Games

These are two categories of bad experiences at the hands of makers. They exist in the digital world and in the meat world. They don’t normally overlap because there is a steep gradient of competence between them. Idiots screw things up by accident and assholes screw them up on purpose.

Idiot design in digital form might lead to failed interactivity on a website through a navigation bar where the background and the links are the same color. Idiot design in the walk-around world can be seen in the work of a bad carpenter who installs a door so it cannot be opened without banging into the toilet and forcing you to squeeze around it to enter. These are the idiots, confidently creating a world of uneven stairs, non-functioning appliances, and unreadable documents. I have a few humble examples.

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Asshole designers don’t make these mistakes, at least not by accident. They are slick by trade and their competence is what makes it possible for them to fuck around with us. Individually they might be decent people though I rather doubt it. The force driving asshole design is, of course, money, but the rationale for asshole design is of course, also money. Asshole designers can accurately time and place a button you do not want to tap on your phone exactly where and when you next tap. Asshole design places awkward, unskippable and immobilizing video ads in your way you until they choose to release you. These two examples remind me of high school jerks, the first sliding your lunch under your butt as you sit down to eat, the second like a big jock stopping you in the hallway, and blocking your advance until the entertainment value is used up. Asshole designers are not only on the web, you can see their work in any urban setting where low ledges are spiked to prevent sitting and park benches are bisected with metal to prevent sleep. Our most common encounter with asshole design is in product packaging designed to lie. These assholes fool consumers in a way so premeditated and calculating that it is an obvious con. The classic gimmick is pretending that there is more product included than there really is. The amount of planning evident in such packaging removes any doubt of intent.

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Dishonorable Mention 

There are two final messed up design varieties. They nearly overlap, but they exist for totally different reasons.

TDPMTT Design or They Don’t Pay Me To Think.
It’s close to idiot design in effect but lacks the sincerity and incompetence. It requires a hierarchy and several players. You see it wherever a really bad idea has been completed competently but with utter indifference to how pointless and stupid it is. This category is a mix of absurdist art and the passive aggressive person who follows your instructions literally in order to annoy you. It begins with a bad set of work orders that contain an undetected error sent from somewhere higher up the org chart. In step 2  a slack-jawed human-robot stares into the void of those stupid plans and sets to work. The result is that exterior door on the third floor of the building or the staircase with no outlet. Eventually, a foreman inspects the work and yells “What the hell (fuck) is this? ” The robot worker acknowledges the idiocy with a  shrug “Hey, I just do what they tell me. They don’t pay me to think.” The ritual is finished when the foreman decides it’s too much trouble to change the thing. Dreamed up by Negligence, Made real by Indifference, and Confirmed by Apathy, The work is done.

Perfectly adapted to life in Shitsville
In the last category, it is the state of the art itself that is wrong and not the designer. Here the foundation is that the world has collapsed in disorder (metaphorically speaking) into an Ayn Randian hellscape. Good design must embrace terrible design, becoming one with it. My example is website design for phones. This isn’t about the design being ugly or incompetent. It is about user experience, which the designers fully expect to be hellish. The designers are working to uphold the standard of making the shitty experience of our visitors no shitier than every other shitty experience they have while browsing on the phone.  At best, websites smooshed to phone size are harder to navigate, partly as a size issue of teeny buttons and fat fingers and partly because the navigation itself has adapted in confusing and frustrating ways. There is no room for the understandable navigation that appears in the full-size version. Its navigation or content and content wins. Sort of. Moments after you arrive, creatures of the void sense your presence and crawl, wiggle and hop in your direction.  All seems quiet and peaceful, the content lies open before you, accessible. Then it all seems to happen at once, the screen fills with sales and personal data parasites. Little ad hoodlums, “Where do you think you’re going now?”,”Oh, he’s here to read an article, isn’t that nice… well you’ve got business with us first, Sunny Jim”. Phone websites that are set up this way, which is to say, all of them, are like shopkeepers with clean, wholesome wares who maintain out front a gang of nosy, handsy jerks with no respect for personal space or the end of a conversation. This is baseline UX on the phone web: swatting flies, agreeing to vague things and waiting for stuff to happen. This is like being stopped 7 times while walking down your hallway to do small favors for strangers. Unavoidably Irksome is the principle expectation in Shitsville. The designers down here are competent but the phone web reality itself is an idiot, asshole design.

 

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Each class has 6 Abilities with a cool down and recharge period or limited uses.

Most credit here goes to Isaac Miller, I made some visuals to showcase his writing.
There are 3 basic abilities, 2 higher level abilities that can be used up to 10 times per game, and an Ultimate ability that can be used twice a game with a five minute cool down period between uses. There is a 1.5 minute warm up before first use.

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This post is about violent video games. Well, one violent video game in particular and why Moms need to stretch their imaginations a bit on the subject.

Like it or not there seems to be a difficulty/danger/fighting itch that (many to most ) guys need to scratch from time to time. Every man I know understands this and knows it comforts and strengthens boys. The mothers I know TO A PERSON, do not. They aren’t being mean, they just really don’t get it. Boys have a natural mission: To protect and defend, To hunt with the hunters, and to stand up to individuals who pose a threat.  Mothers who hate this model of masculinity aren’t wrong to want a better world than this for their children, but they should know that they are treating their boys they way we treat neutered pets. As if perfect safety were an option for them,  as if we get to choose whether they will ever face danger. We do not. Boys know at a DNA level that they may face danger and hostility and that they will face challenges where their response might determine the success or failure of the most important endeavors of their lives. Depriving a boy of the way he learns to feel strong is not kindness, it is closer to shame projected onto another person.

Play is how young mammals get strong in the ways they NEED to get strong. To deprive an animal of the play it needs to grow up is not showing concern for its well being. If anything it is like the mothers and fathers who punished children for touching themselves or being curious about sex. Was that a good approach? Did that make children grow up stronger and happier? This may not look like healthy play to you but what does the play of wolves, bears or tigers look like? It’s all about being ready, and feeling ready to deal with with what is coming for you. The odds are most men won’t feel ready anyway no matter they do, but taking away the developmental step of preparing for violence and conflict (in a peaceful healthy situation) is like outlawing fire drills because they bring up scary thoughts.
There is so much you need to actively do to help your son be a good man. Share your values deeply and articulately but don’t shut down the boy wisdom given to him by all his ancestors. Masculinity has to feel strong in order to feel safe and it needs to feel safe in order to be gentle…and that’s a tall order…it’s not easy to feel strong. If you come between him at that..what have you done?

 Why Team Fortress 2 is unusual and good 

My son is 14 and LOVES Team Fortress 2. I play it with him as often as I can.

 The multiplayer genre of guys running around a 3d map shooting each other is as common as dirt with loads of examples, Call of duty, Battlefield, Halo, and LOADS more. They tend to be extremely predictable.
Team Fortress 2 came out in 2007. Think about that for a minute. This is basically a TEN year old game and it has a thriving, (if whiny) community. This is unique in video gaming and the nearest thing to it in this context is probably Minecraft which went alpha in 2009 and grew by word of mouth from there.
The things that make TF2 so different from the other games are also very different from each other. 
1. High speed violent complicated story problem
There is a win or lose objective and winning requires bravery and luck but mostly strategy, practice, good choices, good timing and working with others. The strategy side of this is deep
and complex: Class plus loadout, plus team plus map. There are not very many maps and this is because each one is a chaotic chessboard a mile long and if you do not know the map you WILL lose.

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