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Comment Re:Kinda dissagree (Score 3) 170

It's complex. I've known two people who have seriously messed up their lives as a result of excessive gaming and one who came close (but pulled back at the last minute). I've known a lot more people who fouled up their lives for other reasons.

The two I knew who seriously messed up their lives were friends from my university days who managed to get so heavily into the QuakeWorld/Quake 3 online scene that they failed their exams at the end of their second year and were thrown out (my university didn't "do" second chances). One of them went into the workplace without a degree (and is doing more or less ok now, almost 15 years later, though probably not in the field he wanted to be in) while the other enrolled at another university and came damned close to flunking out a second time (but scraped graduation and is now a teacher, so draw your own conclusions).

The near-miss was more recent. A friend I've known for about a decade got so heavily into an MMO last year that it started to affect his attendance and performance at work. A few of us spotted what was happening and did a bit of an "intervention" (god, I hate that term, but I can't think of a better one). The immediate result was a week long sulk - but after that, he realised the danger he was in and pulled back from the edge.

Thing is, though, I'm not ultimately convinced that "gaming" was a unique factor in either of those cases. In both cases, I think the social obligations that existed around gaming were a bigger factor. The Quake-pair weren't just playing the game; they were heavily involved in the competitive scene and had weekly practice and event schedules imposed on them by their clans. They both knew (one more than the other, perhaps) that they should be playing less, but didn't have the experience or maturity to tell their clan-mates when enough was enough. The MMO-player was, as he later admitted, more or less hating the game, but was so bound into his guild's hierarchy and structure that he felt he couldn't stop playing (or even cut back) for fear of letting other people down. So it wasn't so much video-game addiction as it was a kind of social entrapment.

Thing is, I've also seen people mess up their lives even more spectacularly for non-gaming reasons. In my first "grown up" job, one of my colleagues was into mountaineering. Seriously so. He'd take months of unpaid leave each year to go on expeditions. He'd done a couple of Himalayan 8,000ers as well as a whole load of peaks in Alaska and the Andes. And over time, it destroyed his life. His marriage fell apart, he lost contact with his son and, when redundancies came around at the office, he was the first one out the door; his lengthy absences meant that people had gotten used to doing without him, so he wasn't able to pull the "look indispensable" trick.

Another guy I was at university with ended up not just flunking out of his course but also winding up tens of thousands of GBP in debt. How? Poker. He convinced himself that as an "elite" maths student, he would be able to clean up. Turns out he couldn't. He ended up hopelessly addicted and throwing good money after bad.

I've also seen people wreck their lives through mundane and even unpleasant stuff. One guy I worked with got so drawn into work for the building management committee for the apartment block he lived in that it took over his life to the point he was spending most of the working day on it - and again, he was out the door at the first whiff of redundancies. He always told people that he was only doing it because he felt people were depending on him...

People are remarkably adept at finding ways to wreck their own lives and will use any tool at hand to do so. Games can be one of those tools and there certainly seem to be some people with a high general propensity to addictive behaviour who will be especially prone to gaming addiction. But for those people, I can't escape the view that if it wasn't gaming that brought them down, it would just be something else.

As for gaming and violence, which is the main point of TFA... meh. For me, gaming has always been stress relief and a harmless outlet for violent impulses.

There might be a separate issue around imitative behaviour in certain cases. That friend I mentioned before who ended up a teacher (and who many not, I grant you, be the most objective judge) takes the view that the only games which cause a problem in school are the 2d fighting games (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and the like) because of the dumber kids trying to imitate them and hurting themselves or somebody else. But I can imagine that potentially being just as true for, say, martial arts movies. He tells me he has far more problems with "collectible" non-video games (i,e. trading cards and the like), where disputes over theft and ownership are much more likely to escalate into violence.

Comment Re:Trusting the UN? WHAT THE FUCK? (Score 1) 325

I've got news for you, sparky: saying "right wing propaganda" isn't some kind of magic incantation that makes your favorite teleprompter-in-chief's incompetence just vanish in a puff of wishful thinking.

What you are complaining about is that Obama didn't manage to clean up the complete mess that Bush managed to create

More like, the motherfucker continued everything he ran against. How many times has he signed extensions to the PATRIOT act?


Submission + - MIT Inches Closer to ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (

Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.

Comment Re: Averages do exist (Score 4, Informative) 126

When managers deploy "average" security solutions, they're not trying to protect against threats, they're trying to avoid getting fired.

If they deploy something unusual and it doesn't work, they'll be fired, regardless of how it failed or the merits. If they deploy something everyone else has deployed and it doesn't work, they will be commended for following "industry best practices."

Not all organizations work this way, but many do. When something breaks, there's a big temptation to avoid an investigation into exactly what happened- who knows what that could turn up! Much easier just to fire middle managers for prima facie reasons.

Comment Re:The moderationg system needs an overhaul. (Score 1) 1826

I posted this below, but now in browsing down through deeper replies, I see that the GP's comment is tied to what I suggested about Karma and I'd like to expand on it.

Use Karma to decide starting moderation score. Sure, some people will abuse this by shitposting once in a blue moon because they can, but that will get moderated down. That's really a long tradition here.

I' d forgotten about New York Country Lawyer, but that's a great example of someone who consistently posted amazing stuff, and who should have often started off with a bit higher moderation than he did. It doesn't have to be much either. If most people are browsing at +2, having really high Karma might allow you to post at +3. Then you'd start above the noise.

99% positive moderation? Maybe +4.

If it's easier to lose Karma based off of downmods than it is to gain it through upmods, people will need to regularly post decent comments to stay above the noise. This is going to take some delicate balancing and some trial and error, but it could do wonders for the comments here.

Submission + - Researchers Equip Mario Characters With Social Intelligence (

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have designed artificial intelligence software to apply social skills to popular video game characters such as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Toad from the Super Mario Bros franchise. The researchers taught the game characters to watch and communicate with each other, as well as to learn from their surroundings. This was achieved through attaching a cognitive control loop to each agent [video], integrating insights from cognitive science, linguistics and psychology. Characters were programmed to develop a motivation system, inspired by the need for wealth, progress, and full health. These drives then triggered specific game events, for example with a stronger longing for wealth, Mario would strive to reach more coins. The gamer is able interject and influence a character's actions by giving abstract orders or motivational instructions through speech control. The characters can also ask for help or further information from the gamer to achieve their mission.

Comment Re:Firehose stories on front page (Score 1) 1826

Yes, with one condition. That you don't automate this, and reserve the right to prevent them from showing up.


Because I've been here long enough (refused to sign up and posted AC for years until signing up was sort-of necessary to be visible) to know that we will always have a bunch of stupid yahoos with too much free time on their hands dicking around. Internet posters have a serious quality problem that's fine when you have checks in place (moderation isn't half bad here, e.g.) but which destroy sites when you don't. You can't count on enough 'News for nerds, stuff that matters' people to counteract a bunch of morons with a lot of free time when it comes to what gets posted on the front page.

The firehose is a great asset, but only if you leverage it properly and put some limits and checks on it. You can't rely on us doing that for you.

Comment You've convinced me to log back in.... (Score 1) 1826

So I haven't had the time recently to participate as a commenter, but I still skim a bit. This opportunity made me log back in - well done. Check my sig from 2-3 years ago - I've hated what /. has become for a long time, but I'm still lurking. Thanks for reaching out to try to make this place better.

Consider leveraging Karma much more.

* Karma impacts posting frequency limits and initial comment moderation level upon post
* Gain Karma for upmods, lose for downmods
* Gain Karma for metamoderating and voting on the Firehose
* Lose Karma for moderating
* Sell a little Karma to support the site
* Trade Karma for Ad Views. View to get Karma, spend Karma to not see Ads

As long as you can get 90% of the benefit from participating, nobody will bat an eye at being able to buy 10% more Karma to help support the site. If you go too far into 'pay to say', you'll find a hostile crowd.

Comment Re:Just a fucking game (Score 4, Interesting) 222

Way back in the distant dawn of time (or at least, of competitive Counter-Strike play), I ran a major UK Counter-Strike league. Cheating was a pretty big issue back then (not least because software anit-cheat was much less developed) and we spent a lot of time on the watch for it. In the 18 months or so I was running the league, we had maybe 10 cheat detections during competitive play. The guys running the "open" public servers sponsored by the same company were getting a similar number of detections in the average week.

By and large, I think there were three reasons why people cheated. The first was simple curiosity; people who were bored of playing the game honestly and just wanted to see what the cheats were like. There probably weren't too many of these.

The largest group were the trolls; the people who cheated not because it was fun in itself, but because they got off on pissing off other people and screwing up their leisure time. Some of them would try to hide their cheating, but a lot of them were pretty damned open about it. After all, it's annoying to play a guy you think might be cheating. It's even worse to play a guy who is open and proud about the fact he's cheating, in a world where it can take time (up to an hour, on the public servers) to summon an admin.

The third kind were the properly competitive gamers who felt they were struggling to keep up with the pack and thought that by making subtle use of cheats, they could give themselves an edge. This was the only kind we tended to see in the competitive league. "Pro-gaming" was in its infancy back then, but was already becoming "a thing" and there was sponsorship and prize money floating around. There were lots of players who frankly weren't good enough who thought they could make a fist of pro-gaming. When it became clear that they weren't cut out for it (you need both a hell of a lot of practice time and god's own natural reflexes to cut it in that world), they'd often resort to cheats. They would always try to hide the fact they were cheating, so unless you got a rare software detection, discerning cheating from good or lucky play was hard (but not impossible) for an admin.

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