Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Advanced forms of the Game of Talking

In groups of 5 - 20 people, it gets more complex:
  • Usually there is some social organization, which gives people specialized roles.
  • Groups of that size usually fill some purpose. This brings "subject matter" element forward more strongly. This may make the game easier or more difficult.
  • Time becomes an issue: In a group of ten, not everyone can talk 10% of the time. Game of Talking is partially shut down. This does not mean that you can stay quiet: often Game of Talking is restricted to certain periods between "real talk" and you win or lose the game during these intervals which sometimes require quick thinking to even spot if the game is being played or not.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Impulsive initiative of the day

15 seconds before exiting bus, a man in front of me took a dvd for "History of Violence" to show it for the woman by his side. They talked something. When I went past I said "That's a great movie!" Should have added "because it probes the dark side of relationships between men and women", since that's why it's such a great movie for couples to watch and discuss, but invented that line 60 secs too late...more practise needed.

I'll keep logging these to remind that I'm on a training program.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A better "bar" evening

This evening I achieved two conversation openers, and wasted only one hour.

Timeline of events (skip if you're in hurry)

After a lazy day I went to gym until it closed at eight. After eating at the Chinese restaurants which has replaced Atig Pizza (the meals are big and cost about 9e but it is not as fast as fast food. Overall, a good place if you're genuinely hungry, you get a big and healthy meal for a slightly bigger price.) I went to a party. I had talked with the organizer before and wanted to try my new social skills with him. I also wanted to dance to stretch my hands after gym training.

I entered at the same time as a man and a woman. After ordering I opened conversation:
me: "Have you been in this kind of sweg events before?"
he: "No, we just came here to wait for bus."
me: "Good way to spend a few mins...anyway, they don't usually have it here, it's usually at vastavirta or klubi."
After this the talk ended and they went to a table.

I waited for an hour for the dance to start. It didn't. After sipping the beer for one hour I left the bar.

In the bus stop, timetables had been torn away. I commented to a girl near the time tables "Of course _Saturday's_ time tables have been torn away!". She replied "Nii." Then I noticed that the electric display showed that bus would arrive in 10 minutes - enough to walk to the next bus stop. I realized that having opened the conversation I could ask the girl to accompany me in walk to the next stop, but 30 seconds has already elapsed, so the opening had "closed".

Initiative and implusiveness

Both conversation openings were exercises in making implusive initiative based on context. I want to practise impulsive initiative.

The two big differences between me and the men in relationships in India were exactly that they talked more and made more initiatives. If I become fluent in the game of talking and in making impulsive initiatives, the gap between me and them becomes much smaller.

Also, they say that impulsiveness is attractive to women.

I also missed one opportunity to impulsive initiative. When dancing didn't start at bar, I should have simply walked to some group and asked them if they want to dance to drive boredom away. A polite "no" or silence would have been the worst outcome, since in a dance music event the proposition would have been reasonable.

Didn't you just say you don't like bars...

I achieved the conversation opening in the first 2 minutes and just wasted the next 58 mins. The bottom line was positive only because I cut the losses, not because the bar gave much value for money and time spent. Stretching hands was necessary anyway, so having failed to do it at the bar I did it with some pp videos at home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Game of Talking

My late big realization, of once-in-ten-years scale, is that there is a Game of Talking going on all the time when people meet. You always participate in it even if you don't register it consciously. I believe that in the last 10 years most of the unexplained shit I've received as well as almost total failure in human relationships were caused by too frequent losing in the Game of Talking.

The Game of Talking requires 2 - 4 players. The basic rules are simple:
1) You win if you talk more than anyone else.
2) You lose if you talk less than 20% of the utterances.
3) Your result is decent if you neither win nor lose.

In addition there are extra rules which make the game complex. The first extra rules ensure that conversation keeps flowing:
1) You get minus points if you shout, insult or say inappropriate things.
2) You get minus points if your comments are neither relevant nor funny.
3) You get plus points if you remove an obstacle which distracts someone else from playing well.

Too many minus points lose the game. Plus points can change a decent outcome into a victory,
but usually they are an extra game for someone who is already winning.

In addition, there are context-dependent rules, especially the balance between
sheer amount and relevancy varies wildly in different situations.

Losing too often spells serious trouble.

Signs that you are losing

There are two main punishments, which are usually meted out by the most extroverted person
in the group.
1) Insults.
2) Being treated as a child or otherwise helpless. This is more common among adults, where direct insults are often considered too game-breaking.

Earlier, I used to get punished for losing the game. I could analyze people's despise far too well, but couldn't figure out why I was being despised. After all, I didn't do much anything! I didn't realize I was participating in a game and losing hands down, every time.

Need for speed

Unlike in go, in the Game of Talking you don't have time to think. Quite the contrary, the aggressive players are all the time talking on each others, switching topic and even distracting with stuff that leaves you speechless if it catches you by surprise.

Earlier, I couldn't have played the Game of Talking because I wasn't quick enough in generating talk. It would have helped to know the factoid that to avoid despise, the amount of talk beats quality any day. However, the Game of Talking is not a factoid but a much deeper attitude.

Nowadays, if my talk percentage goes too low enough, I get a physical emotion of disgust, anticipating all the bad things that may happen if I don't open my mouth very soon. Since my natural instincts don't give much help, having the Game of Talking in the physical/emotional level is the only way to react quickly enough in deteriorating speech position, when I have nothing to say.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WOW: First raids

It takes about 30 raids to get used to the basics. These first 30 raids increase your self-knowledge by putting you under new kind of pressure. The pressure goes away when you log off and is totally harmless.

My first raid was to Shadowfang Keep in a group of 5, and it was pure chaos: I used wrong spells and had trouble with targetting and camera. I got lost twice and finally couldn't return to the group after a death. (Death in wow is a mere delay.) Then I left group, and got angry comments because the remaining 3 persons couldn't kill the last boss. Talking was out of question, since everything else took too much attention.

When your raid count increases you see how practise makes perfect and how panic and fear is replaced by routine. Also your knowledge about raiding increases: this includes especially the basic roles (tanking, healing, damage dealing) and rules of good raid behaviour (pulling, aggro, mana breaks, ready checks).

Brats who shout at you in a way you don't see among adults, as well as players who don't know anything about raid behaviour increase the stress and novelty of the first 30 raids.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Better body language and the new purpose of this blog

During the last 1.5 years, two events have notably improved my social skills and body language. At least Tommi commented once that he saw the difference, so it's not just in my head. For the first time in my life I see light at the end of the tunnel in getting a normal social life, including relationships with women. However, the base level was so low that there is still a long way to go.

In the first event I became a de-facto tech lead for a subproject of 3 people, being the only one who had earlier experience about the technology. For the first time, I had some responsibility for other people's work. Naturally, I didn't do it very well.

I had mental block against telling other people what to do, even when they expected it from me. (It wasn't born out of thin air. I remember quite well when there was Kanpai's meeting in Konttori. I was standing in the doorway. When it was time to choose a chairmain, Tarvainen jokingly said that at least not Simo, and everyone laughed at the idea of me being a chairman. I expected that mere hint of me in a position of responsibility would be answered with a sea of insults for years. It was surprising for me to notice that this didn't happen.)

Secondly, the abrasiveness of my interaction became visible in an ugly way. One person went into a kind of failure mode, where he let out helpless sighs of an oppressed victim daily. It irritated the hell out of me, but also made me realize that he probably expected me to debug the problem, but I couldn't really do anything about it. When I looked at other people around me they were surprisingly confident, encouraging at each others, and relaxed. Their pressure-relief skills and mechanisms would have solved the problem before it started.

Overall this experience made me smile more, made my interaction style less abrasive and removed many mental blocks.

During the trip to India two things happened. First of all, I noticed the importance of talking much. In small groups, talking less than 20% of utterances spells serious trouble, but this is a topic for a whole new post. Secondly, I was able to see how other people spend their days. Normally people keep their work/school, hobbies and chores so separate that I had very little idea how people of my age and social class live.

As a result, I saw that I'm not such a hopeless case, although the difference between the men in relationships and me is large in a few areas. Secondly, I talk more nowadays, and I've seen it have a positive effect.

Now it's a tight race between improving social skills and aging, which is going to cripple my ability to learn new social attitudes as well as my body. It's possible that I've already lost: they say that if you don't have sexual experiences by age 25, you are doomed. However, since there is a lot at stake (living alone 50 years without purpose vs. achieving middle-class happiness of an apartment loan, spacious car, 2.5 kids, and let's not forget the golden retriever) and since I'm seeing slow but steady improvement, I'm not ready to give up just yet.

The latest renaming of the blog is a sign that I'm raising the cat on the table and fighting to reach the end of the tunnel before the approaching train of aging hits me.

If I successfully solve this practical crisis, then I can again concentrate my blogging on technology, culture, politics, economics and philosophy like the rest of you. But before that I'm going to be anti-intellectual and keep both feet on the ground and blog about myself and practical daily life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My neighbour's wireless headphones

Bought Philips wireless headphones from Clas Ohlson. Now I can practise dancing pp in the middle of the night without waking up neighbours.

One of my neighbours must own similar headphones, since twice I've heard his/her music when my receiver is on but sender is not. First time some rap, second time some finnish rock.

So I won't watch porn with these headphones on...

BTW. I'm totally uninterested in his taste for speech & music and expect the same from him.
BTW2. Wireless keyboards can do the same. (Source: a stopped Helldesk blog.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things I hate in bars

Last night was both unusual and usual. It is unusual for me to go to bars (go & pool with male friends don't count). When I do go it always reminds me why bars suck.
  1. Going there alone. Boring. Dancing makes it a little fun.
  2. Hangover. The next day is lost.
  3. Remembering all the little drunken mistakes.
  4. Watching how everyone else seems to know something about bar behaviour which I don't.
  5. No contact with the opposite sex (eye contact, for example). This is the advertized benefit of going to bars and bearing with the downsides, but in fact it never realizes.
  6. Vague feeling that clever advertizers are manipulating me out of my time and money and giving back nothing but frustration.
After staying away for a few months I forget these and conclude that it must be better to spend the evening in the middle of the middle of opportunities...which never realize.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Signs of low market value

Today, I started the evening by drinking with a friend. Then he went home, and I continued to a disco (no proper band was playing, and I wanted to dance instead of just sitting and sipping bear alone, which is boring).

One woman made eye contact with me and danced as my counterparty for some minutes. She was over 40 years old, clearly past her reproductive age.

No younger woman made eye contact with me during the evening, despite the fact that I spent a lot of time in the dance floor and in some cases the imbalance between men and women was big to my advantage. There are 2 possible implications:
1) My sexual market value is very low, and women instantly see it or
2) I have no idea how to make contact with the opposite sex in drunken bar situations, and this lack of skill is crippling my ability to start relationships.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

WOW: Easy social interaction

In WOW you can only win by aking others in the game world to join you. As long as you have manners, the worst result is a polite "no" and at the best is that you have company and you advance faster.

I'll talk about raids/dungeons tomorrow, but outside them you complete quests to advance your character. There are plenty of them open simultaneously. The quests become repetitive after intial novelty. Some quests are too hard to complete alone, so you ask others if they also need to do the same quest.

Then you notice that there is plenty to win. It's faster, you die less and you have company. You may even have fun discussion about some topic outside WOW, but that's quite rare, since most players are too young for that.

Group play also has it's problems, especially new players. The other seems to do everything fast, needs no pauses and talks all the time even in the middle of tight fight. Then you make some mistakes - get lost, die many times etc - or get pissed at someone hurrying you .

Then you notice there is nothing to lose. The following day you probably don't even meet that character, and there are plenty of other players.

The game structure puts incentives to cooperation while enabling you to exclude harm. I've never seen a place where it is so easy to talk to strangers.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

In the beginning

WOW is a fun game to start. Each race in the game world has a background story and the quests you complete and the discussions you have with the non-player characters play together well. The graphics were also quite good for me, not having played any 3D game for ages. The lush forests, small cities surrounded by hostile populations and constant quests about war and struggle create a good atmosphere, and there is sense of wonder in stepping onboard a zeppelin for the first time.

When the novelty wears off, other elements fill the void.

Monday, March 02, 2009

HOW-TO: Get sick with WOW!

Simo' WOW guides is a new series of high-quality playing guides which help you achieve what only the most experienced and talented players used to! Today I tell you how to get sick with WOW!
  1. Season must be winter, the colder the better.
  2. Do some light exercise in the room where you play WOW, like jumping on a dance mat. Turn off heating to avoid excessive sweating.
  3. The next time you have a free day, use it entirely to play WOW. You should be able to log at least 16 hours when you play WOW with only food & toilet breaks in between.
  4. Repeat 3 until you get a cold!
Also other games which are immersive enough to make you not register cold will do.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

No more WOW

WOW is so damaging to real life that you can actually collect statistics about it. When I was in India and missed stuff (didn't go to some event where some others went) it was always due to playing WOW to early hours. Other people missed stuff by drinking too much and by disease.

Here are some gym statistics about the 6 weeks I've been in Finland:

WeekHow many times to gymDid I play wow
Week 45no
Week 53no
Week 64no
Week 74no
Week 83yes
Week 93yes

In the last two weeks, I've done nothing but WOW and gym in my leisure, a fact which is hidden by the statistics.

Today I cancelled my WOW subscribtion.