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Sopranos Whining

2007-06-11 17:38:50.678137+00 by Dan Lyke 12 comments

Okay, all you Sopranos whiners: Recently I was talking with Chris Rasch, the topic of video games came up, and he summed up his disinterest with words pretty close to "...I decided to level up in real life". Which is roughly the same conclusion I'd come to, just expressed nice and succinctly.

Since the weblog universe is ablaze with discussion of last night's finalé to HBO's TV show The Sopranos, I'd like to suggest to some of you so deeply wrapped up in the handwringing about what it all means and bla bla bla bla bla, can I just suggest that y'all turn off the mesmerizing little box, go out side, and introduce yourself to your neighbors? Say "hi" to someone on the street? Get in a conversation with a real live human being? Make a connection that, perhaps, matters, rather than vesting so much in a one-sided relationship with a dysfunctional fictional character?

Thank you.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-11 19:54:42.076706+00 by: meuon

While I have recently obsessed on Star Trek Enterprise via MythTV.. (so I'm a little bit of a hypocrite) but I still feel the urge to say:

Life begins when you kill your TV set.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-11 21:58:42.160414+00 by: mvandewettering

The strange thing is that many of those whining about The Sopranos are those who make fun of those who obsess about Star Trek. It is amazing how our virtues turn to vices when applied to others.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-11 22:24:44.665876+00 by: Diane Reese

Gee, that seems pretty harsh, Dan. I don't normally watch "The Sopranos" but I tuned in last night for cultural literacy purposes (plus I grew up in NJ, so it was almost a requirement ;-). I thought it was a perfect way to end the series, and was worth a number of minutes of thoughtful discussion on the larger topics it touched on. And then I let it go. No need to presume I don't know my neighbors, don't speak often with actual humans, or have no other life.

For what it's worth, I usually watch only one TV show regularly, if that. (Right now it's "House" with an occasional "Numb3rs" episode thrown in.) My previous must-watch show was "Six Feet Under". I don't think I missed an episode for the last four seasons it was on (missed a few the first season). After the last episode, I was in tears. It was a very moving event, brilliantly conceived and executed, and I spoke about it for several days with others who were similarly moved. People write here about their reactions to movies, good and bad. I seldom see movies anymore, but if a TV show is as well done and as thoughtful as some of the above, it's not shameful to want to discuss what it's meant to you with someone else. At least I don't think so.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 00:18:28.443958+00 by: Dan Lyke

From what I've heard of the ending, I actually think it was perfect. And I have been known to follow a storyline or two (ie: Firefly).

It just seems like the "David Chase ruined my life" crowd is in high dudgeon today.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 00:36:40.448373+00 by: crasch

Just wanted to clarify that my comment was not meant as a slam against gamers. I love games. Too much, in fact--my game playing cut into my ability to achieve other life goals, "...to level up in real life." To avoid playing too much, it was easier for me to not play games at all, rather than moderate my consumption.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 11:03:36.68797+00 by: meuon [edit history]

"it was easier for me to not play games at all, rather than moderate my consumption." - Sums up a lot of things for me, including games.

Like watching "Enterprise". I never watched it live, didn't want to get locked in to a schedule, process, meme.. But SciFi channel started rebroadcasting it in large chunks, which I didn't want to watch either. But MythTV made it easy to watch it in my size chunks, sped up (they talk slow) about 1.3-1.5 normal, skipping ads I'd seen before. (I like good ads, want to see them once, maybe twice). It was fun and often funny to see how things were shown as being discovered in that fictional future history. It was a decent way to moderate my potential addiction.

The Wii is good at that. Games that play well for.. 15 minutes to an hour. Once a month or once a week. Not 4+ hour sessions every night (Like Doom/DoomII/Quake did to me..)

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 12:53:45.89614+00 by: ebradway

Somewhere in the deeper recesses of my mind is an essay on why modern video games are human-traps.

There was an episode of Star Trek: Next Gen where one of the characters brings a game back from vacation. The game is very addictive and soon everyone on the ship is playing it constantly except for two characters (the android and a young space cadet). In the end, it turns out that the game is actually a hypnotic virus and some bad guys show up to take over the ship. Of course the young space cadet and the android manage to save the space ship from the invading aliens. (Star Trek is very cheesy if you drop the romance of the characters).

Modern games are designed to be very, very compelling which is a buzzword for "addictive". The game industry passed the movie industry in revenue and profit years ago. A movie is designed to hold your interest for about two hours. A really good one might get you in the theater twice and get you to buy some related material (like Star Wars figures). A game is designed to hold your interest for hundreds of hours. They manage this by bringing together the best hardware (ever see stats on the processing power of the current gen of game platforms?!?), the best software developers, the best story writers and the best artists. They tweak and turn classic symbology into a product that is designed mostly to get you to sit at the computer for eight hours at a time and continue doing it for months on end.

When I got my first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, I didn't really have the money to buy games. I bought copies of Compute! magazine and typed in the program listings for the games found inside. This would take several hours. Then I had to debug the program because I invariably made typos or there were bugs in the listing in the magazine. This took several more hours. Most of the time, I would play the game for about 15 minutes. Along the way, I learned to program.

Could you imagine a kid hand-entering the code for Quake V?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 15:20:32.166395+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm not even seeing kids building their own maps for Quake X.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 17:04:00.076625+00 by: markd

typed in the program listings for the games found inside. Many of the best programmers I know, and also myself, learned to program that way.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-12 19:20:00.727818+00 by: ebradway

I was barely 13 (1982) when I started debugging Compute! programs. I had absolutely no education in computers before I began. My father was a mechanic and he was no help (other than a good sense of being able to do things myself).

I not only learned to program that way but I also learned Algebra and base 2 arithmetic. The VIC-20 lacked a true graphics mode - but you could replace the character set with your own bitmaps (eating a sizable chunk of the 3.5Kbytes of available user memory). You could fake bitmap graphics by creating a 16x16 grid of 8x8 characters and constantly remapping the character set but by the time you set that up, you were just about out of RAM.

Where is programming today? I have some computer engineering students in my Summer German class. They seem to gripe about programming like it's some kind of painful exercise. In the fall, I'm taking a class in "GIS Programming" that will likely involve manipulating ESRI ArcObjects using VBA or Python. It'll be more about the objects and what they do rather than actually creating anything.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-17 05:09:55.948855+00 by: concept14

I gather this show was about gangsters, not opera? :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-17 18:22:13.762372+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, you know back in the day when I first heard about the show I was kinda thinkin' "oh, that'd be cool, high stakes backstabbing in the world of divas on stage to get to see who sleeps with the tenor".