Archive for October, 2010


Life Choice – A decision you've made in the past to a repeating question you'll encounter throughout your life. For example, a vegetarian (by virtue of calling oneself a vegetarian) has made a life choice to avoid eating meat. The vegetarian will never ponder, "Should I have chicken or beef?" Restaurant menus shrink by +50%. Mealtime is now simpler for life. Though it's arguable for better or for worse, there's a definite simplicity benefit.

Humans can only comfortably handle so many options. Most humans pause at a fork in the road. Most humans freeze at a 10-way stop. When the options grow too numerous, we experience what game designers call "option paralysis." We think so long and hard about so many possible options that it's taxing, discomforting, and causes anxiety when we ponder in retrospect.

There's a huge racket for selling life choices. Huge.

Political Parties

Political parties are big businesses that, in part, sell life choices. By choosing "Democrat" or "Republican", your political party is quick to narrow your "valid" choices at each election. Granted, the candidates are performing a service as representatives of the people. After all, I elect and pay the President to make informed, smart, timely decisions so I and the rest of the USA are not burdened with making uninformed, stupid, untimely decisions. But choosing say Libertarian and voting precisely what the party shouts at you, life is simpler.

Religion

Religion is another mass seller of life choices. Religion features answers to life's big questions ("Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?") that are appealing and comforting. Adopting a religion includes its ideals, rituals, customs, and bunch of choices that are already made for you. Religion often features routine, and routine makes life simpler.

My Life Choices

My life choices are:

  1. Live in a free country.
  2. Never do drugs.
  3. Never drink alcohol.
  4. Never smoke.
  5. Never commit adultery.
  6. Be financially independent.
  7. Stay fit and healthy.
  8. Uphold my integrity.

Looking at it now, I remember being burned on occasion for "missing out on all the fun" just to maintain an imaginary list that is hard to explain in a moment. I've thought them all through and it's burned into my skull a long time ago that the alternatives have too much downside.

And just because I didn't list "Don't murder, rape, and pillage" doesn't mean I'd happily do those things. My parents raised a good boy. Give them credit.

I recently sunk $10 and a 10-hour overnighter into a game I stumbled across.

What do you get when you combine:

  • Hyrule Field from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Rogue-like dungeon crawl randomness
  • Legos
  • Diablo II's Horadric Cube
  • Art-style of Settlers of Cataan

You get the fiercely-addictive Minecraft. In alpha development for $10 from www.minecraft.net, Minecraft showcases a subtractive design that removes all unnecessary game elements (including almost all text!). In that spirit, I'll let davidr64yt walk you through his initial discoveries in Minecraft:

Episode 001:

Episode 002:

And the big reveal:

Single-Player Content

As you've seen, the single player content lacks many things you'd expect in a modern game:

  • Story to show context
  • Names to properly label things
  • Stats of various items/attacks/abilities
  • Quests to guide the player towards goals
  • Instructions of any kind

While the lack of a tutorial and basic instructions is a detriment (presumably fixed soon through the grayed-out Tutorial menu option), removing so much baggage basically boils the game down to:

  • Survive

The threat of death (which drops your items then respawns you at your beginning point – it's more like "the threat of inconvenience") taps into your primal urges. Survival means finding, gathering, and storing a surplus of:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Weapons

Luckily, all humans come preprogrammed desiring to do such things, and Minecraft has analogs and tech trees for all three. Due to the Lego-like nature of building materials, you'll find yourself compelling to build elaborately designed structures either for practical purposes or for your own admiration. As a kid, I played with Legos and Construx for thousands of hours.

Multiplayer Content

I haven't delved into this, but this YouTube video suggests that Minecraft multiplayer servers are like cooperative ant farms that strive to build extraordinary things:

After all, building things is how humans came to dominate the planet.

I read a rumor that Notch (Minecraft designer/programmer) had his PayPal account frozen when it inexplicably skyrocketed plus $600,000. Not inexplicable – play some Minecraft and you'll see why!

Going on a year now, I've been actively improving my physical fitness. Since some have noticed, I'll assume some would like to know how. No great secret, just diet and exercise that works for me.

Diet

  1. No drinking. Ever.
  2. No smoking. Ever.
  3. No caffeine. Ever.
  4. Don't eat too much. Once sate, toss the rest in the garbage. Your meal should just that size.
  5. Eat enough. Not eating enough causes either binging or sleep deprivation, both screwing up otherwise model behavior.

Exercise

  1. Exercise in the morning. Sucks initially, but it's an amazing habit. I jump rope each morning and just before bed.
  2. A game. Initially, it was morning treadmill run for 1.0 miles, starting from 5.0mph up to 6.0mph, +0.1mph each 0.1 mile.
  3. Doing the above, I could measure my fitness. What we measure we improve. That eventually became 2 miles at +0.2mph per 0.1 mile.
  4. Music. For the above run, a stirring song on my iPhone. Pretty soon the song triggered "wake up" mode for my biological clock.
  5. Kickboxing. I attend Leading Edge Kickboxing classes around 5 times each week. I'm level 3. Coincidentally, it involves music.
  6. Fun. This is the most important thing. As a gamer, I crave games and fun, and my exercise must qualify as fun. Without fun, it will fail. I don't reap enough benefits from fitness the rest of the day for my daily workout to be unfun. You might be able to add fun by:
    1. Lazy activity becomes physical activity. If you greatly enjoy say watching NFL on TV, forbid yourself from watching NFL unless you're on a stationary bike or something. Jumping rope, resistant bands, there's tons of options.
    2. Socialize. You can workout with a friend(s). Lots of exercises allow socializing at the same time. You will hold each other accountable to show up and perform. You can benchpress and talk about chicks simultaneously!

Motivation

If you notice your male gamer friend is suddenly and consistently at the gym or running, don't worry – they didn't turn jock. There's only one reason – girls. Often, one particular girl. It's never fitness, self-confidence, bullies, blah blah…the one motivation that can pierce the mind of the male gamer is female.

Happy 10/10/10 Day!