Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Altador Cup, TPIR, and Mario Party

I'm currently in the middle of the latest feature on the Neopets website. The Altador Cup is a soccer type game taking place with 16 different teams and millions of people playing it all over the world. It's thrilling for me to be involved in a contest of that magnitude. And it's interesting that I'm actually at least not bad at the game itself, because I'll be the first to confess that my eye-hand coordination is not the best in the world, and you have to get the angles just right. I'm a member of the Mystery Island team (partially because the Goalie is a Yurble), and we're doing really well. Should be in 4th or 5th place right now. Krawk Island and Roo Island are in 1st and 2nd place. I know this doesn't make any sense to have someone who just analyzed the works of Carl Jung be so enthralled with a child's game, but it's quite addicting. Honestly, it makes you feel like you're part of a community, and since that's the main reasoning behind much of what human's do, and the Internet does it so well. Like my brother, who plays Everquest or WOW or whatever, I'm joining into a community on a much simpler level.

One of the things I considered as I played this game was exactly how much of the game is actually fixed by the Neopets company. Little things that they could do if they wanted to influence the outcome of the game. And it's quite possible for them to do it without the knowledge of the people playing it. Little things, like tweaking the speed in which the computer's goalie intercepts the ball, or changing the randomness from which we get the Mutant or Dragian balls. The only thing they can't influence is the amount of playing that the players do, or their skill in doing so. It's very similar to playing Mario Party on the Nintendo 64. Now, to be fair, I've not played Mario Party 2 on up, just one, but let's take it as an example. Playing it on an emulator on my computer, I was able to save the game at any instance and force the computer to re-roll the dice on the board game. To my astonishment, every time I did that, the computer rolled the exact same roll. The game had been designed to roll whatever at whatever time. The only randomness was my skill at playing the mini-games. Thus the game was not truly random at all, but fixed to give the players, computer or human, a distinct advantage or disadvantage.

Also, take the game show The Price is Right. I know it's blasphemy to talk about such an icon of television culture, and I watch the show religiously, but there are parts of the game that are influenced by the outcome of the taping. The prices that are wrong can be made easier or harder to make the games easier or harder based on how many people are winning. Take "Half Off" for instance. Those prices are so easy to determine which ones are wrong, because they want you to be able to have at least a 25% chance of getting the money. The odds have to be correct. And with Wheel of Fortune, the puzzles at the end can be easy or hard, depending on how much money has been won. They would never let me on TPIR, because, for one, I'm too calm. And also, I know the ways to influence the odds to be more in my favor.

It's not exactly cheating, but it is influencing the game to make the outcome desirable for the people who's interests it serves. Not that that makes me not enjoy the games any less (a triple negative, you figure it out), on the contrary, it adds a bit of fun at figuring out how the powers that be want the game to come out. And we'll not even talk about the Reality TV shows, which are probably more fixed than anything else.

And I'm not dissing Neopets, either. They do a wonderful job at getting us all addicted to the games they have, and make us care about the events happening on their virtual world. So GO MI!! And I hope we win at least third place, or at least, I hope that TNT (the Neopets team) lets us try for it anyway.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Rose is a Rose, but not a Pickle.

I've finished my reading of the works of Carl Jung, and apart from one very important distinction dealing with the personality types, there was little that hadn't already been included in my education up to this point. The one main definition that I thought was interesting was the definition of the Introvert and the Extrovert. This deals with the relationship between the person and what Jung calls the "object." What he means comes directly from Plato's Form theory. An extrovert relates himself with the object by letting the object influence him. An extrovert draws energy from the world around him, and derives all meaning and sensation from the things around him. He is the one, who, in a social situation, draws energy from the people who he sees. Being in a social situation excites him, and so therefore, most outgoing people are therefore extroverts. Jung further shows that society has come to consider extrovertism as the positive side of the conscious mind. Someone who is not outgoing and engaging obviously has some sort of mental problem. Of course, I feel differently.

The "object," of course, does not have to be just a person or a thing. An extrovert also becomes excited about an idea, a philosophy, and lets those ideas draw him along, influencing his daily decisions. Jung goes further into the personality types and demonstrates how each type would act given a certain situation. While I cannot agree with him on everything, since the time that he was writing was filled with different expectations upon people in the society (there are certain sexism beliefs that I would not agree with today.), I can say that a lot of what he says is concurrent with my observances of myself and others.

The introvert, on the other hand, relates to the object by using his own ideas and philosophies and applying it to the object. This includes prior knowledge, empirical experiences, and unconscious connections with buried knowledge, emotions, "archetypes" etc... For instance, an introvert would take a rose and instantly apply the archetypes that go along with the rose that has been expressed over and over in literature. Beauty, life, death, the loss of beauty or innocence...etc. A pure extravert would revel in the beauty of the individual rose, the smell, the happiness that his loved one would feel when given the flower. Or he would curse in pain after hitting a thorn.

Of course, most of us express both, since we are not purely one or the other. We all exist on a graphed line, somewhere in between the extremes that Jung uses in his essays. Further, we exist on other lines in that graph, ones that have been expounded upon by Briggs in the personality test that have been so popular. I am, for practical purposes, an INFP, or Introvert, Intuitive (instead of Sensing), Feeling (instead of Thinking) and Perceptive (instead of Judging). I found it interesting that, while looking at articles on the internet about the personalities (Wikipedia, actually), I found a psychologist named David Keirsey who argued that ADHD was simply the combining of different personality types, and the bias of society against those particular types. Anyway, what Jung drew up as far as my personality was concerned, actually worked, even to the point of demonstrating how people that are Introverted and Feeling would not be very good teachers, since the introvert relates everything upon himself. Society negatively applies this personality as one who is egocentric, arrogant, and selfish. And while I would agree that I do tend to be self-centered, to some extent, I disagree with the idea that the introvert is unable to care for other people and to see beyond his own needs and thoughts.

The other interesting thing about Jung and his philosophies is how he is biased toward the introverted personality. The introvert, he argues, is able to access the thoughts that are hidden within the unconscious and collective conscious states. For the extrovert, all meaning and thoughts are applicable only from the outside, and the inner mind is of no discernible consequence. Of course, that's when the rational extrovert will start to behave irrationally, when forces from the unconscious mind surfaces and directs the person into a more balanced course of action. It also might be irrational when an extrovert develops some sort of neuroses from ignoring the important forces that are located within. To me, the introvert is much more able to understand and interpret the thoughts coming from within and to apply them to the outside world. To express them, in art or poetry perhaps. Without this, a rose is simply a rose.


I have also decided that I will die by removal of pickle. It is troubling enough to get out of the McDonald's parking lot without getting run into, but the added difficulty of trying to remove the pickle, the bane of my existence, from the cheeseburger, so that I may eat it without finding that green mutant of a vegetable, will eventually get me killed. If I am going to be destructive enough to go to McDonald's and order a double cheeseburger, the last thing they need to do is to try and improve the nutrition of the fast food by adding a vegetable. Burger King has it right when they made the double stacker burger. Why bother putting a pickle in there?