Dawn of Games

 By Shamus Oct 23, 2008 13 comments

I didn’t have time to polish today’s intended noontime post. Partly because I spent a little too much time on the morning post (those are supposed to be short, Shamus!) but mostly because I’m suddenly behind on Stolen Pixels. I like a strip or two (or three!) of lead time, but my City of Heroes series got messed up with the onset of Halloween and now I can’t get the shots I need for the jokes I wrote. Oops.

So, let me just point you to this article by Corvus Elrod. You know how you can scratch a dog between the ears and make him all happy? That article does the same thing for my frontal lobe. It’s short, but it’s good, and it’s something to read besides my whining.

1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.


  1. Schmidt says:

    Wouldn’t scratching that make you twitch and spasm all over, or would you forget the name of your first pet? I can never remember what sections of brainy jelly do what, though I’m fairly certain that it isn’t the pleasure center or you’d be using a different image than a dog… or would you? }:->

    Anyhoo, good to see you still are finding time to read, I find my Reading ration is getting ever smaller as time goes on.

  2. Mari says:

    I’m always happy to have new things to read so you can point me in other directions any time, Shamus. That article was a little – briefer (is that a word?) – than the sociology term paper I once churned out on the subject but much more accessible.

  3. Joe says:

    I’ve sometimes wondered, if ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny (which, actually, it probably doesn’t), wouldn’t it be interesting if post-natal development recapitulates the evolution of society after the transition from Darwinian evolution to Newtonian evolution? (Newtonian evolution is a meme I’m trying to spread. My theory there is that once society and medicine progress to the point where almost anyone can survive long enough to reproduce, biological evolution in terms of the survival of the fittest takes a back seat to societal knowledge-based evolution best expressed by Newton’s statement along the lines of “if I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”.)

    Anyhow, to throw another theory with little to support it into the mix, a phase of life that recaptures the state of humanity before Jayne’s breakdown of the bicameral mind would certainly explain a whole lot of things about my toddlers…

  4. Deoxy says:

    Unfortunately, the Escapist is now blocked at work (noticed it with your last comic, actually). Bummer. :-(

  5. Illiterate says:

    Deoxy – can you get there through anonymizer/the-cloak style proxies?

    If http doesn’t work, try https.

    If neither works, try pinging the domain name (start>run>cmd ping http://www.escapistmagazine.com), then take the IP address that appears and put it in the address bar in place of the domain.

    If you have a windows mobile phone, try USB PAN… (look it up).

    @Shamus — that article was fascinating, I can see why you appreciate his work so much. The idea of embedding learning exercises within play has me thinking about my own little one.

    When trying to teach him a new fact, he will usually absorb it, and be able to remember it for the next few minutes, or the next day if you keep reminding him. However, he will refuse to parrot something more than once, and will start saying something else because he’d rather make a joke than give you the answer again. Then he memorizes the joke and forgets the original data.

    The description of the aborigines at play struck me as useful data — modern people often will document as much as possible about primitive cultures before corrupting/converting/destroying them, because paleo- or neolithics living in the modern day are our best bet at understanding our own ancestors.

    Given that (in my own unscientific, empirically limited scope of research) it seems that birds and mammals in general share our tendency to play games for learning (ever had a cat bring you a live snake?), it seems likely that this goes back to all our homonid ancestors and cousins.

    Am I rambling? I usually haven’t written this much on my own blog, even. Lately I’ve been feeling sick and stupid and have been linking to videos rather than writing anything at all.

  6. Merle says:

    Mm…that’s some good behind-the-brain-ear-scratching, there. Or something. What I’m trying to say is, thanks for linking to the article, I never would have run across it otherwise!

  7. Joe says:

    @Illiterate: escapistmagazine.com doesn’t seem to be listening for https. Also, it appears to be in a shared hosting environment using host header names. From where I am, the name resolves to a cname for esc.lb.escapistmagazine.com., which is a cname for amber.warcry.com., which resolves to 216.27.11.195. Going to that IP results in an object not found error from Apache.

    So, while that’s generally useful things to try, none of it works in this case. There *are* ways around outbound content filtering (almost *always*), though some are not for the weak-at-heart, but in this case I’d say the best bet is to just wait until he gets home and read it from there.

  8. Illiterate says:

    Should have been more clear, use https on the anonymizers… hehe. I verified myself escapist doesn’t use https..

    End-running your employer is generally not a good idea.

    In my particular line of work, I sometimes find myself doing so because we’re subjected to the same restrictions as people who should be shielded. The content-based filtering is pretty light, we often need to sneak around the firewall (and are encouraged to do so by our team leads) to get tools which are needed for our job. We could request copies of the software tools from IT, but we try to stay out of their hair as much as possible.

  9. Speaking of articles that scratch an itch, I was wondering if you’d seen this article discussing tearing apart the numbers quoted about IP theft in the US, Shamus.

    http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/dodgy-digits-behind-the-war-on-piracy.ars

    It’s four pages, so to save time I’ll just quote the penultimate paragraph:

    Neither figure is terribly plausible on its face. As Wired noted earlier this week, 750,000 jobs is fully 8 percent of the current number of unemployed in the United States. And $250 billion is more than the combined 2005 gross domestic revenues of the movie, music, software, and video game industries.

    Also, I’d recommend reading the first paragraph on the last page, as well. It’s an economic argument you don’t really hear that often.

  10. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Try using this:
    https://spacepiano.com
    It’s a proxy link that will allow you to get through most webpage blocks. Ignore any warnings, and type in either the exact name of the website you want to go to, or type in http://google.com in the area and use that. Just so you know, there are about 2 popups per page when using it, so it’s not fool-proof.

    @Shamus-
    Thanks for linking that. It was quite nice.

  11. Joe says:

    @Illiterate: Yep, mostly the same here. Long ago, I was consulting for a friend at his company, and when I set my laptop up on his network, I did as I usually do and opened up an ssh session to a system on my network on port 443, with a port-forward to my proxy server. Then I started looking up information on the issue he was having… after a bit, he came by and said “oh, we’ll probably need to set something up so you can get by our content filters”
    “uh, not really. I’m fine.”
    “Wait, how are you doing that? unauthorized users can only get to our corporate website!”
    I explained what was happening, and he went off to mull it over for a bit. Since then, we occasionally have these thought exercises of an insider attempting to get out to arbitrary websites vs. him trying to stop them. It’s really quite hard to stop an insider with outside help.

  12. illiterate says:

    Would love to discuss the security issues further, but would rather not dicuss where I work :D

    I thought of Shamus, too, when I saw that article taking apart the piracy numbers…. I figured he probably watches slashdot, or gets regular emails from others that do.

    Could be wrong, I guess.

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