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About


Systems: pc (xbox has the red rings of death)

Addictions: anime, coffee, staring at walls

Hobbies: learning how to code, draw comics, playing Go/Wei-Qi, making beer

Age: 23



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Rest assured, this is not another MOBAs suck or MOBAs are the future rant.

This does address, in a very balsamic way, a few things:

- the popular opinion that MOBAs share similarities to mind games like Chess or Go
- the popular opinion that MOBAs require the same mental prowess as mind games like Chess or Go (aka WeiQi; Baduk)

I'm already breaking my thesis by making these cross references, but it's necessary for balance and demystifying theories.

Let's start with profiles:

League of Legends


~ age: 4yrs
~ players: 5v5
~ real-time
~ gameplay influenced by 'shot-calling'
~ avg game length: 20-50 mins (same for professional scene)
~ 189 items to internalize
~ 119 champions to internalize (or about 600 spells/abilities)
~ 3,610,000 units of map internalization; relatively small map memorization
~ 105 masteries (/w ~30 popularized 21pt variations)
~ 98 runes (/w ~50 popularized 30 slot variations)
~ Praiseworthy mentions from Confucius? No.

Go



~ age: 2,500+ yrs
~ players: 1v1
~ avg game length: 20-90 mins
~ avg tournament game length: 1-6 hrs (rare cases; multiple days)
~ turn based
~ 19x19 grid
~ 'pure' gameplay (not influenced by teamplay )
~ Praiseworthy mentions from Confucius? Check: Gentlemen should not waste their time on trivial games - they should study go. --- Confucius, The Analects, ca. 500 B.C.E. via

Before I start making claims, please note I'm not discrediting League of Legends, Dota, or any other MOBA. I'm simply explaining that many articles are flawed by drawing comparisons between MOBAs and mind games. Each has respective traits/skills necessary to be a competitive/top player, but the main idea is you cannot extract viable/weighty similarities when comparing these particular games. The second you do your argument becomes flawed (in my opinion).

Let's start with age and theory development, also known as theory crafting:



League of Legends

Primary theory crafting involves:

- individual character builds (items, runes, masteries)
- individual character strategies (gameplay mechanics)
- matchup counters (lanes)
- team synergies (lanes, team-comps)
- objective prioritization (early, mid, and late game breakdowns)
- meta theory of micromanagement play 

Go



Primary theory crafting involves:
- fuseki / opening game
- middle game life, death, sacrifice
- yose / endgame
- influence & prediction 
- joseki / outcome
- tesjui / shape
- miai /equivalence 
- aji / potential
- kikashi / forcing moves
- thickness / power
- korigatachi /over concentration 
- sabaki / sidestepping 
- furikawari / exchange
- yosumiru / probe

Let's explore this a bit further with set path differences:



In LoL, by the 10 minute mark a high level player will know what build paths their opponents are set on. Generally, there can only be a few possible outcomes with 1 or 2 being very likely. Knowing these build paths are generally limited to internalizing the 50 ish possible sets. 

In Go, this is never the case. Common patterns arise in the most popular openings and the most common fights; however, every sequence has an unfathomable amount of variations. These variations can become more "predictable" when facing higher skilled players that won't make random moves for the sake of making random moves. But the number of possible game scenarios remains greater than the number of atoms in the universe. (ref: http://senseis.xmp.net/?NumberOfPossibleOutcomesOfAGame ) - actual number of legal positions is near 10^170.



It's impossible to have your opponents possible paths limited to a handful, let alone 50. A highly skilled Go player can play-out hundreds of potential scenarios when they need to in their minds. Every scenario comes with incremental differences in gains and losses. This type of calculation is not comparable, in any way, shape, or form to a MOBA. It's literally beyond prediction and intuition, which are "defeat-able" by raw calculating power and speed.

I acknowledge there are calculations in MOBAs and RTS's like SC, but they are one dimensional. For ex:

1D, LoL: base stats + items, my stats - enemy stats, time stamp + timer
2D, SC: calc1[resources per time + costs]calc2[real-time micromanaging + scouting]
3D+, Go: calc1[gain/loss for play]calc2[gain/loss options for 2nd tier of play]calc3[gain/loss options for 3rd tier of play] etc...

Ease of Access / Learning Curve Differences



Go comes with a history of over 2,500 years. That fact alone should debase most direct comparison attempts right off the bat, but for the sake of this piece, let's look at what this history exactly entails.

From the American Go Association: By 400-300 B.C., Chinese scholars such as Confucius were writing about wei-chi (a Chinese name for the game) to illustrate correct thinking about filial piety and human nature. By the 1600's it had become one of the "Four Accomplishments" (along with calligraphy, painting, and playing the lute) that must be mastered by the Chinese gentleman. This kind of sanctified thinking about the game has inspired people to play for millennia.

The impact of Go on the world - especially in Japan, China, and Korea, has been huge:

Hundreds of books... http://senseis.xmp.net/?GoBooks
100% Go-Schools; a complete life sacrifice/dedication to the game.
TV channels/networks similar to Golf in the U.S.
And for fun, here's two thousand years of select quotes: http://www.usgo.org/files/pdf/quotesfromhistory.pdf



Learning the very basics of Go takes about a week to fully grasp. After a few more weeks, an individual might be able to visualize how to win in the most basic scenarios and start defeating other beginners. However, they will eventually get to a point of realization. It's at this point they realize just how little they know - even though they can play the game and understand the the first tier of what's happening, their eyes and mental processors have yet to awaken.

In LoL/Dota, the primary roadblock to learning is fully internalizing the abilities, builds, and strategies for most heroes. The actual gameplay mechanics are more WYSWYG than go; you right click and you will attack, you hit 'Q' and an ability enables. These mechanics do not have a high ceiling and, as professional players have stated, simply take a lot of monotonous practice. 

Rankings & avg time commitment for improvement

LoL



5 subranks for each..
Bronze: complete beginner level (start)
Silver: improving, 1 month+
Gold: improving, 3 month+
Platinum: point of realization / make or break point, 6 month+
Diamond: top % skill, 1yr+
Challenger: pro, ceiling skill, 1yr+

Go



30kyu-10kyu: complete beginner level (start)
10kyu-3kyu: improving: 2 month+
3kyu-1dan: point of realization / make or break point, 4 month+
1dan-5dan: competitive and above average, 1yr+
5dan-9dan: top % skill, 3 yr+
1p+: pro, "ceiling" (technically, there is no ceiling) 5 yr+

Many professional LoL, Dota, and SC players have public bios stating how long it took them to get to a professional level. With luck/other factors aside, generally, we're looking at a 2-4 yr commitment. Anyone can acquire these games with ease and start practicing on their own; learning from tutorials, friends, sites, etc.



The best shot at becoming pro for a Go player is to apply to become an Insei where you essentially pause everything in your life (usually for people under 18yrs old) and dedicate 18 hard months to living and breathing Go in an academy, like this one:



Mind Game Differences

Before reading this section, I recommend keeping this quote from chess master Jeremy Silman in the back of your head:

"Much has been made of psychology in chess, but rarely have I seen anything about how one player can get inside his opponent's head and make him accept a false image of what's really happening on the chessboard. And, once you buy into your opponent's version of reality, defeat isn't far away. This course is all about making an opponent accept your 'orders', while also showing you how you can avoid the same fate by not falling for this kind of subliminal illusion. How often does this kind of thing occur? All the time!"



Similar to the difference in set paths, mind games in LoL generally fall into a less-than-ten scenario consideration; the primary being you can always be 'ganked'. Ploys are limited to baits involving gains and losses that range from 1-5 (in terms of hero kills) and/or 1-10 gold gains (in terms of objectives). Sacrifices and lures are often the general strategy. Responses must be made on a second-to-second basis. Players do not have enough time to calculate the actual/accurate cost and benefit - they must use intuition; quick estimations. As noted earlier, prediction is < than accurate calculation. It's a completely different mental process (which I'm not knocking!). It's surely not easy and this is the moment where many games are decided; tipping/breaking points; comebacks. It all happens so fast - the nature of shot calling is efficient decision making; both strategic and quick. The outcome of any game, whether it's football, chess, or LoL, is the ROI of calls and successful (or unsuccessful) plays. It's the nature and makeup of these plays that separates them from being easily compared. 



LoL-ish games also involve probability distributions. Information is imperfect

"Go is a non-chance, combinatorial game with perfect information. Informally that means there are no dice used (and decisions or moves create discrete outcome vectors rather than probability distributions); the underlying math is combinatorial; and all moves (via single vertex analysis) are visible to both players (unlike some card games where some information is hidden). Perfect information also implies sequence—players can theoretically know about all past moves." (via) Each player has the "option" of calculating single vertex playouts that spread into multiple dimensions of ROI. By opting out or not calculating deep enough a player can easily lose advantage. 

In Go, baits and ploys are exponentially greater and more complicated; such is the nature of turn-based games. Let's say you have 10 potential ploys on the board, each with 5 good ROI plays. That's 50 possible play-outs you can consider; 50 calculations; 50 predictions. Think about Silman's quote and how it relates to this scenario - that's 50 mindfucks and they're ever-present; these are 3-dimensional+ calculations. They'll plague the weak minded for much longer than a handful of seconds. 

In LoL there's luxury to be found it quickly decisive actions; we're not chained by sequential playout comparisons or taunted by silence while tracing potential futures.

After having fallen prey to outplays and ploys, LoL/Dota/SC have developed a reputation for rage quitting; while in Go, it is customary to restrain emotions and humbly resign...although sometimes this is easier said than done:



I'll digress for now with a quote from Zhang Yungi:

Success at go requires the tactic of the soldier, the exactness of the mathematician, the imagination of the artist, the inspiration of the poet, the calm of the philosopher, and the greatest intelligence.

On a completely different note, can someone help me?



y u do dis?







kenshin89
8:57 AM on 06.04.2014

This happened to me about 3 years ago.



It was a 2 AM, Saturday, and I was walking back to a crummy row home in the north philly slums. Coming back from a deadbeat party drained of both life and booze, I soberly and slowly shuffled without so much of a fragment of a thought. 

It was dark as shit, but scattered light posts offered temporary spaces of relief. I'd been living out here for two years now, but I don't think any amount of time could grant someone peace of mind at this hour, in this area. It's not that I was constantly worried; in fact, I assimilated faster than everyone I lived with.



Going back to move-in day, the local neighbors - I say local to differentiate from temporary, like myself, who were just students - came out to 'stoop it'. Yep, you literally sit on a stoop...usually with the companion of a brown bag or tightly wrapped paper. And then you just talk about any combination of girls, life problems, and girls...kind of like every country song ever. While moving in I dropped a small "container" of sorts, and an hour later I was stooping it. They didn't care about college or have any grand aspirations. One was 17 and had a baby. The other was 26 and as far as I know, was the guardian of the stoop. They said I was the first white kid to give them the light of day. They loved to smoke, play basketball, and catcall. It was also the summer, so I'd often make it a point to 'hit the stoop' a few times a week after work or go to the local courts - which were beelines of cracked pavement as if a child drew a picture on the ground with lightning. 

After a pretty solid and laid back summer, students trickled back in for the semester. Parties sprung up in clusters sometimes four or five times a week. Nights were filled with waves of kids stumbling from one row home to another; yelling, cursing, spilling, banging, and puking their way up and down streets. Having learned the hard way about how much alcohol one can handle, most nights for me would be relatively clear minded, which meant I was thinking more. I thought about the locals who grew up here and the students, like myself, who moved in and out as temporaries. I thought about the complete lack of education the school gave - and as far as I know, still fails to give - to students moving into new environments because they can't offer enough on-campus living. I talked to my neighbors about it - 'old heads' and 'young bucks' alike - often differentiating myself from other students. My friends were always either too skeptical or afraid to join me. I did this purposely; spending more time with locals. It wasn't out of guilt or pressure or anything. I just did it because no one else was doing it and that's all there was to it.  The inevitable conclusion at every discussion was a bleak gulp; acknowledging each other for the shared ground (or stoop) we spoke on, but trying to swallow the grim future I did not share. They were gradually being forced further back into the slums. Vultures, also known as slumlords, were buying up homes with their greedy fat fingers. The locals simply didn't have the community or support to fight back against the vultures, whose crappy offers would be just as crappy as their next home.

So we inhaled and made crooked smiles in sweet smelling haze.



Fast forward to that one night. It was 2 AM, Saturday, and I was walking back to a crummy row home in the north philly slums. 

I wasn't thinking that night. I hadn't touched alcohol or anything else in months, but I still couldn't form a single coherent thought. All I could do was walk. I think most of this drudging nature was a result of striking out with a girl. Yep, I had definitely blown it and was walking the walk of shame. 

I looked up and was only a block away from home. Nearing the corner of my street I saw two figures arguing. One was clearly a student; white, polo shirt, fancy jeans. The other was covered in baggy clothes, the wall behind him casting a shadow that perfectly shrouded his identity. They were only a foot apart from each other and the student was drunkenly blabbering about 'getting his money back for a shitty bag'.  It was none of my business so I turned the corner and kept walking, numbly, to my home.

Then I heard a SMACK. Not the kind of smack a hand makes swiping someones face, but the kind of smack that has a metallic tone. It's the kind of smack that jutted me out of the daze - only briefly - to turn around. No one was there.

I started making my way back to the corner, pausing only briefly to reflect on just what the hell I was doing. When I got to the corner I froze. 

A few yards down the shadowy figure stood over the student, laying a mirage of blows to his head which slammed against the curb, raising a few inches in a bloody mess only to be beaten back into the curb. It was like watching a paddle ball, except every time the ball hit the paddle blood came out.

The numbness was back and none of this seemed real. Inching towards the scene the shadowy figure looked up at me. Instead of laying another blow into the kids' crimson face, he turns to me and reaches for something in his back pocket.

A moment passes and we're just staring each other down. I'm emotionless and he's frenzied. I realize both of my hands are raising to make the universal "don't shoot" motion. Then I hear myself say something along the lines of "he's had enough, cops will be here soon." The bloodlust in his eyes noticeably weakens and he reaches into the kids' pocket, pulling out his wallet and phone. He looks around with a sharp gaze that cuts right through me as if I was nothing more than air. A few seconds later and he's darting the opposite way down the street. A few more seconds and he's gone.

Still numb, I call the cops, telling them in the simplest way "this kid just got jumped, I'm gonna take him in, here's my address". Somehow he was still coherent as I lifted him up. Slung over my shoulder with blood splattered everywhere we made it inside, got him washed up and in the hands of more capable people.

The next day I was still numb. I told the whole story to my friends on the stoop. "Shit" was their only response, and as if the smoke was some kind of life-cleanser, the events washed away. Except I wasn't smoking and it didn't wash away.

As temporaries, we had to find a new place in the slums to live for the following year. It was the same story. New faces, same stoops. I kept thinking about that numbness and it kept manifesting. When you know what to look for you see it more often. I saw the numbness on the subways, in class, in eyes, at work, and in myself. I thought it was something that needed to end; being stationary, being numb. Then I thought about fate and how it's linked to numbness and activity. 



If you're numb, is fate natural? If you're active, are you changing fate? 

Is the fate of being numb "better" than causing change? Would fate have been "better" if I snapped out of numbness and fought? Is there no middle ground in "flee or fight?"

I still don't know the answer, but I decided learning how to control numbness and activity quickly is important. It just is. And it will surprise you. In public most people are numb. You can say hi and make conversation with strangers, help random people struggling to carry something or parallel park. And it will surprise them - maybe even snap them out of the monotony of their motions. I don't do it all the time, but I do it often enough just for the sake of doing it. When that numbness creeps back that's when I do it. It's okay to be numb, I think it's natural. But I like to think we should have a balance between the passenger and driver seats of our lives. 

Oh fuck, this was supposed to be about games.







kenshin89
10:55 AM on 06.02.2014

I mean, it's your time, you can do whatever you want. But if I was you, I would play some Go...wait, if I was you could I still interact with myself or would my original body be a ragdoll?



Go (Japanese, common American reference), also known as Wei-Qi (Chinese) and Baduk (Korean), is a turn-based strategy board game dating back over 2,500 years to the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC). 




Today, the game fosters over 40 million players worldwide (primarily in Japan, China, Korea, and scattered parts of Europe and Russia), has sprouted dedicated TV channels (similar to our explosive, hyperactive, super-engaging, Golf channels...) and even inspiring a wildly popular manga/anime (Hikaru no Go).




The game itself is often described as a mix of the turn-based, predictive 'playouts' of chess, the progressive territorial domination elements of risk, and the deadpan reads & stares of poker champions. To the unexposed, Go simply looks like a grid with black and white stones making strange shapes. However, in the players' mind, every single move is a territorial calculation; a risk assessment; a ploy that later turns into value. Imagine a banner stand in the middle of a battlefield. It grabs your attention as a beacon and signals a number of things to you - maybe you view it is a territorial claim; the point at which you will be punished for trespassing. Maybe you view it as a decoy, nothing more than a basic strategic ploy for which you will not succumb to. This is one of the elements that makes Go such a literal brain blend.


It's a game of ulterior motives, mental manipulation, over-thinking, under-thinking, and not thinking at all. 


Over time, your play becomes fluid. But time is a double-edged blade. As you practice and memorize patterns, you start to see just how minuscule your understanding really is. At first you were blind to just how deep the fathoms of comprehension really are. You thought you were becoming a captain, navigating a watery battlefield, when in reality you were nothing more than a swashbuckling lowly, swabbing the decks. 




Just as we "master" trades and skills like computer programming, graphic design, or even forging swords, Go measures our progress in levels.


Counting down from about 30kyu, as we defeat players of higher skill our rank increases (the number declines). As we get closer to 1kyu, it becomes increasingly difficult to rank up. I'm a casual Go player but I've been on and off for about 3 years, and KGS (one of the common online servers) has me ranked at 6kyu. I knew that to get any better I'd have to put effort into practicing; something I never really had the time to do.


After 1kyu, your rank ascends to 1dan, climbing up to 9dan. Getting to the higher dans is the general breaking point for competitve players who want to become professional. After 9dan, the ranks climb from 1p to 9p, with 9p being the ceiling rank. 




The professional Go scene is exclusively awesome. Unlike Football, where anyone can comprehend skill and feats, Go has an educational gap required to simply understand just how ridiculously impressive certain moves are. What seems like a stone being placed on a board, actually represents someone traveling into dozens of possible futures and bending the space time continuum to their will. 


This all may seem overwhelming, so here are a few reasons you should play Go!


[ol]
[li]It's easy to learn the basics[/li]
[li]It stimulates your brain, opens up your inner chakras/spiritual gateways/something something superhuman powers[/li]
[li]It helps with memorization and tactical thinking[/li]
[li]If you're female, it's a hotbed of braininess, heavy breathing, and bad posture...so if you're into that stuff...[/li]
[li]If you're male....it's umm...[/li]
[li]YOU SHOULD PLAY GO![/li]
[/ol]










I apologize for any broken sentences; a few paragraphs "vanished"...I think this editor could use an overhaul...

I recently finished watching Valve's "Free To Play" documentary following 3 players in the 2011 Dota 2 International Tournament:



The film effectively captures the personal struggles of each player, coming from rough backgrounds and essentially sacrificing safer career paths for a shot at professional gaming. 

One of the nuances I really enjoyed was the visualization of emotions and mindsets. Their choice to go down the professional gaming path had noticeably sucked important social experiences from each player, and this was effectively captured in subtle moments of reflection with the videographer. I took a handful of screenshots during some of these moments:







The context around these images reflects their respective struggles, but also raises a higher level discussion; is it worth it? For example, Singaporean Benedict "HyHy" Lim Han Yong has his affinity for Dota dismissed by his parents, who want him to align with a more academic career path. In fact, all the parents in this documentary acknowledge their children as smart and passionate. We only know so much about their personal lives, but the answers and words they individually choose when asked about their lives allows honesty to seep through - whether they were conscious of it or not.

The scale of motivation for each player is undeniably great. Ukrainian Danil "Dendi" Ishutin may use Dota as stress ball for coping with the unexpected death of his father due to cancer. American Clinton "Fear" Loomis, solely raised by his mother, shares similar financial struggles and consistently shows subtle notes of fatigue, scrambled thoughts, and wavering on life choices.

But each player is in a rare situation:

Player realizes they are of high caliber. Player must decide between a socially accepted path and a new, exciting, but risk-filled path.

Does being in this rare situation require one to dismiss all other possibilities simply because of how monumental the potential could be? Does potential override practicality? 

My honest feelings about these particular players are probably not up with popular opinion. I can't feel true sympathy for Benedict, Danil, or Clinton - whose team comes away with only $25,000 split between 5. That's hardly enough to justify his time investment, but it's almost gratifying in a way; a lesson in gambling. The parallels with gambling are, well, too parallel. If you want to support your mother and you want to improve your financial situation, there are so many other routes he could've taken to significantly improve his life. I know too many people that have experienced sacrifices and struggles of equal or greater nature (I guess struggles are subjective) and chose to work their asses off learning technical trades that directly and immediately impact their situation and the lives around them...instead of gambling years away. I think overall I just found myself saying "Well, what did you expect?!" over and over. It's an addiction. Looking at the sheer variety of addictions being treated in our rehab centers it's almost surprising we don't find technology or games listed.

Nevertheless, I still think the videographer did an excellent job capturing true emotions - regardless of how I feel about the context surrounding them. 

There are smarter, calculated ways to turn gaming into a legitimate career. Using the influence accumulated from being on the professional scene, players transfer their skills and knowledge into monetized formats through streaming, exclusive teaching, writing, sponsors, public reviews, and more. These are still high risk ventures, but they're definitely more viable than purely banking on tournaments.

I'm not against eSports - it's the opposite. I'm upset at how limited a life one must lead to take their career seriously. I just think it's going through a lot of growing pains and I'm baffled at how the industry disregards very important initiatives, such as education. This whole discussion, of course, revolves around money.  

So what would you change? 

Should there be more tournaments with more profitable rewards for a larger number of teams? Should there be more "official" education on the sacrifice required to participate in eSports professionally? I'm not talking about a Surgeon General type of thing, but maybe there should be more risk education publicized by the actual game and tournament creators. 

Should players simply know the risk? Do 14-21 yr olds really have the worldly outlook to understand how a failed professional gaming career could set their lives back 5+ years?







kenshin89
11:42 AM on 05.20.2014

Heyo, this is my second blog post. I was very surprised by how active the community is here! My first post can be found here.

During my Halo 2 addiction nearly a decade ago, I was an avid Kingdom of Loathing (KOL) player. This was back when ascensions were first introduced - basically, the ability to restart your level grind and earn some type of prestige (I forget what you received, I think it was just a label and an item but there was probably more to it).

KOL was - and I'm guessing still is - primarily awesome for having such an active chat room and dedicated DJ channel. I forget who used to DJ back then, but I remember hearing this song on a daily basis:



In KOL, you can create a virtual store and play the whole marketplace game, undercutting competitors by handfuls of meat (meat is the currency). Sometimes, people would post in chat "10 MEAT SALE IN 1 MINUTE" which was the minium price you could set for items. Every player had at least a few hundred meat, so this sale was basically a super giveaway. Hundreds of players would spam the refresh button on the store pages, desperately hoping to have their browser render first and snag the most expensive item for a mere 10 meat. One item, a "Mr. Accessory", would sometimes appear in these 10 meat sales. They could be purchased for millions of meat or by donating five or ten bucks to the founder of KOL, Jick.  I'm not sure when or how this 10 meat sale phenomena began, but I was addicted. The most attractive part of it was at the end of the sale. The chatroom was flooded with "Thank you [name of player who hosted the 10 meat sale]. You're awesome! I want to have your babies! etc..." Even DJ's would announce the 10 meat sales when they contained rare items like Mr.Accessories. 

But my primary objective, as absurd and childish as it seems, was I wanted the chatroom and DJs to say "Thanks POOP!" "I love you POOP!"

Did I mention my username was POOP?

My username was POOP.

So I donated twenty bucks to the all mighty Jick, learned how to undercut and play the "hell ramen" market (basically crafting for cheap, selling for x2,x3 profits, etc.) I think I joined a guild at one point too. Anyway, I remember kicking things off with one of the biggest 10 meat sales KOL had ever seen, making sure to have enough rare and high quality items like fuzz (fizz?) bumps, hell ramen, and more that everyone who hit refresh would have a chance to grab something of value. 

For about 6 months this continued, with each 10 meat sale topping the one before it. The DJs would say my name, the chatroom was a sea of "POOOOOOOP!!!" Other players actually started donating items to these 10 meat sales. In return, I would honor their donations in the meat sale chatroom posts, such as "[player] just donated 25 hell ramen to the upcoming 10 meat sale!" which was a chain reaction for more praise. 

I was drunk on gratitude and may have gone a bit overboard when I paid to have a custom avatar made - a .gif that Jick or one of his friends makes to best meet your request. My request was when I flexed my biceps read "sale" and a mirage of items would appear around me.

While writing this I tried to look up my character and found out the KOL coldfront site has a list of every custom avatar. Here's my proof of poop: 



Going through some of these custom avatars was awesome. I remember a lot of the early players, especially those with a lot going on in their .gifs. I recall the animation for one in particular being a contributor to new items; a super fan creating coming up with in-game content ideas. I'm bummed I can't remember the name, but I do remember he was Amish and his family business is still in operation. They make furniture and other woodworking products, which gave him a cool perspective on transforming regular household items into in-game usables. His family's business makes cool stuff like custom gun cabinets, so you can assume how that translates into KOL; a ruffian closet ambushes you! Armed with muskets, the closet grins wide, casting the light from its golden grill directly onto your forehead.

One part of the 10 meat sale that I should mention was the ability to donate. This is a subtlety that often went overlooked to most players.

By setting 'meat paste' (worth next to nothing) to a price of 5,000 meat, anyone who enjoyed the 10 meat sale could easily donate by buying what they saw fit. Nearly every time I hosted a 10 meat sale, a wealthy player would acknowledge this event as some manifestation of "a good thing" and buy up - or buy out - all the meat paste. Strategically, the amount of meat paste and the cost of the meat paste would be around double what the entire sale cost me. Even though I may have spent 2-5 million meat on the sale, someone  - or a collective - would end up buying enough meat paste that I came away with 7-10 million meat. This helped me continue making the sales bigger and cement my presence as POOP's awesome 10 meat sales

When I said "hi" in chat there would always be a group people who recognized the name.

Reflecting on this now, I realized I missed an interesting opportunity to learn about influence. This was basic money/value = influence, but I was way too naive to leverage the influence, let alone actually reflect on it. Also, I'm not really sure much could have been "leveraged" in KOL, but you get the point!

I think World of Warcraft came out around the same time ascensions and other things were added, which is the same reason I stopped playing Halo 2. Nevertheless, it was an odd but gratifying social experience. If anything, I hope you come away from this with a fun fact: The reign of POOP was real, and it was awesome.
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This is my first blog post, I hope I'm doing this right...

When Halo 2 came out I became instantly addicted to online multiplayer like many of my friends. I remember Bungie or some third-party site ranked players state by state, with a top 100 for each state. After dedicating countless nights to memorizing maps, perfecting the notorious "noob combo", energy sword hacks, and fine tuning no-scopes, my clever teenage gamertag "IMAKILLYOU69" climbed it's way into the top 10 for my state. Of course, no one really cared. Well, no one I physically hung out with.

There was a gamer I befriended after being impressed by his skills (he was in a top 10 for a different state) and his dry sense of humor. I forget his name, this was 10 years ago, but let's call him Skippy.

Skippy and I had mastered what 99% of Halo 2 players neglected. Every subtlety, as I remember, from memorizing spawn points in relationship to death points, getting the perfect vantage spots for sniping, and even knowing exactly what corner your enemy would turn because of how predictable some of the maps are.

We were either too young or too oblivious or a combination of both to get into the tournament scene, but we'd routinely match up with 2 others against some full team pre-made and mop them off the floor. One night in particular we got stuck with lvl 50 modders (basically, players who couldn't get to 50 themselves so they either mod or find a way to make sure they're the host of the game, then they reset their router to lag out the game for everyone else while they pick off your stagnant bodies). They had done a poor job of breaking the connectivity so we were still able to play - but we had extreme lag. By some insane stroke of luck, in a 2v4, we managed to pull ahead to 50 kills firing the most arbitrary shots. It was a glorious feeling - justice porn at its finest, at least for a Halo 2 addict. 

Then, World of Warcraft came out. Embedded in fighting and fps, I was not the target demographic - unfortunately, most of my friends were. As the new Halo 2 map packs dissuaded players and Halo 3 leaks surfaced, the community rapidly dwindled. After 3 released it was pretty rare to find a match, let alone one that was challenging. 

My friends were all hooked on WoW and no matter how much smack I gave them for playing an MMO, the "movement" eventually got me. 

And you can guess what came next...a 4 year WoW addiction. And I mean a serious addiction - I'm sure this sounds familiar - ignoring homework, sports, and hangouts to grind, farm, and raid. Making up reasons for why you can't go to "that one party everyone's at" so you can sit in Vent for hours listening to a guild officer go over patch notes and suggestions for whatever patch was coming out. Or maybe you just wanted to grief opposing factions for hours. Hell, once arenas was introduced that perma-locked me. I wish I flat out sucked at pvp so I could've just given up on the game. But we were pretty decent, getting gladiator the first 3 seasons and almost making it into the tourney.  

--- Side rant: did you know there are legitimate recovery centers for video game addicts? It's called "reSTART" and applies to the general "net addiction". Really?! I get the video game addiction. That makes sense. But one of their slogans reads "Social Media: Update less, connect more" - that's an addiction I'll never understand. Sure, people love taking their selfies, "checking in" whenever they go to a bathroom, and adding filters to everything they see, touch, and eat - but it can't be nearly as serious as a video game addict....can it? (Ironically, they have 8 social media sharing buttons next to this slogan; talk about adding fuel to the fire.) I looked up the myths and facts from a more established recovery center to compare the ideas of addiction. Some of the stuff from reSTARTs internet addiction page was way over my head, like this line from one of their research papers:


"We investigated the morphology of the brain in adolescents with IAD (N = 18) using an optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) technique, and studied the white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) changes using the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) method, linking these brain structural measures to the duration of IAD.[font=Open Sans] "[/font]



Mmm...voxel-based morphometry...because the 16-yr old addict who reads this is going to think "aha! that's exactly what I've been experiencing..."

On the same page reads something a little more digestible:


"Resarch scientists discovered a correlation between parts of the brain related to social perception and a person's number of Facebook friends."



Isn't that just plain old common sense? Holy crap people actually think number of friends, karma, and other social metrics impact how they're perceived? ...

(And yes, they misspelled "research")

The point I'm actually trying to make is this site is poorly executed. Their "internet addiction" page is literally just a collage of research findings that make either overly obvious conclusions or illegible conclusions. There's nothing about their treatment process or how they actually differentiate true addiction from false addiction. Some other links/pages on the site are slightly better fitting, but seem like someone copy pasta'd a wikipedia article. Their signs and symptoms page is just a 10 bullet list of things like "changes in sleep patterns" or "depression". Really? I don't even think there's much use looking for their ideas of addiction because if I somehow managed to find something coherent it would just read "net addiction is when you're addicted to the net." 

--- end side rant.

Reflecting on all the games I've played over the years, I still think Halo 2 matchmaking had the greatest OM experience - better than Quake, UT, and COD. I should have never stopped playing Halo 2, maybe it's time to spark up that nostalgia. 

Thanks for reading!