Gaming better than Art?

I read an interesting article that proposed that Video Games were superior to Art in that they require a social aspect to conquer/appreciate while being consumed.  The gist is that movies and books are isolated experiences, where you could just as easily do they in a black box and get the same value where a video game usually requires thoughtful approach, group strategy and provides a longer term return on investment.

While I agree with the statement I think that both have diverging interests.  I read a LOT and I talk about it a lot.  It’s also socially acceptable to read and often a measure of intelligence (though reading Cosmo would be the opposite I think).  Regardless, books and art are about interpretation and self-reflection.  You can share ideas with the author and other readers, help frame your own ideas and questions and usually by the end of a good book, your perception of your reality has changed.  Maybe you appreciate music more, maybe you think government is inherently evil.  Whatever it is, you change.  Art is meant to change people and that change typically permeates the rest of your life.  Art is also different for different people.  For example, read Orwell’s 1984 and then see how that changes your impression of the outside world.

Games are primarily meant to provide puzzles and then appropriate rewards for solving them in the way the programmers intended.  A bug in a game is when you try a different way to solve something than was intended.  You don’t share a new idea about how terrorists are very good at blowing up buildings or how that giant horse is blocking your path.  You are presented with a problem, a visible goal and the tools to get there.  At the end of the game, you’re better at those puzzles, you’re not necessarily able to map those skills to the outside world.  Though games provide a social outlet, it also removes the non-verbal social aspects and the subtleties that make for great interactions.  People who excel at World of Warcraft gain organizational skills and twitch skills but translating that into real-world equivalents is quite difficult.

If I were to compare Video Games, I would do so versus mental sports such as Chess or Go and a little bit towards physical sports for the adrenal rush you get.  The goal is to repeat an activity until you excel at that activity and some tangential benefit comes from it.

I read/watch movies to enrich myself and explore other ideas.  I play games to perfect minute analytic skills and keep mentally sharp.  With separate goals, it becomes easier to enjoy both while not competing between them.

Ender's Game

I’ve wanted to for some time now and finally got around to reading Ender’s Game (or the first Mega Man).  The basic idea is that gifted children are recruited to participate in a war simulation room, the thought being that children make better killers than adults simply because they have yet to build any social stigmas.  Instincts are self-preservation after all.

This actually got me thinking a bit further along.  No one joins the military in active service in their 30s but people can swap careers from sales to nursing at that point without issue.  Our social dilemma that requires us to be empathic towards another in case we meet them again triumphs.  Not to mention that after your first funeral in your late teens, your grasp of death is more solid.

When you’re a kid playing cops and robbers, when you shout “bang” the guy is dead until he gets up.  When you do that with a real gun, they don’t get up.  It’s an interesting hard-wired mode where ideas and concepts have yet to be grounded in reality, where actions and consequences are not yet linked.

Back to the book.  The core tenet is that the above statement is factually incorrect.  A gifted child is able to correlate action and consequence, with the given data set.  Where a “regular” kid would have A leads to B, a “gifted” child would see A leads to B, B leads to C and maybe D leads to E afterwards.  I say this from experience in that the amount of information one has to compile, analyse and act upon is staggering.  I don’t think I was a kid for much of a time, certainly never a teenager.  I’ve always been thinking in “adult” terms where the lack of experience simply left me with variables to experiment with.

Aside from the fact that the book deals with complex issues in a rather simple format, it allows all people some insight into the mindset of a gifted child, however neurotic or foreign it might seem.

Dan Brown

Ok, follow up to a recent post about bad authors.    I had wrote about how The Lost Symbol was insulting to the average person’s intelligence, especially putting Neotics at the forefront of the book (with nothing to back it up) but a recent viewing of the Angels and Demons film got my blood boiling again.

Quickly, Langdon is summoned to the Vatican to help find 4 captured cardinals who are up to be the new pope.  He follows “clues”, which have next to no basis in reality or are complete fabrications and after letting 3 die, he saves the last one.  Oh, there’s an anti-matter bomb with a battery too.  Can’t forget that!

Anyhoot, the carmelengo (secretary) flies into the sky with a helicopter and the bomb, then parachutes down while the bomb explodes above him.  Let me say that early in the book, the bomb is compared to a nuclear device.  You know, the ones that won WW2?  That destroyed entire towns and poisoned the genetic pool for 3 generations?  And those were weak ones.  So ya, the bomb explodes a few hundred feet above him and everybody lives.  Then Langdon watches a tape showing that the secretary was the bad guy and then the secretary sets himself on fire.

So, let’s get this straight.  Langdon saved 1 life and let 3 people die, then he watched a tape to see who the bad guy was.  Oh and the entire thing takes place in Vatican City, which has the square mileage of a typical shopping mall.  So really, why did Langdon do anything again if the entire plot of the movie is re-written in the last 2 chapters?

Dan Brown writes good stories filled with half-truths, lies and exaggerations – but all stories need those.  I won’t deny his ability in that regard.  What he is absolutely not, is an author.  Sort of like saying Britney Spears is a good singer.


Here’s some neato stuff from CERN in regards to anti-matter and Angels and Demons.  2 billion years to create enough anti matter to make a bomb like the one at Hiroshima.


Harry Should Have Stayed Home

I tend to harp on how the “major” authors today are actually quite bad.  Dan Brown and JK Rowling are the two prime examples.  I wanted to go over exactly why JK is a bad author.  Note that author is different than story teller.  Both are good at it, the flow is decent and the story hooks.  The author part is where the story actually makes any amount of sense and the writing is above a grade 10 level.

So, Harry Potter, the best mediocre wizard in the world.  The second coming.  It’s said quite clearly in the books that he’s a below average student with no real aptitudes other than getting into trouble.  My argument, for this post, is that nearly all the events of every book could have been avoided if Harry had listened to his elders and stayed put on his butt.

Philosopher’s Stone: Voldemort wants the stone.  It’s well hidden in a mirror that only Harry can use.  Harry uses it instead of letting the wizards with hundreds of years experience take care of the problem.  Actually comes inches from giving it to the bad guy.

Chamber of Secrets: Voldemort is coming out from a book that Ginny has.  The basilisk is killing people.  Harry hides the fact that he’s been talking to a book and nearly gets killed by a spider for it.  He then deduces where the entrance is, runs down and gets saved by a bird.  Twice.

Prisoner of Azkaban: The worst book by far.  Anyways, he’s to save a bird and his uncle from death.  Fails at both.  Needs a friend and a time travelling device to do it.  Oh, you can save a bird but you can’t save the most powerful wizard of all time with it?  Why is Voldemort looking for anything but this time turner thing?

Goblet of Fire: He’s put into a tournament without wanting to be there.  Needs huge help to pass the first test, a gift to pass the second and barely scratches through the third only to get the top of the class wizard killed in the process.  If he had never gone into the tournament or simply bailed within it, Voldemort would never have his blood and never been born again.

Order of the Phoenix: How many times is Harry told not to go searching for the memory?  What does he do?  He goes searching, finds it and gets his uncle killed.

Half Blood Prince: Ok, so this one he basically is the second character next to Dumbledore, a gopher for all purposes.  Still, he doesn’t listen and disturbs the water, further weakening his mentor.  He does listen towards the end though and lets his pal get shot off a roof.  What, a time turner would have saved him?  Really?

Deathly Hallows: Holy crap.  Everything Harry tries to do here ends up killing someone.  His slave, his friends, his teachers, everyone seems to bite the bullet.  Except the Malfoys.  Oh, the last fight?  He dies, is reborn and wins due to a hidden technicality based on wand ownership. Something Sherlock Holmes would raise an eyebrow on.


From day 1, if Harry had kept his nose down and followed the “rules” no one would have died, no arch-evil enemy would have been respawned, no huge war, just simple peace with one retarded gang of evil people in places of power.  I mean really, the Malfoys are still alive at the end and they were the biggest enemies through all 7 books.  In a future post I’ll show how Harry actually didn’t succeed at anything in the books.  Everything was either pure luck, a gift, a friend or a hidden gotcha Rowling used to get out of a painted corner.  Time Turner, really?  To save a bird?

Game of Thrones

I’ve read the first two books (of 5) and have yet to watch the TV series.

Similar to Rowling, Martin is a good writer but a bad author.  You can easily visualize the setting and the people, there is some character growth (though stereotypical) and there are no loose ends.  The downside is that he will spend 2-10 chapters explaining a given situation, hyping up an event and then providing a Deux Ex Machina to completely bypass it.

There are times where it’s warranted, where an author has simply painted themselves into a corner and needs to close a loophole.  Martin uses it religiously, dozens of times in both books though the second is the most evident.  Quite honestly, there is ZERO character progress in the second book.  You could completely ignore it and realize the story and characters haven’t moved an inch.  Each time he alludes to something major happening, some miracle happens to avoid it.  Even a major character death (which happens “off-screen”, all too often in the books too), he successfully brings them back from the dead by hiding in the basement.  While the building burns and crumbles on top of them.  And they leave without a scratch and completely unaware until they leave. Just…wow.

So, I’m done with those books.  On to something new or maybe even old.

Edit: I forgot to add, that this writing method is used in the first chapter of the 3rd book, essentially making it worthless.