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Member Since 26 Jun 2000
Offline Last Active Sep 03 2016 10:57 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Slavery, Include Or Not?

03 September 2016 - 10:38 PM

I think it is a deep mistake for players and designers to expect a 1:1 correspondence between gameplay mechanics and real life. In all our time gaming (tabletop / board game or electronic) how many innocent lives have we players all taken collectively? How much have we stolen? How many have we wronged?


If we are talking about fictional entities the answer can only be zero. These things do not exist. They are not real. Therefore no living thing can be harmed, and what kind of creatures are we if we are obsessed with the morality of deeds against non-living, non-existent things? At best we can be accused only of committing crimes of the imagination.


I agree with the point others have made that some will see your work as taking a position, and I feel we currently live in a time where being seen to be moral is perhaps more important than actually BEING moral. If position is a concern, I'd simply make it clear in the manual that this was historical fact and its inclusion is neither meant to condone nor glorify and leave it at that. Some people will nonetheless be deeply offended. It is their right to be so, and it is your right to ignore them. Let them create works that promote their own values. Maybe your work can serve as a springboard for a game about abolition or a deeper simulator whose mechanics plumb the depths of the psychology of objectification.


As an aside let me also note that a rising interest in injecting modern morality into gaming isn't in and of itself a bad thing. There are wide open frontiers to explore in that direction. But a game is not somehow immoral because it incorporates distasteful and even downright evil subject matter. With gaming we must resist the mechanism in our brain that correlates thinking about something as doing it. Thinking is thinking. Doing is doing.

In Topic: USC Canceled Video Game Panel For Too Many Men

04 June 2016 - 12:12 AM

Examples like that are why everyone should be aware of gender issues (as opposed to putting their fingers in their ears and yelling "woman got the vote, we're all equal now!" - yes, caricature, not specific :P)

Agreed, but we should also be aware of the countervailing tendency, popular in some camps who have loudly declared themselves to be the only parties "on the right side of history," (caricature as well but just as apt) of drawing broad conclusions from limited datasets which agree with their overall world view. We should, as much as humanly possible, explore the problem space with the best data available wherever it leads us.

History being the funny thing that it is, there may be no right or wrong side, rather only a human side.

Another is that women are more likely to feel the "imposter syndrome" and not at all likely to apply for jobs where they don't meet every criteria (whereas men tend to apply if they meet just half the criteria).

Having felt this first hand working in games, I have to ask if this is actually gendered or is it an ingroup / outgroup thing. (Apparently I'm not alone, minorities also experience it: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-impostor-syndrome/)

Most entry-level games jobs that I see, ask for:
* 3 shipped titles or 3 years industry experience,
* a 4 year degree
* lots of languages / tools experience.

It was only later in life (too late, I think) that I learned that a game was being played with requirements. The light for me went off interviewing with someone I'd worked with who had fewer qualifications than I had. His wisdom for me was, "I just apply for everything, the worst they can do is reject me."

Is is possible that members of an outgroup do not take as many risks because they are less likely to understand the consequences of those risks?

So being comfortable enough to discuss and act on gender issues, while not jumping to black and white conclusions, makes good business sense as well as being socially progressive.

I would like to see us more comfortable discussing, rather than weaponizing, our differences. I am greatly concerned that there is far more zeal and righteous glee in the latter. Good business sense should always derive from good information, and where the data shows clear, inexcusable differences (as with Salesforce recently) these need to be corrected swiftly.

In Topic: USC Canceled Video Game Panel For Too Many Men

03 June 2016 - 11:54 PM

Damn! This cannot be for real!
Female bias even extends to people's own children:  Pocket money: Boys get 13% more than girls, survey finds
Is this a female hating world or people witch-hunting the male dominance myth are seeing what they want to see?
Ah! , No... none of the above, Apparently its because boys moan, complain and asks for more!!! :( 

It is vital to adopt a skeptical attitude when faced with studies and extremely important to understand the inherent flaws in sociological research. This is especially true when science is being weaponized, as it often is in controversies such as gender relations, where a host of social biases and special interests can cloud the picture.

There exists at least two possibilities: The study is an accurate reflection of reality, and as such lends weight to the demand that society must reorder itself in order to live up to the ideals of an egalitarian and just society; or the study is not an accurate reflection of reality, due to flaws, the difficult and variable nature of what is being studied or other issues such as not accounting for mitigating factors.


In 1987, the Gallup Youth Poll found ... Teenage boys received, on average, smaller allowances (total cash transfers) than did girls, $8.39 and $11.71 per week, respectively, probably reflecting differences in time spent performing household chores. Boys were more likely than girls to do chores involving outdoor duties, such as mowing the lawn, and less likely to do indoor tasks, such as cooking, laundry, and babysitting. These indoor tasks tended to be greater in number and collectively required greater time input than outdoor tasks [Gagner, Cooney, and Call 1998]

In 1992, boys aged twelve to eighteen received average monthly allowances of $39.53, 13 percent more than what girls received; but boys were paid 19 percent less than girls for extra chores performed around the house (chores not required for receipt of an allowance)

According to Sabrina Pabilonia [1999], the median weekly allowance for twelve- and thirteen-year-old boys was $4.80, and the median weekly allowance for sixteen-year-old boys was $7.70. The only gender difference in the median allowance received was for sixteen-year-olds, with boys receiving approximately $1 less than girls.

SOURCE: Boyhood in America: A - K., Volume 1

What might have changed these numbers? Were there any issues with these studies? Do they track with results nationally? Do they vary across similar countries, and if so by how much?

In the vast majority of homes, the allowance is given ... as a reward for certain behavior.

Just as parents are docked for days missed at work, so are children punished for failing to live up to parental expectations.

Boys are asked to do more chores for their allowance than girls are. And parents who only have boys in their households are more likely to withhold allowance when dissatisfied than are parents who only have girls. Also, a significantly higher percentage of girls-only parents regard their girls as more responsible money mangers than do boys-only parents

SOURCE: Working Mother, 1986

Interesting. What to make of this? To what degree is allowance used as compensation for work performed versus behavioral control? Hypothesis: Do we assume boys on average have worse behavior than girls, and if so are boys being paid a higher rate to incentivize their behavior, or a lower rate as punishment for behavior? Or do girls behave worse than boys, or if better is a lower rate commensurate with less of a need to incentivize behavior?

Alternate theory: Is the work boys do considered more difficult (lawnmowing versus dishwashing)? Or is the work girls do considered more valuable (babysitting versus garbage)? How gendered is the work now versus in the past (are more girls taking out trash than in previous decades? Are more boys babysitting?)

According to a survey reported in Pediatrics for Parents newsletter, the average 8 and 9 year old's allowance is $3.75 per week. For 10 and 11 year olds, the average is $4.25, for 12 and 13 year olds $6.66, and for 14 year olds $9.45. Of the 1,000 children in the survey, only half received an allowance.

There is no gender gap in allowances - boys and girls in each group received the same amount per week. Girls were generally happier with the amount of their allowance while most boys thought they should receive more.

Chores - And Who Does Them

Girls Boys Chore
36% 60% Taking out the trash and recyclables
10% 40% Mowing the law and yard work
49% 33% Washing Dishes
36% 26% Caring for Siblings
36% 25% Helping to Prepare meals
29% 16% Cleaning the bathroom
27% 16% Dusting


Bonus: On spinning science, 2014 gender gap reports failed to note the nature of the study, claiming a gap for what was, in fact, a study aimed at college savings (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/allowance-gap-thinkprogress-is-pushing-is-fake/article/2547708)

The link Covert provided goes to a press release about the study from the Allstate Foundation, which co-sponsored the study with Junior Achievement USA. Covert completely ignores the headline of the press release, which is that there is a gender gap among teens planning to attend college.
Why would Covert ignore the main finding of the study? Maybe it’s because that particular gender gap favors girls.

(Washington Examiner is noted to be Right-leaning, FWIW)

If anything, be very wary of how science is translated into mass media, particularly if there is significant sanction for going against a widely adopted narrative or if one political faction favors only certain research. In modern culture is it easy to see one gender as good and another as bad? Is it easy to see one gender as more deserving of help and another as not? This will color perception.

Obviously, with a wealth of contradictory studies, we should be loathe to draw a straight line between allowances and greater social ills.

In Topic: i keep buying games and they're not what i expected

03 June 2016 - 12:48 PM

a better approach might be to give the player the ultimate goal quest, and have the intermediate quests just out there in the game world as side quests that just happen to aid in your overall goal. any required steps the plauer would be made ware of, or would discover over time. much of this sort of thing means the player needs the ability to ask people in the game world about things, like where can i find person x, location y, or item z.  as one of my players used to say "i don't know where the dungeon is? Ok...   Person in the street - which way to the dungeon?"

I've been wondering of late whether or not the best approach would be a bunch of monitored values rather than the key/lock approach that's become so dominant. Quest-giver dead? Sold the magic sword you were supposed to give the princess? Dragon cave inaccessible because you triggered an avalanche? No problem! Do you have enough "HERO POINTS?" You win!

Of course, how you get those points should drive an ecology of other point systems (Reputation, Empathy, Valor, etc) so that the main values aren't just a cakewalk. Theoretically, anyway.

In Topic: i keep buying games and they're not what i expected

03 June 2016 - 12:38 PM

the brilliance of this is that you can't use up design software, as it not content you consume, its a tool you use to modify content.

This is another great way of looking at it.


they seem to be too conditioned to getting that level up reward - when it seems that its really about the journey (the grind) and not the destination (retirement).  i'm not really sure, as i've never been tempted to even try something that one might typically associate with grinding and fetch quests (IE MMOs). i have no need for PvP or co-op, which is about all an MMO offers over a single player FPSRPG. and who wants to hassle with connecting just to play single player?

I think any kind of progression can be hypnotic. Even a stupid little gambling game where you watch your money go up can be compelling, but in a game with a larger context this simplicity only goes so far and creates problems.


Just to elaborate, good turns of plot in movies or books are good because they are constructed just so, in a way that dovetails perfectly with all that came before. To use Star Wars for example, take the famous reveal in Empire Strikes Back when Vader tells Luke that he is the young man's father. Given everything that's come before this is an emotionally resonant, 'just right' construction that amplifies the work. By comparison, had the reveal been that Vader was Han Solo's father, it would within the same framework have been largely meaningless.

I feel that procedural content often suffers from thematic meaninglessness. Some of this has to do with the very problem it is meant to solve, namely the difficulty of creating quality content. That you generate a bunch of buildings and roads does not make a city Paris. There is something unique about Paris that makes it Paris, and that's often lost no matter how well developed our technology becomes.

that's just lazy / bad procedural content generation.  good procedural content generation should be nigh on indistinguishable from hand rolled.

It's a nice ideal to reach for but I don't think we're there yet. We're making breathtaking strides though (No Man's Sky for example).