Category Archives: Computer Game Philosophy

Bloat, Faff and Pantomime

I think that there are three common distortions that affect non emerged/evolved systems, such as public institutions, businesses and information systems.

  • Bloat – This is where the system expands in multiple inefficient ways which, in combination, produce a holistic inefficiency that is often both hidden and immense.
  • Faff – This is where the time cost of processing information is greater than the comparative benefit of the actual information.
  • Pantomime – This is where the system adopts behaviours that bring no benefit to the system other than to make other systems perceive the system as being beneficial.

So, there you have it: avoid, prevent and extinguish.

SayNoNay

 

One thing I have been practicing with myself for a few weeks is the practice of  not being a naysayer. A naysayer is not someone who says “no”, it is someone who says “no” without good thought.
Dialogs normally go like this:
Offspring: “Dad can I please borrow your…”
Me:(Interrupting): “No.”
That, right there, is me being a naysayer.
I am trying to change that by not saying “nay,” in accordance with the ancient practice of “Saynonay”. To practice Saynonay just keep in your mind not to say “nay” in any way unless it seems, after good thought, to be the right thing to say.
If you ask someone if they are playing Saynonay, and they say “no”, they are probably not practicing Saynonay.
In the weeks I have been doing it I do think it has a positive benefit on my life, and I would expect my kids – all four of whom now have metabolic syndrome and are in prison for gang related offences. I jest.
Interestingly, nobody knows the etymology of “Saynonay”. Some think it traces back to the Great First Language, others think it comes from the PreprotoPalli form “sa su ka” which means “talk outwardly sweetly”. I don’t think it matters, what is important about practicing Saynonay is simply not to say “nay” unless it really is OK to say nay.

NoAM Eating

Not eating in the morning.
I am a pretty big believer that there are fundamental differences between proper fasting and intermittent fasting, even when the proper fasting is but a mere day. It seems plausible, and I think the evidence suggests, that the magic happens with no consumption.
I often go two proper days, I have been three. Some people go for many days but just a few times or once a year. I don’t know what is wellbeing optimal, but my opinion is currently with the smaller, regular, fasts.
Anyhoo’s… this does not mean that I am at all against intermittent fasting.
Quite the contrary. One simple, and I think ancient, fasting routine is just to not eat in the morning. Break fast. Before the PM. I do it two or three times a week. It is very easy, and most of us will have done it without wanting or trying.
In these 16 hours, your body will change state.
Perhaps not into the full-on FAST state with autophagy and stem-cells,  that is the aim of informed fasting, but still, goodness will be happening, even if it is just giving your metabolic organs a bit of a rest from their normal 247mustprocessthis mode.
Some people will find that NoAM fasting is good for calorie reduction, if just because you are going to be missing a meal and eating less. This makes sense.
But this doesn’t work for me because, as happened today, after a NoAM Fasting, my car swerved into Tescos and I rinsed of five packets of Square crisps as I drove home.
The wrappers are in the glove compartment.

A friend just asked me: “What evidence is there that EMF damages our cells on a permanent level?”

You should do your own research on that if you are skeptical, and why not be sceptical?:)

But my understanding, which is not totally naieve, is that there are many mechanisms of disruption.

I am not going to use any research to answer your question here, and I am not one for details, but here goes, my attempt to pursued you, via answering it.

The first thing that you need to understand is that of all the millions or billions of variables that constitute our bodies: Oxygen, Water, salts, amino-acids… there is only one that is totally biologically ubiquitous. This is electricity: Within, and between, every living are electrochemical processes that operate on tiny, tiny voltages.

The second thing that you need to understand is that wirelessly connected devices gain their connection via electromagnetic energy.

The third thing you need to understand is that connected devices operate at energy levels thousands and thousands of times higher than, both the natural background EMF energy (As the earth was 200 years ago, or so) and the biological levels found in every living cell in our bodies.

You need to understand and accept these three things before proceeding really Alexs. They are just science fact, which you should be able to easily disprove or accept.

Once you agree with the three understandings above then you can start to extrapolate from those premises.

Does it seem plausible that connected devices could cause biological change?

I think it does, why would it not. There is nothing special about the electrical energies involved here, over and above say, an electrical motor.

Would such changes be unnatural?

I think clearly yes. Three hundred years ago no human had expected anything like the levels of even measly Bluetooth4. (This is one point I am not convinced about without further researching. #cosmicblasts etc).

Would such changes be disruptive?

I would imagine that if you were to be able to take a person with a magic wand just randomly change the nano-voltages in the electrical systems in their bodies then those changes would have a point at which they would become noticeably negative. This seems totally reasonable to me as an assumption. And it is a case analogous to EMF, except with EMF it is more point of  source dependent.

So where we are now, I think, without any science evidence, just thinking,  is an understanding that, because of the nature of connected devices and biological systems, it is plausible that there could be negative effects from connected devices.

I accept that, it seems very sensible to me as a conclusion. There is no WooWoo in what I have said and I challenge anyone to refute any of the above:)

The next stage in my answering your question is to look at evidence. Is there evidence that supports the above plausible hypothesis?

I think there is lots.

The newest (2016?), most-compelling, evidence is to do with their system which decides on whether or not to allow calcium into our cells. Every cell needs calcium. Any cell can be damaged by too much calcium. This system that governs the calcium flow is called a “Voltage Gated Calcium Channel” and it is shown to be heavily susceptible to disruption from non-natural EMF. The effects of this are emerging to be many, but one that seems accepted is that this calcium imbalance, caused by your phone etc, causes sever oxidative stress. This is the cell ageing…rusting… corroding that is the cause of most modern diseases (It’s the thing that antioxidants are touted to reduce.)

So there we go…

I hope that answers your question!

Vegan Oysters. Again.

I am a committed Vegan, but I am totally missing oysters.

Every day this mini-battle goes on in my head.

I am a Vegan for two prime reasons.

Reason One

I think, for reasons of woo woo, that the following is a supreme teaching:

“Do Not Eat Animals”.

Reason Two

Like most people, I do not want to be an increaser of negativity in the world. That is, I don’t want to choose to cultivate and propagate or in any sense be responsible for or supportive or endorsing negativity production in any way.

The “choice” aspect is important here, I think:

When I eat a salad, beings may have died to get that salad before me. A shrew in a field. Two badgers in a pile up on the M4. All is possible, even with kale.

But when I eat meat, I am necessarily choosing that an animal was imprisoned, tortured, exploited and slaughtered for me.

Vegans choose not to cause suffering in their choices, this does not mean that their choices will never cause suffering. #quornpocalypse

Once I accept this principle (Ahimsa and Sukka) it is just a no-brainer to me that if I eat cheese or chicken, then I am causing suffering. Often in massive ways that, as the end consumer, I see myself as ultimately responsible for. I pay the assassin via the teller or waiter or jolly vendor at the farmer’s market.

I have philosophised these kinds of points so much over the last few years, more than most, I would wager. Still my conclusions remain: it is water-tight, a no-brainer, a comestible cogito: We should not eat animals.

Of course I would eat meat in a survival situation.

Of course honey is not the same as ham.

Of course milk is worse than flesh, because it is flesh, plus more suffering. If B contains X and C contains B then C contains X.

I belive that if you want to be one of those people, like most people, one of the… “I-dont-wanna-be-cruels”, then, in no sense, can your meat eating be justified. You are being irrational, alongside your cruelty. (Please, please prove me wrong on this, for I would so love it not to be so true.)

The Mammalian end of the spectrum, and even the birds and the fish, those little fellas, I am close to done with them in my philosophical enumerations and ruminations, but Oysters, they are still in the mirky penumbra, somewhere between figs and accidental cod roe.

Of oysters I cannot say, “I should not eat that.”

I don’t currently eat them, and haven’t for many many months, but by gosh, they are almost on the tip of my tongue.

I cannot yet justify their exclusion for reasons a bit like, but not limited to, the following:

I cannot really make sense of an oyster experincing suffering, in much the same way that I cannot imagine yeast suffering. I could torture a goose, but an oyster? That does not yet make sense to me.

I don’t think it experiences anything. It has no brain, as such. It has a strewn out clumps of proto-neurons. It will respond to stimulus, but feel pain or in any sense be, in any point in anything that can be considered a mental space?

Is it a being?

When I think “Do Not Eat Animals” that last term expands out into something like “sentient beings”. “Sentience” means able to experience. “Being” means able to be. I don’t know really what either of those terms really mean. Nobody really does. Especially not the oysters. But I am sure a dog is sentient, as I know I am. Oysters, profoundly lack this sureness, to me, right now.

We think fish can feel pain, they respond as such, they can be anaesthetised, they have similar pain biologies to mammals. But these arguments and understands do not apply to oysters. Oysters may move away from toxic environments but that does not mean they experience the environment. Singled celled organisms can do the same, and vegans eat those. #youpeople!

There is another point, I will make this my last, which is that oysters are jam-packed with nutrients that vegans find very hard to get without chemical supplementation (Which is what I do).

Is that wise? The vegan definition on the society website centres around the term “practicable”. I like that definition, it gives room for reasonableness. I am forced, by reason, to ask, is it not practicable to eat oysters given that, being human, I need B12?

Is it really better that I get it from some industrial process in pill form?

I do not know the answers to these questions and so I just trundle along, not eating oysters, yada yada, “have another bit of cress, Mat”.

Thanks for reading!

Caveat Emptor and Current Data

  1. The word data comes from the latin word “datum”.
    1. A datum is something, like a stick, or a number, which can be given from one to another.
  2. Data is the plural of datum.
  3. As An Example:
    1. Take the data 4029:
      1. I just gave you this data.
        1. You can copy that.
        2. Share it.
        3. You can alter it.
        4. Delete it.
        5. Split it.
        6. Hide it.
        7. You do this to the data: 9204
  4. Data has no context.
    1. It has no meaning.
    2. It is only when it has context that data then becomes something with meaning.
  5. In  3.1, 4029 might be:
    1. My childhood phone number.
    2. An encoding for a three letter word.
    3. Part of a coordinate to a sub-marine base in a spy-movie.
    4. The last four contiguous numbers of my driving licence.
    5. It could have no meaning to me and meaning to you.
      1. What that meaning is, is the information.
    6. It could be two of your winning lottery numbers.
    7. It could have meaning in that you and I might share an exceptional coincidental void of connections to this number.
  6. Data has less value than information.
  7. All information is data.
    1. All data is not information.
  8. Data exists when there is a change of state of a representing/recording medium.
  9. Questions:
    1. Is 4029 the same data as 111110111101?
      1. It is the same number.
        1. As is FBD.
    2. Could a change in the locks and junctions in  a canal system represent numbers?
      1. Is this identical to silicone logic gates?
    3. Imagine the following thought experiment :
      1. Consider:
        1. At time T1 You have a packet of data that can be divided up as: ABCD.
          1. It could be four bytes, or four yadabytes, it doesn’t matter.
        2. At T2 you split the packet into AB and CD.
        3. And then at T3 you join the packet back together again to make ABCD.
      2. The composite question is: Where, How and Why does the information ABCD exist between T1 and T2 and T3?
    4. Is truly random noise information?

The Parts of a Program

A Computer Program has four kinds of logical parts.

The “Ions.”

  • Function:
    • An operation
    • A procedure
    • An discrite algorithm
    • Where a change is made that is not just a logical change
  • Information:
    • States are recorded
    • Variables
    • Files
    • Packets
    • The smallest measure in all possible worlds is the bit.
      • The difference between this and that.
      • Yes and No.
  • Repetition:
    • When something is repeated.
    • When something is repeated.
    • In essence it is a type of conditional.
      • If a condition is true do these conditions until the condition is false.
  • Condition:
    • This is where the program makes a choice.
    • If this then that.
    • If not this then not that.
    • Conditionals drive the magic of computing.
    • They are logical combustions.

Any program can be broken down into these parts. I cannot conceive of  a program that cannot be broken down to these parts. My analog wrist watch is a computer program with these logical parts.

  1. Function: The date dial turns.
  2. Information: The numbers involved.
  3. Repetition: The tick and the tock.
  4. Condition: If the hour hand hits twelve advance the day dial.
    1. Etc…

If you are trying to understand a computer game then consider that the first method is to break it down into the hierarchy of its parts.

 

Cartesian Computational Thinking

There is a point of beautiful overlap between modern computational thinking and the Cartesian method.

Descartes has four stages for any problem:

  1. Start From Nothing
    1. DNA
    2. DYD
  2. Break It Down
    1. The second ·was· to divide each of the difficulties I examined into as many parts as possible and as might be required in order to resolve them better.
    2. KTP
  3. Join The Dots
    1. Starting with the simplest and most easily known objects in order to move up gradually to knowledge of the most complex.
  4. Represent The Facts
    1. And the last ·was· to make all my enumerations so complete, and my reviews so comprehensive, that I could be sure that I hadn’t overlooked anything.
    2. KGN
    3. KTF

Four centuries later we get the idea of computational thinking expressed as:

  1. Deconstruction (BID)
    1. Break the whole into parts.
    2. Break the systems into sub-sytems
  2. Patterning (JTD)
  3. Abstraction (JTD)
    1. The Big Picture.
    2. What emerges?
    3. Is it harmonious?
  4. Algorithms
    1. An input solves an output.
    2. A series of instructions to solve a task.
    3. A logical system.

 

Learning to use the above methods drives understanding, just as they drove The Enlightenment and and the Age Of Reason and digits.

 

Freemium Cons

Please read my previous post on Winability before this one.

Winability is a regulator of continued playability. It is the driver of the game and it has been thus since caveman first played Spoof. But then along comes this new model that works by a hijack this key playability driver, Winability. In a freemium game, no matter how deep and complex and rich and narrated and aesthetic it is, the game’s winability has been hijacked, and the ransom is your time.

I have really enjoyed some Freemum games. Boom Beach. Crown Rush. Smart games. Deep in the strategies and complex enough to pique a good learning response. But then, because the fundamental winnability of the game is determined not by skills and smarts but by how much the player is  prepared to wait.

Note the difference. It is not like spending time to learn the intricacies of a game. It is spending time directly so that you can progress in the game. Ponder that it is a profound difference within this small world.

Time is the greatest game parameter and the greatest life commodity. These games have built in them, at the base, the incentive to waste the player’s time.

I think it is mean to waste someones time on purpose. I think if a restaurant puts a thirty minute lag on their orders just  to make them seem not processed then that is mean.

I can see no real distinction between this and freemium games.

 

 

Winabiliity

When you Break It Down it becomes clear that there are a handful of shared game vectors that make good games good and bad games boring: Learnability, Playablity, Newness…etc. These all propagate or not the emergence of fun.

Hopscotch, COD, Draughts, Poker… they all share these. But they share them differently.

Hopscotch lacks something that Patience has. Perhaps more than one thing. Even without investigating we can imagine that whatever is lacking from Hopscotch is an aspect that continues to contribute to the playability of Patience over time.

I think the ninety year old would affirm that “I play patience for fun” just as much as the nine year old player would.

One game attribute is Winability. This is distinct from Challenge, I think. Winability it is about the pure competitive aspect of the game, internally and externally and how that aspect needs a sweet balance to maintain fun over time.

Winnability is a key concept in CGP.

Tic-Tack-Toe, like its identical twin,  Naught’s and Crosses, and also like battleships and Connect 4  and Hangman are all examples of games with an decreasing winability profile.  There might be a bit of a jump at the start, but after that it is a pretty accelerating drop.

For example: If you think about the opening tactics of Connect 4 you can see the key structures that cause the jump in Winability. But after this and, say,  the value of diagonals, and so on, the winnability plummets. It lacks Depth and Complexity and it has a small possibility space.

Connect 4 is a good game. I have played it much and will play it again. But I could never play it always.

Winnability can be seen as the learning the harmonies between wining, loosing and neither. It is about how this harmony evolves as a player’s game evolves.

If you win every game then that game is not going to be fun. If you loose every game, the same.

In the middle, somewhere, is the harmonic  where the lasting fun can happen.I continue with with chess and uniwar. It may stop one day.

Winability needs to self optimise. We see this often in Backgammon. New tactics entail new strategies and victories.

I havent got much better at Chess over the years. But my winability has been balanced.

If winability isn’t balanced then the player’s engagement will fade. It will either have become too easy or too hard and with too little variance from this.

The potential for online games means that Winability can be normalised. Is this good? You could have it so that players always played demonstrably equally skilled players.

I think that  Imbalanced Winability is one of the key reasons gamers stop playing a certain game, especially because it is hard to maintain over time.; Diminishing Returns on all Parameters.

If you look at any ongoing tournament, in any game, you will see self organisation in action. The players by and large settle at the level of their comparable players.

In order to balance winability the game and the opponents(s) must interact in a way that requires an increase in the game smarts and skills.

It is not just about the wining the game it is about understanding the win, whoever wins. If you can see why you have lost then there is a level at which you have won.

Should you continue playing a game you know you will loose?

I think Winability cannot be maintained without a big enough possibility space. I guess it needs depth and complexity, but I am not sure. A game like Bejeweled is shallow and simple but because of the hand/brain/eye aspects Winability emerges outside the rules. It is external to the game, from the player’s body and mind. This doesn’t happen with chess, does it?

Winability is ones ability and interest to see the game in full. It has to be fun.