Category Archives: Computer Game Philosophy

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.




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.

What is a Computer Game?

Using the Cartesian method we could enumerate this question as:

  1. What is a computer game?
    1. What is a computer?
      1. A system designed to logically process information.
        1. System: an causal structure
          1. Structure: A consistent arrangement of elements.
          2. Causal: Making something happen or not.
            1. A causes B if…
            2. “If the engine hadn’t stopped there would have been an accident.”
          3. Designed: Made with intent for purpose.
          4. Logically: principles that flow without contradiction from:
            1. The law of The Excluded Middle
              1. X is either true or not true.
            2. These principles are AND, NOT and OR.
              1. There are principles derived from these like XOR.
    2. What is a game?:
      1. An activity that satisfies the following:
        1. It has rules
        2. It has objectives
        3. It is done for fun
          1. What is Fun?
            1. A fun activity increases positivity without there necessarily being a corresponding external effect.
            2. An activity is fun if someone says they do it for enjoyment.

The New No Go Game

More than a couple of times in my life I’ve tried to learn the Game Of Go.

This is the ancient Chinese game that is harder to solve (AI or heuristics) than Chess, or, I think,  any other game.  Only in 2016 was the best player properly beaten by a computer. One with the multiple  brains and yadabyte memories driven by the vastness of The Google. It was a big moment for Humanity, I think.


Many good games are easy to learn and  hard to master. The Game of Go isn’t like this. It is really hard to learn, and very few master it. They say it takes decades to become a mere “quite good”. 

This, to me, has an inevitable subtracting effect on my enjoyment of the game; it is just so hard to be quite good.

It would take so much time and, during that valuable T-Spend, mostly, it would not be fun. There would be few “yeahs!”

It would not have many of those moments of understanding a new tactic or strategy that are common in other exceptional games.

The reason for it’s hardness isn’t like in some games.

The problem isn’t the games complexity, that is , how many rules and parameters and interconnections are involved in it’s realisation, AKA, “playing”. 

Nor is it the game’s depth – that meaningful, relative measure of the structure of the hierarchy that represents the emergence of the tactics, strategy and fun experienced by the players.

Rather, perhaps uniquely with the Game Of Go, it is the game’s  vast possibility space that seeds the issues for me.

Possibility Space

A thing’s “possibility space” is the conceptual framework that the thing occupies. A puppy has a possibility space. So does a movie and an omelette.

The concept of “Castling A King” doesn’t exist in the possibility space of Naughts And Crosses. Nor does it exist in Hopscotch.  But it does exist in Chess.

 When you think about things in terms of their possibility space, you gain a new perspective.

Possibility space is useful to be seen as layered:

If CAK is in Chess and it is possible that Eastender’s might involve Chess (Eg in an episode. Which, of course, it is) then CAK is in the possibility space of Eastenders (Which, it is, isn’t it?).

This does not mean the same as the trivial “CAK is in the possibility space of all things, because, eg, Time-Travel.”

Possibility spaces are much easier to apprehend when they are seen as tied to shared frameworks. Think of how this influences the emergence of  “plausibility” as a property of a narrative.

To be meaningful possibility spaces should be internally consistent. It is for this reason that I would say we wouldn’t say that CAK was in the possibility space of Eastenders but not of a historically accurate soap opera set in The Stoneage.

Lastly, possibility space isn’t just about points of property possibilities, but also emergent phenomena that the game originates. The excitement of backgammoning someone is not contained in the necessary and sufficient game description of Backgammon, but it is clearly in the possibility space of the game. It is a foundational property of the gameplay. We can deconstruct the possibilities and we can abstract the possibilities.

The Game Of Go is not deep in its structure. Because the board is nineteen wide, as opposed to eight in chess, there is a computational explosion in the amount of information that needs to be broken down and abstracted in order to significantly understand the game. It is a huge and wide and shallow sea of choices but from this sea emerges game phenomena that I have no idea about. I can see they are going to be there, but I cannot conceive of them. I think if you try to learn Go you will soon understand this, if you don’t already.

Then the realisation is this: until you get good enough to meaningfully understand  these emergent game phenomena, then Go is going to remain a relatively shallow game. Shallow tactics and strategies compared to the big picture games of the Go-masters.

In my opinion Go is not very fun to learn because it is so very hard to average.

There is a time/cost/fun/potential/learnability/etc equation with any game.

Thought Experiment: The Glove Game

Close your eyes and imagine an ordinary, small, red ladies glove.

Imagine that in the wrist part of the glove is a slit and one side of this is a small red button. Imagine that on the other side of the slit is a small loop that can go around the button, to hold the glove in place on a hand.

You have just imagined a glove. Now imagine this glove floating in a void of nothingness. No other things, no time, no light, no observer. Just the glove. All there is is this glove. Imagine the Glove Universe.

In fact it seems that one cannot imagine a universe that’s just a small red ladie’s glove. It is not conceptually possible for a number of reasons:

You can’t imagine something being “small” if thats’ the only thing there is. Smallness is a relative property, it needs more things to be realised than just one.

You can’t imagine something as being red if there is no light and no observer. Colours don’t make sense in the glove universe. You can  imagine the surface of the Glove having properties that, were it on your left hand right now it would look red to you or I.

Perhaps the most interesting reason for why you cannot really imagine the glove universe is because a glove is a special kind of form called an “enatiomorph”. A donut shape is not. Nor is a cube. The letter L is enatiamorphic in two dimensions. A glove is a three dimensional enatiomorph. 

It must be right or left hand, it cannot be neither, but it cannot be either without a counterpart. If we had two gloves, and they were incongruent (didn’t fit together) then we would be able to say of one, This is Left and of the other This is Right. But with just one, we cannot.

Things are enatiomorphic in terms of the way they are placed within the world. Back to the glove…

Perhaps, even without the above three issues, we just cannot imagine a glove universe in anything like the same way we can imagine tomorrow’s weather or the things we can imagine.

Perhaps we really can’t imagine the unimaginable. Ponder that.

Luckily, we don’t need need to imagine the unimaginable to be able to think about it. We can discuss idealised worlds that are unimaginable. We can learn from them. They can be tools. This is what thougts experiments are. So now let me guide you through one that I think you will enjoy. I have done this many times face to face.

The Glove Game: Round One

Imagine the glove universe as best you can. It is glove shaped from your perspctive. If you can think of something to loose in the description you can just ditch it. Tru to get to the most idealised thought of a glove.

You are trying to describe something that is logically true of all things that are gloves.

You are trying to describe something that is logically not true in totality of any thing that is not a glove.

We can enumerate:

  1. It is a tube that ends in five points at the end of five smaller tubes.
  2. One of the tubes is shorter than the others.
    1. This tube also is joined to the main tube at a point closer to the main tube entrance and off to one side.
      1. It can Extend to the plane of the other four tubes.

What is the most minimal optimal definition of a glove?

When I asked you to imagine the glove at the start it had a small button and a loop etc… Take all that kind of detail out of your imagination. Break it down to the things that are essential to being a glove. Let us call this idealised glove, the simplest glove.


What statements are true of the simplest glove?

What does it mean to say something is True here?

Criticise this definition: “A statement is True about the Glove Universe if what it describes can be found within the Glove Universe.”


    • The Glove has four fingers and a thumb.
    • The little finger is not longer than the middle finger
    • The thumb is not between any fingers.
    • It is possible the tip of the thumb could touch the tip of the index finger if the rest of the glove remained the same.

Imagine a list of False statements about the glove:

  • The volume of the thumb is greater than the volumes of the other fingers combined.
  • The glove has symmetry.
  • It is possible to weave the thumb through the other fingers
  • The glove has the same topology as a doughnut.

What about this statement:

    • The Glove Is underneath a Hat.

Is that false? It isn’t true, but it isn’t clear if it is False or meaningless. These kinds of statements are a big issue in the Philosophy of Language.



A statement is Meaningless relative to the Glove Universe Game if it is nether True nor False about the Glove Universe. You might like to think of Meaningless statements as containing things that simply cannot be found in any possible Glove Universe.

  • True statements describe things that exist within the Glove Universe.
    • By “things” here we mean structures, relations, properties that are contingent upon the stipulation of the universe.
  • False statements describe things that do not exist within the Glove Universe but could exist within the Glove Universe.
  • Meaningless statements describe things that can not not exist in the Glove Universe.
    • These statements are meaningless in the glove universe
      • Paris is the Capital of France.
      • Mars is often called “The Red Planet”
      • The glove is larger than an elephant.
      • All gloves are smaller than houses.
      • The glove belonged to Audry Hepburn.
      • The Glove is left handed.
      • We understand this experiment.
      • All games are not fun.


This experiment has highlighted a number of things. Perhaps most importantly it’s shown what a Thought Experiment is, in case you didn’t already know. A thought experiment is simply a stipulated possible Universe that is created to be experimented on or questioned about.

We make Thought experiments all the time, “If I won the lottery I would..”, “Imagine all the people, living in Harmony…”

It’s also shown that thought experiments are about what’s relevant to them by stipulation, not by assumption. You can imagine things that are not really possible to exist or imagine and yet, you can see how still we can ask relevant questions about them.

The last thing we saw from this experiment is that all possible statements seem to fit into only one of three categories, True, False or Meaningless and that which list any statement belongs on depends on the stipulated nature of the relevant universe.