[Newbies] Spaghetti code

Blake blake at kingdomrpg.com
Sun Feb 18 23:52:43 UTC 2007

On Sun, 18 Feb 2007 06:21:14 -0800, Ron Teitelbaum <Ron at USMedRec.com>  

> That's good.  I think I posted this comment as much for you as for me.  I

Yeah, I'm definitely in "thinking out loud" mode. It's good to see how  
others think, too.

> learned the hard way by trying to teach math to my daughter.  It didn't  
> go well!  So now I review homework, sometimes point out errors, teach  
> some
> concepts later.  It's not an easy transition to make, but it does work
> better (some).

Ah. My kids are homeschooled so I have no outs there. It's still not so  
much teaching as sort of get-out-of-the-way while they learn.

> I played DnD when I was in grade school.  We had an after school club  
> and it was really fun.

I'd guess you're slightly younger than I, then. When I was a teen, the  
issues raised with D&D were virtually identical to the issues being raised  
today about video games (and about comic books in the '50s, pulp fiction  
in the '30s, etc.), with the added twist of a few self-proclaimed experts  
insisting that D&D contained REAL SPELLS.

> What concerns me is the level of violence in video games
> today.  I'm a bit out of touch with games.  I saw a group of programmers  
> in my last job set up a game server, I can't remember what it was, and  
> they
> spent a whole lot of time at it.  It was really violent.  So what I know  
> is mostly second hand.

Well, of course, games are not violent so much as pretend-violent. And  
gamers tend to quickly break down a game into its numbers. Which is why  
games like Katamari Darcy and Viva Pinata can be phenomenally successful  
even among hardcore gamers, despite being opposed to the usual  
dark/gory/faux-serious that demographic gravitates toward.

In his "A Theory of Fun For Game Deisgn", Ralph Koster re-imagines Tetris  
as a game where you're a Nazi dropping Jews into a pit. It's an  
illuminating discussion.

> I read about violence and exposure to TV and Video
> games and the evidence seems to support a very negative impact on  
> children, including violent activity, anti-social behavior and attention  
> disorders.

I've never seen anything that struck me as even remotely reliable.  
However, I do think TV and games are completely opposite. Television and  
movies are passively absorbed. Even in the best filmed entertainments,  
which engage you emotionally and intellectually, you have no control, and  
are therefore encouraged to accept what you see.

Games are meant to be beaten. Figured out. Controlled. Gamers expect to be  
Cause rather than Effect. One of the best references I can make here is to  
Adam Cadre's text adventure game "Photopia". It's the story of a girl who  
dies in a car accident, told backwards. You can't change this; the  
interactivity comes entirely from how you experience the character when  
she's alive. It's a very moving work, perhaps the most moving game I've  
ever played, and it pissed not a few people off because they had the  
gamer's expectation that they could keep the character from getting killed.


Anyway, this mindset (IMO) makes the player less susceptible to influence  
than the viewer. It's precisely why it's so difficult to create a game  
that rises to the level of art. ("Starflight" had a twist that completely  
altered the player's view of the game mechanic, not unlike the  
aforementioned Tetris/Nazi thing. But it's rare.)

> I remember reading about increased hand-eye development but I question  
> the
> benefit of that considering the down side.

Well, you can get those hand-eye development benefits playing any twitch  
game, regardless of context, I'd imagine.

> I suppose that if society of today requires a certain amount of  
> desensitization then if we can't
> change society we should provide the right level of exposure.

As I say, it's done nothing to desensitize my son. Well, yeah, maybe it's  
desensitized him to movie and game violence. :-) Real violence appalls him  
and I think he thinks violence even on the level of, say, boxing is pretty  

OTOH, violence with survival value (say hunting or fishing) seem okay to  
him (though we haven't done anything like that yet).

> I'm happy that your son is well adjusted and doing well.

Heh. My children aren't well-adjusted. They adjust the world.

> It makes me wonder if some of the negative impacts can not be
> accounted for because of the lack of supervision in TV and video games.

Might be. There are six of us and we have one TV in the main room. The  
computers are also in the main room. And, again, it's about knowing your  
kid. My son, when he was two, we watched the movie "Phantoms". Eye-sucking  
aliens didn't bug him at all. But there's a scene where Ben Affleck, the  
town sheriff, describes how he left the FBI after accidentally shooting a  
child. =That= freaked him out. So I learned: No Ben Affleck. No,  
seriously, I discovered that in the context of the fantastic, anything  
goes, but if it were realistic, you had to be very careful.

No substitute for knowing your child.

>> I'm not sure what that--doesn't the game go away at that point?<s>
> Not really.  I guess my point here is that you can use your properties to
> build real things.  Those things can be very useful in many different  
> ways. Say like a classification tree.  Once you answer questions the  
> system could give you the name of the thing you found.  You found  
> Caulerpa taxifolia.  Or if you have your thing running around on screen  
> and trying to talk to you, it seems silly to ask you if it's alive and  
> talking.  I guess I was trying, but not well, to show the benefit of  
> properties to construct useful things.

See my response to Todd as far as this goes.

> You don't have to go far to see the quick return to the mean, in things  
> like the French Revolution, or the Russian removal of the Czar.  I  
> really believe that we are in deep trouble when we isolate ourselves and  
> consume such vast resources.

I agree with the former. As far as the latter, I would argue that our  
"vast consumption" is what makes things like the OLPC possible.

> I like the OLPC project because I believe that projects just
> like that one will help to even out world resources and could help to  
> bring peace.  As humans maybe we can learn to share and manage the  
> resources so
> that other species won't be wiped out in the process.  After all it's  
> true there are limited resources, but considering we have a very nice  
> sun, there is still a lot to go around.

Our concern for other species--and even groups of men apart from us--is  
made possible by our vast wealth; we tend to deplore our materialism, but  
we neglect the positive things abundance brings. To a starving man, a  
spotted owl is dinner. To a man without shelter, a redwood is a roof.

The OLPC rocks. I hope they mass market to first world nations. It has the  
potential to change everything. Commoditize computing power completely.

I hope my children are able to benefit from and contribute to it.


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