May 26, 2007
The heart of a geek
(With apologies to P G Wodehouse.)
Susan Harper is writing a wonderful funny-sweet-honest-painful series on geek dating.
More on Civilisation IV classification
This is not to say that Civilisation IV doesn't thoroughly deserve its PG rating. I just feel the OFLC should be warning of a broader range of dangers in its consumer advice. In the case of Civilisation IV, these should include:
- Addictive qualities. Any game whose exit dialog includes the option "Wait... just one more turn..." might just as well have a warning on the box saying "Gateway game for crack. Parental guidance recommended."
- Weak puns. The feeble gag about "Caesar" and "salad" alone should have earned them a consumer advice warning, not to mention three quarters of an hour alone in a soundproofed room with Gary "The Cosh" Buttafuoco.
- That it insists, in game after game, that Buddhism was founded by the Spanish in 3600 BC.
May 25, 2007
What are themes?
Civilisation IV is certified "PG: mild violence, mild themes."
Mild violence? That's easy to understand. When a battalion of tanks gets decimated by a bunch of enemy longbowmen, I exhibit signs of mild violence. But themes? What on earth are "mild themes"?
The Office of Film and Literature Classification attempts to explain: "Classifiable elements include violence, sex, themes (eg suicide, racism, corruption), coarse language, drug use and nudity."
Ah, yes. Corruption has of course been a feature of Civilisation since day one, so you can imagine the scene that might otherwise play out in countless parental-guidance-lacking homes around the world.
Lisping Golden-Haired Child: "Mama, it was so horrible. Novosibirsk was only producing 30% of its full production. Oh, mama, I cannot sleep for thinking about it!"
Mama: "There, there, darling, it was only a computer game. Don't worry your pretty head about it. Come, sit with me on the chaise longue; we can watch Dick Cheney on the news signing some more no-bid contracts with Halliburton together, and soon you will be quite better."
Fortunately, thanks to the OFLC's alertness for "themes," the world remains safe for childish innocence.
May 15, 2007
Anti-interaction interaction design
Bret Victor: "Today, a Perl programmer needs just four letters to invoke decades of research into filesystems and physical media: 'open.' A finely-tuned mergesort is available with the word 'sort,' and even more finely-tuned hashing algorithms require just a pair of brackets. Until machine learning is as accessible and effortless as typing the word 'learn,' it will never become widespread."