Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Games”

Pokemon Go.

me in a PokeballI wanted to look at this issue from two perspectives – me the blogger and me the teacher (who is also a blogger). So I’ll put something up here and then do something similar but slightly different over on the PerryPerrySource.net – and then link the two.

Pokemon Go was an incredible effort by Niantic. A year ago, it exploded into the public consciousness. We took over Lilydale Lake chasing Dratini. We scared the penguins down at the St Kilda pier and got shot at by the owner of the Glen Waverley Golf Club while chasing Charmander.

Finding Damo and his buddyLooking at my buddy stats, with one of my Pokemon buddies, I walked over 300km, and that’s just one of many Pokemon companions I have had over the year.

It has been really exciting to see the evolution of the game from a buggy, crashing mess to a completely different buggy, crashing mess.

I kid. The stability of the game has improved out of sight.

I understand that Niantic completely underestimated the impact that PoGo would have on the world. They couldn’t deal with the influx of customers. And then they couldn’t deal with the tracker they had implemented. And then they couldn’t deal with the spoofers and hackers and cheaters who flooding the game with fake names and hugely inflated Pokemon.

When Niantic decided to do a huge event to celebrate the first year of PoGo, I predicted that it wouldn’t go well. I hoped that it would, but I assumed that it wouldn’t. Sure enough, the phone towers couldn’t handle the traffic, people who had flown in from all over the world were left high and dry and the lawsuits have begun.

I want to say “It’s just a game, get over it.” But it seems like more than that. Niantic wanted to create a phenomenon. They created a phenomenon. And they let it loose on the world without any way to control it.

I’m still playing a year later. I take my family on raiding parties to catch legendary Pokemon. We go on long walks to hatch eggs and incidentally explore and discover new places. It’s like playing a board game or participating in a family activity. We’re spending time together, being active and having fun.

I really want to see what comes next. The Harry Potter AR (PottAR?) game seems to be on the cards. There’s a fantastic-looking horror game that uses your phone, although it seems to have been lost in development hell. And there are a HEAP of other AR games that were already well established before PoGo reared up out of nowhere, including Niantic’s own Ingress. There’s a market for augmented reality. With Trump running a country, we need to insert a bit of fantasy over the top of the weirdness that is real life.

TrumPokemon

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Birthday fun.

the message

When my daughter came home from school today she found this stuck to the front door.

This is Fia:

Fia the Dog.

Looking very smug.

O and her friend had to use all of their detective skills to find the toys and return them to the bed before… well, before Fia got some probably much deserved rest and quiet.

The girls looked at the first clue.

“24. That could be an advent calendar!” they exclaimed after a bit of postulating, and off they went. I sighed in relief. Not too difficult then. Behind the Advent Calendar, the second clue awaited them.

The kitchenThe clue

Some of the pedants out there might notice that this is not actually a Beanie Boo. I had more clues than I had Beanie Boos, so the panda kindly stepped in. The Rainbow Bears were less accommodating. I had to bribe them.

This clue reads:

It’s been a hard day’s night
And I’ve been working like a dog.
So it’s time to unwind with a good back rub

“To the massage table!” O cried.

Time for a massage. The note

This is where I should have thought through the clues. Our next bear was downstairs. Luckily, some verbal clues from helpful parents sent them in the right direction. I need to workshop clues in the future. “Ahem, flowers,” I said. “What do you do with them?”

“Cut them up and put them in a vase?” said O’s friend, who was turning out to be a very competent detective.

“To the vase!” yelled O.

I’d alternated the clues, sending the girls up the stairs and down the stairs, to make it seem like a longer and more involved treasure hunt. This proved very effective.

In the kitchen In the vase.

Easy. There’s only one window looking over next doors’ fence. Back upstairs.

IMG_5082

This really should have referenced a computer somehow, but seeing as neither of the girls had been born for WarGames, I left the clue as a literal thing. “To the games cupboard!”

Scrabble anyone?

Scrabble anyone?

Notice Catan Jr in the background? That’s right. We indoctrinate early in this house! The Apple in the box clue took them awhile. And then O had no idea where she kept the box for the iPad, but we got there in the end. I felt a bit bad stuffing a turtle in a box. It had overtones of pet burials from our childhood (surely a turtle gets a box, not a flushing).

turtle inna box turtle inna box.

This next one was exciting for me as a parent.

“In the wild I hide in the forests. In this house, there’s only one place to hide that’s similar.”

“Hmm,” Miss O said. “What’s similar to a forest?” It’s Christmas. There’s a whopping great Christmas Tree in the front room. I thought it would be obvious. “Wait! To the library!”

“What? Why?”

“Books used to be forests.” Duh. We had just shown her Silence in the Library (Doctor Who).

“Ohhhh. Ok. Try being more literal.”

“The, um, the Christmas Tree?”

IMG_5088 IMG_5090

“They say it’s dangerous to hide inside a fridge. But this is only a very little one. I’m sure it’ll be OK.”

This photo didn’t turn out well. That’s what the note says. I have a little one-can fridge for cooling Coke cans powered by USB. I left the door open a crack (What? You don’t want the raccoon to suffocate, do you?). They still had a look in the real fridge, and O’s friend was sure it was an esky, before I said we didn’t have one.

IMG_5091 Don't try this at home!

Don’t try this at home kids! I thought this next clue would be easy. Magic, wizard, wizard hat, too big for a Beanie Boo. No problems. But sometimes a detective can be too clever for their own good. These two gave me too much credit as a clue-master.

“Gandalf was in the Hobbit. She must be hidden next to the Hobbit book!”

At this point I was in trouble. I’d “hidden” a Rainbow Bear on a bookshelf in plain sight. I really didn’t think this through. “Umm, don’t look at the Bear. That one’s for later. What is Gandalf?”

On the right track again, they found the cutest looking wizard I think I’ve ever seen.

IMG_5113 IMG_5093 Nothing up my sleeve, or this one, or this one...

A quick advertisement. My lovely wife made this hat for me. It’s spectacular. The octo-wizard sent the girls back up stairs, to find the next critter, nice and safe and cosy sleeping where any cat would sleep given a chance…

IMG_5109 IMG_5096

Fia the Dog, meanwhile was enjoying the peace and quiet, not realising that karma was creeping up behind her with a Nerf bat.

zzzzzzz

Finally, the girls were legitimately allowed to find Rainbow Bear (2? 2, I think. I can’t tell them apart).

IMG_5099

And then to find the final Rainbow Bear, somewhere near water.

“The fish pond?”

“Oh. No, that would be mean,” I said.

“The sink? The dog’s water bowl? The washing machine?”

This is the last one and, I thought, the easiest. “Where in the house is there enough water to swim?”

“Ah,” Miss O’s friend said, as the party girl herself kept reeling off answer after answer. “The bath.”

A few more answers later, the bath answer filtered through and they dashed upstairs again. All of the toys had been found and there was to be a party on the bed.

IMG_5102 Party on the bed!

I’m sure (ahem) that Fia was very happy to see all of her friends returning to the bed, and they all piled on to show her how much they missed her while they were away. Did you notice the dog’s expression change at all?

IMG_5134

Sorry, this has been a really weird post. But I had fun, and the kids enjoyed it immensely.

If I don’t get back on here before Christmas, have a good one, and I’ll see you in 2015!

Must. Read.

asleepLast night, I did something I never thought I would ever do: I asked my step-daughter to put the book down and go to sleep already!

Now, before you lynch me or put me in the same category of book burners and fundamentalist christians, let me explain.

She’s 8. Her bedtime is 8.30. She loves to read. And her imagination doesn’t have an off-switch. So if we let her read until she’s tired, she’ll still be reading at midnight. And then we have to deal with the consequences. So when I saw the light shining from  under the door (again) at 10pm, I had to do the unthinkable.

Normally, I’d be quite happy for her to read all night. Let the stories invade her mind and set fire to her imagination. She is a voracious reader and, at 8 years old, she’s reading well beyond her years. She had to beg us to let her read the second Harry Potter book, and I think we’ll probably relent on the third book as well before she hits ten.

But her mum and I just can’t handle the almost-teenager-like reading hangover that results from a late night. So we have to limit her, like a crack addict, to small doses per night.

Her reading list at the moment:

1. Bridge To Terabithia – I’m reading this to her. I don’t think you ever get too old to have someone read to you, and it helps me bone up on my American accents.

2. The Hobbit – I started reading this to her, but she started making very clever “guesses” about what was going to happen next, and I found that she’d read the whole thing over a couple of nights of subversive torchlight reading.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She quotes from Philosopher’s Stone all of the time, so it was only a matter of time.

4. Brer Rabbit Tales by Enid Blyton. She read 15 Secret Seven books in two weeks and was re-reading the Faraway Tree, so I figured she was up for something new.

On top of these, she still reads the grade-two level readers her school gives her, which I agree with educationally (I was able to teach her how to read comics properly, for example) but wish that the school could challenge her a bit with reading.

We were pretty dismissive when we gave her Esio Trot to read and she returned to me in an hour saying it was great and could she have another one. Almost half-heartedly, I’d ask her a question about what happened in the book. She answered promptly. Surprised, I tried something a little more analytical. She had it down pat. From then, I’ve just watched in amazement as she worked her way through dozens of books over the past couple of years, making incredible comments on genre and comparisons to other books. My year 10s can’t do it, that’s for sure.

But I didn’t start this to rave about my step-daughter, who you don’t know and doesn’t enter into Finding Damo in the slightest. I was going to use it as an introductory stepping stone and got carried away.

So… Hop! Next stone.

I used to read in bed as a child. I utilised the torch for my own illicit reading. But I was often found, fast asleep with a book on my face. I’m pretty sure it still happens sometimes.

This is the version I read and still own.

I read The Hobbit in Grade 3. I read the Wizard of Earthsea in Grade 2 – Mum was studying it for school and we were travelling through Queensland and it was there so I read it.

I read Bridge to Terabithia in Grade 5 or 6 – the teacher was giving me and a couple of others books to challenge us as the regular reading was way below us. In primary school I found Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigaters, Biggles, Blyton, Asterix and Tintin. As I got older, I devoured all of the Doctor Who novelisations, Judy Blume (Forever was an experience, I can tell you!), Victor Kelleher and Douglas Adams.

Scarily enough, I didn’t discover Terry Pratchet until university. Dave and I had been introduced to a MUD (multi-user dungeon) on the Internet, and we were having problems with some of the quests. “Oh,” said a helpful player, “that one’s straight from the books.”

“There are books?” I asked, to the general hilarity of the online world. Soon after, Dave and I were annoying the crap out of a busload of people as we read Reaper Man and Small Gods on the way to Queensland. And now I’m on the organising committee for Nullus Anxietas IV.

There are a few novels that completely changed my life.

The first, I just finished again, this time on audio. 47 hours of unexpurgated Stephen King. The Stand. A work of genius that draws me in, over and over. I think I’ve read it at least once every two years since it was published. And yes, the re-release was better.

IT, I’ll lump in with The Stand. It is King’s mind at work. But these two, above all of the others, make me come back and read them for the sheer depth of the worlds he created. I also read Christine and Pet Sematary on a regular basis.

Ben Elton’s Stark was the first book I’d read that didn’t have a happy ending. It shocked me, but also opened me to the possibilities. It was incredibly well written, great characters and then… what the hell?

Tad Williams’ Otherland series blew me away. It’s slow going in places, but again, the story had a scope that I hadn’t seen in a novel or series for a long time. That one’s due to my aunty Joan, who put me onto them.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time gave me a new insight into magic. It was a world that touched on hundreds of different mythologies and wove them into an incredibly complex world. And then Jordan wrote books 7-10 (which were unnecessary). And then he died. Brandon Sanderson has revitalised the series, and I’m really looking forward to the last book.

Clive Barker was another writer who pushed boundary after boundary. Imajica redefined horror and fantasy for me. He wrote about things that I would never have the courage to write about under my own name.  He’s not for the weak hearted, but he is an incredibly good writer.

I could go on. I might. But as a youngster, these books changed the way I looked at the world. I still like to get back to them on occasion to revisit writing that makes everyone else look bad. Don’t attack me for the people I’ve left out. I could add at least 20 more books that have also changed my life, but this was meant to be an off-the-top-of-my-head account and these are the ones that came to mind.

Oh, by the way: I’ve written ten more pages of Finding Damo. Word count to come when I’m home.

Diary of a Beta Tester

I was absolutely stoked when I received the Beta Test invitation to Mists of Pandaria. I’ve always wanted to be a panda, and now I could be. More importantly, I could be a panda before a whole heap of other people!

I downloaded the test client, almost installed it, solved a number of installation issues through combination of Google searching and WoW forum posts. I created a character on a US server, which crashed and wouldn’t let me back in. I created a character on a Korean server which was full of spamming lunatics who were trying to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to get anything done. And then I created a character on an EU server which worked quite nicely. Not to crowded, not too crashy, just right, says Goldi-Panda.

It’s a weird experience, playing the Beta of a game. It’s obviously good enough for us to test, but it’s not quite there yet! For example, I can’t make Pandaimo tell jokes or dance. He doesn’t have a voice. There aren’t any cinematics. But it looks phenomenal.

What really impresses me with Mists is that the Pandarens aren’t aligned with the Horde or the Alliance. I’m only at level 5 at the moment, but I can see that this is going to be an extremely interesting change to the game.

So, Pandaria. Apparently, we’re floating around on the back of a giant turtle. I’m going to go for a swim soon, to see if I can confirm it. It might even be turtles all the way down…

Pandaren starting area
Where the curious pandaren lives.
Do the crane, Daniel-san!
Do the crane, Daniel-san!

Pandaren are cute, fluffy, round and apparently quite deadly. Even the little kiddies have beards. As in Pratchett’s Interesting Times, Pandaria is a mish-mash of a number of different asian cultures. I helped an old pandaren collect wood so that he could smash his head above it. I’ve balanced on one leg in the crane formation – and then been chased by a crane after I fell into a cursed pool and was changed into a frog.

The only thing ruining this experience, apart from the bugs, are the people. I’m not sure who’s giving out beta passes, but I think they need to use a little bit of discrimination. Quests are being run one at a time at the moment. I’m assuming we’ll eventually be able to complete a few quests at a time, but I’ve been stuck a couple of times with only one quest to complete and one major problem to overcome: idiots.

Yes, even pandas can be idiots. When I arrived in the world, I needed to talk to a wise old monk who would tell me what to do. Surrounding this wise old monk was a throng of bouncing, shuffling pandaren n00bs and trolls, yelling obscenities and coming up with the panda equivalent of Chuck Norris chat (“blizz really shouldn’t panda to these people!” “OMG, it’s panda-monium!”). To get a quest from the monk, I needed to find his wise old black-and-white form in amongst all of the dropkick black-and-white forms smothering him. It was like finding a needle… in a stack of needles. Black-and-white, furry, obscene, illiterate needles.

Pile-o-pandaren
Pile-o-pandaren

I did it. I found the monk, got the quest, completed a few others, and then: “Snatch this ball of flame from my hand. Climb to the top of the temple. Find the Edict of Temperance. Burn it.” Yeah, OK, old man. However, you didn’t mention the OTHER throng of stupid pandaren weirdos who, for some reason, found it incredibly amusing to stand in a pile around the edict, stopping anyone from clicking on the quest item and completing the quest. They’re still there. Every time I log in. Mountains of them on a tiny balcony not really designed for that many pandas.

What is amusing is the view of the inside of hundreds of pandas, as I tried to shift the camera view to a point where I could see the Edict to click on it:

Inside a massive pile of pandas
Inside a massive pile of pandas

It’s not impossible. I did it. I moved on, and got to see some wonderfully impressive examples of Pandaren architecture. The quests, for the most part, are basic WoW fare – collect this, kill that, return, repeat. There are a couple of exceptions, including playing games with a water spirit and learning to balance on a pole in the middle of a cursed lake surrounded by hungry cranes.

My God, it's full of Pink!
My God, it’s full of Pink!

The fun part of playing a Beta game is finding and reporting on bugs. It reminds me of good old Vanilla WoW when I’d play with Mel and Corey and every now and then would get trapped behind something or laugh at a monster who was walking around up to the waist in solid ground. Here, I’m discovering the aesthetic joy of pink blocks. Every now and then I’ll come into a new zone, or log in, to find the buildings or chunks of landscape replaced with huge pink blocks. It’s easy to force the game to re-render the area and fix the issue, but sometimes it’s fun to walk around, or through, these huge pink cubes.

Don't get too close!
What happens if I… oh.

One of the great joys of starting a character in a new race is running through the emote system to see what the developers have for us. /sleep, /lol, /dance, /flirt, /train, /chicken are only a few of the emotes that can be typed in for humorous effect. Most of these aren’t in place just yet. I’ve checked. But PanDaimo does love a good snooze.

zzzzz
zzzzz

I’m really looking forward to trying some of the high-level content as the beta test progresses. At the moment, I’m simply enjoying the view, the fuzziness and the crowds of inept, annoying teenagers with nothing better to do. More soon.

n00bs
n00bs

Rupert, Roger and Roderick

Rupert sang Yellow by Coldplay while slitting Roderick’s brassiere. Yesterday Regina saved Rupert when skies were falling on Roderick. Roderick drugged himself to death by show tunes while bleeding profusely on roger fainting. Sunsets faded into nothingness causing death and destruction to Roger. Tomorrow Regina helped herself to death by poison for herself to suicide assisted death for herself. Resurrecting Rebecca proved impossible however vampires drank Rupert’s life force transforming Roger into Captain Corpse. Captain Corpse disintegrated slowly killing Rupert and festooning Roderick with intestines.

– Dromana trip – 2012.

Road Trip

Road Trip

Before the days of smart-phones, this is what we used to do when we were bored. Rupert, Roger and Roderick were names we took from Life of Brian. We were on a long car trip, or sitting around a campfire, or drunk and bored somewhere and needed something to do and decided to play theatre sports. We told a story, with each person saying a word to make a sentence. And then one of the characters died in a most horrible way. And we laughed. And did it again, this time trying to kill the character. And then again, with each person trying to save their own character and kill off the others.

I was hunting through my old files of random nonsense and found the first ever story, the precursor to Roger, Rupert and Roderick. Here it is:

On a bright summer’s morning the hotdog vendor went north to the hotdog vending laboratory where he inspected hotdogs for sale rapidly in succession. Suddenly out from a bun leaped (leapt?) several mottley yeast particles intent on bloating everything? No! Suddenly out of the bun popped the many faces. Each face ate another bit menacingly of the hotdog vendor.
Seriously though folks,  the moral sucks because there is never time on many faces tick-tocking away to bother eating hotdog vendor.

                        The End?

                           No!

        Consequently, stories like Goldilocks stink because the moral never equates correctly with statistics much in practice but only when [insert budgie’s name here] tells the story. Not often does [insert budgie’s name here] tell stories however hotdogs do. Nothing.

        Mary was sheepishly eating sheep relish and using a forklift to eat daintily. Barry thought Mary should watch herself because without cutlery she might injure him less rapidly. Mary is unconcerned mostly because she doesn’t conserve barries in Australia. When Mary spat the sheep bit she targeted Barry but missiles of destruction work wonders with Barry’s defensive corset. Retaliation was not mandatory however Barry did. Death came yesterday with great pecs of bone and nicely scythed through sheep to provide food for beasts like Mary with alien nuclear capabilities. Barry was angry because Death missed his breakfast on toast, so went under Mary for some beast bits to dye. Instead Barry walked right into hours of plastic
sheep work. Unfortunately Mary dyed the group  of Barry’s sheep dips metallic so committing herself.

– First ever game, October, 1998.

By now we had a game, and so we had to come up with some rules. And thus was born the most exciting game of Rupert, Roger and Roderick. At this stage, it was Rupert, Rufus and Roderick:

Rodgering Rupert, Rufus and Roderick

Roderick killed Rufus almost but fortunately Rufus killed Rupert
nearly totally acting badly. Rupert loves Rufus but killed himself. Rupert
decomposed compost but for now. Rupert resurrected 80’s music after tea
reviving Rupert almost. Roderick suicided unsuccessfully but was bruised by
Rufus who revived Roderick lovingly to throw himself nicely, painfully and
safely onto spikes living in memory escaping life.

As you might guess, it was, of necessity, a three-person game. The first time we added a fourth (we named her Regina) the game went as such:

Regina: Regina

Rupert: Died

Roger: Full stop.

(shocked laughter filled the car)

Regina: Well, that didn’t work!

So we added some more rules.

OK. Rules.

Basics:

Rupert

Rupert

Roger

Roger

Roderick

Roderick

Regina

Regina

Each person takes a name. Traditionally those names are Roger, Rupert and Roderick (with Regina if we need a fourth). You need to keep your character alive and kill the others. However, if you die, that’s not necessarily the end of you. Characters have been resurrected in the past. Often at the expense of someone else.

Grammar:

We had high hopes for grammar and sentence structure when we started this game. Now we just say “if we can’t follow the sentence, we’ll challenge you and it’s up to you to make the sentence work out.” The sentence should work as a sentence. But we’re not going to fire a mailbox up your bottom (Death of Rupert at one stage) if you don’t get it perfect.

Punctuation that ends a sentence or that changes the meaning of a sentence counts as a word. The phrase “full stop” has been the knell of death for many a poor R-named hero or heroine. We also allow the addition of ‘s to a word. Hence “Roderick slashed Rupert’s sneakers”. Finally, the person who says the word is not always the person who spells the word. So, almost once a game we get:

Roger: Rupert
Roderick: dies
Rupert: wool. See what I did there? Change the spelling you tosser!

Roderick dyed his Rufus green. Roderick slashed Rupert’s sneakers causing Rufus’ safe death. Roderick prospered almost committing Rupert. However when Roderick fell four stories fatally it happened that he died.

Cause of Death

We really ramped it up when we decided that people should really die of something. So we added the necessity of weapons:

Scissors didn’t bother saving Rupert from washing powder poisson distribution (this was Dave’s save. a bit dodgy but hey!) but caused Roderick massive lifespan loss. Rufus swallowed nothing but lettuce insecticide fatally kissing Rupert unsuccessfully. However rabbits of great happiness and humour napalmed Rupert almost. Rufuses everywhere donated killer bees. Roderick laughed as chainsaws didn’t stop ever killing Rufus lookalikes but Rufus came undone. Grabbing missiles stealthily Rupert suicided unsuccessfully and aimed them at Rufus. Not aware of the impending destruction, Rufus smelled Roderick’s immortality fading as Rupert destroyed Roderick momentarily distracting himself. Let knives fall. They pierced? Yes but missed Rufus mother, murdering Rufus.

I’m getting the feeling that this is how They Might Be Giants write a lot of their songs.

Once we had the “cause of death” clause, it was safe to put in a fourth person. Thus, Regina was born!

End of Game

When everyone but one person is definitively dead, the game ends. They might be able to be saved in the next sentence, but if they’re dead in this sentence, that’s it. And majority rules. If you think you’re still alive, but can’t argue your case strongly enough, tough, you’re pushing up daisies.

rabid weasel

Worst. Death. Ever.

Rupert, Roger and Roderick is not a game for the faint-of-heart. It’s not a game for the overly argumentative or people unwilling to back down. It is best to enjoy the carnage, embrace the death of your character and try your hardest to take revenge on your murderer. And it doesn’t have to be Rupert, Roger and Roderick (as evidenced by the loss of poor Rufus in the great name shuffle of 2002). You can use your own names, or anyone else’s names. But we find that there is more laughter at “Rupert was stripped to the bones by rabid weasels” than at “Damian was stripped to the bones by rabid weasels”. Well, by me, anyway.

I don’t know how you’re all doing, getting checkout servers to laugh. But we’re done with that now. Make ’em laugh in your own time. New challenge: Get two or three friends. Play Rupert, Roger and Roderick. Write down your game and post it in the comments section. Let me know what worked and what didn’t.

Oh. For the sake of fairness: Dave has a rule that he keeps trying to add in, where you can add “ing” or “ed” to the end of the last player’s word as your go. I feel that it takes away from the simplistic purity of an already devilishly complicated game. However, feel free to give it a shot.

I’m pretty sure there’s an App in this somewhere. If only I could program.

One fine morning when Rufus stabbed Rupert non-fatally complications set Roderick crying with joy because he died. Roderick smells vile but not alive even though he lived shortly. Rupert! Dead finally survived not.

“Oh what a tragedy!” said Bob about Rupert. Even though Chucky died in theory and practise, their genius will prevail when medical tricorders revitalise the tomato and then something exploded.
Chucky, decomposing rapidly decided to forsake Bob after Rupert plunged sinks on Rufuses everywhere. Consequently Chucky posessed Rufus! As Rufus stripped, Chucky’s spirit ate bananas in Hell!
The Armageddon soundtrack sucked and so Bob died.
Chucky disintegrated taking everybody or nobody. Everybody wasn’t crying over Bob’s reincarnation myth. ARMAGEDDON! Nobody liked anybody. Rupert lives not.

Gamification

Let the Wookie WinI am, I must admit, an incredibly competitive person. None of this “let the wookie win” nonsense for me! Chewie would be beating me around the head with my own arm and I’d still be laughing at my victory. My seven-year-old step-daughter knows (or will learn) that if she beats me, it is purely through skill. For safety’s sake, I’ll start her off on Scrabble, and then maybe arm wrestling.

So I was intrigued when, while reading Popular Science, I came across an article called Can Treating Your Life As a Game Make You a Better Person? The author, Matthew Shaerat, talks about Gamification: the use of video game mechanics such as levelling up and gaining achievements in non-gaming situations. He decided to try and “score” his life for a week using a number of different apps and websites to see whether he became a better person.

It’s an intriguing notion. Until I look at my life and think “Hmm. I already use EpicWin to score my tasks. I use FourSquare to diligently list my location, going out of my way to check in to a place that will give me a badge. Not to mention my actual game playing. Achievements on World of Warcraft kept me playing long past the game’s expiration date.

Side note: I only got onto FourSquare  after reading Least I Could Do. I’ll link to the comic, rather than insert it, because it involves inserting and I really don’t need that on my page. But the comic is hilarious and I realised there was a form of social media out there that I wasn’t a part of.

But I’m talking about Gamification. And then I’m going to talk about games. And then you can have your lives back for another week. I take you back a number of years, to when I was living in Dromana. Shay, Dave and I decided to Gamify our dealings with shop staff. It was social justice rather than social media. We wanted people to be happy and thought we could make a competition out of it.

The plan: to get shop staff to smile. The reward: points. Lots of lovely points. And the point of the points? Well, none, really. But we got to say we were winning. And it showed we were still involved in the game. True to my dedication to not researching anything, I’m going to make up the points system again.

The checkout – argh! I want to write “chick” but I know I’ll get into trouble…

Points are awarded if:

The checkout chick (stuff it, I don’t care)                                  smiles:                                    10 points.
Laughs:                                   50 points.
Genuinely laughs:                                  100 points.

We kept score religiously for a few months. We made a lot of people happy, actively trying to make conversation instead of it just happening. It made me more aware of these people and I still try harder to make conversation while I’m waiting for my purchases to be tallied up. A funny little lady at Woolworths yesterday told me she would buy each member of her family a house if she won the Tatts draw, and a car for each grandchild, the youngest being a baby. It was an entertaining conversation.

Your challenge, then, is to tally up your points for a week and get back to me in the comments section. Let’s see who wins this one! Game on! I can even award badges! For example, the LOL badge, for when you get someone to laugh out loud for the first time:

The LOL badge

LOL

Or the harder to achieve ROFL badge. Make sure they’re not holding your eggs at the time:

The ROFL badge

ROFL!

Give it a shot. See how you go, let us know. It’s a way of life as well as a game.

And speaking of games…

A long car ride can be a wonderful or a torturous thing. Add a small child into the mix and the needle tends to swing towards torturous. UNLESS you get into the car forewarned and forearmed. You’ve been warned. Here’s the armament.

First up, car cricket. Many have heard of car cricket. One colour car is 1 run, Another is 4, A truck, perhaps is a 6, and something else is out. We don’t like cricket, but we’re quite happy to count cars. Here’s our variation:

For the whole trip (this works better for shorter trips in the city):

Purple Car

Five points!

Blue car = 1 point.
Purple, orange and pink cars = 5 points.
Yellow cars = two points.
Pointing out a yellow car that is actually a taxi = -2 points.

I don’t tend to bother with the blue cars, as the driver, unless I’m close to winning or passing another player. Go for the big score, look down side streets, remember that there is traffic in front of you (as the driver). Don’t forget your score (or DO, if you’re behind).

Secondly, the alphabet game. Start at A and go through the alphabet, finding the letters on signs and number plates. You cannot use a sign or number plate that someone else has already used. J and Q are stopping points, where your competitors can catch up. So if you can use the N in a Just Jeans sign, you can have your opponent gnashing their teeth while you power ever onwards.

The third game I want to detail is Roger, Rupert and Roderick. But the explanation involved in that one is a post in itself. So, I shall leave you here, the hero leaping over the chasm on his mighty white steed. Will he make it? Find out next week.

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