World of Warcraft has managed to become even more addictive

It’s hardly news that games such as World of Warcraft are addictive time-killers by nature. There’s an endless series of stuff you can do to “achieve” things. You can get better gear that makes your character more powerful in the game, or a new kind of dragon to ride and look cool, and a lot of other things and new versions of these same things over and over again. And for all this, you keep doing often rather repetitive stuff for hours and hours. At some point, they also added daily stuff to this which can’t be done all at once but where you can return every day to work a limited amount towards the same goal. And people actually play so much that eventually they’ll run out of stuff to do and then complain that there isn’t more for them to do when they’re already used to wasting hours of time in the game. I personally have quit playing the whole game for long periods more than once after having made a cost–benefit analysis against the time (and money) spent on it. Right now, I’m trying to just do the essentials — since it is a good game within limits — and then stop playing until the next big update.

My character standing in front of the command table in his garrison, being all important and stuff.

My character (centre) at the command table in his garrison, being all important and stuff.

Well, with the new expansion Warlords of Draenor, they’ve figured out a new way to keep people hooked, so that I’ve kept returning to check in on the game even at times when I have known I can’t spend a lot of time there. This new addition to addictiveness is based around the new feature of garrisons. Continue reading


Three wishes for free will (story)

There was once a man who had caught philosophical anxiety. He worried whether life had meaning and what it all meant. Most of all, he worried whether humans had free will. If science said that everything was determined by physics – not that he understood science much – then how could we make our own choices? If there was only one way how things could happen, how could one choose?

He was haunted by this. Often it felt as if there was real choice, but often it felt as if there was a cause he could not change to his actions. He felt like a puppet at times.

So when the man freed a genie from a bottle and was granted three wishes, and was told they could be anything, this was what he thought of.

Continue reading

Wouldn’t it be scary if everyone was unique?

“Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?”

That idea has been used as a defence of diversity and the right to be different. I suppose it’s okay as such. What I want to comment on — briefly — is a different use.

This is another place for the “I don’t know how common this is but I’ve heard it said” disclaimer. So, yes, that. This other way I’ve heard this idea used sometimes is about things like how men and women are “different”. Two (or more) groups are different, and it’s good because it would be boring if everyone was the same.

It’s just that you’re not talking about diversity when you say that. What you’re defending is a generalisation. Two groups can only be different if people within one group are somehow the same — not different from each other. If everyone was different, you couldn’t say it’s two groups of people specifically that are different. So basically you’re saying that every person being the same would be boring but just two different homogenous groups is the right amount of diversity. (Well, it’s just enough for Othering.)

There are all kinds of complications such as about legitimate generalisations and the fact that this kind of use of the “wouldn’t it be boring?” at first sight should include using it to defend cultural diversity (which I’m not talking about here) since that also involves groups. I’m not going into all that here.

Here, I want to make just one point: Sometimes when people talk about differences, they’re really talking about people being the same. If you’re defending the notion that there are two or more groups that are different from each other and therefore internally somehow alike, you’re not defending the idea that people are different — those who disagree with you will mostly be saying that people are more different than you are saying. Having just two or a few groups isn’t un-boring, it’s a false security. Having to take everyone individually, now that’s an interesting challenge. Thinking of two groups is just hiding from that.

Some difficulties in thinking about time

Time is a concept that pervades our thinking so much that it confuses even our thinking about time. Here are just a couple of examples.

The first is a thing from science fiction, or at least Calvin and Hobbes. This is where time travel takes time. It seems natural: you go in the time machine, then the time machine travels in time, and that takes some time. As in you spend some time travelling in time. You sit in the time machine for half a minute, say.

Now, how does that make sense? There’s time that’s outside of time? Continue reading