31 January 2010

Local News

Some local news and events to catch up on:

The new second location for Games Universe is open and seems to be doing well. Our local Catalyst Agent is running a monthly Grinder session there to attract new players. I traded custom dice with the owner, and I'll try to get a picture of them up too.

Adventures in Gaming (my usual game spot) is moving to a nearby location:

Adventures in Gaming would like to announce that they are moving locations to a new site located at 3875 S. 92nd Street Milwaukee WI 53228. We will continue to maintain our Phone number of 414-940-8390 and email at aigstaff@att.net.

Adventures in Gaming will continue to support the greater Milwaukee gaming community by offering free gaming space, the crafting zone, special orders, and over 2000 sq feet of retail space.

The move will be effective February 1st 2010.
AiG has offered after hours gaming in the basement for years, which is greatly enjoyed by the local gaming community. At this time it is not completely clear what the game room situation will be, as the new location doesn't have a basement, but we are told that some sort of gaming space will be available.

Finally, our good friend Leonard has just returned from National Guard duty in Afghanistan (that's him on the right at GENCON 2007).

Thank you for your service, Leonard, and welcome back!

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15 January 2010

Are there rules for this in Battletech?

Somewhere in that 100-ton, 10-meter tall piece of walking mechanical mayhem you think there might be room to squeeze in a port-a-potty.

But then, given how quickly they get destroyed in battle typical Battletech game, maybe the problem has never come up? Click thru to the Far Left Side for the full-size, high quality image, and look for the neuro-helmet reference.
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13 January 2010

Go with the Flow

Some more psychology today, with a relation to games. Better yet, click on over to HappenChance and read the original article: What is Flow?

Have you ever become completely lost in your favorite activity? Lost track of time? Felt focused, energized, and completely unselfconscious? As if your body and mind were working in perfect harmony?

If so, you may have experienced something by described by the Hungarian professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as the Flow state. In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience, CM explains what Flow is, when people experience it, and why it’s so important.

Athletes call this ‘being in the zone.’ Buddhists might call this simply mindfulness or low-level nirvana. The Greeks would describe this as being taken over by the muse.

Whenever you see an amazing performance or creation, it’s a safe bet to assume the performer or creator was experiencing flow.

I can't count how many times I've lost track of times while playing games, or painting, or reading or exercising, or ... well, you get the idea.

Everything I’ve read suggests that most people find flow while doing one of two things: hobbies they love or working at their job. The latter is a little surprising, as a lot of people will tell you they don’t like their job. Jobs, though, have all several of the components required for flow: a rule-based system, feedback, clear and definable goals.

A person is most likely to find flow while engaged in an activity where the challenges match the skill level. During low-challenge activities, people become bored. If an activity is too challenging, they experience worry and anxiety. The chart below describes when people are most likely to experience flow.

Flow diagram

And finally, the tie-in with games:

Video games seem to be designed with flow in mind. People have written papers on such things. Jenove Chen, for example. Why are games so likely to help people find flow? They have all the attributes required for finding flow: a system with clear rules, immediate feedback (scores), goal-based challenges. They also require full concentration, engagement, and a certain amount of skill.

At some level, I think flow is what I'm trying to achieve out of all games.
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11 January 2010

The Psychology of Video Games

 Today I'm spreading the word about a new blog, The Psychology of Video Games, written by Gamer and PhD Psychologist Jamie Madigan. Today's article is about Social Identity Theory and the Psychology of Warfare (see
How Social Identity Theory Predicted the Console Wars of ‘07), but there are a number of other articles up already that I am looking forward to reading.

[Hat Tip 2 Raph Koster's Website]
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06 January 2010

This and That

Some odds and ends to help me get back into a regular posting habit.

A nice post about the craft of game design at My Play, and Battletech gets a mention.

Zero Punctuation offers it's awards for 2009, for a bunch of games I don't play, but the insults are fun.

y=e^x, a cartoon at Abtruse Goose about exponential relationships. This relates (sort of) to my post about probability and odds.

A MechWarrior Mod for Crysis?

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04 January 2010

Improved Dice Test

In response to a question about the "Fair Dice" test, I have updated my spreadsheet for the Chi-Square test of homogeneity (Fair Dice) so that it will recognized the number of "sides" being tested for any number up to 20. I think this is fairly self-explanatory, just leave that green shaded cells blank if you don't need them. I have not tested this extensively, so if it gives you any troubles let me know.