Monday, May 21, 2012

What can we learn from games?

The real question is, what can't we learn from games? There is no subject, no matter how complex that cannot be taught with engaging game mechanics. Angry Birds and Crush the Castle teach us rudimentary physics, and it is not hard to see how more complex physics could be taught with similar mechanics. Even the disgusting or taboo could be taught through game mechanics. I hate the idea of the power of games being abused in such a mannor, but i can easily see how a game teaching such horrendous things as rape and torture can be made to be enjoyable, even subversive, slowly training your responses so that what would originally be repulsive is seen as a reward.

On a lighter note, there's so much good that can be taught though games. Mathematics can be taught subtly through puzzle mechanics without it becoming an obvious educational game. History can be taught through games that reward us for exploring historically accurate environments. Military tactics can be taught through RTS and FPS action games. There is no subject that games cannot make enjoyable and informative. What it really comes down to is what should be taught, why, and how. It is easy in games to subversively indoctrinate people, both deliberately and accidentally. Extra credits did an episode on it that can be found here. If you don't know them and you're at all interested, check out all their episodes, it's good stuff.

What's more interesting than the things games are able to teach us, are the things games allow us to explore and learn more about ourselves from. Games allow us to explore possible realities where certain points of view are held strong, or certain events occurred that create societies that are vastly different from the current world. They allow us to explore points of view taken to the absolute extreme, or the nature of humanity under extreme adversity. They also allow us to explore the very meaning of humanity itself. What makes a human a person? What separates us from animals? Or robots? Even bad games can teach us powerful things about humanity. Games where the characters fall into the uncanny valley (another thing Extra Credits have done an episode on), where they just don't feel like real people, where something is just off, they allow us to explore essential traits of real people that we would never have noticed were present, but are disturbing in their absence.

There's also a lot games can teach us about ourselves as a person. How you choose to play an open ended game can teach you a lot about both who you are, and who you want to be. For example, there are only ever two roles i really enjoy playing in any team based strategy game, regardless of the game and gameplay. I'm always either a tank, or a defender. I enjoy roles that force me to work as a team with the people around me. Neither role is really able to function solo, they rely on support from others, or provide that support. I don't like to be the damage dealer, or the solo'er. So basically I'm a team player, and i don't like being the center of attention. I'll happily take a death on my K/D ratio if it means my team get an advantage over the other. And I'm happiest whenmy job makes the job of my teammates easier.

Monday, September 12, 2011

day 18: A song that you wish you heard on the radio

Taking back sunday are fucking amazing. This isn't my favourite of their songs, that'll come later, but it's pretty awesome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

day 17: A song that you hear often on the radio

I dislike Adelle. She's a fantastic singer, but her songs just make me angry at the moment. And not in the way they're supposed to.

On morality and existensial meanings.

Formspring asked me in one of it's randomly generated questions "What is the best advice you've ever been given?"

My answer is thus: 'The universe doesn't care'.
Now this might seem really bleak, and not good advice at all. I mean, if the universe doesn't care, why do anything? Everything i achieve in life is meaningless in the end. But there's a deeper message in there. If the universe doesn't care, the only reason to do something is for the simple joy of the act itself, or the joy that the act will bring about later. I don't need to justify my actions under some twisted morality. Nor Heap praise upon a god i don't believe in, let alone care about.

The only reason to do something is because i believe it makes my world a better place. I do things only because they will at some point make me happy. If i do something nice for a stranger, i feel better knowing that i made their day that little bit more enjoyable. I date women because by making them happy, i make myself happy. And they (generally, with some depressing exceptions) then strive to make me happy in return. Pleasure is the ultimate end goal of life. The ultimate way to measure a man's success in life is by how much he enjoyed the simple act of living. A billionair tycoon can be a far lesser man than a poor african farmer. In 1000 years, Humanity will remember only the great political figures, and the tyrants. In 10 000 years, it will only remember the tyrants. In 500 000 years, it won't remember us at all, if humanity still even exists. So why strive to be remembered by everyone? All you can do is delay your fade into obscurity. And even then, only by vile acts. Instead, live life to the fullest, and get the most enjoyment out of it that you can. Because hte only point of life is to live.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

day 16: A song that you used to love but now hate

Coincidentally, this was my phone's alarm for a good 6 months. I wonder if there's a connection.

day 15: A song that describes you

Hmm... I'm not really sure who I am at the moment. I'm not sure how i would go about describing myself in words, let alone a song. Hot Chel Ray's new song does a pretty good job of describing my current attitude, but that's not really me. Instead I'll show you a song that defined who i was for so fucking long. This, and a few other songs, was my entire adolescence, from age 14 until i turned 18ish. The Used, My Chemical Romance, Paramore and Blink182 practically moulded who i was and to an extent who i am now. But this song in particular takes the cake.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A brief update on my mental state, and a recap of certain important events.

I'm sure a lot of you are wondering how I'm coping with life at the moment. Or, at least one or two people. Maybe a third if I'm lucky. Well long story short, I'm actually doing pretty well. There have been some bad moments (the other day i just felt so alone. I didn't wanna talk to anyone.) but over all I've done pretty well. There hasn't been any soul crushing heartache, I haven't felt the urge to desperate rebound, and I'm not feeling a pressing desire to repeat the same mistakes. And i haven't had a return of my depression yet, which is totally fantastic. In a way, I'll miss it, it was kind of an old friend, but at the same time, I'm glad to see the back of it. It was comforting at times, but terrifying at others.

In other news, I saw Carla today for the first time since. For drama's sake, I'll describe the potential ways i thought it could play out.
Scenario 1: I'm still madly in love with her and want to get back together. This would end badly. Oh so badly. If she didn't want to I'd get my heart stomped on once again. And if she did? Things would probably end up even worse than they were before. I'm glad my heart was smart enough to avoid this one...
Because i would not be doing well afterwards.
Scenario 2: I'm still madly in love with her and every second we're together is agony because I know i can't have her. The thing about this one is that I would probably have gone on as if everything was fine, even though it would be killing me inside. I would know that it's for the best, so there would have been no way I could let it show, because I know that seeing me in pain would hurt her, and I couldn't live with that.
Scenario 3: I'm still horribly resentful of her for everything she's done to me. This would not have ended well for obvious reasons. This would kill any chance at us remaining friends over the next few months. And I would be completely justified in feeling this way.
Scenario 4: She desperately regrets everything and wants to get back together. I would have been fucked. So fucked. Because despite my brain, and my support network, and my past experience screaming "NO YOU FUCK HEAD THIS IS A BAD IDEA! BAD! NO NO NO!" I was not convinced that I could actually turn her down.
Now the point of all this is that I didn't actually know how I would feel until I saw her. I had no way of knowing how I would react to her, or how i should be acting around her, let alone how she felt about me, and how she would react. These may seem a little extreme, but they were all very real possibilities. At least to me they were. I honestly had no idea how i felt about her any more. The only things i knew were that at least some of me still loved her, and i missed being close to someone. And part of me does resent her, but i didn't know how much.

So here's how it played out. It seems almost like a compromise between my totally logical brain, and the irrationally emotional facets of my personality. They hit this nice middle ground all on their own, where I feel like I'm walking down the correct path and doing what's best for me, but without sacrificing the emotional connection that holds back the loneliness. I still love her, but not enough to risk my heart. I still resent her, but not enough to cause tension. I miss the friend, but not the girlfriend. I'm in this middle ground where i can have my freedom without the need to use it to find fulfillment. I'm not sure if that's making sense.
Basically like, I still love her, but it's not enough that i feel like getting back together is a good idea. Even if she'd wanted to. And there's enough of me that still hates her for what she did to me that I'll keep my guard up until she earns it's lowering, but not enough that the afternoon was tense. I'm at a stage where i can stop myself from making mistakes, but still enjoy her company. I don't trust her, she still has to earn that, but it's not important because I know i can avoid letting her hurt me. I'm in the right frame of mind to continue as friends.

It helps a bit that she regrets what she's done. Now that she has freedom, she's realised what it cost her. Is it wrong that i enjoy that a little? I'm not sure. It's probably not a good thing, but i can't help it. The fact that she's realised the immensity of her fuckup makes me a little happier on the inside. But i have my freedom now. And i may not have wanted it, but i definitely plan on enjoying it.

In short, met up with ex,