12 July 2014

New Video Games

No shortage of video games out there.  My goodness.  And yet, can't help but feel there are still some uncovered niches.

Savvy Conversationalist
You and up to three co-participants sit around in high-backed leather arm chairs smoking stogies and sipping bourbon while you engage in a fascinating wide-ranging interactive dialogue touching on matters of interest to every thinking person.  The motion sensor picks up your vague hand-waving arguments and scores points for curiously raised eyebrows or a perfectly executed fake laugh … Several modes include State of the World, The Dimwit, Dinner Party Repartee, The Paranormal, Rambling Vaguely By the Fire, and more.  Beware of The Hijacker, a wacky li'l gremlin constantly trying to steer your conversations toward inane topics such as breasts or the Olympics.

Paper Pusher
Fill out an endless series of forms, keep your files in order, respond to a constant barrage e-mails, keep all databases up-to-date, produce monthly reports, answer all incoming calls in the order they are received.  You can work quickly to get ahead of everything and then the game lets you loaf a bit, or you can deliberately stretch out your work to exactly fill the allotted time.  Whichever way you choose to make it through your days (of playing this exciting new video game), no matter how fast you work, as long as you are not fired your final score is the same.  Just two levels: first you push paper without messing up too badly for at least five years, and if you're attractive and well-liked by your superiors you may be promoted to supervise up to three other paper pushers, which is equally boring but pays an extra fifty-two seventy-five a week.

House Husband
Struggle against time to take down the drapes, get them washed and back up again before your wife gets home to complain about how you didn't do a very good job.  Get some chili going in the crockpot, dust the cabinets, be dragged to your wife's office Christmas party, tidy up the place, hang the duvet covers out in the sun, run to the store, swing by to pick up the kids, get them home and into a groove, get dinner on and down their throats and cleaned up after, pour yourself a double bourbon, go into your office and close the door for as long as they'll let you.  Work your way through increasing levels of difficulty, from Single 30-something to Triplets in Poverty.

Sporting Event: The Attendance
Most sports games focus on the game itself, which is perfectly understandable, but it does leave ample creative space for games about attending the game.  This thrilling new first-person rpg offers several challenges, starting with Getting Tickets, Getting There on Time, Finding Parking, Acquiring Refreshments, Seat Finding / Seat Hopping, and so on.  The final challenge, Escape Route, starts with seven minutes to go, or in the seventh inning, as you use various factors such as score, time remaining, team histories, etc. to figure out the optimal time to leave so that you 'get your money’s worth' and don't 'miss anything' but still return home as early as possible; then it's the mad dash for the car and negotiating bumper to bumper traffic so you can get the kids to bed at a decent hour and catch the highlights on tv.

Time Server II: Wage Slave
Do more or less the same stuff, over and over, 8 hours a day 5 days a week plus overtime if you're lucky, until life turns into one big exercise in killing time. Live without health insurance, without a sliver of hope for escape to a better life, live with virtually no motivation at all beyond Don't get fired and When can I get drunk, live with the fact that your next two months of salary is already owed to your creditors, live with your live-in girlfriend and her other friend that keeps crashing there and doing weird stuff like cooking in a towel.

05 July 2014

Gun Control: Getting the Numbers Right

Given the large number of guns already 'out there', it seems safe to assume that we do not have the exact correct number to optimize societal well-being.  Therefore we either need more or we need less, there are either too many guns in circulation or there are not enough.  Opinions on this question vary. 

Let's start by assuming there are not enough.  We need more.  Take this to its logical conclusion and we see that all citizens should be not only armed but armed to the (proverbial) teeth.  Imagine if every child leaving for kindergarten is strapped with a gat, two tommy sub-machine guns over each shoulder (yes four in total), maybe a mini-RPG launcher to ward off the meanies as he makes his way to the back of the cafeteria.  This child would be safe, no bully would dare start trouble.  And he would be discouraged from attacking others by virtue of the similar firepower they'd be loaded down with.  Everyone would be too tired to fight with anyone, just lugging that artillery around all day in the hot Alabama sunshine.  Once children are fully armed we can begin arming the elderly and the insane until we reach the correct number of weapons for a population of our size and general bent.

On the other hand, we may have too many guns.  In this case a reduction in the number of guns in circulation is in order.  Possible ways of reducing this number include: buyback programs; restrictions or outright bans on manufacture, sale and distribution of; prying them from gunowners’ cold dead hands; and so forth.

We should not necessarily destroy all guns, as zero is not likely to be the optimal number.  If suddenly there were no guns, gun manufacturers would have too strong a position, possibly a basis for holding hostage our entire way of life.  No, we will have to dismantle all gun-making operations completely so that when we hit reset everyone starts from a level playing field.
But what, then, about the makers of knives, scythes, tabarzins and tomahawks, not to mention crossbows?  Once the gun factories are razed and all the guns destroyed these may become our new enemy. 

And holy shit, what about kung fu: how are we gonna confiscate that?

The more I think about this, it's a helluva humdinger.  There's no way we'll ever have the correct number of guns.  Maybe what we need is fewer bullets – or perhaps more bulletproof umbrellas.  I’ll run some more numbers and get back to you on this one.