which on balance probably deserves its utterly generic name. I mean since it literally invented the genre.
Magic is a competitive game played with two (or more) people. The gameplay is based on generating interesting math problems and game theory style psychology. From a pool of hundreds of cards, players create a deck from which they draw cards at random and use the unique functions of these cards to try to win the game.
A major feature of Magic is that it’s impossible to know what cards your opponent has or what cards you will draw next, making it effectively a roguelike game– each player weighing their choices using incomplete information.
Magic is not a game for people who are bad at losing. It will teach you that control is an illusion, that there is no status without challenge, and that in any complex system incredible things will always happen.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just learned about and bought and downloaded a follow up to Limbo called INSIDE. It looks pretty cool.
Once you get good at reading body language, pornography takes on a whole new dimension.
It is impossible to have sex without revealing some part of yourself, even if it’s a fake part. And then the persuasiveness of your facade will depend entirely on your partner’s perception of you. Or in the case of pornography, the perception of the viewer.
They’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. Their Great War is a spiritual war. Their Great Depression is their lives. They were raised on television to believe they could be millionaires and movie stars and rock gods. But they wont. They are slowly learning that fact. And they are very, very pissed off.
The first rule of white club is you don’t talk about white club.
Imagination is the concept art for potential realities. We can only do the things that we have figured out how to do. We can only plan for the things that we imagine are possible. The world is a complicated place, and we are all prone to magical thinking when reality is beyond our comprehension.
The further we stretch our knowledge the shorter the distance to a mistake.
People always deserve a second chance. Most people deserve a third chance. Close friends deserve fourth chances, fifth chances, sixth, seventh, as many as you can count.
If you lose count though, maybe it’s time to move on.
I want a T-shirt with a picture of Abed from Community and my favourite quote “That shouldn’t matter.”
Or another great choice is “I prefer the term homage.”
In a way those two sayings represent the boundaries of Abed’s worldview; on one side are the things he chooses to dismiss as objectively pointless, and on the other are the objectively pointless things that he chooses to invest his life into.
We can make better decisions when we understand how our decisions affect the world. But the world is fucking complicated. Nobody can be expected to understand all of it. What people need is “shortcuts” that skip the boring details that would only waste space in our brains.
When someone tells us something that we don’t understand to the point of self-evidency we are forced to make a choice; either to elucidate our lack of understanding, or to make a shortcut by simply accepting it as true based on the authority of the speaker.
When someone presents as an authority and what they are saying doesn’t seem obviously wrong, people will accept their “truth shortcuts” without feeling the need to question them too thoroughly. And so when the world isn’t understandable we accept conspiracy theories and media narratives and the obfuscation of inconvenient facts and Donald Trump becomes president.
People need shortcuts to understanding. The media’s obligation as an authority should be to make sure that its narrative shortcuts are as true as possible. Which brings me to Russell Brand.
In The Trews (a portmanteau of True and News) on Youtube, Russell Brand presents his own narrative of what’s going on in the world, in what I perceive as simple and self-evident language. I feel comfortable accepting his truths because he has impressed on me again and again how keenly he is able to understand the complexities of our society, while maintaining an optimistic and empathetic worldview. We need more people who can chop up difficult-to-understand truths into simpler self-evident ideas.
But what about the people who have an excuse to disbelieve everything Russell Brand says? He is after all, a filthy hippie lefty, prattling on about peace and love while everyone already knows that it’s really other people to blame for the world sucking so much.
Honestly if I knew how to communicate with that kind of archetype I’d be out there doing it instead of sitting at home typing at my computer.
Truth isn’t enough to convince people; this is the hardest lesson to be learned by the hippie generation. “All you need is love” is not enough. Plenty of us can and will choose to reject anything which challenges our worldview. We need to go further; we need to find ways to make our truth accessible to the many different ways that ordinary people understand the world.
I also think it’s interesting to notice how consistently our comedians have taken the lead in advancing social narratives in a positive direction. I’ve understood for a while now that humour is a function of social intelligence. It’s a medium that relies very heavily on effective communication, and is by definition alienating when it fails.
I swear this idea isn’t coming out of a sexist interpretation of reality; our society is literally sexist in this way. Because men have the majority of power, what they value in sexuality becomes de facto valuable to the society. I can easily imagine that in a female-dominated society we’d see a lot more twinks running around and serving as eye candy for the women in charge. But then those same young men would probably have to work twice as hard to be “taken seriously” in a world where the powerful are virtually blinded by their sexuality.
Maybe the lesson here is: women with power should be allowed to get theirs. Sex makes the individual more powerful because of the relationship it creates. But more than that, sex equalises people. We’re all the same when we’re naked and rubbing against each other.
My two favourite movies recently have been X-Men Apocalypse and Captain America Civil War. I think both of these films are spectacular achievements; the epitome of what superhero movies are and should be in 2016. JJ Abrams wishes he could do what Bryan Singer or the Russo brothers can do.
I understand it’s an autistic thing; watching the same movie over and over. We easily obsess over anything complex enough that we can continue to learn from it. Video games are the same. Give me a complex system and I will learn the fuck out of it until I’m satisfied I have an effective grasp of the subject. Then I’ll get bored until I find the next interesting thing.
Civil War is about government oversight and the rights of the individual to wield power. Captain America becomes a criminal because the government is more concerned with controlling him than trusting in his goodness. Good people end up at war with each other because they can’t agree on what a peaceful society should look like. Cough congress.
X-Men Apocalypse is about extremism and the radicalisation of good people. Apocalypse is a terrorist.
Magneto’s story is the central narrative in my opinion. He tries to live as a human but his compassion for others ends up “outing” him, leading to his society turning on him and creating the situation where Apocalypse was his only ally. Similarly with Apocalypse’s generals, all powerful but socially downtrodden people granted self-actualisation simply by having a cause, any cause, to put their extraordinary abilities into.
Also I think some of the mutants might be gay.
But I still feel like both of these movies have story threads that I’ve yet to pick up on. I’ll probably watch them a few times more at least before I get bored.
If anyone reading this has anything to add I’m interested in hearing it.
I’m playing a Shaman again, just doing some levelling, that being the only type of content that is not repetitive as fuck. I mean sure I’ve done it all before, but only about a dozen times unlike everything in the current endgame content which is probably closer to three or four times that number.
I wonder how typical this pattern of activity is among WoW players. Does this make me more “casual” or more “hardcore”? Or do we all already know how meaningless those words have become.
When I get enthusiastic about a class I always start thinking about playing it in a competitive raid. But since every single thing that can be changed in the next expansion is being changed in the next expansion — fucking again — I must remind myself that the game I’m currently playing will only sort-of exist a few months from now, and again realise that nothing actually matters because not even the creators of this world seem to give a flying fuck about its ongoing consistency.
I just want to feel like I can care about something again without having to wonder whether anyone else does.
To meaningfully break a barrier is probably one of those things that gets progressively harder to achieve the more space one inhabits within ones understood universe. There must be a decision to be made about whether to focus on growing yourself or growing the size your universe.
I feel like I learn more about humans from watching their mating behaviour than from anything else.
It’s the same joke over and over. The joke was that we thought it wasn’t all about sex.
People say women are less funny than men. Well, they aren’t. Except for that in reality they are. But you have to understand that in a historical context blah blah blah see this is why; in a universe where nothing exists independent of context, everything is connected with everything else, except for in the ways that they aren’t.
That was the punchline.