The Crying Massively Multiplayer Game

Right, so as I’ve mentioned and as I’m sure Geralyn will grumble about if you ask her, I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately. Short description of the game: You role-play, on your computer, fantasy themed characters with thousands of other people around the world. I’ve been experimenting a lot with different classes to see which I like best and to relieve the boredom that seems to set in around level 20. So far I’ve played a druid, a rogue, a paladin, a warlock, and most recently a mage.

I like the mage, but something weird has happened. For variety’s sake, I made this character using the human female avatar. Here’s a screenshot:

As you can see, she’s um …built. But apparently Blizzard knows what its customers want, because that’s pretty much the only way she comes.

At any rate, the really weird thing is that when I play with this character, I’m constantly being hit on by other players. It’s creepy. They say stuff like “Hey, hot stuff, how’s it going?” Or they use the “/flirt” and “/kiss” commands. Or they just give me free stuff. Actually, the last one isn’t so bad, as I have a pretty good supply of potions as a result. And I finally know what it’s like to be a pretty little girl. …Who can throw fireballs and turn people into sheep.

The flirting thing baffles me in a lot of ways, because those other players must know that there’s a really good chance that I’m a dude, no matter what I look like in-game. While there are some women players, the vast, vast majority are guys. And since there are a lot of female avatars running around, a few whacks with the logic stick should lead you to the conclusion that you’re not really flirting with a hot chick any more than you’re really slaying that dragon. But people either don’t understand this or don’t care. Either of which is kind of off but to my credit I either ignore them or say “I’m a guy, Captain Stupid.”

Anyway, you’ll find Sanza the Human mage on the Uther server, spamming the Trade channels with “WILL CYBER 4 STACKS OF COARSE STONE!! MEET U OUTSIDE IRONFORGE AUCTION HOUSE!!!”

Sam’s Story: Week 61

Sam is totally walking now. If she goes from place to place, she generally does it by walking instead of crawling. Or tries to, at least. There are still frequent contacts between her rump and the ground. My new nickname for her is “Tipsy” because when she walk she does it by staggering around like a drunken frat boy. She’s about as coherent in her speech, too.

Speaking of nicknames or pet names, Sam seems to be accumulating them pretty rapidly. Ger and I have each created multiple ones for her. See if you can guess who starting calling Sam each of these:

  • Sammy
  • Sam-Sam
  • Sugar Booger
  • Sammy-Sammy-Bo-Bammy
  • Angel Girl
  • Cutie Pie
  • Tipsy (okay, I just told you that one)
  • The Mayor of Poopsville
  • Item #TZ-40827X

Okay, pencils down. The answers are: Ger, me, me, Ger, Ger, Ger, me, me, and the self-service scanner at the grocery store. I don’t think I had any nicknames when I was a kid, other than “Jamieson,” which is odd but factually true. Geralyn had none; nobody even called her “Ger” until college. Maybe that’s why Sam has almost a dozen nicknames so far. And that katana that my parents would never let me have.

As I mentioned last week, Ger’s parents have been visiting. We went out this weekend to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which is a kind of open-space zoo where you can see animals in what we think are pretty good replicas of their natural environments, but the animals know better. Oh, they know. Sam actually got into it a lot more than we thought she would. We pointed out all the animals to her, but early on she decided that they were, in fact, all different types of cows. What sound does the rhinoceros make? Moo. How does the giraffe go? Moo. Monkeys? Moo, too. The monarch butterfly? They go moo as well. That bird eating discarded french fries out of the trash can? Yep, moo.

The other big event on our calendar was Easter. Sam has already seen one Easter, but this time she was big enough for Ger and her mom to dress her up like a little doll. Included in her ensemble was a poofy dress and white leather shoes –her first pair of hard-soled footwear, in fact. We invited Ger’s cousin Mark and his wife Rica over for brunch and gave Easter baskets out. We filled Sam’s plastic eggs with Cheerios instead of chocolate. Not for any kind of health or choking avoidance reasons, but rather because it left more candy for us. At any rate, Sam loved it.

Picture time.

Okay, enough picture time.

Finally, Sam is really talking a lot lately. Again, it’s more like speech without vocabulary, as most of her communiques consist of urgent pointing, whining, and grunting. She has, though, picked up on the dreaded “NO!” word, even if it only comes out as “Nnnyooh!” right now. A friend of ours gave us the idea to use something more polysyllabic in our corrective language, something like “Sammy, that’s not appropriate” that the kid would have trouble parroting back to you. I thought I was doing that, and I also thought I was explaining the reason for the correction. So instead of just “No!” I’d say “That’s not appropriate, Samantha. You can’t put regular unleaded gas in a high performance engine.”

But regardless of what I was or was not doing, Sam has learned the power of “No!” Last night she started playing with our home theater equipment and I got down there with her, lowered my voice, and explained that she shouldn’t do that because it would break and Daddy would cry a lot. Sam sat back, scrunched up her face, and spat out “Nnnyooh!” while jabbing a finger at the DVD player. She fixed me with a look, then repeated herself and gave the player another jab, as if to say “No, you stop playing with it!”

Of course, I busted out laughing, which probably didn’t help in the discipline department.

Happy on Easter

Sam, shown here in her new dress, wishes you a happy Easter. She actually tolerated this garb pretty well, even the white patent leather shoes that you can’t see. We didn’t want to fill her Easter eggs with candy, so we put Cheerios in them.

Two I/O Psychologists walk into a B.A.R.S.

This morning I worked on the PowerPoint presentation for my Practitioner Forum presentation at this year’s SIOP. I spent more time than I should probably admit making this graphic for a slide where I mention our use of scanable forms for employment testing:

Still, it made me chuckle, and I really hate the kind of drab exercises in paying attention that epitomizes the majority of SIOP presentations. Later in my presentation I’m going to just put up a picture of a llama and say “And here’s a picture of a llama.” I’ll pause for a second, then say nothing as I move on to the next slide. If anyone asks what’s up with the llama, I’ll give them a confused look an deny that there was ever any llama.

Why? Because there’s no reason this stuff has to be so boring? I keep thinking about the time I saw the Game Developer Conference presentation by game designing legend Will Wright. I mean, Wright’s talk was on an inherently fun topic like game design, but it was also really cerebral and abstract. He had slides like this one (not to mention this one) and talked about “vector fields” and “group social dynamics,” but the presentation was really engaging and everyone was riveted. Contrast this to some stuffed shirt whose idea of a great SIOP presentation is a huge, unreadable correlation matrix peppered by asterisks denoting p values less than .05.

This problem extends to books and journal articles in the world of I/O Psychology, too. Here, I just pulled a book on job analysis down from my shelf and flipped to a page where this was written:

A job analyst may learn a good deal about a job simply by observing and recording what a worker does. Naturalistic observation occurs when the analyst’s presence has little or no effect on the worker’s behavior. This can be achieved by conducting observations over a long enough period of time that the worker no longer pays any attention to the analyst. Or the analyst may observe more actively by asking questions about particular behaviors as they occur.”

I mean, that’s fine. And this is actually a pretty useful book on balance. But that stuff’s boring! And it just goes on and on. If I were writing that passage, it might have been more like this:

Of course, Dr. Obvious, one of the first things you can do is actually watch people doing the job in question. I know it’s not full of the glitz and HARDCORE MONSTER STATS CRUNCHING ACTION that you expect from the world of Job Analysis, but it’s actually pretty effective. You can ask questions if it doesn’t make the guy want to punch you in the throat, but try to be inconspicuous. Ideally you wouldn’t show up with a bull horn, sneak up behind the worker, and announce “WHAT’S THAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? NOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING? OOOH, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I PRESS THIS BUTTON? WOAH, YOU’RE GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE FOR THAT, AREN’T YOU?”

I don’t mean to puff my feathers all up, but really –which book would you rather read, especially if they both ultimately contained the same information and covered the same topics?

I won’t try to be as entertaining as Will Wright when I do my presentation. Besides, they’d probably run me out of town if I tried. But I do want to keep things interesting and yes I’ll say it: fun. And if in doubt, I can always throw in a dirty limerick.

p.s., Sorry for the terrible pun in the title of this post. It won’t happen again.

Sam’s Story: Week 60

Grandma and Grandpa Sommer are visiting! At first Sam didn’t seem to remember them and was a bit leery of these strange (and honestly a bit loud) people, but they brought her gifts and paid her lots of attention so she quickly decided that they were all right. Ger and I are also enjoying their visit and the chance it brings to let Sam play with them.

We were actually going to go see a movie the other night –in the theater!– but upon scanning the showtimes we realized that now is the post-Oscar doldrums where there’s almost nothing but crap playing. And what few good movies there are were scheduled for ungodly late hours, like 10:00 p.m. Who stays up that late? So I played World of Warcraft instead. Geralyn did something, I dunno. Read?

Not that we haven’t done anything together. Yesterday we all five went to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. There were a lot of fish and this kept Sam entertained for a little while as she enjoyed looking up at them and pointing. The thing she most enjoyed, though, was tearing up the world’s tectonic plates in the Kid’s Zone.

Funny thing was that there was a special exhibit on the seahorse and when I pointed one out to Sam and named it, Sam turned to me and said “Nnnaaayy!” in imitation of a regular horse. “No,” I said. “A sea horse doesn’t go ‘nay’ Sammy.” And I swear, she gave me an exasperated look like “Dude, you’re insane. You just said it was a horse.” and then she continued to say “Nnnnaaaay!” But this time she was much more emphatic.

Here’s some photos:

As you can see, Sam is still walking. I also like how this picture turned out, as it looks like she’s right in the middle of punching me in the face. Which is silly, because when she hits me in the face it’s usually more of a open slap and she hasn’t yet learned to put her whole body into it like that.

The pace at which Sam is developing is really amazing, though. I don’t know (nor care) about how she matches up with benchmarks, averages, and other children who are not Sam, but it seems like every day is something new. She’s not only walking, but can follow some simple commands (“Give the spoon to Daddy.”) and seems to know the names of many objects even if she doesn’t say them. Last night she invented a new game where she would get on all fours, stick her rump up in the air, and look back between her legs. Then she would giggle until she fell over, get up, and do it again. Fantastic.

Weebles wobble…

…but they don’t fall down. Back in my day Weebles were really different. They were just these egg-shaped people. Now they’re farm animals that drive little cars called –wait for it– “Weehicles.”

Sam’s Story: Week 59

I think we can officially say that Sam is walking. She’s actually been taking unassisted steps for a couple of weeks, but my high journalistic standards wouldn’t let me report it here until she was really walking from Point A to Point B. Point B being wherever she finally takes a nose dive into the carpet. It’s amazing that Sam takes it all in stride (or rather, out of stride) and doesn’t get upset by her frequent trips to the ground. If I started falling on my rump ever few steps I’d probably freak out. The care-free vigor of youth, I guess.

Sam’s not really trucking yet since I’ve only see her take maybe half a dozen steps in a row, but she’s getting better at it every day and she stands up on her own all the time now. Soon she’ll be able to get a job.

Look, pictures:

You may notice from these shots that Sam has less hair. Some people complained about Sam’s reverse mullet hairdo, and frankly we finally got tired of it too. Come to think of it, I think she may have put off walking just because she couldn’t see where the heck she was going. So last weekend Geralyn took Sam to a friend who cut her hair. Apparently having strange people come at her with sharp, pointy blades kind of freaks Sam out, but she got over it. She looks better and the stuff can finally all grow out at the same rate.

Sam’s vocabulary continues to expand, particularly along the lines of animal sounds. She now knows the following:

  • Cow (“Muuuuuuuh”)
  • Cat (“Rowerowerower”)
  • Turkey the animal (“Gagglegaglegagle”)
  • Turkey the country (“Gagglegaglegagle”)
  • Dog (also “Muuuuuuuh” but we’re working on that)
  • Dad (“Dud”)
  • Mom (“Mamamama”)
  • That or What’s that? (“Dat!”)
  • Uh-oh (“Uh ….Oh”)
  • ???? (“Nay-nay-nuh!”)

Nothing much else to report, other than Ger’s parents are coming for another visit this week, but I’ll tell you all about that when the time comes. We also took Sam car shopping with us last weekend, but that’s a WHOLE other post that I’ll write up when it’s all over with.

Delicious banana

Sam eats like a whole banana ever morning, along with a bowl of cereal (with pured fruit mixed in) and often a few fist fulls of Cherios. I think she must have a hollow leg.