July 28th, 2020 by harold

I think about that early 2020 tweet a lot these days.

Games as educational tools

July 18th, 2020 by harold

Jonathan Blow had a talk this week on the subject, which was very interesting. And Hacker News had a thread recently as well, spawned from this blog post. Excellent points being made.

This is very important to me. I started my career working on educational games. Now it’s 2020, kids are at home and school will probably never, ever be the same.

It’s the perfect time.

I don’t want to go through all the obvious –games are all educational, it’s hard to make interesting education games- but I’d like to point out to one thing that games teach better than anything else: management, aka navigating systems.

Management is about so many things. Secondary goals, short-term, long-term actions, timing. All those things that we do to maintain, sustain and run systems. Management is something a bit impalpable that’s being taught in every single game you play (these days games want you to manage the same things for hundreds of hours, which is problematic because it’s so unnecessary). The first thing management teaches you is to observe what is going on. Isn’t it something you need, whatever you do in life? Yes. Games are the best management playgrounds ever.

Get burn, do badly it’s okay, do wonderful and it doesn’t really matter, it’s a game. But those moments taught you. Those moments will stay with you and later on you’ll intuitively know that if you don’t pay attention to a certain little thing, this might end up into a big problem. You’ve learned so much through navigating those systems and that will be useful in life. You just don’t know how, but it will (I know I’ve become better than average at navigating crowded space thanks to playing shoot ’em ups and Counter-Strike for years).

The big question would be: what kind of games do we want to create so that people can use more directly their newly acquired knowledge and management skills? I have one.

Take The Sims building houses part. Add actual numbers about insulation, material used, costs etc. This way, people can actually play to make a home –that can be build in the real world- as they want, costing as less as possible or having the best temperature inside without running AC. Or just trying things out.

I would love to see people obsess over insulation R-value, optimizing and understanding house shape and material, understanding that hemp is fabulous or how small homes are far more efficient and just fine. And then people could visit their creation in VR. Now that’s a really useful, down to earth, global thing!

It makes me think that games, tools and toys are all intertwined and useful to learn and teach yourself a million things. We game developers and designers need to cater to this need though.

This is the direction I hope and wish a branch of computer games culture will follow. We need it.

Notifications are poison

July 17th, 2020 by harold

I’ve been running experiments with my social media use. For instance, I stopped looking at Twitter notifications, for years. Hundreds I didn’t look at (I’m sorry if you were replying to my tweets and if I know you, I love you and hey, my bad).

I decided to pay attention to them again. Enabling the dopamine loops and all that brain hacking stuff.

Man, notifications are the devil. I’m fairly immune to them: I don’t have any for anything. Not on my phone. No push, zero, ever, none. But a couple weeks using Twitter –just the PWA client- while paying attention to notifications and I’m already feeling like

It’s horrifying. Y’all are addicted like a mf and you don’t realize it. It’s so ingrained in your computer use that you can’t even do something on the most amazing tool humanity has ever gotten without “trying” to check some notifications. “Just” in case.

I knew notifications were bad before social media. Email and RSS had told me it was wrong. Just noise and anxiety. But with social media, you are rewarded with a little picture of a heart or some other bullshit to make you feel validated. It’s fucking stupid, yet it works wonderfully.

What freaks me out is that folks at Twitter have so much power and are probably doing some wild shit: “look at this user who’s engaging like crazy. Let’s send him/her a bit more notifications than the average and see how it goes. Okay! She/He is doubling down on posting. Good. Let’s starve them to see how they react”. They can decide of the virality of your extremely honest, personal tweet that day. And so forth. There’s so much manipulation there. Notifications are the vessel.

Social media has been popular for a decade. Ten years, 24/7, the world. Imagine the amount of data and the accuracy they have on how people behave and react to the carrot that is notifications. Trust me, they’re not using that data to change the world in the way you want it. It probably makes a lot of Silicon Valley executives –who are tied to government, military and all- believe with the intensity of a thousand suns that people are really and absolutely idiotic, predictable, dumb ass apes. Look at the data!

Fuck notification and its clicks it claims.

That Metro line

July 16th, 2020 by harold

They started that 8.5 mile extension in 2013. Eight stations. They were supposed to finish in 2019. As of July 2020, they’re not done at all. I’ve driven a couple thousand miles (!) on Crenshaw watching them in the past months. There’s always one dude working and three or four mfs standing around, watching. Like all construction sites.

I think I’ve done it all in terms of transportation. I lived with and without a car in France. Same in LA. I commuted on everything from feet to bike to trains to Uber to buses.

When I arrived in LA of course, I was all up in my European bullshit. “how come there’s no train?” Because those don’t really work here, bae.

Public transportation is really great when:

– It’s cold/rainy outside, most of the year

– You can’t never park whatsoever

– Trains and buses are on time and plentiful (every 5mn)

The first two points don’t exist in Los Angeles. The third one doesn’t really either (buses every 20mn at BEST).

I forgot to mention that it’s hot out here and walking to and from stations isn’t great, especially with how cold it is inside buildings (bitch ass AC, I’ll have a post for you soon). A brutal, temperature swing that screws your body while you’re wondering why you feel weird.

But also the third point is something that can be here, and also can be not here. And that’s super infuriating as a user. After a few years of that, you’re done with it. You buy a car, you move away, whatever. Public transportation randomness is just too much to deal with, especially with the lives we have now. Stress is a killer.

Speaking of, public transportation in the world of deadly viruses is not something I’m looking forward to.

So between earthquakes, COVID-19, a still very poor train network and plenty of $900 cars to buy, I don’t think people will use that train line that much. It might even cost a fortune to maintain. I can’t wait for this Metro line to become a bike path with trees. Crenshaw could definitely use that. Electric bikes, remote work and local life, bitches.

Bassnator II

July 15th, 2020 by harold

“I’ll be slap”

Initializing Funk Routine……


July 15th, 2020 by harold

I don’t know about you fellas, but personally if I had unprotected sex going all the way to the end, two octomoms could potentially be the result. In mere hours. It’s that heavy right now.

In those unprecedented times as supply is ample and horniness pervasive, could or should the Dick be free? As one of our favorite poet once said, and I quote, “This Dick Ain’t Free”, now that mere hugs are pure privilege and entitlement and that the current local and international situation have shut down dick logistics, can the Dick even be Free? Shall it? Does the Dick stock hold any gravity anymore? In this essay I will


July 13th, 2020 by harold

So it’s Monday, right?

I live in a largely black community, right?

I go to my usual basketball court every morning for what seems like a century, right?

Who do I see first? A white woman I’ve never seen before walking her dog. No mask. She’s kind of looking left and right to see if someone will tell her something but it’s early, no one gives a fuck about you girl. I’m walking 20 meters behind, wearing my mask and shaking my head.

Who is on my court? An Asian man and his two kids, running basketball drills. No masks. I saw them once before. They were gauging that area.

Even the black homeless folks in the area wear a fucking mask. If not at least they don’t walk around. They stay the fuck away.

This is right after breaking records of cases (and deaths) over the weekend. The audacity is absolutely unreal.

It validates what I wrote about a few days ago: it’s a lot about individuals. There’s this weird elitism, especially with non-black folks, it’s wild and dangerous.

Then they think they’re smart. Orange County (a very white and Asian community) has been fighting mandatory masks and are having a meeting tonight to decide how to reopen schools while the city of Los Angeles will not reopen schools because well, there’s a goddamn pandemic going on.

It’s really not complicated. But boy is it exhausting to see egoistical mfs around.


July 8th, 2020 by harold

Someone had time or was high on meth either way, I appreciate the dedication.

Doing some busy work on servers and stuff. I’m going to be off Flickr for good this year. I downloaded all my pictures and it was pretty emotional. Not really looking at them, but thinking about what happened through that service that truly changed my life.

I never joined IG (it’s a bit fuck FB on here) but some people will probably lose their shit when Instagram makes them pay to download their own content that they filled the service with for decades. If they even can do that. Everything you put there will stay there forever. It’s theirs. Your kids pictures. Yup.

So I’m going to have all my digital life under my thumb and nowhere else. It feels very soothing. In the current climate, it feels really right to keep everything I care about close to me.

Wash your hands and wear yo’ mask beloved.

Games didn’t help

July 2nd, 2020 by harold

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

This was such a popular TED talk back in 2011. We can now say that gamers didn’t save shit. It’s been quite the opposite.

In the past decade games became *extremely* good at making you play more. It’s a mix of mobile-first influence, gambling tendencies and time available that propelled millions of folks to play for hundreds, thousands of hours. Game studios had big incentives to retain players and worked tirelessly to do so.

The thing is that I didn’t play much. I read a million books about the real world though. Through them I reshaped my understanding of many things without realizing it. I acquired different perspectives.

Time kind of being the only real currency, if you spend time playing, you’re not reading about the world. It doesn’t matter that you can watch a condensed version of a book on YouTube. You won’t absorb knowledge the way the book will make you to.

The past months have shown me how much reading is necessary for 99% of y’all out there. Reading about who actually built things. Reading about what women actually have to deal with. Reading about what Black women actually have and have had to deal with. What it takes to build sustainable buildings. The fascinating and complicated world of intersections. How the economy actually works. It’s endless.

There’s so much to learn and people just go press X rapidly in the 15th iteration of a game they’ve already played a billion times. I know! It sounds like I’m overreacting.

But then Black people die for no reason over and over and over and over while white folks are like “that’s bizarre that you guys are upset like that” and this is where I feel like games didn’t fucking help at all. I know the feeling. You start the game. The feel-good loops happen. Your brain is satisfied. It’s been 5 hours since you started playing and outside of some mildly interesting banter with your friends online, your brain is numb.

Read books about the real and social world, people. Be curious about it. Be excited to fix it.

Enough with this bragging/slander

July 1st, 2020 by harold

It’s incredible to me that people are either blind or too soft to not understand the difference between a country and culture that are homogeneous and a country and culture that isn’t. Let’s break down a few countries on the pandemic front.

Taiwan: 95% Chinese, a Chinese culture that favors the common instead of the individual, masks being part of the culture for decades. No shit they only have 7 deaths.

Hong Kong: 92% Chinese, a Chinese culture that favors the common instead of the individual, masks being part of the culture for decades. No shit they only have 7 deaths.

Spain: 88% Spaniard, a Spanish culture that likes to not give a fuck. Result: they caught up with the rest of Europe in a few weeks (one of the fastest infection rate due to the fact that Spaniards didn’t care about staying at home). BUT, Spain being still quite homogenous, their gnarly lockdown was very much followed and very successful. Deaths have been going down.

US: First of all, we’re talking about one order of magnitude more people than the three previous countries. That’s not nothing to go from 23 million to 328 million folks. Then we have 73% White Americans. That’s the biggest group in the US and the smallest majority –by far– compared to the 95% Chinese, 92% Chinese and 88% Spaniard. The second biggest group is Black Americans followed by Asian Americans. Latinos are right there too.

It’s heterogeneous as fuck. Interests are divergent. There’s like 50 different cultures just in Los Angeles. Add the fact that all those demographics are in constant friction over everything means that *no one* feels accountable for the COMMON.

That’s the BASIS. Then, of course, top it all with the current US administration and their clowns, social media to stir it all up and yes, everyone goes back to their individual beliefs and well… The pandemic goes harder.

Isn’t it obvious? It’s not bad information: people know that masks and staying at home are effective measures, it’s working everywhere and around the world. It’s not necessarily bad policies and governance: in Florida yes, but in California, not really. They shut down things early and everything.

It’s just that many people, individuals don’t care (how many videos of people wilding out?). Individuals also have to go to work to pay rent. It’s way less an issue if at all in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Spain where the government stepped up and helped its population far more than in the US. Because they all agree on helping basically everyone sharing one culture and one language. The big advantage of an homogeneous setting.

I love the fact that America is that heterogeneous. That’s what makes it interesting and different. It makes it harder to deal with issues like a global pandemic, true. And we could do much better for sure (cancel rent you cowards). But that’s part of the deal to me.

What concerns me with all this talk is seeing some white folks salivating at homogeneous countries while they think they’re being attacked by Black Lives Matter. That’s no good.