Trivial Pursuit Insults My Intelligence

I’d like to start by welcoming all the new followers who have joined me since I was Freshly Pressed on Friday.  The cat post was cute and fun and the WordPress editorial staff demonstrated excellent taste by selecting it.

Of course, I think most (if not all) of my posts would be good choices for Freshly Pressed.  I hope my new followers will soon grow to agree with me.

Nevertheless, I should extend one minor warning: this blog is not always cute.  One of my long-time followers recently marveled at how I can find a way to be offended at anything; I do my best to keep my fans happy.

That said, it’s time for me to go nerdy because I happen to be a nerd.  And being a nerd, I am often accosted by a game called Trivial Pursuit.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a trivia game where players recall random and often insignificant facts in a race to demonstrate who’s more intelligent.

And whose brilliant idea was this?

Once upon a time, Ugg and Oog were sitting in their cave.  They had grown weary of explaining the philosophy behind the aesthetic dimensions of mammoth dung.

Aren't you glad I chose this suggestive picture instead of the photo of real elephant poop?  (Photo credit: Johnbod)

Yes, that’s supposed to be a mammoth.  Aren’t you glad I chose this suggestive picture instead of the photo of real elephant poop? (Photo credit: Johnbod)

But then, as now, someone had to be the leader.  Unfortunately, Ugg and Oog weren’t the type who liked hitting each other with blunt objects to prove their manhood… so the obvious solution was out.  And they couldn’t compete on the quality of dung explanations because there was no way to judge the comparative merits of their theories.

What are a couple of cavenerds to do?

Simple.  They decided to quiz each other on the specific contents of mammoth dung, focusing on what plant and animal remnants could be found during each month of the year.  Their answers could be objectively correct or incorrect and they could verify questionable responses by waiting for the appropriate month and finding a not-so-constipated mammoth.

Of course, this extended their playing time by several years. Since the winner could lay claim to being called the most intelligent, they considered the wait worthwhile.

And this tradition continues to this day.  Groups of people spend an eternity rummaging through a mammoth pile of dung just to prove to others how “smart” they are.  It’s such a trivial pursuit.

Blogger’s note: I do own a version of the game and I play it on rare occasion.   If I’m lucky, I get to play on a team with someone who knows about Justin Bieber and all that intelligent stuff.

 

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Educational Fun Insults My Intelligence

I’m not one to say that kids should suffer in school, but there’s a limit to how much pleasure they should be given outside of recess.

Case in point: I saw a homework assignment that was developed and presumably promoted by an educational company or nonprofit, not by a teacher who might be incompetent.  (Calm down.  I’m not calling teachers incompetent.  It’s just that some bad seeds get through the cracks and stick around forever.)

Because the assignment was surely copyrighted, I didn’t make a copy to show you.  However, I did find a nifty website that allowed me to create a comparable activity.  And so without further ado, here it is.  Let me know how much you think the kids are learning from this because, after all, fun is always educational.

Can you find all 12 words and figure out the overall theme?  I’m making it harder by not telling you the words in advance.  That way, the surprise will make this entire exercise even more enjoyable, just as it should be.  I’ll cut the sarcasm now, I promise.


S P A C T X E G P N U D H T G
H I R N Q X C J X I Z I H N E
C F N D N R P Z H T T E D M N
I P W O L E Y K I L R D O T O
E O C X I P F W E E S H Y P C
R X Z R A T H R S H G T B S I
D X K O L C A I A K H A C L D
R S M F S D E V O N O E O U E
I T N U I N V C R O K D H W I
H U A Y S R E B M A H C S A G
T Y A T N M H X E H T W K A Z
O K A H H O L O C A U S T J J
M D N H C Z P O L T S E D Q N
T O P R M A V O T T E H G Q G
X H K R M B D O W C B O K N A

			

New Video Games Insult My Intelligence

Growing up, I spent tons of time in front of video games.  Now that I’m grown and unemployed, I wish I could still find some games of the type I used to love.

These are the old-school RPG’s.  Since many of you will only be familiar with the newer model, here’s a glimpse of the past:

That video highlights what used to be possible in a video game.  At the start, you could choose the job type (magician, warrior, etc.) of each character and all sorts of combinations were possible.  That meant you could play the game repeatedly and you’d always experience something new because you’d need a new strategy for the group you had selected.  The four white wizards in the video were known as the most challenging combination possible in the original Final Fantasy game; a lot of imagination went into devising the method of winning portrayed in the video.  (That was the game’s final battle, which is why the video’s ending is so surprising.)

In case you don’t remember what imagination is, look it up in the dictionary.   We don’t breed much of it these days.

And since RPG’s have always taken notoriously long to complete, the video game companies obviously saw a losing proposition.  You can’t have customers being happy with your product for too long or else they won’t need to buy anything new.  (I wonder if this is why cars break down so often…)  So the companies added more intricate storylines and, eventually, movies to the games.  Once you add this, the characters must always be the type that is portrayed.  Player choice becomes impossible unless the game companies start programming the myriad variations in stories and videos to accommodate a player’s options.

That’s going to happen, right?

And there died the ability to replay an RPG once you’ve completed it once.  Evil marketing genius, I say.

In fact, new games arguably revolve around around the movies and storyline instead of gameplay itself.  I liked the old-school RPG’s because I didn’t have to fumble with the controller and struggle with my less-than-stellar reflexes.  And then these games were unceremoniously transformed into first-person battle simulators that bore no resemblance to the original genre.  And now they’re becoming interactive movies that require neither reflexes nor anything else but the willingness to shell out large sums of money. (Well, I suppose they also require the ability to gaze into a screen for long periods of time.)  If I want a movie, I’ll buy a DVD or join Netflix and spend a lot less for it.

Nevertheless, the game companies get away with calling these offerings RPG’s.  In some cases (Final Fantasy, anyone?), game mechanics became unrecognizable in new releases even though the game title presents the new product as an installment in the longstanding series.

Just put a crappier car under the same nameplate and idiots will flock to the new vehicle, ignoring all evidence that they’re being sold nothing more than a name.  This isn’t the understandable evolution of a product.  Instead, it borders on bait-and-switch.

Granted, I don’t miss the hours and hours I used to spend repeatedly battling small monsters so I could build up my characters’ skills enough to progress in a game.  Nevertheless, it’s not too hard to program a game with more major tasks that are separated by smaller gaps in how far your characters have developed.

Oh, wait.  It is too hard.  Those huge gaps ensured that programmers didn’t have to design larger world maps and more enemies to fight and longer stories.

And there’s the irony.  Expanding the storytelling aspect decreases the quantity of story the programmers must devise.  A 15-minute movie clip often progresses a story less than a few brief shots of text, but the movie clip looks good and that’s all that matters with games.  Besides which, it takes fewer movie clips to make a “legitimately” long game.

Or perhaps I should say a legitimately long “game.”

Normal Childhoods Insult My Intelligence

English: Atari 7800 with cartridge and game pad

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was a weird kid.

When I was young (under 10 years old), I had an Atari and owned a game called “Tax Avoiders.”  And I chose this game myself.  I don’t know what was running through my head when I picked that game and I really can’t imagine what my parents must have thought.

BTW: If the IRS is reading this post, I’ve been a good boy.

By Atari standards, the game was silly but not horrible.  Although you couldn’t “win” the game, you aimed to get as much money as possible in one year by collecting dollar signs, not touching red tape, avoiding the tax man, and collecting tax shelters.

As a kid, I didn’t know what much of that was… except for the dollar signs.  The red tape is kind of cute, though… kind of like something out of Q-Bert.  You can jump through it and it won’t touch you.  It only affects you if your feet are on the ground.  The same goes for the dollar signs.

At the game’s conclusion, one was rewarded with an obnoxious beeping sound no matter how well one performed.  In retrospect, maybe that noise was supposed to be a police siren.  Or maybe it was a punishment for playing so one would feel the need to rush out and buy a different game.  After all, anyone playing “Tax Avoiders” should have some extra cash lying around.  (Because the game only cost three bucks, not because players were less than generous with Uncle Sam.  Don’t be so negative!)

Anyway, I found a video of the game on Youtube.  Try to enjoy it.  I dare you.  At least the disappearing elevator is entertaining…

Cheap Excuses Insult My Intelligence

SPAM! [don't buy]

(Photo credit: dѧvid)

To my regular readers:

I apologize for spamming you with this meaningless message.  It contains my claim token for Technorati and I didn’t want it tarnishing a regular post.

HOWEVER…

Please feel free to have fun with it.  If you can read any interesting patterns or messages in the random sequence of numbers and letters, post a reply.  The best response wins nothing.  (I’m unemployed.  How am I going to fund a prize?)

VAFM5GPYEP22