Post Facto

Traffic here spiked dramatically what with the BoingBoing link. It was nice to welcome visitors, and perhaps some of them will stick around for side orders of ruminations about hermeneutics, technology, semiotics, theology, and family observations. Some visitors seem to have been unimpressed, and that’s their prerogative, of course.
When I dashed the Chess/MMOG entry off (before my 9 AM class on Tuesday), I thought of it as a way of naming some of my frustrations with the evolution of World of Warcraft. I have, for a long while, winced at the way that x-pacs lean on gear inflation as a lure to keep players aboard. Once you start down that road, you have to make mobs and bosses more powerful to keep them challenging — but after two or three rounds of expansion, the differential between the bosses of the earlier worlds and the bosses in the up-to-date world renders the former “world-threatening” bosses into snarling puppy-dogs whom a moderately competent couple of players can whip handily.
The harder (but sounder, as far as I’m concerned) way forward would involve making the bosses slightly more intelligent, slightly less predictable, so that players have to respond to changing circumstances during fights. Instead, Blizzard’s strategy tended to favor increasingly precise execution of set strategies, “gear checks” more than skill checks, and so on. Now, some folks thrive on that regimen, and Elune bless ’em. I am not claiming that I am the determinant of what should be. But I gradually lost interest as the raiding progression depended more on precision and on the anticipation of what you knew was going to happen at set intervals; I’ll say right out loud that I’m not as good at that kind of game (I don’t know whether I am, but it’s not as appealing, so I suppose we aren’t going to find out).
Likewise, I know plenty about chess variations. Once upon a time, I was a decent lower-middle chess player, and I’m well acquainted with varieties of fairy chess, Fischer’s proposals, and so on.
Perhaps if I had expressed myself more carefully, I wouldn’t have elicited quite so many responses from Warcraft defenders, chess defenders, chess innovators, WoW detractors, and various other dissatisfied constituencies. On the other hand, I wasn’t so much trying to show off my capacity as a humourist (I don’t think anything I’ve written in years has equalled this post from 2004) or to derogate WoW or chess as I was spinning off a bunch of ideas that occurred to me as I was walking to work, thinking about why I was no longer playing WoW and was so looking forward to Glitch! But it’s a useful reminder that you can’t control interpretation, and that if you post something that you just slapped together, other folks may run with it in ways you don’t anticipate, and that’s both predictable and quite justified. And a handful of my friends, who heard me more based on what they know of me beside that entry, were amused, which was all I figured would be the point anyway. That’s OK by me.
Oh, and I didn’t write the “polyamory” bit yet, did I? Things are a bit busy here, with Margaret in town, and a heap of pedagogical and scholarly obligations before me, but I haven’t forgotten.

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