Monday, January 29, 2007

Pardon My Dust

I'm going to be gradually reworking ye olde blogge format over the next few days.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Final Reality

Why not live life by experience points?

From their dice-and-paper roots to the modern user-generated worlds, role-playing games have always had to deal with the question of how a character develops. This is normally handled through experience points (XP). Kill a were-turtle, get 5 XP. Accrue 500 XP and you gain a level. Et cetera.

While certainly an attempt to recreate in some way a person's actual skill advancement in real life, it would seem that XP would work in the actual world similarly to the way it does in the digital. For example. Let's take a skill you want to develop, say running. Set a series of levels in front of you, and choose XP amounts for given tasks:

Go for a 1 mile run, get 1 XP. Go for a 3 mile run, get 4 XP. Run in a charity event, 15 XP. Finish within 1 minute of the leader in a competitive run, 200 XP. Run a marathon, 10,000 XP.

Level 1: 30 XP. Level 2: 500 XP. Level 3: 3500 XP. Level 4: 5000 XP. Etc.

So, you could get to high levels just by running a mile at a time, but getting there would take forever. Doing bigger things yields bigger numbers, and thus faster level-ups.

Here's a wrinkle: in games, a higher level means better stats. A level 2 character is stronger than a level 1, and that means an easier time killing beasties. Aside from the fact that you would actually improve, how would this work in real life? I say you'd have to have your friends involved, and the bragging rights would do it. Either that or have specific level tasks, e.g. you can't get to level 4 until you run the Turkey Trot, no matter how many XP you've got.

This could work for all kinds of things.
  • Career -- go to a seminar, 10XP. Get the corner office, 5000XP.
  • Arts -- participate in Nanowrimo, 150XP. Get published in a magazine, 500XP.
  • Education -- go to a class, 1XP. Get a PhD, 10,000XP.
  • Fandom -- read the Lord of the Rings again, 5XP. Go to Marquette and lie about doing a research project to get the Special Collections guy to bring out the secret not-for-display Tolkien stuff, 10,000XP.
  • Connoisseur -- try a new beer, 5XP. Go to a wine tour in another state, 1,000XP.
  • Family affairs -- email your mother, 2XP. Don't yell at Shannon on Xmas, 50,000XP.
Unfortunately, it could also work for negative things. Smoke a pack, 100XP. Perhaps this could be factored in. You want to stop doing something? Take the XP away from something you're working towards. So, say the F-word, take 5XP from your Runner class count. That's 5 miles you just lost. F indeed.

If you're willing to spend hours of your life pretending to be a druid and running around killing lizards until you can get that robe you want, why not take that rewards system and move it to real life? I'll DM.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I read the first few pages of William Gibson's Neuromancer today. I am always astounded when I come across an old book that predicted the present well. As soon as computers started talking to each other, a few books pushed the experience as far as it will go. Snow Crash (1992) did it, focusing on the social aspects of the 'metaverse'. Ender's Game (1985) did it, calling it 'the nets'. Two children take on identity-less roles and debate politics in public forums, eventually becoming the faceless voices of their age.

Neuromancer was published in 1984. For comparison, AOL for DOS came out in 1991. Netscape Navigator, 1994.

The term 'cyberspace' was coined here. It's the start of the cyberpunk genre, and from what I can tell also the start of modern life. Perhaps not the best book to be reading while adding to and revising my own scifi opus, what with the inherent comparison between this giant of the genre and my paltry puppet-show, but hey.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This Title Has Nothing to Do with Bending Anything



To play SOCCER.


In other news, David Beckham is coming to America. To play soccer. Professionally.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

And Ever

B A Start Poll: What companies will still be around 1,000 years from now? Will we still drink Pepsi? Eat Cheerios? Use Faber-Castell colored pencils?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bye Bye Birdie

I saw of these one time. IN A DREAM. Figures my clairvoyance would be limited to videogames.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Wiff

Whoops. This is what would happen if I played hockey.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Those of us from New Hampshire call Martin Luther King Jr's birthday "Civil Rights Day". Just to be contrary, I think.

Monday, January 01, 2007

But wait, there's more

Not to belabor the writing thing, but I am embarking once again on a month of productivity. Like a twenty-five-year-old, I'm starting to flesh out. I'm shooting for an additional 30,000 words by month's end.

Joining me on this journey is the ineffable Greg, prompting us to name January Agnowrimo, for "Alex's and Greg's Novel Writing Month". Why not "Greg's and Alex's", you ask? Ganowrimo, pronounced after the fashion of a third-grade bully.