Achievement points, indeed.

Sure, I don’t have an Xbox360 yet, but I do have a Gamer Card! It’s true! But, alas, no achievements to speak of.

On the other hand, I have earned a few Real Life Achievements. (from Binary Bonsai)

Now someone just needs to make a Real Life Gamer Card.

I am not an atomic playboy, either!

When I first switched over to WordPress, I was surfing over at Binary Bonsai, since Kubrick is the default theme and BB is Michael Heilemann’s site (the author of the Kubrick Theme). As I read, I noticed a blog entry titled “I am not an atomic playboy”. Now, that may not mean anything to you, but if you’d been following the demo scene in the early nineties, you’d know exactly what that refers to. It is from Future Crew’s Second Reality Demo. Second Reality was an amazing achievement in 1993. Back in those days (my BBS dialup days), I was way into Assembly, the Demoscene, ANSi Art (like ACiD and iCE). While I didn’t have the talent to program like these guys, I definitely recognized the skill it took to do what they could do.

Back to the BB post. In the comments there’s a link to the open source project called DOSBox which basically emulates DOS for different operating systems. It works perfectly with Windows XP so I downloaded the old FC demos and had a huge nostalgia trip watching them. I got chills, I’m embarrased to say. That was months ago. Just recently I noticed a couple links over at Waxy.orgthis link to the Assembly 2005 awards and this link to the overall winner of Assembly 2005 browser demo (you may have to use IE to see this link). Man, there are still a bunch of talented cats out there.

I lost track of the demoscene years ago but it’s great to see it’s still alive and kicking. It may not demand the same respect it did when I was younger, but it’s a great place to see some talented people do some really cool things. Their influence on video games is undeniable (and vice versa). Watch the Che Guevara clip and you’ll see what I mean.

So, what about you guys? I would imagine this will be new stuff for the younger buttonmashers, but perhaps some of you “mature” readers may have fond memories about these demos. If you do and you’re looking for a stroll down memory lane, hit up DOS Box and download those FC files from You be happy you did.

(On a side note, now that I have DOSBox working, I’m looking forward to loading up some old-school DOS gaming. There are a handful of sites popping up recently with downloads from old games. I can’t wait)

Update: I often wondered about what the significance of the “I am not an atomic playboy” quote was. I figured it was just a sample from some random europop song I would never had heard of. As Jake points out in the comments, it is actually a quote from a military commander, referring to the power of the atomic bomb. You can read about it here. Or here. Thanks, Jake. I think I have a new email sig:

“The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy.”

Vice Admiral William P. Blandy
Commander of Operation Crossroads

Button bash??

I use Google Alerts for a variety of key-words, mainly to keep me up-to-date on topics like video game blogs. I have one setup for “button mashing” and every so often I get an alert, pointing me to another review of a game involving copious amounts of button mashing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But I got one recently that made me laugh. Behold, the buttonbash. Buttonbash?

This doesn’t seem right. In my mind, “bash” is something you do with say, a baseball bat. And you bash something bashable, say someone’s head. At least that’s what I learned playing GTA:SA. I even have a new cranial menu called “bash head with aluminum bat.” It comes in handy.

On the otherhand, “mash” is something you do to potatoes. Or grapes. Mashing can be a good thing. It’s doesn’t exude the violent intonations “bash” does.

In fact, wonderful things come from mashing. Mashed potatoes come immediately to mind. I don’t think too many people would find “Bashed Potatoes” very appetizing. Mashed potatoes, with a pat of butter and some freshly cracked pepper? That’s what I’m talking about.

It appears that our fellow gamers across the pond bash buttons. That’s a shame. It seems so brutish and unsophisticated. We only mash buttons here. So eloquent and refined. We don’t feel overt aggression towards our buttons. We mash them into something wonderful.

And no, “mashing” buttons isn’t a crime. For some of us, it’s all we have.

Long live the Internet!

I have been connected to the “internet” for so long that I often forget life before Google (or HotBot or AltaVista or whatever). I feel I’ve become careless because I know that everything can be solved by Googling it. It’s a crutch, and I know it.

Well today wasn’t a case of carelessness, it was a case of an upgrade gone awry. Last week I added a stick of memory to my aging PC to give it at least another year of shelf life. I consider myself rather PC/Tech savvy — I built my current PC from scratch, so I know a little bit of how this works. I figured this was a no-brained upgrade. Sometimes, however, errors and problems crop up whose causes are unknown. By some weird cosmic combination of components and mismatched parts, Windows seems to go crazy and begins corrupting itself in some self-preserving, self-destruct mode. At first, it seems harmless. A simple BSOD pops up. Then an occasional reboot that happens out of the blue (no pun intended). Then things get wonky. This time around, I get an error message, on boot-up, along the lines of:

lsass.exe system error indicates a revision number encountered or specified is not one known by the service. It may be a more recent revision than the service is aware of.

Huh? I swear I never touched lsass.exe! I’ve never even heard of it! Nevertheless this rendered my PC completely unbootable. After trying everything, I went to Google, looking for guidance. (Thank goodness for the laptop!) The nugget of wisdom that Google bestowed upon me came in the form of this site.

The steps were followed, windows was fixed and I was playing Guild Wars by 8:30. I could go on a rant and say how wonderful consoles are because when they crash (if they ever crash) a simple hard reboot fixes the problem 99.98% of the time. But I won’t, because my consoles don’t have 2+ years of baby pictures and movies. Or 4+ years of emails and contacts. I wasn’t so desperate that I was ready to wipe everything but I was close. Thanks to Google problems were solved and I have once again regained my throne of technical superiority in the eyes of those who care (mainly my wife).

Man it feels good to be a PC-fixing super hero. Now let’s see what happens when I put that memory stick back in…

Update: As Bobster noted in the comments, the problem was my Kensington Memory Stick being incompatible with Dual Channel Operation. Whether it some how corrupted data on my hard drive is unknown, I blame it completely for all my hassle.

So I’ve taken this as an opportunity to do a fresh XP install, clean out all the gunk and get back to a streamlined installation. Guild Wars is gonna fly now!

Video Games and the Business World

I read this article a couple weeks ago about video games and business skills. It’s not a bad article, but starting off with a quote like:

Video-game players often display exceptional business skills.

will make a rather tough sell. Overall the article points to some “proof” of this but I have a couple issues with the conclusions they make. The skill of multi-tasking has often been attributed to video game players:

“The people who play games are into technology, can handle more information, can synthesize more complex data, solve operational design problems, lead change and bring organizations through change,” said Luman, 38.

I agree with this, video gamers can synthesize data pretty efficiently. I’d also say younger kids (teens) are extremely adept at this. The article does a great job of trumpeting cases where video games are being used a useful, positive manner (i.e. kids playing Game Boys before surgery to calm them) and it side-steps the knee-jerk reaction of accusing video games of being guns and violence. But there is one conlcusion I have to disagree with. The article says:

Among the findings: Gamers are better risk-takers, show particular confidence in their abilities, place a high value on relationships and employee input and think in terms of “winning” when pursuing objectives.

That doesn’t really describe only gamers. That describes the male psyche. While males may not “place a high value on relationships” (some of us do) I would say men are risk-takers and almost all men I know think in terms of “winning”. I’m not saying gamers don’t exhibit those characteristics, I’m just saying that males in general exhibit competitiveness and self-assurance.

Other than that beef, it was a great article. What really caught my eye, though, was:

Beck said the findings are proving helpful to baby boomer-generation managers who lead teams of younger, gamer employees.

“They learn that they have to develop the teams, structure the tasks and build rewards in very different ways than they might have naturally,” Beck said.

This one has some serious implications. What if a manager knew he was over a handful of gamers and started tailoring his reward system like those of video games? I’m a sucker for unlockables. What if my boss started peppering my assignments with “unlockables”?

“You finished this report in two days! You’ve unlocked three hours of vacation!”

“Your time to completion on this project was less than your previous attempt! You’ve unlocked ‘Position: Senior Analyst’, you can now work your way to the next rung on the corporate ladder!”

They could go the way of EA, with the EA Sports Gamer: “You’ve been employed for 14,398 hours, you’re now a level 12 employee!”

Or what if they took a nod from RPGs and used Experience Points and other accompanying rewards?

“Document control has received your manuscript. You earned 2,000 XP and your standing with the Document faction has increased by 10.”

“Presentation was well-received by Management and you won the contract! You have earned 36,000 XP. Ding! You’ve gained a level. You are now Engineer III. You have also earned two skill points.”

I could go on, the mind boggles at the possibilities. What I’m really saying is that one thing video games have done is found a way to not only reward gamers but also “hook” them into playing more. Obviously, a game that didn’t hook you at all wouldn’t really do well, sales-wise. They need a hook (unlockables, experience levels, promise of future enhancements) to keep you playing. And that is so very suited to the business world.

Profit sharing, performance bonuses, and the like have their place, but those are big, one-time “power ups”. Managers that are able to reward employers (and it doesn’t have to always be monetary rewards) like a video game are bound to find success in motivating people in day-to-day operations. Maybe I’m just a statistics junky, but I’d like to know how many data points I’ve entered into the database for a given day, how that stacks up to the competition (or fellow workers, however you want to say it), and be rewarded for doing an exceptional job.

I may be way off-base here. This may not appeal to everyone, but I know this sort of thing would float my boat. And when I unlocked “Senior Management Position” and I earned the requisite 10M XP I would be one kick-butt manager!