All posts for the month August, 2006

I thought this was interesting, this demographics study by the Daedalus Project of the most popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft:

Some highlights (taken from Terra Nova):

  1. Female players are older than male players.
  2. Younger players prefer Rogues and Shaman. Older players prefer Hunters and Warlocks. Rogues and Shaman also score the highest on the Advancement (goals/achievement) and Mechanics (min-maxing) motivations.
  3. Older players prefer Dwarves and Gnomes, who also happen to score the lowest on all achievement motivations. Gnomes score the highest on the Role-Playing and Customization motivations.
  4. The RL gender distribution is 84/16. The in-game gender distribution is 65/35. 55% of female characters in the game are being played by men.

What was most striking to me was that the two most common classes for whom Mechanics was the primary player motivation were the Rogue and the Shaman, and those are the first two characters I created. My obsession with games, admittedly, has always been with game mechanics over all else. Even more telling, based on the Race Motivations table, my *undead* Rogue and *tauren* Shaman fall right into an unerring prognostication.

After being very unhappy with the way Blizzard was changing the game, and being tired of the childishness of the playerbase after beta ended, I created my third character, a Hunter. Their chart shows Hunter players as scoring the lowest in teamwork and advancement, reflecting my sentiment at that point. Even more interestingly, the order of the characters I created, Rogue, Shaman, Hunter, fall in succession on the chart describing average player age. I began with the class most played by the youngest group, and ended in the class most played by the oldest players.

Interestingly enough, Xstine succumbed to the unspoken forces of her gender, and chose a Priest both in beta and after release, a common choice for women. After PvP was released and her options for Exploration and Customization were limited, she switched to a Rogue. Today, as we play DDO, a game with rather limited exploration opportunities, she has a greater interest in the mechanics of character creation than she ever did in WoW. Her main? One of the best rogues/fighters on the server. :ninja:

Interesting stuff happening this week…

  • Michael Bay ruins the Transformers movie even more with his go-for-broke misinterpretation of Megatron's design. Whether this image is legit or not, who knows, but AICN was asked to take it down shortly after it was first leaked there. All I know is, it's an utter abomination, destroying the iconic visage of the Decepticons with all the over-embellishment of a pre-ejaculatory teenager subconsciously twisted by last year's anime.
  • Ben Bernanke finally says something that I can agree with, that protectionism needs to end. Of course, the market replies with a loss in enthusiasm. Really, it's the market that turns him into a bad guy, it's not like slowing housing growth and inflation haven't been right under Wall St.'s nose for a long and obvious time.
  • Also, Penny Arcade has a big surprise at PAX, which incidentally enjoys a skyrocketting attendance figure thanks to the demise of E3 (rightfully so IMO). This article leaks the secret into our parched mouths- they have hooked up with Hothead Games to develop an episodic adventure game based on their comics. Very. Very. Cool. I used to think the indie community in the world of games couldn't stack up to that in film, but I'm starting to think the seeds have been sown to make me very very wrong, and very very happy. This is just damnably grassroots, this wonderful success fable in a fairy land where suits don't make ALL the games.

Hurray! I realized today I've hit my fashionable 101st post for this blog, something I didn't think I'd have persistence to do when I first started. To date, there has been some 25300+ visits, but the few hundred who visit these days rarely leave comments. Leave some comments! I love being told to stop making up bullshit, don't be shy you voyeurs out there.

I figure a good way to celebrate is to link to this new HD trailer for UT2k7, which I am waiting for with drool deluging my digits as I type. The music, the explosions, the utter shameless teenage action it's replete with so saturated in the series' trademark gaudy technicolor arenas, it's all enough to make a grown boy cry. Xstine and I were total AS-Convoy whores, having played enough assault to navigate the game blind. UT2k7 is to FPS's what Children of Bodom and Kataklysm are to metal, so you snobs can fuck off, and you newbs can stick with Halo. Seriously, if you're going to turn a tech demo into a game, do it right (ahem… DEAD RISING… cough). Although I got to admit, shoving a showerhead into a zombie to get it to rain blood was pretty darn funny.

Besides this trailer, news from the Leipzig Games Conference in Germany also brought word of Battalion Wars 2 for the Wii… with multiplayer/co-op online! Basically, we're talking online Advance Wars. Utterly sick.

Yesterday, a reader had some dialogue with me via comments over my rash indictment of James Xi Zhang and China’s imposition into world trade. He brought up some good points that many are feeling right now in the apparent fallout of the American government, so I’ll use this post to address my thoughts:

Hi am back…yes of course China is a huge threat to companies here, but is that stopping companies from getting most bang for their buck? Not really. By sending everything to be manufactured over to China, they aren’t looking at the future of Americans – their consumers. So I guess the big question is who is responsible for our future/change necessary for a better future? Individual consumers ??? (No – Americans are cheap, lazy, and selfish for the most part) Companies ??? (No – they are heading us down a downward spiral where China rules) Government ???? bingo. They need to regulate our (companies and consumers) greedy butts. That’s one advantage China has over us- much more control (although perhaps now unstructured and chaotic) over their companies and people. I believe they are looking at the future. They are improving everyday. You should look at their environmentally friendly plans – all of which beat any green attempts here. I’m not pro-China. Just concerned at the way things are going these days for America. Yes we are all to blame, but more so the government.

O btw I don’t see how Mr. Zhang represents the corruption in China if he’s not guilty at this point. I believe he’s very much American. I know you’re not totally serious but this is someone’s rep on the line. I’ve been in a lawsuit before and if you’re not guilty and someone is telling you are….not fun. So that’s why I’m pushing this point so much… From what I heard, there’s no proof so far, so until then stay nice. Thanks for reading. This is great fun…

I understand where you are coming from, and I feel the same way about the lack of government intervention in what is clearly a self-destructive relationship between consumer and corporation. But you draw some conclusions that come from the wrong direction.

First, exporting American jobs to China is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is certainly inevitable as the world becomes more globalized whether people want it to or not. Lower prices mean better savings, more money to spend elsewhere, better cost of living. The problem is that the prices were so good that the consumers lost their heads and sent our national savings rate into the negative. We lose more jobs to Mexicans than the Chinese, and studies have shown that wages for Americans as a whole, or even for the working classes, took little to no damage. If unemployment really did match immigration rates, the country would have more than twice the unemployment it currently has, and growing.

Secondly, China exhibits a pretense of tight control over its companies, but it also turns a gigantic blind eye to the many it chooses to ignore. The government is even less empowered than us to make sweeping reforms because the corruption is entrenched at the state and provincial levels. I’ve been following their environment reforms, and as admirable as they are, they were created because of how POOR local regulation has been, and the ecological damage there has been immense. Their new policies are amazing, but by the time they’re implemented, alot more damage will be done.

Finally, Americans need to stop blaming the government. Doing so is what led to the tragedy in New Orleans. People seem to forget the vote to enter war with Iraq was unanimous. People seem to forget that after going into war, you need to supervise it as well, not just let the commanders do whatever. It’s no accident that welfare reform under Clinton actually decreased dependency on welfare. America is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy, per intention of our founding fathers who purposely designed the government to be inefficient. We have electoral votes. It is the duty of We the People to organize those votes against the forces of gerrymandering into a keen weapon of change, not sit at home and complain about it.

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” -Thomas Jefferson

As for Mr. Zhang, regardless of whether he is guilty or not, you can’t deny it gives Asian men a bad rep in times when Asians have been accused of spying in Federal buildings and stealing from Texas Intruments.

After reams of "studies" that linked gaming with violence while ignoring the possiblity of that relationship being inverse, it makes my day to see a study that was done properly and which took great pains to extrapolate only appropriate conclusions. I'd recommend reading the Q&A with Anderson Analytics, as it's clear they didn't get their causes and effects' mixed up. The conclusions of the study implied that the XBox brand causes more self-confidence and distrust than the PS2. It doesn't explain the ramifications of these feelings, nor tries to guess too much as to why the difference even exist, leaving an explanation open for issues such as marketing styles, console brand history, etc.

Equally exciting for me is this analysis of IGN review scores, showing an strange imbalance and reluctance among their editors to impart anything but whole number scores. It excites me because this is what game journalist should be doing, as it legitimizes a business whose bias had a heydey of a day back when sites like DailyRadar were around. Has it gotten better? Remember the Dan "Shoe" Hsu interview I talked about before? Yeah, I think it's getting better. Slowly. But the gaming breed is an angry, rebellious, and most importantly, proud one. I don't forsee it giving in to console partisanship, fanboyism notwithstanding. Unlike politics, it only takes half an hour to tell if a game is any good, and unlike movies, the merit of your defense is measured not by movie tickets but by the hundreds of hours you spend PLAYING.

Not everything has to head the direction of New Game Journalism, but the idea is enticing. Frontline reports from virtual battlefronts, memoirs from the minds of the culturally entrenched, these are exciting exciting. But game journalism for the masses needs more transparency. I don't mean less bias, as games are inherently subject to extreme bias and we accept that when we read a review or an article, but I want to know who's paying for that bias. But if we already know what's bias and what isn't why does that matter? Because as an industry, it buys us leverage among politicians and competing industries who don't understand games. Imagine if the ESRB has never even been created what mercy we would be at the government's whims. Self-regulation is the first line of defense in the eternal struggle of us versus them, ninjas versus pirates.

10 life lessons I've learned from the markets
By Brett Steenbarger
August 14, 2006 8:30 AM ET

Trading has taught me much more than patterns of supply and demand. It has provided a framework for thinking about life. Here are ten life lessons instilled by the markets:

1) Have a firm stop-loss point for all jobs, relationships, and personal involvements. Successful people are successful because they cut their losing experiences short and ride winning experiences.

2) Diversification works well in life and markets. Multiple, non-correlated sources of fulfillment make it easier to take risks in any one facet of life.

3) In life as in markets, chance truly favors those who are prepared to benefit. Failing to plan truly is planning to fail.

4) Success in trading and life comes from knowing your edge, pressing it when you have the opportunity, and sitting back when that edge is no longer present.

5) In all facets of life and investing, risks and rewards are proportional.

6) Happiness is the profit we harvest from life. All life's activities should provide a good return on investment.

7) With volatility comes opportunity. Always.

8) All trends and cycles come to an end. Who anticipates change, profits.

9) The worst decisions, in life and markets, come from extremes: overconfidence and a lack of confidence.

10) A formula for success in life and finance: never hold an investment that you would not be willing to purchase afresh today.

Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.

Air stocks plummeted for us and our British brethren over the news of an intercepted terrorist game of cowboys and indians. Heathrow was in chaos as travelers were forced to remove all liquid carry-ons, since the terrorists had planned to use their iPods to detonate British Gatorade. Had these quasimuslim MacGuyvers succeeded, they would have eventually been able to blow-up eleven planes over the Atlantic.

So now what? With their plans foiled, I fear the worst, and that is that the Al Qaida's obsession with airlines will slowly divert into other vulnerable areas of our society. Perhaps they'll bomb our energy grid, our utilities infrastructure, our tech companies, our landmarks, or even Allah forbid visit their Armageddon upon my precious Netflix just as I'm about to rent some blasphemous film of the American degenerate… or some erogenous anime.

Actually, the film I am desperately waiting to see is Iñárritu's next epic tri-plot, Babel. This trailer fluidly sums up for me the very real dangers in believing in the universality in this technological Babel we've built. How he ties the threads together will probably mirror the consequences of love in Amores Perros, and the consequences of regret in 21 Grams. Babel looks to be about the consequences of technological vainity, and I say it's about time.

It's been a hectic week here as we fumble over ourselves to entertain Xstine's two sisters. We're trying to strategically hit a representative sample of restaurants and locales for them, so I haven't been able to post much. However, I wanted to share something utterly insane… a PS2 game called Giant Babe. And how. Considering their other titles include winners like Maids Uniforms and Machine Guns, I expect their echelon of game design to revolutionize the world.

The harbinger to November rain seems intent on supplanting the throne of the bluesiest period of the year. I'm talkinga about our dearest, most choleric month of August.

Within its tendrils melancholic, the stock-market caesar takes its annual brute stab in the back in time for the ides of the eight month. But having done a lot of spiteful math this week, I can proudly say that I've managed to beat the S&P 500, albeit by a meager +1.6% percent. Wherefore proud? Considering the "surprise" downturn the market had, and my own inexperience with having just started investing last October, that's not bad. My gain has hovered at 5.22% with minor spikes to 16%. However I've situated myself for much better gains later this year, now that I've weathered the worst. I've learned a lot about something I always considered to be pure gambling. Of course, the less you know, the more gambling it is.

While the stock market was taking a beating in auto, food, and near about every other sector, another rainy cloud snuck in. E3 was canceled. There isn't much to say about this that isn't already covered in this excellent article. I'm bummed, but I think it's for the better.

But all is not lost! A new animated series based on Mike Mignola's art, voiced by the likes of Paul Giamatti and David Hyde Pierce, has been born, and it's awesome. Remember the feeling you had the first time you saw Dexter's Labratory or the Braak Show? Aqua Teen Hunger Force? The Tick?!? Here it is, times ten tenfold. Watch and weep, for joy and for August.