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Posts Tagged ‘Big Brother’

A little knowledge goes a long way sometimes… and maybe not in the direction we’d like.

As I’ve noted before, my college degree is in computer animation, specifically geared to film making.  In the course of earning that degree, I learned a lot of film making tricks and tactics, as well as the extra layer of tomfoolery that computer graphics permits.  As such, it’s very hard to watch a movie these days and not see all the little hacks and cheats.  I can’t help but see behind the curtain because I’m so familiar with what goes on back there.

I have a similar problem with games.  Since I work in making games, usually creating, texturing and animating 3D models, and I’m very familiar with the industry, I see all the little tricks that other game developers use in their games.  Even if I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and just be entertained, it’s a reflex to see, catalogue, and examine how things work, and perhaps more importantly, how they don’t work.

Similarly, since my degree is technically a Bachelor’s of the Fine Arts, and I’ve been an artist who studies art for a long time, I have a lot of experience with art, both creating it and in analyzing it.  I see art problems way too easily.  Even my hobbyist knowledge of astrophysics, physics, math and science makes some things hard to swallow, like the awful science in that recent Star Trek movie.

This is the effect underlying the Uncanny Valley effect.  Y’see, we’re all experts at being human, just by virtue of, well… living life.  When we see something that doesn’t agree with our experience, it just seems wrong, no matter how well-crafted it is.  It need not even be conscious; we notice the inherent wrongness whether or not we want to, and it colors our experience.  Even something like basic kinesthetics can be thrown off, as is the case with the Kinect motion sensor control system for the XBox.  The functionality is wrong compared to what we know so well, and it just doesn’t work.

So when we see something like this, where a psychotic nutjob’s murderous actions are blamed, in part, on video games, as gamers, we cannot help but shout:

OBJECTION!

We know enough about the reality of games from our own expertise to call “shenanigans!” on the media narrative.

Of course, there’s a flipside to this.  If we don’t have personal expertise in a topic at hand, and don’t want to bother informing ourselves about it, it becomes very easy to just go with the flow, accept fallacious authority, and accept whatever we’re told, especially if it’s something we think we agree with and fall prey to confirmation bias.  If we want to hate someone or something, we’ll find reasons to do so.  If the narrative suits our taste, we’ll happily ignore facts.  We embrace ignorance and live in our own little perception bubble, because we’re happy there.  Manipulative agenda-riddled media is more than happy to play along.

This is certainly obvious in politics and the so-called “mainstream media”.  This is one reason why blogging is changing the world and why it’s important to protect in the face of political opposition and Big Brother control; the “news” networks get called on their lies and matters of public policy can get a bit more transparency with concerned citizens involved.  Nothing quite dies on the internet, and it’s increasingly easier to do a bit of research and do a little fact checking.  Of course, even then, so-called “fact checkers” are usually biased, too.  You really have to go do your homework and proper research if you care about something.

Remember the murderer who played WoW?  When there’s a causal link implied by shoddy reporting and poor courtroom procedure, and you know the argument is pure crap, you don’t trust the narrative, and you are right to be distrustful.  You know better, no matter what the talking heads on the magic light box try to tell you.

The really crazy part is when you see through the curtain sometimes, but decide to let it slip back into place later, say, if the same media outlet reports something you want to hear.  They are no more trustworthy than they were before, but this time, since it’s something you agree with, it doesn’t matter what goes on behind that curtain.  The narrative is what matters, not the truth.

WoW subscription numbers down 300,000?  The game is finally dying!  Thanks for the brave reporting, guys!

WoW subscription numbers steady next quarter?  Must be a statistical blip or someone cooking the books.  They are desperate to show they aren’t dying!  Lousy lying media!

So what?  Just sayin’…

Trust, but verify.  Understand your own bias and get past it… at least, if you care about truth.  Sometimes, we just want to be lied to.  Being able to swallow the lies, benign or otherwise, certainly makes it easier to be entertained.

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Well, it’s not exactly a poke in the eye, but this system is certainly taking a clooooose look at some eyes.

Iris Scanners

Orwell had his timing off a wee bit, but really, is this sort of thing inevitable?  And perhaps most importantly, when will ActiBlizzard make iris identification the new account security feature?  I mean, people are already posting photos of themselves on FaceBook, so this is just a hop, skip and a jump for RealID.  Besides, eye scanning is better than a literal poke in the finger for ID testing.

This makes me want to play Monopoly, or maybe just indulge in some graphical design.

Rebranding U.S. Currency

Do you think putting Puzzle Pirates Ringers on the money would be a bad idea? Cleaver for the $100… Nemo for the $50!  Maybe World of Warcraft key characters?  Ah, the debate:  Thrall or Jaina for the $100?  Maybe one of each with concurrent Horde/Alliance crests and graphical design… collectors’ items!  Alamo for the $50?

This sort of explains it all:

U.S. students don’t understand math, science or history because they aren’t being taught

So my next question is:  When do we get to apply for citizenship of Azeroth?  Forget this pansy Real World thing.

I’m reserving my Tauren Druid now.

Bonus reading if you want something a bit more… fiesty.

Hypocrisy on Display: Islam

It’s always interesting to me to find the good and useful points in a reasoned rant.  Sometimes, rants are simply anger incarnate, but more often than not, there’s something real under the hood, something worth thinking about and deciding where your own opinions lie.  For me, the take-home thought this time is “what do you do when compromise with someone who wants you dead isn’t an option?”  Plenty of storytelling seeds in that one.

Anyway, it’s not like game bloggers ever rant without having a good reason, right?  Sure, sometimes you have to dig to find it, and sometimes it’s just kicking up a storm for attention, but that’s just part of this silly “internet” thing.

…and now I wonder what Freud would have done with the internet.  Can you imagine the psychoanalysis he’d come up with prowling the web?  Would he get stuck on the tvtropes website, too?  Would he get stuck endlessly trying to correct people? Would he have a FaceBook and Twitter account?

@Freud: Have returned from 4Chan foray. Paper forthcoming. … I need a cigar.

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So… there’s a bit of kerfluffle recently about Tycho going all Corporate or something on us, the Gamers.  The nerve.

Andrew, MBP, PvD, GBN and Syp (edit:  and Cap’n John) have good posts on it (with links to other good ones), so I won’t reiterate much… I’ll just point to what I’ve already written about this, almost two years ago.

Sell and Resell

…so does that make me a pirate blogger?  I mean, reusing an old post is about the same as just stealing, right?  Never mind that I wrote it and that I’m not charging for these things, we’re talking ideals and morals here, people!

So, henceforth, anyone (including myself) who links to any of my previous blog posts must pay me the full price originally charged for the post.  There are no discounts and no sales; I’m not running a charity here.  Each link will incur the full price, so if you link twice, I’ll expect you to pay twice.  Anyone quoting any part of my posts will likewise be expected to pay.  Anyone quoting a comment from any of my posts will also be expected to pay, though I will be sending the lion’s share* of that fee to the commenter in question.

We’ll run this on an honor system for a while, until I can buy my own legislator to enforce matters.  Until then, my rabid internet wombats will be watching via my Big Brother WombatCam.  Do not steal.  They will find you.  You will not like it.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY!

*”Lion’s share” is here defined as a number not less than 51% and not more than 55% of the original fee, calculated at the moment of the transaction according to whim and solely at my discretion as the blog administrator.

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…have good reason to outweigh the needs of the many, Spock’s heroic sacrifice notwithstanding.

Y’see, as Uhura rightly points out in Of Gods and Men, the balance between the needs of the many and the needs of the few and how it guides choices hinges on who makes the choices.  It’s the difference between communism and community, between fascism and freedom.

When the individual chooses to sacrifice for the many, it’s noble and heroic.  When the group sacrifices for an individual, it’s heartwarming and constructive.

When the group tells the individual to sacrifice for the sake of the collective, it’s a short hop to Big Brother Statism and all of its ills.  When the individual demands the group sacrifice for them, special interests can control society over the voice of a silent majority.

…and yes, I just used Star Trek and a fan film as a springboard to obliquely refer to a game company’s statist behavior and warn against fascism clothed in feel-good stated intentions.  Yes, I think that Blizzard using RealID as some sort of “the community needs to be a better place” excuse, while stripping away the defenses of people who would rather be anonymous for non-trolling reasons is firmly on the wrong side of the balance of this “needs” philosophy.  I won’t bother with political applications of this principle at the moment, but they exist.

While I’m at it, here’s an interesting take on how the Federation might just be a giant, scary cultish mess (the second video, unfortunately it’s a bit mouthy, but he makes some solid points).

Too much geek for one day?

Did I need to throw a KHAAAAAAN! in there?  I mean, really, fiction and games can’t possibly have anything useful to say about real life, can they?

Oh, and this sort of kerfluffle is precisely why many “pundits” such as myself write so much about the business of games in addition to the games themselves.  They inevitably affect each other, no matter how much we want to mentally isolate the game world from the real world.

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